Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

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The real bad news in the healthcare poll

The Republicans have been touting a new poll from Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research on the recently enacted Health Care Reform legislation. 58% of those interviewed support repeal of the law. What this means for the mid-term elections is open to debate. The 600 respondents contacted through landline phone are over 80% white, 31% Republican, and 29% registered Democratic. Almost half have insurance paid by their employer or spouse’s employer with another 20% receiving Medicare or Medicaid. It would be interesting to see the numbers of those who have to pay for insurance out of their own pockets.

More interesting, the poll found that 67% believe “Establishment of a public option that would give individuals a choice between    government-­‐provided health insurance or private health insurance” is important, including 67% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats. So it is not true that a majority of Americans oppose Health Care Reform. Many find the current law too weak.

Unfortunately, the real bad news in this poll has nothing to do with health insurance. Respondents were asked to rate other major issues by importance, such as reducing the federal deficit and regulating the financial system. At the bottom of the list is addressing climate change with only 32% saying the issue is important and 31% saying it is not important at all. Only 19% of Republicans consider it important, and 46% find it unimportant.

This is the bad news for us who waited patiently for Obama to sign the watered-down health care bill so we could turn our attention to the climate crisis that needs immediate attention. Now regulation of the financial industry has been shifted to the front of the line, making us wonder if climate change legislation has any chance of consideration this year. If Democrats lose a significant number of seats in Congress this November we may have lost our chance to have Obama sign a bill into law during his first and possibly only term.

There is no doubt a number of important issues that need our attention, especially after the last eight years of mismanagement in the White House. Our financial markets do need reform to prevent another economic meltdown, similar to the fall of 2008 when we came close to a second major depression. But what about economic destruction on the scale of two world wars and great depression combined? That is the headline in an article by David Doniger on the Energy Collective blog and shows that the Chinese are taking climate change very seriously. Doniger writes, “Today China’s leaders get it – they see the threat climate change poses to their own well-being.  And more importantly, they see the opportunity in the clean energy economy of the 21st century.”

Unfortunately, if the CHPPR poll represents the minds of the American voter, the United States does not get it. It is time to put climate change to the front of the line of important issues, even if that means putting other issues that are dear to us further down that line. As a gay American, I want to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage laws. I want to end discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace. Yet that legislation would mean very little if the worst case scenarios of climate change come to pass. We will not be thinking too much of whom we can marry if we can’t get a clean glass of drinking water.

April 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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