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Trouble is it is a system that has historically been dominated and controlled by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries that now own and control "political assets" in both the Senate and the House or Representatives. This is the result of pumping millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of weak political leaders and jacking up the ante with even more money paid to Washington lobbyists. When the insurance companies pay over $800 million to lobby Congress the depth of the corruption is evident.

Then there is the fact that the Republican opposition to healthcare reform is all about attacking President Barack Obama and scoring cheap political shots with an eye to the 2012 presidential elections. They want him to be a one-term president and are doing as much as possible to make his presidency unsuccessful. In the process their attacks and opposition to his healthcare reform system is misleading and calculated to sow fear and anxiety in the populace. They are designed to gain partisan advantage and to control the national public debate. The end result is that they have abandoned any pretense of constructive opposition in favor of simply poisoning the atmosphere.

For a party that remained in power for eight years shouting terrorism at the drop of a hat they have now become obscene political terrorists, disruptive, argumentative and intolerant of any view save their own. These healthcare swift boaters have one and only one goal: to embarrass a still popular president and to keep him preoccupied so that they can say that he's done nothing in 2 years. They have resorted to fear and confusion in order to stop any educated and informed debate on healthcare reform that would result in an improved healthcare system that benefits the majority of the American people.

Don't get me wrong. There are valid criticisms of the proposed system and that is why it is so important to get the widest possible range of views from all social strata, classes and individuals. But there is absolutely nothing in the presidential proposal on healthcare reform that hints or suggests a "government take-over of the healthcare system" as claimed by the Republicans "" that is pure and simple a big fat lie that is aimed at sowing anger and fear in the minds of the citizenry.

As President Obama has so often said Americans will have the option to continue to buy health insurance from private companies and get their healthcare from doctors in private practice. They will also continue to be treated at hospitals of their choice. What Republicans (and some Democrats) are misleading the public about is the new role of government in the proposed healthcare system and configuration. The Obama Plan calls for a new health insurance exchange set up by the federal government that allows individuals, small and large businesses, to purchase insurance from private insurers at lower rates.

In turn low-income Americans would be able to afford health insurance through this exchange (along with their employers) and would be eligible for government subsidies. This is great news for 47 million uninsured Americans who will finally be able to buy health insurance. The Republicans have pounced on the active role of the federal government in regulating the insurance market and it's increased spending on healthcare as "a government-run healthcare system." This is a deliberate distortion.

This attempt to kill the so-called "government/public option" is the center piece of Republican attacks that have spooked even Democrats. The insurance companies have spent millions to kill the president's public option and to stifle debate on it while embracing the lies of "death panels" that would kill off the elderly on life support. To a large extent President Barack Obama must take the blame and responsibility for the state of the debate and his willingness to capitulate in the face of the GOP's attacks.

The fact is that in the months following the historic November 2008 elections that saw Democrats control of the House, Senate and White House they collectively had the political currency and moral imperative to reform a system that developed nations have had in place for the past half a century. They know the Republican Playbook "" attack, distort, lie and sow fear. Yet they have fallen victim to these tactics. A hyped up media, political pundits who never cared for a Black president, and a largely uniformed populace helped put the Democrats on the defensive.
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Now the President is simply looking to "save face" and come up with a watered-down version of his health reform bill "" without the deep reforms that are essential to overhaul the system and make it work for the people, and not the insurance companies. The insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists have earned their pay. Each day that passes the once progressive idea of a "public option" that would have wrested monopoly control from the insurance industry seem to retreat farther into the background even as the probability of such an option putting private insurance companies out of business is zero to nil.

Finally, the American taxpayer is being bamboozled and lied to about the cost of the Obama Health Plan. Republican commentators and lawmakers have been floating various numbers and have finally settled on "at least a trillion dollars." This blatant lie is yet to be challenged by the president's operatives and staffers who are also sending conflicting messages on his plan that further helps the Republicans to refine their political terrorism.

President Obama has said it repeatedly in the 2008 campaigns and at town hall meetings across the United States "" the plan will cost one trillion dollars OVER 10 YEARS. In other words it is a mere $140 billion a year "" far less than we're spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The president is a great communicator but he has to remain consistent and "stay on message" or else, as is happening, he's going to be pummeled by the Republican Spin Machine. He has to stop vacillating and sand-dancing between speaking about his "public option" and then having his top aides "" including his Health Secretary "" go on national television and say something quite the opposite. This only helps to further confuse the issue and sow doubts in the minds of his strongest supporters.

President Obama has to take a step back, assess the damage to his proposal, and come back fighting again for the things "" including healthcare reform - that he promised the American people he will deliver on. This is no time for compromise. To do so is to send a wobbly signal to the Republicans that want his job that all they have to do is beat him up in the media, pay a few misguided souls a few bucks to disrupt his town hall meetings, and they can prevail. He must therefore stop putting bipartisan cooperation and compromise above moral, right and progressive policy changes.

For in the final analysis this behavior will embolden his political enemies who will see him as weak and malleable. It will leave him at the mercy of political grasshoppers like Iowa Republican senator Chuck Grassley whose hypocrisy moved up another notch when he pandered to his colleagues in the senate posing as "a moderate, reasoned Republican voice" on health reform while simultaneously telling his red-meat base that President Obama was going to kill their grandmothers with his "death panels."
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All this aside, this debate is bigger than Barack Obama. It is about American society at the start of a new millennium. It is about shared sacrifice and the noble ideal of collective responsibility for the least among us. This is a test for the humanness of America. The Republicans, for mere political reasons, want President Obama and the Democrats to fail. Democrats and the public at large need to rally around the president and show them that no matter what they do, how many lies they tell, and how much they try to terrorize and bully sane, well-meaning people, acting together national comprehensive and progressive healthcare reform can and must happen.


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MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and Business, Management and Communications Specialist in New York City's Black community. He is an experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis and local (more...)

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