Obama Ain't No Robin Hood
If you were to Google "Obama, Robin Hood", you'd be presented with a plethora of badly Photoshopped pictures depicting our 44th president, a centrist Democrat, as the English folk hero who was renowned for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
What has earned President Obama this allegedly pernicious sobriquet is his proposal to modestly raise the taxes of individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000 to partly subsidize health care for those 48,000,000 poorer folks who haven't access to affordable health care.
Jamison Foser at Media Matters made a post yesterday about how the MSM are amplifying wingnuts who are hoarsely screaming, once again, about class warfare. Of course, the reason why they're doing this is that they're afraid that they, among the wealthier and more powerful of our national population, are being attacked by wild-eyed, bomb-throwing anarchic socialists like Barack Obama.
Take Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who even went so far as to go on MSNBC, supposedly the most liberal network, to complain that we're running out of rich people. This, after eight years of ruinous tax cuts that have clearly benefited the wealthy and even before Obama's tax plan has been implemented (which ought to take effect, fittingly, on April Fool's Day).
The MSM are treating this as if both Obama's two year-old promise to do just this, as well as the battle over health care, is some surprising development. They are not. In fact, the desire for universal health care is something that goes back to 1945, 64 years ago, and the fact that, after 32 successive Congresses, we still have not ratified a universal health care plan after more than two generations reveals something much worse than mere gridlock. We are entrenched in a class warfare controlled by corporate self-interests in which the poor, not the rich, are the ones getting assaulted.
This bombing campaign was stepped up when the HMO's were deregulated, paving the way for outrageous health care costs. America spends approximately $2.5 trillion a year on health care alone and there's no sign that trend will slow down. The President's ambitious but still-incremental proposal to spend $634 billion to overhaul the health care system will only provide it for roughly half of those 48,000,000. The SCHIP extension, while a step in the right direction, gave four million additional children health care yet there are still at least 5.5 million more children who as yet do not have it.
Nowhere and at no time during the campaign did Mr. Obama ever completely leave out the private HMO's that are plainly the root cause for the dismal failure that is our health care system. Michael Moore's Sicko proved that even those with an HMO often feel as if they have no health care when one factors in the endless deductibles, copays for office visits, procedures and prescriptions and ill-trained case workers second-guessing primary care physicians. As anyone who has studied the current health care system can tell you, HMO's make their money by denying you health care.
Dr. Howard Dean, among others, had said that the key to our economic recovery is in revamping our dysfunctional, self-dealing health care system. With the subprime crisis and the collateral damage caused by it still far from resolved, I'm not entirely sure if Dr. Dean is correct. But attacking this problem in a pragmatic fashion is certainly what our nation needs if we're going to resume our place at the vanguard of the international community. It's worse than laughable that such a wealthy, highly industrialized nation such as the United States would also have nearly 50,000,000 citizens priced out of everything but free clinics and many millions more with overpriced, inadequate health care plans.
The otherwise energetic Obama administration has yet to make a nominee for HHS Secretary and until it does that, it will be seriously lacking the political capital to be making proposals for health care reform. Obama's mantra of talking to these HMO's carried by businesses and getting them to accept lower profits is the height of naivete.
Obama ain't no Robin Hood. But throw in a modest tax increase and Grover Norquist and company are ready to grab the government by its figurative hair to drown it in a bathtub.
There's something to be said for incremental change. I credit the president with being smart enough to realize that violent, wrenching change could bring to a screeching, smoking halt a massive system that is already dysfunctional. But the system is rotten from top to bottom, from the inside out. And, in the end, the ultimate success of the president's initiatives will depend entirely on what the 111th Congress we've just elected and what the future 112th Congress allows him to do.
And when the health care system is this greedy, unconscionable and devoid of commitment to those whom they nickel and dime to death, then perhaps more radical measures ought to be proposed, such as raising the taxes on the wealthiest even more than the modest ones proposed by President Obama. Perhaps we ought to start taking steps to making managed health care a thing of the past. If that brings us closer to socialism, so be it. And would that be a bad thing? One need only look at several Latin American economies, at the health care systems in place in Canada and France to see that a more socialized economy is obviously what's needed when private, deregulated industry, as always, drops the ball.
And to the liberal soul there's something enduringly romantic about Socialism or even the merest whiff of it. We're not seeing anything close to that with this administration. But tell that to the likes of Michele Bachmann and Republicans who retch at the thought of even the most modest shared sacrifice.