Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not Backing Down, But Sad about the Friends

It seems I'm dropping friends like flies, but perhaps it's worth it. If I lose friends for trying to determine what we as a nation should do and what we Christians should do to care for the health of our fellow citizens, then I'll stay on my bandwagon and lose the friends.

This is not like choosing your favorite football team or political party. It's not even about deciding who you think would be the best President of the US. And it's certainly not about trying to win an argument. This is about people's health, livelihood, welfare, and their lives. It matters to me as a US citizen and as a Christian.

BTW, if you support government involvement in health care, but honestly disagree with the particular plans that have been publicized, then my questions are not about you, and you don't need to waste your time defending your stance to me. I don't ask these questions to backhandedly support any particular plan. I've spoken clearly about what I think is the best plan. That's not the question I'm asking.

My questions remain (but with some new wordings):

What is the Christian motivation for opposing government involvement in filling our massive current health care gaps? Since the gaps persist, what should be done to fill them?

If it is exclusively Christians' responsibility, how do we justify the continuing foreclosures, bankruptcies, and deaths while we wait for Christians to fill the gap?

If it is not exclusively Christians' responsibility (as I believe), who are the legitimate entities who should fill the gap and why is government not one of them?

Is there any legitimate role for our elected officials in health care while they wait for those legitimate entities to fill the gap?

As an explanation, I'll take scripture, Christian tradition, or anything else reasonably Christian. Help me out, folks.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Against President Obama

My friend Tim asked me weeks (maybe months) ago to write something critical of President Obama. Now that the President has officially endorsed the House healthcare bill, H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, I have my chance.

First, to set the stage, Tim said that if I could describe where I differed with the President, it would help those who are not Obama-lovers to trust the judgment of those who are. He said that one thing that keeps them skeptical is the appearance that Obama supporters have no sense of discernment—that they seem to worship the man.

I’m not sure that Tim is right that many Obama-detractors would change their minds, regardless of anything (although I trust that Tim means well). Even if President Obama DID walk on water, many of those detractors would not become believers in his abilities, his character, or his legitimacy, let alone his policies. But then there are people like Tim, who at least want to be fair.

I have a hard time being fair because of my prior relationship with the President. My knowledge of him colors (and should color) my view of him today. But I am also critical by nature, and I was arguing with Mr. Obama long before we knew that one of us would be on the national stage. So in remembrance of those days and in response to Tim, here is an opening shot at criticism towards the President.

While I fully support the President’s criteria for health care reform, I do not agree that HR 3962, which he endorses, is the best bill to meet the real health care needs of all Americans. The bill will likely meet the minimal standards the President has demanded of anything he would sign:
1. bring down costs for citizens and businesses
2. cover nearly all Americans
3. deficit-neutral over the long-term
4. ban rejection for pre-existing conditions.
It matters to me that the AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the National Farmers Union, and the Consumers Union all endorse the bill. This plan is better than no plan and is certainly better than that farce of a plan, the ‘‘Common Sense Health Care Reform and Affordability Act,’’ the GOP has finally come up with.

But HR 3962 still gives profit-motivated, deny-first, hope-not-to–pay-later insurance companies too much power (No, I am not opposed to putting them out of business). It leaves too many people struggling to pay medical bills whether or not they have insurance (been there, currently doing that).  

Of real concern is that HR 3962 keeps Americans looking like and acting like ethical neophytes when we are supposed to be the greatest, most moral, most “Christian” country in the world. It is not reflective of the spirit of America where “we the people” came together “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility” and “promote the general welfare” (that's the Constitution, folks). Coming together for the health of one another is a measure of our American character.

HR 3962 begins to reflect that character, but it doesn't go far enough. So I disagree with the President’s endorsement. It is not the best plan for the American people. To find out what is, go here.

Then urge your Representatives to support HR 3962--It is better than the status quo. Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. HR 3962 is better than nothing.