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How Obama can shift the health-care debate

The ground of debate shifts when a prominent figure says that a contentious topic is a matter of morality, not politics. President Obama should remember that precept in these final days of the health-care debate.

The best recent example of the power of moral argument was Adm. Mike Mullen’s frank statement to Congress last month about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military: “No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

By treating the issue as a matter of conscience, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs altered the national conversation. Other prominent military figures found their voices, too: Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and the toughest military man you’d ever want to encounter, said the question of whether gays should be allowed to serve openly was a “non-issue” for him. Gen. David Petraeus, the Centcom commander, was more guarded, but he said he also supported Mullen’s review.

Obama needs to take a similar moral stand in the health-care debate. As he meets with wavering congressmen and makes a final push for a bill, he should stress that the reason to pass health-care reform isn’t because it will cut premiums, or reduce costs, or help middle-class workers, or any of the other politically expedient arguments that have been advanced. It’s because extending health care to all citizens is morally the right thing to do.

Here’s what I want Obama to say: A just society assures its citizens’ basic needs. It protects their “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” irrespective of the circumstances they were born into. Citizenship in a great country should not be a DNA lottery, or a case of survival of the richest. A nation has a moral obligation to care for its people, and if it fails to do so, it is a lesser country.

Obama’s performance at the health-care summit was impressive, but his attention to legislative details diminished the moral force of his argument. I liked it when he let himself express indignation, as when he challenged Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming about whether he would be as enthusiastic about having everyone pay medical expenses out-of-pocket if he made $40,000 a year, rather than a senator’s paycheck of $174,000.

“Everything there is to say about health care has been said, and just about everybody has said it,” was a laugh line in Obama’s big wrap-up speech on the topic on Wednesday. That’s certainly true about the instrumental aspects of the legislation. Obama’s speech was stuffed with such details -- and animated by his insistence that “we can’t just give up because the politics are hard.”

What’s still lacking is the visionary sense that Congress must act because health care for all is a matter of social justice -- and is required not by politics, but by our moral conscience. The transformational pieces of social legislation that were passed in the 20th century were accompanied by this sort of idealism: Franklin Roosevelt was beloved by ordinary folks because he conveyed that the New Deal was about caring for them; Lyndon Johnson, as a southerner, was emphatic in preaching the Great Society goal of racial justice.

Obama tries to hit these high notes, but as president he has lost some of the eloquence he had as a candidate. He told a story this week about a cancer-stricken Wisconsin woman named Laura Klitzka, who was overwhelmed by debt. It was the kind of personal saga that would have had listeners pulling out their hankies had it been told by Ronald Reagan, but in Obama’s version, it was one more argument for passing his bill.

The White House is about to try the ultimate legislative hardball, by using the reconciliation process to jam a health-care bill through a Senate where it has lost its bulletproof 60-vote majority. It’s an extreme step, and a risky one, because it will anger and frighten some voters.

The right way for Obama to argue this unyielding position is by saying that it is a moral issue -- a matter of right and wrong -- and thus not something on which he is prepared to compromise. That will be the Democrats’ best defense come November, when the public will have its say: Yes, health care reform will be complicated and perhaps also costly. But we passed a bill providing basic coverage for all Americans, because it was the right thing to do.

By David Ignatius  | March 5, 2010; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Comments

Ignatius says that the Obama health insurance legislation amounts to a moral issue, opposition on any ground presumably being immoral. But draining the treasury to pay for programs that can't be sustained and lead to fiscal crisis is also a moral issue. If that process is accellerated by this legislation is opposition still immoral?

Mr. Ignatius seems to thing best in the foreign policy arena.

Posted by: Roytex | March 5, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Ignatius basically says that liberal/leftist morals trump conservative morals.

No matter the cost to the economy, society, military cohesion or common sense the liberal agenda is to force everyone to be equal, an impossible objective.

Governments have tried and disastrously failed in attempts to force people into cookie-cutter sameness.

Posted by: spamsux1 | March 5, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

What else do you want Obama to say? Something like this: "All Americans have a right to free health care. Just because some of you are obese, smoke, drink, take illegal drugs, don't exercise and eat nothing but junk food, why should you be discriminated against? I say you have the same rights as the healthy and fit, and your insurance coverage and premiums should not differ by one single cent! And why should we discriminate against illegal aliens? Starting next week, my administration is proposing that your tax dollars go directly to other countries throughout the world who have a worse track record than our own when it comes to health care. If you are poor and live in Honduras, for example, why should you have to uproot and sneak across the border into the United States just to obtain decent health care? Why should that care be denied you just because you don't pay taxes? That is not just discrimination, but racial discrimination, and our administration will not stand for it!"

Posted by: coffeetime | March 5, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

A little late for Obama to claim the moral high ground. Too much water under the bridge.

Posted by: Hector6 | March 5, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius basically says that liberal/leftist morals trump conservative morals.

No matter the cost to the economy, society, military cohesion or common sense the liberal agenda is to force everyone to be equal, an impossible objective.

Governments have tried and disastrously failed in attempts to force people into cookie-cutter sameness.
------------------------------------------
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal....

Posted by: Emmetrope | March 5, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

If health care reform fails, I blame the dems. I voted for Obama in part for health care reform. I did not vote for a plan that would bankrupt the country with virtually no provision to cut the cost of health insurance and drugs. If the dems had not "gone for broke" and given unions and high cost insurance plans a pass on bearing some of the costs of insuring the uninsured the repubs would have had no choice but to go along with real reform. The plan passed "as is" will simply result in a large number of congressmen from both parties losing their seats this fall. Sometimes I suspect that congressmen have never raised a family and been faced with paying for what they consume. This is all smoke and mirrors.

Posted by: Fergie303 | March 5, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Here's a healthcare plan suggestion:
(1) Government buys everyone in the country a book on nutrition and a pair of sneakers.
(2) Everyone decides whether or not to use the nutrition book and sneakers.
(3) Everyone lives with the consequences of their decisions.

Posted by: jfv123 | March 5, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

A capitalist society assures its citizens that if they work hard they can achieve their loftiest goals - and no one will keep them from doing that. A capitalist society does not promise what you seem to think it promises, Mr. Ignatius, and that's socialist guarantees. Those are promised in other societies. I'm sorry you and those of your ilk don't understand that. I work as hard as I can, and I achieve as much as I can, and I expect to keep most of my money. If you and those of your ilk don't get this after over two hundred years, I'm sorry, but I'll be more than happy to wave goodbye to you as you sail off to Denmark!

Posted by: georges2 | March 5, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I must take exception to the first few posters: The religious fanatics and a wole bunch of Republicnas&Conservatives keep claiming they are the values voters; want to take America back; etc. All of which implies that if I do not share their opinions I don't believe in families; life; personal responsibility; etc.

And to THAT bunch, everything is a moral question.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | March 5, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

georges2 @ March 5, 2010 1:17 PM wrote "A capitalist society assures its citizens that if they work hard they can achieve their loftiest goals"

Not quite. A capitalistic society assumes that those with capital enjoy the full economic benefits of the society. Screw the rest.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | March 5, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

TO this day it amazes me that the CHRISTIAN right in this country - the same wing that DEMANDS the teaching CREATIONISM insists on pushing a healthcare agenda that will only PROVE DARWIN's theory of evolution.

Posted by: racerdoc | March 5, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Health Insurance is not equal to health care. Preventative care does not make you more healthy. Making empty promises is not moral.
Obamacare is not a moral imperative.

Posted by: bruce18 | March 5, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I wish commentators would stop saying that Obama needs the reconciliation process to pass this bill. He does not. All he needs is the House to approve the senate bill and send it to his desk to sign.

Posted by: mlang461 | March 5, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius is wrong. If this was a moral issue, Obama would have accepted McCain's idea of taxing employer paid health benefits to pay for the cost of providing healthcare for the uninsured. Morality also requires that the public is told (lectured) that there is no gain without pain. Public has not been told the actual costs. Is Mr. Ignatius telling the readers that it is moral to bribe Sen. Nelson and Sen. Landreiu at a cost to people living in other states? Does Mr. Ignatius assume that readers have no frame of reference when it comes to morality? What kind of morality is Mr. Ignatius talking about? It is certainly immoral to have a segment of the population without health insurance. However, bribing and trickery to fix such a problem makes it immoral and not moral.

Posted by: philly3 | March 5, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

passing a bill labeled as "reform" when it is the furthest thing from it, is not only immoral it is dishonest.

With excuses to Sarah Palin, packaging this gigantic giveaway to the health care and insurance industry as moral is the best example one could have of putting lipstick on a pig.

Morality should come to bear in any consideration of social legislation but to use it as an excuse/rationale for a bill which is on its merits morally bankrupt is the height of cynacism.

If this bill is passed and implemented five years from now our health care costs will not have been lowered one iota and insurance/health care conglomerate profits will still be sky high. Is that your definition of moral?

Posted by: bobfbell | March 5, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

passing a bill labeled as "reform" when it is the furthest thing from it, is not only immoral it is dishonest.

With excuses to Sarah Palin, packaging this gigantic giveaway to the health care and insurance industry as moral is the best example one could have of putting lipstick on a pig.

Morality should come to bear in any consideration of social legislation but to use it as an excuse/rationale for a bill which is on its merits morally bankrupt is the height of cynacism.

If this bill is passed and implemented five years from now our health care costs will not have been lowered one iota and insurance/health care conglomerate profits will still be sky high. Is that your definition of moral?

Posted by: bobfbell | March 5, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius - The healthcare legislation passed the Senate already with 60 votes. Get this right, people! The Dems are NOT going "to jam a health-care bill through [the] Senate." If the House passed the version of the Senate's bill that was PASSED with 60 votes, the reconciliation part would ONLY BE the "fixes." Please stop giving people false information about the reconciliation process and what the Democrats are trying to do. The Repubs are the ones who "jam" huge legislations through the Senate via reconciliation, i.s. Bush's tax cuts...

Posted by: Figaro1 | March 5, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"the liberal agenda is to force everyone to be equal"

Equal access, that should be. We are individually unequal when it comes to health needs, but we are civilized when we provide equal access to available resources. We did it with racial injustice (yes, we were forced to treat other equally in terms of the law regardless of skin color), with women's right to vote, etc. WIs the US really so poor and misguided as to not help those with health needs gain access to insurance and care? Are all other modern nations so much wealthier than we are? Have we fallen so far from our greatness to not see access to healthcare as a right? Have the conservatives so lost faith in the American dream that caring for each other's basic needs become unobtainable and reprehensible? Does our selfish greed trump our humanity?

The future will look back at this age and shake their heads at how so many of us have come to believe we are so little, helpless, and alone.

Posted by: josh13 | March 5, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

and here's the "moral" argument from the other side: yes, there are several elements of health care "reform" that have moral components. if only this bill was in any way an effective means to accomplish them without making so many other things so much worse. in other words, yes, we should do something to alleviate the plight of those without health coverage, but this fatally flawed bill is a disastrous way to go about it--not to mention the lies and duplicity it took to get this far.

euthanize this mistake and begin again, with something that can achieve support from more than one-quarter of the country.

Posted by: stvhorvath | March 5, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

It's very easy for posters to jump on here and determine that this healthcare bill amounts to socialism, and feel good about their claim. Let me remind ye' of the simple accusation that we are already paying for those without healthcare and the free-market that was supposed to solve the problem has instead cornered it and built a wall around it- Sometimes this happens, it's a fact.

Let me also remind you that all policies enacted in some way choose societal winners and losers, and that part of the reason America is so unique and is the kind of place where you can make and keep a great deal of money is the balance of free-market and safety net.

I for one believe that this bill is imperfect and that it will receive much needed modification in the coming years. I also think that ignoring the problem and again hoping that the "winners" will somehow help the "losers" is a theory that in this case has lost it's merit.

Last point... it's amazing how disgusted people have become with the policy making process behind a bill intended to save lives... were you as disgusted with the process behind momentous decisions taken to destroy lives, or were those OK because they felt "tough"?

I don't guarantee anyone that I'm going to be right, but I do try to be consistent and cognizant when circumstances cause me to question my beliefs. Do the same.

Posted by: Rickster623 | March 5, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

How many of you anti-healthcare people out there consider yourselves to be good Christians? Ask yourselves WWJD? I think he might say "Remember my commandment; love thy neighbor as thyself." Surely this includes providing all Americans with basic health care. If not, please quote me the scripture that says only those who can afford healthcare insurance will be saved. Or should the poor or unemployed just rely on prayer?

Posted by: misterflea | March 5, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse


Ignatius basically says that liberal/leftist morals trump conservative morals.

No matter the cost to the economy, society, military cohesion or common sense the liberal agenda is to force everyone to be equal, an impossible objective.

Governments have tried and disastrously failed in attempts to force people into cookie-cutter sameness.
------------------------------------------
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal....
-------------------------------------------
Emmetrope, let's continue the rest of the quote:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

That means everyone is free to try their best, not that they are entitled to demand a portion of those more successful than themselves.

Posted by: spamsux1 | March 5, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

To jfv123:

See how well your plan works when 1) your vegetarian athlete teenager goes to the doctor and is diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1), or 2) a hotdogging snowboarder wipes you out when you're skiing so that you have to be medi-vaced to a trauma center and they find your knee is completely blown, or 3) you go out to walk down to the store across the street and you get hit by a drunk driver. All the nutrition books and sneakers in the world won't be much help.

Posted by: freckleface412 | March 5, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"Here's a healthcare plan suggestion:
(1) Government buys everyone in the country a book on nutrition and a pair of sneakers.
(2) Everyone decides whether or not to use the nutrition book and sneakers.
(3) Everyone lives with the consequences of their decisions."

Let's add
(4) Every company must give workers a paid 2 hour leave each day so that they can shope and cook per the nutrition book and exercise with the sneakers.

When people work 10 hour days and spend 2 hours commuting there is no time for nutrition or exercise.


Posted by: mmad2 | March 5, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

A clergyman friend recently asked me why he should back the healthcare reform effort since in effect, given his coverage, it didn't appear that he has a dog in this fight.

At the moment I could think of no better answer than that it is the right thing to do. Thanks for this more thoughtful vetting of the moral issue.

Posted by: FirstMouse1 | March 5, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that an equally moral argument can be made AGAINST health care reform, as it does not realistically deal with our ever-growing deficits and debt...debt that is sandbagging the futures of our children and grandchildren. Anyone who believes that a new entitlement program is going to reduce deficits and debt hasn't been paying attention to the growing problems with Medicare and Social Security - two other "morally right" programs that will soon bankrupt this country.

Weighing the two as moral conflicts, I'd give greater weight to the entitlement monstrosity we've already created and indebted our children to, and try and give them some real hope for the future.

We're damaging more lives by allowing debt to accrue any further. THAT should be our moral imperative - to end it.

Posted by: boosterprez | March 5, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with the statement that the HC reform is a moral issue. The problem I have is the terrible and numerous contrasts between the specifics which are "moral" to one group but "immoral" to another and in some cases the specific can be applied and reversed. The perfect examples are abortion and tort reform. To some each of those is morally imperative to have just as each of those to others is morally imperative to prevent. Just who will police these "moral issues"? Guess who? The same gang of politicians that would have financed this "reform" with special deals and paybacks to their constituents. I am not ready for that type of morality

Posted by: fcrucian | March 5, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with the statement that the HC reform is a moral issue. The problem I have is the terrible and numerous contrasts between the specifics which are "moral" to one group but "immoral" to another and in some cases the specific can be applied and reversed. The perfect examples are abortion and tort reform. To some each of those is morally imperative to have just as each of those to others is morally imperative to prevent. Just who will police these "moral issues"? Guess who? The same gang of politicians that would have financed this "reform" with special deals and paybacks to their constituents. I am not ready for that type of morality

Posted by: fcrucian | March 5, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

A moral issue, Mr. Ignatius? That is the crux of your argument? That a country must protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all it's citizens, and so this somehow equates to providing health care? Fine. Then clearly housing must be next. Then a job. Then food. Surely all these too must rise to the same moral equivalency of health care. Surely, if health care is a prerequisite for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then having a home, a job, and three square meals a day must rise to the same urgency, if not more urgency, then health care.

But where is this outcry, Mr. Ignatius? Where is your indignation that people all over this country do not have a home tonight... or a job... or enough food to eat? Health care is no more a moral right than any of these other "rights." If we have one, we MUST have all, or else the argument collapses under its own absurdity. And if we mandate all, well then there is a word for that, and you should know it well Mr. Ignatius. But we can't mention this word. Because calling something socialistic is a bridge too far. So I'll call it by its proper euphemism-- European. Very, very European.

Posted by: omgut | March 5, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Reasons for passing health care reform? It is shameful that our infantile mortality rate is worse than about 40 other countries - depending on whose numbers you use. Let's give every newborn a pair of sneakers and some good advice on personal responsibility.

Is it a bit ironic that the very same people who argue so pasionately for the rights of the unborn, are so indifferent to the "right to life" of the born?

Oh wait, demanding that all babies be carried to term doesn't cost the public anything. Health care for born babies does. In other words, all that morality is really about money.

Posted by: pgr31 | March 5, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

What a relief! We now may now dismiss all 535 members of the congress together with their bloated staffs and simply ask David Ignatius, "David, what is the right thing to do?". Even the prolific formulator of nonsense, E. J. Dionne, has not in my memory come up with anything as idiotic as this.

Posted by: JamesCurrin | March 5, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

What is the "moral" decision about health care that most every civilized nation has made? That we aren't even considering? Yeah.

Posted by: rusty3 | March 5, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Is Stupak "Pro-Life" or just "Anti-Abortion"? If he is "Pro-Life", then he will vote for this health care bill as it will prevent the deaths of thousands of Americans who are currently alive and already born who otherwise will die this year from lack of health insurance. And he will vote for the bill to provide prenatal care to pregnant women as well as pediatric care for their newborns. The lack of medical insurance is a major cause of premature births and the very high infant death rate in the United States.

On the other hand, if he is just "Anti-Abortion" then he will continue to block health insurance reform and insist that no woman can buy insurance that covers abortions even with her own money. The Senate Bill prohibits government payment for abortions but allows a woman to buy a separate policy with her own money that would include abortion coverage. Not anti-abortion enough for Stupak.

The MAIN reason that women choose abortions is because they are too poor to support a child. The choice between a $500.00 abortion and a $10,000 hospital and doctor bill for a delivery is often the deciding factor. If Stupak kills this health care bill, then a lot of women will be forced to decide for an abortion as they cannot afford the medical costs of delivery and infant care.

So is Stupak "Pro-Life" or just "Anti-Abortion"?

Posted by: abowers1 | March 5, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

AMviennaVA, I'm sorry, but you're wrong. In a capitalist society, anyone can make it to the top. The people who finally get to the top may indeed feel this way (explained in your limited vocabulary), but this in no way affects other people who have the same goal. Of course, as a socialist, you probably don't really understand this.

Posted by: georges2 | March 5, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Our great "liar-in-chief", who connned his way into the White House on the back of race baiting and deception: who will not release his grades and curriculum from school, because they will show he is just a poor C student who represents all that is wrong with afirmative action; who won't release his work history because it will show his lunatic left wing, radical associations, should claim the moral high ground on health care!!! Only a fellow moron would make such a suggestion. The self centred, self oriented, self rightious egomaniac (the "self" anointed ONE)should appeal to the moral fibre of the people he has so deceived, and betrayed has even less validity than Hitler appealing to the humanitarian conscience on genocide. You poor, dump stupid morally and intellectually bankrupt slug.
2010 = impeachment and trial for treason. A revolution IS on its way. I wonder if Obamma has stashed some of his undeclared foreign campaign funds for a life in exile. And you Ignatius! Maybe a job in Russia - journalists don't have a very long life expectancy there! Won't need health insurance.

Posted by: armagedon | March 5, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Here's what Obama would say if **he** had morals and was honest:
"10% of the population right now pays 70% of the taxes in this country. In fact, half of the people in this country don't pay any taxes. And oddly enough, the average family making $90,000 per year cannot afford to send their kids to college but the very low income earners can, thanks to govt subsidies! And now, because I can't stand the middle class, let alone the upper class, I'm going to raise their taxes even more so they can subsidize those who can't afford health insurance. It doesn't matter that my new hc plan doesn't control costs, the campaign is over, remember? It's time the middle class paid their fair share. And yes, we played tricks with the numbers in this bill and we're really going to get hit hard down the road, but amazingly a lot of suckers don't see that collecting taxes for 10 years for 6 years of services and calling it neutral is a trick! Quite frankly, they deserve higher taxes. And my plan is such a great idea that we won't start it until I'm out of office. Maybe another Bush or somebody will be in the WH by then and we can find ways to blame him when this thing falls apart. Thank you and God bless America."

Posted by: josettes | March 5, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that I am appalled at the lack of charity exhibited by most of the posters above. It is as though they believe that they are the chosen ones because they are well off. Didn't you ever hear of the phrase "noblesse oblige"? Are you doing volunteer work? Are you contributing to non-profit organizations that work with the poor?

One of the roles of government is to ensure the well-being of the people. Unfortunately, the majority of children in this country don't get the health care that they need to grow up strong. Who can forget the poor little boy in Maryland who died from an abscessed tooth? His mother could not find someone to take a poor patient.

We need to find a way to create a health system that works for the majority of people. Ignoring the medical needs of this country will only increase the tremendous pressures on hospital emergency rooms. It would be far cheaper to provide some preventative care than to force the poor and unemployed to postpone care for so long that it ends up being a real medical emergency.

Posted by: mumthere | March 5, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Expanding affordable health care to everyone is and should be considered by politicians as a moral issue. The problem is the Obama/Reid/Pelosi health care bill does not do this.

Expanding health care coverage to thirty some million people, while ignoring twenty million some people, even ten years hence is not moral. Delaying implementing the most important reforms to save money, especially banning discrimination based on preexisting conditions, until 2014, while over a hundred thousand needlessly die, hundreds of thousands go bankrupt is not moral.

So unfortunately Obama has little credibility in presenting his health care plan as a moral issue because it is starkly inadequate and incomplete.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | March 5, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius says: "Obama needs to take a similar moral stand in the health-care debate".
In order to take the moral high ground, you have to be able to prove you in fact occupy that moral high ground. A 'man' who has acquired a status (president) thru lies and deception. Thru race baiting and connivance hardly qualifies to be arguing moralality. Obama claims to have been engaged in "debate and discussion" over health care for 12 months - and it is clear there are readers here who actually believe that. But then there were voters out there who believed his lies during the election campaign. They are the 25% who still strongly support him today. The poor pathetic loosers in society. The low IQ. The parasites who think they are owed something. The garbage who are willing, even demanding that they be given access to the same resources as others who actually worked for them. NOBODY has even read the bill. Yet the garbage brains so active here support it, because they think they will somehow gain from others what they are too stupid, or lazy to earn for themselves. Your hero is a phoney. A coward who will not supply any details of his life - no school records that will show him to be not a genius, but just a poor C grade intellect who conned his way thru life with a smile, and the help of affirmative action. Obama taking the moral high ground on any issue, is analogous to Hitler, or Stalin, Or Pol Pot preaching the moral high ground. The old ploy of lie voraciously, constantly and consistently. There will always be those out there that believe you. The 'donuts'. Parasites. Garbage. The Losers. Too stupid to realize that loosers will always be loosers.
Your wonderfull "ObammaCare" will only mean you will be on a 10 year waiting list for the Lobotomy you so desperately need. By a doctor with a degree aquired from the Online University of Lesoto. For the grand fee of 50 rupees.

A revolution is coming. The "free lunch" is about to end. Get ready to go hungry. Pray the new administration builds lots of new bridges for you to sleep under!!!!

Posted by: armagedon | March 6, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

One of the right wingers in this thread said:

"...everyone is free to try their best, not that they are entitled to demand a portion of those more successful than themselves."

What are you complaining about? You've already gotten your wish.

In, say, 1965, the average big company CEO made about 20 times the income of the lower rung workers in his company. Then, bit by bit, that ratio soared to around 400--and it's still soaring.

Now, our income distribution is that of a third world country--comparable to Mexico or Russia (a third world country with a space program, but still actually a third world country). No other first world country has this kind of banana republic income distribution.

This shows, once more, how self-styled conservatives are sore winners. America's billionaire class has been waging a class war for decades, and they've won. They keep rank and file Republicans in line with the red flag of "welfare queens." There are plenty of welfare parasites in the world of nonwhite high school dropouts.

But, as Pulitzer Prize-winning economic reporter David Cay Johnston has proven, by a vast margin the biggest welfare queens in America are our hyper-rich, who have learned how to enrich themselves through corporate welfare. It's far most cost-effective to purchase legislators and judges than to make good-quality products and services.

This group of billionaire welfare queens don't want universal healthcare because they don't need it and they don't care about the rest of us.

They've figured out how to get the votes through adroit and very well-financed propaganda campaigns.

I'd bet dollars to donuts that the right wing posters on this thread are not themselves affluent for the most part, and are actively sabotaging their own future and that of their loved ones by campaigning, on the behalf of people who see them as sock puppets to be ridiculed over drinks--if they think of them at all.

www.blogzu.blogspot.com

Posted by: ehkzu | March 6, 2010 4:07 AM | Report abuse

Meal-planning is one of the cornerstones of diabetes management http://ow.ly/1dUWo

Posted by: LibbySilia | March 6, 2010 5:27 AM | Report abuse

The conservative view put forth by many on this page focuses on the cost of extending healthcare to all. But these folks seem to forget an important conservative tenet: the importance of market forces. There is no doubt that the requirement to provide healthcare for workers has distorted markets and made it difficult for US companies to compete. Just ask GM! Likewise, smart policies like allowing people 60+ to buy into Medicare would immediately free up jobs for young people while cutting labor costs. Again, people who would normally retire are tenaciously holding onto their jobs until they are eligible for Medicare. This is job market distortion. In short, healthcare as it exists in the US is a horror show from a conservative point of view.

Posted by: cadbury | March 6, 2010 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius - I commend you for a good article which explains what it is to be a Good American. The Power of the Moral Argument But also The Power to understand What the Right Thing to Do Is. Doing the right thing is not telling some of our citizens "go out and buy sneakers and purchase a book on nutrition Or stop eating junk food and plan your meals nutritionally. I suppose that all of these pollsters use these measures instead of purchasing health insurance OR are they simply pointing their fingers at the ones who are unable to afford insurance. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the salary bracket the citizens are in who made these suggestions. Perhaps, I'm wrong maybe they don't have insurance either - I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. However, my gut tells me they are short on Morals.

Posted by: phyllisr5 | March 6, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Obamakrautzenburg's agenda is to take over 1/6 of the economy, kill the American dollar, usher in his Eurotrash replacement, and become the dictator of his New Wold Order. He dreams of it, has nocturnal emissions about it, and is determined to push this bullchit bill on American CITIZENS who do not desire it.

Fix the problem with how the insurance co's rape us, insure those wombats who support this crap, and leave the rest of American alone who like their plans. He is a baldfaced liar when he says his socialist bill will not affect Americans who love their plans and doctors. See here: http://nakedemperornews.com

He, and all of his supporters should move to Greenland, and set up base there. There is where he can experience his vision of Utopia and enact his j.o. fantasies of ruling a mob of people. Because he sure as hell won't be able to set up his autocratic, despotic rule here in the United States of America.


I find it reprehensible that he bought Matheson's vote by appointing Matheson's brother to a judicial position. Now isn't THAT some crap?? After he said during his State of the Union lying speech, that he KNOWS Americans are tired of deals that are made to pass the bill; yet he turns around and does it AGAIN!! What a crock of crap this lying crook is.


NOW, before he's even finished with HCR, he's moving onto Immigration. Betcha he's going to attempt to pass a bill to allow the illegal aliens living here to become citizens (which would include his AUNTIE); and these illegals will be so happy that HE made them citizens, and got them healthcare that they will vote for him in2012 so he can finish off his planned destruction of American He's been paid a lot of money by the elite (who controls the Fed Reserve) to accomplish this.


There must be a way to get rid of this de-facto POOTUS. His own people don't even want him: See here. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5heoXBZvGlfKplST27X9OzvXO3bWwD9E8FTM82

Posted by: obamaalmighT | March 6, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

If Obamakraut were moral (which by now, he is the exact opposite), then he would've never nominated Matheson's brother to a judgeship. That is plain, and outright bribery for him to change his NO vote, to a YES vote.


He is THE biggest sack of you know what. What a Class A'hole HYPOCRITE!!!! If his bill was so great, then he wouldn't have to bribe people to get votes.


He won't start over, not because "Americans need healthcare NOW"; but because he can't AFFORD to get rid of all of the HIDDEN DEALS to SEIU, judicials, BIG PHARMA, and his special interest groups that STILL lie in the 2000+ pages of nonsense.


Yeah, there are a few good things in it- but OVERALL, the bill is FRAUDULENT, and needs to be KILLED.


P.S. The CBO changed it's stats, and have said that Obamakrautzenburg Care will add 10 TRILLION DOLLARS to the deficit over a decade!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you serious???? And people still want it??


I'll tell you what? Those that want this crap, should be afforded the opportunity to get it; and while they're at it, move to Greenland with their precious Obama, and let him rule them over there.


But leave the rest of us the hell A L O N E, and do their jobs to reign in Big Pharma- which we know they won't because Obamakraut's their "boy".

Posted by: obamaalmighT | March 6, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

all blather considering the fact that this isn't about health care but rather about control

If this was such a "crisis" where "thousands of people die yearly" why is the implementation being put off 5 years? I'll tell you - to give obama at least a prayer of getting re-elected. Therefore the noble liberal moralists are more concerned with a political win than they are with "saving lives".

Their theory is to ram something through, then people feel entitled so no matter how screwed up it is it'll never be undone, and more people are dependent on the government.

Posted by: standard_guy | March 6, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey David,

I think I have a "moral right" to a new car. And I have a "moral right" to a real nice house. Beverly Hills sounds good. And, oh yeah, I have a "moral right" to a 46 inch HDTV. It's just not equitable that I don't have some of these things while others do. So I want you and your liberal friends to pay for them. You OWE it to me, right?

Posted by: nealkaye | March 6, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing "moral" about beggaring the generation that is raising the nation's young in order to provide for the dependent old. That is just cosmically wrong in every possible way. To advocate such a thing in the name of morality is sick.

Posted by: rhahn1 | March 6, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius, you are in serious need of a lesson on morality before attempting to make such a ludicrous claim.

To claim that all have access to medical care without cost to themselves will require that medical staff be forced into government service whether they want to or not. It will require that anyone who provides for themselves and their families be deprived of the goods resulting from their work in some degree--and a high degree I'd wager. It will require that access to medical treatment be rationed by a government panel with no recourse, no appeal, nothing.

The US is without exception THE MOST SOCIALLY JUST NATION to ever exist on the planet. If you'd like to know why feel free to ask and I'll elaborate, but it's a long post and since I doubt you or anyone else would read it I see no point here.

However, your and Obama's grand scheme would ruin the justice well established in this country and I will fight that with everything in me.

Posted by: VisceralRebellion | March 6, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama? Moral position? LMAO..LMAO...LMAO...

Let's see; what other lie can Obama tell?

This lie, that lie, the other lie; the lie he told last week; the lie he told today; the lie that comes out of his mouth every time he moves his disgusting mouth.

Tell him to tell America that 11 million of the 30 million you are proposing he defend as having the "right" to medical care - at the expense of working Americans - are NOW ILLEGALS.

As soon as the health care is passed, he plans on giving citizenship to 11 MILLION ILLEGALS...who can then get the free medical care.

Obama believes that Americans should work and pay taxes to support a health care plan that will cover illegals - who came across our borders in violating of our laws - and whose vote Obama is willing to BUY - at our expense.

Moral dilemma? Not if you are Obama - and have NONE. Not if you are Obama - and HATE AMERICANS.

Mexican citizen and illegal alien? Obama loves you!

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | March 7, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

jfv123 writes:

Here's a healthcare plan suggestion:
(1) Government buys everyone in the country a book on nutrition and a pair of sneakers.
(2) Everyone decides whether or not to use the nutrition book and sneakers.
(3) Everyone lives with the consequences of their decisions.

**************************

Well, jfv123, I hope that when your fine and dandy exercise and nutrition routine fails to save you from being hit by a drunk driver and suffering brain damage and becoming unable to work, you will refuse SSI since it is paid for by tax money.

And I trust that when, in spite of your exercise and nutrition routine, you eventually become old, demented and incontinent, and need a walker and a wheelchair and someone to change your diapers, you refuse Medicare, because it is paid for by tax money.

And I hope to God you never have anyone born into your family with cystic fibrosis, or cerebral palsy, or autism, or anything else that can't be forestalled by all these healthy habits you preen yourself for having.

The irrational, compassionless arrogance of some of these people -- who talk themselves into such ABSURD arguments just because they are offended by the current President or brainwashed by Fox News -- is appalling and astonishing. Shame on you.

Posted by: herzliebster | March 7, 2010 2:43 AM | Report abuse

No back seat, no back seat driver. Press the NOx button and go faster! Fast fast faster. They are busy with fat.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 7, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Health care may or not be a moral issue, but health insurance is not. Make no mistake, Obamacare is about restricting access to health insurance and the federalization of a free market that impacts nearly 20% of the economy. There is no restriction on health care - any person can go to any hospital and receive health care. If the COngress gives in to Chicago-politics, this administration in less than 14-months will have taken control of nearly 50% of our economy. This is a power play nothing less.

Posted by: MKAC | March 7, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

There are noble/moral causes but not all solutions are noble and/or moral.
This bill is 2700 pages of rule and regs, tax and penalties, exceptions and special deals. Canada's universal Health Care was only 7 pages.

To try to go back to a moral argument after this bill's attempt to contain everything but the moral issue is hypocrisy at its worse.

If Obama truly believes, and I think he doesn't, that real issue is providing health care to all Americans, then start from scratch, state the objective and challenge the DEM and GOP alike to battle in the moral arena. GOP can't be the "party of no" in this arena.

It is not moral to support a crappy bill just because of its title or author(s)' party.

Posted by: flyover22 | March 7, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

So simple, everything is so simple.

What about the morality of forcing someone to buy a product under threat of prison?

What about spending money we do not have?

Just the tip of the moral discussion.

Posted by: docwhocuts | March 7, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Is it moral to punish those of us who have health care and take care of our responsabilities to be punished? With everything the left does it comes down to one thing, punish those that do the right thing and reward those that do not.

Where is the outcry about the biggest proffit maker in the health care argument? It is not the insurance companies. Just as with gasoline the government is taking the biggest piece of the pie.

Posted by: Pilot1 | March 7, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius, don't jive us man ~ Obamacare IS NOT ABOUT extending health care to everyone.

There's nothing to do with health care in this bill ~ that would involve an entirely different kind of bill, but alas, one which most likely could not be understood by today's class of Democrats.

Posted by: muawiyah | March 7, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

josh13 ~ Canadians can tell you about "equal access".

It doesn't happen.

The truth is there are people who know how to game the system. it's best you keep them OUTSIDE the scope of your health care insurance program.

Frankly, gaming the system is the way its done in most of the nations that purport to have a universal healthcare system.

Posted by: muawiyah | March 7, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Many posters seem to miss Ignatius' point. He does not frame the healthcare debate as a "moral issue," he simply suggests that Obama might succeed in his efforts by doing so. He subsequently supports his claims with examples--without explicitly supporting or refuting any of the premises. Ignatius is demonstrating an understanding of rhetoric and making a clear suggestion on that basis.

Posted by: scottgerweck | March 8, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

David

I agree with you. And Tom Harkin (in his comments at the recent Congressional Health Summit) had it exactly right: Why in this country do we discriminate against sick people?

Respectfully
F.M.

Posted by: Felipe_M | March 8, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

First, many a credible economist as well as the CBO says the Health bill will pay for itself and reduce the deficit as well. Second, when healthcare CEOs are making millions a year in salary and stock options in the midst of the worst recession since the 1930s, it seems reasonable to assume that there is money out there to reform the system and pay for it for many years to come. Finally, this debate is a classic philosophical difference. Conservatives will have us believe that unfettered free markets, minimal government, and fiscal moderation are moral objectives, ultimately more important than providing near universal coverage for all Americans. So be it. Others of us disagree--and we do so with great resolve: I have nothing against the free market, but in the end, healthcare to minimize human suffering in the richest country in the world should not even be debatable. The free market will live on, and as a nation we should take advantage of the wealth it generates to take care for our fellow citizens. That's not socialism--it's fair play and social justice. In striving for universal healthcare, we actually insure the success of capitalism in the long run by caring for individuals--individuals from whom we can all benefit because they will have the opportunity to make the most of their time and talent in a free society. Most of the modern industrial world has figured this out. In a country that supposedly values the individual and the free market, we should have figured it out a long time ago.

Posted by: Cooper5 | March 8, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

It is not that most of our citizens oppose health care reform: they oppose this budget-busting, incompetent bill. The Democrats, with ample majority in both houses until January 19, have spent an entire year "working" on a health care bill and this is the best they can come up with?

They have taken 2000 pages to do what a 100 page comprehensive point by point bill could do.

THIS bill should fail and quickly be replaced by one that works without all the special interest perks it includes. This is not an honest bill and I think congress is capable of an honest bill but they need to get with it NOW.

It boggles the mind that Democrats who have the votes to pass anything continue to blame the Republicans for failure and delay.

Posted by: Kansas28 | March 8, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

You will die if you vote for Government Controlled Health care.


A man of 22 died in agony of dehydration after three days in a leading teaching hospital.
Kane Gorny was so desperate for a drink that he rang police to beg for their help.
They arrived on the ward only to be told by doctors that everything was under control.
The next day his mother Rita Cronin found him delirious and he died within hours.
She said nurses had failed to give him vital drugs which controlled fluid levels in his body. 'He was totally dependent on the nurses to help him and they totally betrayed him.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1255858/Neglected-lazy-nurses-Kane-Gorny-22-dying-thirst-rang-police-beg-water.html#ixzz0hashLueG

Posted by: charlietuna666 | March 8, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Posted by Coffeetime:
What else do you want Obama to say? Something like this: "All Americans have a right to free health care. Just because some of you are obese, smoke, drink, take illegal drugs, don't exercise and eat nothing but junk food, why should you be discriminated against? I say you have the same rights as the healthy and fit, and your insurance coverage and premiums should not differ by one single cent! And why should we discriminate against illegal aliens? Starting next week, my administration is proposing that your tax dollars go directly to other countries throughout the world who have a worse track record than our own when it comes to health care. If you are poor and live in Honduras, for example, why should you have to uproot and sneak across the border into the United States just to obtain decent health care? Why should that care be denied you just because you don't pay taxes? That is not just discrimination, but racial discrimination, and our administration will not stand for it!"
-------------------------------------------
I cannot fathom why people say these things. Not everyone who has cancer smokes, and not everyone who has liver problems drink. Also, not everyone with emotional problems, etc. do drugs. I for one have a Kidney disease. I will need dialysis and a transplant. I did not do drugs to get this, I was born with it. So does that make me genetically inferior to you? I will admit it was near impossible for to get some type of life insurance to help take care of my family should I suddenly die because of my condition. And just to keep some type of health insurance I must try to keep working, but happens when I cannot anymore? How am I to pay for health care when my insurance drops me in the near future for something I did not do to myself, nor did I ask for.
I wanted to analyze your first few statements. As for the rest, I dare not presume to judge your thoughts on other nations. I do not agree that we should completely destroy our resourses help other nations (we should do what we can when we can), but we do have an obligation to those of us who are here. Contrary to the story of Cain and Abel, we are our brothers/sisters keepers. Think about that for second. I am sure if you were in need, you would pray for someone to help you. However if that is not how you are wired, then it apperas that your writings are correct for you. I doubt it though, I cannot assume that you have walked a mile in another persons shoes. I can only guess that you might not have.

Posted by: Graff_von_Watts | March 8, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Here’s what I want Obama to say: A just society assures its citizens’ basic needs. It protects their “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” irrespective of the circumstances they were born into. Citizenship in a great country should not be a DNA lottery, or a case of survival of the richest. A nation has a moral obligation to care for its people, and if it fails to do so, it is a lesser country.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

1) A just society assures its citizens’ basic needs..... This is done by protecting OUR borders from Illegal entry,and insuring that the ECONOMY prospers. Not by giving anything away for free.

2) It protects their “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” irrespective of the circumstances they were born into.....Please refer to response to #1

Without sounding like I'm repeating myself Ignatius, please read the comment to # 1

Posted by: frankn1 | March 8, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

So many good thoughts as we go deeper and deeper into the debate but they are all trumped by the question Is this the best solution? and the answer to that is NO.The idea that any solution is better than no solution is false if the solution leads to even greater problems.This can be verified both personally and nationally therefore it is better to wait for the better solution.

Posted by: allsides | March 8, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

In one column, Ignatius has spelled out for me the prime reason why we need a universal health care program-- why? Because it is the "right thing to do." And it suddenly struck me why I have moved from being an independent slight right of center, to being a moderate, somewhat left of center democrat. I am finding more and more that the policies and verbiage of the right wing are selfish, arrogant, and very much NOT in the interests of the majority of Americans. I can say the same about many evangelical Christians, whose hypocrisy defies imagination. The interests of these groups lies very much within the realm of "me."


People exist in a community to help each other. Yet in all the debate over health care, the right has basically put forth an argument that the guy or gal who is desperately ill and without insurance or any access to health care is, well...tough luck buddy. But this is not the way that civilized society works. The rescue squad pulls a guy out of a car wreck because it is "the right thing to do." The fireman puts out the fire in someone's home because it is "the right thing to do." We send the Fairfax County Urban Rescue team to Haiti because it is "the right thing to do." And I am sure that if you ask the French, the Canadians, the British...or any other citizen of a country where they have universal health care as to why they have it, the answer will be "it is the right thing to do." Can we not do the same thing here? Or are we so selfish---especially you, the rightwinger---that the only thing that matters is YOU?

Posted by: RogerNoVa | March 8, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Many times, folks on the Pro side of a specific bill see what they want in moral terms. But the question concerning this bill now is not so much whether it is a moral imperative to extend coverage but more how to accomplish this extension (not whether to do it or not) and whether this bill does that effectively or will have an equal or worse negative impact.

While it may be morally arguable that extending health care benefits to the uninsured is an imperative, the question still remains is this bill the way to do it? There are many who would claim that in partially accomplishing one moral good, the bill includes several actions that are detrimental, such as dramatically providing public funding for abortion services, another moral issue in this country for many people.

As long as this nation is so divided on the issue of abortion it will remain a moral lightning rod in any legislation that dramtically expands or contracts abortion services. Therefore adding this issue on top of this health bill seems to me to have been an unnecessary complication of its chances of passage.

So the author should have written that if expansion of health care coverage to the uninsured is a moral imperative, it is also a moral imperative that no secondary issue be inserted that may sink the accomplishment of that extension. That's the real issue - why has this administration and Congress attached cotroversial secondary items to this bill so as to make it poisonous to so many?


One should be carefull when publicizing a moral requirement to vote for this or any bill, it may be a two sided sword that will swing both ways.

Posted by: tzelaney | March 8, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

@VisceralRebellion--you said...The US is without exception THE MOST SOCIALLY JUST NATION to ever exist on the planet. If you'd like to know why feel free to ask and I'll elaborate, but it's a long post and since I doubt you or anyone else would read it I see no point here.

OK, I will take you up on it...explain yourself, and not just by telling us what the US has done in this regard (i.e. to make it THE MOST SOCIALLY JUST NATION) but give us what the other countries of the world have NOT done. On what do you base your evidence? Take your time. I am retired and have all day.

You see, I am not sure you have a clue about other countries, and what you spout off is the typical American arrogance that gets us all in trouble.

So please start your response now! And I promise to read it.

Posted by: RogerNoVa | March 8, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Without respect to the bill itself, I just came across a quote which I think illuminates the Tea Party movement and other forms of Republican demagogy:
"Among . . . [the] ideological methods [of Nazism], as the
Fuhrer himself declared, comprehensibility to the stupid ranked highest."
(Adorno, Minima Moralia)

Posted by: scientist1 | March 8, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Overwhelmingly, taxpaying voters do not want the Obama brand of health care.

Congress needs to scrap this disaster and start over in a bipartisan way.

Posted by: mlemac | March 8, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

HOW?? By admitting that the Piglosi and Wesael Reid bills are atruye Disaster ... and STRT OVER WITH A PANEL OF House members and Senators evenly divided ib Bi Partisan way with Individuals thet Actually KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING!! That would eliminate Waxman.. Rangel.. Lalarkey .. Durbin.. Schumer .. Lahey.. Conrad.. and Baucus on one side...

Posted by: redhawk2 | March 8, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The moral highground - and what would Obama do if he did take that road and have to say -
"Sorry, but this bill only got this far because my Senate leader bribed 4 or 5 senators at the expense of all other Americans in order to get it out of the Senate. Otherwise we would still be sitting with a bill passed in the House and nothing from the Senate and perhaps then we could have instituted small changes one at a time re insurance reforms and many of you would have had health coverage already. However, since we are here, then sorry you have to pay for 4 or 5 years before you get anthing out of this bill but that is the only way I can get the CBO to say it will pay for itself. And sorry to you seniors who will lose 500 billion out of your care that when we found waste we could have put it back to ensure that Medicare doesnt' go belly up rather than do faulty accounting and count the money twice."

Sure, I can really see Obama taking the moral highroad - Not!

Posted by: justmyvoice | March 8, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." How many times have we heard that? If you could only choose between being financially wealthy but suffering with chronically poor health, or being financially poor but being in good health, which would you choose? Equal access to health care is a fundamental human right.

And for you pure capitalists out there, I'm sure you wouldn't practice socialism within your family. My in-laws are very Republican, very conservative, who believe in the rot that many of the previous posters have written about the perfect wonders of capitalism and free market opportunities- except they practice socialism in their own family. They have five adult children, one who has a child of his own with autism. Do you know my in-laws have given their son almost $100,000 to help pay for the medical and physical therapy needs of their autistic grandson? And none of the other four siblings have a problem with that? (and except for my wife, the siblings are as conservative as their parents). How can that be??? It sounds like they are following ol' Marx himself: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Or maybe they are practicing Christian charity within their family, understanding that one of their siblings needs more help. How socialistic! I suspect most families, even the most conservative who think health care is a privilege, would do the same for their own family members. Most of us are more socialistic than we let on.

The goal of a just society (particularly for those in that society who believe that God is the father of us all)is to try to treat all of its members as family. A just society decided Social Security is a right. A just society decided Medicare is a right.

Yes, however imperfect the president's efforts have been and however imperfect the process has been (and that can be said about anyone trying anything), universal health care is a moral imperative.

Posted by: tttvance | March 8, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Ignatious, for getting to the "heart" of this matter right now, when this essential program is precariously hanging in the balance and the heartless republicans continue to try to kill it.

I voted for President Obama because I believed he exhibited the strong democratic value of compassion. We have all heard enough about process, and the blue dogs now need to be shamed into caring about their constituents and showing in clear terms how they differ from the republicans. If I were retiring or afraid I might be non-electable whether I voted up or down, I would act on my conscience (which people like Blanche Lincoln, Lieberman, and Nelson, etc. don't seem to have-what a characature of a democrat!) and vote up. November is a long way off, and the republicans show their ugliness more and more-who knows?

Come election time, this can be such a stong point in favor of voting democratic, especially with some of the more important aspects of reform beginning now instead of 2014. I hope that the President heeds your words and acts on them. Especially during these hideous economic times, empathy should not be considered a bad word. People are going under, and it's hard to believe that they themselves still can't grasp the simple necessity and value of reform. When they get a taste of its benefits for themselves and their loved ones, especially those with some sort of pre-existing condition, I think this may change.

I would wager that at least half of the house and senate would be ineligible for individual policies right now (being older and subject to all the nightmares that come with aging), and I wish we could immediately cut their lovely federal coverage and make them take a little walk in our shoes. Just how fast do you think they would change their tune?

I'm going to write to the President right now and remind him that helping his constituents stay alive and healthy without losing everything is, very simply, the right thing to do!!!!

Thanks again for the reminder, not just to the President but to all of us.

Posted by: tescherm | March 8, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Great column - it is the right thing to and despite all the right-wing obstruction and threats on behalf of the insurance industy, Americans want health care reform. Get it done Dems!

Posted by: mbstrong1 | March 8, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

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