kicked the public option to the curb, it was starting to look like Congressional Democrats would blow this fall’s healthcare fight. Then
, a freshman Congressman from Orlando, started landing punches. On September 29 Grayson announced on the House floor that the Republican healthcare plan is this: “Don’t get sick; and if you do get sick, die quickly.” When the GOP’s inevitable clamor for an apology arose, Grayson, who hails from a swing district, responded: “I would like to apologize…. I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.”
So shaken by the prospect of a Democrat taking the healthcare debate seriously enough to try to win it, Republican operatives screeched that Grayson had “come un- hinged.” In fact, Grayson–a Harvard Law grad who worked as an assistant to conservative icon
and Supreme Court Justices
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
before establishing himself as a top trial lawyer–had set a trap for the GOP. He had used the controversy to focus attention on a study revealing that 44,000 Americans die annually because they lack health insurance. While he acknowledged that the holocaust reference went over the top, Grayson kept taunting “knuckle-dragging Neanderthal” Republicans. And they kept responding in a manner that earned the Congressman air time to detail the real cost of saying no to healthcare reform. JOHN NICHOLS
The latest issue of
Joint Force Quarterly
, a military journal reviewed and published by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, contained a seven-page critique of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT). The study’s author, an Air Force colonel, argues that DADT has been “costly both in personnel and treasure” and that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly “will not impact combat effectiveness.”
The article is another sign that momentum is behind gay-rights advocates as they move toward a debate on the policy in Congress. In the House, the bill to repeal DADT has 176 co-sponsors, and Armed Services Committee chair
has agreed to a hearing at the beginning of next year. A Senate bill could be introduced in the next few weeks. It’s there that Congressman
, a leading critic of DADT, expects a filibuster. “It will have a majority,” says Frank, but “the question is whether it will get to sixty.”
The House bill’s lead sponsor, Iraq War veteran
, told The Nation, “This is a policy that’s un-American and needs to be changed.” During the campaign, Obama made just such a promise, but he has been criticized by gay-rights advocates for moving too slowly. Frank says that building support among ex-military service members for repealing the policy will be crucial. In particular, he cites the endorsement of retired Gen.
, who helped draft the policy some sixteen years ago.