So I watched the seven hour long, televised Health Care Summit yesterday. I actually thought it was fairly interesting. Although I agree with Republicans(duh, I am one) there, I thought the Dems did a better job at framing their vision and scoring political points.
The health care bill is vastly unpopular, despite the fact that most Americans want reform and really like some elements in the bills being discussed. Democrat voters generally highly favor the bill and are deeply irritated at Democrats in office unable to use their majority to make it happen. So the Dems needed to accomplish a few things at this summit. They needed to paint Republicans as obstructionists while building a case for why their bill was needed.
Republicans, on the other hand, needed to portray themselves as defenders of the people's will in fighting against an unpopular bill, while suggesting a different approach that will bring down costs and not raise taxes.
Again, I think the Dems did a better job. I still don't agree with them, but they were really well prepared and the Republicans just didn't shine. I'll give you an example. The philosophical differences between the two approaches are massive. Obama's plan raises taxes, forces people to buy insurance or they go to jail, and makes no clear promises to keep rates from increasing. Not to mention, the Government Option, which might lower consumer costs, could be massively expensive if manages by the inefficiencies of government.
Republicans don't want to force people to buy anything. They aren't raising taxes. And would clearly cause rates to go down. The catch; The Republican plan isn't going to do much to provide insurance for more people, other than to bring down costs. And because of this, Dems reject it. I could argue that the bad economy is the cause for why many Americans *choose* not to have health care. right now they're choosing stuff like food and car payments over insurance. But fix the economy and many of them will get coverage again.
Now, with such huge differences, you might find it weird that the Dems kept saying how close both sides were to agreeing. This is a ploy. It's a "We've made so many compromises to Republicans. We're just an inch apart. All they have to do is budge just a little bit, and pure magic will fall from the skies and everyone gets free ice cream and ponies," gimmick, and Republicans just didn't stand against that tactic. They just let the Dems get away with doing it over and over.
Obama even slipped in a comment that hinted at, "I guess you Republicans just don't care about all the people that die each year because they can't get coverage." Again, I was pretty disappointed the Dems would just wail on Republicans like that, and Reps wouldn't stand up for themselves. If I was there, I'd point out that it's true Americans might like certain elements of the Dem's plan and would like to see everyone get coverage. Then they are presented with how much it's all going to cost, then they're not in favor. After all, a major contributing factor to people not having insurance is because they can't afford it--not because it's too expensive, but because the economy has left less money in people's pockets, and has forced insurance companies to raise premiums to account for less costumers. The *last* thing Obama should be doing is passing a health care bill that hurts the economy. Let's not forget too, the benefits on the Dem's plan don't kick in for a few years, though the taxes start immediately.
Obama made one really good point against the Republican's plans, one they didn't have a counter for. If insurance companies are allowed to sell across state lines, they will relocate to the state that has the least restrictions on them, and they be able to get away with more things. Of course, nothing is stopping them from doing this now--a point no Republican challenged him on.
But in all, I would have rather Obama been more objective as a moderator. Of course, then he ran the risk of looking weak. He's already suffered politically with the belief that he let Congress do all the heavy lifting, crafting the bill in the first place, so to let his colleagues make his arguments for him, might have made him look bad. Obama needs to make his base happy. Republicans and Conservatives aren't going to like him no matter what he does. That, I think, is unfortunate. Not that I think Obama should be liked(in terms of his politics). But it's a sad reality that no president will ever be able to unite the country. We will always be polarized.
I've been thinking a lot lately of what the US would be like if you did split the country in half. Let's say we make all the left wingers move to the left half and the right, to the right. That means I have to move from California to somewhere else. Now, let's say that people don't have to stay on their side after the move, but that if people do move, they can't run for elections--thus, the leadership on each side remains.
Several things would change. Though some things, like Social Security, that might not have come about by Conservatives without Liberals creating it, will probably persist in Conservative Land. But I would bet that rulings like Roe v Wade will be over turned. In Conservative Land, Creationism will be allowed to be taught in some schools--something I would be pretty unhappy about, but that's for another rant. The big war would be between Progressive Republicans and Conservatives, but without Dems to support them, the Progressives would fail to win elections. Welcome Citizen McCain--politician no more. Conservative Land would have low taxes. Public schools would be phased out for charter schools and private run schools. Parents would get vouchers, thus forcing schools to compete for federal money. Competition would drive up efficiency. The poor would get poorer because they would get left behind without government hand outs. The rich would get richer because they'd have less taxes and restrictions. The middle class still make up most the voters, so politicians would have to be able to keep them happy, so government benefits wouldn't go away for them.
Meanwhile in Liberal Land, the country moves towards Socialized Medicine. Everyone is covered. Welfare is expanded. The poor and hungry are taken care of. Taxes sky rocket, especially for the rich, and executive salaries are capped. (sounds crazy, but Obama has been pushing for that--if you don't know that, you're not paying attention to the news.) Banks are already partially owned by the Government--that increases. GM Autos isn't the only large manufacturing company that gets bought out by the government when it fails. The Gov buys out more companies as they fail. Liberal Land has now passed every single definition of the word "Socialism"--something the US is already close to now.
Ok, what's inevitable? Well, the rich people in Liberal Land look at how awesome life is like for rich people in Conservative Land so they move there. Poor people in Conservative Land are jealous of how well poor people in Liberal Land have it, so they move. Now you have the rich and educated moving to Conservative Land, and the poor moving to Liberal Land.
Liberals, using rich tax payers as ATMs, are having a harder time doing that. This is compounded by the huge migration of the poor and uneducated that need more benefits. The economy is booming in Conservative Land, but Liberal Land is a different story. They are forced to do one of the things that every Liberal, big government has had to do through history. Russia built a wall to keep people in and committed genocide against the poor. Nazi Germany committed genocide. Communist China committed genocide at first, and slowly moved to Capitalism / Conservativism. Socialist South American countries commit genocide and wallow in poverty anyways. You get the picture.
Pure Capitalist countries haven't always fared well either. Someone might ask why Conservative Land doesn't fall back to Feudalism. We've seen many cases of countries with massive divides between rich and poor due to Conservative. This is true, but all of those situations lacked democracy. Democracy is the key.
In either case, we can see that my hypothesis isn't so far off. I live in California which is swimming in Liberalism. Despite having massive advantages over other states in terms of resources--farmland, ample port access, and huge population of skilled workers, we lag behind many other states. Oppressive taxes force businesses to often look elsewhere. Obsessions with making teachers unions happy and promising teachers job security without any incentive to be good at teaching or anything, coupled with massive salaries to super intendants and other school executives, which as far as I can see, don't actually do anything, makes California's school system one of the most expensive per student of any system in the world, and yet is dead last in terms of results among industrialized nations. Y'all know that? We're dead last. Most expensive. Worst results. Now you can see why Liberals piss me off so much.
Remember that special election Gov Schwarzenegger held to try and cut out all the crap we waste our money on? All the unions that get rich off tax payers blanketed the air with negative campaign adds and all the stuff that would have fixed the mess we're in got defeated. So now we're stuck with one of the worst economies California has ever seen. We're in a lot worse shape than the rest of the country.
Well, if I really had my way, we'd ship all the Liberals off to Europe where they can have all the socialism they want. The US is the country we are now because of Conservatism.