Thursday, October 9, 2008

Healthy Debate

[Panel Recap] Today, the local chapter of American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and the U of U's Center for Public Policy and Administration featured panels on the presidential race. Organizers brought together the opposing views of state GOP chair Stan Lockhart, state Democratic Party chair Wayne Holland, Obama Utah campaign director Suzanne Gelderman and McCain's Tim Bridgewater.

In his reverent, oh-so-paternal voice, GOP chair Lockhart kicked things off explaining what Republicans believe in ... which is essentially: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (which would presume that Ds don't?). Since Rs believe such inalienable rights are God-given, Rs are also "proudly" anti-abortion. He stressed Rs want to be free; they want a minimum of government interference in their lives.

He listed all the good things Utahns can thank its Republican leadership for: transportation, balanced budget, a Triple A bond rating.

Later on, an audience member tripped up both McCain's Bridgewater and Lockhart when he asked why McCain did not vote for SCHIP (a federal program that gives states funds to provide health insurance to families with children) especially when McCain himself had benefited from life-long federal health insurance for himself and his own family. Bridgewater admitted he didn't know enough about SCHIP and passed the hot potato to Lockhart.

Lockhart tried to reply by invoking the independence of Republicans, asking rhetorically: Do we really want government making health-care decisions for Americans?

To which the majority in the audience replied, "Yes!"

He stumbled around trying to find his footing, claiming that Obama is promising everything to everyone, and that Obama's health-care-for-all pledge is doomed to failure. Nobody in the audience seemed satisfied with the answer.

Bridgewater only seemed to underscore the health-care crisis by noting that his own small business recently had to decide between laying off employees and dumping health-insurance benefits. They chose to drop insurance so people could keep their jobs. Yet he still supports McCain's health-insurance solution!

In the wake of Wall Street bailouts (another example of our Republican-led government not intruding on our lives, Mr. Lockhart?), health care is not the hotly contested issue I thought it might be in this race. But underestimate its importance at your peril, candidates. (Jerre Wroble)

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