Saturday, February 28, 2009

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.


At February 28, 2009 at 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the desire for universal health care is something that goes back to 1945,"

Actually, universal health care had been a part of FDR's long-term plans - or at least Eleanor Roosevelt's.

At February 28, 2009 at 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it quite funny that so many people equate universal health care with creeping socialism, but don't think twice about universal education. How is it that providing affordable health care for all is opening the door to the collapse of capitalist society, but free K-12 education is perfectly normal? This odd ability to cling to two mutually contradictory beliefs is a bit disconcerting - isn't that a definition of insanity?

At February 28, 2009 at 11:35 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

The government doesn't run the educational system. It merely contributes to its annual budget.

Republicans get dry heaves at the thought of a government that actually works and private industry doesn't a totally free hand. Even though these same wingnuts would directly benefit from more direct gov't intervention and have no corporate interests at stake through tighter regulatory controls.

They're essentially cutting off their own snouts to spite their faces with these little teabagging parties because it's all they have left to complain about.

At February 28, 2009 at 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as I can remember we've been indoctrinated with the premise that socialism was bad. They've equated socialism with communism. Socialism, communism bad. Capitalism good. Well, look where that's got us.

Back in the early 70's I had a doctor friend tell me that then the biggest hindurance to universal health care was the AMA or the doctors union. It's still this "for profit medicine" that we have to overcome but then, that would be capitalism, eh! BTW, he quit his practice a few yrs later because of high liability insurance costs.

At February 28, 2009 at 3:41 PM, Blogger KathyG said...

JP I don't like to take this off topic but is it ok if I email you?
Thanks for keeping the losers accountable for the idiocy they choose to use.
Good luck against that fuck Hal Turner if you need any support let me know and I'll help out as much as I can from here in MO

At February 28, 2009 at 3:54 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Sure, Kathy, but you'd better do it soon. I won't be living here or blogging much longer.

At February 28, 2009 at 5:43 PM, Blogger Bukko Boomeranger said...

Koot: the reich wing DOES hate the idea of "socialist" public schools. You must have read their screeching about how it's "government indoctrination" to send your kids to a state school, and public schools are sops to the teachers' unions, etc. That's why the Right is so keen on "vouchers" in order to subsidise private schools and strangle the public ones.

As far as socialised medicine, if a slack-arse country like Australia can make it work, any country ought to be able to. Mrs. Bukko and I recently attained our permanent residency visa here, which means we can get Medicare, Oz's public health benefit. Woo-hoo!

Now we never pay more for a prescription than the "capped" amount, which is $32.90 this year. Still a bit costly for a month's bottle of meds, but lots are less because of government price controls. Mrs. Bukko had some minor surgery at the clinic around the corner from us, just a couple things cut out and stitched up -- not cancer, thank goodness! -- and we paid NOTHING! Nothing, I tell you! And she got it done three days after she called to make the appointment. If we need to get seen by the doctor, we either walk in and wait for less than an hour, or call to make an appointment so we can be seen the next day.

I could go on, but I probably have before. The point is, socialism can work if it's applied in a basically honest and prosperous society like Sweden or Holland. Too bad that doesn't apply to the U.S. It's as bad there as the Soviet Union, where ideology blinded people to doing what works.

At March 1, 2009 at 12:42 PM, Blogger maryclev said...

I love the little tag line on that banner:

"This time, trust us".

Basically saying, "Yeah, we screwed with you guys good for the last 8 years, but for real now, this time, trust us. We won't pull the football away from you again when you come to kick it, resulting in a horrifying back injury or anything!"


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