The Times They Are A-Changin’ — Even in Lancaster County

George W. Bush spoke yesterday afternoon in nearby Lancaster, Pa. Lancaster County being the conservative bastion it is, this locale is probably one of very few places left in the Northeast where he could get a receptive audience. Even then, things are clearly changing, as responses to his visit among the locals, and even among those attending his speech, turned out to be quite far from uniform.

Gil Smart, an editor and columnist for the Lancaster Sunday News, has two blog entries about the evidence of changing times, here and here.

Another Lancaster newspaper reporter, Tom Murse, kept a running blog of Bush’s visit. The Lancaster New Era’s coverage of Bush’s visit is here (Lancaster, bizarrely, has three newspapers: the morning Intelligencer Journal, the evening New Era, and the Sunday News, all of which are owned by the same company, yet all of which have separate staffs that compete with one another for stories).

A preview of the visit to Lancaster (technically, he didn’t go to Lancaster; he went to a collection of buildings around a traffic light called Ronks) is here in the Philadelphia Daily News. It’s quite funny in moments, being full of zingers like, “If there remains a place in America where President Bush can give a speech on controlling government spending without drawing horselaughs it is Lancaster County,” and, “He’s here because the county is solid Republican, culturally conservative and fiscally frugal . . . other than Utah, where would he go?” Okay, if you’re a Republican, it probably isn’t funny, but I found it quite amusing.

So, upon what subjects did Bush cogitate while hunkered down with the mostly like-minded in podunk Ronks, Pennsylvania? For one thing, his courageous (note sarcasm) veto just that morning of a bipartisan bill to expand health insurance coverage for children that was just too expensive apparently figured prominently in it. On that issue, a 17 year-old kid from outside Lancaster seems far wiser than anyone in the White House, as she was quoted in the Lancaster New Era: “‘What’s more important,’ she asked, ‘killing people or all the children?'”

Here’s the full text of Bush’s speech. A telling statement about vetoing S-CHIP (the children’s health insurance program) from it is this: “I don’t want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers. That’s why I believe strongly in health savings accounts . . . I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system.”

Here’s the deal: Insurance companies are already making decisions for doctors and patients, and they’ve been doing it for years with magic words like, “coverage denied.” Anyone who fears federal government bureaucracy regulating or even taking over this country’s health insurance system is really exposing one’s own ignorance, as such a person has obviously never had to deal with any aspect of this country’s myriad private health insurance bureaucracies on any extended basis. Furthermore, simply ensuring someone has access to private health insurance does not solve this country’s health care crisis, as often private health insurance will decline to cover procedures and medications. Many people (I’m not sure of the exact percentage off the top of my head, but I do remember it being shockingly high) who have to go into bankruptcy due to health care costs had health insurance in the first place. It just wouldn’t cover the procedures they needed to, well, live. Also, what good could health savings accounts possibly do for the millions of people who currently can’t afford to buy health insurance in the first place, or who can’t afford to contribute much of anything to their 401(k)s and other retirement plans in the first place?

Anyway, I’ve hemmed and hawed enough. This stuff just makes my blood boil for some reason, and it’s way too easy for me to start going off about it.

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3 Responses to “The Times They Are A-Changin’ — Even in Lancaster County”

  1. Cafedog Says:

    Well lets get one thing straight about Lancasterians, Presidents have come here many times. with the current one many of us are cynical or sadly down right apathetic at this point. I enjoyed the prez’s visit in the traffic jam it created.

    Those of us who use medical care for mental illness will point out:
    For an Insurance company to pay for therapy and treatment one must have a diagnosis and
    one must only use the therapies prescribed to that diagnosis.
    This means that insurance companies directly dictate treatment in health.

    Whether the pres knows this or not, the current health care system of America is a lumbering elephant on the verge of colapse.

    I cant see any hope other than a complete rehash rethinking of healthcare in America, including a government and fiscal combined effort in health care.

    Its either Health care nihilism, or health care collapse.

  2. Lancasterian Says:

    While we share similiar views on George Bush and his politics, I can’t help but be irritated that you choose to beat up on Ronks and your fellow Lancasterians because you perceive everyone’s else’s politics to be flawed. Please note that we’ve hosted many of today’s greatest thinkers here in Lancaster – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Former President Bill Clinton, Tom Brokaw, Steve Forbes – and treated them all to the same courtesy we extended to President Bush. As an attendee and an acquaintance to many in attendance, I can assure you that they were plenty there who disagreed with his veto and his general arrogance and stupidity. While a large majority were likely fans, I can assure you these are the same community and business leaders who eagerly applauded following President Clinton’s speech just three years ago.

    Sure, being a lefty can be lonely here in Lancaster County, but please don’t presume that people’s dignified welcome of our President, however, much an a-hole he may be, is a reflection of their ignorance, rather the small town courtesy we’d extend to anyone – whether we agree with them or not.

    And leave Ronks alone – it wasn’t even held there. It was held in East Hempfield, which is exactly a one stop-light community.

  3. Anonymous Says:

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    Excellent post. Keep it up!

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