My response to Roger Ebert on health-care reform
Submitted by vastleft on Fri, 08/21/2009 - 8:18am
(Yes, I'm playing hooky from my hiatus.)
Roger Ebert again made a compelling case against the rightwing objectors to health-care reform.
I submitted the following response, pending approval:
There is a wholly different set of reasons to object to Obama's (vaguely defined and shrinking) health plan: it is not at all similar to plans like Canada's.
In the past, Barack Obama has said he stands for single-payer health care:
He said, at the time, that we first needed to take the White House and both houses of Congress.
However, once those things happened, and after he promised an "open and transparent" public review of the options, single-payer plans were specifically and continually excluded from the discussion.
He has publicly belittled advocates for a Canadian-style system as "little single-payer advocates" and "liberal bleeding hearts."
In Congress, where the Democrats' plan, whatever it ultimately will be, is being written, citizens (many of them doctors and nurses) have been arrested for bringing a Canadian-style system to the table the only way they can:
Unfortunately, only two kinds of parties have the spotlight in this discussion:
* Those who assume that the Obama plan is real reform, often accidentally misrepresenting it as offering benefits similar to those of Canada's or England's plans
* Those who decry the Obama plan as a plunge into socialism, complete with death panels
Missing from the main-stage discussion altogether is a serious and critical look at whether "ObamaCare" is a sensible and fair plan, and not yet another sop to moneyed influences. All indications are that it is not what its advocates wish or pretend it is:
As you well know, Roger, we humans are suckers for narratives. The catchy ones are "Barack Obama leads the way to health reform" and "Angry yahoos stand in the way of health reform."
"What if," to quote an old Lorenzo Semple, Jr. script as best as memory serves, "there were a pretty poison?" What if the Obama / Congressional plan isn't the citizen-friendly reform we'd like to believe it is? What if it merely mandates Americans to buy health insurance but, because it has been crafted so as not to offend powerful lobbyists, its "public option" (if it has one at all), will be available only to a small % of Americans... and not for several years? Well, that's not a what-if, that's the apparent best-case plan out of Congress, and it's being made more conservative still as we watch True Believers on both sides take their eye off the ball of what the actual legislation is going to be.
Thank you for your cogent and heartfelt defenses against the radical right's ill-considered objections. Perhaps you'd take a deeper look at what the so-called left is putting forward, because I think you'll find it as Canadian as a quesadilla.