Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Had A Dream

I had a dream. It took place in the White House. At the dining table was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sipping a glass of California sherry and nibbling on one of those dainty sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid stared at his plate of fried zucinni and glass of iced tea. Vice President Joe Biden was telling stories of his youth in Scranton while talking with his mouth full of tuna salad. President Barack Obama was nursing a bottle of Perrier between bites of blueberry Yoplait yogurt.

Suddenly, the president slammed the dining table with his left fist and said "Screw it!" shaking the composure of the butler who had been standing at rigid attention.

"'Screw' what?" the vice president asked. "'Screw who?'" Pelosi asked with arched eyebrows. "'Screw' the pooch," Reid said. "Right, Mr. President?"

"Harry," the president said, "that's the first thing you got right in this whole process."

"What process?" Biden asked."

"This whole health reform debacle," Obama said. "Let's throw out everything and start from scratch." The president angrily tossed his copy of Newsweek onto the floor, the page open to Howard Fineman's column admonishing the administration for losing the health reform debate because they failed to make it simple.

"By God," the president said, raising his voice on one of those rare occasions. "We'll make it simple."

"What's your plan?" the vice president asked.

"Give something for everyone, including the Goddamn Republicans," Obama said in another rare occasion, this time taking the lord's name in vain.

President Obama laid out his plan -- in broad, sweeping parameters, of course.

"Extend Medicare to cover everyone," Obama said.

"Yippee!" shouted Pelosi.

"But make it voluntary," the president said.

"Brilliant!" Biden chirped.

"How do we pay for it?" the Senate leader asked.

"First of all," Obama said, "we need to adjust the Medicare premiums in which seniors now pay $96 a month deducted from their Social Security checks. Rather, we will introduce a premium schedule based on income exactly patterned after the progressive income tax used by IRS but without the deductions and exemptions. Everyone pays into the pool except the unemployed and homeless."

Obama was on a roll. "We will increase payments to doctors to keep them happy but at the same time create a regional task force of doctors reviewing payments and procedures just as they do at the Mayo Clinic with the critical emphasis on patient care, not doctor and hospital profits."

"You said this is voluntary," Reid said. "What about those who want to keep their own workers insurance plans?"

"That's the beauty," Obama said. "As I said all along, if they like the insurance and doctors they now have, they can keep them."

"My Republican colleagues say the government will run the private carriers out of business," Reid said.

"My Blue Dogs echo the same thing," Pelosi said.

"Screw them," Biden said. "If they think the status quo is so great, let 'em keep it. Let 'em eat their cake. Let's have it out once and for all. Let the people decide what system they like best. Ain't America great!"

The president placed his long legs on the dining room table, folded his arms behind his neck, and smiled.

"I love it, man," Biden bellowed. "Everyone gets what they want."

"Excuse me, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, madam Speaker," Reid said. "I must talk to chairman (Max) Baucus."

"Me, too," Pelosi said. "Can't wait to tell (Minority Leader) John Boehner. I can see him now, doing deep doo doo in his pants."

"More Perrier, Mr. President?" the butler asked.

One could hear fire engine sirens in the background. They weren't outside the White House I discovered sleepily. Just on the street outside my apartment.

I awakened from my dream.

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