What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama speaks on the phone in the Oval Office of the White House, December 12, 2009
President Barack Obama speaks on the phone in the Oval Office of the White House, December 12, 2009 (White House/Pete Souza)

Health care reform passed in the House of Representatives last night. A bloc of pro-life Democrats gave the party the 219 over 212 votes needed to enact the health insurance overhaul previously accepted in the Senate. Thirty-four Democrats voted against the measure.

The House also voted 220 to 211 to support a “reconciliation” bill that intends to fix those provisions in the Senate bill that House Democrats oppose. The Senate is expected to begin debate on these “fixes” Tuesday; the earliest day that the President Obama might sign the original legislation.

The president addressed the nation after House Democrats managed to steer reform through Congress. He praised Democrats for rising “above the weight of our politics” and declared that, “We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.” This in spite of staunch and solid Republican opposition to health-care reform, Tea Party protests outside the Capitol on the day of the debate, and a mounting nationwide disapproval of both the president and his party.

Obama boasted that he “pushed back on the undue influence of special interests,” yet both House Democrats and House Republicans complained about the numerous provisions in the Senate bill that must be filtered out through “reconciliation” before it can become law. Obama claimed that reform “incorporates ideas from both parties,” but Republicans have repeatedly denied that. They say that none of their proposals; none of their suggestions have been considered by the majority party, let alone brought to a vote.

Nonetheless, according to the president, health-care reform is a “victory for the American people. And it’s a victory for common sense.”

More than anything, the speech spoke volumes on the president’s ill-conceived notion of individual rights. “What this day represents,” he said, “is another stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American Dream.” The same dream that stresses personal ability and personal responsibility? That dream of life, liberty and the right to property? That dream which limites government’s power to the protection of man’s rights, lest it become destructive to those very ends? Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To every man from his own industry,” not, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” Mr President!

Obama complained that the current system “works for insurance companies, but not for ordinary people,” neglecting to consider the government obstructionism that has driven up health-care costs in recent years. More government won’t fix health care then, yet the president announced that he will rein in “the worst excesses and abuses of the insurance industry” — with more government.

Those currently without insurance will be given “a chance to be a part of a big purchasing pool that will give you choice and competition and cheaper prices for insurance.” In spite of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s modern day trust busting, Obama does understand that competition provides the best service at the lowest of costs. Yet not “excessive” competition, of course! The free market works, but it must be tamed. It’s the all too familiar mantra of today’s antagonists of capitalism.

The president concluded his remarks by stating that “this isn’t radical reform.” This legislation, he said, “will not fix everything that ails our health-care system. But it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”

Comments

  • And when this whole effort fails miserably they will again blame capitalism and the greedy insurance companies and doctors.

    They will eventually eliminate the private health insurers and will have to either force doctors to work for what the government standardizes or find crappier doctors that will.

  • I fear as much. The government’s already been involved with health care for many decades (Medicare and Medicaid being only part of the problem) and it’s failed to provide what the reformers have in mind: universal coverage, preferably at no cost whatsoever to the consumer.

    ObamaCare won’t achieve that either. Undoubtedly, within several years from now, the remaining private elements in health insurance will be blamed for its shortcomings, prompting a renewed political effort to collective health care entirely.

    Ironically, many European states, my home country among them, are moving in an opposite direction, privatizing health insurance and health care and even hospitals after decades of failed social policy.

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