Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Farewell Teddy

Watching and listening to the tributes to Senator Ted Kennedy, I realized that with his death, I am saying goodbye to a representative of a time on which I cut my political teeth.

When I was in college, John F. Kennedy ran for president, and I went on my first door to door canvassing dollars for Democrats. When he won, his inauguration message resounded: what could I do for my country, not what could it do for me. Martin Luther King was preaching a message of equality and dignity, and I was proud to be part of a new generation emerging from the South.

After that first assassination, I was heartbroken but recommitted to the dreams of the time -- I marched in sympathy with Selma in New Jersey, I worked on Lyndon Johnson's campaign against Goldwater in 1964. And I worked in a civil rights group to open segregated housing in the surburbs of Washington in the mid-60s.

But the Vietnam War interrupted, and our country became more and more bogged down in a war we couldn't win. We protested, we marched, we wrote letters. In short, we organized.

Then Martin Luther King was assassinated and 2 months later, Bobby Kennedy. So much sadness, such deep divisions within our country.

(In a different way, I feel those divisions again, paired with an uncontrolled anger -- especially in the town hall meetings over health care reform. )

As part of his legendary family, Teddy Kennedy suffered through personal tragedies that seem the stuff of myths. His own personal shortcomings led to a terrible death of a young person, and subsequently to more anguish and dysfunction in his own life..

But Ted Kennedy had a third act -- In the last 30 years, he rose to become the greatest of our senators. He became not only the voice of the poor and the dispossessed but one of the most respected senators (by both parties). He forged friendships and alliances with people whose views diverge greatly from his -- Orrin Hatch of Utah, John McCain of Arizona. And I know of at least one situation in which his personal attention helped a grieving family settle their affairs. Someone said he was a generous man, and indeed, he was generous in spirit.

Losing Teddy, then, is a huge loss for the Congress and our country. For me, it marks the end of the era that he represented. Yet as it said so eloquently in 1979 when he gave up the presidency:

"For all those whose cares have been our own, the work goes on, the cause endures, and the dream shall never die." Sphere: Related Content

Health Care Myths Exploded by White House

Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
We can afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
Reform would not encourage "euthanasia": It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make. Sphere: Related Content