Skip to main content

Health Care Push Misguided: Firing Line

President Obama forges ahead with his efforts to reform health care, although there are other, more pressing topics worth tackling.



) -- "Damn the torpedoes." Those immortal words barked by Admiral David Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay resulted in victory for the Northern fleet.

When uttered by the Democratic leadership Thursday at the health care summit, it sounded more like the cry of Commander Asaiki Tamai, the leader of the first Kamikaze squadron.

Against staggering defeats in two states not known for their conservative leanings -- Massachusetts and New Jersey -- along with losing the nearby commonwealth, the administration sees the ice ahead and has ordered flank speed. More champagne, Ms. Pelosi?

There's something to be said about a leader who, with the odds stacked against him, still presses ahead with a plan because he knows he's right. There's something to be said about that same leader when he's wrong and thinks he's right. Therein lies our problem.

The best leaders are those who can set aside hubris and say, "I was wrong." We are a forgiving people, even after a leader acknowledges he was wrong when we the people knew it all along. To this day Bill Clinton tries to run from the "I did not have sex ..." red-faced finger-wagging that resulted in his televised mea culpa.

The nation would've forgiven him and moved on. But many leaders don't employ what I call the "Band-Aid rule": Rip it off, don't peel it off slowly.

The exchange between Senator Lamar Alexander and President Obama was especially interesting, as Obama had a more polite "Joe Wilson moment" when he said, "Senator, let me stop you there because what you just said is factually inaccurate." My New Jersey translation: You lied.

The nation wants some kind of health care reform, as long as you don't mess up the 80% of the people who are perfectly satisfied with their health care. So what we have is a nation that wants to do something, but is certain it doesn't want the massive takeover of 17% of the nation's economy by the government.

Where to start? How about with a blank piece of paper and a clear mission objective? Where to end? Where middle Americans feel secure that a GS-10 isn't going to deny them an X-ray or put them on a six-month waiting list for a dental appointment.

The list of failed government businesses and initiatives is long: Medicare/Medicaid, Amtrak,

Fannie Mae



Freddie Mac




(AIG) - Get Free Report

, Social Security, the Postal Service. And this time of the year I'm always amazed at the sheer stupidity and complexity of our tax system. A postcard and a flat tax could solve a lot of problems, but of course doing away with a majority of the Internal Revenue Service would not make the National Treasury Employees Union happy, or the legions of tax lawyers. Or my father-in-law (he's an accountant, but I digress).

Firing line:

With unemployment hovering around 10%, a shaky economic recovery, a frightened consumer, sovereign debt concerns, and oh by the way, three wars, I think (apparently along with a majority of Americans) that there are closer alligators to the boat we need to tackle.

-- Written by Matthew Buckley in Chicago.

Matthew "Whiz" Buckley is the chief strategy officer of

Options University

, a provider of options education for options traders of all levels. . He is also the founder of Strike Fighter Financial, a business-consulting firm specializing in leadership development, risk management and strategic planning for Fortune 500 companies and related organizations. Buckley flew the F-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy. He's a graduate of TOPGUN, has close to 400 carrier landings and flew 44 combat sorties over Iraq. After leaving active duty, he worked as managing director of strategy at a Wall Street firm and CEO of a financial media company. He is an internationally recognized speaker and combined his experiences in the military and corporate America in his book "From Sea Level to C Level."