The LuLac Edition #885, July 23rd, 2009
PHOTO INDEX: MARTIN LUTHER KING AND HIS QUOTE.
DO OR DIE
The President spoke last night on Health Care and to be honest, his presentation was a mixed bag. He convinced me but he has to do more to win over members of his own party and the American people. His opening statement was strong, finally outlining the principle of WIFM (what’s in it for me) to the American people. Obama lost a major part of the message by having right wingers like Rush Limbaugh control the argument by saying that 90% of insured Americans health care will be jeopardized by trying to cover 10% of the uninsured. Americans in the abstract are a generous people. However in the concrete, they can be selfish. We are more than happy to give to a charity or provide health care to those less fortunate than we, as long as it does not impact on our own personal fortunes. The fact that Obama outlined some aspects of improving coverage was a good thing. But he has to do more.
The Clinton health care plan failed primarily because there were too many details to digest at any given time. Plus the messenger was an unknown quantity at the time. Obama seems to be shying away from giving many details and leaving it to Congress to handle the details. As a matter of fact, the President has been way to nice in handing over the bill to the Congress. Members of his own party have nickel and dimed it to death. He has to come out swinging and strong even if it means busting heads in his own party. This is his legacy this is, as his people told us in 2008, his time. To entrust it to a group of politicians worried about their next election is really naïve. Obama has said he didn’t care if he became a one term President if he accomplished his goals. If he means that, he should start acting like a President with a multi seat majority in both Legislative Chambers rather than a city alderman afraid of pissing off the Ward Chairman. Allow me to elaborate on some issues that need to be clarified in fixing the system:
1. The deficit numbers. Don’t engage in them. People don’t believe them anyway. One side who wants health care will herald them, the other will not. Leave the numbers alone. Stress how broken health care is. If you get heat on the deficit, ask the American people what’s a better way to go into debt; fixing health care or fighting a grudge war in Iraq? And ask, where were those deficit hawks in Congress when the U.S. was spending billions on military equipment that got our soldiers blown to bits because it was faulty?
2. Establish a universal health care insurance code that is nationalized. Every insurer has different sets of rules for different states. Change it. Make it uniform. A lot of money is wasted in time and energy by different plans not being able to communicate with each other about payments.
3. Tax the millionaires health benefits if you like but give tax breaks to people who have to pay deductibles. Or subsidize deductibles. Right now, Americans pay their company because less than 5% get full blown 100% covered health care. They pay the providers with deductibles. And their companies pay the insurance industry counting it as a benefit of employment. The last thing the middle class needs is a tax on health care benefits. Redefine the words “single payer” to mean that the average American won’t be shelling out three different times and ways for health care. Subsidies will make everyone happy.
4. Tell the truth. There will be taxes to pay for this. Get it over with. Say It.
5. Act like a President. Inspire. No mention of the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing. “If we can land on the moon, we can’t fix health care?” Obama needed to give Americans a call to action. His muddled attempts at trying to dissect care options as well as his analogies did not excite. And to a skeptical country, fueled by an incendiary and vicious minority, he needs to lay it on the line. He began a bit last night, but needs to get more specific.
6. Power. He has to use the power of the Presidency and his star power now. It is ebbing and a defeat will surely deflate his administration. A President, especially one who has spent the first 6 months handing out stimulus money can reward….as well as punish.
7. Consensus. The President seems to be so worried about getting a few Republicans to jump on board with this. For what??? He has the majority. He should use it. If this reform works, people will forget the details. Medicare recipients can’t tell you the first thing about how the bill was passed 44 years ago.
8. Make it competitive. How can big time insurers making millions of dollars every year justify rate increases? Granted they must pay claims but if the President wants to put money back in the pockets of the working class, make the business model for the health care insurance industry monopoly free.
9. The uninsured. Shut up about them. They only serve as a political lightning rod that will derail your efforts.
10. Use the three “E” philosophy in describing reform.
Efficiency: Make health care less bulky in how it’s perceived and implemented.
Effectiveness: Stress as you did Wednesday night that to do nothing will keep this issue stagnant.
Empathy: Utilize your bully pulpit to assure three interest groups involved in this; the 90% who have health care, the Health Care Industry and the Insurers. Tell them that this will increase profits in the long run.
11. Don’t scrimp. Make it either a spectacular achievement or failure. If you do a middle ground deal, you become Jimmy Carter. If you risk all of your elective capital on this, you’re Reagan and Roosevelt. A transformative President.
12. Lastly, Go Big, or Go Home. And tell your fellow Dems the same thing. Forget the politicians, you should aim for history. Martin Luther King, Junior trumps Steney Hoyer any day.