Health Care Reform: What is the real issue?

Here is a discussion I had on Facebook in response to this article about Obama’s health care reform (or rather health care insurance reform). It ‘s not a bad article and makes a good point, but I’m ever the critic. Here was my first comment:

I’ve never been one to think in black/white terms. I didn’t assume the health care reform either had to be a total success or a total failure. It has both some good aspects and some less-than-good aspects. From my perspective, it simply isn’t what the majority of Americans wanted which was either public option or single payer.

If not for lobbyists, we would already have public option or single payer. But Obama threw those off of the table. Why should we be satisfied with crumbs instead of demanding the whole pie? Yes, crumbs are nice when you are starving, but that should be the bare minimum of a starting point.

I understand looking for the positive. Anything is better than nothing. But let us not be overly grateful in begging for these crumbs. We shouldn’t have to beg for crumbs in the first place.

My friend Nicole responded with this:

“Agreed but there is a difference between being overly grateful and being downright hateful (not you personally but so many people on “Obamacare”)”

Continuing my criticism, I make a plea for balance:

I understand what you are saying. I just get tired of both sides that either want to attack or idolize Obama. There is no need to apologize to Obama just because there is some good in health care reform. One would hope there is some good in any health care reform. Anyway, apology wouldn’t be necessary if one didn’t react with emotional criticalness in the first place.
Let’s stand back and look at politics without becoming identified with one side or the other, without getting emotionally drawn in. Let’s have a discussion based on the known data.

After losing a posted comment, I added some further thoughts on a related issue that came to my mind:

That is odd. I posted a comment after your last comment, but it is no longer shown here. Where did it go. I don’t even remember all that I wrote. Part of what I said was that I understand that you are willing. I wasn’t criticizing you or people like you. I wasn’t criticizing your having posted this. I wasn’t even criticizing the act of pointing out the positve aspects of a particular policy promoted by Obama.

But that isn’t the reason I came back to this post. I was thinking about Obama last night. I was thinking about what is good or bad about him or else what is just neutral, the neutral part standing out to me.

In particular, I was comparing in my mind Obama and Bush. The reason I was doing this is because Obama has continued many of Bush’s policies, not all but many. Even Bush proposed some health care refom such as with his Medicare prescription drug program. Bush was a ‘compassionate conservative” which meant that he was as interested in social programs (health care, education, etc) as a Democrat like Obama. In the opposite direction, Obama is just as interested in promoting the power of the presidency as any neocon Republican, is just as interested in promoting the security state (with its undermining of civil liberties) as any war hawk Republican.

So, what makes Obama and Bush different? This is where it gets interesting.

In terms of personality and career, Obama and Bush couldn’t be more different. Obama was more of an outsider who worked his way up and Bush was born into wealth and power. Obama learned to play the game well becoming a professional politician and Bush was used to things being handed to him without having to work for it. Obama was intelligent and well-educated and Bush was just average.

It’s the professional politican aspect of Obama that stands out. Bush isn’t a professional politician. Bush is where he is because he has done what people have told him to do. He inherited political connections from his dad. Bush is a puppet. As a puppet, he is as good or bad as those pulling the strings. Obama isn’t a puppet. Instead, Obama acts according to pressure. Obama listens carefully to the public and to lobbyist groups and he guides his political career carefully.

What this means is this: Obama will only do good if pressure forces him to do good. So, the good that came about in health care reform came about to the exteent there was enough pressure to do so. He chose to push for health care reform because he was paying attention to polls and saw that it was in the air. Bush, however, isn’t pressured in the same way. Rather, Bush just does what his handlers/advisers tell him to do, and so its his handlers who respond to the pressures and filter them accordingly. A big difference is that Bush’s handlers/advisers happened to be evil geniuses who were heavily mired in the power structure of lobbyists and good ol’ boy politics. No amount of public pressure would likely have influenced Bush, but enough public pressure will influence Obama.

By the way, after posting that I went back to the article and noticed an added response by the author. Unsurprisingly, there were many haters of the view she expressed in her original article, mostly partisan attacks I presume. Here is her response to the “haters”:

“I wrote this piece to give the health insurance crisis in this country a common face.  My objectives in writing it were to hopefully get people to see themselves in me and my family, and I wanted people to know what Obama has done for people who have pre-existing conditions so they can get health insurance through PCIP.  My husband and I both knew that by doing this, we would invite hatred into our lives, and that indeed has happened.  To those of you who don’t want to see the commonalities between me and my family, let me pose it to you this way:  If your sister or mother lost her job and health insurance, and then turned up with breast cancer, what would you do?  Would you let her die?  Would you pick up the cancer tab yourself?, or would you tell her about PCIP?”

That is fair. She is making a good point. Such discussions aren’t just ideological battles or philosophical debates about abstract ideas. No, that isn’t the real issue, despite that being what politicians and pundits too often make it into. This is ultimately about real people. I might be dissatisfied with the results. Any rational person would have to admit that health care reform could have been better. It would be a cold-hearted person who would dismiss the people who have actually been helped.

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