Stanford Progressive

Letter from the Editor

By Ross Raffin, published January, 2010


Healthcare is, without question, one of the most complex topics in domestic policy. True reform cannot be encapsulated in slogans about change or existential terrorist threats. However, destruction of reform is quite easily encapsulated in slogans. Explaining the intricacies of Medicare payments and medical liability is clearly harder than belching Cold War rhetoric. It is much easier to sell the circular argument that “big government is bad because big government is bad” than to sell a healthcare exchange which uses the same principles of economic efficiency and lowered information costs as the stock market. Reforms meant to change the cost curve in the long run are dismissed if they cannot show revenue in the first few years. Attempts to explain the current cost of healthcare is called mathematical voodoo in comparison to anecdotes about foreign leaders who come to America for medical treatments.

The misinformation circulated to and through the public makes claims of WMDs in Iraq seem like mere exaggerations. Misfits and pundits devoid of intellectual honesty equate reform with communism, socialism, fascism, and even “death panels.” Like birthers who claim Obama’s birth certificate is fake, many repeat the false claim that Congressional healthcare proposals mimic Canadian or other single-payer systems.

This is by no means a damnation of any particular group.Some oppose the current reform for good reasons. Though at times Congressional Republicans may appear united against reform, many are working behind the scenes in spite of their party’s arm-twisting. Others desperately want reform, but refuse current proposals.

However, there is another pack, those against all reform. This pack, lead in 1994 by Newt Gingrich and others, want to sink healthcare reform for the sole purpose of denying the President a “political victory.” In the Clinton era, Gingrich forcefully told every Republican congressmen to oppose any healthcare plan, regardless of the content. Gringrich has only recently admitted the healthcare system needs reform of any sort. South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint claimed that healthcare reform would be Obama’s “Waterloo” which would break him. Rush Limbaugh, perhaps, best exemplified this mentality when he hoped for the failure of the American economy so that President Obama may be denied a political or ideological victory.

On a less vitriolic note, there is an issue of disclosure to be dealt with. This issue includes an article written by former Stanford student Kai Stinchcombe (Class of 2005), who is also running for California Assemblyman for the 21st District, which encompasses Stanford and much of Silicon Valley. Before founding the Roosevelt Institution, Kai briefly served as an editor for The Stanford Progressive and as president of The Stanford Democrats. He is that person who, when you meet him, you think “damn, I hope he runs for office.” I had previously believed I would have to wait a decade or more before Kai would run. However, he has decided, at age 27, to run for California State Assembly in the upcoming election. Regardless of his previous attachments to The Stanford Progressive, I highly endorse him as a candidate.

No one expected healthcare reform to be easy. The founding fathers purposefully made large legislative changes difficult. However, the founding fathers also knew large changes were not only inevitable but, in many cases, also beneficial. The status quo may triumph, and insurance companies can continue to exclude the poor and needy while overcharging the government. However, reform may finally set in, and America will join the industrialized world in taking steps to ensure the well-being of its citizens. This change cannot be accomplished in isolation. The citizens, activists, professionals, and advocates must join in the halls of government to reroute America through the mechanisms bestowed on us by the constitution. Healthcare reform will not take away from America’s ideals; it will protect future generations and help nurse, not abandon, liberty.


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