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Friday, August 14, 2009

Paul Krugman: Republican Death Trip

What's the best way to respond to the lies that are being used to scare people into opposing health care reform?:

Republican Death Trip, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: “I am in this race because I don’t want to see us spend the next year re-fighting the Washington battles of the 1990s. I don’t want to pit Blue America against Red America; I want to lead a United States of America.” So declared Barack Obama in November 2007, making the case that Democrats should nominate him ... because he could free the nation from the bitter partisanship of the past. ...
So, how’s it going? Sure enough, President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex. This opposition cannot be appeased...
Right now, the charge that’s gaining the most traction is the claim that health care reform will create “death panels” (in Sarah Palin’s words) that will shuffle the elderly and others off to an early grave. It’s a complete fabrication...
And not long ago, some of the most enthusiastic peddlers of the ... smear, including Newt Gingrich ... and Mrs. Palin herself, were all for “advance directives” ... the event that you are incapacitated or comatose. That’s exactly what was being proposed — and has now, in the face of all the hysteria, been dropped from the bill.
Yet the smear continues to spread. And ... Senior G.O.P. figures, including so-called moderates, have endorsed the lie. Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is one of these supposed moderates. I’m not sure where his centrist reputation comes from..., his role in the health care debate has been flat-out despicable.
Last week, Mr. Grassley claimed that ... Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor wouldn’t have been treated properly in other countries because they prefer to “spend money on people who can contribute more to the economy.” This week, he told an audience that “you have every right to fear,” that we “should not have a government-run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.”
Again, that’s what a supposedly centrist Republican, a member of the Gang of Six trying to devise a bipartisan health plan, sounds like.
So much, then, for Mr. Obama’s dream of moving beyond divisive politics. The truth is that the factors that made politics so ugly in the Clinton years — the paranoia of a significant minority of Americans and the cynical willingness of leading Republicans to cater to that paranoia — are as strong as ever. In fact, the situation may be even worse ... because the collapse of the Bush administration has left the G.O.P. with no real leaders other than Rush Limbaugh.
The question now is how Mr. Obama will deal with the death of his postpartisan dream. So far, at least, the Obama administration’s response ... has had a deer-in-the-headlights quality. It’s as if officials still can’t wrap their minds around the fact that things like this can happen to people who aren’t named Clinton...
What, then, should Mr. Obama do? It would certainly help if he gave clearer and more concise explanations of his health care plan. To be fair, he’s gotten much better at that over the past couple of weeks.
What’s still missing, however, is a sense of passion and outrage — passion for the goal of ensuring that every American gets the health care he or she needs, outrage at the lies and fear-mongering that are being used to block that goal.
So can Mr. Obama, who can be so eloquent when delivering a message of uplift, rise to the challenge of unreasoning, unappeasable opposition? Only time will tell.

Maybe the answer is to scare people with the truth. Without health care reform that reduces the growth in costs, we won't be able to sustain the level of health care we are delivering now let alone cover those who don't have access to the care they need. Other countries have demonstrated conclusively that it's possible to deliver high quality universal care at a much lower cost than in the US, so a failure to implement reform is also a failure to maximize the availability of high quality health care. For that reason the people trying to block reform are -- to put it in their terms -- the death squads. They are the the the ones putting health care at risk, particularly care for those reliant upon government programs such as Medicare that will face budget pressures if costs aren't controlled, so lets hope the fabrications and other antics don't deter us from implementing the changes that are necessary to ensure that we can meet our health care needs.

    Posted by on Friday, August 14, 2009 at 12:36 AM in Economics, Health Care, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (109)

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