I was on a cruise, over a thousand miles south of the Florida coast, when Rush Limbaugh chose to waddle into the fray. Watching CNN as we were dressing for dinner, we thought that we were going to get a break from the stories of the horrific shooting rampage in Chardon when the anchors moved on to other topics. First it was the announcement of the death of Davey Jones. Then it was the death of reason in the ongoing health care debate. El-Rushbo had spoken.
The delivery and payment of health care in this country is already over politicized. We have more than enough emotion and not nearly enough facts. Logic and intellectual honesty are notably absent in most of the discussions. The Republican presidential candidates have studiously avoided anything that even approached a solution. They have all vowed to repeal Obamacare as if that wouldn’t create more problems than it solved. And into this we add Rush.
Where do we begin? Let’s start with a clear statement. Calling Sandra Kay Fluke, a law student four days older than my daughter, a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she vocally supports the President’s health care legislation is abominable. She is a civilian, a private citizen. She isn’t a public figure, someone who willingly subjected herself to this kind of derision or scrutiny. And no, it may not be right to say such things about public figures, but we do. Ms. Fluke should have been off-limits, like the nameless group of men that had testified about women’s birth control the week before.
So the predictable occurred. We put an important national debate on hold while we discussed the relative merits of a radio talk show host. The people that hate him, and Gosh there are plenty who do, got riled up and went after his sponsors. His defenders, a little more reserved than usual, assured us that Rush was just being Rush. There was a certain amount of merit on both sides. There is nothing the political right hates more than to be defeated by the use of the free market. And in all fairness, Limbaugh, ignored in the Republican presidential primary and uninvolved in the national discussion, desperately needed attention. Any attention. Everyone won, even Ms. Fluke. Her brand, her name recognition, is huge. She is assured of a much brighter future thanks to Rush Limbaugh.
What didn’t happen, what was stopped completely, was an intelligent, honest discussion of the issues. So let’s try to kick start the process.
Here are a couple of the stories you might have missed:
- We have discussed the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) created for the unhealthy uninsureds. The federal government’s actuaries predicted the average cost per enrollee at $13,026. They weren’t even close. The average cost now predicted for each enrollee in 2012 is $28,994! It is that kind of predicting that gives most of us pause as we contemplate the President’s health care program and future liabilities.
- Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has decided that he sees no reason to vote on the repeal of the PPACA until after the November election. It is important to remember that he has never seen a reason to offer an alternative to the President’s plan or a workable way to modify the legislation.
Add to this the date March 26, 2012, when the Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and we have more than enough to keep us busy. In fact, we are much too busy to waste time on an entertainer.