I am going to wade into the water of an issue I am still researching, and trying desperately to be as dispassionate about as possible (it will be difficult given my current circumstances), so bear with me.
As was reported at Think Progress, and on the "Rachel Maddow Show," Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York introduced an amendment to the America's Affordable Health Choices Act in the Health Subcommittee that would eliminate Medicare. I thought it was a stroke of genius in the wake of the disparaging comments that have been coming from corners of the right about the horror of the prospect of government run health care. What I have found interesting is the impression that a number of Seniors seem not to be familiar with the fact that Medicare is a government run health care system.
Many on the right have muddled the issues so sufficiently that many Americans are getting confused about this whole issue. Is the goal to reconstruct the American health insurance model? Is the goal to tinker with Medicaid/Medicare to bring more people into it? Is there really a need for a public option and what does that mean? I recognize that the primary goal seems to be health insurance reform with the idea of trying to lower costs sufficiently enough to allow more people to become insured, and that would include, if BHO had his way, a public option for government provided health insurance.
I agree with much of the analysis that Nate Silver provides a Five Thirty Eight; the Dems and Obama are indeed doing a miserable job of selling the product they want us to buy.
During the August recess on the Hill, I think that members who want health care reform need to make one thing quite clear: Medicare is a popular government run health care program. Therefore, when the right tries to attack the notion that such a system cannot work, the Dems will have an answer. They can also add the health care that is received by our military as well. Even Bill Kristol conceded on "The Daily Show" that the government is capable of running a good health care program, when he referenced the military plan.
The Dems also need to be clear about the fact those on the Hill who do not support health care reform, or worse a toothless version of health care reform, are not only satisfied with the status quo, but they also are major recipients of the health care lobby's largess, a lobby desperate to stop this process. David Sirota's latest analyses (here and here) are, I think, particularly informative.
Finally, I think that the Dems need to call out those on the right who are trying to scare the bejesus out of the elderly, which in my mind is a real form of abuse, by saying that BHO and the Dems are out to murder them with health care reform.
But the Dems are going to have to be mindful of an effort by some on the right to disrupt town hall meetings with all of the tools they can muster to frighten the public out of having frank discussions about the need to reform our health care systems.
Personally, I think that it is outrageous that we do not have universal health care in this country. Joan Walsh was onto something when she wrote about some of the reasons why this country did not follow its Western kin in developing a universal health care system. I am all for those who can afford it to purchase top of the line health care policies for themselves and their families. If you have the cash, go for it. But I think it beyond sad that the "have nots" are left to fend for themselves for even basic health care. There should be no need to hunt to find out what public programs might work (buried in the current bureaucracy). Every American who needs health care should be able to get that health care without worrying about going bankrupt for having done so.
I have many friends who disagree with me on this, and I am cool with that. Of course we would have to look at ways to make sure costs were kept under control. I don't mind paying higher taxes to get something like universal health care, and I think I echo the sentiments of the millions of us who currently lack health insurance.
We have many of the planet's smartest people at our disposal who could devise systems that would allow for such benefits for the nation. Why not challenge them on that? We send men and women up into space. Yet, we can't figure out how to guarantee quality health care to the U.S. population? Talk about not reaching for the stars.