Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm Still Glad I Voted for this Guy

Yes, I have my problems with him beginning with his reluctance to do any kind of accounting for all the criminality in the previous administration, and continuing with his reluctance to keep pledges to his LGBT constituency. I have big problems with his reliance on the financial industry to fix a disaster created by the financial industry.

But, if he brings off health care reform, then this will be the greatest accomplishment since the creation of Medicare in 1965. His proposals are a lot less than I'd like to see, but they would fundamentally alter the current system and put it on the path toward that more civilized universal arrangement that we all want. If he succeeds in getting this through the Congressional sausage factory, then the power of the insurance and medical industries that have stymied real progress in this area since the days of Harry Truman will be broken. The same forces that tried to defeat Medicare in 1965 are now lined up to bury this proposal, if not by outright opposition, then through coopting by "moderates" (Democrats on the insurance industry payroll) and through "poison pill" amendments.

I think the President is quite right. Doing nothing would be far worse than doing something about the health care crisis. It has ballooned into a serious ball and chain on the economy, and into a potentially lethal threat to the American middle class. While the opposition has resorted to hysteria mongering (and to outright racism in some cases), Obama has stayed very focused on this issue and has talked in very sober factual terms about it.

I am not surprised at all that he is having great difficulty getting this through Congress on schedule. I thought the August deadline was too optimistic from the beginning. The forces for the status quo are formidable with bottomless pockets. They work within a federal system that is all about stifling reform efforts and preserving a profitable status quo for a powerful few. If Obama succeeds with the health care bill, it will be the first big defeat for that very entrenched system in a long time.


Lapinbizarre said...

I was raised in the UK in the early days of the "Welfare State". I have lived in the US - always with medical insurance, thank God - since the early 70's. I am appalled that 60 years after the introduction of Socialized Medicine in Britain, so many people in this country, purely from self interest, are aggressively fighting universal health care. Most disgusting to me are those, like Pat Robertson, who are fighting it from a "Christian" standpoint. A few weeks back, Robertson proclaimed that universal health care is unnecessary because anyone who is seriously ill can go to a hospital emergency room, where he or she must be treated (that, or be smitten on the forehead by a Pentecostal preacher, I guess).

Evidently no-one has told Robertson about the strain that this approach to treatment is placing on emergency room services and, because so many of these folks are uninsured, that it is passing on to those who are insured. Plus I guess that Robertson doesn't know (and if he knows, does he care?) about the quality of the care they receive. A friend of mine, homeless, in his late 40's, has advancing bone cancer. He has made a number of emergency room visits, several different emergency rooms, over the past couple of years. After many hours wait - he's not a real emergency case - they shoot him up with so much pain killer he can barely walk or think; refuse him a prescription for any further painkillers (wisely in his case, given his substance abuse problems) because he "isn't registered with a family physician", and dump him back on the street, where the cancer continues to eat away. This is the extent of the safety net medical treatment that Pat Robertson, and doubtless many others on the Radical "Christian" Right, think "adequate".

Rick+ said...

     Like you, I'm still glad I voted for him. It dismays me to see almost daily reports on the news of the President's popularity rankings. I keep wanting to say, "Give the guy a chance!" Eight years of reactionary government and decades of turning a blind eye to the health care situation will not be changed overnight.

JayV said...

Give him time? Nah.

Liberal Obamaniacs are waay too deferential to Dear Leader. He's a centrist, conservative Democrat and should be challenged on every front.

For some comic relief in this silly season, here's a great YouTube video:

Counterlight said...

For all of the reasons Lapinbizarre says above, and others, Pat Robertson has always been my first candidate for Anti-Christ.

I go back and forth between optimism and pessimism on this issue. Some days I think something meaningful is imminent, and other times I think that I will die before the USA sees any meaningful health insurance reform.

I don't think Obama is asking for time. If anything, he's pushing for urgency and speed. We've been debating the national health insurance issue since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. The last president to really push for comprehensive national health insurance was Harry Truman. The same forces that are out to stop reform now defeated and humiliated Truman in the 1940s. Then there was that fence-straddling mischegoss that Bill Clinton proposed back in 1994, speaking of conservative centrist Democrats. It was a plan intended to please everyone (especially the people in power), and pleased no one.

My grandfather, may he rest in peace, was a country doctor who refused to join the AMA because of its long standing opposition to national health insurance (among other reasons). The cruelty and the cost of the American system have been an issue for a long long time.

June Butler said...

I surely have no regrets about voting for Obama. The other team was totally unacceptable. My first choice as a candidate was Dennis Kucinich. Obama is what I thought he would be, a right-leaning centrist. I had no illusions that his views were my views.

Howevah! I'm more with Jay. We'll need to keep the pressure on for him to keep the promises he made during the campaign and not abandon us on the left.

motheramelia said...

I voted for Obama and I hope with all my heart that he can get a decent health care plan passed. The opposition is formidable. Those of us who have always had health plans are the ones most likely to not see the need for change. After all I'm taken care of.

I worked for a while at a county hospital and never realized before then how busy the ER is caring for people with no means to pay and with long-long waits. I think our health care system is a national disgrace.

Counterlight said...

I'm closer to Kucinich myself on this issue. But, I'm hoping to get at least a little something moving in the right direction with Obama, and a little something is always better than a whole lot of nothing. An Obama victory on this would be a serious breach in a (so far) impenetrable wall of entrenched financial interests.

I find it striking how much opposition (and how shrill it is sometimes) there is even to Obama's a lot less than sweeping reform of the healthcare system.

If the Obama plan passes, perhaps it might create the room for states down the road to begin creating their own single payer systems, or some version of that. I think we may see single payer systems on the local and state level before we see them on the Federal level.

June Butler said...

Obama said it himself, "The perfect is the enemy of the good," and I agree. Let's get something better than the crap mish-mash that we have now, with so many falling through the cracks.

June Butler said...

Grandpère and I have had socialistic government health care for all of our adult lives, because GP was employed at a state university. None of the health insurance companies wanted to insure the state workers for any kind of reasonable price, so the state decided to self-insure. State employees can still choose an HMO or a PPO, but we stuck with the state plan and have been pretty well satisfied. Now we're both on Medicare, and we like that, too.

If the feds can come up with something similar that would cover all and be transferable from job to job, a combination system might work. We should study France. Their health care is quite good, and it costs less per capita than ours.

Counterlight said...

Why those flaming commies in Baton Rouge!

The City University of New York, my employer, has a nice complicated mischegoss of a system. The college provides Blue Cross Blue Shield which does not have dental coverage, and has recently discontinued prescription coverage. The Faculty Union acquired supplemental insurance to make up for what those fat greedy parasitic bastards at Blue Cross won't cover anymore. Most unusually, adjunct faculty get health insurance (crappy copay and deductible laden insurance) through the faculty union. Usually, colleges succeed in pitting full time faculty against adjuncts as a cost-saving measure to keep a docile and inexpensive labor force.

My friend David Kaplan, an attorney, always says that if he had a choice between working for academia or the Mob, he'd pick the Mob. They pay better, and they have a code of honor.

David G. said...

Business, Profit Indexes, Share Lines, Share Holders...etc.

You Ask?!?

Be sensible New Yorker!!

IT said...

Oh, Counterlight... you make me laugh bitter notes of recognition.

My sister in law is in corporate life and sits on advisory boards for a university. Her corporate colleagues tell the university that its practises are so far antiquated in terms of labor, women, minorities that no company could get away with them.

The only people who labor under the illusion that universities are liberal, don't work for universities. There is nothing liberal about any universities board of trustees....

Counterlight said...

"There is nothing liberal about any universities board of trustees...."