Richard Stengel, the former Editor of Time Magazine and Under Secretary of State during the Obama administration, said something on TV the other day that stopped the other guests in their tracks. “The same fire that melts the butter, hardens the egg”. Mr. Stengel didn’t create this idiom, nor did he claim authorship. A quick Google search will reveal that lots of Americans found the comment insightful, and more importantly, got them to think.
I, of course, thought about the health care legislation of the last dozen years. From 2011 through 2016 our Republican members of the US House of Representatives and Senate voted over 50 times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act even though there wasn’t a viable replacement. Why? Perhaps a few didn’t really have any idea the damage repeal would have done. Most didn’t really care. Their votes were inconsequential. The law wasn’t going to be repealed, but their base remained riled up and the fundraising dollars flowed in. My local Congressman, Dave Joyce, was just one of the guys. We live in Ohio, a state where all districts are safe. Mr. Joyce rode the wave, the fire melted the butter.
Everything changed in November 2016. With the election of Donald Trump as President and the Republicans controlling both the US House and Senate, the PPACA could finally be repealed. The alternative was the abominable American Health Care Act (House of Representatives) and the Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 which was analyzed in this blog at the time. We all remember that the House passed its bill and the beer celebration held by the White House. And we remember that Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John McCain (R-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME) saved the day and voted with the Democrats to defend our system. Few recall that twenty Republicans in the House also voted against the bill. One of them was Dave Joyce. The same fire that had melted the butter hardened the egg.
We are now back to the Democrats holding the keys to power. And though President Biden may want to make Obamacare better and improve access to health care, he can’t do it by himself. It will take Congressmen and Senators from both sides of the aisle to work together. The previous paragraph isn’t an endorsement of Mr. Joyce, simply an acknowledgement of the Congressman rising to the moment. And we will need a lot of those moments as our elected representatives feel the heat from their respective bases. The denizens of the extremes are never quiet. Our elected officials will have to overcome the pressure to move our country forward. The fire must harden the egg.
Picture – Ready for Action – David L Cunix