First and foremost, I need to admit that I think I was entirely wrong in the article I wrote last month on the Health Care bill. I feel like the comment left on that post by editor of Patrol Magazine, and friend, David Sessions was right on. I’m now super excited and pumped to see this stuff pass, hopefully soon. I’m mainly writing this post, though, to encourage everyone to tune in to the Health Care Summit going on tomorrow from 10am to 4pm (HuffPost). I believe most every news agency and network should be airing it both on TV and online. Also, I’m sure there will be several major New Media websites live-blogging the event or giving constant updates.
I really do think this summit could be so much bigger than just health care. It could begin a trajectory that determines both the results of the next fours years of elections and the very state of politics in America. It could transform political discourse. It could break the absurdity of the immature political feces-throwing that has defined how Washington has run. It could usher in a new era of bipartisanship for the sake of the American people.
Probably not, but in theory it could.
(Before I continue, I want to plug the best and most balanced article on this whole health care thing I’ve read today. It was so helpful and nuanced, capturing the big picture of this whole discussion so well. It’s the article “Big Questions Still linger on Eve of Health Care Meeting” by David Leonhardt for the New York Times Economy section. If you must choose between reading this blog post and that article, read that article.)
As a general rule, I lean Conservative in my politics. In my purest form, I would say I’m some sort of Libertarian-Constitutionalist-Whig mixture. But I am so angry at Republicans. I don’t know that the phrases “obstructionist”, “inconsistent”, or “the Party of ’No’” are strong enough to describe the current Republican leadership. I may stand with those that would almost say “treasonous”. There are 290 bills (list) that have passed in the House with large majorities that are just sitting there in the Senate with no action/vote being taken on them. Why? Because they would be filibustered automatically by Republicans regardless of their content (The Hill).
Part of the problem is that Republicanism is not Conservatism anymore. The Right has changed into the FAR FAR-Right. As this chart shows (Kaiser Health News), the President’s current plan is astonishingly similar to the one that the Republican’s themselves offered to Congress in 1993 to counter Bill Clinton’s Health Reform plan. Boehner’s plan is a sharp departure from where Conservatives have historically been willing to go for health care. Obama’s been telling the truth: his plan is not that radical. Sure, it leans left, but it’s only a slight lean. The Republican leadership has sharply polarized themselves and have tried to bring as many Americans along with them. When Scott Brown voted to just let a jobs bill be voted on his Facebook page blew up with some of the most extreme populist vitriol I’ve ever seen (Gawker). GOP leadership continually say (and polls continually show) that Americans are “not in favor of Obama’s Health Care plan”. But when each component of Obama’s health care plan (and even some things that didn’t make it in, like the public option) are polled individually, they score extremely high (The American Prospect):
The thing people are opposed to is something abstract: It’s a “plan” that is being debated in Washington, which they probably don’t know much about. An actual program, once implemented, will have a very different place in people’s consciousness. There will be no more “Obama health plan”; there will only be a series of things having to do with health insurance, most of which people will be very happy about (and the ones that seem less popular now, like enforcing the individual mandate, will actually affect relatively few people). When, for instance, you can actually put your 25-year-old kid on your health insurance, that’ll feel good. When the exchanges actually start operating, you’ll probably like the way they work. Those things will be “my health insurance,” not a “plan” being debated in Congress. It’s easy to convince people that a plan is dangerous; it will be much harder to tell them that their own health insurance is part of a socialist plot.
This is all indicative of an ignorant and ideologically driven public that cares far more for talking points and party than actual policy. It also shows how absolutely disingenuous the Republican leadership is. As Barney Frank pointed out in a recent interview with Rachel Maddow, the problem is a complete cowardice among moderate Republicans to stand up and speak against these radicalized Republicans that constitute the party’s leadership (VIDEO – Frank makes some good points; and don’t criticize my use of this course. I’m very well aware of their equally extreme liberal bias. Just hear him out.). This GOP leadership would rather guide the ship of state into an iceberg just so that Obama can get the blame, rather than actually govern. They want Obama to fail at any cost–even at the cost of the economy, security, health care, or American general well-being.
I’ve got to admit, looking over the President’s recent proposal for health care (found here), I like it (NPR has a great summary and chart of how it could effect each person depending on their current situation). It’s fairly common-sense, every little “but” I thought of is addressed, and it has incorporated nearly every Republican talking point I’ve heard come out of their mouths (WhiteHouse.gov). I don’t know what else the GOP has for tomorrow. Both sides are anticipating that nothing substantive is going to happen or change (NYTimes, HuffPost). Like I said, I’m really angry with the Republicans right now — to the point that I can not see myself voting for another Republican as long as they continue doing what they’re doing. Voting Independent for the rest of my life is looking like a very viable option right now. But I’m open to the GOP surprising me tomorrow. I doubt they will, but they could. As Jason Linkins summarized in a recent article:
Of course, [the GOP] could choose to impress Americans by playing a dignified role in the discussions [at the Summit] and making strategic compromises without surrendering on their primary concerns. The Republicans could then leave the viewing audience with the impression that they are a serious-minded party and could score points with independent voters. The only problem, of course, with that option, is that they might just accidentally pass a health care reform bill!
They probably won’t surprise us, but in theory they could. The GOP will be the ones I will have my eye on tomorrow. I encourage all of you to do the same.