Reading the transcript in the WSJ of the remarks at the President's Healthcare Summit by Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee reminded me of an occasional altercation during my childhood. When a friend would break a favorite toy, the temptation was to ask for the impossible: I want it back exactly the way it was, right now! Over the years this kind of a debating style thankfully dwindled in favor of more reasonable and logical solutions. How is it that our political discourse has spiraled into the childish domain of the unreasonable?
Here is the disconnect: on the one hand, as Mr. Ryan points out, the Obama-supported healthcare bills may bend the cost curve in the wrong direction, increasing drastically the deficits and creating empty promises for the future generations. This is clearly undesirable. But where was Mr. Ryan when Sarah, Michelle and the tea baggers were crying "death panels" and government sanctioned euthanasia when the talk came around to curbing the potentially unnecessary and marginally effective care that ravages our healthcare system? How can we have it both ways? Is it not obvious that if tthe amount of healthcare delivery continues its upward trajectory, the bill accompanying it can do nothing but continue to go up as well?
The Republicans insist that they merely object to governmental intervention in the healthcare market, and they would be delighted to craft legislation that promotes free market solutions to this mammoth that is killing America. Really? When was the last time any congressional legislation promoting "free markets" helped the people who are struggling? If the fact that in 2004 the top 0.01% of the US population controlled 6% of the nation's wealth is any reflection of the success of such legislative efforts, well...
This spin machine has got to stop. We need to demand that our legislators speak honestly and rationally about this complex multifaceted issue. The reality is that all Americans need to do some soul-searching in order to make the adult decisions that need to be made. What are we willing to give up and what are the trade-offs we are willing to accept? As difficult and as unusual it is for us to think of giving something up, make no mistake about it: we must give some things up.
So, no more sound bites! Give us the respect of an informed and cordial debate without leaving out critical pieces. Stop running for office and govern!