I can't honestly say that when I voted last year for Barack Obama that healthcare was one of the overriding reasons. I'm sure it was one of the reasons, but not a the top of the list. Getting us out of Iraq was probably at the top. Or maybe it was getting George W. Bush out of Washington - that is more likely. Looking back at the entry of Election Eve, 2008, written the night before the day we elected Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States, this is what I had to say about George W. Bush:
George W. Bush has led our country into war, into debt, and into isolation with the rest of the planet. He has almost single handedly destroyed the integrity and pride of the United States of America. He had been aided and abetted in this travesty by his Vice President, Dick Cheney, a former congressman and Secretary of Defense from Wyoming. He has further been aided and abetted by voters all across the country who reelected him in 2004, or more properly elected him for the first time, as it is totally unprovable that he was ever elected the first time.
There isn't a word in there about healthcare. On other occasions, I've written about America's need to address its failing infrastructure. I've written a lot on the evils of continually lowering taxes and exempting taxpayers from the revenue rolls of the Republic, but, honestly, I've written very little about healthcare. A search of the blog indicates I've used the word twelve times, seven since Obama's election; five before then. So, why now?
It isn't like it is a new subject. My congressman has been talking about it since his first election in 2006. America has herself addressed the subject in bits and pieces over time. We've created Medicare and Medicaid, along with the Veterans Administration hospitals, all of which are forms of government-ran healthcare systems. I see very few people refusing the services of any of these three so-called "socialist medicine" programs. Yet, when it comes to expanding these programs to all people, nationwide, there is an unfortunate pushback.
Despite the pushback, the United States House of Representatives last night passed, by a very narrow margin, a healthcare bill. My congressman, John Yarmuth, of course, supported such legislation. His neighboring congressman, Baron Hill, along the Right Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 also voted Yes, something of a pleasant surprise. His fellow Democratic congressman from Kentucky, Albert Benjamin Chandler III, voted with the Republicans - that is Ben voted with every single Republican save one - from Louisiana - voting against the bill.
At a dinner a few weeks ago in Lexington Congressman Chandler, in addressing a room full of Kentucky Democrats at the Red Mile Race Course, waffled on the matter, saying he thought it was a good idea but was worried about the cost. Imagine a Kentucky politician worried about the costs of healthcare. I must wonder on just what is it Congressman Chandler would rather have us spend money? He hasn't told us the answer to that question - only that this measure was too much for his blood. I think it is worth asking with which other "socialist" programs he might have problems? Does he think the school lunch program is worth the dime? Or Social Security? Or Medicare? Or the outlay for veterans at the Lexington VA hospitals [they have two, one on Leestown, one on Cooper Drive on the UK campus]?
Maybe it isn't fair to ask these questions as these are all programs already in place, programs which have been in place for many years. But, with all the talk for shrinking the government, one must wonder if they weren't, would the present congress, including the congressman from Kentucky's Sixth District, vote for such programs?
I've written in the past that the best advantage and worst aspect of a democracy is that people get to vote. Keep in mind America, we are a representative democracy, as the forefathers - there were no foremothers - assigned to the people no right to vote on everything, offering instead the right to vote for people who would then represent them in the congress. Fortunately, we are also a government of three branches. Obama runs one of them, the Conservatives control the Federal Bench, but it is unclear who controls the third, where the Democrats at least seem to be in charge at least on paper.
Ours is a big tent party. Thus, there is room for a blue dog like Chandler. To his credit, Chandler has supported some left-of-center initiatives. Like Yarmuth and Hill, Chandler was an early supporter of Barack Obama, endorsing him on April 30, a few weeks before Kentucky's primary. He has led the fight on Clean Water programs, something a lot more vitally important to his district than most of his constituents realize. And he has been against coal in the mountaintop removal argument, which takes some big chunks of coal to do in this state. So, maybe I'm being too harsh. (For the record, I am closer to Mongiardo's stance on coal than I am on Conway's, my candidate for the U.S. Senate). Nonetheless, at some point someone has to say, "Ben, based on your concern about costs, which group of Kentuckians is it you don't think should have healthcare?"