Medicare should be abolished. Ditto for Medicaid. Veterans health benefits, zap those, too. It has become clear in the last few months that philosophically, Americans are opposed to "socialized medicine." Well, all of the above are partly or wholly socialized - government paid for or provided - programs. If "public option" health insurance is so egregious, then consistency demands that we eliminate all of it.
Medicare should be abolished. Ditto for Medicaid. Veterans health benefits, zap those, too.
It has become clear in the last few months that philosophically, Americans are opposed to "socialized medicine." Well, all of the above are partly or wholly socialized - government paid for or provided - programs. If "public option" health insurance is so egregious, then consistency demands that we eliminate all of it.
Indeed, seniors and soldiers have been riding that taxpayer gravy train for too long. Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Joe - who has a Purple Heart from Korea - all need to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and go shopping on the free market for health insurance. We appreciate that being a 70-something with the chronic ailments of age - arthritis or diabetes or clogged arteries after a lifetime of, well, eating - may put them in a high-risk pool with substantially elevated costs, but hey, too bad. Maybe in the health care aisle they'll bump into their congressman, who now has some of the finest health care taxpayers can buy.
Gotta go, all of it. We're capitalists, and we don't want no stinkin' socialism.
If you haven't figured it out by now, we're kidding, while trying to make the point that some aspects of socialism are so ingrained in U.S. culture - from our school systems to our police departments to our Medicare - that many citizens don't even make that link anymore. Americans love private enterprise in theory, but when in practice it produces something they don't like - like rising gas prices - their first 911 call is to Uncle Sam. If there are seniors standing in line to forfeit their Medicare benefits, we're unaware of them.
Our point also is that while there may be reasons to oppose "Obamacare," the "socialized medicine" and "death panel" bogeymen are not among them.
By now the latter myth has even been denounced by conservative critics of the various health care proposals, at least those who are self-respecting enough to be honest about it. That would not include the likes of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who have revealed their true colors in continuing to cling to that death panel lie. For some future political gain, perhaps? From where we sit, it diminishes them, and ought to disqualify them. This issue is life and death for some Americans; it's not a game.
Some things only government can do because the private sector has refused to play, as it has for millions of Americans who, sometimes through no fault of their own - a pre-existing condition, for example - are considered uninsurable. As we have written before, those folks ought to be the target of any government health care expansion.
It is fair to disagree on how we get there, but it is not fair to just say "no" on the basis that the status quo is working, because it isn't for an awful lot of Americans. Yet it is evident that our representatives in Washington are getting cold feet, some for legitimate reasons, others not so much.
We'd say this: Fifteen years ago the same cast of characters spent a lot of money panicking Americans into killing the Clinton health care bill. Fine. But the question we'd ask is: To what end? Its failure ushered in a series of self-proclaimed "reformers" who arguably didn't reform anything; they had an opportunity to prove their way was superior, but failed. Is health care any more accessible in 2009 than it was in 1994? Is its delivery any more cost-efficient? Is it any less a drag on the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses? Does it gobble up any less of the nation's GDP? Are there fewer uninsured? Can we wait another 15 years?
Again, the White House has done a mediocre to poor job of steering this debate, leaving it to a Democratic Congress that has been all over the map. The question of how we're going to pay for all this still has not been satisfactorily answered; if it means raising taxes, and it has to, will that exacerbate this recession? Given the combustible nature of this debate from the get-go, we remain baffled that any of these bills went anywhere near end-of-life issues.
On Tuesday the White House hiked its estimate of the next 10 years of deficit spending by 27 percent, to $9 trillion, with projections that the government's debt will triple by 2019, while implausibly maintaining that overhauling the nation's health care system would not aggravate that. On Monday we read that, for the first time since 1975, Social Security checks could shrink next year, yet the government continues to insist it can add new programs while struggling to pay for existing ones. We've yet to hear a peep from Democrats on tort reform where soaring medical costs are concerned.
None of that excuses Republicans who seem perfectly content to let Democrats fall on their swords - and let this threat to national security happen on the bet it will benefit them politically.
Betsy McCaughey, the politico and critic whose analysis of the Clinton bill 15 years ago helped snuff it, recently said in disparaging Obama's efforts that "nobody should lose their home or their savings because they get sick." Agreed. So this is her chance and others' to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Arguably the only "death panels" at work here are in preserving an unsustainable status quo that kills U.S. economic competitiveness and the health of too many uninsured. Just because we cannot do everything does not mean we should do nothing. That is not how America became great. Where have all the statesmen gone? If there are any left, they need to stand up.
Peoria Journal Star