National Commentary

Defending ‘Obamacare’

The newly empowered Republican leadership is barking up the wrong tree in its drive to kill the health care law or, as they put it, “Obamacare.” They are hoping to bulldoze the entire law, but failing that, they aim to destroy it by targeting one provision after another. A vote to repeal the law was temporarily postponed after the tragic shooting rampage in Tuscon, which left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., critically injured and six others dead.

The newly empowered Republican leadership is barking up the wrong tree in its drive to kill the health care law or, as they put it, “Obamacare.” They are hoping to bulldoze the entire law, but failing that, they aim to destroy it by targeting one provision after another. A vote to repeal the law was temporarily postponed after the tragic shooting rampage in Tuscon, which left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., critically injured and six others dead.

Polls show the public is divided in its opinion on the law, which has been branded “job killing” by Republican Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., incoming chairman of the House Commerce and Education Committee.

President Obama is expected to veto any repeal of the law, but the opposition expects to muster enough votes to overcome a veto. Should they succeed, an estimated 45 million persons will be denied coverage. The law’s most attractive provision is its prohibition of insurance companies turning down anyone with a preexisting illness. Sadly, an upset also would deny autistic children and those with Down syndrome the insurance they are eligible for now under the current law. Insurance for adults won’t kick in until 2014.

On the other hand, the greatly privileged members of Congress enjoy practically free medicine and care in government-run hospitals at a pittance. To belabor the point, Vice President Dick Cheney, who suffered from chronic heart problems, had medics in attendance during his eight years in office.

The GOP leadership believes it is on a winning streak in branding the law as “job killing” in these hard times. “We’re listening to the American people,” House Speaker Boehner told reporters. “They want this bill repealed, and we’re going to repeal it.” With the outstanding political gains and the shellacking the GOP gave the Democrats in the last election, Obama is being urged to use his bully pulpit to save the program, which was long debated in Congress and signed into law in March 2010.

U.S. lawmakers often attack European and Canadian universal health plans as “socialized medicine,” but in response, they have been told it is “civilized medicine.” “Socialism” is the Bugaboo, but taxpayers would look ridiculous if they denied the public needs and the government role in supporting schools, libraries and highways, for starters.

I certainly don’t think it is a perfect law that meets all the needs of the poor and the sick.

The administration was highly deceptive in first pretending it supported a public option and single-payer plan, when it didn’t. For the liberal Democrats, it was a disappointment when the president did not push the public option, but he was convinced by the conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats that it didn’t stand a chance of passage. Such an option was close to the heart of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who staged a good fight for health care for all. It was never on the table with this administration, which declined to even give it a hearing.

I used to bother former White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs for a definitive reply on whether Obama supported a government plan. He dodged the question by accusing me of badgering him.

It’s true, I did. “Why do you keep asking me that question?” Gibbs queried. I told him I wanted a “yes” or “no” answer on the public option. As he continued to dodge the issue, I blurted out, “I just want your conscience to bother you.”

Boehner told reporters “we’re going to do everything we can over the course of however long it takes to stop this, because it will ruin the best health care system in the world, it will bankrupt the nation, and it will ruin the economy.” The GOP is also trying to convince Americans that the law would raise insurance premiums, increase taxes, increase the deficit, and lower the quality of patient care.

Where are Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson when the nation needs them? They brought Social Security and Medicare, but not without a fight. They cared for and believed that we are our brother’s keeper. Also, as Abraham Lincoln said, “Government should do for people what they cannot do for themselves.”

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*