Nothing Equal or Right About It

How many times has Barack Obama stated that health care is a basic human right?  How often has he adamantly spoken that all Americans deserve equal human rights?  Too many to count.

What we now have on the table, disguised by political spin, is hardly reform giving all of our citizens equal access and care.  With a sitting Democratic President and majorities in the House and Senate, The United States has sold down the river the reform that over 70% of Americans want.  The exception, of course, are the approximately 600 lawmakers in Congress who will get to hold on to their Cadillac insurance policies.  Mission accomplished.  Now that is democracy (it seems never to be “messy” when the issues concern those in power).

To enact a measure that creates and magnifies different tiers of health care is reminiscent of our battle for civil rights.  Sure: the Civil War freed the slaves.  However, it has taken almost 150 years for the concept of freedom to become a reality.  We had the Jim Crow laws.  Then we had separate but equal.  This was the way we defined our Constitutional-granted equality for over a century.

Change takes time, especially alterations to our social structure.  Certainly, with the proposed health care reform relegating the uninsured to the rolls of Medicaid and placing the private insurers in charge of policing themselves creates a double standard of care for this country.  Have we learned nothing from our past?  Even President Obama seems to be willing to settle for some rights now, as opposed to equal rights.

Do not tell me that I speak from emotionalism.  Damn straight.  Why should a poor person have to wait for care because of the red tape involved in securing Medicaid?  Why should a policyholder be denied care based on the effect such care will have on the bottom line of his insurer?  Oh yes, they can appeal the decision, but most likely, for the sickest of patients, they will be long dead before a decision is reversed.  Is that the kind of equal rights our Congressmen have also?  Until every American can walk into a clinic or hospital, sign their name and receive timely and decent care, our dedication to equal rights in this country is about as emphatic as it was 150 years ago.

The politicians can offer lip service and spin all they want.  If their ultimate goal (and it appears this is their real motivation) is to keep their cushy jobs, which legally fosters the acceptance of funds meant to sway their votes plus the divine benefits such as incredible health care and full salaries upon retirement, the Democrats are making a huge mistake here.  If they think by passing a watered-down, virtually empty piece of legislation will give them the right to claim victory for their own benefit at the polls, they need to think again.  With 70% of Americans supporting a public option, America will show up on Election Day 2010 and throw their cavalier asses right out of office.  It does not matter that the Republicans have nothing better to offer: the fact remains that Americans who voted for this President of hope and change and elected majorities to both houses of Congress are mad as hell.  If they actually do show up at the polls (and when Americans stay home, the GOP is always the victor), the political pendulum will be reversed.  History has proven this but once again, the short-sighted politicians cannot see farther than their own pockets.

Everything in life comes with risk.  Surely President Obama took many risks to get where he is.  Why then, is he playing it so safe now?  Is it to be able to say that he passed health care reform during his first year in office?  More semantic spin with no substance.  This political novice has news for him and his Democratic cronies: by allowing one man, Joe Lieberman**, a Senator who caucuses with the Democrats, to bring down health reform for an entire country, is degrading.  They have assigned, and accepted, the role of “goat” to one of their own.  Further, they will then have to go over to the Republican side and anoint a “hero”, perhaps Olympia Snowe, to be the savior of this health care legislation.  Not a good omen, and certainly a political strategy worthy of shooting oneself in the foot, for the 2010 elections.

There is nothing “equal” or “right” about the current health care legislation.  President Obama was disingenuous in his campaign stance that health care is a universal right because now that he is in office, this “right” seems negotiable.  Our President and lawmakers can harp all they want about initiating real reform for our country.  When your housekeeper cannot get the same health care that you do, when your grown children can afford only the most catastrophic of health care policies, when the vast majority of Americans do not have access to the exact medical care as do our elected representatives, when our Constitutional rights are threatened because of our many-tiered health care plan, equality of human rights is just a term of endearment; it bears no resemblance to what is spelled out in our celebrated Constitution.  Did we not fight the Revolutionary War against England because we were denied freedom and equal rights?  To what end?  To establish the exact system for which we battled so long and hard against?  One class system replacing another does not make for a free, equal society.

If President Obama and our elected officials sincerely believe that decent and affordable health care is an unalienable right, they will move to put effective policies in effect, rather than using “procedural obstructions” as excuses.  Funny thing: I do not see our government officials horse-trading away their health benefits for the sake of national cost-saving measures.  (Please note: The one exception is Senator Sherrod Brown, who has refused Senate health care coverage until all Americans can get the same degree of care at the same price.)  The ultimate slap in the face: not only are the President and the almost 600 members of Congress denying Americans the same benefits as they have, but they are also making us pay for their coverage.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  Talk about discrimination and class distinctions.

I will not settle for what we can get instead of getting what we need.  Compromise may be the deciding factor in our form of government.  However, the compromise always seems to be on the part of the people, never the law givers.  Mr. President and our majority legislators of Congress: it is time to make your rights equal and available to all Americans.

**
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/opinion/16wed4.html?_r=1&th&emc=th
POSTSCRIPT:
Perhaps the following letter from Jim Dean of Democracy For America makes the issue clearer:
I’ll get straight to the point.

If Democrats remove the choice of a public option, they can’t force Americans to buy health insurance.

Here’s the deal, Senate leaders are all over Washington claiming they finally have a healthcare reform bill they can pass, as long as they remove the public option. After all, they say, even without a public option, the bill still “covers 30 million more Americans.” The problem is that’s not really true.

What they are actually talking about is something called the “individual mandate.” That’s a section of the law that requires every single American buy health insurance or break the law and face penalties and fines. So, the bill doesn’t actually “cover” 30 million more Americans — instead it makes them criminals if they don’t buy insurance from the same companies that got us into this mess.

A public option would have provided the competition needed to drive down costs and improve coverage. It would have kept insurance companies honest by providing an affordable alternative Americans can trust. That’s why, without a public option, this bill is almost a trillion dollar taxpayer giveaway to insurance companies.

We must act fast. Both Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senators need to hear from you. Please stop whatever else you are doing and make the calls right now.

Senator Harry Reid
DC: (202) 224-3542

Carson City: (775) 882-7343
Las Vegas: (702) 388-5020
Reno: (775) 686-5750

Call your Democratic Senator too — Senate Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

REPORT YOUR CALL AND TELL US HOW IT WENT

Without the choice of a public option, forcing Americans to buy health insurance isn’t just bad policy, it’s political disaster for Democrats — a ticking time-bomb for years to come.

Does anyone think Republicans won’t use this against Democrats in 2010?

What about in 2014 after the mandate goes into effect and the press reports all the horror stories of Americans forced to choose between paying their monthly health insurance bill to Aetna or paying rent?

The mandate is toxic and Democrats will own it. By the 2016 presidential election, is there any wonder how this will play out for Democrats?

CALL SENATOR HARRY REID NOW AT (202) 224-3542 THEN REPORT YOUR CALL HERE

The message is simple: No public option? No Mandate!

Thank you for everything you do,

-Jim

Jim Dean, Chair
Democracy for America


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11 Responses to “Nothing Equal or Right About It”

  1. Natalie R Says:

    I must be true to what I have thought for quite some time. There is SOMETHING missing in our president. He was beloved by the world and by me, initially, but he is NOT now what I thought he was. There is something that is vacant in him which I saw during Oprah’s Christmas interview. There is a coldness maybe some say aloofness but I am not so sure it is that. I believe it is something deeper. I perceive a controlled anger that, perhaps, if you can suffer some armchair psychology, has as its etiology in his childhood and perhaps festers in him as a half black man whose father was absent. There is SOMETHING about him that is absent that a successful president should have but seems to be missing in him. He does not give me a sense of power or of control that, for example, a Jack Kennedy or certainly LBJ and FDR did. He has charisma as the first African American president and he gives a wonderful speech but on an interpersonal level it appears to me he does not manifest the necessary ability to wield the immense power he has been given and is inherent in the presidency complemented by a Democratic control of Congress.

    I say, the white guy powers are steamrolling over him. Whether it’s the bank CEO’s three of whom including Blankfein of Goldman Sachs did not show up for the presidential meeting allegedly because of fog an apt metaphor, the generals in the ramp up of the war in Afghanistan which is slated to cost ultimately trillions not to mention the human cost in blood. I believe he cannot stand up to power. At this ever so critical moment in history I am seeing a president who caves in the face of it. I am fearful. Today, Iran launched a test which could carry a nuclear warhead missile which could reach Israel and parts of Europe. This is a serious time and requires a president of IMMENSE power and the ability to use it presciently and masterfully as FDR knew how to do. I am NOT seeing that in this president.

    I suspect the CEO’s went out laughing when the President politely asked them to loan to small businesses. Oh sure, yes Mr. President, sure will, Mr. President, in a pig’s petuti, Mr. President. I think he cannot stand up to power especially white power and the white men know it. I truly think there is an issue with who he is and his blackness is a part of that. He’s trying like hell to fit into the white guys club by a pathological appeasement of a Republican foe who wants no part of him and kicks dirt in his face at every opportunity. Even African Americans are showing a disappointment in him as an article in, I think, Huffington Post today said.

    Something is missing in Barack Obama which LBJ, Kennedy and FDR all had and health care is merely a symptom and a reflection of it. Health care done with a strong public option should have been successfully completed by now but the President waivers and equivocates to appease the conservatives. The conservatives should be appeasing US. I would like to see more Malcolm X in him than MLK in Barack Obama. The ONLY way one fights power is by any means necessary and he simply is either too inexperienced or psychologically unable to do it. I believe he is less at ease with who he is than one might think but does a fantastic job of masking it and making us think the emperor is wearing clothes when it is clear he isn’t. Just my opinion.

  2. yomamaforobama Says:

    You, my friend, are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    To blankly condemn President Obama in totality is just as ridiculous and harmful as what the GOP does. The only bandwagon you aspire to is a pat on the back for “being right”. Just like the GOP, your exiestence is the only issue at hand.

    Sorry. The truth hurts.

  3. yomamaforobama Says:

    In addition to my previous comment, I must add that if those nearest and dearest to me expect me to cut them slack on ethics and standards, personal gain and self-congratulatory praise, just for the sake of “peace”, they are dead wrong. Quite the contrary. I expect the special people in my life to adhere even more strictly their values, especially if it is what I taught them.

    Opinions are one thing; selling out for one’s self-glory is a totally different matter.

  4. Natalie R Says:

    Here is another analysis as Obama’s polls are falling like a rock among his base (including me). Glen Greenwald gave a FANTASTIC analysis and even appeared on David Shuster’s MSNBC this afternoon. This may be even more explanatory as to just what is going on or NOT going on in the Obama White House. It hurt me to read it but Greenwald is one of the best historians and news analysts I have ever read. I urge you to read the following and pass it on. If any change is to happen it must happen at the grass roots level and we should put Obama’s feet to the fire. He has, in my opinion, abrogated his responsibility and down right lied to us. He has betrayed his sacred trust as every other politician has done since the beginning of time. I THOUGHT he was different. Wrong again. Here is the link:

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/

    • yomamaforobama Says:

      And we would have been much better off with McCain, right? Get a hold of your senses, girl.

  5. sarahsouth Says:

    i NEVER write this much in a comment section, let alone on my own blog, so and least 1 person better read this! love ya bon bon…

    when we elected obama, i think that many of us viewed him as super-human. but should we be so surprised and indignant that our president is not perfect? of course he has limitations – one man cannot bulldoze through all the stubbornness of the legislature and then mold it into our favor. i am very disappointed by the erosion of the bill and i am disappointed that obama can’t singlehandedly shift things. but am i frustrated at him, specifically? no. he is clearly working his hiney off for so many enormous causes. phenomenal intelligence, discipline, and personality can accomplish a great deal; but still, he is human.

    24 hours ago, i might have favored killing the bill. but after more thought, i believe that we won’t be able to push forward much further in the current political climate. if i had 200 dollars to my name, 5 children, and no roof over my head, would i go to the casino or work with what i had to raise my kids? i would choose the latter…. i suppose i feel similarly about the health care bill. if we gamble, i fear the odds won’t be in our favor, and we stand to lose what little advances we’ve made.

    it’s cliche, but too much idealism without any pragmatism can be dangerous. i think obama’s showing a little pragmatism here in a very difficult situation and i cannot blame him for it.

  6. sanchez Says:

    sarahsouth: i agree completely. rock on girl.

  7. yomamaforobama Says:

    yomamaforobama Says:
    December 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Reply edit

    To My Lovely Sarasouth:

    Yes, my chickadee, you make total sense. Although disappointed by the entire process of negotiating away real reform, President Obama, in totality, is still doing his darndest to put some of his promises into action. I do not criticize his principles; but I do question his tactics to get a decent job done. I am disappointed by his willingness to accept a harmful plan in return for just getting something done. It is his deviance from his principles that saddens me.

    I hate the word “pragmatist” because it provides an “easy out” for the politicians. They all need to step back, take a breath, and ask themselves if they are delivering what the people need or just what they can salvage from their political antics. That, Sarasouth, is the crime here. This legislation in its current form is not responsive to the needed structural or delivery changes we need in order to provide all Americans with decent, affordable and timely care. All the while, our lawmakers are denying us these rights, they are maintaining theirs to the nines.

    The process is rotten. President Obama is just caught up in the stinking process. I do not doubt his motives. He thinks it will be better for Americans to accept any kind of deal now and work within that framework to better the plan in the future.

    Once again, my dear Sarasouth, I disagree. What smells rotten will always be rotten. And if a loved one of yours is ever denied care by the insurance industry or fallen into poverty due to health care costs, you will feel the deception in your bones.

    We are very lucky people, you and I, living in a financially secure bubble, so it will not hurt us to wait a while for real health reform. However, many millions of Americans can no longer wait. The scenario for a totally corrupt, unequal form of health care is being put in place even as we speak.

    As Sanchez pointed out to me in a private email, he is amazed that one of his parents is so much more idealistic than he is. It is not supposed to be that way, for as one ages, one is expected to get more conservative. Both you and he need to know, to trust me on this, that the reason why I am so adamant about establishing real reform is simply because of YOU AND SANCHEZ: once you have children, everything changes. The fight must be fought. You and he will not experience this dedication to right, equality, decency and civil disobedience until you have a child to go to bat for. Intellectual rationalization of the deceit and personal interest in government will hold no water for you when you have little ones to provide for.

    Perhaps also, as one ages, one realizes that time is much more limited. Therefore, patience with bullshit ebbs. Sometimes I think that all the education you and your mates received was actually a hindrance. To consider the intellectual issues is all well and good, but sometimes, corruption and deceit cannot be explained away. Above all, many of your generation seem to think that by de-personalizing an issue such as health reform and viewing it as pragmatic, the issue will have “more legs”, and ultimately, better for us in the long run. Not so. Until you can absolutely personalize an issue, i.e. by fighting for a cause outside of yourself (such as a child), the issue will have no legs at all. Health care for our children is the mark of a functional society, no matter if the care is timely and effective for a sick infant or affordable, comprehensive care for a grown child. At some point, as busy as we are in our everyday lives, other action is necessary to make the good forces, rather than the bad ones or just those of the status quo, have precedence and priority. That is not pragmatism, it is reality.

    I know in your line of work that you would never deny care to an ill child. Your heart is too big for that. However, what you are not seeing are the financial consequences to that family of such treatment, which is equally destrctive as the denial of care would be. I do not doubt the purity of priciple on President Obama’s part (nor that of yours). I am critical however, of throwing the baby out with the bathwater: by not fighting harder for our health rights and settling for a system, as proposed by this Senate bill, the President is abrogating his very principles. In a recent poll, the unisured Americans (currently 50 million people) voiced their opinion that based on the current proposal, they would rather have no reform and just stick to what we already have. These are the uninsured, the bottom of the barrel in terms of need and lack of financial ability to afford medical care. Even they think it would be a mistake to enact a bill that would harm more than help.

    We all need to pick our battles carefully and then fight for them. My generation does it one way and yours, another. I know our goals are the same, and I do know in my heart that President Obama’s are also in the right place, so I hope our accomplishments will be of substance, not just words and promises. Someday, when you do have children, words and promises will never take the place of real action.

    Much love,
    Yo Mama

  8. Hammer Time « Yo Mama For Obama Says:

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  9. jonathanwest Says:

    I don’t think that Obama can get 60 votes in the Senate for the kind of health insurance bill that I would like. I do think that providing insurance coverage for 30 million Americans who don’t have it now would be a useful step in the right direction.

  10. lou Says:

    I think Obama should worry less about 60 votes vs. say 59 or 58. He has a majority. let the republicans and the Liebermans filibuster and have a hissy fit, eventualy it wll be settled with perhaps a semblance of real reform.

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