Wading Through The Propaganda
In last week’s “Commentary on Things Present,” Pete Stubben grossly mischaracterizes the financial overhaul, health-care reform, and the choice that voters will be confronted with in November’s mid-term elections. Mr. Stubben uses his column to make sweeping statements about the Obama Administration’s legislative achievements, but offers nothing more than anecdotal evidence to support his assertions.
He begins by attempting to link new fees on his checking account to financial regulations that are designed to prevent a recurrence of this recession. But he provides no proof that one led to the other, so while there is a correlation between the two events, there is no causation. What financial regulation will certainly do is protect Americans from the same Wall Street behavior that caused the current crisis. The Volcker rule will ban proprietary trading, while derivatives – risky, complicated bets – will have to be traded on an open and regulated exchange. Banks that threaten the overall health of the economy will be dismantled in a way that minimizes damage to the financial system. And yes, the bill will establish a consumer protection agency, housed within the Federal Reserve, which will look out for the interests of average Americans. If Mr. Stubben and his Republican cohorts actually want to insulate our citizens from the catastrophic effects of financial meltdown, they should strongly endorse this legislation. However, they are not really looking out for you and me, they’re watching out for their financier friends and donors.
Similarly, when it comes to healthcare reform, reason trumps rhetoric. America is at the cutting edge of medical technology and pharmaceuticals, yet many of the miracles of modern medicine don’t reach the average patient, because in the United States, the quality of treatment often reflects the patient’s ability to pay. Mr. Stubben writes derisively of “Brit and Canadian” health-care and their inferiority to the American system. But Britain and Canada best the US in most indicators pertaining to health. United Nations’ statistics show we have an average life expectancy of 78.2 years, while the British beat us by a year at 79.4, and people north of the border live to the ripe old age of 80.7. Obesity levels in both nations are far lower than the statistic for our country. We also have a shamefully high infant morality rate; 6.26 in every 1,000 births, as compared to the United Kingdom’s 4.85 births per 1,000 and Canada’s 5.04 births for every 1,000, according to the CIA World Factbook. And for these better results British and Canadians – who both have socialized medicine – pay far less than Americans do.
Mr. Stubben’s psycho talk is just that – psychotic, scary, and unfounded. The US government has for ages mandated that people purchase services like car insurance and Social Security from the feds or designated providers. This mandate has been upheld
Letters by the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, on multiple occasions, as allowed under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. The highlyrespected Congressional Budget Office does estimate that health-care reform will cost $938 billion over ten years, but what Mr. Stubben fails to mention is that the plan is also projected to save more than $100 billion over that same period of time. Additionally, I find it laughable that Mr. Stubben despairs over cost-saving measures designed to keep Medicare solvent, while the right’s new darling, Paul Ryan, devises a scheme to effectively gut that program. His claims that heath-care reform will create a massive, inefficient, and corrupt bureaucracy are off-base. In the UK, the National Health Service — an organization that employs almost 1.5 million workers — has not yet succumbed to bureaucratic paralysis.
Health-care reform in the United States, a herculean, century-long struggle started by a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, was finally passed this year. The CBO has projected that it will vastly expand access to quality, affordable care; insuring 30 million Americans by 2020. It will rein in the worst, most despicable practices of insurance companies and drive down the cost of care. It will finally complete what the late Senator Ted Kennedy called America’s “great, unfinished business”: a safety net that protects the disabled, downtrodden, diseased, and decrepit and guards against the vicissitudes of chance. It is a worthy accomplishment and one that our nation should take pride in.
Mr. Stubben is correct: advancements are reversible. If you want to turn back the clock, go to the polls and vote for the Tea Party and their vacuous, vapid agenda. However, if you seek a reinvigorated, rejuvenated America, I urge you to support the Democratic Party and help our country continue on the path of progressive change.