The Bottom Line on Health Care

(I've recently spoken with several early Obama supporters who echo iowademocrat's sentiments. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

(crossposted from IowaDemocrat)
From the very beginning of the Obama caucus campaign continuing through the general election, I gave more money, more time, and stuck my neck out further than I ever had before for a Presidential candidate, and I've worked hard for quite a few.
I will not invest my energy in a cause that has no bottom line, no goals which the president will not compromise, nor any clear cut progress toward true reform.
I respect Barack Obama for the great things he HAS done, but I refuse to work for his version of health care reform when he has no clear goal other than to pass something – anything – that may get through Congress, regardless of content.
The job of President, when it is applied to the greatest issues before us, is not to explain stuff to us, nor is it to cut backroom deals, all though that's part of it. The job of the leader of the free world is to demand accountability from congress, and to lead the entire country forward. The job isn't a legislative one, it is an executive one, but the President seems to want to serve as the chair of a phantom legislative committee where he observes from above and makes a few suggestions while the members of his own party fall out of line.
The reason health care legislation is in the sad state it's in, is that the activists here, at MoveOn, ActBlue, FireDogLake, and all the workers, callers, donors and creative professionals who have put everything they had into helping the President get comprehensive reform accomplished this year have been left holding a bag of fail, while the President negotiates with the people who created the problem negotiating away most of the essential elements of real reform.
Does anybody think giving tax credits to people who can no longer work for their insurance coverage will improve the system?
Does anybody think an individual mandate without cost controls guaranteed by the Federal government will help people afford insurance?
Does anybody believe negotiating with people who have opposite goals, and whose actions are antithetical to reform are the people to depend on to institute reform?
Does anybody believe that progressives with real conviction should be happy to just fall in line under these circumstances?
The correct answer is no. HELL, no!
I'm ready to fight, to work, to give, to risk failure – but only for something worth winning.  It is no longer the time to restudy the issue. Everyone who is serious about health care knows that private, for-profit health care delivery is a failure, not because of doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or researchers, but because too many of these health care providers are more responsible to stockholders than patients, and they cannot change it themselves.
Only the Federal Government can do that.
We elected a whole bunch of Democrats to fix health care, end the Middle East wars, and set the nation on a responsible course on a whole host of interrelated environmental issues. These people are not doing the job we sent them to Washington to do. The President is the only single person who can look these people in the eye and tell them what he wants, and what he expects. Then he needs to tell us the same things. Then he needs to hold his convictions and hold his ground, and he needs to fight.
When he does, I'll be there to fight with him.

About the Author(s)


  • you said it

    It’s not too much to ask Obama to make simple statements like, “Don’t bother sending me a bill with an individual mandate to buy private insurance, because I won’t sign it.”

  • don't give up on the cause, though

    Iowans should be pressing Braley, Loebsack and Boswell to insist on a public health insurance option and vote against any Baucus/Grassley-type bill.

  • My "Mort" Diary and this one say opposite things

    in a way, but really not. will work to get health care done politically, but, I will not act as a proxy for the administration through OFA until the President comes through.

    Slinkerwink at dkos and Jane Hamsher/MoveOn/ActBlue have all been making excellent progress in confronting Dems that haven’t been on the right page. That’s constructive, and I’m supporting those efforts.

    I’m just not buying that OFA can turn us off and on like spigots.

  • I Feel the Same

    I received their phone message and deleted it as soon as I heard it was from OFA.

    Rahm and Obama thought that after the election, everyone would fall in line and do whatever Obama wanted, even watered-down healthcare reform with mandates to purchase insurance from the same blood-sucking leeches* that got us into this mess in the first place. No thanks.

    *I realize this isn’t fair to blood-sucking leeches. Blood-sucking leeches may be the only form of healthcare we get if “healthcare” corporations get their way.  

  • Is Health Care Reform Doomed?

    Read Matt Tiabbi’s article in the “Rolling Stone” that begs this question, whcih I tend to agree with Tiabbi on several fronts. He first argues that the Obama admin. blew it when he didn’t put single-payer on the table (which he thinks is the only real reform), but if anything, the Dems would have had a bargaining tool, wherein public option would be the watered-down compromise.

    Health Care Reform is THE issue that pulled me into political activism and this article helped reaffirm what I already know. I do want to remain hopeful and optimistic, but at what cost?

    Dem. Congress, which is still bought and paid for by lobbyists, STILL has no backbone and/or integrity and is about to botch it. Messaging and framing the argument were flawed out of the gate, almost as if they really didn’t want reform or their communication peeps are incompetent.

    I’m officially done fighting for these watered=dwpmn bills that will not help my situation in any way (since I cannot buy into the public option because my employer offers shitty, expensive health insurance)and will only support a policy and/or candidate that has the integrity and courage to stand behind a single-payer system. This debauchery points to the bigger problem: campaign finance refrom, which I hope folks will use to help push this forward when the dust settles on the operating room floor. Putting a dysfunctional and corrupt system in charge of fixing one that is equally dysfunctional and corrupt is compleely absurd.


  • I meet very few people

    on the right or left who believe that an individual mandate is a good, regardless of a public option or not.

    As for the President, he has made some poor political choices…but so have the Democrats in charge of Congress.

    Here’s what they should have done.  Instead of having 5 different 1000-page bills in various Congressional committees, President Obama should have championed two simple reforms:

    1.  Deal with the issue of purchasing health insurance across state lines (or lack thereof).

    2.  Deal with the pre-existing condition issues with coverage (or lack thereof).

    Why do these two things first?  Well, #1 would pass with huge Democratic and Republican support.  #2 would probably be a little less popular, but the bill would ultimately pass.  And then you have your first and second (easy) victories.  The bills would have passed in one month, been signed into law, and health care reform would have been on its way with one important difference than where we are today:  Barack Obama would have a political win notched in his belt.

    This is not a “Go big or go home” situation.  I know I’m playing Monday morning quarterback, but it was a serious political miscalculation.

    Congress should have started small and non-controversial, to get the ball rolling.  Instead they put all their eggs into the one basket of “all encompassing health reform in 2 months.”


    • I don't agree

      You can’t pass the uncontroversial stuff early and hope that later it will be easy to pass the difficult sells.

      Anyway, they did this in a sense by expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in January.

      • I guess hindsight is 20/20, considering

        where we are right now.

        Again, I’m being a Monday morning quarterback, here.

        I’m just saying, Democrats in Congress would be in a lot better position right now, had they done what I suggested.

        Lumping in the uncontroversial things with the controversial things clearly isn’t working.  Lumping everything together allows for the clouding of major issues (death panels, anyone?), and ultimately hinders any reform whatsoever.

        I’m a firm believer in springboard politics, where passing successful legislation is a lot better than not passing legislation.  I argue that it is well worth passing the uncontroversial things early for several reasons:

        1.  The boost given in polls is well worth it.

        2.  The label of “the same old Washington” is avoided, mainly because something of substance has been achieved.  A big reason I think many people are upset is because nothing has been done, and there are several things that could be fixed VERY easily.

        3.  In the realm of public opinion, you now have “capital” for lack of a better word…and you can use it…plus you might be on a higher road than the opposition, due to your success.

        I guess I was too strong in faulting the Democrats for their strategy.  However, I still maintain that the way they handled things this summer was unfortunate, and that successful legislation can easily springboard to more successful legislation, while legislative failure (i.e. where we are right now) can more easily lead to legislative failures.

        Running under a banner of hope is dandy, but running under the banner of (worthwhile, quality, and popular) success is superior.

        Keep in mind, I’m not suggesting that success for Obama is compromising on key issues.  But I am suggesting that Obama could have important, quality, non-controversial, and widely popular reform under his belt already.  But at this time, he does not.  Which position is more desirable, where he is now, or where he would have been had he done what I outlined above?

    • It's now or never.

      We will lose seats in 2010. It’s historically likely, but it is politically likely anytime the opposition out shouts and out argues the administration.

      We have a chance at this after waiting for 16 years since the last attempt. People don’t understand that the mandates are part of what makes the plan affordable for everyone. Besides, young people, who tend to feel immortal, do need some basic health insurance and don’t quite get it as a rule.

      We need leadership, and we need it pronto.