Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

George Lakoff: The Administration’s Health Care Policy-Speak Disaster

Whether their heart has really been in the fight for a public option all along is debatable, but it’s evident now that despite their intentions, the Obama administration has handled the fight for real health care reform—and specifically the public option—poorly. The problem, says George Lakoff, is obvious, and even more deflating because we’ve seen it play out with the Democratic Party over and over again: they got wonky. In other words, they went for the brain when they should have been aiming for the heart.

The values Progressives uphold are all there in the public option: empathy, responsibility, fairness. The problem has been in the messaging. In the framing.

From truthout:

    What has been going wrong?

    It’s not too late to turn things around, but we must first understand why the administration is getting beat at the moment.

    The answer is simple and unfortunate: The president put both the conceptual framing and the messaging for his health care plan in the hands of policy wonks. This led to twin disasters.

    The Policy-List Disaster

    The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    Howard Dean was right when he said that you can’t get health care reform without a public alternative to the insurance companies. Institutions matter. The list of what needs reform makes sense under one conceptual umbrella. It is a public alternative that unifies the long list of needed reforms: coverage for the uninsured, cost control, no preconditions, no denial of care, keeping care when you change jobs or get sick, equal treatment for women, exorbitant deductibles, no lifetime caps, and on and on. It’s a long list. But one idea, properly articulated, takes care of the list: An American Plan guarantees affordable care for all Americans. Simple. But not for policy wonks.

    The policymakers focus on the list, not the unifying idea. So, Obama’s and Axelrod’s statements last Sunday were just the lists without the unifying institution. And without a powerful institution, the insurance companies will just whittle away at enforcement of any such list, and a future Republican administration will just get rid of the regulators, reassigning them or eliminating their jobs.

    Why Do Policymakers Think This Way?

    One: The reality of how Congress is lobbied. Legislators are lobbied to be against particular features, depending on their constituencies. Blue Dogs are pressured by the right’s communication system operating in their districts. Congressional leaders have a challenge: Keep the eye of centrists and Blue Dogs on the central idea, despite the pressures of right-wing communications and lobbyists’ contributions.

    Two: In classical logic, Leibniz’s Law takes an entity as being just a collection of properties. As if you were no more than eyes, legs, arms, and so on, taken separately. Without a public institution turning a unifying idea into a powerful reality, health care becomes just a collection of reforms to be attacked, undermined and gotten around year after year.

    Three: Current budget-making assumptions. Health is actually systematic in character. Health is implicated in just about all aspects of our culture: agriculture, the food industry, advertising, education, business, the distribution of wealth, sports, and so on. Keeping it as a line item – what figure you put down on the following lines – misses the systemic nature of health. The image of Budget Director Peter Orszag running constantly in and out of Sen. Max Baucus’s office shows how the systemic nature of health has been turned into a list of items and costs. Without a sense of the whole, and an institution responsible for it, health will be line-itemed to death.

    Obama had the right idea with the “recovery” package. The economy is not just about banking. It is about public works, education, health, energy, and a lot more. It is systemic. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Read the whole article here.

 

Related Articles:


The Future Is Hopeless, So Give it Your All

The never-ending national election in the United States, the “surprise” pro-Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, climate change … the list goes on and on about how easy it can be to lose hope in the future.Like many of life’s frustrations, or overwhelmingly large topics, most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the […] Read More

How Carbon Farming Can Save the Planet

Carbon farming alone is not enough to avoid catastrophic climate change, but coupled with new economic priorities, a massive switch to clean energy, and big changes to much of the rest of the way our societies work, it offers a pathway out of destruction and a route to hope.Along the way carbon farming can also […] Read More

Look Under Your Feet for Global Soil-utions

For several years, Chelsea Green has been publishing books that look under our feet for solutions to some of the most vexing problems facing the planet – hunger, drought, degraded farmland and grasslands, damaged waterways, and much more. Those books focus on (mostly) one thing: Soil.  In 2016, we’ve published two more important books that […] Read More

Climate Change & the End of Stationarity

Just as predicting the rise of Donald Trump as a leading presidential candidate stumped even the best of political analysts (looking at you Nate “FiveThirtyEight” Silver), the advent of the Sixth Great Extinction due to climate change and an increasingly potent mix of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has completely upended how we predict the […] Read More

Use Simple Games to Better Understand Climate Change

How is it that emissions keep growing despite rising concern about the climate change they cause? It is possible to identify several reasons for the paradox, most of which lie outside the scope of The Climate Change Playbook. But one important reason is relevant here: people do not understand the behaviors of the climate system.And […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com