Given that the Affordable Care Act ( ACA) saw its grand rollout this week, and given that another contributor to Blogging Blue, Dustin Klein, was inspired this week to post a piece he’d written in August of 2009 about the need for universal health care, and given that yet another Blogging Blue contributor, PJ, saw fit to accuse so-called ” Emoprogs ” of doing GOP/Fox bidding in respect to the ACA in a recent post, and given further that I’d rather write about anything other than the goddamn government shutdown right now, I thought I’d post a piece I wrote for FightingBob.com in June of 2009 about universal health insurance. Consider it a glimpse into the soul of an Emoprog. The text is below. Enjoy.
Over the last many months I’ve received quite a number of emails from you and your staff addressing me by my first name, so I figured we must be on something of a first-name basis, hence the familiar salutation. I hope you don’t mind. I wasn’t on the conference call you held a few weeks ago with folks described by one of your staff as your best campaign and health care reform volunteers, but I did get an email about it a few days later, along with a recording of the call. I want you to know that I appreciate your intent to provide health insurance for all Americans, but one remark you made on the call was a bit mystifying.
You said we need to get health care reform done this year. You went even further saying, “If we don’t get it done this year we’re not going to get it done.” Could you explain this remark in more detail? Are you sure this is the case? I can appreciate that the matrix of political variables at play with an issue as complex as the overhaul of the American health care system are unknown to a northern Wisconsin rube like me, which is why I’m asking for an explanation. I also think it’s possible that a lot of other people don’t quite understand what the rush is.
For several years now Democratic Party candidates for office have told us that in order to have health care reform the Democrats needed to take back the White House and the Congress. Well, we’ve done that. Moreover, poll after poll seems to show that a significant majority of the American people want to see quality, affordable health care for everyone. So what’s the hurry? Aren’t we in the driver’s seat on this one? Is there any chance we could stretch the timeline a little, say, maybe six months? Let me tell you why I ask.
I think there may be a great deal of confusion across the land concerning the various health care reform proposals being debated, or not debated, and what the various terms in play mean. For example, even the Washington Post is confused. In a June 6 article titled, “Single Payer Supporters Challenge Democrats” the Post describes single-payer advocates as supportive of a national program like those in Europe, when what a great many of us actually support is HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. Medicare is, as I’m sure you’re well aware, not European, but rather a uniquely American solution to our problem. “Uniquely American solution” is a phrase, I must confess, that I borrowed from Montana Senator Max Baucus. If the Washington Post is confused you can bet a lot of other people are too.
Like the people you, and other Democratic Party leaders, have made reference to: those who’ve said they want to keep the insurance they have. Have these people had a chance to compare their current premiums and benefits against the benefits and costs of HR 676? I doubt it. Why?
Because HR 676 is having quite a bit of trouble getting any serious discussion in either Congress or the mainstream media, which is peculiar when you consider that it seems to have the support of many, many people, including upwards of 80 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. My point is that a lot of people simply don’t know what all the options are because no one has told them.
So here’s my suggestion. Let’s slow things down a bit, educate the American people about ALL the proposals available to us, and then enter the legislative process. I’m not asking you to make a decision on this right now; just think about it a little. And as long as we’re on the subject, I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the “political viability” aspect of single-payer health care, which is the most common reason I’ve heard for nearly banning it from discussion. Again, Max Baucus said it very plainly when he quipped, on a video clip aired on Bill Moyers Journal, “It can’t pass,” and, “It’s impossible.” I, for one, am not willing to take Senator Baucus’s word on this. I’ve seen some pretty remarkable things happen in just the last year or so.
For example, when the candidates for the 2008 presidential race were emerging in early 2007, my wife became very interested in your candidacy. She wanted to send your campaign some money, sign up for emails, etc., and so she urged me to read up on your career, which I did. We talked about you back and forth for a couple of weeks until finally, one evening, in a smoothly pragmatic tone, I exclaimed, “Look, honey, I like him too, and he’d probably make a great President, but there’s just no way in hell that a black guy named Barack Hussein Obama is going to win the presidency of the United States of America. It just isn’t gonna happen.”
You see what I’m saying? I eventually yielded to my wife’s judgment and we joined the effort to get you elected. I don’t regret it at all. In fact, some of your campaign optimism even rubbed off on me. Because now, when I hear people say that we can’t pass single-payer health care in America, I say, “Yes We Can.” You should see the spark in people’s eyes when they hear that.
So in closing, Mr. President, let’s remember that America has been waiting for universal health care for almost 100 years, since way back when Teddy Roosevelt made it a plank in the Progressive Party platform of 1912. We can wait a little longer if it means we can get it right. It would be a real shame, after 100 years, to get it wrong. And when it comes to achieving what seems near impossible, well, you’re the one who raised the bar. But not to worry; there are a lot of us out here who are ready to reach high.
Sincerely, Steve June 21, 2009