The Birthers and the Healthcare Debate

Perhaps you’ve heard of the so-called “birthers.”  You’ve definitely heard of the healthcare debate. What’s interesting to me is the effort to link the two.

The birthers are those Americans who continue to complain that President Obama should be removed from office because (they say) he has never produced adequate proof of being born in America.  Comments along these lines can be read in many places on the Internet, and there has been some discussion of their argument in various media outlets.  I really don’t think there is much substance to this issue.   The President’s people and the state of Hawaii have responded to this, and if there was something lacking in their response then the Republican Party and conservatives in the media like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh would be commenting on it nonstop.  The fact that they seem to be leaving it alone tells me that there must not be much substance there.

There are some people, though, who want to lump the birthers in with all of those who are attacking the healthcare reform proposals making their way through Congress.  This doesn’t seem fair since there are legitimate concerns about the reforms and the goals behind them.  As I have stated here before, President Obama has repeatedly said that he is committed to healthcare reform that lowers prices and provides coverage for millions more people.  That would be cool, but I have wondered how these goals can be achieved without limiting the amount of care that people receive.  We have been promised that healthcare won’t be rationed, but I haven’t yet seen the formula for making all of this work.

The President has pushed for putting the federal government in the health insurance business, competing with private insurers.  One complaint I have read is that some business owners might stop offering coverage to their workers, if these workers can simply sign up for publicly provided insurance.  Is there a safeguard against this, or would such a safeguard itself be worse than the problem it was supposed to prevent?  If businesses could drop their employees’ coverage, wouldn’t that expand the cost of the program beyond anticipated levels?  Isn’t that a common problem with new government programs–that they end up costing more than our politicians say they will?  Congress ended up spending three times as much on “Cash for Clunkers” as they originally budgeted.

I am not opposed to the concept of tweaking our healthcare system–it isn’t perfect and costs have escalated.  But trivializing and mischaracterizing the opposition doesn’t seem like the best approach.

As I’ve looked over this essay, I was trying to figure out where to insert some humor, but I couldn’t find a natural spot.  Maybe this issue just isn’t funny.