Monday, 5 November 2012

The land of the free market

As you'd expect, the media are giving a lot of coverage to US politics ahead of tomorrow's presidential election. The BBC alone had two programmes last night, one a look at Obama's presidency and the other a documentary about JFK's win in the 1960 Wisconsin Democratic primary.

There's a tendency in Britain to think of the Democrats and Republicans as like Labour and the Tories, something that's way off the mark. As someone rightly said the other day, the Tories would never be accepted in the Republican party: nowhere near religious enough, far too liberal on abortion and gay rights and pro-gun control. The Tory, Lib Dem and Labour frontbenches could all easily fit into the Democratic party. The Republicans are the equivalent here of a right-wing fringe party like UKIP or the English Democrats. The "Obamacare" health care reforms that the Republicans have denounced as "socialist" give tax breaks to people who don't qualify for existing federally-funded insurance schemes that provide basic health care for the elderly (Medicare) and very poor (Medicaid) if they take out their own insurance. All the money, from the federally-funded schemes as well as personal insurance, goes to the private health care firms that run hospitals. Sounds like a Tory plan to me.

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