Universal Healthcare: What a disappointment. Where is Candidate Obama now that we need him?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On January 25, 2007, two years before his inauguration, Candidate, then US Senator Barack Obama spoke before a Families USA conference in Washington about the importance of healthcare reform:

In the 2008 campaign, affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how. We have the ideas, we have the resources, and we must find the will to pass a plan by the end of the next president’s first term.

The Senate plan championed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is flawed in many ways, chief among them it’s failure to cover more than 31 million of the 46 million Americans who are without coverage. Fifteen million of our countrymen are being excluded from coverage, principally because President Obama won’t approve legislation which is not “deficit neutral.” In effect, our President has mandated that healthcare reform either pay for itself or get out of Dodge, that is, or he won’t approve it. (All of sudden he’s worried about the budget deficit?!)

This isn’t complicated. Truly universal healthcare coverage is expensive and can only be funded in one of three ways. Either we increase taxes to an extent Congress and the American people won’t tolerate, and/or we continue to deficit spend ourselves into oblivion, said ship having already sailed. Wait, that was only two options?

Yes, there’s a third option. Structure a smart, expensive, but cost effective program that covers every single American, and then – here’s the really novel idea – pay for it by cutting something less important out of the budget.

[Insert dramatic pause.]

What? You thought I was going to keep writing? That I was going to suggest that, in addition to cutting all the obviously useless crap out of the budget, we get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan in favor of a much less expensive approach to controlling terrorism? That protecting the health of millions of Americans is more important than fighting wildly expensive and perhaps counterproductive wars because, no disrespect meant, a relatively few thousand Americans have been killed by terrorists? “Stop.” (I’m talking to myself) This isn’t about my personal opinion of how we should be addressing the very real threat of terrorism.

This is about universal healthcare and a new President who has lost sight of what’s important. If he (and Congress) don’t care about healthcare being universal, they should say so, but let’s not kid ourselves. The healthcare plans Congress is now considering are examples of politics at it’s worst, the product of an inexperienced President – however intelligent and well-spoken – who wasted hundreds of billions on large company bailout programs at what turns out to be the expense of honest to goodness healthcare reform.

Now. Now I’m done.


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