No industry in this country ever gained federal regulation without earning the privilege.
From medicine to food to financial services and occupational safety, the federal government has never been the farsighted central planner of socialism myths. Quite to the contrary, Congress and administrations react very late in the game and, most often, with draconian responses to challenges that could have been addressed more cheaply and effectively many years prior.
And so it is with health care reform, the latest in a long line of missed opportunities to solve problems thoughtfully and incrementally and—dare I say it—together.
The bill approved tonight is terribly flawed and overreaching. If we’re honest with ourselves, we will admit we don’t really know which parts are truly beneficial and which exceed our mortal capacity to heal. We all know what we fear, or what we hope, but none of us really knows what will happen.
We certainly do not know whether the failures of this bill will be greater or smaller than the failures of the current system. We do not know whether the bill will save more lives, increase the deficit more, reduce individual freedom or simply shift arbitrary decisions from insurance company bureaucrats to government agency bureaucrats.
What we do know is that we, as individuals and voters, have failed once again. We, The People of the United States, have failed to form a more perfect union.
We, the Democrats, have failed to insist that our leaders follow their own Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. We, the Democrats, have failed to convince our representatives to take a slower and more iterative approach to a challenge that has been decades in the making. We, the Democrats, have failed to address the reasonable and sensible concerns of millions of Americans worried about the true cost—not merely the price—of access.
We, the Republicans, have failed to insist that our leaders present a cohesive, clear plan to the American people—not only in response to a Democratic blunderbuss of 2009-10, but earlier, in 2001 or 2002 or 2003 or in any year in which the Republican Party controlled both the White House and Congress. We, the Republicans, have failed to address the global economic disadvantage of U.S. businesses that must compete with foreign firms unburdened by individual health care costs. We, the Republicans, have failed to keep our promise as the pro-life party, focusing solely on unborn lives and hardly at all on those who already walk this earth.
And We, the People of the United States, have failed to insist on clarity and candor from our leaders. Instead, we have chosen to complain and deflect, responding most fervently to the sound bites and fighting words that comprise the red meat of discourse in the Coliseum we call American politics.
We, The People, have failed to elect candidates who tell us the truth, who offer candor over slogans, and who promise no benefits without a certainty of payment. We’ll give these people our praise, but not our votes.
Left or Right. Republican or Democrat. We, the People, will blame or laud, attack or defend. But we have also followed our own pattern of denial and delay. Congress is no different from all of us.
We, the People, have failed to fund our retirement plans and postponed our exercise programs and rescheduled our weight loss plans until the day after tomorrow. Like Congress and presidential administrations, we procrastinate, ignore and delay until a crisis occurs. Then they, and we, point fingers at everyone but ourselves.
We don’t know whether health care reform will be as destructive as many fear, or the salvation that many seek. It will be decades before we can compare its full impact with the system as it stands today. What we do know is that these issues could have been addressed earlier, at lower cost, with less total impact on our economy and our lives.
If We, the People, were doing our job.