Monday, September 14, 2009

The Elephants In The Room

James Carroll's column in today's Boston Globe deftly points out a key reason why President Obama's plan for reforming health care is in such trouble. And that reason, rarely noted by any other voices in the media or in government, is one that this president shares with one of his predecessors.

...Indeed, today’s health care reform takes as its starting point LBJ’s success in establishing Medicare and Medicaid. Obama is often compared to John F. Kennedy, but Johnson may be the more apt analogy - if not yet because of shared legislative accomplishments (in winning appropriations for Head Start, Vista, Model Cities, and the Job Corps, Johnson erected actual pillars of the Great Society), then because Obama’s opportunity for historic social transformation is also about to be squandered by a misbegotten war.

Or rather, two wars. The elephants in the congressional chamber last week were not the scowling Republicans, but Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which was mentioned. In both places, American wars are quite clearly spinning toward catastrophe. ...

The scale of President Obama’s military mistake is becoming clear exactly as the moment of his greatest opportunity to improve American life has arrived. The tragedy, as with Lyndon Johnson, will be the destruction of his proposed social transformation by his simultaneous opting for war, as his core supporters among liberals and Democrats feel bound to oppose him. ...
[Emphasis added]

Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats have been complaining for months that such a dramatic overhaul of the nation's health care system is simply not feasible. We cannot afford it, not in these times with the economy still swirling around the commode and millions of Americans out of work. One of the reasons for our failed economy, never mentioned in the past eight years, is that the US has been pouring hundreds of billions of dollars, most of it off-budget, into the "misbegotten" wars George W. Bush so brazenly pushed us into. While Iraq is allegedly winding-down (American troops continue to die there, along with even more Iraqis), President Obama will soon be pushing for more troops in Afghanistan, a push that will be met with a stiff wall of resistance from even Democrats such as Carl Levin.

We can't afford a public option (much less the far saner single payer system), the argument goes, but one of the reasons we can't is that the current president will insist on billions of dollars more for what can only be seen now as "Obama's War." Trimming those expenditures and making them available for real reform in health care access would remove the main excuse being used by the GOP and the Blue Dogs (urged on by their health care corporation funders) to stop it.

It's not likely to happen, as I am sure Mr. Carroll knows, but at least one pundit has noticed the connection and pointed out the nakedness of the emperor.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous larry, dfh said...

Bingo, and Bravo!

4:35 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home