Friday, November 30, 2007

On Universal Health Care, Obama Gives Aid and Comfort to the Enemies of Reform

As a former employee of one of the world’s largest insurance companies, I recall sitting in on workplace sessions in which management gave us talking points opposing the latest government-sponsored health insurance program to present to our state legislators. And of course, we were warned of the perils of socialized medicine. As I recall, we were even shown a film negatively portraying medical care under the Canadian system.

Later on, I began receiving notices of regular incremental increases in the cost to employees of our group health insurance at that same company. It’s my understanding that costs for both employees and retirees who opted to continue their group health insurance there have continued to rise.

That’s just one reason why health care coverage has become a major issue among Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign. In today’s NY Times, Paul Krugman describes how the left wing’s preferred candidate, Barrack Obama, has been resorting to right-wing rhetoric, akin to that of the corporate world, to promote his health care plan over those offered by Hillary Clinton and John Edwards:

“From the beginning,” Krugman says, “advocates of universal health care were troubled by the incompleteness of Barack Obama’s plan, which unlike those of his Democratic rivals wouldn’t cover everyone. But they were willing to cut Mr. Obama slack on the issue, assuming that in the end he would do the right thing.”

Krugman continues:

“Now, however, Mr. Obama is claiming that his plan’s weakness is actually a strength. What’s more, he’s doing the same thing in the health care debate he did when claiming that Social Security faces a “crisis” — attacking his rivals by echoing right-wing talking points.”

Krugman summarizes:

“What seems to have happened is that Mr. Obama’s caution, his reluctance to stake out a clearly partisan position, led him to propose a relatively weak, incomplete health care plan. Although he declared, in his speech announcing the plan, that “my plan begins by covering every American,” it didn’t — and he shied away from doing what was necessary to make his claim true.

“Now, in the effort to defend his plan’s weakness, he’s attacking his Democratic opponents from the right — and in so doing giving aid and comfort to the enemies of reform.”

That’s all we need this time around when true progressives in America have the opportunity to take back the White House and our country from the agenda of the radical right wing.

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