Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Health Care Debate on "Meet the Press"

I decided to watch Meet the Press this morning because the panel of guests was quite intriguing. The full hour, save a tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the end, was devoted to discussing the issue of the health care with the following guests:

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX)
Host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow

The conversation ended up being pretty even-keel and brought up many of the same points that are often advanced in this debate. Host David Gregory tried to focus on the more "contentious" issues, like the anti-health care reform protests and the inclusion of a "public" option and there were some good exchanges between panel members which you will see in the video clip that I have posted below. One of the most important responses came from Rachel Maddow and is below (emphasis mine):

MR. GREGORY: Rachel, let me ask you this question. What will progressives, what will liberals, the president’s base accept as reform? Do the independent voters he’s courting out in Colorado and Montana need to be placated, a big part of his base, or not?

I, I, I mean, I don’t, I don’t think liberals monolithically feel one thing about this. I think most liberals would probably prefer a single payer system, honestly. But ultimately, if the president decides that he’s going to go with a reform effort that doesn’t include a public option, what he will have done is spent a ton of political capital, riled up an incredibly angry right wing base who’s been told that this is a plot to kill grandma, grandma, and he will have achieved something that doesn’t change health care very much and that doesn’t save us very much money and won’t do very much for the American people. It’s not a very good thing to spend a lot of political capital on.

I certainly agree that most liberals would like to see a single payer system and I also think that Maddow's point about political capital is spot on. Her point is especially poignant considering today's report that the Obama Administration is not considering the public option as vital to the passage of health care legislation. If Obama decides to compromise with Republicans and with the health care industry in order to simply pass a bill to claim a legislative victory, what he will actually accomplish is revitalizing the right-wing Republican base while advancing watered-down reforms that would not create the change that our health care system needs.

Also worthy of mentioning was a comment by Maddow in the Meet the Press: Take Two webcast that you can find here. Gregory asks Maddow the following:

GREGORY: Do liberals think he (Obama) has lived up to his promise?

MADDOW: I don't think liberals thought he had much liberal promise. I mean, I think that he was a very good candidate and I think that he did get a lot of liberal support but I don't think that liberals believed that he wasn't...that he was anything other than a centrist. He's a centrist Democrat, and so I think that liberals least liberals that I know, knew that coming into it.

GREGORY: No different than Bill Clinton?

MADDOW: Not really no, I wouldn't say that. I mean the way that he said he would be different than Bill Clinton were matters of style not substance.

Maddow went on to say that during the campaign, when Obama was campaigning against the Clintonian legacy in Washington, he talked about how to be more effective. This difference doesn't differentiate what he would like to see done however and this is an important distinction to make. This is what many have been saying this entire time, Obama is not some staunch liberal politician who is reigning in a new era of socialism. Obama is a centrist Democrat and this is what makes the protests and labeling of Obama as a socialist even more amazing.

Here is a clip from Meet the Press:

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