Congressman Ron Klein held what I think was a somewhat disastrous "telephone town hall" on the health care issue yesterday.
First it was on the telephone. Yes, your congressman literally phoned it in. This has incensed those Death Panel town hall crashers around here who wanted to scream and yell at Klein for a TV audience. But then they were already incensed. Won him no friends on the other side of the aisle.
Then Klein, a Democrat of course, said that Obama's health care plan goes too far and needs to be scaled back before he'll support it. The Sun-Sentinel's Anthony Man doesn't nail down exactly what Klein doesn't support, but it appears to be the "public option" which will give people without insurance an opportunity to get it through the government.
Klein said he didn't trust the government on such matters and, according to Man, cited the Post Office as a reason why. What Klein has against the U.S. Postal Service, I'm not sure. Gets me the mail everyday. Or maybe he's talking about waiting in line. Of course that never happens at doctor's offices or hospitals. You get to sit in waiting rooms there and read bad magazines. He also said he's not "committed" to the so-called public option which is crucial for any lasting reform.
Why is Klein damaging hopes for any real reform? Well, money talks -- and Klein obviously isn't being driven by the high cost of insurance for the average person or the staggering numbers of uninsureds. His words are obviously motivated by the hundreds of thousands of dollars he's received from the health and insurance industries.
Before I get into Klein's big $$$ ties, let's just agree that Klein is again proving himself to be an inapt and miserable leader. The public option is the only thing that makes this legislation worthwhile from a
a Democratic point of view (and from an American point of view). And there's absolutely no reason not to try it. The greatest fear of the special interests opposed to Obama's plan is that the public option will work too well.
Here's the truth: Ultimately, the only system that's going to save us from the tyranny of the health care and insurance industries is a single-payer system. Klein, not surprisingly, has voiced his opposition to that idea, which basically means he's married to the current broken system.
People start screaming "socialism," of course. But people need to get real. Obama too, who I'm afraid is blowing this badly.
Where's the guy who gave the race speech after the Rev. Wright fiasco and spoke to us like adults? When people say nationalized health care is socialism, Obama should say, "Damn straight it is." We're a capitalist country and that's the only way we should ever have it. We'll fight and die for freedoms not only in our social and political lives but also in the marketplace. But certain industries that are vital for the good of society are socialized. Public education is a biggee. Roads are another one. In health care and welfare, Social Security and Medicare are certainly socialist constructs.
Most people depend on all three greatly and wouldn't want to put those things in the hands of the crooks on Wall Street or anybody else. Education is way too important to be run by the Wayne Huizengas of the world. But Democrats are running from the term because they are, indeed, cowards (as so many of those Tea Bag types have labeled Klein for his phone call). Here's Klein's quote on the issue: "I'm not a socialist, you're not a socialist."
No, Ron, we're all socialists, to a degree. And health care should be socialized. It's a giant mess the way it is, with too many people going without health insurance and the rest of us paying too much (Who do you think pays for the un-insured's emergency room visits?).
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So I'm sitting here thinking, why is Ron Klein such a pussy? Who paid him? I turned to Open Secrets, the campaign database site, and saw (after noticing that Huizenga Holdings is his biggest individual contributor at $15,000) that he'd received about $40,000 from the health care and insurance industries. Not bad, but that's just the start of this campaign and you can bet he's going to get a whole lot more from those interests.
In last year's race, the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries gave Klein a whopping combined total of about $325,000. Throw in 2006 numbers and it's well over half a million dollars. That's a lot of dough for Klein to abandon his party and his president to whine that Obama's plan goes too far. Maybe the industry provided him a free lobotomy too, just so he doesn't have to worry about selling out so badly.
It is not just the health care and insurance industries that are lining up against Obama's plan, it is big interests on Wall Street who, again, are scared silly by the public option. Klein got about $100,000 for his current campaign from financial and business interests, many of which oppose the public option.
Klein is taking a reprehensible middle-of-the-road approach to the greatest issue in America today. It's a do-nothing schlub approach that supports the status quo (meaning the insurance companies). Democrats should abandon him and Republicans should indeed loathe him. He's a nowhere man of politics.