Perhaps I didn’t hear president Barack Obama’s campaign rally cry correctly.
I didn’t realize it was, “yes, we can … until townhall loons, special interest groups and partisan Republicans start complaining. Then we can’t. Sorry, voters.”
After two months of bitter discussion over health care reform, President Obama seems ready to placate the crazies by eliminating the public option in the bill.
This would be a disastrous decision by the president.
To quote former Virginia Gov. Howard Dean, “You don’t have reform without a public option.”
Apparently, Obama feels this is the only way he will gain bipartisan support in the Senate. This concession could be the flat line for his agenda, which is already on life support.
The first mistake the president made in the health care fight was assuming it needed to be a bipartisan one.
I realize he campaigned under the pretense that the country could move forward by working together rather than apart, but he is naive to think that the Republicans are going to work toward a program that will validate the president’s policies in the eyes of the voters.
The Republicans want him to fail and have made that clear from day one.
A lot of liberals were up in arms when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) – who was presumably working with the president on a bipartisan bill – confirmed in a rally with constituents that the bill would “pull the plug on grandma,” a blatant falsehood that some strongly believe.
Dishonest? Sure. But that’s smart politics by snake-in-the-Grassley. If Obama does not have the sense to see that the Republicans aren’t exactly rooting for his plan to succeed, then he deserves “friends in the Senate” like Grassley.
The second mistake he made was not having a finished bill ready to sell to the public.
With four bills circulating throughout Congress, there were too many ways the opponents could attack them. He should have simply stated in a speech what he wanted and challenged the Democrats to come through.
There is too much for Democrats to lose in 2010 if they do not produce a bill. If Obama were to remind voters of this on a regular basis, noting in his speeches, for example, that “the people called for a change in the health care system by entrusting the Democrats to accomplish this most elusive of all reforms,” it would have both galvanized the party and challenged it.
The third mistake he made was responding to the attacks of the town hall protesters.
Whether those individuals were planted or sincere but misinformed citizens (most of their complaints focused on arguments that were not in the bills like raising taxes on the middle class or euthanasia of seniors), they succeeded in stealing the spotlight from the real victims in this fight (the uninsured and underinsured) and making it about “government taking over the health care system,” rather than the insurance companies profiting by denying people coverage.
The president should have simply emphasized the fact that Medicare is indeed socialist health care and that a public option is merely one basic insurance plan provided through the government. It would give individuals more options and force insurance companies to compete.
Huffington Post columnist Rob Warmowski listed several solid suggestions that would help the president regain the momentum in the health care debate.
My favorite involved holding town halls, not at staged arenas, but in tents that are holding health fairs. Perhaps Obama could take questions from these individuals who surely will have a different take on the battle than the “we don’t need socialized medicine” right-wing protesters.
As Warmowski says, “Many of these people [at health fairs] actually have insurance, but they are afraid of going to the doctor and facing a huge co-pay or receiving an enormous bill.”
According to the national organization for health care consumers, Families USA, more than eight people die each day in California because they don’t have health insurance.
Without a public option, Obama is leaving reform to the insurance companies themselves who are making too much money to allow any government-supported regulatory agent to impede them from raising rates on deductibles every year.
President Obama, stop worrying about the people who have no interest in working with you on your agenda and start worrying about the folks who voted you into office in the first place.