Dec 9, 2013
Progressives Are the Key to Reform
Posted on Aug 23, 2009
By T.L. Caswell
Health care reform is being rolled toward the intensive care unit, and Dr. Obama knows it. Heroic lifesaving measures must be taken, and quickly.
Barely a day goes by without some new setback to the administration’s praiseworthy effort to put good care within the reach of the millions of people who, when it comes to their personal health, need to rely on the power of prayer rather than the application of medical science.
And so it goes.
Reform faces serious trouble on both the right and the left. Conservative members of Congress are unlikely, of course, to vote for any form of “socialized medicine,” and more and more House liberals are now saying they won’t support legislation that has been unacceptably weakened. One of many recent examples of possible liberal defection came on the Aug. 18 edition of MSNBC’s “Hardball” when Rep. Anthony Weiner argued to host Chris Matthews that if a health care co-op plan took the place of the public option there would not be adequate cost saving. “[A] co-op plan won’t do it,” the New York Democrat said. Would he vote for legislation having no strong prospect of good cost saving? “Probably not.” (To see a news article that gives specifics of the public option and co-op approaches, click here.)
At this point, Obama knows he can get acceptable legislation only if he overcomes the Republican propaganda drive—a drive based in large part on exaggeration and lies—and wins strong public support for solid reform. Congressional members who want to be re-elected—and that is almost all of them—listen to the folks back home, and the loudest noises of recent weeks have come from impassioned crowds howling against reform at town hall meetings. It is imperative that Americans on the other side make themselves heard in endorsing reform and speaking out against watering down the legislation by removing beneficial clauses such as the public option.
Obama’s series of town hall meetings has been part of his campaign to bring the public to his side on this issue. On Aug. 19 he took another step by addressing, via two conference calls, more than 100,000 members of the American clergy and laypersons, both Jewish and Christian, in the hope that they would help sell health care reform at their synagogues and churches. Undoubtedly there is a profound moral facet to providing medical care to people who cannot afford it under the present system. Lives can depend on the quality of medical treatment and whether care was administered early enough.
Reaching out to the religious community was a sound idea. Some will argue that to lobby the clergy drills a hole in the church/state barrier. Well, perhaps, but history offers ample examples of presidential administrations using moral suasion in the churches to further political agendas. Surely the saving of thousands of lives is a matter fit for discussion with religious leaders, who, sadly, in the past sometimes have been pressed to support morally dubious actions.
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