Middle America Deserves Thoughtful Deliberation on Healthcare Reform

As the healthcare debate is coming to a procedural head on the floor of the U.S. Senate tonight, news this week that the U.S. Postal Service lost money for the third year in a row—a staggering $3.8 billion, versus a loss of $2.8 billion last year—should give Middle America real concerns about government’s ability to effectively insert itself into individuals’ lives and deliver quality, affordable healthcare.

Government is not a bad thing.  For those who think differently, view government as a necessary evil, whose purpose is to serve the people, not vice versa.  As we were reminded by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address in 1863, “. . . this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. . .”  Like it or not, government belongs to the people and it is here to stay.

The speed with which politicians are moving to rush a 2074 page healthcare bill through Congress with little debate leads Middle America to ask the obvious question, “What’s the hurry on an issue of such great importance?”

Well, the hurry is that this week Middle America picked up the scent of the rationing of healthcare with confusion over when and what women should get mammograms and pap smears.  As time drags on, Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about how healthcare might be rationed, which has Democrats are as nervous as long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs.

If ever there was an issue that touched every American personally, healthcare is it.  Clearly, something has to give—there has to be some sort of healthcare reform, like the ability to shop for healthcare across state lines, a prohibition on rejecting pre-existing conditions, a requirement that every American have health insurance, etc.  However, the need to get healthcare reform right greatly exceeds the political demands to just get “something” done and declare victory.

Middle America has been betrayed in a way, since every word of every page of the 2074 page bill isn’t being discussed and publicly debated in great detail by this administration, which campaigned on “transparency.”  Sound public policy requires a lucid and thorough examination of this legislation, but it appears that once again, sound public policy is being traded for political expediency.

Obama’s advisors and Democratic consultants know that time is their enemy—the longer Congress takes to pass healthcare legislation, the less political capital they have to pass anything at all, and the more likely Middle America will thoughtfully consider how it might impact its own mammograms, pap smears, and healthcare needs.

The honeymoon period typically extended to new presidents is now coming to an end, if it hasn’t already come and gone.  Unfortunately for President Obama and Democrats, they campaigned on delivering “healthcare reform” and staked their political future on it.

Middle America is not naïve, and will not allow itself to be played like a Stradivarius violin.  Making healthcare reform their lynchpin issue was a very calculated decision by Democrats, not done hastily, but after much polling and many focus groups.  Democrats have made healthcare a political football and Middle America is increasingly concerned about it.

Understandably, Democrats exploited the issue of healthcare reform for maximum political value during the campaign, but now the campaign is over and the wolf is almost at the door.  Democrats know they have to deliver something, and this “something” really needs to be thought through with great deliberation and debate.  If given a choice, Middle America would be better served with nothing, rather than “something” hastily rammed through Congress.

A. Muser