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Story Archives: No jolt for reforms
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|No jolt for reforms|
The good news is that America's government can respond effectively to a crisis.
The bad news for President Obama: The worst crises, including that in health care, are slow-motion train wrecks that America doesn't take seriously until the crash occurs.
That's the comment from analyst Fareed Zakaria, writing in Newsweek magazine. He noted what he called the ludicrous elements of the discussion of health reform proposals, the claptrap about "death panels" and socialism. Yet the underlying problem is serious enough: In 1993, when President Clinton tried to face the health problems of America, more than 60 percent of small businesses offered health insurance to employees; today, 38 percent do. And those who have insurance are paying more, and because of cost increases -- mostly -- about 10,000 people a day lose insurance coverage.
All this, though, doesn't seem to motivate America's political system: "The problem is that this is a slow and steady decline, producing no crisis, no Pearl Harbor, no 9/11."
Zakaria said the health-care problem is akin to Social Security's long-term financial problems, pension liabilities for state and local governments, deficits in state governments and energy dependence.
"Each one of these problems is getting worse by the day, and yet the political system seems unable to take them on and make major reforms," Zakaria said.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the decisions of President George W. Bush to intervene in last year's financial crisis with giant sums of taxpayer money, the fact is that he acted ó and Democrats and Republicans came together to support the national interest in a time of crisis.
As the long summer of distortion about health care has shown, Obama is going to get no such bipartisan support. Nor is there likely to be enthusiasm on any side, as Zakaria noted, for real cost-containment; those decisions are too politically unpopular for timorous Democrats and ideological Republicans.
Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, famously quipped that a good crisis should not be wasted. The problem is recognizing the crisis.
--The (Baton Rouge) Advocate
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