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Oglesby: Solutions at hand, if both sides work at it
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While elated the elephant erased the donkey's veto-proof Senate with a victory in Massachusetts, I hope the GOP doesn't again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. While the vote clearly repudiated President Barack Obama, most specifically the health plan, it even more signaled that voters want action and progress on problems including health care and other major issues, now. They don't want to see partisan efforts solely to weaken Obama, even more at the expense of effective governance.

That's what happened during all the George W. Bush years. In denial over his 2000 victory, except for a couple of years following 9/11, Democrats focused on weakening his presidency.

One example is Social Security. Senate leaders refused to consider anything until he submitted a plan. He submitted a comprehensive plan, including eliminating the Ponzi scheme causing the deficit's race to bankruptcy. The Senate refused to act unless Bush took that completely off the negotiating table.

Bush said put everything on the table, and if they defeated it, so be it. Nothing happened except Bush was weakened and the system continued racing to bankruptcy at a future cost of hundreds of billions by 2018 according to actuarial projections. This is responsible government?

The right wing must realize, accept and accommodate moderates in the GOP tent. You can't govern if you're not elected. Unyielding conservatives can't be elected in some states such as most of New England. The proof is in the blue and red map of that populous region.

If the GOP focuses only on weakening Obama, it will anger those wanting something workable done, the gift tossed in the garbage. A health care bill vastly improving our existing system, but certainly not to perfection, can be passed. Both sides already agree on a number of things that could be the base of improvement to which could be added compromises.

The Democrats could agree to the tort reform Republicans say is necessary to let doctors, not insurance companies, decide necessary treatment and curtail the cost of defensive medicine so many now pay. Now the states say what coverage may and may not be offered within the state. Republicans could agree to require the states to follow the federal plan where there is conflict.

Many people, especially younger ones who generally stay healthy, forgo health insurance. Driving is a privilege not a right. States license them to drive legally if they have basic insurance to cover those who might be injured in an accident. They can get higher-priced policies if they choose.

Similarly, Republicans might let at least a basic health insurance be required of all with those who wish to purchase more comprehensive coverage. True, some can't afford even that basic policy. Many ways exist to pay for those: One could be requiring insurers to pay a fee into a pot based upon their volume of policies in force.

Obama could claim credit for it much as Bill Clinton signed and claimed credit for welfare reform after continually vetoing it after the GOP Congress passed it. Here, Republicans could claim equal credit, showing they can produce. Such can be a net GOP plus if handled right. Best of all, there would be significant improvement.

Fast-forward to the State of the Union address. Brief analysis: He was eloquent as usual, had some good ideas tucked into the pie-in-the-sky phraseology, probably believed fully by most Democrats who don't look at the raw numbers that simply don't add up. It was a politically smart speech, that should put Republicans on notice they'll share blame for nothing at all being done on recognizably major priority problems.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears every other Tuesday and on