This clip is from Sunday’s Democrat debate on ABC. It’s more evidence that John Edwards is a paranoid demagogue, when he’s not a nothingburger who lets his wife fight his toughest battle, the one with Ann Coulter.
In the debate, Edwards et al are discussing universal health care, and they all agree to one extent or another that a Democrat president will make it happen. Nothing new there. They spend far more time talking about health care than the war, not just in this debate but in their stump speeches and on their web sites.
Keep in mind that the health care industry is roughly one-seventh of the entire US economy. Keep also in mind that not all Americans see government-run anything as the answer to all problems, and that what the press describes as broad support for universal care is quite nuanced, with most Americans actually satisfied with their own health care as is, right now, though most also would like to pay less for what they’re getting (duh — what kind of person wants to pay more for anything?). Keep in mind that among the uninsured in the US, there are millions who can afford coverage but opt not to buy it. That’s their choice, a choice that Edwards and others would take away from them (see California’s proposed universal health care system, for example, which would require that everyone in the state purchase coverage. That’s not so much as solution as a command.). And keep in mind that in spite of how often Democrats extol the Canadian and European universal health care systems, there’s ample evidence that centralized health care systems just aren’t efficient and don’t work as well as the open market. Keep all of that in mind, and then listen to what John Edwards thinks is in the way of universal health care.
“Here’s what I believe. The reason we don’t have universal health care in America today is because of the insurance industry, and the drug companies, and their lobbyists. It’s that simple.”
I won’t pretend to be a health policy wonk, national security being more in my interest, but it seems to me that the insurance and pharma companies are major components of the health care industry. Demonize them all you want, but they’re part of the industry that Edwards wants the government to take over or to mandate sweeping changes in. Any solution to the problem of health care access and affordability is going to require input from them. Edwards’ own plan calls for solutions like regional “Health Care Markets” that would seem to require some input from actual health care industry insiders to put together. Unless he just plans to force ideas on the industry from his Beltway redoubt. But Edwards thinks insurance providers and pharmas are the “only reason” that we don’t already have universal health care and that rather than talk with them or work with them, he would fight them and “defeat” them. Which means….? That as the victor, he would dictate terms to the vanquished? Too bad he doesn’t talk as tough about America’s actual external enemies.
He’s cynically using the symbolism of not accepting any health care lobbyist money to shame and browbeat his opponents, but the fact is that his campaign is fueled mostly by money from trial lawyers. Trial lawyers also have a major influence on health care costs. They may be just as influential on health care costs as the doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and drug companies that they make their living suing. Why doesn’t Edwards want to fight and defeat them? Because they own him: More than half of his donors are trial lawyers, and they have donated seven times the amount that he has raised from any other single profession. Edwards is among the foxes who routinely raid the health care hen house. It takes gall to bash his opponents for accepting donations from insurance and pharma lobbies, when Edwards is so dependent on the lawyers who sue them.
Edwards’ statement on health care strikes me as both cynical (given his connection to trial lawyers as well his having made millions as one) and paranoid, and at the same time dismissive of real and reasonable objections to universalizing a system that millions of Americans simply choose not to participate in. If you’re skeptical that Washington can come up with a universal health care system that will actually cost less, continue to attract quality professionals and function better than the current system, your opinion doesn’t count with John Edwards.