Thursday, January 15, 2009

Health Care Redux

I know, I know. You are getting sick of this subject on my blog. I promise you that I will try to restrain myself. but I am posting this for two reasons. One: I have been gone all day, I am tired and it's so easy to cut and paste. Reason two; it's my soapbox issue. Please forgive me.

I still think the subject needs to be stressed, so I will copy another article on this over emphasized subject. The time to strike is while the iron is hot.

My step-daughter, Lynne, is coming to spend next week with me so I will not be very active on the Internet. I will try to check in now and then and hope you will do so also.


Public opinion surveys show most Obama voters knew the Illinois senator is a progressive when they cast their ballots - and those votes for him weren't just anti-Bush protests, they were ideological. According to a post-election poll by my colleagues at the Campaign for America's Future, 70 percent of Americans say they want conservatives to help this progressive president enact his decidedly progressive agenda.

Sensing the enormity of these numbers, Obama seems ready to back a "big bang" of far-reaching initiatives. "We can't afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign," he said in his first radio address as president-elect.

Based on advertisements, Obama identified no more important priority than guaranteeing health care for all citizens. As the Campaign Media Analysis Group reported, he devoted more than two-thirds of his total television budget to ads that included health care themes. Consequently, a Pew poll found 77 percent of Americans said health care would be a decisive concern in their presidential vote.

The moral case for universal health care is obvious. In the world's richest country - in a country that builds lavish sports stadiums and showers Wall Street with trillion-dollar bailouts - 18,000 people die each year because they lack health insurance. We permit this annual massacre while our wasteful system exacerbates our debt and saps our economic competitiveness by forcing us to spend more money per capita on health care than any other nation. The problem would have been addressed long ago. Overcoming inertia on such a thorny issue requires budget pressure - which Obama definitely faces. While some claim the deficit should preclude bold health care legislation, it's the other way around. The Congressional Budget Office says America's fiscal gap is "driven primarily by rising health care costs," meaning a fix is an imperative. "People ask whether (Obama) has the fiscal breathing room to push health-care reform," economist Jared Bernstein told the Washington Post. "He doesn't have the fiscal breathing room not to do health-care reform."

Additionally, as with everything in Washington, a political motive is needed for action - and even conservatives acknowledge Democrats have such a motive when it comes to health care.

Fifteen years ago, Republican strategist William Kristol warned that the Clinton administration's universal health care proposals represented "a serious political threat to the Republican Party" because, if passed, they "will revive the reputation" of Democrats as "the generous protector of middle-class interests."

As we all remember, Democrats failed to capitalize on the health care opportunity. But Kristol's prophecy was correct then, as it is now. With huge Democratic majorities in Congress come 2009, only the Braindead Megaphone is in Obama's way.---------

David Sirota is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network - both nonpartisan organizations.

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