Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Framing the Debate on Healthcare Reform

I honestly think that getting an accurate picture of important events from the MSM is as futile as trying to tell time with a clock having only a second hand. But despite the low-brow nature of America's media, I think I've got a handle on the fundamental issues driving the Health Care debate.

I'm one of those people who think "top down" and very "left-brain" by training. It's what I do to get my job done. 2+2 = 4 every time. Not 3.5 or blue, but 4. It is a liability sometimes as I cannot engage in a "The View"-like discussion. I just shut up when confronted by noisy people who drift off on tangents either because they're flat stupid, or they lack the foundation for the discussion. So you won't catch me watching "The View" unless I'm in the mood for poking fun at really dumb discussions.

But most of the discussion on Health care reform has been conducted "The View" style. Very little analysis and/or critical thinking has been done by the MSM reporting on Congressional progress. Does the average American feel they have a grasp of the issues driving the President's health care reform? I think not. At least not the handful of people I've spoken with. Why? Because (a) The President has done a horrible job of communicating beyond vague generaltities - at some point he really needs to get past this "hopey changey" thing. (b) Congress is all over the map with thoughts on a plan. And (c) the MSM is still trying to deliver sound-bites and partisan cheer leading instead of in-depth reporting.

Ok, so here's my thoughts. They're really quite simple - so simple that if I'm wrong, well then I'm really wrong.

The debate is framed by two extreme ideological positions. I will use left and right deliberately, as I think they're accurate labels. Although I talk about them as though they are polar opposites, they aren't that far apart.

On the Left are those who believe that it is morally wrong that every Man, Woman and Child in the United States lacks access to free (or at least very affordable) health care. This group believes in "cover everyone first, costs be dammed". Some in this camp believe health care is a right.

On the right are those who believe that the cost of health care is out of control. They believe that if costs were in line with other expenses, (dozen eggs, gallon of gas, etc.), access to quality medical care would be within reach of every productive member of society. So this crowd believes "get the costs under control and access to medical care won't be an issue".

President Obama is on the Left. And the Congressional majority is charged with advancing the President's plan. If I'm correct, then you can see how there is great tension between the Left and the Right. President Obama is pushing maximum coverage with no plan for cost control, short of denying coverage (Sara Palin's "death panels" - the logical extreme). The Right has no clear champion and appears to be simply deconstructing the President's plan without offering a coherent alternative.

So there you have it, my view of the debate from the 100,000 foot level.

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