President Obama has ideological ties to Saul Alinsky, the storied Chicago “take-no-prisoners-and-go-for-100-percent” community organizer, and that is without question true. The president himself is a past community organizer, one who taught the tactics of Alinsky.
For all the hoopla about Alinsky, I suspect few have actually read Alinsky. I decided to give it a try over the past weekend and came away with an overriding thought: Saul Alinsky was concerned with conditions. He focused on a condition he did not like and worked to remedy it. He was not so much concerned with remedying people, per se. Others on the right or left of an issue may have mattered little; he was laser-focused on the condition itself.
If an issue was that many people in the United States were without health care, that issue could also be thought of as a condition that, in some minds, needed to be changed. You could go further into the weeds in that people without health care were treated badly, sometimes had trouble with medical appointments, sometimes waited for hours and hours (I know of one person who was told there was a 10- to 15-hour wait) and so forth, but the big condition was that a large cohort in the wealthiest country on earth did not have health care at all or, at best, had charity health care for emergencies.
I am not advocating anything, mind you. I am just thinking in print. On Monday morning, The New York Times reported that “millions of people could qualify for federal subsidies that will pay the entire monthly cost of some health care plans being offered in the online marketplaces set up under President Obama’s health care law, a surprising figure that has not garnered much attention.” The Times reported that some consultants thought the figure could be as high as 7 million.
The Times also reported on an individual who could have had a bronze-plan premium of $24 monthly, but instead selected a higher-benefit silver plan at $91 monthly. I have heard of family coverage for around $500 monthly for silver plans with health-care subsidies of more than $500 monthly.
Perhaps the president is paying no attention to telling the absolute truth with statements he made about how one may keep his or her old plan and also not paying much attention to what people are saying. Perhaps he’s laser-focused on the condition.
He may be a disengaged president. (If Obamacare was the centerpiece of my presidency, for example, I would make damn sure the online enrollment process worked.) But I think the Democrats have been trying for universal health care (and I know the Affordable Care Act is not exactly universal, but it’s closer than not) since Harry Truman was president.