The common enemy was Congress’s Blue Dog Coalition.
A crowd of around 60 students filed into Lerner Cinema Wednesday night to hear four Columbia students debate life, death, and taxes in this month’s health care debate, hosted by the Columbia Political Union.
Both sides agreed that America’s current health care system is in shambles and must be proactively altered. They also came to a consensus that the Democrats in the White
House have failed to move health care in the right direction. But they quickly diverged down opposite paths that reflected fundamental differences between the left and right.
Jon Hollander, CC ’10, and Tyler Trumbach, CC ’13, from the Republicans promoted a deregulated free market for insurance companies, while Democratic representatives Sarah Gitlin, CC ’13, and Jake Grumbach, CC ’10, called for a move in the opposite direction toward Obama’s public option.
The Republicans expressed certainty that such a plan would entail a massive deficit, since the government would have to increase spending without sufficiently increasing taxes.
“I believe that the free-market will be far more effective than any government solution,” Hollander, of the Republicans, said.
Grumbach countered, arguing that such a plan is necessary to help people without health insurance. He added that Americans would be free to choose the public option if they preferred, or could remain on the private plan of their preference.
The Democrats continued, outlining their forecast for the public option, which entailed tens of billions of dollars in savings every year through government negotiations with drug companies, reduced administrative costs, and a shift from late-stage to preventative medical care. The Republicans didn’t see it that way. Instead, Trumbach said that the plan would be nowhere near revenue-neutral, and further would produce one trillion dollars in deficit in the first year alone.
Plus, he argued that the appeal of a public plan resulted from Americans wanting to pay European-style prices without European-style taxes. Such a plan would naturally result in slowed economic growth, loss of confidence in the U.S. market, and adverse effects all around, he added.
The Columbia University College Democrats said they were frustrated that the Democrats in Congress are not taking advantage of their unprecedented situation—with a progressive president and overwhelming majority—to pass the public option plan. Columbia University Republicans said that the Democrats in Congress don’t have anything to do with the issue, and that it has turned into a battle of the far left against everyone else.
After moderator Emily Tamkin—CC’12 and Spectator editorial page deputy editor—stated that 45,000 Americans die every year due to lack of health insurance, the debate turned towards ethics.
Gitlin said, “It is cruel to say that health care is not a right. Health care is the most fundamental right, because without it we have nothing.”
Hollander countered, saying, “We are not going to solve this problem by bankrupting this country to cover a few million people.”