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.

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