It is easy and amusing to demolish strawmen. They don’t fight back. They’re blatantly ridiculous. It doesn’t take a great deal of thought, so you can concentrate on quippy put downs.
As a conservative who has been through a government-run health care system (the military’s), I am dead against the government getting any more involved in health care. However, I don’t assume that Democrats are going to institute mandatory euthenasia at 67. I assume they don’t believe that their program is going to kill people the way the national health care systems in Britain and Canada do, by denying medicines because of cost, delaying treatment, and outright denying treatment. Although the assertion is laughable, I’ll even assume that President Obama is serious when he says he’s going to fund this thing largely by finding inefficiencies in the system. ($500 hammer, anyone? That wasn’t a private company’s supply department that bought that one.)
“Republicans just want the poor to die! The party of ‘NO!’ and nothing else! They’re just fear-mongering!”
1. Republicans don’t want to exterminate poor people, unless it’s by improving the economy, encouraging jobs here instead of forcing jobs overseas, and promoting programs that encourage people to work rather than stay on welfare. The number one way to eliminate poor people is to create good jobs.
As for heath care, I would love to see everyone cared for. However, medical care is not a right: it is a commodity, and nobody has a right to it any more than they have a right to any other commodity with a price tag on it. “But fifty million people are uninsured! We must do something!” we keep hearing. How many could pay for insurance, but would rather buy a tv? How many are young, healthy, and betting they won’t need medical care? How many are illegal immigrants? Dick Morris, a former Clinton advisor, has asserted on Fox News that the 50 million uninsured includes ten million illegal immigrants, another ten million or so who qualify for Medicaid but haven’t bothered to apply, 12 million who are young and healthy and betting they don’t need insurance, and thousands who figure they’re rich enough to not bother with insurance paperwork… which leaves maybe 18 million. Still bad, but not such an insurmountable problem as fifty million.
Can we have some useful numbers before we start discussing anything? I could also say that 80% of Americans can’t carry a baby to term, while leaving out some useful information like how much of that 80% is male, too young, or too old to even start a pregnancy.
I’ve seen other numbers that say many more people have an insurance disruption during the year, often due to a job change. Could we start by de-coupling health care from your job? How many people are stuck with lousy employers because they can’t risk disrupting their health care? Couldn’t we start there, before we put the government in charge of everything?
2. The Obama administration has made a name for itself spending money faster than it can be printed. Yes, President Bush signed the first stimulus package, for a whopping $150 billion. That’s peanuts compared to the initial price tag of the second stimulus: $787 billion. Of course, the CBO put the estimated costs for President Obama’s second stimulus package at $3.27 trillion. Somebody needs to stand up and say, “NO, you CAN’T!” As the Democrats loved to tell us as they publicly savaged President Bush, dissent is patriotic, right?
3. As for fear-mongering, do you really want all of your health records sent to Washington, DC, so that someone can pull up the insurance tables and calculate whether or not your high blood pressure and asthma make your knee replacement a poor investment? Or if you’re worth the good cancer drug of just the cheaper, less effective one? We’ve already seen state health care systems offering euthenasia instead of expensive cancer treatments; we are stupid if we are telling ourselves the national bureaucracy will be any different than the state bureaucracies. I don’t want my government to have that kind of power. (Especially after finding out that I’ll also be on the list of suspicious right-wing radicals as a vocally pro-life veteran.)
Enter President Obama, ready to cure the strawman.
Personally, I do not trust a president who just patted himself on the back, claiming his actions “brought our economy back from the brink”, even though unemployment is significantly worse after the stimulus than he warned it would get if we did nothing. Who carefully spent his first few minutes of his fourth primetime press conference in six months in office (Bush had four in eight years in office, including 9/11) pointing out how he had inherited this gosh-awful economy and touting his “successes”. After a few generalities, the president was back to, “Those Republicans want me to fail,” and, “This is about the people whose stories I hear in town hall meetings…”
Two-thirds of the financing for nationalized health insurance will be paid for by tightening up Medicare? If it was that easy, we would have done it years ago.
An independent board of doctors and administrators to eliminate waste? Many hospitals have that already. One of the ways they cut costs is by eliminating care that has been determined to be futile, like deciding they don’t want to care for the comatose person anymore and the family can either let them die or move them to another facility, even though the move may kill them. Like the bureaucracy in Britain that denied drugs to late stage breast cancer patients, saying that the low survival rate for those patients didn’t justify the cost of trying to save a few more lives.
But don’t worry, we won’t tax you to pay for this debacle, just the rich, because, as President Obama pointed out in the opening sentences, the rich have been profiting *unfairly* while average Americans don’t get their fair share of the economy. Yeah, stick it to the man! They should be happy we don’t show up on their lawns with picket signs and death threats like we did to those AIG people who got their contractural bonuses!
Unfortunately, real people are harder to cure. Which is why Canadians come to the U.S. to get emergency surgery they’d have to wait years for in Canada. And Canada’s cancer survival rate is 16% lower than the U.S. survival rate. And foreign dignitaries facing complicated heart surgery come to the U.S. rather than trust the experts in their own country.
Congratulations, you’ll all be covered… now hope you don’t get sick!
Maybe all those people who write the president to tell him sob stories about their health coverage think President Obama, by sheer charisma and eloquence, can actually fix everything that all those other countries botched when they tried the exact same thing. (I just don’t get that whole mindset. I wrote a get well card (in crayon) for President Reagan when he was shot. It has never even crossed my mind to write the President as some great, overfunded, extra-Constitutional Santa Claus to get what I want.)
Before we create another bloated government program destined for failure, we need to learn from other countries what the real problems and pitfalls are, not just torch the strawman, call him “cured”, and declare the debate finished.