Monday, February 18, 2008

The Need for Health Care Reform and Reality

I cringed when President Bush said there was no health care crisis and muttered inane nonsense about poor people going to the emergency room if they had a serious problem. President Bush, in many ways of course, did not invent the health care crisis. He merely stood by and did nothing as he has so often done during his presidency. For 27 years, our country has been drifting toward the lowest common denominator on issue after issue simply because powerful Republicans backed by wealthy donors have the money to buy the best pollsters, the best image and the best liars.

Kevin Sacks of The New York Times has an article on research that shows what so many of us already have the common sense to understand: the lack of insurance is dangerous to people's health:
A nationwide study has found that the uninsured and those covered by Medicaid are more likely than those with private insurance to receive a diagnosis of cancer in late stages, often diminishing their chances of survival.


The widest disparities were noted in cancers that could be detected early through standard screening or assessment of symptoms, like breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and melanoma. For each, uninsured patients were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed in Stage III or Stage IV rather than Stage I. ...

I'm going to make a confession: we need health care reform badly but so much damage has been done to our country in the last 27 years, and particularly in the last seven years, by the right wingers and their noise machine, I'm not even sure that health care reform is even going to be possible in the next ten years. Whoever becomes the next president will have an obligation to look at the real state of our nation as soon as Bush leaves. It could be ugly. We have problems that are not only coming but that have already arrived. If John McCain is elected, the problems will continue to get much worse. In front of the camera, McCain is a nice guy but he has no idea where we are and no idea what to do. If Obama or Clinton become president, there's a good chance either one can stop the bleeding, but it will take the involvement of millions of Americans and particularly the young to turn our country around.

***For the record, neither my wife nor myself have health insurance. At our age, the insurance premiums alone would drive us into bankruptcy.

Campaign Update: Hey, give me your ears. Four score and seven days ago, Hillary Clinton was the 'inevitable' nominee.

Being inevitable is not what one expects of a Democrat. If I'm being too sarcastic, I apologize. These are hard times. We need to be inspired. Hillary Clinton is very capable but she is now reduced to criticizing Barack Obama about the trivial such as borrowing lines from his friends. The irony is that if Hillary Clinton were to take the high ground starting now and inspire people and continue until November, she would have a good chance of taking the nomination and winning the election. She's capable of inspiring people but has chosen a different course thanks to some odd supporters, including Republican pollster, Mark Penn (Isn't it odd by the way that Republican pollsters urge Republican candidates to be more folksy but urge Democratic candidates to triangulate?).

A reader on TPMElection Central points out an article that Molly Ivins wrote in 2006 explaining why she would not vote for Hillary Clinton for the nomination. Here's an excerpt that talks about leadership:
What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, I will support her but I don't pretend to understand her current campaign. Does she really understand where we are? We are at an historic crossroads. Does Hillary or Bill get it? I'm convinced that Barack Obama gets it. I'm convinced that young people supporting Barack Obama understand clearly that their future is on the line. From time to time our country has needed major reform. We are in such a time. The corruption and greed of the last 27 years has been hurting our country. We need change. So my support of Barack Obama remains clear and it remains strong.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

"Whoever becomes the next president will have an obligation to look at the real state of our nation as soon as Bush leaves. It could be ugly."

Could be? Man, it is ugly. Bush alone has infested the federal works broadly and deeply with inept, ideological and venal hacks. I don't think just the top three tiers are involved. So, that alone will take much time and commitment to deal with. Far more time than the usual administration turnovers of the past.

I fully expect to learn in the first two years of whomever succeeds Bush that many kinds of numbers were skewed, fudged and lied about all over the place; that all manner of things that need regular attention were ignored; and that books were routinely cooked. I anticipate that adding up to a monumental mess that will take the next president's whole first term to begin to straighten out.

I liken what probably faces the next president to having to move into a trashed rental trailer after the previous occupant, an addicted meth manufacturer whose IQ has been reduced to houseplant level, was carted off to prison.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W., as usual, you're on the mark. To be honest, I'm sort of running out of adjectives to describe not only the damage that Bush has done to our country and our government but the problems that Bush has been ignoring for seven years. Actually, I believe problems are coming that we've been ignoring for over thirty years.

The U.S. still has enormous potential but we can't go much longer floating along as we have. For several years now, as you know, we've been living on borrowed money from foreign investors. In some ways, the subprime crisis is only a subplot in the larger story. Relying on foreign investors is a strange thing for a great country to have been doing as our problems mount. Clearly, a fresh start of some sort in Washington is badly needed but it won't be enough. People are going to have to find ways to be involved or we're going to lose a great deal of what our country is.

I'm still editing by the way. It turned out to be a much bigger and more interesting project than I thought it was going to be.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

"For several years now, as you know, we've been living on borrowed money from foreign investors."

The U.S. went from being a lender nation to being a debtor nation in the Reagan years. We've been adding to the debt at an accelerating rate, with almost no letup, ever since. Now, to just China, we're adding to our staggering debt at the rate of $1 billion a day, every day.

What this country is doing is unprecedented in history. It's hard to imagine how this mindless recklessness can lead to anything but a calamitous end.

Craig, I'm glad to hear the editing work is satisfying and not just tedious. Is it a book? I'm also glad to see another post here, both because your posts are always excellent and because they reassure that Donkey Path isn't finis.

11:19 PM  

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