A Modest Healing Proposal

The government shut down has set the public rightly against the sad and ridiculous ideals of the Tea Party and the complicit Republicans. Rightly so. And the same obstinate and hapless people have set for themselves the task of magnifying any and all problems with the Health Care reforms we need so badly.

The Obama administration has admitted the problems and taken responsibility for them. Namely, the web site is slower and not as responsive, and a small percentage of people were NOT able to keep their plans; either because the coverage was inadequate, or because the company that offered the benefit has dropped the coverage in favor of employees pursuing plans through the Exchanges. Demand for plans is high for those who want or need the coverage. We have yet to see how the plan will fare when the rest of the public is supposed to sign up. But any problem is a good problem if you hate the concept of the ACA from the beginning. This all let the Republicans’ foot in the door, and wedge it forth they certainly did! Mitch McConnell was able to say, “I don’t think it’s fixable; Einstein couldn’t fix it.” Fixing for the far right means total destruction; the public deserves better.

To further destroy public confidence in the government, we have the steady revelations by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden of all the heinous exploration of the National Security Agency. Some of these leaks should come as little surprise; others do seem pretty unjustified. I claim that the press has underreported that the likely source of the mushroom growth of these excesses may be attributed to the zealous post 9-11 efforts of the W administration. Still, Obama campaigned on government openness and a reasonably limited defense. He has not really delivered here, given 5 years to clean up these W messes. At best, he’s made an honest effort, and discovered it’s bigger and deeper than he thought. More likely, W (and Reagan) has created a spying leviathan that just needs to eat and grow like some B movie monster.

Today – by coincidence, we can all rejoice – a drone has taken out a major Taliban leader in Pakistan. The public rightly is most ill at ease with the US drone program. But look! We took out this bad guy!

Kathleen Sibelius was brilliant in her preemptive strike against the Republican attack machine that set up the congressional inquiry (“It’s doesn’t work like it should, and take responsibility, and I apologize.”) Well done, but not enough. Obama has made similar overtures, but they are just reactive.

That is not the way to restore public trust in its government. None of this is.

There is one thing the W administration did well; it made a commission to review our response to 9-11. It’s time for some out of the box thinking that might build a little confidence in our elected officials. We need a few bipartisan commissions. We need them to evaluate just what we can do to have health care reform that does what we need, and at least something close to what a majority can get behind. We need another one to review our global spying efforts, with drones and in cyberspace. These groups can take on a tone of ‘pause and re-direct’ the sort of which is sorely needed right now. Commissions don’t have to publicize all of their recommendations, especially about how and on whom we spy. But their work should be publicized enough that people can gain some faith in their efforts.

I know … not far enough out of the box, and the chasm of mistrust is great. It’s a start. Got any better ideas?


About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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2 Responses to A Modest Healing Proposal

  1. JP says:

    I wonder if Mitch McConnell even knows who Einstein was.
    Given the current mood in Washington, I doubt anyone would trust a commission, and I’m pretty sure no one would really accept it as bipartisan. (I think you overestimate the effectiveness and trust in the 9-11 commission.) In a better world, it would be a good idea.
    Right now I think the best thing the administration can do is to work hard to get everything about the Affordable Care Act, including the website, working well and operating as it should as fast as possible. That is what will regain the public trust on that front. And once it is working and people have health coverage, they will want to keep it. It won’t win over the Republicans. Nothing will. They don’t want Americans to have health insurance. Period.
    The problem with a commission on spying or drones is that both parties are pretty much in lockstep on those issues. The differences are mostly rhetorical and voiced to get on TV and show their faces. When the Democrats are looking like the more militant and secretive party, no commission is going to change that. All that can is the people waking up and demanding change.
    I wish I could find a way to be more hopeful on those fronts.

  2. Jim says:

    JP, I am sorry you see no bridge in the political sphere. Your comments seem to show you only want to fight the fire with fire, not to find something that the center of the public bell curve can rally around.

    Obama’s problem is that he has given ammunition to the other side on the health care act and in national security. The best defense is good offense. He needs to be proactive. he needs to follow through on all of his statements that say to the effect, ‘we need a national discussion on this.’

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