Obama, Be More Like Bush
I nearly vomited when I typed that headline, but stick with me because I have a point which I believe to be valid!
It’s sometimes very annoying how the critics of the Obama Administration are quick to deliver a verdict on his agenda so quickly. The ‘First 100 Days’, made famous by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, has become a concept
by which every president has been measured since the 1930s. I think that concept is rather pointless, especially if you’re going to call an administration’s entire 4-year term in office a failure based on the first 100 days. Or 200 days. Or 6 months. After the last administration, people obviously want change, and they want to see it quickly. But as a pragmatist, my expectations are much more measured and realistic.
In the case of Health Care reform, President Obama campaigned on ensuring affordable health care for all Americans. After all, it makes no sense for a country as rich as ours to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 46 million uninsured people. Those who do have health insurance, myself included, are finding that it’s extremely expensive, and that’s only if you’re actually healthy. Becoming sick is financial suicide in today’s system.
So, in an effort to help out people who need health care, and also to make the system more affordable, Obama proposed full scale reform that included something call the ‘public option‘. All that would do is give people the option of choosing between either private insurance or public, government-provided health insurance. The government has greater leverage than private insurers, so they would get lower rates with hospitals and doctors, thus providing the most affordable alternative. Those that want to keep their private insurance can do so, and others looking for something cheaper at least have a choice. This would obviously benefit the 46 million without, and also the millions more who have health insurance they can’t afford. It would also force insurance companies to offer competitive rates if they want to keep their customers. Simply put, it is the holy grail for reform. Without it, any other ‘reforms’ will amount to slapping fresh paint on a hooptie.
That’s why I was extremely disappointed when I heard this:
WASHINGTON – Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Barack Obama’s administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.
Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession probably would enrage Obama’s liberal supporters but could deliver a much-needed victory on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.
Wow. Mounting opposition? From who? Marginalized politicians? Crazy town-hallers? The health insurance industry that puts the batteries in the backs of politicians and crazy town-hallers? The answer is nobody that should really matter. In November, Obama was voted overwhelmingly into office because people liked his campaign’s platform more than his opponent’s. A MAJOR part of his platform, arguably the biggest, is health care reform. The center-piece of the plan for reform is the public option. Period. And now he’s bending to pressure from a regional party that got a resounding ‘no thanks’ last November when they offered their ideas?
The Republicans are known as ‘The Party of No’. You see Mr. President, there’s actually a very good reason for that. It’s because they are going to say, yes you guessed it, NO to every single idea you propose. Why are you even giving them the time of day? Never mind what ‘The Party of No’ wants, it’s the people who voted for you who are your bosses. Your constituency want something done, so make it happen. End of story. And when you make it happen, don’t half-ass it, either. Bending to pressure from a party that is already programmed to disagree with you makes zero sense. Health Care reform without a ‘public option’ makes even less sense.
President Bush was a man that made a ton of bad decisions. He was a pretty awful president by most reasonable measuring sticks. But the one thing I honestly respected about him was his conviction. In his mind, there wasn’t a decision he made that was wrong. Obviously, the consequences of his decisions have been pretty catastrophic, but the point is he never, ever bowed to pressure from the opposition. Hell, the entire country was against him, and that didn’t even stop him.
Obama, in my opinion, needs some of that. You have the majority of the country clearly in favor of the ‘public option’, and you’re bowing to pressure from a marginalized, regional, minority party that was going to say no anyway?
Although I don’t want to say he’s failed 7 months into office, I’m definitely worried. This wasn’t just some side issue that he tried to work on. If he ends up passing health care reform without a public option, the liberal base will never forgive him. He will have lost them on the key issue that got him elected, thus making prospects for reelection difficult unlikely impossible up in the air. So, I don’t think the administration is a failed one, but if there’s no public option, they’ve definitely failed on this issue, and Obama’s lack of conviction on an issue as important as this one may be signs of what to expect from him.
Hopefully he gets it done, though. I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation at all.