Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cadillac Health Plans and Splitting the Democratic Alliance

President Obama was elected because he manged to create an alliance of voters who might otherwise have strayed into the independent and Republican camps.  These are marginal voters who often swing elections and they are incredibly difficult to define before-the-fact (as during an election or as an event is unfolding) since they are swayed by fractional micro-issues of an  uncertain pattern or logic.  One example would be a very liberal person who is adamantly against any kind of abortion, or conversely a very conservative person who was for gay marriage.  Yet, those examples are more broad and predictable than what I am talking about. Obama won his election on the margins and inevitably those margins are too fragile to hold up under the stress of a volatile political environment with as much polarization as ours has. Complicating this issue is that the Republicans have utilized a scorched earth approach as to dealing with Obama with a profound inclination to disavow any legislation he proffers just because of it's pedigree. Now the Republicans are exploiting a fundamental weakness in Obama's support by working stealthily to alienate labor from the administration. It is an opportunistic work of genius worthy of that archdemon Karl Rove. The exquisitely  ironic part of the whole debacle is that President Obama is doing the heavy lifting.  The conservatives are just setting back reaping the benefits regardless of the outcome.  The damage will have been done.

One of the pillars of organized labor has been to secure for its members good, no great, health care benefits.  Labor has even given up wage increases and other benefits for better health care coverage.  Desperately seeking a middle way to help the health care reform initiative pass the remaining hurdles the idea of taxing Cadillac health care benefits (see the excellent explanatory article by Slate:  http://www.slate.com/id/2232434/) has gained significant purchase.  Time magazine has a pretty good article explaining the basics of that strategy as well as their disapproval of it:  http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1913147,00.html

Is it a good idea to initiate some kind of tax on the so called Cadillac health care plans?  I do not know.  I do know though that it creates some animosity between organized labor and the Obama administration.  Even if labor leadership decides to stand with Obama on this emotional issue will the fabled "rank and file" stand?  Isn't it strange and disconcerting how all issues are now emotional as if our whole society has the mentality of an immature adolescent? An emo?  I think I liked hip hop better because I can not stand whining.  Think about it, Rush Limbaugh is more emo than hip-hop.

Obama will probably get his health care reform. Unfortunately in our current system of spite and animosity there is the very real danger of it being a Golem with no soul. Keep in mind that in Hebrew golem has the literal meaning of a shapeless mass.

Health care reform has turned into a conflict between those that have (no matter how little they have), and those who have nothing.  Those who have even a little bit have been cleverly convinced that health care reform is the hellish vision of a Muslim president who is not even a citizen out to destroy us all with the contradictory swords of Islam and socialism.  So, relax, turn on Fox and make a list of how illegal aliens (code for anyone who is Hispanic, gay, or well,... just different than you the pure blooded American) is ruining this country.  In the end you get exactly the government you deserve despite the efforts of those who would like to salvage some decency out of the ignorant morass we have become.  If  you are lucky there may even be a tea party within driving distance this Sunday after church.

Here is the problem with health care:  It costs money.  Even bad health care costs a lot of money.  Providing health care at any level is exponentially more expensive than a can of beans and a bag of rice and arguably we are not doing such a great job of even feeding the hungry.  So it is no surprise we are not willing to pay for their visit to the doctor.  In the end, health care reform is really about sharing the cost and anything that does not promote rank selfishness, requiring us to help others, is called socialism.  It is sad to see that we are a country that is more committed to the principles of Ayn Rand than Judeo-Christian values.  When Cain killed Able he haughtily  asked God "am I my brothers keeper?"  In American we are increasingly answering that question with a resounding "NO."

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