CNN reports that John McCain participated in “a roundtable discussion about health care” today.
Predictably, McCain labeled the Obama and Clinton health care plans “big government.” Said McCain, “I’ve made it very clear that what I want is for families to make decisions about their health care, not government.”
McCain’s attempt to paint meaningful health-care reform as ‘big government making decisions for you’ should come as no surprise. Since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, the right wing has used scare tactics — with great success — to thwart reform.
This is precisely why progressives cringe every time Senator Obama uses right-wing talking points to attack Senator Clinton’s health-care plan. By doing so, Obama lends undeserved legitimacy to right wing anti-government arguments; now, even some committed Democrats have the misguided belief Senator Clinton is proposing a radical shift to ‘socialized medicine.’
To be clear, I am not suggesting any of Clinton’s policy proposals, including her health-care plan, should be off-limits from criticism. But progressives should be very alarmed by Obama’s line of criticism. He is not attacking Clinton’s plan from the left (e.g. arguing in favor of a single-payer approach); Obama is attacking Clinton’s plan from the right. By doing so, he jeopardizes popular support for universal healthcare — an issue that should be far more important than the candidacy of any one person.