Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care Reform: Power vs. Politics

I'm over at The 36-Hour Day, discussing why I think the problem with the Health Care legislation signed into law this week is more about power than it is about politics. Here's an excerpt:
For the most part, the people who are angriest and most vocal about it are people who aren't currently in power, or whose representatives aren't currently in the majority, or who feel that their authority has somehow been threatened by the Obama administration. And, interestingly enough, they aren't all politicians.

As former Bush speechwriter David Frum points out, "Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible." Frum writes on his blog: "By mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government."... [More]
Head over to The 36-Hour Day to read the rest of that post.

Still here? Good. I'm also intrigued by the 13 states that are filing lawsuits in response to the newly signed health care law, and wondering if that's a show of power as well. (News reports are quick to point out that 12 of the 13 Attorneys General are Republicans; the lone Democrat, from Louisiana, was asked to file suit by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.) Legal experts say the lawsuits don't have much of a chance: The health insurance mandate is an individual rights issue, not a matter of state soveriegnty, and while there's no wording in the Constitution about health care being an unalienable right, the federal government absolutely does have the right to levy fines and taxes, so suing over the penalty to be imposed on individuals who choose not to buy health insurance doesn't make sense. While the question of who will pay the increased Medicaid costs is very valid, similar lawsuits (over the Voters Rights Act and Social Security) were struck down and could be used as legal precedent in this situation. And, in general, federal law supercedes state law anyway. So why spend taxpayers money on lawsuits now, other than to make a statement?

Personally, I think that anyone who is or has ever been on Medicare or Medicaid and anyone currently collecting Social Security has no business complaining that this new law puts us on the path to socialism. And it's interesting, to me, that many of the same people who are jeering the President's plan lauded the nearly identical one Mitt Romney imposed on his citizens in 2006, when he was governor of Massachusetts. (As Salon points out, he's the only governor in American history ever to set a legal mandate for individuals.) But, for the most part, I think I agree with David Frum, who points out on his blog that the biggest winners here are in the media. The TV and radio talk-show feeding-frenzy now has plenty of fodder -- and maybe even more power over politics than before.

1 comment:

Phe said...

I'm not happy with this plan, but I was opposed to the plan that Romney put in place as well.

I feel like this is something that we need, but I've been a recipient of Tri-Care, the current government run plan for military members, and I will tell you now, it was a nightmare. Because of those experiences, I am so leery of any government sanctioned health care bill...

Even though I know the system needs reform, I was dead set against what we've done here in MA (and it still burns me) and I'm saddened by what's happened both in the media and in Washington.