1) The public option is socialized medicine.  It’s a continuation of the "Obama is a socilaist" lie from the 2008 campaign.  The goal is to associate any sort of government involvement in health care with lingering anxieties over The Cold War and a communist plot to take over the world.

Since most people seem unaware of the difference between communism, socialism, social democracy, and the brand of capitalism that the public option represents – they can be duped into believing that anything that is not complete laissez-faire free market is tantamount to Marxism. This is a tactic that will be used against any Obama spending proposal for the rest of his term, especially on issues like energy that involve more battles against powerful corporate lobbies.  

2) Socialized medicine has been a failure in every place it’s been tried. This lie depends on the heavy use of selective anecdotal evidence.  Anybody can go to Canada or Europe and find people with horror stories about their country’s system. You can do the same thing here in the United States. Actual statistical evidence (which opponents of reform rarely use) shows that the U.S. ranks behind most industrialized countries in health care. In fact, all 13 nations in Western Europe have longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality than the U.S.  

Look for similar anecdotal tactics on future legislation pertaining to energy, the environment, and education.  Climate change deniers have already been using this tactic, making arguments that a freak May snowstorm or a colder-than-usual winter prove that the earth isn’t warming.

3) The federal government can’t do anything without it ending up in a bureaucratic mess. I actually heard someone say that Medicare and Social Security are administrative nightmares that haven’t helped many people. Granted, these systems could use an overhaul and some streamlining, but we can’t forget that the poverty rate has been cut in half since these programs were created, and that they keep millions of middle class seniors from falling into poverty – including the parents and grandparents of many of the people who spread this lie. The opponents of reform are trying to create the impression that private enterprise is always the best solution, and that any government-based program will only make things worse.

In the future, the "government can do no right" argument will trotted out in all of the aforementioned areas, perhaps most viciously on education. The claim will be made that public schools are a massive failure (even by people who grew up in them), and that our money is better spent funding private ones.  

4) It’s not the job of the government to provide for the health care of its citizens.  This one can’t be argued with facts and figures. It cuts to our core philosophical differences, and conservative philosophy centers on the concept of small government. Nevermind the fact that in recent history, Republicans haven’t followed this prinicple and have mushroomed the national debt. They are still going to throw it out everytime Obama puts some new legislation on the table – whether it’s stimulus, health care, energy, education, you name it. 

Bottom line:  This debate has ramifications far beyond health care. It is a chance to plant seeds for the future. If the Republicans succeed at convincing enough Americans that these four things about health care are true, it will make success on a number of other very critical issues impossible.

Jim Moss

Jim Moss

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