WhichMitt.com is a hilarious website put out by the DNC. Take the quiz! Mitt Romney's constantly changing opinions make him a really easy target. This highlights his contradictions on abortion, the need for an economic stimulus plan during the current recession, health care, and more. Romney's penchant for flip-flopping makes John Kerry look like an anchor of resolve.
Here are a few of the infamous Romney quotes:
Are We Headed for Single Payer Health Care?
It's been interesting to listen to the debate rage over what will happen to the individual health insurance mandate in President Obama's health care reform bill as the issue moves its way up through federal courts. The mandate was recently ruled unconstitutional by one (Bush-appointed) federal judge in Virginia, but was ruled constitutional by a couple of other federal judges. It seems that most pundits agree that this issue is headed for the Supreme Court.Read more
They Were For It Before They Were Against It
During the early 1990s, when President Bill Clinton tasked First Lady Hillary Clinton to lead the effort to overhaul the nation's health care system, Republicans proposed an alternate idea to Hillary's proposal, which envisioned a larger role for government in health care than what President Obama signed into law last March. That Republican proposal was a health insurance mandate that would require all Americans to have coverage, precisely the same obligation that Republicans have vehemently lambasted in the recent health care reform bill. Polled individually, all of the major elements of Obama's health care overhaul are very popular with the notable exception of the health insurance mandate. You'll be hard-pressed to find a politician or citizen anywhere who thinks it is a bad idea that parents can keep their children covered under their insurance plan until age 26, or that insurance companies can no longer deny children with pre-existing conditions coverage, or that insurance companies cannot cancel someone's plan when they become ill.Read more
Morality and the Health Care Crisis in America
I've been meaning to do a post about health care ever since the health care reform bill was debated and passed last year. I'll approach health care in two posts, first by discussing American health care (pre-reform) and the immorality of the status quo. In my next post, I'll compare the varying types of universal health care systems and examine the recent health care reform bill.
Health care reform is not just a political issue for me- it's also a moral issue. There is nothing more fundamental to one's well-being than their health. One's ability to obtain an education, to acquire and hold a job, and to sustain a family is entirely dependent on their physical and mental health. If we, as the world's most wealthy country, were happy with the pre-reform status quo, with leaving millions of lower and middle working class Americans either under-insured or uninsured, and were content with a system that bankrupts people when they become sick and lose their jobs as a result, then we've had a significant moral lapse. As I pointed out in a previous post about a "culture of life," can one truly claim to be "pro-life" when they are content to let people become sick and die for lack of treatment in the wealthiest, most powerful country the world has ever known? I've actually had some conservative friends argue as a counterpoint that anyone can be seen in an E.R. (at taxpayer expense), thus there is no need for reform. E.R. access as the sole point of access to health care is woefully inadequate. So, say someone has cancer, do you think they can go to the E.R. for chemotherapy? It doesn't take a health care professional to explain that the E.R. can handle only emergencies, not medium and long-term care for the seriously and chronically ill, not to mention cost-saving and life-enhancing preventative medicine.
The September 23rd Health Care Milestone
September 23rd marked six months since President Barack Obama signed the new health care reform bill into law. The new law contains a plethora of measures that aim to reform and improve the overall quality and availability of health care in America. However, most of the law's measures did not go into effect immediately upon the bill's passage. The first major milestone occurred yesterday, on September 23rd, when several key measures were implemented, some affecting almost everyone, others only initially affecting those with new and heavily revised insurance plans (with similar changes affecting all plans a little further in the future). Here are some of the ones I believe are most important:Read more
"The Rage is Not About Health Care"
Frank Rich stated what I was trying to point out in my previous post, "Right-Wing Terrorism," in a much more eloquent and straightforward fashion than I did. (That's probably why he's a NYT columnist and I'm not.) Here are some of the best parts:
In fact, the current surge of anger — and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism — predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since — from Gov. Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishing of assault weapons at Obama health care rallies last summer to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot... If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory.
...As no less a conservative authority than The Wall Street Journal editorial page observed last week, the bill’s prototype is the health care legislation Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts. It contains what used to be considered Republican ideas. Yet it’s this bill that inspired G.O.P. congressmen on the House floor to egg on disruptive protesters even as they were being evicted from the gallery by the Capitol Police last Sunday. It’s this bill that prompted a congressman to shout “baby killer” at Bart Stupak, a staunch anti-abortion Democrat. It’s this bill that drove a demonstrator to spit on Emanuel Cleaver, a black representative from Missouri. And it’s this “middle-of-the-road” bill, as Obama accurately calls it, that has incited an unglued firestorm of homicidal rhetoric, from “Kill the bill!” to Sarah Palin’s cry for her followers to “reload.” At least four of the House members hit with death threats or vandalism are among the 20 political targets Palin marks with rifle crosshairs on a map on her Facebook page.
Response Written Concerning The Current Healthcare Legislation
A couple points of response:
If any company takes taxpayer dollars, then by right of being a shareholder, taxpayers should have some say in how the company operates. I completely agree with you regarding the government's lack of industry expertise, but at the same time if the banking industry is going to benefit from my investment, as a stockholder, I have a right to their profits.
Same with the insurance companies. Medicaid and Medicare pay billions to insurance companies to regulate healthcare. What do we get in return? Larger premiums and poor coverage while the share holders rake in the profits. With government being the largest customer of private insurance companies, they have a right to demand better service, lower premiums, and higher quality of care. If an insurance company does not want to deal with the government's request, capitalism steps in. The insurance company needs to drop the government as a customer and the market will pick up the slack. However, insurance companies understand current legislation has been written in their favor. The government has legislated high barriers to entry and strict state to state competition laws. You and I have limited choices in what insurance companies we can purchase from, stifling competition. To make matters worse insurance companies are protected by anti-trust legislation making it harder to pin responsibility on price fixing and collusion.
Similar condition with with drug companies. Drug companies (with the help of Republicans) wrote price fixing laws into the 2003 Medicare bill making it illegal for the government to directly negotiate pricing. As a result the largest buyer of drugs pays the highest price. Capitalism or intervention? Drugs are cheaper in Mexico and Canada for the sheer reason of market forces. Now I wish the best for the pharma industry. I hope they make billions in profits. They should be rewarded for their innovation. However it’s a double edged sword to play the victim of legislation that encourages the use of free market concepts to drive down profits. The drug companies have been sucking the tax dollars from our wallets with no repercussions of the price gauging they have regulated.
Now, "Obamacare" fixes several of these issues. It protects consumers from being dropped when their health takes a turn for the worse. It reinstates the government’s power to negotiate drug prices. It creates an insurance exchange to allow small businesses to band together and negotiate like massive corporations. Several of these concepts are free market principles. Now, I am not sure how I feel about mandating every citizen to buy healthcare. Obviously cutting down on emergency room care through scale would be a huge cost saver, and one of the driving principles of this legislation. I am also not sure if regulating small businesses to provide healthcare is a wise market principle either. However, economics will teach you that there are vast economies of scale as competition increases and demand rises. This is exactly why we can cover more people, using market principles, at a lower cost per individual. Is the healthcare bill perfect? No. But it is definitely better then the legislation we currently have in place. The CBO, a non-partisan organization, has projected the bill will be covered by forecasted costs already in the system (I guess we should thank the Republicans for that – the Medicare 2003 bill was quite an expensive entitlement program!) and increasing payroll taxes on individuals making over $250,000.
The Conservatives' Waterloo
David Frum, President George W. Bush's former speechwriter and a conservative political pundit posted the following on his website yesterday. I highly recommend the entire article, but here are some key points:Read more
If the Democrats Take Back Congress...
Any Fox Network viewer will tell you that the consequences for Democrats taking back the two houses of congress are catastrophic. Partisan fighting would continue, the war on terror would take a massive blow, and the possibility of presidential impeachment would loom. And though each of these concerns are unfounded and almost laughable (do you think the Democrats would impeach President Bush to put Cheney in power?), there will be some major changes that will occur.
The legislation that will be introduced “within five minutes,” as Nancy Pelosi notes, is the proposal to let the government negotiate drug prices. In a country seeded with capitalistic roots, how does the largest purchaser of drugs forfeit negotiating power? The very idea is perplexing. In 2003 when the congress passed a bill banning governmental negotiating, the idea was to let the third party insurance companies use their understanding of the industry to navigate prices. However, what happened next did not surprise the minority party. The drug prices paid by Medicaid/Medicare increased 10% a year since the law went into effect. Even more startling, the Veterans Benefits, which are not part of this legislation, buy their drugs at 50%-60% of the prices Medicare pays, though they purchase a fraction of the volume.
Yes, Big Pharma is worried; and rightfully so. They have already poured $500,000 in to Rick Santorum’s close race (the leading proponent of the 2003 Medicare bill), and multiple others across the country. If the Democrats do impeach President Bush, it will be long after drug prices drop.
(A great article can be found in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Fearing a Democratic Victory, Drug Makers Fund Key Races.”)
A Moral Dilemma
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." -FDR
With the 2004 presidential election come and gone, many citizens will tune out the various debates that our lawmakers continue to engage in. Both sides will retire to their blue and red corners of this polarized nation with a sigh of relief, the red for their victory, the blue for their participation in the democratic process. The red will declare that moral values of the voters will continue to hold this country together, while the blue argues this very subject tears this land apart. Both sides are blinded by the hypocrisy of their own parties as they view their prospective leaders as figures of deity.
In retrospect of last month's elections, voters returned President Bush to the White House due to his moral agenda. Depending on the media outlet, the win came through miniscule proportions or a cataclysmic majority. At any rate, President Bush will unveil his outline for the upcoming years and this author is skeptical that those same moral issues the won him the white house will be anywhere near his agenda. Why is this? Americans, as a whole, skate the lines of morality. When America went home for Thanksgiving, Desperate Housewives was the highest rated show (27.2 million viewers). In the back corners of society, pornography is the most lucrative media industry in the country. Divorce rate is an astounding 50%, and is it even possible to track infidelity numbers?
Look at morality amongst our leaders. Bill Clinton tarnished every positive decision made in office by succumbing to moral temptation. Mayor Giuliani will forever be remembered as a hero of 9/11, but his infidelity decisions will forever be on his constituents mind, What about the New Jersey governor who had an extra-marital affair with another man? Two of the largest media personalities, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, have also taken heat for their moral choices. And the list goes on…
Some thoughts on the issues:
Abortion is one topic which stirs strong confrontation between both parties. Republicans look at the argument as right vs. wrong, as Democrats view it as a challenge of government-protected rights. Republicans argue that abortion destroys life while Democrats believe that government-regulated abortion destroys civil liberties. Now Republicans would like to believe that Democrats support this malice practice, while Democrats cry that Republicans are undermining the constitution. The most interesting part of these perspectives is that both sides believe their opponent is closer to the extreme. For instance, a small percentage of Democrats actually support this inhumane practice, while the majority believes this is an issue of government influence. This is why they are labeled pro-choice instead of pro-abortion. Looking from the other side, Democrats try to label Republicans as a majority who want to challenge constitutional rights, when in reality they believe that abortion is an immoral act. Both parties use extreme stances to justify why the opposing party is out of the mainstream, when in reality, their implications only identify small percentages.
Another issue is Gay marriage. Republicans would like to believe that Democrats support gay marriage when polling demonstrates over and over again, that the majority opposes the practice. Again the issue revolves around government's responsibility within personal arenas. Should a gay individual have access to the same privileges as heterosexual citizens of the United States? Democrats group the Republicans as religious zealots who demonstrate little tolerance to diversity. Yet Republicans widely accept diverse groups, and believe that gay marriage should not receive marital benefits due to the lack of family experience. Republicans like to believe that Democrats are morally inept, while Democrats like to believe that Republicans are ignorant.
Perhaps this is where the hypocrisy sets in:
If one was to ask a pro-choice Democrat why they follow such a belief, their response would be to the tune of protecting civil liberties. Ask that same Democrat concerning civil liberties of the embryo, and their response is strained. They will protest time and time again regarding the woman's right, but do not spend an ounce of effort regarding the unborn's rights.
Ask a Republican why they oppose abortion and their response will most likely depict a graphic reconstruction of the inhuman procedure. They also will counter with discussions of morals and ethics regarding the unborn. Ask that same Republican if the government should take responsibility of uninsured toddlers, abused infants, or homeless children and their response will be less then adequate. Republicans will fight tooth and nail to outlaw abortion, but when that child comes into the world, responsibility is waived.
The same hypocrisy can be witnessed in homosexual rights. The Democratic left desires to legalize civil unions or gay marriage. The same individuals will also point to the destruction of the family as one of the challenges of moral America. However, they fail to recognize the connection between the two. The conservative right is equal in their belief that the family unit is being challenged. However, with their fight to deny the rights of marriage to gay couples in full swing, the real destroyer of family is left to expand. Moderate Republicans (the staunch conservatives refuse to tamper with the constitution) seek to outlaw such a union by amending the constitution, yet they do not fight with the same vigor regarding adultery. Who can argue that infidelity is a far greater threat to moral America then gay marriage? Why not petition with the same tenacity toward an amendment outlawing adultery? Seems ridiculous, right? Possibly. But the point could be made.
One of the more fascinating platforms which divides the two parties, can actually be viewed as a contradiction to both. Gun control: government regulation or absence? In following the basic stances on abortion, gay marriage, and personal platforms regarding less government, it is surprising that Democrats are more prone to support gun control. Republicans on the other hand, who so adamantly support government intervention in personal platforms, cry foul when legislation approaches their perception of the second amendment. Democrats might argue that firearms infringe on the constitution's guarantee for life, liberty, and happiness. They also might justify the limiting of arms as a necessary enactment for protecting personal rights. After all, anyone assaulted with a firearm loses their personal liberties. However, it appears contradictory as to when government intervention is appropriate.
Firearms also present a moral dilemma to the conservative right. This past year the assault weapons ban, supported by 70% of Americans and a large percentage of NRA members, expired with little action from the Republican House or the President. On the eve of the expiration over 5,000 police officers from around the country traveled to capital hill to protest the lack of effort from lawmakers. The ban was also backed by every major police organization across the United States, but to no avail. With the power of the NRA lobbyist controlling a major resource, the expiration of the ban brought twenty million dollars of campaign money to various Republican races across the country. The Republican Right refuses to understand moderation in this particular example.
According to the definition, "moral" relates to principles of right and wrong in behavior. As we look though this country with partisan eyes we selectively engage in our own "moral" battles. For the Republican side, the battle revolves around the black and white disregarding the more challenging problems. The Democrats are the exact opposite, focussing on the complex and graying the black and white. Social programs are perfect examples of these accusations. Throughout the 2004 campaign John Kerry spent incredible resources addressing the lack of medical attention in this country for children. Even with good intentions Kerry could not communicate specific details in accomplishing his proposals, or his suggestions seemed fiscally irresponsible. The majority agrees that taking care of the poor is America's moral responsibility, but Kerry's solutions are too complex or expensive, which in turn makes them unreasonable. President Bush, on the other hand, also solidified these accusations by refusing to even present a solution.
What is more interesting about Medicaid and poverty issues is the divide that comes with stated political philosophies. The blue states are labeled as big government and excess spenders of America's tax money. The Republican base also believes that the Democrat's practice of handouts to the poor hinders the motivation of the impoverish. The Democratic base describes the Republican's small government as self-serving. The irony of these two statements is apparent after studying the 2002 census reports. The states with the highest percentage of citizens without healthcare are New Mexico, Texas, Alaska, Oklahoma, and Louisiana; all red states. The states with the lowest are New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Iowa; all blue. The states with the highest poverty percentages are Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Alabama; all red. The lowest are New Hampshire, Minnesota, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey; all blue. Even more interesting, in averaging 10 surveys (see attached) ranging from education, to teenage pregnancies, to crime rates, to federal aid per capita, the top five states are Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin; all blue. The bottom of these averages are Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; all red.
What this data implies is the two divides are not catering to their particular needs. It can be assumed (given California and New York alone) that the blue states generate the largest percentage of the federal income tax receipts, with the least per capita need of federal aid. With the difference between the two parties being the theoretical size of government, it is amazing the positioning of the blue and red states. Red states vote for candidates who support smaller government, and blue states vote just the opposite, defying the best economic interests of both.
Throughout this election the war on terror overshadowed the ongoing debate concerning the reform of socialistic programs. Yet the social programs we refuse to address, most directly affect the soldiers keeping our country safe. It is no secret that the largest percentage of military personnel originates from America's poorest communities. Recruiters refuse to enter upscale neighborhoods as such trips would prove unsuccessful. Ask a lawmaker if they have ever been directly affected by welfare or Medicaid and a story might be generated concerning a distant relative. Ask that same representative how many family members or neighbors they know in IRAQ and a distant corner house might be referenced. These policymakers maintain the same moral responsibility to the hidden parts of the United States, and citizens need to push accountability.
As this country tries to tear down the polarizing wall generated through partisan politics, we need to understand that each side has not escaped moral challenges. America will not progress as a divided nation anchored by two extremes. Citizens and lawmakers need to unify and work though social and personal perspectives, and strive for the common good of man, not the slim majority.
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