This whole business, it was a litmus test for whether or not we even have a functioning government. Here we had a political majority in congress and a popular president armed with oodles of political capital and backed by the overwhelming sentiment of perhaps 150 million Americans, and this government could not bring itself to offend ten thousand insurance men in order to pass a bill that addresses an urgent emergency. What’s left? Third-party politics?
It is hard to agree with that, because I am one of those 150 million Americans. I campaigned for Obama, I was swept up in the possibility of change and it was and is exciting to have adults running things again.
My favorite domestic issue was health care, because it is so unbelievably poorly run in this country that the potential is enormous. A better system would save the government from the disaster of entitlements looming on the horizon, it would invigorate the economy by allowing people to more easily leave their jobs and employers to get out from under the crushing costs of providing health care, oh yeah, and it would stop ruining people’s lives when they got sick. Health care reform is that rare intersection of fiscal and moral imperatives, the sort of issue that defines a Presidency.
I like that it was Obama’s top priority too, but when I saw Tom Daschle go down in flames, I started to get a little nervous. It wasn’t until I saw Obama just allow Congress to work it out on the fly, like a ditz thinking aloud, that I really began to despair. Congress needs leadership, otherwise things get messy, and Obama is selling the plan to the American people when, to quote Taibbi, he should “take the recalcitrant legislators blocking [his] path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds.”
The plan(s) circulating now are absurd, they don’t control costs or provide more access. If you want to improve health care there are about 20-30 working models out there in Europe and Canada, and contrary to what people afraid of socialism think, most of them actually have more choice that our “free market” system where you can’t choose your insurance company and you only have the illusion of choice over your doctor. This isn’t a system that needs a tweak here and there, it is bursting at the seams with problems and yet people like Max Baucus are looking for a “bipartisan” solution like you can split the difference between a plan and nothing.
This is the fight that Obama said was so important that he couldn’t stop kicking gay people out of the military because he couldn’t spare the political capital. This is the change we can believe in. So I don’t care about Congressmen wondering if they can get reelected back home, I don’t care about hurt feelings, Clintoncare, bipartisan solutions or socialism. Take the reigns and stop leading by comittee Obama, because Congress can’t do this for you.