20 January, 2010

The American President

For the last 24 hours or so, I’ve been increasingly thinking about the movie The American President. Some of my right-wing friends loathe this movie for all the left-wing politics in it. Yes, that’s in there, but that’s not what the movie is really about. And it’s a nice little movie if you ignore that part.

So, why do I bring this up?

In the end, President Andrew Shepherd (D, played by Michael Douglas) is setting up for a State of the Union Address. He faces some challenges in doing so. His once sky-high popularity has plummeted. His major legislative agenda item (gun control) has been ruined by Congress and doesn’t really do what he wants anymore. He’s had to resort to every trick and twist every arm to get people on board with it, and it still may not pass. He’s planning on giving the address to “rally the troops”, and finally get this albatross over the finish line.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

What does President Shepherd do? He changes his mind. He does a whole new SOTU and tells Congress to throw out the gun control bill and start over. And this time to do it right.

This is what President Barack Obama (D-USA) should do next week at his own SOTU. Tell Congress and America that the current health care bill is garbage. It is. Democrats and Republicans know it’s garbage. It doesn’t bend the cost curve down, and doesn’t really do much to get insurance to those that don’t have it. And direct Congress to start over and to get it right this time.

Some options that are probably passable and with decent bipartisan support (not saying I support these):

  • Allow health insurance to be sold across state lines. This restriction is ridiculous
  • Put a very limited public option that would only be available to low/no income individuals and only for a limited time.

That’s it. One of the many problems with the piece of garbage we have now is that it is too big and does too much.

But Chris, you hate the public option.

Yes, I do. And I’d hate this bill and would never vote for it. But I’m not in Congress. This bill would do nothing (or at least very little) about the cost curve, but would make more insurance options available for more people. Liberals would be happy, and and conservatives would at least get a bone thrown to them regarding the state line issue. No one would be ecstatic, but Obama would get to sign his legacy piece of legislation and Democrats would be able to go back to their constituents with some hope of being re-elected.

If I were advising the President, this would be my advice.

Fortunately, he won’t do this. And anything he will do will likely make incumbent Democrats even more vulnerable, not less.

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