Thursday, July 23, 2009
I dreamed that, step by step, Obamacare went the way of Hillarycare, or worse
After President Obama's uninspiring health care news conference, I dozed off and dreamed that, step by step, Obamacare went the way of Hillarycare, or even worse -- in the sense that it might actually eventually be passed, in a form that discredits government involvement in healthcare for years to come.
In my heart of hearts, I feel Barack Obama is a good, caring Democrat who is trying his best to solve a major social problem. I felt the same way about Hillary Clinton and her 1993 healthcare initiative. Unfortunately, they both are pragmatists who believe that change is brought about by working within the system. There are times when that works. But not now. This is a time when the system is so corrupt that working within it just compounds the problem.
If ever a time when bold leadership was required to envision a new and better system, it's now. FDR came up with the vision of Social Security and got it enacted into law. He didn't turn it over to Congress and lobbyists for the brokerages, bankers and insurance companies to come up with a private-sector retirement program and a tiny little token "public option." We got Social Security -- and good thing we did, or our financial crisis today would be far worse. Ditto with LBJ and Medicare.
Obama never campaigned for single-payer, and originally I thought his pragmatic approach might at least produce something that was better than nothing -- something we could build on and improve in the future. Instead, just as in 1993, we're headed for something too complicated for anybody to understand and which relies way too much on a misplaced faith in market solutions and incrementalist tinkering.
The financial collapse gave Obama all the cover he needed, if cover was even needed, given the polls showing overwhelming support for single-payer, for him to boldly lead a campaign for single-payer, universal coverage and sell it to the public over the heads of Congress and an army of hospital, pharma and insurance lobbyists giddy with the prospect of looting the public treasury once again.
I wish he had.