Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's About Character

I was worried about President Obama's speech to Congress on healthcare reform.

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 lionoftheleft@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. Gee, I wish I had your optimism. I just kept thinking during his speech that the insurance companies will now be able to extract huge monthly payments from us all no matter if we can afford it or now and we will go to jail if we do not come up with the money, just like with car insurance. One may have to buy a right to be on the road but having to buy a right to be alive in the United States is not an equivalent. There was this glimmer of hope that those who cannot afford the payments to the lifestyles of the rich and famous (insurance CEOs) when I thought I heard something about something on the order of extended Medical rather than punishment for those with no money. Those with no money for car insurance get jail if they continue to drive. If we continue to live and cannot pay usery to insurance CEOs, do we go to jail. I heard of a lady who would not leave jail because she got help for her cancer in jail that she would not get if she got probation.

    I am in the most underinsured group (55 to 67), the just before retirement age group (62). When they raised the retirement age to 67 for my age group, they did not tell my body. My body is barely going to make it to the 65 it was preparred to make it to. But, then, social security was set to an age that expected most people to die before attaining. Changing the retirement date for a young person is just not equivalent or fair to someone having used up their body and just making it those last few years - but that is what Congress decided while breathing their rarified air.

    The bank bailout was a scam for the banks. This insurance policy mandatory for all is just another looting with the blessings of the haves.