NPR’s Day to Day has been running an excellent series on autism, and I encourage you to listen to it all, but I was particularly struck by the final episode that ran yesterday afternoon, featuring a mother taking her son to a specialist: “Autism: Helping Children Connect.”
As a parent, it was heart-wrenching listening to this woman receive the diagnosis that her son did indeed suffer from autism, but even more so listening to her recall how hard it was to concentrate on the doctor’s prescribed course of treatment while worrying how she would pay for this single office visit, let alone a lifetime of intensive therapy. Just listen to this brief, three minute clip, and try to keep the tears from welling up in your eyes:[audio:http://horsesass.org/wp-content/uploads/autism.mp3]
There is a lot at stake in the November election, but perhaps the issue that will have the deepest and most enduring impact on the lives of most American families is that of health care. Sen. John McCain proposes tax credits to make purchasing private health insurance more affordable, while Sen. Barack Obama promises universal health coverage for all Americans.
No, Sen. Obama’s plan is not the more sweeping single-payer system that many of us would prefer, but it is sweeping nonetheless, bringing all Americans into our health care system, and guaranteeing a minimum level of care. And yes, we’ve been promised this before, but with a Democratic president and strong Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, we might have our best chance at real reform in more than 40 years.
The difference between the two health care proposals couldn’t be more stark, and it is a difference rooted in a genuine philosophical disagreement. Sen. Obama believes that there are some problems that are best addressed by a government working to raise the standard of living for all its citizens, whereas Sen. McCain believes that all our problems—including whether a young, autistic boy gets the therapy he desperately needs—are best addressed by market forces.
Sen. Obama’s plan intends to address the needs of all our families, while Sen. McCain’s plan intends to deliver more of the same… which in the case of this particular mother and her autistic son, means delivering nothing at all.
That’s the reason why Sen. McCain would prefer to talk about pigs and lipstick, rather than actually issues. Because if the majority of Americans truly understood where he stands on the issues—and what his stance ultimately means for all of us—he wouldn’t stand a chance this November.