Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The Senate moved its version of health care reform at 1 a.m. last Monday after securing the 60 votes needed. The last vote acquired was that of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. He accepted a permanent exemption for Nebraskans -- they will not have to pay their share of Medicaid expansion, while the other 49 states will. This means that federal taxpayers will pay Nebraska's portion equaling $100 million over 10 years.

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was asked about the deal, he said: "You'll find a number of states that are treated differently than other states. That's what legislating is all about."

Sen. Olympia Snowe, D-Maine, had a different opinion. "I just think it's so politically egregious and grotesque that we would have these kinds of exemptions embedded in this legislation as a way to secure votes." Snowe voted nay.

Reid tried to explain the deals this way: "I don't know if there's a senator that doesn't have something in this bill. ... That's what this legislation's all about."

Some might call it buying votes or having special interests dominate -- Reid calls it legislating.

Now that's audacity, but at least it's transparent.

With a Democratic president, and Democratic control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, all power resides currently with the Democratic Party. But as we all know, nothing lasts forever.

The party of power had a crack in its foundation on Tuesday, when Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama changed from Democrat to Republican.

"I believe our nation is at a crossroads, and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt," said Griffith.

The retired cancer doctor minced no words about the bill. "I want to make it perfectly clear that this bill is bad for our doctors," he said. "It's bad for our patients."

Now he, too, was audacious and transparent -- but in Alabama, where his voters live.

As for change we can all believe in, America has been about individual responsibility, about people -- not institutions -- helping others, creating value and making a difference. This happens in a country of opportunity, free enterprise and limited government.

Instead of focusing on how to structure markets so people create more, the government is focusing on how to take from one voter and give to another. Instead of being a nation of makers, we are becoming a nation of takers. If we are not careful, we are going to have change, in what we believe.

The audacity of Washington.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.