Talking Points From Dummies
Just in case you are like me and would like to be able to hit the mute button whenever a Republican is on TV talking about health care, the Huffington Post has conveniently provided the official Republican talking points:
In regard to specific talking points, the RNC Memo has nine of them:
#1 --- President Obama and Democrats are conducting a grand experiment with our economy, our country, and now our health care.
#2 --- President Obama's massive spending experiments have created more debt than at any other time in our nation's history.
#3 --- The President experimented with a $780 billion dollar budget-busting stimulus plan and unemployment is still rising. The President experimented with banks and auto companies, and now we're on the hook for tens of billions of dollars with no exit plan.
#4 --- Now the President is proposing more debt and more risk through a trillion dollar experiment with our health care.
#5 --- Democrats are proposing a government controlled health insurance system, which will control care, treatments, medicines and even what doctors a patient may see.
#6 --- This health care experiment will have consequences for generations, but President Obama and Democrats want to ram this legislation through Congress in two months.
#7 --- President Obama's health care experiment is too much, too fast, too soon. Our country cannot afford to fix health care through a rushed experiment.
#8 --- Americans want health care reform that addresses, not increases, cost or debt.
#9 --- Government takeover is the wrong way to go -- health care decisions should remain between the doctor and the patient.
Let's respond to these inane talking points one by one.
#1 --- Yes it is a grand experiment. It's possible that it will fail. But we already know that the current system is failing badly and is going to get worse. If Americans wanted to put their faith in the same private sector that just blew up the global financial system to fix this problem voluntarily, they would have voted for John McCain. It's not like Obama and the Democrats didn't run on reforming health care. The people knew what they were getting into and they want the Democrats to run their experiment.
#2 --- Yes there is a deficit. It's there because the Bush administration left a global financial crisis, the worst economy since the Great Depression, an imploding health care system and a planet that's heating up so fast that the polar bears are running out of ice. Oh, and there are two ongoing expensive wars.
I'm sorry those things cost money to fix, but they do and it's the price Americans are going to have to pay for voting for an ignorant lout and his evil puppetmaster for president. The mess has to be cleaned up and it isn't going to come cheap.
#3 --- the stimulus was never going to have fully kicked in this soon and complaining about it this early is pure political opportunism. But there's no doubt that it could have been better if a handful of moderate busy bodies hadn't arbitrarily decided on a certain number for no good reason and then gutted much needed money for the states that would have been spent quickly. That's what you get for bipartisanship.
#4 --- this is meaningless, repetitive babble
#5 --- nobody is proposing government run health care. We only wish they were. Instead what we have is a Rube Goldberg contraption that will, nonetheless, at the very least ensure that people will be able to see their own doctor and get the treatments they need. This is just the same stale old lie they've been telling for decades.
#6 --- Health care reform is not a rushed experiment. People have been thinking about this for 60 years and have been blocked by these same lame excuses every time they try to do something about it. More to the point, the Republicans are already on record saying they want to delay the bill so they can kill health reform. Why would the Democrats want to help them do that?
#7 --- Lather, rinse, repeat
#8 --- Americans do want a system that contains costs. That's why the status quo is unacceptable. Even if they are lucky enough to have health insurance, they are getting eaten alive with costs if they are unlucky enough to actually get sick. The Republicans have no solution to any of these problems. If anything they want to make it worse by forcing people to buy their own health insurance on the open market where insurance companies can cherry pick only the healthy patients and kick anyone who might actually need their coverage off the rolls. They are in no position to be critical of anyone else's plan when that's the best they can come up with.
#9 --- health care decisions should be between a doctor and a patient (unless it's reproductive health in which case it should be between a doctor a patient and the Christian Right.) Unfortunately, at the moment, health care decisions are now between a doctor, a patient and a faceless insurance company bureaucrat who answers to nobody but his immediate boss and who is being paid a bonus to find reasons not to cover you. I would welcome a government bureaucrat over that system. At least they aren't allowed to personally profit from my misfortune.
The Republicans have obviously done some focus groups that show the word "experiment" somehow scares people. It's not surprising that the Republicans would like that considering how it sounds like "science" which they believe is far less trustworthy than the words of preachers and prophets. But the fact is that what we are doing already isn't working so we have to try something else. If that's scary "science" so be it.
Health care is a huge issue that was always going to eat up a massive amount of political capital to get passed. The forces arrayed against it are very wealthy and have a lot to lose. It was never going to be easy. The conditions necessary to bring the all the political forces to bear are also conditions that make it more difficult. You need an economic crisis to put health care on the agenda, but it also gives the fiscal scolds a foothold with their deficit propaganda. It quickly becomes a matter of "yes, people are hurting and they need health care, but we can't afford it." And that is quickly followed by the all American belief in selfish individualism ---"if we give it to them, I might lose what I've got. Let them fend for themselves." It's an ugly aspect of our national character. Threading that needle is never simple.
But that doesn't mean it can't be done. If the political will is there --- and the Democrats get it through their thick skulls that they have far more to lose by failing to enact health care reform than by whiffing once again and depending on the Republicans to somehow reward them at the ballot box --- they can get it through. I just don't know if they really want it. Sometimes I think the only difference between the Democrats and Republicans when you strip it all away is that the Republicans tend to win when they lose and the Democrats tend to lose when they win. It all adds up to the preservation of the status quo.
But sometimes a certain confluence of events and people changes things and something happens. Maybe this is one of those times.