Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's Unfortunate Republicans Do Spin Best

Yes, it is unfortunate that Republicans do spin best because they do nothing else as well. Coming originally from Ohio, I can still recall as a child asking my mother why some politicians said we shouldn’t have fluoride in the water because “it’s a Communist plot.” She said it was a silly thing to say, but that they said it because there is always someone silly enough to believe it. Oh, yeah, the Republicans have experience in convincing their constituents with the handy lie. And it’s also not new that Republicans dislike the idea of spending money “on the people,” especially if those people are not their personal friends and family---or in many cases, their big supporters. What is frustrating is their high level of success in convincing people to vote against their own best interests.

One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about this debate on health care is how many people have no idea at all what the new health care bill is all about. This is because the Republicans have been more successful than the Democrats in their message, and that missive was to spin the health care bill into an unrecognizable mass of frightening innuendos, distortion and outright lies (as for instance the first big lie to take hold: death panels). Remember? Having a chat with your physicians about end of life decisions became death panels, while in the meantime Republican governors all over the country have now created real death panels by denying health care to people on Medicaid, with some states going so far as to deny transplants (something I believe prisoners behind bars can receive). Talk about who’s got the death panels.

Although polls say that many people are against the law, what is quite astonishing is that when pollsters go back and ask specifically whether they’re against getting rid of preexisting conditions, lifetime ceilings on insurance spending on care, paying for preventive medicine, having universal health care, and in short each feature of the actual bill presented individually, almost everyone is for them! Such a contradiction could only be because most people who want all these things and yet say they are against the health care bill have no idea what’s in it and just sneer at what they call “Obamacare.” I think the President should be very proud of this bill, and we should all be very supportive of it---that is unless you want only your representatives in Congress to retain the features found in this bill, but insist they should be denied to you because Republicans have convinced you of it. No, it isn’t perfect, but it a great improvement on our present system.

Take as an example, a bill that was hailed as wonderful, the Bush Medicare Prescription drug bill, which in truth is no deal at all for seniors, leaving them at some point annually to pay full price for their medications! The bill itself was never even funded. And by the way, the new bill helps ameliorate the defective prescription drug bill by covering half of the donut hole, as it’s called, where seniors pay full price for drugs. In fact, despite the Republicans screaming that we can’t afford :Obamacare,” the reality is that we cannot afford to not embrace it. It was the best we could get in a tough fight, and I hope it is the good beginning to getting this bill even better. Yes, it would be wonderful to have a single payer system as countries with better health care systems that cost less do. It is not socialism, it is good policy. But corporate insurance industries and pharmaceuticals pour a fortune into squashing that dream.

What the never-ending shrill debate tells us, in the end, I think, is that an informed electorate could make a huge difference to the healthy future of our country. For example, it would greatly help our country get on a speedier road to recovery. Think of those who believe that cutting taxes for the rich creates jobs, and then think about it the eight years of Bush in which taxes were cut liberally and jobs began to slip away, finally to be eradicated at a clip of half a million a month!

Whether you like Obama or not, if you take an honest look at his record and see where we’ve come in the past two years, it is clear we are going in the right direction albeit too slowly because Congress continually hampers efforts to do what should be done. It has only been exacerbated by House Republicans who seem more concerned with ideology than the country and don’t seem to give a damn about anyone but themselves, despite invoking “the American People” this and the American people want that in order to slash rules and regulations. Haven’t we learned anything getting into this mess?

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