Thursday, September 3, 2009

Health Care Town Hall Meeting: Reflections

Make no mistake about it: The primary objection conservatives have to health care reform is the inclusion of a public option. Oh, they make noises about other parts of the proposals and continue to erroneously believe that the path to true reform lies through revoking the right to jury trials in the singular instance of malpractice suits (and yet, they trust juries to hand out the death penalty. Go figure). But conservatives at the town hall meeting saved most of their invective for the possibility of a public option.

A public option simply means the alternative of purchasing health insurance through a government entity. Premiums alone -- and not tax dollars -- would finance the entity. Experts in health care reform believe it necessary not because of the large amounts of people who would choose it -- according to Jay Inslee, the CBO estimates about 3% of Americans would choose the public option -- but to control costs and to provide a competitive alternative to private insurance So why all the ruckus? As Inslee himself said, suppose that it is more than 3%? All that means is that people want it, that they're making the choice of participating in a public option.

As near I can decipher the hoots and jeers, the objections come down to these:
  • taxpayer money will eventually be needed to finance a public option, regardless of what anyone says now;
  • a public option is the camel's nose in the tent, the camel being socialized medicine along the lines of the Canada, Great Britain, or (shudder) France. Sure we start off with a small public option. But like all government programs, it will grow until it subsumes the entire health care system.
To which I say, if only. We'll have single-payer health care in this country when the political will and momentum exists for it, i.e., when politicians believe that not supporting it will cost them their jobs. Right now, we don't have that. I might argue that the quickest path to single payer is to continue doing nothing: Let the problem fester until radical surgery becomes the only option. However, the human costs of that are too high, so I'll support reform with a public option. Reform without a public option makes a mockery of the word, anyway.

So take the conservative argument as it is: That a public option is the first step to single-payer. So what? If that's what the people of the United States and their elected representatives want, that's what we should have. If conservatives want to avoid all of this supposed catastrophe, all they have to do is become a majority party again. They seem to think that the best way to do that is to Just Say No, in a preferably loud and profane manner. Which leads me to think that they are full of sour grapes and pissed off because they lost and are out of power. Worse (for them), they don't even have a ball to take home.

What Democrats have to realize is that the game is theirs, that it would be nice if the other side played but in the end it doesn't make any difference because the Democrats have already won. So, let's act like it. We don't need Republicans to pass a public option, and it's clear that they won't support any reform that comes from outside of their agenda, whether or not it includes a public option. Quit courting them and get on with what needs to be done...

Just my little piece of the world argues that the public option is far from dead...

If you lived in New Orleans, this weekend you could lose your inhibitions at the Southern Decadence Festival, dance the day away at the Creole Zydeco Festival, chow down at the Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival, and party green at Project 30-90 (the intersection of sound + sustainability)...

Moments in time: Pablo Picasso poses with a new painting...



(Thanks to Collin Kelley.)

7 comments:

Annette said...

Thanks for the shout out again.. I love the YouTube... it is simple and great for explaining how it all works. I am so tired of all these talking heads saying what the President believes, wants and is going to say. I just don't believe they know what they are talking about.

Every one of the people who are close to the President have stated and the President himself has stated he wants the Public Option. When Valerie Jarret was at Netroots she said it as plainly as anything, that she had point blank asked him and he stated without reservation YES he was standing behind the public option.. David Axelrod said in an interview with Chuck (idiot) Todd, that the president supported the Public Option, but the details would come out in the speech next week. How much plainer can it be?

As I said, I think with 45 stating yes, and the 16 saying maybe, if we can get at least 6 and force them to filibuster, then we have them over a barrel, if they want to force it.. then so be it.. the GOPers are out of power for years to come.. there is still broad consensus for wanting reform.. like 68% nationwide.. but the press won't report that. Even our so called liberal media is very lacking in this so called debate.

Sorry, didn't mean to write a complete post in the comments...lol

Bill said...

My understanding is that Obama is gearing up to put on the gloves and duke it out over this, forcing reform through the Congress. Hopefully that is the case.

Conservatives will piss and moan about it, but, much like LBJ and Hubert Humphrey working to force the Civil Rights Act through the Senate, it is the RIGHT thing to do.

I saw Bill Moyers (the television pundit who I most respect) on Bill Maher's program last night and he was talking about how he's afraid that Obama will turn out like Grover Cleveland: a nice, likable guy who ends up being too nice and not getting anything noteworthy done because he tries too hard to please everyone. Someone will always be unhappy with what a politician does, and in matter of such national importance as health care it is important to not be wishy-washy trying to appease the minority party (who is the minority for a reason, especially shortly after losing control of both houses of Congress after 12 years of control).

Bill said...

One afterthought: LBJ and HHH didn't even have a filibuster proof majority to work with in the Senate and eventually succeeded in breaking a 57 day filibuster and ultimately passing the bill by a vote of 73-27.

Granted that (then president)LBJ and HHH are among the greatest senators ever, but still, I'd like to believe that the current Democratic leadership could make something happen in regards to this when facing much better numbers in the Senate than those two did...

Joe said...

On the issue of the town hall meetings, be sure to read E.J. Dionne's piece in the Post this morning
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/02/AR2009090202858.html

I can say from some experience, having run a congressional district office for a year, that whenever you hold these "town hall" meetings, radio call ins, public meetings, etc. there is almost invariably some wingnut from either side there to make a scene. As usual, the MSM should be ashamed, but they've already moved on to the next "story" and continue to parrot the "anger" at the town hall meetings as fact.

K. said...

Joe: On this blog, he's known as "the great E. J. Dionne."

K. said...

Annette, Bill: We can get this done with a combination of public support, presidential leadership, and congressional backbone. It's the last that I'm most worried about, which is why the first two are so important.

Scrumpy said...

Thanks as always for providing some clear insight. My head so easily spins these days.