Three Thoughts on Socialized Medicine
Dear Opponents of Socialized Medicine,
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'VE WON! This is good news, it means you can stop screaming now! Neither the Senate nor the House is giving serious consideration to government-run health care. What they are doing, with limited leadership from the President of the United States, is trying to reform the private health care system that currently leaves 1/6 of the country in the cold, provides shoddy care to another 1/6, and is on track to consume 31% of the our GDP. What Congress is NOT doing is trying to make it a public system, so please, stop distorting debate over the issue! I would suggest that you pay attention to what is really being considered rather than screaming about a non-issue. Nevertheless, since opposing socialized medicine is all the rage these days, I have three observations that I would like to offer.
1) It seems hypocritical to me to say that the government-run programs are socialist when you don't like them but are democratic when you do. If government-run health care is "socialized medicine," how come the far-right isn't whining about "socialized freeways" or "socialized defense"? My point is this: if the security provided to you and me by the United States Armed Forces is not socialism, then neither is universal access to quality health care.
2) The most common talking point from the status quo crowd is that the government is too incompetent to run something as large as health care. This came up at an Arlen Specter event and has been pushed by organizations like Fox News and the American Spectator. This makes me wonder: does the right-wing also opposes Medicare, or thinks we should take away the government-run health care given to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan? (On a related note: Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol said three things on The Daily Show last week: the government cannot provide quality health care, it does provide quality care to soldiers, and normal citizens don't deserve the best health care they can get. Watch the interview here.)
3) Points one and two aren't really that important anyway because no one who matters is proposing government-run health care. President Obama has said that he wants a "public option" but his position carries little weight since he refuses to introduce his own plan to Congress. The House bill's public option was all but dropped following negotiations between Henry Waxman and the Blue Dog Democrats. Finally, the Senate bill will probably be based on the work of a bipartisan Senate Finance Committee working group, a group that will not include a public option in its bill. At least four of the group's six members, Democrats Max Baucus (my former boss) and Kent Conrad and Republicans Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi, have said so.
Let me be very clear: NEITHER THE HOUSE NOR THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILLS WILL CONTAIN A PUBLIC OPTION, AND THE PRESIDENT HAS NOT INTRODUCED A BILL OF HIS OWN. So please, PLEASE stop distorting the debate. Stop acting like thugs at respectful town hall meetings. Stop surpressing discourse and squelching voices you don't like. Stop protesting what no one is doing; stop acting like anti-Bush liberals afraid of a draft. For the love of God, stop spreading false information and baseless fear!!! (And while you're at it, stop getting false information in the first place and turn off Glen Beck!)