Healthcare a Test of America's Mettle

We're one week into August and it's already hotter than expected. For Democratic members attempting to defend President Barack Obama's push for healthcare reform (I use the word "push" since there is no definitive plan) things are downright explosive.

These protests are democracy in action, to be sure. Everyone has the right to question their elected leaders, express their views, and even do so loudly and rudely. But the fact that there is no healthcare bill yet, that the debate remains fluid, means losing these public forums to shouting and anger is an opportunity squandered. These meetings could be constructive, and help direct the debate about which reforms Congress should enact in September or October. Instead, little enlightening is taking place, and the furious opposition e-mails are drowning out what truth voters may want to learn about the actual plans on the table.

A President Committed to Healthcare for Veterans

He's not getting enough credit for it, but as we've seen recently, President Barack Obama's been working hard for education benefits for the troops, and also moving seriously for real healthcare for them.

This involves the recent GI Bill, back pay some troops had earned but weren't being paid and, now, serious funding for health at the Veterans Administration.

You can read some of this from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America,, and also at the VA site:

The Heat of August

Mardela, a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, happens to be the hometown of CNBC's Erin Burnett (and a few miles from the hometown of the considerably less famous author of this blog).

This past Tuesday it also happened to be the scene of every healthcare reform advocate's worst nightmare: a moderate Democrat subjected to a hostile August town hall meeting over the recess. Health reform's chances rest on the shoulders of moderates like first-term Congressman Frank Kratovil. Kratovil won election in Maryland's 1st district despite Barack Obama getting only getting 40 percent of the vote. Obama may have carried several members to victory on his coattails. In Kratovil's case, Obama was an up-ticket drag.

Scary Scare Tactics

I received an interesting e-mail today from Mitch Stewart of President Barack Obama's Organizing for America with a subject heading of "Beating the scare tactics." Perhaps you received it, too.

The e-mail complains that those voicing their opposition to Obama's healthcare proposal "are using scare tactics and spreading smears."

Efforts are under way to "incite constituents into lashing out at their representatives and disrupting their events," we're told. We're also warned about attack organizations and more disruptions and informed that these efforts could "hijack the entire public discourse" and cause all Americans to suffer.

Nonplussed by the Health Reform Bill

I rise to agree with fellow Pundits Blogger Lanny Davis, who — as a Democrat — has bravely noted that President Barack Obama's healthcare plan is confusing. Just what is this "Obamacare" plan people keep criticizing, anyway?

Davis points out that there were originally several principles, including: allowing people to keep their current insurance; covering everyone, even those with pre-existing conditions; and enacting a mandate, subsidies for coverage and a "public option," a government plan that would compete with private plans in order to bring down costs.

Single-Payer or Bust

Late last week I noticed a scary change in Obama's rhetoric in regard to healthcare reform.

For the past year, through the primaries, the general election and on up until now in the presidency, Obama was calling for comprehensive reform. During the primaries, I chose to go with Obama (when a lot of my colleagues were jumping on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon) because of his promise to fight for a single-payer healthcare plan.

Healthcare in the Dog Days of August

The Hill's A.B. Stoddard answers questions on how healthcare will survive the August recess and the disparities between President Barack Obama’s final vision and current legislation in the House.


Game On! Voters Want Their Say at Town Hall Meetings

When the left starts complaining about vocal voters attending town hall meetings on healthcare reform held by their Democrat elected officials, it's clear those voters are doing something right. And the Democrats are doing something wrong. (Rachel Maddow actually referred to voters speaking out as "hooliganism.")

When elected officials actually consider holding "invitation-only" town hall meetings, as is the case with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), one wonders how long the left-wing media can get away with claiming there is something "wrong" with the regular people attending an open town hall meeting, rather than questioning Cardin and other elected officials afraid to hear from their own constituents.

Obama’s Health Plans Confusing

This piece is also published in The Washington Times.

I am guessing that in the early days of the Obama administration, probably shortly after the arrival of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, the "strategic decision" on health care was made, one that we are now watching unfold in recent days in Washington.

I am guessing it was essentially a negative decision — don't make the basic mistake that the Clinton administration is widely seen as having made in 1994. The conventional wisdom says that the basic cause of its failure on health care was the choice to write in secret a complicated 1,000-page bill and then, send it up to the Congress, where no one could understand it and where it was ripped to shreds by all the special interests, especially by the nasty "Harry and Louise" ads.

Obama His Own Worst Enemy

A lot of political hand-wringing going on in Washington right now over the current health reform debate. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced last week that the Senate would be unable to move President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare initiative before the August recess, the country let out a collective sigh. Especially moderate-to-conservative Democrats. They’re hearing firsthand what the people are saying. Put simply, this is too big an initiative to ram through the Congress based on bumper sticker slogans such as “Every American Covered!”

I predicted weeks ago this measure would not pass before August. The president’s henchmen miscalculated. They banked too heavily on Obama’s popularity to push through a trillion-dollar initiative. Coming on the heels of a failed stimulus package (not my opinion, check the facts), Americans are admittedly wary of more checkbook policies that yield nothing in return.