Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Health Care: We Are Nuts, High Drama in Front of Congress, The Remarkable Revelations of Tom Ridge

We Are Crazy and Ill-Informed

I'm sorry, but somebody has to say it -- on health care reform, we have no clue. We make insane claims like "we have the best health care system in the world" without any basis in fact. We fear the socialized systems of the likes of Great Britian (public system) and Canada (public insurance, private system) on the basis of scare ads about waiting for surgeries.

I'm in Toronto this week and today I conducted my own informal survey. I spoke to 17 people, all employed, all Canadian citizens about their health care. I asked them 3 questions:

(1) How do you like the health care system in Canada?

(2) If given the choice, would you prefer to get care in the US or in Canada?

(3) What do you think of the current debate in the US over health care reform?

The results?

(1) All 17 think that the current health care system in Canada is "good" or "great"

(2) Not 1 would even consider switching to getting their care from the US system

(3) Let me share some quotes:

"You guys are nuts!"

"Has anyone from the US even BEEN to Canada or Great Britian?" (I pointed out that I was there talking to them)

"How can the US be debating whether they should care for sick poor people or not?"

Long story short: our current debate falls WELL short of what we SHOULD be talking about. We SHOULD be talking about a complete government takeover of the health insurance industry. But we aren't, because we are uninformed and poorly traveled.

High Drama Next Wednesday

Next Wednesday, President Obama has announced that he will give a speech to a joint session of congress on this very topic. Not a ton is known about his speech, other than that David Axelrod has committed to the press that the President will be much more clear about what he wants to see in a reform bill.

Word behind the scenes is that the White House has been quietly negotiating with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) around a potential bi-partisan bill that would exclude a public option. As much as I believe what I said above about the need for a much larger role for government in health insurance, this is a wise move. A public option isn't going to happen. Let's get what we can.

All the Moderates Betray Bush

I had meant to write about this earlier, but I seem to have missed the news cycle. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge makes allegations in his new book that during his time in Washington, Dick Cheney attempted to influence him to raise the terror alert level artifically to help with the 2004 campaign. I have to admit to being very unshocked.

This does play out as part of a broader theme for the Bush administration. The moderates that he brought onto his team over his 8 years: Christie Todd Whitman, Colin Powell and Tom Ridge have all distanced themselves considerably from the administration. Whitman quit with a ton of nobility after refusing to have a wrong interpretation of the Clean Air Act of 1991 crammed down her throat. Powell, regrettably, stayed on and pushed an Iraq war that he clearly had opposed inside the administration. He later endorsed Barack Obama in 2008. And now Ridge let's out serious allegations about the operations of the Bush White House.

Oh well...we never really believed Bush was a uniter not a divider, did we?

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