Leading article: Mr Obama fights back

Share
Related Topics

Hardly a day goes by without someone recording another slide in President Obama's popularity or the man himself appearing somewhere on the stump. We are watching, though our transatlantic telescopes, the latest battle for US healthcare reform – battle being no exaggeration, given reports of public meetings that have descended into fistfights.

It is discouraging, to put it mildly, to see this acrimonious re-run of the arguments about "Hillarycare" 15 years ago over something that, to most Europeans, is beyond dispute: the right of everyone to decent healthcare they can afford. It seems to defy a basic sense of justice that, at any one time, more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance and that the financial damage from losing a job is compounded by the loss of the insurance that went with it.

Defenders of the status quo have to face the unpalatable fact that the US spends proportionally far more than any other developed country on a system that produces worse results, in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and cancer survival. Now, as 15 years ago, however, such facts are no deterrent to insurance groups and drug companies, not to mention high-earning doctors, who fear financial loss from any change. Now, as then, they are using the basest of tactics to defend their interests.

Capitalising on surveys that show more people to be satisfied with the current system than not, they are appealing to Americans' worst instincts: the streak of meanness that blames the poor and weak for their condition and makes self-reliance an article of faith. Adverts play on the fear of the haves that extending health insurance to the have-nots will reduce quality and accessibility for the rest. Curiously, our own NHS has acquired a bit part in the drama, with tales of waiting lists, rationing, age discrimination and even supposed encouragement to euthanasia, all vying for expensive US airtime.

Mr Obama is fighting back doughtily, as he must. It would be tragic if the reform agenda of a President whose election showed America at its open-hearted best should be derailed so soon by arguments that epitomise America at its selfish worst.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

£7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 2nd & 3rd Line

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The IT Support Engineer is needed to ass...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Officer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It's an exciting time for this ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Mid Software Developer

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Think I'm living the high life on benefits? Here's what being disabled costs me every day

Hannah Buchanan
 

Like many other black men, I grew up with only women around. Now I'm worried the experience has ‘feminised’ me

Tyrell Williams
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones