I am a great admirer of Barack Obama, not because he is the first black American President or that he is also young and charismatic. I admire him for going about the business of fulfilling the promises he made to the American people “out-of the gate” when he got elected. It has not been easy. After inheriting the mess the GOP and George Bush created during their tenancy in power, he is handling both these inherited issues as well as the agenda he set forth during his election campaign.
I have to smile with a gut-wrenching disgust when I now hear the GOP declare it is “Obama’s war” and “Obama’s economy” and I have to recall the echoes from the 90’s when they also claimed that the boom under the Clinton years was totally a result of Reaganomics! The current wars and the economy have an 8-year history of total mismanagement and lies from the previous administration and we are about to see the plans Obama has enacted change everything for the better on both fronts. Of course, I can hear the opposition claiming the economic turnaround had nothing to do with Obama but will be a direct result of the policies that George Bush put in place! When will this GOP circus end?
There is one thing, however, where I believe Obama has made a big mistake and that is healthcare reform. The current bickering and uncertainty is a direct result of his initial strategy. What should have happened is his administration, in conference with the large democratic majority, should have prepared their own proposal for healthcare reform without the GOP and presented that to the American people before the debate. Despite all the so-called “bipartisan ideals” the GOP has not supported the bill even though it has been changed to try and get their votes. He should have declared the new plan “Medicare Part E” and shown the American people how an existing publicly run system could have been expanded to cover everybody in America with the insurance companies selling supplemental insurance to make their money. For those who cannot afford the $100/month Medicare cost a simple subsidy system could have been implemented.
The GOP would have had a problem proving the Medicare system doesn’t work as many millions either have it or someone in their family benefits from it. They keep claiming that Medicare is broke but that is because 95% of all major healthcare costs occur in the 65+ age group, a cost that the insurance industry never has to cover currently and a cost which is being born by the government anyway. By giving everyone the chance to join Medicare, the system would have had a chance to recover more of its overhead and reduce the overall average cost of insurance per person. Insurance companies would have the chance to make their fortunes selling supplemental insurance or complete coverage if they could offer a better deal or a better price. The only other reforms that would have been needed would be the way the healthcare system actually works, something the profession has been complaining about for years. Centralized patient information or even a patient’s record on a flash drive would eliminate the wasteful duplication that takes place.
Medicare Part “E”, which stands for “everyone” would have been the solution. The plan and the systems exist today and could have easily taken over new clients. Instead the President took the route of “bipartisan support”which he was never going to get and instead he just let the GOP manage the media and create enough doubt in the minds of the uninformed to put the whole process in jeopardy. And to finish this disastrous journey he has to listen and succumb to the demands of one flaky Senator (Joe Lieberman) who will single-handedly change the Senate Bill to something the President didn’t want in the first place. This has been the biggest strategic mistake Obama has made so far and let’s just hope it doesn’t cost him the political power he needs in the 2010 elections to finish the job he started.