Sunday, June 14, 2009

WHOA!! Universal Health Care?

Here's the thing...

President Obama is taking on every possible issue in his first year in office. The problem is that he and many Democrats in the Senate seem to think they are still out of power. Why did the stimulus package have tax cuts? Oh yeah, capitulation to the Republicans. That was an extra 250+ billion that could have been used to confront some other issues. Now we are going to have an extended presence in Iraq for the next year. We're getting bogged down in Afghanistan and Pakistan, virtually eradicating any savings we might expect from a "draw down" in Iraq. Now, my party, the party of "Inclusion" is walking on egg shells when it comes to Health Care.

The first problem I have with the preliminary impressions of Obama's health plan is coverage. Voluntary coverage, though it appeals to the American sense of independence, is not good enough. Again, details are hard to come by. Perhaps health coverage of some sort will end up being required by the federal government. Who knows?

Another problem is perception. Regardless of whether this plan passes, and regardless of how good and inexpensive the coverage is, it may be difficult to get a significant part of the population to buy into it. Think about public transportation. In areas where affluent or middle class people use public transportation, it thrives and is able to grow in service quality and coverage. If the only people using public transportation are poor, the local government ends up throwing "good money after bad" in an effort to keep it available. The same could happen to a voluntary public health care plan.

Democrats will have to step up and ask for single payer health care or some similar idea (like my triple-payer plan), or they will be at the forefront of a potential failure that only lends credibility to the Republican arguments about government intervention and efficiency. It could be several election cycles before we recover from that.

Think hard Dems! We need leadership on this issue. In addition to health care, we need to confront immigration, tax policy, education, and environmental issues. Don't waste your time on a health care plan that will fail to win over the American people. It will cost you political capital on everything else you try to do.

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