being too liberal, the healthcare debate should provide enough to supply an army. Since
the town yells of the summer, media "headlines" have been asking the American public
"Is healthcare reform dead...on it's last legs...dying...dead on arrival...on life support?"
I lost count of how many news readers, re-anchors or pundits, declared healthcare reform
on it's last legs and pronounced a public option as dead and buried.
The Wall Street Journal, no bastion of progressive thought, declares the public
option is off life support and making a recovery in the Senate. (It is expected the House
version will contain a public option.) The Journal further reports that several versions of
a public plan are being discussed and prospects are hopeful that some blended version will
make it into the final Senate bill. The debate over a public option, and the healthcare bill
in general, is gaining so much momentum the Journal says Democrats "...feel a breeze at
The "breeze" the Democrats feel is, in part, from a report the Congressional Budget
Office has issued which claims a Democratic healthcare bill (which contains a public option)
would reduce the deficit. This is the same CBO which scored the Senate finance bill and
concluded it would cost under $900 billion over ten years. This is crucial because the
President said he won't sign a bill which adds to the deficit or one that costs over $1 trillion
in ten years. It is even more important because one of the central factors in the nation's
rising budget deficit is the rapid increase in healthcare costs. Thus, the Democratic plan
would cover about 95% of Americans, eliminate prohibitions against pre-existing conditions,
create portable insurance not based on your job, drive premium prices down through the
good old capitalistic notion of competition, and reduce the deficit. So, here we stand,
facing the real chance that Washington might actually vote a change in which everyone,
except the insurance companies, wins. Who'da thunk it?
I know, I know, I'm counting my chickens before they hatch; but it is a reaction
to months and months of "liberal" news coverage in which we were told this couldn't happen.
We were told the American people were outraged and simply wouldn't stand for it. This was
despite every poll showing the American people support a public option and other provisions
by an overwhelming majority. We were fed stories about a new grassroots movement of
tea bag parties that was sure to derail healthcare, crush Obama, and guaranteed a Republican
resurgence in 2010. The "news reports" and the reality don't jive.
How do you explain corporate media declaring healthcare reform dead on arrival
and the conclusion by the Wall Street Journal that there is a good chance healthcare reform
will pass; reform which includes a public option! Remember how we were told Obama blew
it? He had been too hands off. He should have been more involved in setting the agenda.
He was too weak and not assertive enough. We were told each time a deadline was missed,
this meant the reform effort was over. We were told the town yells scared Congress and
members were afraid to vote for any change in healthcare rules. Hanbaugh, Beck, Faux News,
and the Regressive echo machine were given credit for stopping "Obamacare" in it's tracks.
Now, not only won't Rush get a football team to own, he will watch President Obama
sign the most important legislation since Social Security and Medicare even as the economy
rebounds from eight years of fiscal irresponsibility by his good friend George Bush.
The most interesting public option being considered is a proposal to create a
national health plan which allows individual states to opt in or opt out. Supporters envision
states like California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania opting in and states like Texas,
Mississippi, and Georgia opting out (blue states in and red states out). With the most
populated states "in" we will be able to have a real test to see if the public option works.
When it does, the people in red states will be seeking to join no matter what political party
is in control. Once again, good old American competition will settle the question. It's
It should be noted, Regressives are now attacking the Congressional Budget Office
numbers. These are the same folks who were thrilled with the CBO during the summer
when it's initial report concluded healthcare reform would cost $1 trillion over ten years
and not reduce the deficit. Republican leaders trumpeted the numbers and cited them as
proof the Democrats were trying to bankrupt the nation. Now, when the numbers don't
go their way, the CBO can't be trusted (CNN's Lou Dobbs declared CBO numbers are not
worth a damn). It's also worth noting the Democrats appear quite willing to go it alone
without a single Republican vote. What will be the reaction of voters in 2010 to a party
which tried to derail healthcare reform while offering no alternative of their own?
The war is not over yet. The fight is in the Democratic party. We have to let
the Democrats know they will pay a price if they don't push for reform; and to do this they
will have to face down a Republican filibuster. They must get an up or down vote. If the
Democrats succeed, I am convinced more than one Republican will vote yes rather than
incur the wrath of voters in 2010.
If you have written, write again. If you have called or e-mailed, do it again. Contact
your local Congressional offices. Keep the pressure on. Friends, healthcare reform is not
an option. Change is so, so long overdue. We've given Obama and his Democrats the
opportunity to hear our cries, and they've responded with a plan. Imagine a day when
a child born in this country never has to fear losing health coverage or being economically
crushed because he or she got sick or lost their job. We elected Obama to create change.
This would not be a bad start. Let's see this thing through! What do you think? I welcome
your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org