Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

How Barack Obama can get his momentum back: talk about health care

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Originally published on on Tue, 08/19/2008 – 9:03am

Next week is the Democratic National Convention, the first chance for a lot of voters to see what the Democrats want to do if the party wins the White House in November.

We have seen national security and the economy dominate the conversation. But in this series throughout the week, I want to shine a spotlight on the ignored topics. Yesterday, I dealt with education.

Today, I deal with a topic that got some notice in the Democratic Party primary, especially between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton: health care. But as horrible as our health care situation, we have heard virtually nothing since early June.

There are a lot of American citizens who either voted for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush who have a health care nightmare story or know someone who has a health care nightmare story. And yet, they voted for those Republicans for other reasons, certainly not for better health care.

But we haven’t heard John McCain’s “vision” for health care. And even if it’s more of the same, the public needs to know that there is a choice in health care for president of the United States.

It was exhilarating to hear multiple health care proposals during the Democratic Party primary. I remember hearing several good questions on health care to the candidates during the Yearly Kos last summer in Chicago. And no matter what you thought of the health care plans of the Democratic candidates, every single one was more thorough and more likely to help Americans than any Republican plan.

But the casual voter doesn’t know the distinct difference between the two major parties on health care. Again, McCain won’t mention the subject since he likely has no real plan. And the MSM won’t play that way by introducing any subject themselves, a strategy that helps the Republican candidate every time.

Democrats are usually on the right side of topics, but don’t do a good job in presenting what they want to do. Health care frustration has reached an apex. Even those who consider themselves conservative can’t help but wonder if a significant solution can’t be found, even if that is a government-related answer.

And this doesn’t even count the horrible Medicare legislation passed by the Republican-led Congress, forcing less competition over drug prices and forcing seniors to sign up for plans that aren’t effective or interesting. The Republicans were solely responsible for this legislation (House Speaker Dennis Hastert keep the vote going until some Representatives could be swayed). And yet Democrats haven’t been able to identify Republicans with this horrible legislation.

Whether Obama will have the political capital to make significant changes in health care remains to be seen. But if there is a chance to change the health care dynamic, this may be the best opportunity. After all, major companies such as GM would love to shift the costs of health care away from business. The idea that almost $2,000 of every GM car is health-care costs for its workers says something needs to be done.

There is an unofficial coalition of a number of groups who are willing to take a new direction for health care. But they need to know where Obama and the Democratic Party want to go on health care.

Yes, there can still be a debate on whether Obama’s plan is better than Clinton’s plan or whether Kucinich had it right all along with a single-payer system. But if the Democrats want true power for many years to come to fix a number of problems, a successful health care transition can do what Social Security did for the Democrats many years ago.

On health care alone, the Democratic Party candidate could soar in the polls and on November 4, but that vision and message needs to be on display, preferably starting in Denver and the next few months on the campaign trail.


Written by democracysoup

August 19, 2008 at 9:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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