Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thinkers vs. Screamers and the Shifting Balance on Health Care

Has the media coverage of the health care debate left you feeling dizzy?
  • First it was, "Hey, look at these crazy people opposed to health care reform screaming at town hall meetings."
  • Then it was, "These screaming people are representative of the overwhelming, grassroots opposition to the Democratic health care proposals."
  • Next, "Oh wait, the screamers are largely funded and organized by health insurance companies and the big business lobby." And, "Wow, did Sarah Palin really just say something about a death panel'?"
  • Then back to, "Hmm, death panels. Those sound scary. Maybe there are death panels in England or something."
  • Next it was, "Well, we looked into it and there are no death panels--not in any proposed health care bill and not in England."
I have to say, I think the death panel crap was a turning point. Once the shock and creepiness of that phrase wore off, reporters and thinking people realized that the anti-reform crowd had absolutely nothing to go on. The former Republican nominee for Vice President and a senior Republican senator were just making s#*% up to try defeat health reform that most people support. And it wasn't even creative s#*%. It wasn't even s#*% that would take very long to verify as s#*%. That kind of s#*% requires some real moral and mental bankruptcy.

So now, just a day after the media was reporting (or hoping?) that the Obama Administration may have been backing away from the public option, here comes news that progressives--and that pesky public option--haven't gone anywhere. The House Democratic caucus is solidly behind the public option and not falling for the watered down co-ops. Major unions are warning conservative Democrats that if they do not support the public option, they risk losing labor's support in the next elections. Progressives across the Internet are warning that Democrats who don't support the public option will face progressive primary challengers. And supporters of health insurance reform are now outnumbering the tea-bag types at the town halls.

I think the Right overplayed its position. This is a loooong Congressional recess, and we're seeing that there's plenty of time for people to realize how ridiculous the death-panel fear tactics are before any votes are cast on any bills. And there's plenty of time for Obama's sometimes painfully laid-back, cool-headed style to win out, since the deathers are probably already suffering from burnout. The swastika signs and guns brought to health care discussions get old pretty quick.

I'm hopeful that what we're about to see is first a defining moment for the Democratic Party, when labor/progressives will assert some leadership over the business-oriented Blue Dogs, and then a defining moment for the country, when we all begin to treat health care as a right and not a privilege.


delaine said...

I hope we're going to see the Democrats find their backbones and pass a really good health bill that is not watered down and worthless. I think the Repubs show their unwillingness to work with the Prez and the Dems every day. I can only hope the Public option survives all this baloney with the "town hall meetings". Where are the fearless, forward thinking leaders of the Repubs?

Becky said...

So now the repubs are starting to mumble that they're against the co-ops, which were a supposed compromise on the "public option"?

When do we just say, "Okay guys, you're clearly not talking about this in good faith so we're going to do it without you now"?

I say again, we won for this?

Elizabeth said...

I'm with Becky. Where's the "mandate" the Republicans swung around for the last eight years?

Dave said...

Yes, the public option was a compromise from having a single-payer system. Then the co-ops were a compromise from having the public option. In each case, Republicans have said they oppose reform. (In fact, the only things they really support are things that would empower the insurance companies even more.)

So I think now the Dems are starting to think about passing a reform bill without Republican support--using "reconciliation" in the Senate, which would only require 51 votes. Republicans would raise a mighty stink over this tactic, but in the end the bill would get passed. There was an article a day or two ago in the NY Times about some White House people considering this move. I say it's about time.

Sara said...

Death Panel: total derailment.

Between this and our government and governor here in PA, I have to say I'm just a little disappointed in our politicians. Like run them out on a rail disappointed.

WE WANT said...

The more I watch these "Town Hall Meetings" the better they sound!