You may have heard that President Obama was once a Professor at University of Chicago Law School. After Thursday’s 7 1/2 hour summit, it looked like he never actualy retired.
Obama called on each member of Congress in attendance, corrected them when they said something he didn’t like, and always had the last word after Republicans made their points. Members of Congress referred to him as “Mr. President” while Obama coolly used first names. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complained that Republicans only spoke for 22 minutes in the afternoon compared to 54 by the Dems; Obama cut McDonnell down to size, saying “You’re right, there was an imbalance on the opening statements,” he said, “because I’m the president.”
Indeed, the summit was the President’s class room. The man is a hell of a communicator, and knows health care like the back of his hand. He simply made it impossible for Republicans to gain any ground. The question of whether or not he can gain ground is harder to determine. The summit lasted 7 1/2 hours, and was often hi-jacked by senators using tired talking points or telling the same, sadly trivialized story about some poor guy who can’t afford health care. In other words, it was a political sleeping pill.
So, where is the debate going from here? Republicans want to “start over” on health care reform. Obviously, that is not much of a compromise position; especially considering the fact that reform has been considerably downsized over the past year in order to gain republican support.
I read a good op-ed today in the Washington Post that succinctly and objectively described the Republican philosophy on hc reform. Basically, republicans want to decrease rules and regulations (i.e. shop across state lines or TORT reform). In theory, reforms of that nature would increase competition in the private sector and force insurance companies to lower their prices. Meanwhile, Dems believe that insurance market should be more regulated to prevent consumer exploitation.
There are merits to both arguments, and I think the two can be combined. However, the bottom line is that the democratic plans insure 30-40 million people, while the republican house plan insures 3-4 million. Most will agree that the biggest problem in the hc industry in the USA is the abundance of uninsured people. But it’s not the only problem, and trying to solve all of the shortcomings and glaring flaws evolves into almost an impossible quandary to solve(hence the 2700 page bill).
It’s immensely clear that the federal government has to intervene in order for the system to progress and improve. However, The American people’s distrust of government, which started after Vietnam/Watergate and grew during the Reagan years, is obviously alive and well.
Sadly though, after a year of debate it’s also become clear that the rhetorical battle has been lost. America still coasts on the same anti-government wave that it has been for 30+ years. That can’t be changed through press releases or media events. The battle for public opinion was over before it even began.
Paradoxically though, the vast majority of Americans want HC reform (58% would be ANGRY if nothing happened). They just don’t quite trust the government to do it. But like I said, the government has to do it.
Obviously, government regulation and oversight has worked before, and it can work again now.If the Dems push through health care reform, the initial outcry against it will be loud. But in a few years, when more are insured and less money is wasted, perhaps the American people will say: “hey, this isn’t so bad afterall!”
So that’s what needs to happen. HC Reform needs to be passed not only to improve the system, but to gain ground in the rhetorical war. That’s what Republicans are more scared of: a pro government wave, as experienced during LBJ’s Great Society or Roosevelt’s New Deal. Passing health care reform will improve not only the health system, but restore the people’s faith in government as well, pushing America forward into a new, pro-government age of progress. And you can bet your ass that Republicans won’t vote for that.