January 20, 2010

Year One


Today marks the end of year one for the Obama administration. It seems like a lot longer, doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe it was only a year ago that the other guy, whom I’d rather not mention, was still President. We were about 6 months into the worst financial collapse since the great depression (aren’t you sick of hearing that sentence everywhere?) and we were riding a high of political enthusiasm the likes of which the country hasn’t seen in generations. So where does an avid supporter of the Obama ideal rank the Administration after the first year?

Domestic Agenda: B

By now we’re all sick of hearing about health care. The health care bill has been the main focus of the first year of the administration and rightfully so. America, despite temporary amnesia, voted overwhelmingly for universal health care during the 2008 election. The Republicans during their Contract with America days and the monkey boy years never had a President win with such an overwhelmingly victory or had such large majorities in both houses of Congress. In fact, the Republican party has not had this much of an advantage in the House and Senate since 1923. The thought that this is a conservative nation is a myth that can be proven by simply looking at our countries history.

With this sort of political capital health care reform should have been rammed down the throats of Congress by President Obama. He tried to be too cordial in his relationship with Congress and I believe it cost him momentum that he’s had trouble regaining. Republicans never should have been involved in the health care  debate at all. They were irrelevant in the first year of the Obama Administration and should have been treated as such, because, lets face it, the Republican party and the insurance companies are one in the same. When Congressional Democrats got timid he should have threatened them with his huge donor lists, not made an effort to accommodate them. I’m aware he was trying to keep up with campaign pledges of operating a different kind of politics but health care should have been pushed through with a populist fervor. It would have worked.

Having said all that, health care reform still is close to passing. Is the bill flawed? Of course, it’s Congress we’re talking about here. However, we are moving in the direction we should be. Health care needs to be treated as a right in America and that will gain traction over time. The bill will be tweaked over the years but once Americans get used to the idea of health care as a right it will be impossible to take away just like Social Security and Medicare, two very socialist programs that no politician would dare touch. Now, this bill has not passed as of yet and if it doesn’t I’d have to drop his grade down to a D. But, despite not reaching expectations, the fact that the bill is one step away from passage is amazing. Clinton never got health care out of committee. Here’s hoping we’ll get something.

Tomorrow: Foreign policy.

10 comments:

  1. Everything in government has flaws. I agree with you on that. I choose to look at the hope. Great post.

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  2. Eva: Thanks, I don't know why I'm an optimist over all these years but somehow I am.

    Secretia: If you think back to what was happening at this time last year I think things are unquestionably better. They're just not as good as they used to be. Who knows how long that could take.

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  3. All political correctness aside... I am just glad I do not cringe every time our President opens his mouth anymore. I think Obama could really make some amazing changes but I think it is sad that this huge financial collapse came right as he took office. I hope he is able to make a change. WE almost needed a interim President after Bush no?
    I am still not sold on Health care. I say this just because I don't think our country is in a place financially to pass and sustain such a bill. However, the idea is nice.

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  4. I agree Laurel! We seem like a country that can form complete sentences again and that alone is a wonderful change. The problem is we really need to scrap the entire health care system and start over again the way every other industrialized country in the world has done. That still makes us look like a backwater. That some people can't just walk into a doctors office and get treated, I think, is outrageous. I'm of the opinion that we can't afford not to overhaul health care even though a full overhaul looks bleak at the moment. There are so many people out there that are so far in debt because of health care costs. They should be getting bailed out too.

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  5. Hm. Overwhelming voting against the past 8 years in no equates to overwhelmingly voting for health care reform and the clear "amnesia" illustrates that. And I'm kind of appalled at advocating the type of politics that took away the minority (democrat, anything not conservative christian) rights that past eight years. Reactionary alternating sides and forcing everyone else to de facto suck it up and do what the majority in power wants (who got in power because people didn't like the other side ramming shit down their throats) is a pretty disgusting way to live (and going to put the government right back in Republican hands). The primary reason people hated Bush was because he told anyone who didn't agree with him to shut up and pushed through whatever he wanted, and in the process committed some pretty egregious atrocities. Clearly a lot of people don't support this or else it would have passed already... so we're resorting to advocating Bush strategies?

    Also, noting that I've neither spoken for or against public health care, health care is not a right. A right is something that cannot be taken away from you without bodily force and is inherent in your own being- like freedom to self determination. Health care is not a right because it contradicts more basic rights and is not inherent in ones own being- it FORCES other people to do things (and thus violates their self-determination). You cannot have health care without other people's lives and minds- doctors, scientists, engineers. A right is something inherent no matter how much money you have, it is inherent in both industrialized and not industrialized countries (though many people have to fight to defend theirs). You can say it's a necessary privilege in industrialized countries, civilized, humane, etc. but calling it a right is one of those things that no matter how many times people say it, is simply not true.

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  6. C D: I agree that part of the reason Obama and the Democrats swept to power in 2008 was because of how fed up people were with the whole Bush mess. But, they didn't vote against Bush. They voted for the Democrats platform. Obama's biggest domestic initiative during the campaign was universal health care and it carried the Democratic party to heights it hasn't seen the 60's in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. To say that people didn't vote for Obama's policies but only voted against Bush (who wasn't even on the ballot), I believe, is giving the American people no credit and essentially just calling them reactionary and not really dedicated to any sort of policy. Also, I'm of the opinion that health care is important enough that Obama's mandate should have been used to ram health care through at any cost. There are 50 million Americans without health care. Do we wait for 100 million to be without simple health care? 200 million? When is enough, enough?

    I disagree with your logic that health care isn't a human right. Do you think people are forced by threat of bodily harm to treat a sick person in Canada or France? If you don't want to become a doctor you don't have to. Even if you want to be a doctor, but not in the public sector, then you still have that freedom. By your logic people don't have a right to a fair trial either. Lawyers are FORCED to defend people they might not want to because to have a fair trial you must have representation. Should the right to a fair trial also be considered just a "necessary privilege" in only industrialized countries? I think not.

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  7. No, I wouldn't say I'm not giving the American people enough credit. What I would say is that no one can reasonably say why every one else in the country voted the way they did. Scientifically impossible unless you're omniscient. There were ample other EXCELLENT reasons to have voted democratic this last election cycle: including to vote AGAINST the other feasible option on the ballot. Reactionary, maybe, but many would feel it's a very valid reason to vote for someone.

    If it has to be GIVEN to you, ie- you're not born with it, it's not a right. People have the right to a fair trial because they are born with the right to defend themselves, particularly against people who are looking to imprison them for unjust reasons. We have elected that the most civilized way to defend oneself without resorting to violence and letting the weak get trampled is through a trial of peers- it's a means to ensure the right people already have to defend themselves. No one has health care unless they are given it, you aren't born with it. Nothing is a human right that has to be defined by statute and is subject to arbitrary borders- you are born with rights.

    And for the record, I've still not indicated a preference either way on U.S. health care... only that "at any cost" isn't just a slippery slope of subjectivity- it's a full out cliff. If that standard is to apply it is to apply to everyone, in which case we can say nothing of the atrocities committed by any past or future president/congress/next door neighbor.

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  8. YIkes as of today... it looks like the health care bill will never be passed. Great report on NPR this morning. Check it out.

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  9. C D: In reality its a matter of perspective on all of these issues. Despite the high number of people that identify themselves as independent we live in a country, for better or worse, where you have to choose the policies of one party or another. Everyone essentially knows what they're getting out of the Democrats and everyone knows what they're getting from the Republicans. It doesn't surprise anyone. If you like what the Democrats are selling better you vote for them and shouldn't be surprised when they enact policies when they're in power. At the start of the health care debate people overwhelmingly support health care reform and a majority even supported the public option. I think there was a lot of fear mongering by a particular sector of the press that turned this thing around. If gallup poll support and huge winning margins in the last election aren't reason enough to push something through I can't really think of what would be.

    As for health care as a human right, just as people are born with a right to defend themselves aren't they born with a right to take care of themselves? I would think that would be along the same lines. If I brush my teeth I'm taking care of myself no one is giving that to me. If I defend myself I'm not given that either. However, I don't see a difference between society appointing a doctor or appointing a doctor to look out for my well being. If you don't think that right to a fair trial is a human right either than I'll just have to agree to disagree with you because we have vastly different definitions of what a human right is. Which isn't a bad thing.

    And I agree with the "at any cost" statement being a very slippery slope. I just see the lack of health care as such a pressing humanitarian issue that immediate action is needed because the status quo, in my opinion, is unacceptable.

    Laurel: Yea, the cause definitely took a hit but I can't see some form of reform not getting through. There is still an overwhelming majority in the Senate even if it isn't filibuster proof. Should be an interesting couple of weeks.

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