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August 17th, 2009
01:39 PM ET

Health Care Reform: Sticking Points, Rumors & Race

CNN's Don Lemon tackles the health care reform debate in depth: First, discussing the most contentious issues with two congressmen from both parties; next, dispelling some rumors and clarifying some key points with a guest from; and finally, analyzing whether race is a hidden part of the agenda in some of the more vocal opposition to the president's initiative.

Filed under: Don Lemon
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. joe

    It is interesting that as the Health care bill has had time to be digested (instead of being forced to a vote by Mr. Obama with little time to actually read the bill), many conflicting views have resulted due to the ambiguity of the language and my feeling is that if a bill is crafted with such ambiguous language that so much of it can be left open for interpretation, then it should not pass! Once we let the Government in, they will define it however they feel fit and whatever Mr. Obama is saying now he could easily go back on.

    August 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  2. Shawn Smith

    if you are going to fix health care, talk to the pharmaceutical companies about lowering the cost of their drugs. no reason a manufacturing company should enjoy dividends and profits of upwards of 11.2 Billion dollars, at the expense of a human life.

    August 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  3. michael armstrong sr.

    When will this health care war ever end the oppinions out there have become a circus act lets have a national vote and either vote yes or vote no and put an end to this foolishness.

    August 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  4. Dirk Atkinson

    How to Streamline and Reduce Health Care Insurance Coverage in the USA
    Dirk E. Atkinson
    August 17, 2009

    The need, cost and availability of Health Care in the USA today is driving a debate that begs to be understood and answered with a comprehensive vision. To gain a complete understanding of the Health Care situation we need to take a thirty thousand foot view of the current structure of medical insurance today. So let’s start with a cursory look at the structure of Health Care.
    First we have basic Health Care needs, preventative medicine, basic illness and minor injuries, which are covered, for those who can afford it, by personal health insurance programs or by employers who share the expense with the individual. Then we have work related injuries covered by Worker’s Compensation paid for by the employers. Next we auto injuries covered by Automobile Insurance. Then we have injury that is caused to someone on your personal property or business property that is covered by homeowners or business liability insurance. Also injury caused by a product you manufacture, build, sell or an act of your business. Without drilling down into every medical situation they all require Health Care; medical treatment.
    The question that begs to be asked is, how do we pay for Health Care for every person? If you agree that Health Care is basic human right then you agree that there is work to be done to.
    If you look at the structure of all insurance it is based on assigning responsibility to the party or company that needs to pay for the medical treatment. If you drill down into the different types of medical treatment you will find yourself in a quagmire, a shell game, of shifting responsibility, litigation and blame; The Blame Game. This is how insurance companies make their money. In the insurance industry Actuaries spend intense energy on the most finite reasons for covering or not any given medical situation. However this complex system, of subdividing patient’s needs, also insures great profits for many and little to no Health Care coverage for forty three million people in the USA. This redundant and complex system also requires millions of people who administrate the different programs.
    By returning to thirty thousand feet, we can see that your medical needs are medical needs. Let’s ask this question; what if we combined all medical insurance into one program? All-inclusive Health Care? Consider this; combine basic Health Care, injuries of all kinds; job, auto accident medical injury, medical liability, disability and long term care into one administrative program. Then leave The Blame Game; criminal, negligence and potential fraud to other existing programs. By removing medical from the equation you have essentially enacted tort reform or litigation expense as well as the redundant administrative expense for medical needs and the profits that insurance industry reaps by from redundant programs.
    One might argue that this is removing a person’s rights to recover the extensive civil awards for the wrongful injury caused to them. However, these types of litigation would still be possible and only restricted to the non-medical injury, criminal and punitive civil losses. The upside is more affordable All-inclusive Health Care; Health Care for everyone a basic human right.
    Eliminate Worker’s Compensation and beef-up OSHA. Remove the expense of blaming the employer, determining who is medically responsible for the injury and get on with the Health Care coverage. You are sick or injured and require heath care then it is covered.
    OSHA, without drilling too deep, requires some restructuring as well. OSHA should give every business a free annual inspection, without penalty, to make sure that all businesses are complying with occupational safety laws. All business must report work related injury to OSHA and OSHA can choose to investigate if it meets predetermined criteria. However, liability for the injury stops there, unless there is proven gross negligence or criminal intent the liability will be limited to penalty or punitive damages and not for medical or medical disability that would be covered by All-inclusive Health Care.

    More Jobs or Less?

    If you streamline the administrative expense for medical insurance by creating an All-inclusive Health Care program then what happens to the jobs that are lost in the Law Professions, Insurance Industry and the Medical billing and collections industry? These million of jobs will have to retrain perhaps to improve basic health jobs. Of course the insurance Industry and the legal professions would have to find other profit centers; another quagmire that would need to be addressed.
    By eliminating the redundant Administrative expense of The Blame Game and risk assignment you reduce the cost and time the industry takes to give a person the care they need. By combining all medical expense into an All-inclusive Health Care program we are guaranteed to reduce the cost of Health Care itself.
    How the program is paid for is not the subject of this document, however, if you eliminate Worker’s Compensation, it is bound to help employers hire more people and or offer medical insurance to their employees. The unforeseen result could mean more jobs. The government will have to take a deeper role and that will need to be vetted through the current political process
    A partial solution at best this program does not address the profitability within the Health Care industry, pharmaceutical or the medical industries and professions, only the administrative side of paying and collecting payment for said care. I will suggest here that the net result will be a reduction in Administrative jobs and an increase in better medical care jobs..

    August 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  5. Ines

    Over the years I found that the only ones that keep putting race into any conversation is the Media.
    Either we are all Men and Women or not, stop bringing race into everything.
    This is really getting to be insane.
    And you wonder why you all received a D in the votes.
    With shows like black in America and soon Latino in America.
    And no I am not putting my race here, lets just say I am a woman.
    Do a poll on this and you will see what I mean.
    Ines, Co

    August 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  6. Chris Roberts

    Hi I wanted to comment on the gentleman who was beaten by the police officers. To see someone get beaten like that by the same people who swore to protect us is sickening. I have seen police tapes were the cops were in the right to protect them selves but this gentleman did not show any force or reason for this cop to tackel him and in the middle of tackeling this guy he callls for back up and the other cops fly in and go straight to kicking, punching, beating this guy. It is a sad thing to see this happen and then watch the other officers lie and make a fake report to keep there friend out of trouble. The statement the police chief made on your show is just as bad as the fake reports. I am so tired of seeing cops like these guys getting away with situations like this. These cops should be suspended with out pay and charges should be filled. I feel for the man who had to go through this and hopefully justice will be served. Chris Roberts

    August 17, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  7. John

    Follow the money and you will see the reason why our Politicians do not want a public option.
    Insurance companies ‘will not’ go out of business!

    August 18, 2009 at 7:26 am |
  8. Ronald Haw

    Is it true that the Medicare/Medicaid programs are not required to have competitive bidding for their purchase of prescription drugs?

    If so, then any idea of what the yearly savings would be versus the Presidents' statement that the drug companies proposed a savings of $80 billion (number of years unknown ???).

    Therefore, if the estimated savings is greater than the $80 billion then why not require the Medicare/Medicaid programs to have competitive bidding for their purchase of prescription drugs?


    Malibu, California

    August 18, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  9. Gerald

    Co-ops are just another insurance plan that will not reform the heath care system . Public option will control the greed and poor management of the insurance plans.

    August 18, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  10. Rick

    Something has to be done regardless, The Cobra plan does not work for your average working class. Take a person who is barely getting by in this economy, take away their income, and ask them to pay more for cobra then what it costs to pay rent on a house. It is ridicules and needs to be fixed even if the government has to step in and show the way.

    August 18, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  11. Ethelynn

    I was watching Drew, on CNN, about 10:08 Central time today. They showed a report on the public option health care. They stated the premiums for that plan would be 10-20% less than private insurance. When describing the reason for those lower premiums, the speaker did not even mention the absence of PROFIT in the public plan! Why is CNN avoiding this statement of the obvious and most important reason for adopting a public plan? I'm disappointed in CNN's seeming attempt at biased reporting!

    Austin, Tx

    August 18, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  12. Lenny, Dallas, TX

    We can have 2 health systems for Americans. One with a public option for those that believe government has a role to play in health care. And another for those who say government has no role in health care.

    If you are a senior (over 65) and you oppose government health care, Medicare should pay the balance of what you paid into Medicare and you can go to a private health insurance company and buy your insurance.

    If you oppose government health insurance, you should be allowed to opt out of paying taxes related to health care. Just as long as you don't ask for any help getting treatment using any government health insurance program. That way, the minority does not deprive the majority of their rights. Simple.

    August 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Marge Pellegrino

    Don Lemon's articulate, multi-layered, no-nonsense approach to the health care debate is refreshing. Thanks Don!
    a fan in AZ...

    August 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  14. Larry

    Why not make the public option open to individuals ONLY and not to businesses? That way only people who want it will have it. Isn't that what most people are worried about?

    August 19, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  15. John R. Austin

    Anything as important as human life & death should NOT involve "for profit" companies to decide that fate...and who gets treated for what & when! The ONLY reform that is true reform would be a bill the PUBLIC OPTION. How and the hell we ever let "for profits" into healthcare in the first place is beyond me.
    This is a democracy that allows capitalism to work within our country NOT a capitalistic country that allows democracy to work!

    August 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  16. RoBoBrain

    What I'd like to see in the reform, Is a large percentage of the money going into public schools to educate ourselfs how to eat properly and what not to do and do for our bodies good health. Money for gym classes and extracurricular activities that many schools don't have or are eliminating because of lack of funds. Also a push to tax fast food establishments that don't meet a standard of health food to help the environment and also tax items that are considered bad for your health like cigarettes, chips, sodas and candies. It's not just health reform its what we do that causes such a problem with our health. We can all have insurance but if we don't focus on the root of the cause its not going to matter.

    August 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  17. Gene Lucas

    This question/comment is for the Saturday afternoon program.

    Why is no one discussing the lack of healthcare infrastructure to support the proposed addition of millions of people to the patient pool? There won't be enough doctors, enough nurses, hospital beds, etc. The healthcare system would simply be overwhelmed by the new patient load – especially when you add those with continuing illnesses. Even in Sweden, whose doctor to patient ratio is twice ours, they still have waits for elective procedures. We need to prepare, which will take a long time, before we go into anything like universal health care. I don't understand why this major problem isn't being discussed by either side.

    As to the cost question – the Defense Department and NASA budgets could easily be trimmed to provide the needed money.

    August 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  18. r hoag

    I just heard Mr, Lemon refuse to recognise the concept of rationing Healthcare. Either Mr. Lemon is incredably dense or looking to incite ratings. We ration healhcare now and by not recognizing that it happens and in fact that it will have to continue there is no way to arrive at a fair and rational (note the word) system. Opponents to progress in health care site this "fact" that the new proposals would ration healthcare all the while ignoring the fact that it is already rationed in our current system -if you have enough money you can buy great care if not well too bad-

    Healthcare like calories , chocolate energy cannot be supplied without limits the goal is to supply it to everyone fairly and recognise there are limits.

    August 22, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  19. jrn

    healthcare reform:

    1. Continue healthcare debate for another 6 months or until economy recovers fully.
    2. Add public and private options.

    August 23, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  20. jrn

    We urge President Barack Obama to postpone many of his initiatives on healthcare because of the economic downturn. Let Obma or his party hold as many Townhall mettings as possible.

    Grassroots battle tests the Obama movement.

    August 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  21. Paul Kanter

    Competition in America:
    Argument: Government Insurance, because of its cheaper prices, will run private insurers out of business. Thus, the private health insurance industry will collapse because of the introduction of cheaper services into the marketplace.

    Rebuttal: If that was true, then generic products would run brand names out of business. Also, Department Store Sales would run other Department Stores out of business. That does not happen. Also, by that logic, Apple would be out of business because PCs are less expensive than Mac computers. Yet Apple is in business and doing well. The nature of free-markets is to have competition. The buyers sometimes buy the cheaper, better products, but not always.
    To argue against competition in the market place is to argue against free markets. To argue against cheaper, better products is also to argue against free enterprise and free markets and does not promote fiscal responsibility if people have to buy more expensive products instead of saving their money by buying cheaper products.

    August 24, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  22. scotte Hampton VA

    Military retirees are under a government health system, and it don't work very well, at least prior to May 1997 when it went from CHAMPUS, where they didn't have fees and relied on medical treatment in military hospitals where it took months to get an appointment. When it was changed to TRICARE in 1997 an annual
    fee/premium was put in place, when health care was supposed to be no cost for retirees, and you can slect civilian doctors that participate in the TRICARE program. The only draw back to TRICARE is when you reach 65 they force you to get Medicare part
    B where the premiums are higher and the coverage is less than TRICARE. You may elect to keep TRICARE if you pay TRICARE premiums plus Medicare premiums. This sounds like you can keep the insurance you have with a penalty. A slap in the face for people who gave 20 years or more of their life to protect our country

    August 24, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  23. Harris Morison

    Race certainly should not be a factor in any health related system.The US should be greatly ashamed for even having to "discuss" what care should be available to the citizens of this country.All care should be available to all who have worked to build this country.

    August 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  24. James of Houston

    Well Guys, the “Public Health Care Option” has today died a very natural death!

    The CNN Newsroom has just announced that our deficit by the year 1019 will be 7.1 trillion dollars. By this date, the yearly interest we pay on our national debt will exceed the money we will spend on national defense!

    We have got to get our breakaway spending under control; otherwise, there will be no Social Security or Medicare funds left for any of us after we retire! …. Forget the “Public Option” for now and let it die a natural death … let’s first work to save Medicare!

    August 25, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  25. James of Houston

    This comment is for Michele.

    Michele, I agree with you completely! … My suggestion is, let’s all agree to throw the current health bill (HR 2500) out and draft a new one that is written in plain English that we all can understand!

    Let’s include things in the new bill like (1) no denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, (2) ability to buy health insurance policies across state lines, and (3) an income tax credit for persons who buy insurance policies on their own and are not covered through a small business or a larger company.

    No wonder the Dems wanted to pass this bill in the heat of the moment — no one (not even they!) can understand it or actually knows what is in it!

    August 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  26. Roger in North Texas

    Of course race is involved with some people's opinion no matter how you slice it. Just as these "Tea Party" people are on their tour now, where were they when Bush was in office spending money like a kid in a candy store? When they've been interviewed hardly any I've seen have a specific answer other than parroting their "leaders" such as Limbaugh and O'Riley. It's all about Obama and the only specific answer I heard was he's turning us into a socialist state. Translation: I've got mine and I'm not sharing. Such a nation of New Testament Christians we have here (sarcasm!).

    August 30, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  27. Dodie ~ California

    What is wrong with Americans! This is very scary! These angry people have no knowledge. They scream socialism just because the government wants to give us an option.

    Normal people??? Not normal in my book and I work in Mental Health!!!

    September 5, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  28. Dodie ~ California

    For profit insurance companies have no business making money off the sick and dying!

    There is NO health care reform with out public option!!

    @ Roger, yes, I agree. I would like to see the educational level of these "Tea Party" people!!!

    I think the major problem is that Pres. Obama is too intelligent for their understanding!!!

    September 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  29. Rick

    I totally agree with the last two comments. The wealthy just think with their assets while the finacially challanged continue to be opressed and handicapped.

    September 6, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  30. Joseph Thomas

    Don does a good job in interviewing, but I was not convinced that he did that today while interviewing the OK guy who came for Tea Party. Don, always make sure that the interviewee gets to answer the question. Let question be specific. Ask until you get the answer: How do you define 'socialism'? Get him to name each of the 18 or so areas that the government can administer. Describe the distinguishing features of socialism. Ask him to describe the differences between democracy and republic when he intends to show that these are mutually exclusive. If so, what are we doing through elections in Iraq, Afghanistan? Did you ask the guy as to who pays for the expenses of their traveling to DC. Ask if there is any Health Insurance companies involved in paying their expenses or in any way involved in this ideological stand.

    All of you guys at CNN should spend more time in studying the issues intellectually. Most of you do not, I know. Study the issue academically and dialectically and ask pointed questions. Stick with these questions until you reveal the ignorance of these morons.

    If you do not do that, you will be disappointing a many who watch your programs.

    J. Thomas

    September 12, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  31. Celeste

    I just saw a re-run of this show on 10-sep-09.
    i can't believe it took a whole hour to utter the race word. of course a lot of this whole anti-Obama campain is about race.

    I am a white supporter of our president and I am sure that for lots of white americans, a black president is not quite a 'real' president, and therefore not entitled to the same level of respect as his predecessors.

    I live in NYC and I will never forget the scene in 1992, at City Hall here in Manhattan, when then-mayoral candidate Rudolf Giuliani, led a mob of off-duty NYC police-officers to demonstrate against first black mayor David Dinkins and some of them were carrying toilet brushes and calling him a washroom attendant. This whole anti Obama mob mentality is the exact same thing and a disgrace.

    I had never heard the term 'doc-whistle' politics, but that's a brilliantly descriptive term.

    September 12, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  32. Paula

    Thank you Don. Race has everything to do with the current prostest that are occuring around this country. Pay attention to the protestors on the news, the ones that step up and speak to the mike are older, white and angry about issues that most would find non issues. Most of these older whites remember and have benefitted from "Jim Crow" priviledges that has long since dissipated. Yes Don, they are not happy with a black man doing what they could not. They don't care to let the world see that what they said about American whites and their poilices are failures and an African-American succeeded where other white president failed. No Don we can't have that.

    September 12, 2009 at 8:12 pm |
  33. Michelle

    I have done my share of complaining to CNN when I thought you weren't being balanced. Today I send you big, big kudos. I was at the Tea Party event in DC , and after wondering how CNN's coverage at 7PM would track with what I saw, I was very impressed with your coverage. Don Lemon continues to impress me as a rising star within the entire industry (having the same independent persona that Dana Bash and Heidi Collins convey) and I thought he was so straight down the middle and fair that I felt compelled to write this. In fact, I know Wolf Blitzer is a treasure at CNN, but replace him with Don Lemon and I'll be watching CNN a lot more in that key time slot. Please let him know that he is appreciated by viewers craving an independent press. I also watched your crew at the event take a tongue lashing (I even thought it was unfair at the time) from the protestors, who felt they would get very little coverage today. But when I watched you at 7, it was exemplary journalism on a number of fronts. Good job today CNN

    September 12, 2009 at 8:20 pm |
  34. Michelle

    You just had a very good discussion about race. Let me tell you my perception as someone who attended the protest today. For people who are color blind like I am, that question is offensive to me. Afterall, about 80% of the country supported President Obama at inauguration. For me, as an economist, this protest is about the ridiculous amount of debt that should be alarming EVERY single American. I don't see how ONE American can NOT be upset about our level of debt. Now were there people there- who in addition to their legitiate concerns- who may have racists leanings? Could be. I won't deny that. But even if I could verify that a few people there had those leanings, I believe 100% of the people there had concerns that were legitimate from an economic, constitutional, political, and cultural standpoint. If someone had shown up there with a completely racist agenda and poster that had the N word on it....I believe the rest of the protestors would not have tolerated them, and in fact would have been the first to denounce and brow beat them. What I'm trying to say is that I can't tell you racism doesn't exist, but try looking at the legitimate concerns that every single person there had instead.

    September 12, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  35. Lily1

    thanks for finally bringing up the elephant in the room. Of course racism is at work here. You just wouldn't see this sort of thing if Obama was not a man of color. 'bout time somebody said it.
    These people are acting on twisted misinformation and irrational fears that have been stoked with racism.
    Sure, I am all for the right to assemble and free speech. Disagreeing with the president is fine and constructive criticism is necessary in a healthy democracy. But anyone over 50 looking at these rallies gets a creepy flashback to days when civil rights were not a given. I know I do.
    For the record, I'm a white, conservative, rural farmer. We don't all feel the way folks at these rallies do. I think it is shameful that racism is getting so much fuel in this country. What has become of us?

    September 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  36. John fron NJ

    The ELEPHANT in the room – Here’s the deal, I watch a lot of news on all three channels CNN, FOX, MSNBC. I see how story’s are covered, which ones are covered and the tones and emphasis the anchor tell those story’s. There is no doubt there are left leaning anchors and right leaning anchors and those who pretend they are in the middle, there are maybe 3 or 4 anchors I think can tell a story without bending to one side or the other. I sat and watched Don Lemon this afternoon 9/12 and he seems like a man looking for answers and maybe on a mission. He had guests on today to discuss the Joe Wilson out burst on the floor of the Congress and seemed really frustrated that the Congress, the Republicans, the Democrats and pretty much the world is not more up in arms over Wilson’s outburst and why he did it. I think in Lemon’s mind (and others) he only did it because the President is a black man. Discussing the why he yelled out “you lie” with Lemon’s 2 guest gets nowhere unless he is actually interviewing Wilson, anything else is 2 opinions on one side and another opinion on the other side.
    As soon as Obama won Iowa I had conversations with friends talking about his chances of winning and the historic moment it would be but mostly what would fill the next four years if he was elected. I knew even back then before the OBAMA FEVER swept the nation it would be four years filled with whatever criticism he or his policies got there would be an attempt to blame those making the criticism doing so because of the color of his skin. I also knew it would be lead by the media followed by politicians and jumped on by the public. Unfortunately it has, is and will be playing itself out just as I spoke about after the Iowa win.

    I want to tell Lemon this, Joe Wilson did something against good taste, protocol and house rules. Why he did it only Joe Wilson knows. What you, we have to deal with is what happens because of that. An apology was made and accepted, Pelosi has said she did not want to do anything further but there maybe something more to say on the floor of the congress. I feel too many in the media are trying to bring race into this discussion simply as a distraction. Where you had on one from the left one from the right and your own opinion that could have discussed, is the president wrong or right, about the immigration issue shouted about.
    You were wondering about the level of discourse around the country. The signs and yelling is no different than past years the numbers may be different, the topic and person may be different but not the left or right sentiment. It may seem to you that it is different but I believe that is because these signs and yelling is against something and someone you believe in and it stings a little more. That is not a bad thing, you have opinions too, I just hope you would realize this and think more about the questions you use and what direction you go off in.
    Oh and on the bringing guns to rally’s. Put yourself in their shoes, you consider yourself not a racist, law abiding and a believer in gun ownership. Now think of yourself watching TV and seeing reports of one man who brought a gun to a rally and you see people like Chris Matthews bring it up every night for a week, other anchors doing the same and they are painting you as crazy and dangerous and other things. You think to yourself, you know what I am none of those things so I am going to get a few of my friends and were going down to the next rally with our guns and show them. That’s all Lemon there were just trying to push their rights and show TV anchors they are not like how they are being portrayed and maybe just a little thought that it might piss off a few people on the left and that made them feel a little better.
    John from NJ

    September 12, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  37. Michelle


    One last point. Since you and another person I respect ( LauraBush) made the same comment with regard to socialism, please allow me to give some insight. I have a partial doctorate in economics – specifically in "comparative systems," which means the study of communist systems, socialist systems, and capitalist systems and everything in between. I also spent time in the military during the Cold War as an intelligence officer, seeing the frontline battles of communist vs. capitalist philosophies. The proper way to look at it is this: These philosophies all lie within one continuum. To the extreme at one end is pure capitalism. To the other extreme is pure centrally controlled communism. At one end is total govt control; at the other is no govt at all. Socialism falls closer to the end of govt control, though it is a matter of degree. If you are moving toward more govt, it is a relative measure and it IS appropriate to describe that as socialism, regardless of what the dictionary says. Either Obama is moving us more to the socialist end, or more to the capitalist end. He is definitely not moving us more toward the capitalist end. That's why I disagree with both Laura Bush and you that socialism is not an accurate label. Ask any of us that fought during the Cold Car and we will tell you it is absolutely a fair label. If I had to rely on the definitions coming from people out on the frontlines, or from people up in the Ivory Towers, I'd pick the experienced people every time (in fact, that IS my problem with many in this administration). Don, if I didn't respect your intellect and desire for objectivity, I wouldn't even waste my 30 years of real world economics experience and 15 minutes of typing on explaining this to you. But I believe you work hard to get to the truth, and it is appreciated.

    September 12, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  38. ted in portland

    Don, if you want to find racism in the political debate, it's easy enough to find. That doesn't make it the "Elephant in the Room" as you call it. In fact, it's a convenient red-herring for journalists like yourself to avoid responding to the legitimate issues being raised by people like myself, a 56 year old Republican who spent literally hundreds of hours campaigning for Barack Obama in 2008, only to discover that this man who held himself out as an agent of change, a force to cleanse our government of corrupt interests, has actually protected and strengthened their stranglehold over national policy.

    I don't care to sign on with the Tea Party crowd, even though I observe that they are coincidentally correct in some of their concerns over our new President (who I also voted for, by the way). I heard one of them complaining that our taxes are too high. In fact, if the Congress was spending tax-payer dollars on stimulus packages, bailouts, or prospective health care benefits, I wouldn't mind that much, because I'd know that the democratic process would be engaged. The problem is, it's not tax-payer dollars being spent on these programs, it's borrowed Chinese dollars, or worse, faux US Dollars created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve.

    The Tea Party crowd is really no better than the Democrat majority in Congress. Nobody wants to admit these truths: first, we're all willing to allow our government to continue to fund entitlements with more borrowing, or more monetization, particularly if some portion of our assumed lifestyle might be threatened if we considered what we can actually afford.

    Second, their references to "getting back to what made American great..." perpetuate the myth that, absent the influence of the liberals, this country was living up to it's principles and that our economy was the 'greatest in the world". In fact, this country hasn't made a profit in 35 years, since 1975, the last year we had a trade surplus. This year, we will borrow (or print) 1 dollar for every tax-payer dollar our government spends. Every member of the electorate is guilty of tolerating that status-quo, including the highly compensated members of my party who really want things to remain the way they are. That is the elephant in the room: we're flat broke, and the American electorate wants to be able to complain about government spending, but unwilling to do anything about it.

    I'm exhausted, and I'll close by telling you the problem is not racism, it's a President who believes he can govern by talking points, while the reality is: this country is heading for an abyss, in the very near future.

    September 13, 2009 at 1:59 am |
  39. Michelle

    I'd say Ted got right to heart of the entire matter. We're flat broke but no one wants to do their part to cut government spending.

    September 14, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  40. Paula

    Bravo Ted and Michelle for your insight and it is much appreciated. Thank you. Our country was founded on principles that the tea baggers and others to the left and the right are taking advantage of. This man is our President PERIOD. I will be the 1st to tell anyone I totally disagreed with President Bush, his 1st election, and his policies. I disagreed with the war in Iraq, torture for information, and contractors doing military work overseas. But you know what? I prayed for and respected President Bush because he was my President, I love this country and I am proud to be an American. Currently have two of my three children serving in the military and I am proud of each of them for their sacrifice. So instead of taking the country back to the 1950's and 1960's or whenever, write your congressman, make phone calls, and make a difference, but don't hold up signs showing your ignorance and showing the world why America's light has diminished. I am so disappointed that people would take nastiness so far and call it free speech. What's next? Don't answer that I don't want to know.

    September 15, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  41. Jennifer

    I just watched the first lady's speech on health insurance reform, and I feel the need to share my story. Speaking of femlaediscrimination, I have been unable to get a job because I am pregnant, my husband's job did not give us health insurance coverage because we did not apply within the enrollment period! We resorted to buying a private health insurance, but we were turned down because of my preexisting condition: pregnancy!
    I decided to apply for a public medical card from All Kids, but was denied coverage because as they claim my husband's income is above the minimum requirement level. Right now, I do not have health insurance, I can afford a private insurance but none is willing to sell to a pregnant woman, I can't get coverage from the government, I'm just in the middle of no where.
    I have not been able to start my prenatal care and I'm about six months pregnant. I am not writing to appeal for sympathy, I am advocating the fact that reform is the only remedy for the present healthcare system in America. No pregnant woman should be allowed to be in my shoes.

    September 18, 2009 at 12:27 pm |