Matt Yglesias says that the "White House speechwriting team delivers in the latest radio address with a helpful brief phrase that sums up the goals of health insurance reform: "No one in America should go broke because they got sick." And, heck! That's a really great line! Know what would have been even greater -- potentially the greatest? If the vaunted White House speechwriting team had come up with that six months ago!
The most compelling aspect of the health care dilemma faced by millions of Americans -- insured and uninsured alike -- is the prospect of having to trade health and survival for crippling household debt. This issue is central to the peril in which the uninsured find themselves. It's also at the root of fears over preexisting conditions. If you're like me, hereditarily inclined to treatable forms of cancer, the life-killing cost of treatment is far more terrifying than the disease itself.
Of course, if the nation was, say...in the midst of a massive economic crisis, with high unemployment, maybe it would have occurred to the White House to pursue this line of persuasion a lot earlier!
All along, the media has gone after health care reform on two fronts: the overall cost of reform with regard to federal deficits, and the potential need for tax increases to pay for any reform measure. On both fronts, the most effective defense is to cast this as a kitchen-table issue. Federal deficits seem meaningless when average Americans are facing the prospect of bankruptcy just because they got sick. And maintaining the current system is going to inevitably lead to tax increases as Medicare and Medicaid costs spiral out of control. Furthermore, while escalating insurance premiums and health care costs aren't taxes per se, there's no reason why the administration cannot treat them as de facto tax increases they want to roll back.
Additionally, it's a useful thing for the White House to continually point out that people under crippling, health care related debt cannot obtain loans, buy cars, purchase homes, obtain lines of credit, or start small businesses, which I am told are the engine of our economy.
The good news is that the new line is getting repeated in the media -- I've already seen it reprinted verbatim on one of MSNBC's Chyrons. It travels well, and is easy for proponents to repeat, endlessly. It's too bad that no one thought of it before the Democratic members of Congress went on vacation to be yelled at by lie-fueled drone-citizens with no solid principles to bolster their arguments. That would have been really useful! Instead, everyone's been in the weeds, where their arguments are concerned, and the White House has been busying themselves trying to win the support of death panel liar extraordinaire Charles Grassley, for reasons passing understanding.
But, hey, the White House speechwriters have finally delivered. Since the delivery is late, is our pizza free, at least?