Health care reform is the hottest new fashion on Capitol Hill, and there's no better reason why it should be one of the very first posts on Political Atheist. Before this post gets into the details of the debate, an overview of the United States' current political climate is necessary. Who the major players are, what they want, and why they want it that way, are important as the health care debate itself.
And the People Merely Players...
The Senate, House, and Presidency are all controlled by Democrats. The Republicans are obviously the minority party, but they have resorted to some ridiculous tactics to try and regain control of the government. Fox News has recently been called out as "a wing of the Rebublican Party" by the White House of all places. Which, to no suprise, has garnered ratings boosts and free press for the cable news network. Sean Hannity now calls his show, Hannity's America, "not White House approved." Glenn Beck, recently challenging Rush Limbaugh as the craziest right wing-nut, is telling people that the government purchased GM so it could listen to your conversations through GM's OnStar systems.
Now this would all be fine and perfectly acceptable ratings grabs, until you see the actual elected Republicans resorting to these antics. Just in case you've been living under a rock since Barak Obama has taken office, here is a short run down Republicintoxication. Our country has seen Republicans in Congress ask if Obama was born in Kenya, going as far as to create a bill that would require all Presidents to have their birth certificates verified. A Republican, Joe Wilson from South Carolina, has heckled the President of the United States at a joint session of Congress. Numerous Republicans have said that the Democrats' bill has "death panels," including their Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. Republicans have held town hall meetings in which they have cheered on their constituants calling Obama Hitler for his plan to extend health care to more Americans; if you can wrap that around your head. And I'm only fitting in the few absurdities I can in a post. In the end, the Republicans are practically bought and put into office by the health insurance companies. They are not coming up with any plans, options, or choices other than to say no to everything.
The Democrats haven't been all sunshine and roses either. They literally have the power to push through any legislation they want, and yet their leadership is too busy trying to please everyone; or so it seems. The majority of the Democrats, around thirty in the Senate and much more in the House, are solidly behind a very robust, almost universal, health care bill. However, there a few Democrats, neatly called "Conserva-Dems," that hold tremendous power in the outcome of the debate. Senator Max Bacchus is one; head of the Senate Finance Commitee, he had the best chance of putting in a robust public option or making the insurance companies accountable for who they insure. However, he pretended to push for bi-partisanship and basically stripped the bill of its guts in order to get one Republican vote; Senator Olympia Snow. That vote, which was cast to vote the bill out of committee, was totally unnecessary as the bill passed 14-9. Senator Bacchus literally played on the side of big insurance and called it bipartisanship. Obama hasn't called him out, instead, he put Bacchus in charge of drafting the entire bill in the first place during the August recess. Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate, has the ability to apply major pressure on other Dems to vote in favor of a strong public option (government option, Medicare Part E, etc) in the bill, and has yet to do that. This has sparked political ads in his home state of Nevada questioning his leadership ability and demanding he support a public plan.
What Atheism has to Say...
The health care debate is a clear no brainer. Every American gets one chance at life, and it should be a basic right to not have to suffer through treatable diseases or go bankrupt trying to stay healthy. The US is the only modern country without universal health coverage for its citizens. A recent TV ad is claiming that 94% of US markets are non-competitive. This week the US Congress finally got around to getting rid of the health insurance sector's Anti-Trust Exemption, something only the MLB shares. The question that still remains is whether or not the Democrats will actually do what they said they would do, and whether or not it will work.
Political Atheism is very strict on this debate; health care should be a basic right of every American citizen, and not a gigantic profit-off-suffering cartel it is currently. The US, its citizens to be exact, are constantly claiming our country to be the best in the world. But in health care we rank 39th. Even lower in infant mortality. These are appalling statistics and the battle is being waged between ideals and dollars, but it appears that more people are choosing to be on the right side of history rather than the full side of their wallets. The debate is still months from over, but it appears the United States will receive some form of reform, even if it takes ten years.
Thanks again for reading, and there will be plenty more about this topic in the coming weeks. Next post, however, will discuss a breif overview of the United States' educational system, which thankfully is not as messed up as our health care system, but not by much.
The Political Atheist