After healthcare reform – quick predictions for the path ahead
This started as a note on my Facebook status update last night, as I watched the historic vote in the US in favour of healthcare reform. I truly believe this is a step in the right direction for America.
But, the build up has proven how deep the divides run in America right now. When Republican protestors can hurl racial slurs at Congressmen and women, and call them “baby killers” after passing the bill, and when a massive overhaul of social security and healthcare extension to 30 million people can come down the single issue of the funding of abortion, then you know there’s a lot more going on than just healthcare reform.
So, without much deep analysis, here our my predictions for the next few months in the aftermath of the passing of the Bill.
You’ll have a few Republican power bases who will try and overturn the Bill, suing the central government. These will fail, and will make those Governors and Senators look foolish and churlish. Obama should be able to deal with them quite easily in the media.
Obama’s approval rating should rise quite dramatically in the next few weeks (assuming nothing else affects it). The point of a social safety net is that some people will benefit (the poor and the least able to help themselves), and some will have to pay for it (the rich and privileged). To put it crassly, as long as more poor benefit than rich people feel pain, the government will have won.
As an aside, I think it’s horribly greedy and selfish for Republicans to oppose universal healthcare. The free market has never been free – it has always favoured the rich and abused the poor. This is a great step forward. Europe (especially Germany and Sandinavia) have survived the recession with almost no job losses precisely because of a mindset like this. Ditto China. AND, shutting out the overbloated medical insurance companies will save the system money and reduce debt for future generations. So, now the only way to mess it up is to get the implementation wrong. Conceptually, I predict 10 years from now, economists, healthcare experts and people generally will be hailing what happened today as a great step forward for America.
I predict we’ll hear the good news about the impact of the Bill. Republican leaning groups have spent over $ 220 million opposing this bill in the past few months, including lots of media exposure and adverts. They’ll stop spending that money now, and you’ll start to hear the other side of the story.
I don’t think anyone can hope Fox News will stop putting lies out on its network (yes, that IS a considered statement – they don’t just pervert the truth, they flat out lie. But I predict that other networks and media will now start running stories that are based in fact and truth. I need to back up that last statement. For more information on Fox News’ lies, read this report, for example, about how Fox News viewers believe information known to be untrue, or watch Neil Cavuto caught on an open mic blatantly lying about the crowd size at an anti-Obama rally, or this insight into their bias and manipulation of information, or check out this website on TVnewslies. Probably their most famous set of lies has come around coverage of the early “Tea Party” protests. Read reports here and here. And read this page which includes video footage of how Fox News’ Sean Hannity spliced archive footage of large crowds into a news report on the Tea Party Protests in Washington to make it appear that many more people had actually attended. Also see here for how Fox News producers give stage management directions to the crowd and whip them up just before a live crossing from Fox studios.
Thankfully, my prediction is already coming true. Here are some interesting and helpful reads on the benefits that the US will see from the new heathcare reforms – all out this morning: The San Francisco Chronicle (note the section that says that everyone agreed that the old system was bankrupting America!), The Philadelphia Enquirer (nice concise list), and a press release from the House Democrats on the ten immediate benefits from the Bill. Finally, when the blare of Republican bluster is gone, other voices can be heard.
I hope (rather than predict) that Democrats will keep on this message for a good six months (I don’t predict this, though, because Democrats so far have seemed surprisingly bad at controlling the news cycle). Although the Bill will take four full years to become fully functional as law, benefits should emerge quickly (Democrats would be wise to make sure they do!). Hopefully rich Americans will not feel too much a pinch in taxes, and poor Americans will feel massive improvements in healthcare fairly quickly.
There are many other supporting arguments that will also now begin to emerge. For example, the old system took about $1 in every $6 from every American, and was certainly contributing to inflated labour costs (sorry, I mean labor costs) that would have ensured America remains uncompetitive in the world market. This new system will do something to redress that. Democrats need to find the bigger message – moving the debate up from the “funding of abortion” craziness of the last few weeks.
If that happens, the upcoming November elections might be a landslide to beat all landslides. I predict the Democrats will win easily, and take a lot of Republican seats (again, unless something hugely unfavourable happens between now and then). People who voted for those who voted against healthcare (not one Republican had the guts to break rank and vote in favour) will ask “How could I have been so dumb?” The Republicans have made this a make or break issue. They may regret that at the end of this year. It may just break them.
I predict this will be seen as a great day for America. Many of America’s “great days” have been greeted by spitting hateful opposition at the time. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great day!
But, then, finally and very paradoxically, let me also predict that 20 years from now, a new generation of American politicians will be faced with the horrific task of undoing a century of social security, and decades of medicare and medicaid. They’ll have to do this because the systems will be bankrupted by Baby Boomers. This might be delayed if Boomers don’t retire (which I don’t think they will). But, neveretheless, the system in most developed countries is not going to outlive the Boomers, and will need a major overhaul before today’s younger generation become old. But that’s someone else’s job, and would be impossible to achieve today.