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The Budget Battle: A Right to Health Care vs. the War "Corporation"

04/19/2011 02:24 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2011

An overwhelming amount has now been written in the pages of HuffPost about Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) proposed budget plan, so any additional words here cannot add to that which has been read so far. But what has not been addressed, but should also be placed in the mix for discussion, is that Rep. Ryan's plan uses his proposed destruction of Medicare for our nation's seniors as but in microcosm of the philosophical divide over whether all Americans should have a right to health care. The proposed axing of Medicare also presupposes that the defense of the country is a sacred cow that cannot be touched. Viewed differently, consider that War (with a capital "w") is merely a corporation with a General Patreaus as a CEO and the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a board of directors that run a corporate entity requiring government funding that should be spent more properly on health care for all. Do we want health for each citizen, or do we want to see more of our nation's finest men and women killed and injured in places where we do not belong?

Most countries outside the United States view health care as something that its citizens require in order to prosper and thrive in their families, employment, and in their communities; a healthy citizen also benefits his/her country economically -- the healthier its residents the more prosperous a nation can become or be maintained. After all, without our health, we have nothing at all. In previous posts, and written elsewhere, I have been a fervent advocate that health care should be a "right". No, not in a constitutional sense; no, not as part of any Bill of Rights; and, no, not part of any treaty or worldwide declaration. It should be a right because healthcare is as equally important and meaningful to every single American born in this country or who seeks in earnest to become a citizen. To put this slightly differently, we each get one vote when election day comes, whether it is cast by a Bill Gates or someone who will never grace the pages of some media outlet or who wishes to live in obscurity. Casting a vote is no different than ensuring health care for each individual; both are viewed through the same lens.

Any right to health care must be described in terms of access and affordability as goals. The ACA (Affordable Care Act), a.k.a. Obamacare, is the first major legislation in a century to reach out to satisfy these goals and which has passed into law. While a start and though efforts are underway to defund it by those who opposed it from the beginning, it needs improving. Why? Because millions of Americans still cannot afford to be healthy, in large measure due to those in Washington who insist that the private market, i.e., the insurance industry, can supply health care insurance better than any governmental entity. If proof is the elixir for judging whether this is so, consider that health premiums continue to spiral out of control, and ACA is just only 13 months old. Moreover, the private markets loathe competition so the public option that Obama favored as part of ACA never had a chance.

Now, Rep. Ryan and the forces who wish to dismantle ACA want to tell our seniors -- those who can least afford the cost of health care insurance premiums and medical bills -- that they will benefit more by receiving "vouchers" that they can take to the private (insurance) market rather than by having the government remain involved through the present Medicare system. Who will take such vouchers and what will those vouchers get seniors? Not much at all! The Congressional Budget Office even scores it this way too. Do Ryan or his minions really believe that Americans can be that stupid to believe his mantra? I prefer to think of this as, how could we have been so stupid to elect the Paul Ryans to represent us in light of what they want to do with Medicare and health care for Americans?

The title to this piece talks about the war "corporation". What does that have to do with health care? First, defending our country is really nothing more than a huge, multidimensional corporate entity that needs and spends $billions in times and circumstances that do not require our national interests to be defended. We do not hear the hue and cry from those supporting Rep. Ryan to slash and burn what is spent on defense a la what is proposed about Medicare and health care. And, while it is certainly true that there are times when we have to defend our interests abroad and certainly at home, how about considering that for every dollar that is taken away from providing health care, another dollar is taken away from the defense budget? Or, how about privatizing our defense system, and transferring what the government spends on it to providing health care as a right for all Americans, including our seniors?

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