Sunday, August 9, 2009

HEALTH CARE REFORM--The Republican Playbook

First of all, let's consider the facts.....The United States spends over $1.9 trillion annually on healthcare expenses, more than any other industrialized country. This figure includes costs to our government, the private sector, and individuals. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical School have estimated the United States spends 44 percent more per capita than Switzerland, the country with the second highest expenditures, and 134 percent more than the median for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (whose member states include all of the European nations, Mexico, Japan and S. Korea). And U.S. economic woes have only increased the burden of health care costs on individuals and businesses. The United States spent 16 percent of its GDP in 2007 on health care, also higher than any other developed nation. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that number will rise to 25 percent by 2025 without changes to federal law. In November 2008 Kaiser Foundation reported health premiums for workers have risen 114 percent in the last decade. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has noted that, at 12 percent, health care is the most expensive benefit paid by U.S. employers.

The Republican spin machine has been working fast and furious during the recent presidential campaign and since to avoid and obscure the real truth about the very serious issue of heath care in our country. Sadly, the truth is that tens of millions of our fellow citizens are uninsured, not because they have opted out, but rather because they can not afford it. And the United States--the sole remaining superpower also has the dubious distinction of being the only developed country remaining in the world community where health care is a privilege and not a right of citizenship. And the ever-rising costs of health care is a concern to small business owners. Small Business Majority, according to its website, sets out its goal as, “solving the single-biggest problem facing America’s 27 million small businesses: affordable and accessible health care.” Its chief executive, John Arensmeyer, says, “We’re trying to make sure that policymakers understand how critical getting health care reform is for small business and how our health care crisis is killing small business.” Even for those of us that have health care insurance, the reality is that we are only a heartbeat away from bankruptcy if we experience a serious accident or major medical illness or lose our jobs.

And the tactics of the Republican and right wing conservative nay-sayers can be summed up neatly--delay, distract, distort, demagogue and disrupt.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Politics of Fear, Hate and Division

Barack Obama: An American PortraitImage by tsevis via Flickr
In the wake of an inept, corrupt and misguided administration that scared the American people and manipulated the Congress into an ill-advised war and left our economy in ruins there emerged a pivotal figure--a voice for hope and meaningful change and politics conducted in a new way. Barrack Obama challenged us to honestly confront the enormous changes we face at this critical point in history. His up-lifiting message was welcomed by many who saw a refreshing contrast with the dumbed down, polarizing message of the conservative right-wingers. And their response-- "he's not one of us", "he hates white people", "he's Un-American", and now, "he's not an American", reflects the fear that his success has engendered in the partisan, hate-filled closet bigots that have an inordinate influence on the views of our citizens.

So, at this crucial juncture, the hate and fear mongers at Fox News and conservative talk radio show hosts have doubled down on their efforts to tear down this perceived threat to the status quo by playing the race card. When you cut to the chase, Sean Hannity stating that President Obama is not one of us, Michelle Malkin referring to Obama's "cronies of color" and the birthers (and the complicit Republicans who decline to repudiate their viewpoint) ultimately appeal to our baser instincts--the fear and distrust in people that has always been at the very core of that lingering stain on our national character--racism.

There are legitimate differences of opinion and philosophy on the solutions to the serious problems our nation and world faces. Let's debate them civilly and earnestly--keeping our citizens' and country's best interests always in mind. The time has come to repudiate the politics of fear, division and hatred promulgated by Inanity, Limbaugh, Beck, Malkin, Coulter and their ilk and move forward in a truly bipartisan effort to meet the challenges we face. Our future and the future of generations to come hangs in the balance!
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