Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Thinking on Health Care Reform II

I thought that Maddow provided an excellent analysis, last night, of the fracases happening at town hall meetings of Democratic members of Congress across the country. What conservative pundit Michelle Malkin called a grass roots effort, Maddow shows is not really the case.
In continuing her analysis of these protests from the right, Maddow provides a breakdown of who participated in the "grass roots effort" to stop the recount of votes in Miami, Florida back in 2000, which I found illuminating; it illustrates the capacity of the GOP to organize protests, and then tell the media that they are grass roots efforts (even when made up of GOP Congressional and political staff members, who most likely are not from the district where the protests are being held).
Of course, we all agree that people have the right to question their elected officials on all issues related to the work those officials are elected to do. I've signed petitions and attended meetings about issues of interest to me. But I think that it is folly to believe that all of these protests in the last few days are genuine grass roots efforts that emerged organically within those communities (check out this post on the site Crooks and Liars, and this post from The Plum Line). "Astroturf" is the term being bandied about to describe this effort from the right. Seemingly, the ghosts from 2000 have emerged once again.

Clearly, there are all sorts of questions to ask about the effort to reform the health insurance industry (I don't know if health care reform is the proper term anymore), and they need to be asked. Yet, as one can see from the footage of those town halls, there is no dialog, only shouting and accusations. So, I would suggest to those organizing the town hall disruptions to come armed, not with random commentary about socialism and government run health care, but with say some of the examples provided by Congressman Tom Price (see here) with his "Empowering Patients First Act," and then discussing the merits of the various plans. That's what is supposed to happen at town hall meetings; those types of meetings have the prospect of being productive.

This current madness? Not so much.


Scott said...

I've written to my Congressman, a moderate-liberal freshman Democrat (first Dem. from my district in almost 20 years) and suggested that he announce that this August he will be meeting with his constituents--and ONLY his constituents. And, distasteful as it may be, before admission to his town meetings someone checks ID to confirm that the attendees are residents of the district he represents.

The big money interests that are busing in these "angry citizens" and funding the shout-them-down efforts at Congressional town hall meetings are after only one thing. To make is seem that there is widespread opposition to the public option plan, and to make sure that no reasoned arguments can be aired.

Reason works against them.


Anonymous said...

Yet again on WSN a responder (this time Scott) said something far more interesting and profound than the "host"--and yet the "host" has NOTHING to say--NOTHING, letting the whole subject (which he himself introduced)fall as flat as a pancake. Gee, what a gracious, competent, responsive "host" of this alleged "salon." (Oh, I'm sorry; maybe you're in the kitchen making watercress sandwiches.)

But don't worry cause the host obviously already lost interest in the topic anyway. Tomorrow's topic: "World Peace and You." Talk amongst yourselves.

hscfree said...

@Scott: It's been fascinating to watch these various townhalls on television and see the featured participants offer nothing more than angry platitudes. Why not genuine suggestions? So many of these protesters are just so certain about their "facts," and there has been virtually no willingness to have a genuine discussion.

More reasonable folks on the right ask legitimate questions that need to be answered. How will we pay for this and not increase taxes on the middle class? How do you prevent the apparatus of the public option from becoming some horrible bureaucratic mess, like too many other government programs? How do we tackle the problems of Medicare and Medicaid and get cost saving reforms?

I've heard mostly cries, literally, of wanting to get "our country back," or efforts to scare old people into an early grave for real. Sen. McCaskill fielded a large number of questions about abortion and health care reform. It was interesting to watch McCaskill explain the difference between the House and Senate bills, and how she can only vote on the Senate bill.

It's all so much theatre, and not enough discussion.

Micheal Sisco said...

It's truly frightening to watch these Town Hall meetings ... Have we become so dumb? Have we become so enamored with our own opinions that any discussion from an opposing side is meaningless?
Yelling? Screaming? Name calling? Swastikas?
This is debate? This is helping us with the issues of the day?
God help us.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3 to Angry Anonymous:

This is an open forum. Grading, rating, and berating of posted opinions isn't accomplishing anything.

The topic here is healthcare reform, yet you launch into your host bashing diatribe yet again.

Do you think we should nationally model reform like Massachuesettes or Hawaii, or some foreign country?

Should we all get the same plan the federal employees enjoy (FEHB)?

Should Medicare and each state's Medicaid program automatically cover everyone (including federal employees), unless you opt out into a private plan?

Should we have a healthcare corps (similar to the Peace Corps.), which would offer healthcare to anyone in the US, while reducing or eliminating the student loans of the medical professionals working in it?

Should we begin to mandate rationing based on expected outcome of procedures, to contain costs (as some countries do).

I personally would like Congress and their families to get their healthcare though VA hospitals and CHAMPUS. Let the leaders get the same treatment as they have provided for veterans - within a week, healthcare reform would take place.

We know what you think of the host. Maybe it's time to contribute constructive thoughts?

I'm just sayin'...

hscfree said...

I like the idea of developing something akin to the Peace Corps for medical professionals, or something that will cover the costs of medical training at all levels. It could be similar to military service in terms of the time given (and for loan forgiveness). People would get quality care; medical and nursing students will be getting trained affordably and gaining great experience in the meantime. This sounds like something that should at least be considered in this debate.

Anonymous said...

You want to check IDs for a town hall? Democrats strongly oppose ID checks even for voting!!