Who will own lack of a (good) national health plan? Part One
If Americans are again left without any comprehensive national health plan* at all (or an imploding one), Republicans say Democrats will own that. However, Democrats say the opposite. ("I'm rubber; you're glue.") Essay spoiler alert: "There's plenty of blame to go around." For just one thing, no comprehensive national health plan at all was operational until very recently, an oddity among industrialized nations.
That America had been trying to pass a health plan since Teddy Roosevelt is false. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt once noted the need for a national health plan,* then, AFAIK, proceeded to do nothing about it. Republicans since TR also did nothing about it, until they feinted at repealing the one national health plan America did finally get.
Although there were, and still are, veterans' hospitals, followed by a patchwork of health care bills, AFAIK, no administration did much of anything about a comprehensive plan until Democratic President Johnson and a Democratic Congress created Medicare and Medicaid. Of course, then, the nation apparently still seemed to give a crap about the poor (remember them?) and about the seniors, disabled and "widows and orphans" covered by Social Security insurance. Then, America still seemed to have something of a collective heart and conscience (or perhaps just more of a concern for its image, "at home and abroad"?).
Since then, we've surrendered in the War on Poverty and the poor apparently are no longer with us, Jesus's prophesy to the contrary notwithstanding. Inasmuch as the rich can fend for themselves, politicians now mention only the middle class. No mention = poverty problem solved; welfare no longer needed. ("These are not the
droids poor Even in the face of the AIDS epidemic,
Democratic Senator--and liberal icon--Ted Kennedy admitted to successfully blocking passage by a Democratic Congress of Republican President Nixon's national health plan for purely partisan reasons. After Kennedy's death,Democrat Jimmy Carter said Kennedy had stopped his (Carter's) plan for purely selfish reasons. In fairness, Kennedy did get all kinds of other health care legislation passed, but, geez, Louise, forty years!
Then, not Kennedy nor Carter, but Ronald Reagan, former New Deal Democrat turned Joe McCarthy Republican, became President of the United States by a landslide. Reagan thought government's helping its own citizens with their own tax dollars was our worst national nightmare. Even in the face of an AIDS epidemic, Hillary's memory notwithstanding, Reagan did nothing about a health plan. (Why expect more from the guy who, as President Elect, negotiated with Iranians to delay releasing hostages until his inauguration?)
Not long after Reagan's re-election, also by a landslide, the Democratic Leadership Council formed with funding by a number of corporations, including Merck, and with the Koch lads on its Executive Council. As DLCers Al From, the Clintons, Lieberman, Gore and others converted Democrats to the
Kochv DLC philosophy, Democrats became almost as openly contemptuous of government social programs as Republicans. The DLC insinuated that the programs were no longer needed, ostensibly a more compassionate rationale than blithering about Communist Democrats. Further, the nation became more and more bitterly divided. So, passing health care legislation (or anything decent) became more and more difficult.
(Part Two tomorrow.)
*I used the term "national health plan," rather than "national health care plan" because, IMO, the most salient feature of all the above-referenced national plans has not been health care, but health insurance and who pays for it. In fact, many saw Obamacare as, in effect, a bail out of the already wealthy health insurance industry. However, I did not use the term "national health insurance plan" because it is not a national health insurance plan, but a plan to coerce everyone into buying private health insurance, and also because various plans have included health care provisions as well as insurance provisions.