Examining the Democratic Platform Part I: Preamble, the Economic Crisis, and Health Care

(Note: This series should contain curly quotes because I composed it in Word. If it comes out as gibberish instead, or if there’s weird formatting or other unnecessary junk, let me know.)

I mentioned two weeks ago that I was encouraged by Barack Obama’s apparent commitment to fighting global warming at the last debate. (Incidentially, the way the first two presidential debates went down I was kind of hoping for more foreign policy questions at the ostensible domestic policy debate on Wednesday.) But how much is the rest of the Democrats’ platform worth fighting for in other races? In the start of a series, I take a close look at the Democrats’ platform as a public service and find out which party is really the best for me and, perhaps, for most Americans.

The first question, of course, is: Can we get through the 59-page document? We can, but it’s a lengthy work and so this is going to be more than twice the size of any of my prior posts – about 6,000 words – and it’s still going to be a multi-part series that’ll be released in stages (aiming for closer to 5,000 words per post) throughout the week. I’m thinking this’ll be a four-part series just on the Democrats. I’ll also throw in my analysis of the Republican platform (which believe it or not is even longer), probably while this is still going.

The document’s lengthy preamble begins with a bunch of stuff that few would argue with, but presented as the special charge of the Democratic Party:

We believe that every American, whatever their background or station in life, should have the chance to get a good education, to work at a good job with good wages, to raise and provide for a family, to live in safe surroundings, and to retire with dignity and security. We believe that quality and affordable health care is a basic right. We believe that each succeeding generation should have the opportunity, through hard work, service and sacrifice, to enjoy a brighter future than the last.

Few Americans are likely to disagree with any of this. I’m also breaking out this paragraph and its attempt to broadly characterize the American people as a whole, as it shows how the Democrats see America:

A great nation now demands that its leaders abandon the politics of partisan division and find creative solutions to promote the common good. A people that prizes candor, accountability, and fairness insists that a government of the people must level with them and champion the interests of all American families. A land of historic resourcefulness has lost its patience with elected officials who have failed to lead.

These are mostly empty platitudes, although I’m finding myself more tempted to break out some of them and criticize them this go-round than I did on my first attempt. The Democrats then move to the “historic” “list of failures of this Administration”, and while some people might have problems with some of the statements of fact, they probably wouldn’t argue that they’re bad, with the main exception early on being the line about “instigat[ing] an unnecessary war in Iraq before finishing a necessary war in Afghanistan,” which might attract pacifists wondering if any war is “necessary”. The Democrats follow that up with the “false promises that got us here”, and again, few would probably argue with the interpretation of the facts if they agreed on the facts: “They said they would be compassionate conservatives, but they failed to rescue our citizens from the rooftops of New Orleans, neglected our veterans, and denied health insurance to children.”

These are not just policy failures. They are failures of a broken politics –a politics that rewards self-interest over the common interest and the short-term over the long-term, that puts our government at the service of the powerful. A politics that creates a state-of-the-art system for doling out favors and shuts out the voice of the American people. So, we come together not only to replace this President and his party –and not only to offer policies that will undo the damage they have wrought. Today, we pledge a return to core moral principles like stewardship, service to others, personal responsibility, shared sacrifice and a fair shot for all –values that emanate from the integrity and optimism of our Founders and generations of Americans since. Today, we Democrats offer leaders – from the White House to the State House – worthy of this country’s trust.

It all sounds good, but the question we have to constantly keep in mind is, can we trust the Democrats to bring this change? Or is it just trying to campaign for our vote so they can continue the bad old politics of the past? The Democrats immediately launch into an outline of their plan, and while it starts out with stuff no one would disagree with…

The Democratic Party believes that there is no more important priority than renewing American leadership on the world stage. This will require diplomatic skill as capable as our military might. Instead of refusing to confront our most pressing threats, we will use all elements of American power to keep us safe, prosperous, and free. Instead of alienating our nation from the world, we will enable America –once again –to lead.

This makes sense – there’s no reason to piss off the rest of the world, and quite a few reasons not to. We’re willing to use diplomacy to get what we want, but we also have “all elements of American power” at our disposal. Again, “all elements of American power” would probably piss off the pacifists, but overall, this is fairly uncontroversial. But in the next paragraph comes a line where more than just radicals are likely to jump off:

For decades, Americans have been told to act for ourselves, by ourselves, on our own. Democrats reject this recipe for division and failure. Today, we commit to renewing our American community by recognizing that solutions to our greatest challenges can only be rooted in common ground and the strength of our civic life. The American people do not want government to solve all our problems; we know that personal responsibility, character, imagination, diligence, hard work and faith ultimately determine individual achievement. But we also know that at every turning point in our nation’s history, we have demonstrated our love of country by uniting to overcome our challenges—whether ending slavery, fighting two world wars for the cause of freedom or sending a man to the moon. Today, America must unite again –to help our most vulnerable residents get back on their feet and to restore the vitality of both urban centers and family farms –because the success of each depends on the success of the other. And America must challenge us again –to serve our country and to meet our responsibilities –whether in our families or local governments; our civic organizations or places of worship.

Wait, wait, wait. The American ideal of self-reliance is “a recipe for division and failure”? Does that mean we can’t do anything without the intervention of government? But “The American people do not want government to solve all our problems,” they admit. So which is it? Okay, I’m willing to consider that the Democrats are saying they just want government to pick Americans up when they fall down, and let this go for now. But this whole “America must unite again” rhetoric sounds euphemistic, as though the Democrats are painting their impending power-taking as a movement of the people. And how can the Democrats say “America must challenge us again” when they at least want to be part of the “us”? The Democrats then go back to platitudes no one disagrees with:

And so, even when we disagree, we will work together to move this country forward. There can be no Republican or Democratic ideas, only policies that are smart and right and fair and good for America –and those that aren’t. We will form a government as decent, candid, purposeful and compassionate as the American people themselves.

This is the essence of what it means to be a patriot: not only to declare our love of this nation, but to show it –by our deeds, our priorities, and the commitments we keep.

If we choose to change, just imagine what we can do. What makes America great has never been its perfection, but the belief that it can be made better. And that people who love this country can change it. This is the country of Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Rosa Parks – people who had the audacity to believe that their country could be a better place, and the courage to work to make it so. And this Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we summoned the entire nation to a common purpose.

Of course there are people who think that America really is great simply because it’s the best nation that ever was and ever will be, but really, that’s sort of splitting hairs. Citing such legends of American history as Lincoln and MLK is either a brilliant attempt to parry that perfectionist view, or the Democrats trying to elevate their status by trying to equate themselves with these great Americans with that last sentence. Or both. But I’d like to hear more about this idea that “this Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we summoned the entire nation to a common purpose”. When have the Democrats “summoned the entire nation to a common purpose” to make a “difference in the lives of the American people”? World War II was an attempt to prevent a difference in the lives of the American people, and JFK’s go-to-the-moon challenge was more symbolic than difference-making.

That’s essentially the end of the preamble, so let’s move on to Part I, “Renewing the American Dream”. It starts with a review of the state of the economy as of August, when the platform was adopted.

For months the state of our economy has dominated the headlines–and the news has not been good. The sub-prime lending debacle has sent the housing market into a tailspin, and many Americans have lost their homes. By early August, the economy had shed 463,000 jobs over seven straight months of job loss. Health, gas and food prices are rising dramatically.

But the problem goes deeper than the current crisis. Families have seen their incomes go down even as they have been working longer hours and as productivity has grown. At the same time, health costs have risen while companies have shed health insurance coverage and pensions. Worse yet, too many Americans have lost confidence in the fundamental American promise that our children will have a better life than we do.

We are living through an age of fundamental economic transformation. Technology has changed the way we live and the way the world does business. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the advance of capitalism have vanquished old challenges to America’s global leadership, but new challenges have emerged. Today, jobs and industries can move to any country with an Internet connection and willing workers.

I quote that not to critique it but solely so we can refer to it when reading not only the Democrats’ answers to these problems, but those of other parties as well. The Democrats promptly take a potshot at Bush while building up their own record:

In the 1990s, under Bill Clinton’s leadership, employment and incomes grew and we built up a budget surplus. However, our current President pursued misguided policies, missed opportunities, and maintained a rigid, ideological adherence to discredited ideas. Our surplus is now a deficit, and almost a decade into this century, we still have no coherent national strategy to compete in a global economy.

I’m tempted to ask what these “discredited ideas” are, but we’ll move on. By the way, if these sound forced, I might have more critiques of the Democrats after looking at the Republicans’ point of view. The rest of the introduction to the part can be summed up by its single-sentence penultimate paragraph: “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.” The entire part can be summed up by the final paragraph, including the Democrats’ hope for “a new approach. One that is both innovative and faithful to the basic economic principles that made this country great.” So you’re not a bunch of socialists!
“Jumpstart the Economy and Provide Middle Class Americans Immediate Relief”: “We will provide an immediate energy rebate to American families struggling with the record price of gasoline and the skyrocketing cost of other necessities – to spend on those basic needs and energy efficient measures.” What, exactly, would this “energy rebate” entail? Would it come with conditions on how it would be spent – would people have to “spend [it] on those basic needs and energy efficient measures”? How do we know it wouldn’t just be spent on beer and drugs?
“We will devote $50 billion to jumpstarting the economy, helping economic growth, and preventing another one million jobs from being lost. This will include assistance to states and localities to prevent them from having to cut their vital services like education, health care, and infrastructure.” Would it include anything else? Would the federal government have to “cut vital services”? Surely you’re not spending $50 billion solely to keep social services from regressing, are you? Or expect that that alone would “jumpstart[] the economy” or that the impending million lost jobs would all come from state and local governments? That’s ridiculous of course, but how is that $50 billion being spent? How will $50 billion “prevent… one million jobs from being lost”? And aren’t you just throwing another $50 billion onto the national debt?

“We will quickly implement the housing bill recently passed by Congress and ensure that states and localities that have been hard-hit by the housing crisis can avoid cuts in vital services.” You just said states and localities wouldn’t need to cut certain services. Or are you talking about power and water now? And what’s in this housing bill that makes it so great?

“We support investments in infrastructure to replenish the highway trust fund, invest in road and bridge maintenance and fund new, fasttracked projects to repair schools.” Finally, some specifics. But don’t tell me that your idea of infrastructure investment is to build more highways when we need to tackle global warming head-on! Maintaining our existing roads and bridges is fine, I just want to make sure you’re not going to let up on the global warming (and congestion) fight in the face of economic crisis. Transit investment is, ideally, just as good at creating new jobs as freeway investment. And no one disagrees with the idea of repairing schools. All this requires people to maintain the roads and repair the schools, which means jobs, and it gives money to the companies supplying the raw materials and supports the economy that way as well. Not to mention the benefit of the investment itself. But is this all you’re going to do?

“We believe that it is essential to take immediate steps to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs. Taking these immediate measures will provide good jobs and will help the economy today. But generating truly shared prosperity is only possible if we also address our most significant long-run challenges like the rising cost of health care, energy, and education.” This sounds like a summary of the rest of the section – how do you “take immediate steps to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs”? The most vague statement yet!

“Empowering Families for a New Era”: This section makes clear that the Democrats just wanted to glide through the current economic crisis as quickly as possible to get to the part they really care about. Secret-socialist conspiracy theorists, start your engines! It comes complete with its own section introduction, which talks about the changing life of the American worker:

Many Americans once worked 40 hours a week for 40 years for a single employer who provided pay to support a family, health insurance, and a pension. Today, Americans change jobs more frequently than ever and compete against workers around the world for pay and benefits.

The face of America’s families is also changing, and so are the challenges they confront. Today, in the majority of families, all parents work. Millions of working Americans are also members of a new “sandwich generation,” playing dual roles as working parents and working children, responsible not only for their kids but for their aging mothers and fathers. They are working longer hours than ever, while at the same time having to meet a new and growing set of caregiving responsibilities.

Our government’s policies–many designed in the New Deal era–have not kept up with the new economy and the changing nature of people’s lives. Democrats believe that it is time for our policies and our expectations to catch up. From health care to pensions, from unemployment insurance to paid leave, we need to modernize our policies in order to provide working Americans the tools they need to meet new realities and challenges.

Wow! The Democrats are blaming one of their own in FDR! In all seriousness, let’s look at the specifics:
“Affordable, Quality Health Care Coverage for All Americans”:

If one thing came through in the platform hearings, it was that Democrats are united around a commitment that every American man, woman, and child be guaranteed affordable, comprehensive healthcare. In meeting after meeting, people expressed moral outrage with a health care crisis that leaves millions of Americans–including nine million children–without health insurance and millions more struggling to pay rising costs for poor quality care. Half of all personal bankruptcies in America are caused by medical bills. We spend more on health care than any other country, but we’re ranked 47th in life expectancy and 43rd in child mortality. Our nation faces epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases as well as new threats like pandemic flu and bioterrorism. Yet despite all of this, less than four cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health.

Remember, the Democrats essentially devoted this much effort to talking about our current economic crisis. This subsection even contains two quotes in sidebars later on!

The American people understand that good health is the foundation of individual achievement and economic prosperity. Ensuring quality, affordable health care for every single American is essential to children’s education, workers’ productivity and businesses’ competitiveness. We believe that covering all is not just a moral imperative, but is necessary to making our health system workable and affordable. Doing so would end cost-shifting from the uninsured, promote prevention and wellness, stop insurance discrimination, help eliminate health care disparities, and achieve savings through competition, choice, innovation, and higher quality care. While there are different approaches within the Democratic Party about how best to achieve the commitment of covering every American, with everyone in and no one left out, we stand united to achieve this fundamental objective through the legislative process.

That’s a lot of flaws of the current system in the penultimate sentence, and it sounds from the sentence before that that the Democrats may well support a pseudo-socialist system. I’m not sure how “covering all” can “make our health care system workable and affordable”, which sounds like it’s talking about simplifying the system by assuming if you’re alive, you have coverage, yet still “achieve savings through competition”. That sounds like it’s not socialist after all, it’s perfectly capitalist, so maybe “mak[ing] our health care system workable and affordable” refers to the other flaws on the list. But isn’t “achiev[ing] savings through competition” supposed to be the point of the current health care system? How am I supposed to know your plan will be any different? Oh wait, you don’t have a plan, you have “different approaches within the Democratic Party”. I might be able to take heart in knowing that maybe you can hash out a compromise between all of them that achieves all your goals, “covering every American” while still maintaining a competitive landscape and avoiding the pitfall of government “solv[ing] all our problems”, but for some reason I’m not optimistic.

We therefore oppose those who advocate policies that would thrust millions of Americans out of their current private employer-based coverage without providing them access to an affordable, comprehensive alternative, thereby subjecting them to the kind of insurance discrimination that leads to excessive premiums or coverage denials for older and sicker Americans. We reject those who have steadfastly opposed insurance coverage expansions for millions of our nation’s children while they have protected overpayments to insurers and allowed underpayments to our nation’s doctors.

So, throwing “millions of Americans out of their current private employer-based coverage” is okay if you do provide “an affordable, comprehensive alternative”? There are socialists in the Democratic Party! Then it talks about “our vision of a strengthened and improved health care system for all Americans” – so you do have a plan!

Covering All Americans and Providing Real Choices of Affordable Health Insurance Options. Families and individuals should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan. Coverage should be made affordable for all Americans with subsidies provided through tax credits and other means.

So you aren’t socialist! But I could easily argue that this is the system we have now only you can buy into a government health insurance plan if you can’t afford or don’t want to buy into the private options. How do the private options differ from the “coverage they have”? Where do the subsidies go, the private companies or the “families and individuals”? What would the private options have that the government wouldn’t? How can we be sure the private companies would have those things?

Shared Responsibility. Health care should be a shared responsibility between employers, workers, insurers, providers and government. All Americans should have coverage they can afford; employers should have incentives to provide coverage to their workers; insurers and providers should ensure high quality affordable care; and the government should ensure that health insurance is affordable and provides meaningful coverage. As affordable coverage is made available, individuals should purchase health insurance and take steps to lead healthy lives.

Well, I guess this answers my question. I’m guessing the government would provide low-cost health care to everyone, but it would be bare-bones crap so the private “free market” would still exist. I make it sound like a cop to HMOs that don’t wanna be driven out of business, but it also lowers how much money the government spends on health care and thus avoids ratcheting up the tax burden. Not sure what “meaningful coverage” means though, and since private companies would be “affordable” as well, all this may have a more insidious meaning than I’m reading into it. (Although the same sentence lumps “providers” in there as well, so I guess it’s also lowering the need for health insurance at all.) Still, I’m guessing it all means the government plan would be a safe haven from insurance discrimination. And didn’t I hear Obama say at the debate employers would be required to provide coverage somehow? And if it’s only “incentives” – or even if it’s not – how does that maintain the ability of families and individuals to have a choice? Wouldn’t the employer be choosing for them? Or is this talking about the employer paying for the plan the person chooses, so even after choosing the affordable plan the person doesn’t actually have to pay for it? Well, it looks from the heading of the next paragraph my first question may be answered:

An End to Insurance Discrimination. Health insurance plans should accept all applicants and be prohibited from charging different prices based on pre-existing conditions. They should compete on the cost of providing health care and the quality of that care, not on their ability to avoid or over-charge people who are or may get sick. Premiums collected by insurers should be primarily dedicated to care, not profits.

Wha… WHAT? Private insurers “should accept all applicants and be prohibited from charging different prices based on pre-existing conditions”? Either you’re undermining your “affordable” point or private insurers better hope people who actually need their services go to the government, because really, you’re talking about jacking up the premiums of everyone else. The whole point of insurance discrimination, at least the “over-charge” version (of course people shouldn’t be dropped the instant they actually need insurance), is that most of the expense of health insurance is given to a certain class of people with serious diseases (or at risk of them), so it’s only fair they pick up the tab. And “insurers should be primarily dedicated to care, not profits”? Did you even read Adam Smith and what he said makes the capitalist system work? Where’s the profit in private insurance after you’ve adopted this tack, and why would private insurers bother to get into (or stay in) the business if you’ve wiped out the profit? And you know private companies will find ways to circumvent this proposed law, and that you’ll need to jack up the tax burden at least a little to enforce it.
Portable Insurance. No one should have to worry about losing health coverage if they change or lose their job.” They might have to go through a bureaucracy though. It’s still hard to get retirement accounts to come with you to a new job, to the extent I’ve kept seeing “rollover your 401k” ads. That might be what you end up seeing in health care; if we haven’t gotten it right in retirement how are we going to get it right in health insurance the instant we start instituting it?
Meaningful Benefits. Families should have health insurance coverage similar to what Members of Congress enjoy. They should not be forced to bear the burden of skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles or benefit limits that leave them at financial risk when they become sick. We will finally achieve long-overdue mental health and addiction treatment parity.” And what do members of Congress enjoy? At least it doesn’t sound like you’re imposing this on the private companies, only instituting it in the government plan. But you’re lapsing back into vagueness. (Incidentially, the surprising detail-oriented nature of the last few paragraphs once again underscores how quickly the Dems wanted to skip the present economic crisis.)

An Emphasis on Prevention and Wellness. Chronic diseases account for 70 percent of the nation’s overall health care spending. We need to promote healthy lifestyles and disease prevention and management especially with health promotion programs at work and physical education in schools. All Americans should be empowered to promote wellness and have access to preventive services to impede the development of costly chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Chronic-care and behavioral health management should be assured for all Americans who require care coordination. This includes assistance for those recovering from traumatic, life-altering injuries and illnesses as well as those with mental health and substance use disorders. We should promote additional tobacco and substance abuse prevention.

Starting to move away from insurance. “Health promotion programs at work” that will presumably be funded by the federal government… I smell cheesy gimmickry in the future of the workplace. “All Americans should be empowered to promote wellness”? So we’re all government-funded hucksters now? What “preventative services” are we talking about and are we talking about throwing Yet More Money onto the national debt? When we talk about “additional tobacco and substance abuse prevention” are we talking about more of the same sorts of things that have been going on for decades, yet people my age are, to my amazement, still taking up smoking despite hearing of its bad side nonstop their entire lives? And the lives of the older “cool” kids? Or are we talking about a change in strategy?

A Modernized System That Lowers Cost and Improves the Quality of Care. As Americans struggle with increasing health care costs, we believe a strengthened, uniquely American system should provide the highest-quality, most cost-effective care. This should be advanced by aggressive efforts to cut costs and eliminate waste from our health system, which will save the typical family up to $2,500 per year. These efforts include driving adoption of state-of-the-art health information technology systems, privacy-protected electronic medical records, reimbursement incentives, and an independent organization that reviews drugs, devices, and procedures to ensure that people get the right care at the right time. By working with the medical community to improve quality, these reforms will have the added benefit of reducing the prevalence of lawsuits related to medical errors. We should increase competition in the insurance and drug markets; remove some of the cost burden of catastrophic illness from employers and their employees; and lower drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices, permitting importation of safe medicines from other developed countries, creating a generic pathway for biologic drugs, and increasing use of generics in public programs.

This ties back to the idea that “providers should provide high quality affordable care.” I’d like to know more about this “independent organization”; will it mean the end of misleading drug company commercials leading people to race after a brand name instead of something that might be less expensive and maybe not as side-effect-laden? Will it mean, more likely, more bureaucracy? But do the insurance and drug markets need “more competition”? Why are “safe medicines from other developed countries” currently not importable, and how will you maintain that?
A Strong Health Care Workforce. Through training and reimbursement incentives, there must be a commitment to sufficient and well-qualified primary care physicians and nurses as well as direct care workers.” No real debate here, I think, other than more government involvement. You know what I just realized, though? This goes to page 15 of 59. Now, cutting out extraneous stuff like the cover page, it’s 13 of 57, but still it’s a quarter of the whole document devoted to the preamble and health care! This will be easier than I thought!

Commitment to the Elimination of Disparities in Health Care. We must end health care disparities among minorities, American Indians, women, and low-income people through better research and better funded community-based health centers. We will make our health care system culturally sensitive and accessible to those who speak different languages. We will support programs that diversify the health are [sic] workforce to ensure culturally effective care. We will also address the social determinants that fuel health disparities, and empower the communities most impacted by providing them the resources and technical assistance to be their own agents of wellness. We will speed up and improve reimbursements by the Indian Health Service.

So… American Indians aren’t minorities? How does research reduce health-care disparities? “We will also address the social determinants that fuel health disparities” makes it sound like you can just wave a wand and it’ll disappear.
The next paragraph heading, “Public Health and Research”, is the last heading for three paragraphs:

Health and wellness is a shared responsibility among individuals and families, school systems, employers, the medical and public health workforce and government at all levels. (Wick: You said that already. You devoted a whole paragraph to it if I remember.) We will ensure that Americans can benefit from healthy environments that allow them to pursue healthy choices. Additionally, as childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in the last 30 years, we will work to ensure healthy environments in our schools. (Wick: Everybody get vague, get vague, get vague!)

We must fight HIV/AIDS in our country and around the world. We support increased funding into research, care and prevention of HIV/AIDS. We support a comprehensive national strategic plan to combat HIV/AIDS and a Ryan White Care Act designed and funded to meet today’s epidemic, that ends ADAP waiting lists and that focuses on the communities such as African Americans and Latino Americans who are disproportionately impacted through an expanded and renewed minority HIV/AIDS initiative, and on new epicenters such as the Southern part of our nation. We support providing Medicaid coverage to more low-income HIV-positive Americans.

You… kind of lost me with that lengthy middle sentence. I don’t even know what ADAP is. Wikipedia says it stands for “AIDS Drug Assistance Programs”. But it all sounds like nice rhetoric.

Health care reform must also provide adequate incentives for innovation to ensure that Americans have access to evidence-based and cost-effective health care. Research should be based on science, not ideology. For the millions of Americans and their families suffering from debilitating physical and emotional effects of disease, time is a precious commodity, and it is running out. Yet, over the past eight years, the current Administration has not only failed to promote biomedical and stem cell research, it has actively stood in the way of that research. We cannot tolerate any further inaction or obstruction. We need to invest in biomedical research and stem cell research, so that we are at the leading edge of prevention and treatment. This includes adequate funding for research into diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, diabetes, autism and other common and rare diseases, and disorders. We will increase funding to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Cancer Institutes.

Ah yes, returning to taking shots at the House of Bush. I like how this paragraph all but equates the debate over stem cell research to the debate on evolution. I mean, “evidence-based” health care? Does stem-cell research even involve “evidence”? I thought it just involved using it to grow new tissue and plugging it in to patients. And is “biomedical” research even controversial? If so, why? The Democrats obviously feel the need not to roll it up with stem cell research, yet they’re effectively doing so all the same. Oh, and more throwing out money like it grew on trees.
A Strong Partnership with States, Local Governments, Tribes, and Territories. Recognizing that considerable progress in health care delivery has been pioneered by state and local governments, necessary nationwide reform should build on successful state models of care.” This sort of “oh yeah, give a shout-out to the local levels of government” inadvertently points out that these very organs responsible for this progress could get stomped on by a national reform system. I’d like to see what local state systems would look like after the feds got through with them.
A Strong Safety-Net. Achieving our health goals requires strengthening the safety-net programs, safety-net providers, and public health infrastructure to fill in gaps and ensure public safety in times of disease outbreak or disaster.” Par for the course: vague niceties that no one would disagree with.
Empowerment and Support of Older Americans and People with Disabilities. Seniors and people with disabilities should have access to quality affordable long-term care services, and those services should be readily available at home and in the community. Americans should not be forced to choose between getting care and living independent and productive lives.” Solving problems unrelated to health care would do a better job of bringing needed services closer to seniors, but I’m jumping back on my transit high horse.
Reproductive Health Care. We oppose the current Administration’s consistent attempts to undermine a woman’s ability to make her own life choices and obtain reproductive health care, including birth control.” Ding ding ding! Making abortion sound like a general health issue, five yard penalty, still first down! “We will end health insurance discrimination against contraception and provide compassionate care to rape victims. We will never put ideology above women’s health.” I don’t know, it sure seems like you’re shoving a lot of ideology down my throat to me. Actually this is sort of a complex issue, and I really don’t think a discussion of health care is the right place for it. I do support the use of pre-intercourse and morning-after birth control as effective and consistent with religious beliefs.
Fiscal Responsibility. As we improve and strengthen our health care system, we must do so in a fiscally responsible way that ensures that we get value for the dollars that are invested.” Or in other words, “Oh by the way, yes we do know all this will add billions of dollars to the national debt, but don’t worry, we’re gonna get ‘value’ from it so it’s all a wash!”
For the most part, the Democrats’ health-care proposal meets the goals the Dems set for it – but not all of them are guaranteed and there are legitimate concerns that it’ll all cost too much. And if the Dems’ focus on health care seems a bit esoteric to you, you’re not alone. But there are plenty more issues to come – and plenty more of the platform to examine! We’re just getting started!

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