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Howard Dean has distilled the health care reform debate down to it's essence. The debate pits the health insurers of America against the American people. It really is as simple as that.
Thus far, Congressional Republicans have sided with the health insurers and most of the Democrats have sided with the American people. Conservative Democrats, like Kent Conrad and Max Baucus, want to have it both ways....make it appear as if they are on the side of the American people while working to insure that health insurance companies can protect the status quo. Having it both ways is not easy to pull off.
The strategy by conservative Democrats, who have joined with all the Republicans siding with health insurers, is to focus almost entirely on the cost of health reform. For these both-wayers, the cost trumps necessity. Blue Dog Democrats have been wearing gloves of late because their hands are so raw from wringing them so much over the terrible, terrible consequences of potential deficits created by any health care reform. These are the same oh-so-fiscally responsible Blue Dogs who voted unanimously during Bush, the Younger, to take the Clinton projected surplus and give in primarily to the top 5% in America through drastic tax cuts. So there's that.
Take a look at this chart. Notice that during America's 'good ole' days', post WW2, the top tax rates were 70% or higher. Then notice that today the top tax rates are below 40%.
I include this chart to demonstrate that conservative Democrats have no ass to back up their distraction that any health care reform passed cannot raise taxes and can't add to the deficit. The nation's richest haven't had it so good since those roaring 20's. That would be the same roaring 20's which gave way to the not-so-roaring Great Depression.
There's plenty of room to increase taxes on the nations' richest and any argument to the contrary is simply a distraction to protect the health insurance companies against the will of the American people.
All Republicans in Congress joined by a handful of conservative Democrats are trying to distract the "debate" by focusing on a fiscal dog that simply won't hunt.
The other point of the "debate" I want to address in health care reform is compromise.
President Obama began his presidency with a pre-compromise when it came to health care reform. The most efficient way to address national health care reform is with a single-payer, not-for-profit, government run, Medicare similar, form of universal coverage. Obama took that off the table before he was inaugurated. "If starting from scratch", Obama said, he would prefer the single payer approach. But we're not starting from scratch.
This is important because often I hear and read about those nation-destroying liberals in the Democratic Party who are being foolhardy and ridgid with all their socialistic fantasies. Yet, the starting point of those pinkos in the health care reform "debate" has been compromise. Progressives have been willing to go along with eschewing demands for the most efficient way to address health reform.....single-payer.... in order to get something done.
To Republicans and conservative Democrats, that's not good enough. To those Congressional folks, eliminating single-payer is not enough. Progessives must also sacrifice the public option and any thoughts about discounted pricing for government purchased pharmaceuticals.
Republicans will not compromise at all because their constituency in this "debate" is only made up of health insurers and pharmaceutical companies. Republicans only political goal is to bring about Obama's "Waterloo" by wrecking any attempts to reform the status quo. Conservative Democrats, whose constituents are the same insurers and pharma as the Republicans, are using the fig leaf of bipartisanship and a phony fiscal concern to distract us away from the truth that they, just like all the Republicans, are against the American people and for big insurance in this fight.
That's the state of the "debate" today. Republicans and conservative Democrats, going forward, will continue to go on and on about costs, pretending deep concern. The frenzy before the actual vote will reach fever pitch levels. The mantra will be fiscal responsibility with no new taxes on the rich....neither point will be credible.
And all of it, like Howard Dean said, will still only be a fight between a handful of very powerful and rich health insurers against the rest of us.