Tommy Douglas and Medicare in Canada
Medicare in Canada began in the province of Saskatchewan. Tommy Douglas was Premier of Saskatchewan when he introduced the legislation for Medicare in 1959, and the doctors in the province were so upset about its potential ramifications that they went on strike in 1962. The town of Kindersley was especially divided over the Medicare issue. It had its own system of health care provision management operating within the town, and didn't want to give up control to the government.
Douglas asked for a meeting in Kindersley with the town's biggest supporters and biggest opponents of Medicare. He walked into the meeting, simply said, "You all know who I am, and I know who you are. Medicare *is* going to happen, and it's going to happen my way,"" turned around and walked out. He got a phone call the next day saying that the folks in Kindersley had managed to work out their differences about Medicare. And a few years ago, Canadians voted Tommy Douglas the Greatest Canadian.
After hearing the story, I thought, "Obama needs to show a bit of that spirit. There's not enough of 'This is how it's going to be' about him right now."
Obama Finally Puts His Foot Down
I think we saw some of it the other day, when Obama spoke about the Supercommittee's failure to agree on how they're going to make more than a trillion dollars in cuts to the US budget.
Obama expressed regret that the Supercommittee wasn't able to figure out how to do this. He said that if they've still got time to figure it out before their deadline of 2013. He also said that if they can't figure it out, there are automatic cuts locked in, totaling 1.2 trillion dollars. He'd just rather that this be done with a "scalpel" rather than an "ax".
And he said to those in Congress who are already trying to get those automatic cuts undone, that he'll veto any of their efforts. The message to me was that, one way or another, these cuts are going to happen...whether people like it or not.
As frightened as I am by what 1.2 trillion in cuts could mean for people with disabilities in America (however the cuts come about)...this is an Obama that I like. He's finding his inner Tommy Douglas, and that man got a lot of good things done.
More on Tommy Douglas: http://www.tommydouglas.ca/?page_id=88
Obama's speech about the Supercommittee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYb0C2lvazE