Reforming health care

September 9, 2009 1:39:38 PM PDT
There's a reason that all but two American presidents have looked at reforming the nation's nutso health care system, and then high-tailed it the other way. Only presidents Clinton and Obama have tried to reform health care.

Clinton's attempt was disastrous, if well-intentioned. And Obama's - well, it might be too early to conclude success or failure.

What we know is that it's not easy, and the president's campaign to reform the current and inarguably broken system has certainly had its stumbles.

As for the president's speech, the "question of the day" on our Web site: "Are you confident in Washington's ability to reform health care?" We'd love to hear your thoughts by CLICKING HERE.

But the tide of public opinion to do something, anything, is high. Although maybe "anything" isn't the right word.

I'm not exactly sure what people are so afraid of, other than the thought of the government running an important service like health care. I'm not here to say that the federal government is the top draft choice for the job. But sheesh, if people are that upset about the government running a health care option, where's the outrage over the other important services that the government does?

It runs wars, and Social Security, and Medicare, and education, and oversees food and drugs, workplace safety, homeland security, the stock market, space travel, environmental protection, and --- the list is endless.

Would the government run health care as effectively as it does everything else? The answer is "yes" - which can be either good or bad, depending on your political leanings.

The point is that health care is one of the last bastions where government has a say but not control; it is drenched in our lives, and, as we've seen these past year, it has bailed out the private sector - socializing losses - after corporate chieftains made boneheaded decisions.

So why the outrage over health care, and not so much all the other functions of government? It's a little baffling, especially considering we're talking about more than 40 million Americans with no health insurance coverage, and millions more with coverage that few are satisfied with.

Tonight, Mr. Obama makes what has been described as a make-it-or-break-it speech to Congress - a desperate plea for lawmakers to get on board his reform proposal.

ABC News will cover the speech as it happens, tonight at 8, and our Jeff Pegues is in Washington to gauge reaction for us, tonight at 11.

We're also asking your take on the speech and the government's role in health care. Please CLICK HERE to send us your opinion.

Also at 11, we'll have highlights of the final official Democratic Party primary debate for Mayor of New York. City Comptroller Bill Thompson and Councilman Tony Avella are running for the chance to take on incumbent Mayor Mike Bloomberg in November.

The primary is Sept. 15, and the election is fascinating because of the money involved. Or lack of money, depending on whose wallet you're examining.

Bloomberg says he'll spend $80 million of his own money to win a third term. Thompson has so far raised about $3 million, Avella has raised about a quarter of a million. If money is the mother's milk of politics, there's only one well-fed baby here. Is this good for democracy? We'd love to hear your thoughts by CLICKING HERE.

I'm moderating the debate, which you can see at 7 p.m. on Ch. 7. And our political reporter Dave Evans will wrap up the event, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.