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Obama, Be More Like Bush

with 4 comments

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

"Well, looks like everyone that matters is here."

"Well, it looks like everyone that matters is here."

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.

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Written by PJ

August 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Ha! I agree, that’s quite a headline.

    The part I don’t get is how Obama and the Democrats could be ‘bowing to Republican pressure’? The Democrats have the votes to pretty much do what ever they want right now. Repubs are essentially powerless right now.

    I think a true reading of this situation would be that they are bowing to public pressure showing at town halls and the indications in polls. These are factual and plausable (vs. the Repubs made me do it.)

    This is twice now that Americans have rejected Socialism in general and specifically around health care. I would suggest what we need to do is not this approach, not the status quo, but go back to the free market like everywhere else in our economy/society.

    Here’s an example of that solution: http://pracphilosblog.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/a-radical-solution-for-health-care-the-free-market-not-socialism/

    Philosopher

    August 17, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    • For the most part, I agree with your point about him having the votes. Particularly in the house, there should be no reason why a bill which includes a public option doesn’t pass. In the Senate, it’s a little more difficult. There’s a lot made about the #60, but there are the Blue Dog Democrats that are joining the opposition on a matter of fiscal principle. There are also some democrats that are worried the bill, even with the public option, isn’t doing enough. If I were him, though, I would ram it down all their throats anyway. If they want to vote against it, let them. 2010 is when they explain to their constituents why they did so.

      To your point about Americans rejecting socialism, Veterans Health care and Medicare are both example of socialism being embraced by the American people. It’s responsible socialism, not unabated, the-Soviets-are-invading socialism. Medicare needs cost-cutting improvements, but it’s a largely successful system that should serve as a shining example for this ongoing health care debate.

      I blame Republicans, specifically the ones at the Hill, because they are the ones that are playing the role of obstructionists. Town-hallers can only do so much. And for every poll you show me that suggests Americans are against reform, I can show you one that says the opposite. I can probably show you more, in fact.

      I read your post and while I do think you made some good points, I see little that will actually drive down high insurance costs to affordable levels for ordinary Americans. Your list reads as a way for insurance companies to waste less money, but does not address the central reason for the need for reform; the amount of uninsured people in this country and the high cost of insurance, the lack of an affordable alternative, and lack of competition to drive prices down. That’s where I think the public option comes in.

      Even if some of your ideas are implemented, it is cosmetic reform at best. True reform is most likely to be found in the idea Obama ought to be pushing for at all costs.

      PJ

      August 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm


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