Friday, August 07, 2009

A Third Rail 

It has often been said that Social Security is the "Third Rail of US Politics" -- the electrified metal that kills any politician unwise enough to touch it. Now it appears that another third rail has appeared and it is health care. it has turned into a PR battle royale with Congressmen hearing screams of angst in all parts of America. The irony is that few like the health care system we have today, but they don't want to change it. It takes a brave politician to enter the fray -- or a foolish one. President Obama might be a bit of both. It is unclear whether he expected the uprising, although he was pushing for passage of a bill before the August vacation. He might well have foreseen opposition forming and was trying to circumvent it. Now, he will have to use all of his persuasive skills to get the health care bill back on track, and he probably will, but the final plan might not look like the one he envisioned a few months ago. The power of public opinion is strong indeed.

Yeah, there is the power of public opinion but in this case I think it's mostly private opinion in the form of intense lobbying by the doctors, the hospitals, the pharma companies, et al. Until self-interest takes a back seat to the public interest for a bit, this issue will never go away and our health care as a nation will suffer. But that's democracy. Push and pull, push and pull, until something finally gives. I hope on this one it's positive in the end.

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