Opposition Rhetoric Skewed
Poor John Boehner! So bitterly you wept as you bemoaned the Democrats ramming health care through Congress, and so pitifully you sob that they’ve violated the will of the American people! But you see, John, I have an attention span, so I remember the past eight years, when both Congress and the entire Bush administration were doing both of those every minute, and you were loving it! Typical Republican hypocrisy…
J. Andrew Smith
Critics called it “a cruel hoax and a delusion,” a socialist program that would compete with private insurers and kill jobs. If it passed, Americans would feel “the lash of the dictator,” and “end the progress of a great country.” One New York Republican Representative said, “Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought here so insidiously designed as to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers.” We were told that to cooperate with it would be “complicity in evil.”
Am I describing the outcry against Obamacare? No. Those quotes are from prominent Republican opponents of Social Security in 1935, and Medicare in 1965. Same party as today, though. Same fear-mongering, same predictions that the sky would fall if America extends a hand to its most needy. And now today’s Republicans must slouch back to their districts and expain why a bill that prevents insurers from refusing to cover you, or canceling you if you get sick, is somehow the work of the devil. They’ll find a way.
The Candidate Speaks
My thanks to the Valley Advocate and Matt Dube for bringing attention to my run for Congress [“Move Over, Olver,” March 25, 2010]. That said, I’d like to offer two corrections: I’m on Medicare, not Medicaid, and I do plan to conduct an active radio advertising campaign this fall.
Grim Today Without Tomorrow
I am aware of the grim prospects for print media in the years ahead. Advocate editors may be preoccupied and unsure where to take the paper next, and therefore have grown inattentive to the preferences of longtime readers. Otherwise, I am not sure how to account for the replacement of a trenchant, heroic comic such as Tom Tomorrow with the mildly baffling Mild Abandon.
Even so, I take it as a thumb in the eye when you print not just one but two Mild Abandon “gags,” especially the NASCAR joke, immediately beneath letters complaining about Tom Tomorrow’s departure from your pages. Maybe that’s your idea of humor, to taunt your disappointed readers? Or the juxtaposition may have been unintentional. Either way, I hope you know what you are doing.
We Can’t Afford It, But It Has to Be Done
When my daughter announced that she’d received a small scholarship for the college of her choice, and that I’d pay for the remainder, I had two simultaneous thoughts: I can’t afford it, and it has to be done.
Decades ago, when America began providing guaranteed income and medical care for the elderly, we faced the same dilemma: we can’t afford it, and it has to be done. At the time, Republicans dutifully warned of the cost, pointing out that entitlement programs for the elderly would grow out of control.
They were right. Costs for Medicare and Social Security spiraled, probably more from the sheer fact that our population is aging than mismanagement, but is that the whole story? Not really. The real story is that America did the right thing.
We took proper care of the men and women who made sure the world wasn’t ruled by Nazis, who built our highways and schools and factories, who gave us TV and movies and modern medicine. The cost for such humanitarian extravagance was—and indeed continues to be—breathtaking, but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We’re a civilized nation, and we don’t let our seniors spend their final years in Dickensian squalor.
But there’s more. America has just decided that we won’t let citizens hit by catastrophic illness wither away out of sight. We won’t tolerate bread lines and homeless shelters for people who need appendix surgery when they find themselves in between jobs. We decided that such indifference is not American, and for such a decision, we should be right proud of ourselves.
So can we afford to offer such a benefit to our citizens? Perhaps not. Is Obama fibbing when he says all this can be done fairly cheaply? Almost certainly he is. We can hope that having a healthier working force will lead to increased worker productivity, which in turn will decrease budget deficits.
And, yes, America enjoyed a Clinton-era budget surplus after the dark, recession-ridden years of Bush, Sr., but there’s no guarantee we’ll see that again. Honestly, my guess is that we younger people will get 70 cents for every dollar we put into these dubious national kitties, and probably less. Of course I’m not pleased, but I don’t want to live in a country that lets its citizens just go off in a corner and die. So with apologies to Guns ‘n’ Roses, this is not “the Jungle,” it’s America, and I’d prefer to remain proud of it, even if it means less money in my pocket.