I was reading Friday morning’s updates on the House fracas over H.R. 3200, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,” and began to feel a curious sensation in my throat, as if I were choking on something very large and unpalatable that refused to go down. The more I read, the more the sensation bothered me.
The negative fallout from the newest unemployment figures led to Vice President Biden’s admission last Sunday that the fledgling administration “misread” the severity of the recession when gauging their response to the financial crisis and bolstering support for the stimulus plan. The only surprise to most of us is that anyone could be surprised at how bad the economy had become by the end of 2008, but Washington pols are famously insulated from the cares of the rest of the country, and seem incapable of comprehending realities that are crystal clear to the rest of us.
When you set out to solve a problem, a good place to start is defining what the problem is. Very often, when the real problem facing you reveals itself, it turns out to be a very different beast from what you first thought you were dealing with.
Government does not usually address problems in this fashion, and is anything but methodical, though the slow pace of progress in constructing legislation might cause you to believe otherwise.
I have been trying to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt. He inherited some difficult, perhaps unsolvable problems, and took office amidst impossible expectations at the behest of a notoriously fickle electorate willing to deify or crucify their candidates on a whim. Our president is in a tough spot, and up to now I felt it appropriate to cut him a bit of slack.
An elderly woman sits by an old wood stove, shivering, clutching a cracked cup of tea. She takes solace in her grim retirement from her only companion, her cat, who watches quietly as the woman rocks in her chair, alone and forgotten, dreading the landlord’s knock at the door.
A long-suffering, underpaid civil servant or a private sector retiree?