Would he strongly support a public option? Would he be specific enough? Would he explain
exactly what his plan will do? Will he take on the Regressives aggressively and would he
inspire those of us who were so moved by his election and the change he represented from
the previous eight years? If you worried like me; if you feared he might wimp out or shrink
from the task at hand; if you didn't want to be disappointed by one more politician; then
you should be feeling pretty good right about now.
The President hit one out of the park and his Regressive opponents showed
their true colors. The President laid out his plan and then took the argument to a new
level reminiscent of speeches about civil rights and voting rights. The President stated
that this debate about healthcare is not just about insurance and money and quality of
care. This is about the character of us as a nation. This is about whether we will care
for all Americans or not. This is about how the richest nation on earth will treat the
poorest and neediest of it's citizens. This is about what kind of people we are.
Specifically, the President promised upon signing new healthcare legislation
it would be illegal to deny health insurance because of a previously existing condition.
It would be illegal to drop someone because they got sick. No one could be forced into
bankruptcy because of an illness. This plan would create a market place of plans to choose
from by those who currently don't have insurance and that this market place would
include a public option to force private health insurance companies to keep prices
competitive and services comparable. Employers would have to provide health insurance
to employees; and just as everyone in California and 32 other states have to have auto
insurance, they will also have to have health insurance.
While I appreciated the specifics; I now really understand what his idea is,
a call for us to be the best we can be as a nation. He reminded the country that when
people were wiped out by the Depression, the Congress passed Social Security despite
claims it would turn the U.S. into a socialist country. In 1965, with over half the population
over 65 living under the poverty line (with some buying dog food because it was all they
could afford to eat); the Congress stepped up again and passed Medicare to provide
quality healthcare. They also passed the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, and Public
Accommodations Act to end the system of Jim Crow laws that oppressed African-Americans
in this land. Critics of both Medicare and Civil Rights fomented fear; fear of a total
government takeover of healthcare and fear of the mixing of races and the rise of African-
Americans to full citizenship. Time after time, this nation has done the right thing over
the objections of entrenched special interests and to the benefit of the powerless and
downtrodden. The President called on Congress to rise to the occasion again; as he did,
the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and it was election night all over again.
This is now a debate about what kind of nation we are. Are we a nation of the
people, by the people, and for the people; or are we a nation of faceless, feckless
corporations whose only goal is to maximize profits no matter who it hurts? This is
a real debate. This is an argument worth having. This is a cause worth fighting for and
this is the time to do it.
The President pointed out that this bill would not add a dime to the deficit (he
will veto it if it does). He reminded members of Congress that the price tag over ten
years is equal to the amount Congress was willing to appropriate to fund the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq and pay for a tax cut for the richest 1% of American citizens. The
implication is clear. Are we a nation with enough character to guarantee healthcare
to all at an affordable price or are we a nation willing to only throw money at the military-
industrial complex and the rich?
The President debunked the myths of August from death panels to illegal
immigrants and abortion. Right on cue the Regressives made their voice known in this
debate when a Congressman from South Carolina, in the middle of the speech, called
the President a liar. Regressive strategy became further evident in their responses to
the President's speech. A Louisiana Congressman called on the President and Congress
to throw out all proposals and start fresh (delaying anything being done for years).
Obama stated that he will be the last President who will have to debate this subject.
The President asked all Americans what kind of nation they want to live in.
Will we progress or regress? Will we rise up to take care of our friends and neighbors
as previous generations have or will we let self interest and selfishness rule the day?
This is about the character of our country and I for one really want this debate.
It's time. We have watched the corporations and rapacious rich create a gap between
the haves and have-nots that is increasing daily. We have put up with eight years of
disastrous economic and foreign policy. We have stood by while Regressives tried to
dismantle the New Deal, New Frontier, and the Great Society; and they have come close
to succeeding. This is no longer just about healthcare. It is now about what kind of legacy
we leave our children. Obama has staked his Presidency on a debate about character
and morality. Are you as excited as I am? Are you ready to get involved?
I was worried when the President started his speech; worried I would be let
down or that my faith in him was misplaced; worried that runaway healthcare costs
would wreck our economy or his call to arms would be weak or squishy; worried he
would not fight and call out the Regressives to put up or shut up. Instead, I am now in
a debate about the character of this nation, a debate long overdue. Huzzah! This is
going to be fun. What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please
send them to firstname.lastname@example.org