Two Views: Health Care Summit

(February 26, 2010) – I watched a little bit of yesterday’s health care reform summit on CSPAN3.  It was about what I expected, with no bipartisan breakthroughs and both parties largely using the event to reiterate their primary talking points.

After following this debate for more than 13 months, I’d mostly heard it all before.

But one thing stood out to me: The Republicans totally indifference and lack of concern over the fact that millions of Americans can’t get health coverage.  Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein noticed the same thing, and wrote an excellent column about it in today’s paper.  He also explores Republicans missed opportunity to enact some of their long-standing health care initiatives.

A second Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, wrote a similarly interesting story on the Health Care Reform summit as political theater.  Milbank contends that Obama played the role of the teacher while making the Republicans look like unruly students and petty for their reliance on talking points and clock-watching.

“You’re right,” Obama said to Senator Mitch McConnell after he complained that “Republicans have used 24 minutes; the Democrats, 52 minutes,” for opening statements.  “There was an imbalance on the opening statements,” Obama continued, “because I’m the president.”

But my favorite line was when the President said, “Let me just make this point, John. We’re not campaigning anymore. The election’s over”  to which McCain retorted with a laugh, “Don’t think I’m not reminded of that every day.”

OK.  Democrats can now say they tried to work with Republicans (again).  Can we now pass this bill, claim victory, and move on????

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2 Responses

  1. One rubric that boggles my mind is “Government Takeover.” If we subtract government from healthcare, very little healthcare remains in America. I’m including not only direct beneficiaries (Medicare, Medicaid, VA, SCHIP, etc.), but also all public sector employees (teachers, police, fire, bureaucrats, etc.) as well as all of the millions of employees of defense contractors, government contractors, etc. Then there is funding for research that leads to products, medical education, the federal, state and local public health services, and regulatory bodies that constrain those who would peddle bad medicine, and more. Essentially, the public sector is subsidizing insurers and other private sector interests. The ones who lose are primarily those who fall in the cracks between these public and publicly paid services.

    A second issue is that much of the proposed legislation is patterned on the Republican response to the early 1990’s Clinton proposals and the Massachusetts plan developed by then Republican Governor Mitt Romney and supported by then State Senator Scott Brown.

    • I think the Democrats were trying to make that same point yesterday. One among them said, “If you’re so opposed to ‘Socialist Medicine’ then why are you getting your benefits through the government-run federal employees health insurance program?”

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