Thursday, September 10, 2009

Civility, Honesty, and the Health Care Debate

President Obama delivered his speech on health care reform to a joint session of Congress last night. A joint session of Congress...that means it helps to smoke a joint to ease the pain of listening to:

1. Republican demagogues.

2. Democratic demagogues.

3. Idiots, morons, and buffoons (see 1 and 2 above).

Whether or not you agree with the President's proposals (and I don't agree with all of them), I think we can agree that he did a good job explaining his positions and calling those to task who have complicated the already-complicated issue and stoked public anger by their gross and irresponsible (and generally false) exaggerations and hyperbole.

A new low in irresponsible behavior was set by Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina who, when the President said (truthfully) that his proposal would not cover illegal immigrants, shouted, "You lie!" To their credit, many other Republicans and virtually all the Democrats booed his boorish outburst (for which Rep Wilson later apologized...but likely only because he'd been called out on it).

CNN has done a good job of fact checking to cut through much of the bluster, exaggeration, and outright falsehoods surrounding the health care reform issue. You can also read well-researched, balanced, and documented analysis of the arguments at the website.

Will the President's speech help reset the hysterical positions of all sides of the health-care issue? Only time will tell. But I believe that his words at the end of the speech may have been the most important:

"...when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter -- that at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves."

Good luck, Mr President. With the shameful behavior shown by the blustering buffoons of the far right and the irresponsible fools of the far left - which drown out the logical and rational analysis we all need - you'll need it.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

The guy that shouted liar should be ashamed to be a member of congress. That's all I'm saying.

Leslie David said...

South Carolina seems to have more than its share of fools. Nothing's changed since Ft. Sumpter. I wonder if any other states (like Texas) will try to play the secession card again.

Gilahi said...

The thing is, and what's largely overlooked, is that we're already covering a large number of illegal residents and even legal residents who don't have insurance. Those people are often treated at emergency rooms and "free" clinics, and the money that pays for that all comes from the public trough to which the rest of us contribute. In that respect, the argument about whether or not illegal residents will be covered becomes an argument about nothing.

Debbie said...

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the President failed to come down hard on the blood sucking attorneys for frivilous lawsuits and outrageous settlements. Doctors do order too many tests to protect their liability. Doctors, hospitals and pharmaceuticals charge too much to cover their liability insurance costs. Tort reform is long overdue and would be a major step in cutting health care costs as well as health insurance premiums (which are based on experience) for individuals and businesses.

Anonymous said...

The bill as written includes no provision to check immigration status before treatment or payment. Democrats specifically defeated a Republican amendment to require a computer check using the SAVE system to verify the immigration status of every patient.
And Gilahi is of course, factually correct in his post above.

Eminence Grise

Jean-Luc Picard said...

There are a lot of people who have their own agenda.

SusieQ said...

At least Wilson apologized for calling the President a liar unlike Harry Reid (D-NV) when he called President Bush a "liar". Reid REFUSED to apologize.

At least Wilson said "sorry" unlike all those Dems who booed President Bush when he gave the State of the Union address in
2005. Don't you think that behavior was equally as boorish? I'm sure you do.

Setting aside the Wilson issue, isn't anyone here concerned about a mandate that requires everyone to carry health insurance?

I am asking myself how that would work for a family of four with a household income of say $85,000 if the breadwinner's employer opts to pay the 8% tax, the Dems have in mind, rather than continue to provide health insurance coverage for the employee. This would leave the employee to pay the entire cost of the health insurance for the family. Last time I checked health insurance premiums run about $1000 a month for a family. Last time I checked a family with a household income of over $75,000 would receive no help from the govt. under the Dems health care plan. Where will this family get the money to pay for their health insurance?

Am I misunderstanding something here?

Other than that, your vacation sounds heavenly.

Mike said...

Sounds like a missed a few good moments last night. I've given up on watching the joint session addresses. I can't stand the repeat rounds of ovation after ovation after.......

I think I may time those next time just to see how much time is wasted listening to people clap.

Wv: ovirruns - Government talk.

Bilbo said...

Andrea - Yep.

Leslie - I can think of a few states that might be better off seceeding...

Gilahi - you are absolutely right. In many ways, the "no care for illegals" is a bogus argument for exactly the reasons you state. No matter what any health care plan says, indirectly we're All going to pay for illegals, as well as for those who have no insurance (for whatever reason).

Debbie - I agree with you that tort reform is a must. Fear of lawsuits, frivolous or not, drives up the cost of health care astronomically. Lawyers are beginning to worry about being called to account on it, too: there's a law firm here in Northern Virginia that has a lot of billboards reading, "It's only a frivolous lawsuit until it's yours."

Eminence - you are correct. Liberals trying to do what they perceive as the right thing can be as totally stupid as conservatives trying to do the same.

Jean-Luc - absolutely. There's always someone's ox being gored.

SusieQ - I agree with your basic point. There is no excuse for immature and boorish behavior, no matter what political label one chooses to wear. As for the requirement to have health insurance, I can see it both ways. As Mr Obama said, we do require auto owners to carry insurance (Virginia allows you not to have insurance, but tacks an additional $500 "non-insured motorist's fee" onto annual registration). I think the answer must lie somewhere in the intersection of two concepts: the much-reviled and misunderstood "public option," and the separation of health insurance from employment. But that's a long discussion for another day.

Mike - I just love watching all those members of Congress catching the clap from each other...

SusieQ said...

"As Mr Obama said, we do require auto owners to carry insurance (Virginia allows you not to have insurance, but tacks an additional $500 "non-insured motorist's fee" onto annual registration)."

You don't see that this comparison (auto insurance to health insurance) is senseless? There is a big difference in the cost. I am really surprised that Obama would try to justify mandating health insurance by pointing out that motorists are required to carry auto insurance. Illinois requires motorists to only carry liability coverage on their auto insurance. The cost for this coverage is less than $25 a month. Your Virginia example amounts to a little over $40 a month in the form of a fine if no auto insurance is carried. But the cost for health insurance for a family can run $1000 a month and more.

I am not opposed to mandated health insurance in principle. I just don't know how it will work in practical terms for the family in the scenario I gave that loses the health insurance benefit from an employer and receives no help from the government with the cost for their mandated health insurance. How do they come up with the money to satisfy the government mandate?

It seems to me that employers who are currently providing health insurance benefits to their employees would think an 8% tax on payroll, though excessive, would be cheaper than continuing to provide health insurance benefits to their employees. This tax looks to me like it is designed to act as an incentive to employers to drop the health insurance benefits.