Monday, March 29, 2010

Healthcare, hyperbole and hypocrisy

Over the past week or so, we've been subjected to considerable sound and fury regarding Congress narrowly passing, and the President signing into law, the Affordable Care Act.

I have mixed feelings about health care reform. On one hand, I'm not particularly enamored with the health insurance industry as it currently operates and I think that prohibitions barring insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is generally a good thing. On the other hand, I'm not sure that this new legislation will address the biggest problem facing American health care - ever-spiralling costs - and I can understand the objection people might have to the concept of the individual mandate.

That being said, I am disgusted by all the politically-charged hypocrisy and hyperbole that has been slung around by both parties over this process.

Democrats cannot complain about the Republicans attempting to use the same tactics, such as the Senate filibuster, that they used to obstruct things like Social Security privatization that the Republicans attempted while they were in control. Republicans cannot complain about the Democrats using the same type of strong-armed tactics that they used to get Medicare Part D (which, according to most objective analyses, will have a more damaging impact on the national debt than the Affordable Care Act) passed when Bush was in office. Mitt Romney cannot make stupid comments about President Obama "betraying his oath" for pushing a bill that is very similar to the state health care reform law that was passed when he was Governor of Massachusetts. These hysterical "Tea Partiers" need to understand that our nation's debt problems did not magically begin when that dark-skinned guy with a foreign name took office on January 20, 2009. And don't even get me started on the inflammatory, hyperbolic rhetoric coming from either side: that opponents of health care reform are "insurance industry shills" who "want poor people to die" or that proponents of health care reform are "communists" who are going to "bankrupt America." (News flash: we were already there long before health care reform.)

The fact is, there are far too many people on both sides of the political divide who have based their opinions solely on what they've heard shouted by their favorite talk show hosts, bloggers or ├╝ber-partisan politicians. Our nation is drowning in a swamp of cynical, toxic, hyper-partisanism, and, regardless of whether health care form is a good idea or not, this polarized, mean-spirited political environment is not good for the United States.

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