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Posted by on Mar 15, 2010 in Health, Politics, Society | 2 comments

Obama’s Greek Tragedy

If he signs a health care bill into law this month, in his heart of hearts, the President will be haunted by the ancient plaint of King Pyrrhus, “Another such victory, and I am undone.”

How did 21st century America fall into Greek tragedy while fighting to spread the benefits of civilization to its people? How did rational debate deteriorate into the ancient ritual of a blood feud?

Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s designated voice of reason, writes in an OpEd today, “Should the Democrats’ health-care train wreck make it to the president’s desk, it will be a pyrrhic victory, and its devastating consequences will take their toll on our health-care system, our budget and our economy.”

His argument that the new law is mainly “a range of job-killing tax hikes and controls on all Americans–to fund this new entitlement and to penalize employers and individuals who don’t play by Washington’s new rules” is as simplistic and misleading as White House claims that the bloated, bargain-marred thing will be an historic achievement for fairness and decency.

Pasting Ryan’s handsome young face and wonkish voice over a year of monolithic know-nothing Republican obstruction is undermined by Minority Leader John Boehner’s vow to “make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill.”

But blaming Republicans is too easy, another way of avoiding responsibility by playing their us-against-them game. Democrats would do well to recall a Shakespearian take on the human condition, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

That kind of thinking led Romans to conspire against their Caesar just as today’s Congressional underlings are threatening to undo their leader with squabbles about abortion and other side issues that will profit them politically.

Yet, with all the good will in the world for his pragmatic idealism, it’s hard not to fault Barack Obama for getting himself into this pyrrhic mess.

Instead on analyzing the red-meat issue and formulating a comprehensible plan to deal with its major components, the President stepped back and tossed it into the Congressional boneyard where it could be shredded into scraps.

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Copyright 2010 The Moderate Voice
  • DLS

    “How did 21st century America fall into Greek tragedy while fighting to spread the benefits of civilization to its people?”

    [snort]

    The Dems insisted on doing too much that 21st Century America didn’t want them to do.

  • Ryan’s editorial is pathetic. Same old lies, same stale solutions. Oh, and a link to the GOP House bill. Check it out. See any fresh ideas there? Virtually every section is similar to the Dem proposals (extend ability to stay on family plans, improve IT), then on prevention, new “educational” programs that will magically get us to cut fat, sugar and tobacco, etc. So huge surprise, while chastising the Dems for not addressing the root causes of medical cost increases, the GOP proposes -wait for it- “tort reform” and “buying across state lines.” That’s it. Pitiful. So THAT is what the supposedly smart Paul Ryan thinks are the “true drivers of cost increases?”

    So, tort reform. Once again, malpractice (not malpractice insurance, ALL malpractice cost) is 0.5% of health care cost, and the so-called “defensive medicine” claims that are invariably raised by partisans are disputed by doctors who say both patients and doctors want all the test results from new technologies, not to avoid liability but to improve diagnosis and treatment. Most states have already capped awards and judges do so even more, yet no drop in malpractice insurance rates. And even if they cut them in half, remember the total benefit would be 1/2 of 0.5% less the total of all court costs, awards, legal fees, etc. So even if such reform *could* cut half of malpractice premiums and cut all other aspects in half (no way), we would save 0.25% of total health care cost. Which by the way, increased more than 0.25% last week. Tiny idea from tiny minds.

    Next, selling across state lines. This is typical of Republicans these days. While railing against “federal overreach” by Dems, they advocate that the feds “overreach” to take regulation of insurance from the states. Forget states’ rights, Uncle Sam knows best. And it worked so well with credit card deregulation, didn’t it? So that’s the next big GOP idea. A race to the bottom as with credit card regulation, in which the insurance companies will sell the products from the states with the weakest rules while eliminating policies from states that have more consumer protection. Result? More bucks for insurance companies, more dough for Republican fundraisers and a rotten deal for “the insured.”

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