If history is to serve as any sort of barometer, Barack Obama would be wise to take care in choosing his outfits over the next 3 weeks:
Life, Liberty and Viagra
During the second Presidential debate, the candidates were asked if they viewed health care as a right or a responsibility. Senator John McCain replied that he viewed health care as a responsibility, while Senator Barack Obama proposed that health care is a right. This is a matter on which I have (briefly) written about in the past - see below - and one that promises to move toward the national forefront once this election is decided. Regardless of opinions, the matter brings forth an interesting question: If health care is a right, should Americans need to pay for it any more than they should their other rights? For example, we have the right to a fair trial, and if we cannot afford an attorney we are granted one. It is our right. No one debates the affordability of private attorneys, and no one debates that wealthier citizens can afford better legal protection. Should the same be the case for health care? It will be interesting to see how a potential President Obama constructs his argument for the idea of health care as a 'right.'
The next 4 to 8 year period has the potential to see the seating of as many as 4 Supreme Court Justices. Their views on health care as a 'right', along with the views of the rest of the Justices, may become very important. I believe there is a real chance that after repeated failures on a legislative level, the health care debate could move into the judicial realm.Obviously, the leanings of our next president, who will appoint these judges, may play a large - but somewhat secondary- role in expanding health care. As Mr. Fitzgibbons points out, even a Democratic president, more likely to favor a 'universal' approach, faces a nearly deadlocked Congress. As an example, the Oregon House of Representatives last week failed to pass a resolution that would add a clause to the state's constitution asserting each Oregonian's 'right to health care.' A national initiative would most likely face the same fate. However, by beginning to frame this issue as a matter of 'rights', a president, through careful judicial selections, may indeed advance (or conversely squelch) this topic further than previously achieved and provide a foothold for further action.
reprinted from Running a Hospital, March 3, 2008
Can we all agree now that it is a very, very good thing that President Bush was unsuccessful in his bid to privatize Social Security several years back? Of course, it would have expedited the fulfillment of his prediction that the system would be bankrupt by 2010.