Viewpoint: Catholic Worker comments on Obama health reforms

Tom Cornell

Tom Cornell

Had the President’s health care insurance reform gone down, Obama would be a lame duck, as we say, his authority in shreds, a one-term president, and the right-wing Republicans could look to resurgence.  They failed.  Their campaign of blatant lies “government take-over of health care” and “death panels,” tore the mask off the face of American racism, yahoo-ism and fundamentalist religious lunacy.  As the vote drew near, ugly attacks, not just verbal, were leveled against black members of Congress.

Had their campaign succeeded, I would not have grieved.  Maybe things have to get worse before they can get better.  Obama has pulled back from his pledge to end the war in Iraq.  He has intensified the war in Afghanistan extending it into Pakistan.  He has not rolled back the Bush roll-back of civil liberties.  Obama now claims the right to kill without due process anyone anywhere in the world if he declares that person an “enemy

The President did not go to the wire for the “public option,” that is a government administered insurance plan that people might choose for themselves and their families in preference to private insurance.  The Obama plan is a hand-out to the private insurance and the pharmaceutical industries.  Since almost all citizens will be required to have health insurance, the pool will expand significantly, and so the private insurance  ompanies’ profits.  The “almost all” is not clear.  We still don’t know how many people will be left out in the cold.

The easier way for the President would have been to expand Medicare to all. Everyone likes Medicare just as they like Social Security old age pensions. Enemies made the same arguments against Social Security in the 1930’s and Medicare in the 1960’s as they made against health care insurance reform.  They’ll get over it, but will we?

The best hope is that, as flawed as this legislation is, it paves the way to further reform.  The worst fear is the decline of the imperium will be accompanied by too little bread and too much circus.

Tom Cornell, who is based in Marlboro, NY,  has been a lifelong member of Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker movementHe was a co-founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship and Pax Christi USA.

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