It's the hot issue... Health Care Reform. President Obama, by mandate from the voters, told Congress to get a Health Care Reform bill by August. It wasn't a exactly a deadline, he only meant to light a fire under them and get the process moving, but unfortunately, two many hands were in the cookie jar and disagreements over the particulars stalled the process until Congress was set to take a summer vacation.
While little is actually being done on getting a bill written, Senators and Congressmen and women are holding town hall meetings in their respective districts to discuss the issue and some are being confronted by angry, hostile crowds. The media has been capturing these wild town hall meetings where a very vocal minority of people are shouting at their Congressmen and Senators, calling them liars, cronies, and Nazis; hanging them in effigy, some carrying signs that read: "Death to Obama," and others who come with knives and guns. Protests are as American as Apple Pie. The right to Protest is guaranteed in the Constitution. But shouting down debate and cursing death threats isn't exactly helpful.
Poll Numbers suggest that President Obama's 'Approval Rating' is dropping over the issue of Health Care Reform and critics are quick to say that the majority of the country share the views of these protestors. There are, of course, a number of reasons why President Obama's 'Approval Rating' has taken a dive. For instance, there is the percentage of the country that did not vote for him and simply refuse to support anything he puts his name on, even if they put his name on it. For example, although the current working Health Care Bills in the House and Senate were composed of ideas from Democrats and Republicans in Congress, it is still referred to by some as, "ObamaCare."
Maybe it was the blatant racism or plain ignorance and stupidity of a good deal of people (Bush did after all still have around a 30% approval rating at the end), or maybe, the voters had legitimate reasons not to vote for Obama, but either way the ones who lost the election walked way sore losers and won't like Obama no matter what and will oppose everything he does. Reason for part of that is that those people still actually believe the lies told by Republicans aided and abetted by the Fox Propaganda Network and shock jocks like Rush, Bill O, and Beck. You know, the people who said those classic myths: 'Iraq and 9/11 are connected,' 'Saddam has W.M.D.'s,' and 'The U.S. Does Not Torture.' It was same group that claimed Barack Obama was a Muslim who hated white people, paled around with terrorists, and wasn't an American citizen.
That crazy conspiracy/ racist fringe of the Right Wing still can't accept that Obama is our elected President so they clutch to the insane idea that Obama wasn't even born in Hawaii or use Freudian Defense Mechanisms and claim that it is Obama, not they, who are racist. There are nut jobs out there that think Obama has a 'deep-seated hatred of white people' even though he was raised by his white mom and grandparents; and crazier, say that Obama is a Nazi even though Nazis don't exactly let black people join their club.
The opinions of those people affect poll numbers. Then you can't forget about the people in this country who just don't like government at all! There are a lot of folks that say they'd be just fine with anarchy as long as they have the right to carry assault weapons. Yeah, you know the type... the ones that claim they want the country to be 'as the Founding Fathers intended,' which if you thought about it, sticking only to the Bill of Rights would mean that there would still be slaves, women would have no right to vote, and all Supreme Court cases since on civil rights and segregation, etc, would mean nothing. Actually, it's that 16th Amendment that bugs them the most - makes them think the Government is one big, scary country club that just steals people's Income Tax money. So they shout about 'Big Government,' which is music to the ears of the corporations with their Laissez-faire argument against regulations and anti-trust laws. So the two crowds join forces to rage against 'socialism' in all it's forms such as the government 'take over' of health care or Social Security or the Post Office or Medicare or the FDA or public schools or public transportation or Firefighters or Police... Well, actually, I'm not sure if they even know how far they want 'Big Government' out of their lives. For instance, they seem to want FEMA to show up ASAP after a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or flood wipes out their neighborhoods.
Then you have the people that were under the impression that Obama was the Chosen One who was going to magically solve all the problems that the Bush Administration left us - the collapse of the banks, the fall of Wall Street and the Auto Industry, two wars, etc, all without spending money and all immediately. Seven months in with 'Stimulus' money going out and us not falling into a Depression, GM and Chrysler reorganized, Cash for Clunkers' rebates getting people buying cars, Wall Street rebounding, refocusing on Iraq and Afghanistan, work on Energy Reform and now Health Care. There are people who want it all now and there are those who criticize Obama for taking on too much! Guess he can't win either way.
Well, there could be a hundred more reasons why Poll Numbers are dropping, but my point is, a lot of people are angry and they have a lot to be angry about. There is still that whole war thing happening, people are seeing jobs go overseas, many are out of work, many are underpaid, many don't have health insurance, many are under-insured, many are mad that Banks got loans and they didn't, many are mad that the government didn't just let Wall Street and the Auto Industry collapse, many are scared that the country is in so much debt that they will have to foot the bill. These people have a lot of real concerns and not a lot of hope that things will get better anytime soon and they turn to the so called 'news' and then they hear that the government, led by a black Kenyan Muslim, is putting together a secret plot to kill them. Match to the powder keg.
Not that anyone should expect people like Rush and Beck to be responsible in their news reporting - they freely admit that they aren't journalists, rather entertainers who have neither the time nor inclination to read and research anything regarding history or politics or law. They are simply like the old relatives, misinformed and stubborn, that we are embarrassed to introduce our friends to in fear that they'll tell that story about how the old neighborhood was better before the blacks moved in. The only difference is Rush, Beck, et al. have microphones that reach our embarrassing relatives who then feel vindicated and empowered to think that backward, irrational talk or violence is legitimate political discourse. Everyone is entitled to free speech, even the dumb.
Which brings us back to the Health Care Reform Debates and those town hall meetings that have been getting a lot of attention lately.
First of all, Barack Obama, the candidate, ran with the plan of reforming Health Care in this country. Specifically, he talked about how the Health Insurance Corporations had risen rates 300% in the last 10 years while 47 million Americans go uninsured plus another 10 million underinsured and how 60% of Bankruptcies filed by individuals are medical related. At this rate, the Health Care System was only going to be a larger and larger drag on the economy and a burden that too many Americans could not and should not bear. The Health Insurance Business, like many other corporations throughout history, had become too large too much profit-driven. As an alternative, Obama talked about offering all Americans the same Health Care Plans that the members of Congress enjoy, about streamlining the system to increase efficiency and reduce costs, and give people the opportunity to choose who provides their Health Care.
Long story short, and you all know it, Barack Obama was elected President and the Democrats on his coattails won the majority of both House of Congress. The majority of the country voted on this. This is what the majority of the country wants. Yet Barack Obama feels the need to appease the losers of the last election by vowing to work together in the spirit of bi-partisanship even if those losers are sore losers who wish for and work for his defeat. Can't say he's not full of hope and optimism. But while the Republicans say they are all for Health Care Reform, they just say 'No' on every detail along the way and then claim that they never had a chance to voice their ideas. Not true. They don't want it, never wanted it, never will want it; just like they didn't want the recent expansion of Health Care for children (called it 'socialism'), and will do anything including throwing the country under the bus in order to score political points. In their eyes: Kill Health Care Reform and Obama fails, but they win.
The Right has Public Relations down to an art with plenty of money to spend and their modus operandi has been, for at least the past decade, to lie and instill fear in order to sway public opinion. The trick worked to get us to invade Iraq; a country we were told was part of the attacks on 9/11. Now with passing of the 2008 elections and being thrown from power, the Right-wing talkers feel even more compelled to spew outrageous lies because they are desperate and willing to say anything to, never mind regain power, but to at least stay relevant. And they will stop at nothing... No boundaries, no morals. Scaring the American people, ginning them up on fear and turning them into what resembles an angry mob. This is nothing new; this fear tactic. The Republicans spent all this time since 9/11 keeping us afraid of another Terrorist attack. Even making us afraid of each other. Even declaring that if we voted for Democrats we would be attacked! Now it's Health Care Reform equals Death panels and offing Grandma?
Who wouldn't be angry if someone tried to off our grandmas? The problem is it's a lie! A sick, sad, desperate attempt at making people afraid of the government that is trying to bring down the costs of Health Insurance, make things easier on the middle class, and provide health care to the millions who currently go without it. Why? Because if Health Care Reform happens, the Health Care Corporations will stand to lose the profits that they make by gauging the American public. Reform means that they couldn't do things like charge $50 for a Tylenol at the Emergency room or deny a claim from someone for a procedure or surgery that the doctor says is necessary but the insurance company says isn't. See, the Republican argument is that a 'Government-run Health Care System' will put a government bureaucrat between a patient and their doctor when actually, right now, it is a Health Insurance bureaucrat between a patient and their doctor.
A minority of American people, perhaps those I mentioned before, are standing in the way of Health Care Reform. Odd, since Health Care Reform is meant to help them, yet they are so misinformed by the Right Wing PR Machine in paid for by the Health Insurance Corporations websites, advertisements, Talk Radio, and Fox 'News,' that they shout down any facts that defer from the lies they were told by these commercials, corrupt empty suits in Congress, and fake news reporters with their own TV or Radio shows. Pretty easy job to come up with and say ridiculous things without having to produce any shred of evidence. Or make wild, baseless accusations without fear of recrimination. Speaking off which, did you hear that Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs enjoy hot, gay sex together while Sean Hannity and Bill O give each other sponge baths with a loofa. Actually Bill refers to it as a 'falafel,' but Sean doesn't bother correcting him. Now, I'm not saying you should believe that, but does anyone have evidence that it isn't true? This is easy actually, you can even play at home, but these people make good money doing it day in and day out. All it takes is a little moral ambiguity over the truth and that little side effect of possibly having a guilty conscience, but luckily, Big Business is there to heal all wounds. All that money that the corporations make robbing the average American (like that $50 Tylenol) goes to lobbying against what will keep them from making those plundered riches - like paying for those commercials and lining the pockets of anyone to do their bidding.
So, actually, I guess you could blame the political parties for playing politics instead of working to help Americans or Joe and Jane Shmoe for believing what they hear and acting out or these entertainers on TV, Internet, and Radio for playing to audiences for ratings, but the real blame should go to the Corporations that control the country. In the same way they can manipulate prices, stocks, Government policy, and the economy; they can manipulate the people. So if Health Care Reform does fail, it will be a loss to the American public and a victory for the corporations and you can bet that those CEOs, lobbyists, corrupt Politicians, and talkers in the media will be well compensated for their efforts.
Oh, wait. I forgot another part of America that may contribute to Obama's 'Approval Rating' going down recently.... People like me. You see, I voted for Barack Obama because he said he would fix the economy, fix Health Care, repair all the damage done during the Bush/ Cheney years, and take on the corporations among other things. I didn't and don't expect the President to fix everything all at once. Things take time. But I am frustrated now, like a lot of people who voted for him and the other Democrats to run the Republicans out of power, that the President wants to cooperate with the 'GOP' in the spirit of unity when it's clear that the Republican Party has become the 'Party of No' - unwilling to work with or compromise on anything favored by the President on behalf of us.
So the Single-Payer plan gets taken off the table because the Right won't do it, then Public Option doesn't look promising because the Right won't do it, next Co-ops gets tossed because the Right won't do that either. Still, some Republicans say they want Health Care Reform, but they're really only talking about (surprise) tax credits and Tort Reform. Tort Reform, though needed to some extent to stop frivolous lawsuits, simply means to Republicans that lawyers not be involved and that patients can't sue their Doctors and Health Insurance Companies for malpractice if the Doctor is negligent, nor sue Pharmaceutical companies should a drug they manufacture cause irrevocable harm. Again, it's all about protecting the corporations.
The American people voted for a Democrat President and a Democrat majority in Congress for a reason: because the Republicans were not working for the American People and a change was necessary. There are no excuses now for not flexing that muscle and getting these important jobs done. The country needs Health Care Reform and shouldn't be held hostage just because the Democrats want to try and work with Republicans who just want to play political games. Think about it - If the Republicans had the majority in Congress and a President in the White House, do you think they would work with the Democrats or just push their own agenda and get bills passed? Actually, you don't even have to think about it, it happened - recently. Now it's our turn. We mustn't let the naysayers and fear mongers hold us back any longer. We mustn't be fooled by the Health Care Insurance Corporations propaganda. We can get strong Health Care Reform and we don't need the Republicans' help to do it. It won't be easy; change rarely is. And you can't make all the people happy all the time... But we've got to do this because we just can't afford to do nothing.
Health Care for All Americans!