Monday, January 2, 2017

Setting the right goals

As today's partisan political shouting match continues, perhaps it's time that we decide on better goals for our nation.

With Donald Trump about to take office, liberals aren't talking about the nation's problems or how to solve them, it's all about "stop Donald Trump". This is a mirror image of 8 years ago, when the conservative mantra was "stop Barack Obama". In each case the nature of the proposal doesn't matter, just the knee jerk opposition to the other side.

Thus Mr. Trump's has proposed that veterans be able to get care from private providers (doctors or hospitals) instead of only at VA facilities. This is so veterans don't have to drive long distances and endure the long waits for appointments that have been in the news the last few years. The liberal response? "Trump is privatizing the VA". Nothing about helping veterans, just "privatizing", which must be bad.

In health care, we've endured years of concern that people have health insurance regardless of whether they can actually pay for health care afterwards. Since most health insurance is now high deductible plans (a legacy of George W Bush, not Barack Obama) people have to pay a large, unsubsidized deductible before getting any health care. What is today's health care debate about? "Save Obamacare" or "Repeal Obamacare". One side will oppose any change Mr. Trump proposes, the other wants to throw the whole thing out and start over. Health care policy in the United States is still a mess, and it will continue to be a mess so long as partisan sound bites are more important than actual policy.

Similarly, liberals are gearing up to save Medicare and Social Security. No proposal from Mr. Trump. There are some proposals around Congress (there always are), the one I've seen only cuts Social Security for those with high incomes (though in Social Security terms, that isn't always that high). Again, the concern isn't with Social Security of Medicare, it's political advantage. Petitions to "save" programs which aren't yet under attack leave the perception they are being attacked, and I predict that ANY proposed change will be characterized by the left as "abolishing" the program.

The list goes on. The press characterizes Trump as being "soft on Russia", ignoring the whole "reset" exercise the Obama Administration went through. They completely ignore incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's book (very anti-Russia), instead emphasizing that Mr. Flynn was once seated with Vladimir Putin at a dinner and that Mr. Flynn has talked to the Russian news (propaganda) agency Russia Times (RT). Never a mention that Jill Stein is also seen on RT.

So the political posturing goes on. As Donald Trump begins to make changes, remember that both political parties are often more concerned with political power than the good of the nation or its people. All liberals need to know about a policy is that Donald Trump proposed it and they'll know it's bad, even if it was Barack Obama's policy last year. And conservatives will react similarly, supporting policies they might have opposed last year, solely by how they're presented.

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