The last few weeks haven’t been good for prominent American men of color. First, Skip Gates found himself in hot water with a Cambridge police officer because a neighbor saw Gates force his way into his own home. Second, President Obama commented on it while in the midst of fighting for health care reform, which in turn has stalled in the eyes of the media and in idiotic town hall meetings. Third, Tiger Woods blew a two-shot lead at the PGA Championship, missing at least six make-able birdie putts along the way while also bogeying five times. What’s the world coming to?
But as remarkable as Woods’ loss was, and as unsurprising as the Skip Gates incident was, it’s President Obama’s long summer of retreating and retrenching that is the most shocking here. When Obama first put out his plans for universal healthcare in April, it was apparent to anyone left of center that the ideas weren’t well-formed enough to be serious healthcare reform. So much concentration has been on insurance and choice that the forest of providing low-cost, quality healthcare that any American should be able to possess has been lost among the trees of rabid arguments suggesting “death panels” and “socialized” medicine. But I ask, Mr. President, can you stand the rain?
So, instead of making the mistakes of the Clinton Administration — you know, where the then First Lady became the point-person for a complex and unwieldy healthcare reform bill in ’94 — the Obama Administration made an effort to involve everyone. Everyone except for themselves, that is. They never proposed a specific set of ideas or plans that Congress could sink their teeth into, or add other ideas (good, bad or otherwise) to. It certainly would’ve given more ammunition to Obama’s supporters, to congressmen and senators at shams of town hall meetings, and to nonpartisan policy wonks who just want to see a good plan. All to back down the rhetoric in the past couple of weeks, with implications that the “public option” no longer has to be part of healthcare reform. Storms will come, Mr. President, but can you stand the rain?
With healthcare costs at roughly $2 trillion per year, and some 50 million without any form of health insurance, and at least that many more with sufficient coverage. With hospitals the eighth leading cause of death in this country, with the US ranked thirty-seventh in the world in terms of healthcare quality, with malpractice issues eating away at the practice of medicine. Not to mention high approval ratings, a majority Democratic House and Senate. All of this, and the idea now is to have healthcare reform without a “public option,” without extending the equivalent of Medicare and Medicaid to all Americans? Are you kidding me? God knows all of the days won’t be perfect, Mr. President, but tell me, can you stand the rain?
The Obama Administration and our wonderful media haven’t done their jobs in presenting the possible options to the American public. We’ve gotten the administration’s eight points, the projected costs and the five different plans that have made it out of committee. Not much for a debate that’s been raging for four months. Not a whole hell of a lot for an issue that’s been on the table since the last year of the Roosevelt Administration. The Teddy Roosevelt Administration, that is! The issue has been hijacked by political hacks, insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms who want to maximize profit and minimize risk. This is great if the only issue at stack is making money. Not so great if millions of lives are lost and the quality of those lives are reduced, and businesses go under in the process. That’s what’s at stake here. No pressure, no pressure from me, Mr. President.
It’s as if the vitriolic protesters and idiot commentators were born during the Robber Baron years of the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, put in a cryogenic freezer, and thawed in ’09. That might explain why a few of these folks are coming to town hall meetings with guns — do they plan to shoot the president, or are they just that crazy? To argue that what Obama’s proposing is “socialized medicine” points to a level of fear that borders on the stupid and psychotic. Stupid because “socialized” implies that medicine is about learning how to talk and have relationships with people — it’s not the correct use of the term! Psychotic because the New Deal under FDR in the ’30s forever settled the issue of the role of government in the lives of average Americans.
Before the Great Depression, the government played no role. Since then, the government has a big role, a much-needed role, a required role, in our lives. From sidewalks, street lights and paved roads and highways to hydroelectric plants and VA hospitals, it already serves as a beacon of social democracy and social capitalism. What would change if everyone had access to quality healthcare? Everything for us — which is good. Except that profit margins would drop, especially for pharmaceutical companies and private health insurance providers.
We don’t have all the actual information about healthcare. That the French healthcare system — the best in the world — is a combination of state-run and private options that is truly universal in scope. It keeps costs down, concentrates on preventive care, and requires coverage and care for all French citizens. The British plan, a completely government-run one, is also ranked among the best. It keeps costs down, concentrates on preventive care, and requires coverage and care for all British citizens and subjects. The allegedly dreaded Canadian plan is essentially a hybrid of the two aforementioned ones, and with it putting people who want a rhinoplasty at the back of its queue, still ranks higher in quality than our laissez-faire system. Come on, Mr. President! With so much at stake, we need you to go get wet in this rainstorm on our behalf.