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Healthy debate?

BY BEAU ELLIOT | MARCH 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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So we had a big to-do health-insurance-reform summit last week, and just as President Obama wanted, everybody played nicey-nice and all bipartisan and everything, and we wound up with health-care reform.

So now you and I can get sick (not that I’m recommending it, exactly), and we can concentrate on getting care and getting well and not worry about being sent to debtors’ prison.

There is no debtors’ prison, you say.

And, of course, the summit didn’t quite go that way, either.

Predictably, the Republicans fell back on their favorite word of the last year or so:

No.

Actually, the more you listen to Republicans, the more they resemble some of those old Soviet apparatchiks, so maybe the correct word is Nyet.

Probably the best line about the event came from Roxanne Roberts of the Washington Post and NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”: There should have been beer.

Curiously, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was the point man for the GOP, and he summed up the Republican position when he basically accused Obama of being too smart for America.

No, really.

In his own words: “Our country is too big, too complicated, too decentralized, for Washington, a few of us here, just to write a few rules about remaking 17 percent of the economy all at once. That sort of thinking works in the classroom, but it doesn’t work very well in our big, complicated country.”

Uh, “a few of us here, just to write a few rules”? Alexander is a member of Congress, of which there are 535 members. That is, decidedly, a small number in comparison with the 300 million of the rest of us. But — isn’t that the whole point of people democratically electing representatives? Those in Tennessee elected Alexander to do — well — something. He’s supposed to write a few rules. That’s what all of us in this country pay him for.

I emphasize the all. It’s not as if merely the people in Tennessee pay Alexander’s salary (and, not to put too fine a point on it, his health-care benefits). Lamar Alexander not only gets paid by the people of Tennessee — we’re all cutting him a check.

So, Senator Alexander, if you don’t write a few rules, what in the hell are you doing there? I mean, I’m paying you to do something.

“Our country is too big, too complicated …”?

Well, this is the Lamar Alexander who has run for president a time or two. Spectacularly unsuccessfully. His major qualification seemed to be: He could wear a flannel shirt OK.

Obama’s “thinking works in the classroom”?

America is too stupid for Obama? That’s the Republicans’ line?

Why don’t they just come out and say America is too fat for Obama, too?

I mean, at 180-some pounds, 6-2, plays a bunch of hoops — Obama is far too fit for porky America. (“Our country is too big” is obviously code for the crowd too big to fit into the old jeans.)

Alexander also said “for millions of Americans, premiums will go up” under Obama’s plan.

Has he heard about Anthem Blue Cross in California, which right now is raising its premiums for something like 800,000 of its customers an average of 25 percent? Some Californians will see premium raises of 39 percent. This without any help from any Democratic’s plan — Obama’s or otherwise — which, of course, is famously not in effect.

And according to Robert Reich, “Insurers have been seeking to raise premiums 24 percent in Connecticut, 23 percent in Maine, 20 percent in Oregon, and a wallet-popping 56 percent in Michigan.”

It’s enough to make you sick.

Except, of course, you can’t really afford to do that.


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