Health care protesters have a point

Now we know the enemy in the health-care debate, the really, truly despicable people, the worms who ought to be stuffed back in the dirt they crawled out of. It’s ordinary citizens who have had the temerity to show up at meetings of their representatives in Congress, asking in so many words — "What in the name of heaven are you planning to do with our lives?"

Happy enough to be cheerleaders when Cindy Sheehan and her ragtag followers were out and about calling George W. Bush a mass murderer, Democrats, the left generally, some pretend journalists and a number of big-name commentators are aghast at a lack of respect for the Washington malefactors, fearful that someone will think everyday Americans actually know what they’re talking about and worried about how hard it will be to set the record straight if their critiques are widely circulated.

Nancy Pelosi goes further. She asserts swastikas had been spotted at these protests, as if that is comment enough. Listen, speaker of the House: There are kooks out there. No matter what the event, kooks show up. I have no idea whether someone with a swastika actually was at some health-care protest or two or three, but that would hardly mean what Pelosi implied, that what we have here is just a bunch of neo-Nazis. What we have are people who have been following developments and very well may grasp what is at stake in the rush-job "reform" proposals better than poor Pelosi ever could or even more than some gullible, non-sequitur-plagued, exaggerating writers in big-time media.

Here’s the deal. The Democrats contend health care is a "right," which is to say they think health insurance should be an entitlement provided free if necessary to every single American resident, including people who simply don’t want it and illegal aliens who are likely to be given plenty of opportunity to obtain government handouts without fear of detection. One device to accomplish universal insurance would be a so-called public plan, which is to say a government-run alternative that sooner or later might well be the only show in town, even though all but the very tiniest businesses would be required to either provide health insurance or pay a penalty.

According to the most trustworthy non-partisan people in D.C. — the staff of the Congressional Budget Office — the cost of current Democratic bills would be enormous, at least another trillion dollars over the next decade. This will come on top of the tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities already owed to Medicare, money that will be due to beneficiaries beyond what will be available from tax revenues or any means other than higher taxes or deficit borrowing. At some point, and not all that much further down the pike, we will have annual, economy-wrecking obligations making this year’s stimulus package and bailout billions look like pipsqueak stuff, and meanwhile count on higher premiums caused by still more mandates on insurance companies.

Something will have to give, and a hint of what that will be is contained in the idea of President Obama to have a Medicare panel making sweeping decisions on fees and advisable care. Severe rationing could eventually become the way of things, no matter what dodges you are told about new efficiencies or preventive health practices doing the money-saving job. Given how much we’ve recently been hearing about how old people really don’t need as much care as they are now getting, I’d say they should keep a keen eye on the formulas Obama and friends have in mind.

The short of it is that while incremental, gradual, market-based reform is certainly needed along with a careful restructuring of Medicare, a really, really big, all-at-once, statist, semi-socialist transition will have even bigger unintended consequences, and ordinary citizens will pay dearly unless their insights can help forestall the hubris.

(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)

Comments

  1. jayambrose

    I am not sure I have seen a single commenty on the board suffessfully refuting a single thing said by the health protesters. Just name calling, mostly, how awful Hannity is and all the other fallbacks of know-nothing leftists.

  2. neondog

    Yo Jay…how well did you prognosticate the banking meltdown? how well did you prognosticate the housing crisis?? (yeah-yeah we know inner city negro’s caused that one). how well did you prognosticate the failures of GM and Chrysler??? Come on Jay tells how you did on the World Trade Center attacks???
    Jay can recall how vehemently you supported the idea of finding WMD in Iraq????

    Jay….you have a history of being wrong…a history of looking the other way when conservatives fail and unquestionably yielding to conservative ideology ….
    Jay…your track record with conservative failures gives you little right to determine the outcome of the current attempts to fix health care.

  3. jayambrose

    By the way, what is it that you “experts” believe Obama and the Democrats will actually do to control runaway Medicare expenditures? More preventive care? More electronic records? More careful management of chronic illness? Doing away with some inefficiencies here and there? While all this stuff might have some merit, none of it will solve the problem, and even many supporters of health reform admit as much. Unless you convert Medicare to a very different kind of system overtime, and Obama will not do that, you have to ration, and ration severely, and that is what this legislation begins to do. Check out the duties of the Medicare review board if you do not believe it.

  4. jayambrose

    My record on predicting the economic crisis was about the same as 99 percent of the nation’s economists and media commentators.

    You are right that I was wong about there being WMD in Iraq, maybe because I listened to all the assurances of the people who said the weapons were there: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, etc. What I was right about was that Bush did not lie, unless, of course, all those other people just cited also lied.

    I never blamed the problems of cities on inner city blacks. That’s a ploy leftists use to make their opponents sound like racists. Shame.

  5. neondog

    Jay? Are you freakin serious?
    Controlling run-a-way Medicare expense?
    If you are you referring to the “socialized” program that supports senioir Americans during their gratest time of need, I believe Sarah Palin has already answered that question for you.

    Now that Sarah has some free time on her hands, she has delved deep into Obama’s health care reform bill and discovered that most of the Medicare savings would come from putting seniors to death.

    As stated on her Face Book page:
    “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

    Jay…you sure don’t play “smart-ass” very well…

  6. storky

    My record on predicting the economic crisis was about the same as 99 percent of the nation’s economists and media commentators.

    Why would you source stories to media commentators? Why would you not chose more authoritative sources like Nobel prize winning economists, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman.

    You are right that I was wong about there being WMD in Iraq, maybe because I listened to all the assurances of the people who said the weapons were there: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, etc. What I was right about was that Bush did not lie, unless, of course, all those other people just cited also lied.

    The Bush Administration bypassed normal intelligence channels, made poor assessments, while attributing the conclusions to other organizations. They fabricated evidence and lied about the source. Do you mean to imply that those who were intentionally mislead by liars are as guilty as the liars? By that premise, you are guilty as they are. However, journalists aren’t merely scribes, they are required to test the veracity of claims!
    Meanwhile, gullible media sources discounted and even ridiculed the accurate conclusions of authoritative sources like heads of UN weapon inspection teams, Scott Ritter and Hans Blix.

    You’ve just demonstrated clear cut examples of journalistic malpractice.

  7. gazelle1929

    Sarah Palin is apparently channeling Rep. Michele Bachmann, who said in a speech on the floor of the House that Rahm Emmanuel’s brother, identified by Rep. Bachmann as an advisor to the President on health care, has been quoted as saying that there needs to be some form of rationing of medical care.

    From this she concludes that the health care bill does indeed contain this dreaded “death panel.” Such a non sequitur is common fodder for the people on the right who are trying by hook or by crook to defeat this bill.

    Does this “death panel” exist in the legislation currently before the House? I certainly could not find it, but perhaps others might want to look for it.

    It is, at best, disingenuous to say that since an advisor has a certain attitude that that attitude must perforce be in the legislation. If. Rep. Bachmann had found that in the bill, she would have been waving it around for all the world to see and perhaps be horrified by. Since she didn’t do that and since I couldn’t find it, might that not mean that it does not exist and it’s simply more right wing smoke, mirrors, and bullshit?

  8. storky

    Keeping up with the news has become a full-time job for those who wish to be accurately informed. It disturbs us that we now have to fact check reporters from what had been trusted news sites.

    Yellow journalism is rampant these days, but there are no consequences for inaccurate or deceptive reporting at least not by the agencies that accept their stories. What ever happened to editorial prerogative? Do editors no longer read submissions before publishing?

    This leaves the reader with few options:
    1) Move on. Find another more trustworthy news source. Acknowledge the fact that the current site’s standards have diminished precipitously and its content is of limited value.
    2) Respond via comments, letters to the editor or complaints to the editorial staff or ombudsman. Hope that your messages reach the publisher and are acted upon.

    I am rapidly approaching the point where I no longer find value here. If the publisher doesn’t think my patronage is necessary to their business plan, then it will be a mutual parting of ways. If, however, the publisher finds my readership valuable and beneficial, then it’s time for the publisher to re-evaluate his team of contributors.

  9. woody188

    Jay, one of your best pieces ever. Wonder why we don’t see any of the Republican town hall meetings that have been disrupted. I’ve heard they are getting slammed too but I have been unable to find any proof of that. Maybe you could take up that with a follow up to this one, and cover the other big issues like cap-and-steal, fair versus free trade, and how about at least suspending H-1B VISA’s in the meantime?

  10. jayambrose

    I have no idea what this guy means? Does anyone here? Does anyone want to try to explain this wacko stuff?

  11. gazelle1929

    If it were explicable it would (perhaps) not be wacko. He’s apparently bought into the bullshit that we are going to send all our old people walking onto the ice floes to feed the polar bears that are facing extinction because they can’t hunt seals.

  12. jayambrose

    I think Palin’s “death panel” comment was stupid, but if you don’t think Obama wants a Medicare panel to control costs, you are ignorant of front page news, as most posters on this board seem to be. For a good, objective account of it, Google “Broder” and “Medicare panel.”

    If you do not believe in Medicare’s runaway expenses,you should not say another single word about health care until you have spent time acquainting yourself with America. Medicare has accounulated unfunded liabilites of almost $40 trillion. Do you know what an unfunded liability is? I thought not.