Friday, July 24, 2009

Voices In The Health-Care 'Debate'

The word debate is in quotes in the headline above for a couple, three reasons: There has been little actual back-and-forth as health-care reform lurches through the halls of Congress, much of what passes for debate is merely trying to inflict political harm on the president, and we are reminded yet again that while the U.S. may be a wonderful place in many respects, it has the worst health-care system of any developed country bar none. This is because the care it delivers is outrageously expensive but doesn't reach over 40 million Americans, including a good number of children and infirm elderly.

A personal note as well: We had to intentionally bankrupt my my mother in order to get the nursing-home care she needed as a debilitating and ultimately fatal neurological disorder ate her body. That's not right, and my response to people who say that the insured shouldn't have to pay for the uninsured, that the rich shouldn't be surtaxed, or that we're moving too fast on reform, is simple: Get a freaking grip.

Anyhow, on to the voices:

Gail Collins in The New York Times:
"Watching Barack Obama trying to push members of Congress toward some kind of agreement on a health care bill gives you a new appreciation for why Hillary Clinton decided to just write the whole thing herself and dump it on them. . . .

"The point here is that neither rain nor snow nor Jim DeMint will deter Obama from delivering on health care. Not even if he has to meet with every member of Congress one by one, give an interview to every television reporter in the Northern Hemisphere and hold a press conference every single day for the rest of the year."
David Frum at The Week magazine:
"Are the wheels coming off the Democratic plan to revolutionize American health care? We can only hope so. But as Republicans resist the new controls, new taxes, and new government expansion proposed by Democrats, they need to be very careful to avoid the opposite mistake: defending an indefensible status quo."
Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse:
"In the end, the bill might die a death by a thousand cuts as the final effort may contain so many objectionable elements to so many Democrats that it won’t have a prayer of passing.

"The lack of leadership on this bill by the president has been astounding. While he has occasionally met with members at the White House, his efforts have fallen far short of whipping his reluctant party into line. He makes speeches. He holds town halls, He goes before his friends in the press.

"But the nitty gritty political work he is leaving to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and at least 5 committee chairmen. While no one has ever doubted the president’s skills as a campaigner, it is apparent he doesn’t know how to lead. He can’t distinguish a difference between campaigning and governing."

Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:
"[T]he end result is that Obama talks about this more like someone worried about health-care costs than about health care. As a matter of policy, that's probably the right approach. But as a style for conducting press conferences, I'm not sure how well it works. Obama is making a big bet on the policy case for health-care reform, as opposed to the moral urgency of health-care reform. It's a macro argument rather than a micro argument. And Obama makes it well. The question, which I don't think anyone knows the answer to yet, is whether it's the right argument."
Mark Halperin in Time magazine:
"Wednesday's primetime news conference was just the latest effort from the Obama administration to use the country's broadcast television networks and other media to reach Americans in their homes and get them on board with the largely Democratic efforts to pass sweeping legislation this year. The talking points, the style and the tone were all familiar, but the result is unlikely to have an impact on either the inside game (the strategic battle with Congress) or the outside game (convincing the American people to jump on board).

"Health care reform is complicated and cosmic, and the questions are monumental and endless. Who pays for it? What gets covered? Who gets covered when? These are merely the biggest. Even a great explainer like Obama had trouble making headway . . . "
Michael Tomasky at Comment Is Free America:
"This press conference wasn't a disaster, but it didn't really quite work, and it didn't work because Barack Obama hasn't figured out how to sell this to people.

"Now, of course, what "this" is isn't quite clear. And that's another issue. Obama is up there defending a proposal that a) isn't yet written and b) isn't his. I don't quite understand his handlers – and the man himself – deciding he should give this high-stakes performance in behalf of a plan that's still only about two-thirds baked and for which he's been, to put it one way, in and out (mostly out) of the kitchen."
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
"When a president calls a prime-time press conference, it traditionally means that the White House has some new strategy, message, or policy creation that they want to reveal with a big flourish. For at least the second time in a row, Barack Obama demanded valuable prime-time real estate and the nation’s attention in order to repeat the same lines he’s used for the last two months on health care. Obama failed to present a single new idea, proposal, or even argument that had not already been floated from Obama himself and the White House in the full-court press over the last 10 days in Obama’s media appearances."
Digby at Hullabaloo:
"Howard Fineman says that Obama failed to hit it out of the park in his press conference because he didn't sound enough like Ronald Reagan. He was like, totally, boring. I guess the honeymoon really is over. They're responding to him like they used to respond to Clinton. They prefer the president to speak like a six year old as Bush did or an addled elder comedian like Reagan. It's more fun.

"Luckily, if actual Americans were listening they likely learned something tonight. Just as they did with Clinton, they like information and explanations that don't insult the intelligence and prefer it when the president speaks to them as if they aren't in some sort of remedial classroom."
Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel:
"About a million people have commented on Jim DeMint's prayer to 'break' our first African-American president by thwarting his attempts to reform and extend health care. But few- - at least that I've seen -- have connected it with another lingering news story: the role of C Street in pushing hyper-capitalist policies.

"DeMint is the most senior C Street resident not currently embroiled in a sex scandal (or the cover-up of it, in Tom Coburn's case). And while his roomies all scramble to keep their jobs in the aftermath of being proven utter hypocrites, DeMint has taken the lead attacking health care and -- significantly -- counterposing it to 'freedom solutions.'

"This is what C Street is really about--fighting back any check on hyper-capitalism."
Publius at Obsidian Wings:
"Remember that the Republicans were saying 'let's think about this,' 'let's slow down,' etc. Now, if they had actually been interested in stimulating the economy more efficiently, fine. But that's not what they used the delay for -- they used it to drag things out and to try to kill the stimulus by a thousand cuts. Each day brought new attacks on things like honeybees.

"If we were living in some sort of Platonic ideal of The Republic, fine. We could study things and enact the very best plan possible. But in this world, we have John Boehner. And delay at this point means death to reform."

Justin Gardner at Donklephant:
"Let me ask a silly question . . . isn't this legislation important enough to work through the recess? Because we all know that the media is setting up this thing as do or die before the August recess, so shouldn’t Dems suck it up and skip their vacations? Isn't this the one piece of legislation that’s important enough to make them do that?"
Helen Philpot at Margaret & Helen:
"I am not giving Obama a free pass. I’m giving him a chance. He has four years to 'make it or break it' as they say. And considering what George Bush did to it, breaking it is the least of our worries. Healthcare in the United State is broken. Our reputation around the globe is broken. The banks are broken. The tax system . . . the school systems . . . the environment -- all broken. Someone needs to try and fix it. So why not Obama?

"When George Bush was President I didn't want him to fail. I wanted him to stop acting like an idiot. I wanted him to be honest and listen to the debate of the people. I didn't expect him to act like a Democrat. I expected him to act like an American. And I expected him to at least try to keep his campaign promises. Instead what we got was a moron of a president who crawled up Dick Cheney's ass and lived there for eight years."

Top image: Time magazine photo illustration


Anonymous said...

I like that Helen woman. She really has it right. And I still think little Ricky spells his last name wrong.


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