THE GREAT AMERICAN HEALTH(S)CARE
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 24 July 2009
A miserly Russian woman, scrimping and saving for a decade, stuffs a duffel bag (did not trust banks) full of cash and heads out on foot to the government owned/operated car company. Hours later and worn out from toting her load she’s greeted at the door by an apathetic employee. Helga states she wants to buy a car. After counting the cash and determining she in fact has enough she is told her car will be ready for pick up on the 24th of July—three years from now. Helga, hysterical, throws a tantrum. “What’s wrong, I thought you wanted a car?” said the employee. “Yes, but the 24th is no good, no good at all. It won’t work.” Helga screams. “I have a doctor’s appointment that day—can we make it the 23rd or 25th?”
Yes, poor Helga. But the way things are going in the good ol’ USA it may be poor Helen before we know it. Once thought impossible under the survival-of-the-fittest laws of capitalism, the United States government is now proud owner of an automobile company. Ridiculous? You bet. And if President Obama had his way we’d already have a crappy (even if stool samples weren’t required) comprehensive government-owned healthcare system.
As some of the President’s watch dogs have warned—listen to not one word the man says rather watch what he does. And people—even his supporters—are finally beginning to watch; without rose-tinted spectacles, eyes agog, and mouths agape.
Recent pubic opinion polls of the President’s leadership on healthcare are below 50% (because there’s mass confusion and fear—chaos). And, a majority of Americans—count conservative Democrats and Independents who voted for Obama among them—say the country is heading in the wrong direction. Now, with six months in office, the teleprompter delivered sound bite sales pitch(ing) is coming across more boisterous than mesmerizing and compelling and is wearing thin—wafer thin.
The President’s nearly hour-long press conference/address to the nation about healthcare reform Wednesday evening was long on vague big blue arrows and more rhetoric. His opening remarks and answers to questions were not short on substance—there was no substance. All that is coming out of Washington—from both sides of the aisle—for the public to consume is gobbledygook. The President is no exception. No wonder there’s confusion and fear. Obama failed to explain in simple terms—who, what, when, where, how—the impact of his reform on the average American and average American family. His poll numbers can only decline—unless the only folk polled are Obamaites.
We know “why” the President wants to reform healthcare and his cause is a noble one. No other man sitting in the Oval Office in recent history has seriously attempted (Clinton’s effort was a joke) to bring sanity and discipline to an industry that provides far more than a fundamental quality of life service to the country. Lowering costs, promoting choice, and covering everyone are all well and good—in theory. Yet the most basic rule of life—you can’t everything—remains a big unknown. What are the sacrifices in quality of care and costs?
As goes the public so goes the politicians—most of them anyway. Of course Republicans are not buying anything Obama is trying to sell; that is to be expected. One outspoken southerner, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), assessing the President’s healthcare reform opined “If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Nothing subtle about that. But DeMint may have been premature in his proclamation—it may not have even been necessary considering the way Obama has mishandled the healthcare issue to date. As every seasoned player inside the Beltway knows, when a politician is about to commit suicide say nothing just quietly step aside.
But no where near ready to fall on his sword or swig hemlock, the President responded to DeMint by saying healthcare reform was not about him (Obama). That’s absolutely true but, if that’s true, Mr. President then why the rush to ram garbage—diminished quality of care, bureaucracy, and Congressional Budget Office validated exhorbitant costs—down the throat of America? What’s the hurry? Remember, if you want it bad, you are going to get it bad.
Thankfully not just Republicans are taking exception to the President’s rush to turn American healthcare inside out and upside down. The Blue Dogs—a coalition numbering 50+ Democrats who transcend partisan politics and dedicated to safeguarding mainstream values of the American public—have, in so many words, told the president, “Not so fast, Hiram.”
And, outside the halls of Congress, Colin Hanna, President of “Let Freedom Ring,” is spear-heading an effort to have members of Congress sign the following pledge before voting on any Healthcare Reform Bill.
Responsible Healthcare Reform Pledge
I,__________________, pledge to my constituents and to the American people that I will not vote to enact any healthcare reform package that:
1) I have not read, personally, in its entirety; and,
2) Has not been available, in its entirety, to the American people on the Internet for as least 72 hours, so that they can read it too.
Member, United States House of Representatives
“Let Freedom Ring” is a grassroots, non-profit organization with a conservative agenda. Their mission is to promote: 1) Constitutional government; 2) Economic Freedom; and 3) Traditional Values. More insight is available on their website: http://www.letfreedomringusa.com/
This pledge-signing campaign is about as grassroots as you can get. First, Americans have a Constitutional right to know what is coming at them and have a voice—what government for the people is all about. Second, Representatives and Senators damn well better know, firsthand, exactly what they are signing their constituency up for—what government by the people is all about.
As of this writing only 86 (including six Senators) of the 535 members of the House have signed the pledge. The by-name list is available on the “Let Freedom Ring” website. What could possibly be restraining the others from committing to doing something they are duty bound to do anyway? Signing can do no harm.
There is nothing “tricky” about the half-page commitment. It simply reflects what representational government is all about. As for those Representatives and Senators who opt not to sign the pledge there is only one acceptable response from the public: expose, humiliate, and throw the bums out of office.
Granted, any healthcare reform bill will be a cumbersome document—thousands of pages—and be dry, tedious, cleverly worded (intended to deceive), and downright boring material. Further, it may be what’s not explicitly spelled out that may be more important and problematic than what is written. But none of that matters. The duty of each member of the House (and their staffs) is to read and understand the legislation.
No question there’s much room for improvement in American healthcare—at least in regard to oversight. But discarding what generally works well (even foreigners come here for care) in favor of a government-controlled service is not a probable disaster of an incalcuable magnitude; it’s a certainty.
With sundry drafts currently in progress, we can hope as well as demand the crafting process tracks along the carpenter’s and surgeon’s axiom: measure twice cut (sign) once. With something as important as healthcare, why not measure three or four times—or five or six? Ensure it’s right before the cut. Sometimes to go fast you have to move methodically and deliberately—in other words, go slow.
So here we are late July and much to the President’s chagrin healthcare reform will not be resolved before the August recess. And, believe it or not, the United States will not implode, explode, or go down the commode. At least not any further than we already have. Of course the President is trying to convince all to the contrary.
Obama has 3 ½ years remaining in office. Any healthcare reform must thoroughly address a smorgasbord of complicated, interdependent issues—all tied to the bottom line: money—ranging from eligibility to spiraling costs to abuse(s) to fraud to frivilous lawsuits. So what if it were to take every single day remaining in his term to get healthcare reform in place?
Once fielded, Americans, though an impatient lot, will not remember how long it took provided it is the right care for the country. On the other hand, screw up healthcare and 44 goes down in the history books as a one-term wonder—elected while the country "slept"—with a footnote likening his failure to Napolean’s demise at Waterloo.