Rhetoric and Policies that Don’t Match

For a strange moment in US politics, the Prez debate the other night, the candidates were asked whether they thought health care was a right or not?

McCain answered health care is a responsibility.  Obama right.

But then you read this article by Ron Brownstein and something doesn’t add up:

The bedrock goal of Obama’s plan is to reinforce the sharing of risk and cost between healthy and sick, young and old. By contrast, McCain, hoping to expand choice, would erode risk-sharing and accept sharper distinctions between the healthy and sick in both the availability and cost of coverage. One plan prizes solidarity; the other, autonomy.

iow, the language and the policies don’t add up.  Obama’s plan is one predicted on responsibility (mutual responsibility I guess).  And McCain’s is rightly seen by Brownstein as emphasizing autonomy (more traditionally connected with the language of rights).

I think it’s much better to talk about health care as a responsibility or a democratically approved common good and not a right.  So in that sense, I’m with McCain.

But McCain’s plan is really more about individual responsibility I guess you could say (charitably?).  Except that for a large number of individuals (see Brownstein’s post for background on this) they won’t have that opportunity because the market will not be available to them (pre-existing conditions, the state de-regulation McCain pushes could allow states to take up residence in a state with lax regulation and sell that policy everywhere). So Obama’s argument for rights I suppose is that he will use the power of the fed to enforce the companies to see to it that those rights are upheld.  Maybe?

I don’t know, I find the languaging on both sides pretty weird.

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Published in: on October 11, 2008 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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