Thursday, March 23, 2006

Progressive National Greatness

The Moose goes universal.

Back in '94, the Clintons were absolutely right to address a problem that is an obscenity in a wealthy country such as ours - the lack of universal health care coverage. Interestingly, the left was not alone in that view. A few on the right, most notably the Heritage Foundation advanced a universal plan that was based on tax credits.

While the left could quibble with the details of the Heritage plan, it was a serious attempt to create a market-base universal coverage system. It contained an individual mandate for coverage and the government would subsidize low-income Americans to purchase a plan.

Most of the right, however, argued that there was no health care crisis and the Clinton plan was killed. In fact, Heritage came under attack by their colleagues on the right for advancing a "socialist scheme." The truth is that America would be a better place if the right, left and center would have agreed on a path to universal coverage.

Last week New Republic made an eloquent argument for universal health care,

"Over the last 25 years, liberalism has lost both its good name and its sway over politics. But it is liberalism's loss of imagination that is most disheartening. Since President Clinton's health care plan unraveled in 1994--a debacle that this magazine, regrettably, abetted--liberals have grown chastened and confused, afraid to think big ideas. Such reticence had its proper time and place; large-scale political and substantive failures demand introspection, not to mention humility. But it is time to be ambitious again. And the place to begin is the very spot where liberalism left off a decade ago: Guaranteeing every American citizen access to affordable, high-quality medical care."

Although the Moose harbors no severe animus toward single payer, it seems like a political non-starter. Single payer is far too easy to stigmatize as health care socialism. At the end of the day, it is immoral to delay the day of universal health care coverage - we need to think anew about creative alliances on the issue.

Speaking of creative, the Moose would want to add a significant wrinkle to universal health care coverage debate - universal service. If Americans have a right to a major new entitlement, they should also be required to give something back to their country - the principle of reciprocity. The Moose thinks that at birth everyone should receive health care coverage and at age 18 everyone must serve their country.

Of course, there should be a choice of civilian or military service. On the civilian side, we could create a long term care corps to assist with the aging of America. And the nation's health requires a larger military.

The Moose favors a politics of progressive national greatness - the vigorous promotion of American interests and ideals abroad along with a progressive domestic agenda. This is liberalism in the tradition of Truman, JFK and Scoop.

Are you listening Hillary, Evan, Joe, Tom and Bill?
-- Posted at 6:30 AM | Link to this post | Email this post