Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care

It looks like we’re going to get a Health Care Reform bill after all.

The Republicans are still jumping up and down over the tax increases and spending despite estimates that the bill will actually REDUCE the deficit by $138 billion over ten years.

However, let me quote Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition, “You do have to assume that a lot of things will go right even for these numbers to work, but it's important to keep in mind that, even if they do work, we're still on an unsustainable path.”

And if the truth must be told, I doubt the savings are going to meet expectations and we’ll be lucky if the new taxes survive to be implemented. The Republicans will probably prevent the tax on high end Health Plans from ever being implemented as soon as they get the chance.

Isn’t it amazing that the Republicans don’t care about the 32 million uninsured Americans but they do care about the corporate executives with the Cadillac policies? No, the unions aren’t going to get hit by the tax. The delay in the start of the tax is intended to allow them to work things out.

So is this good or bad? I’m not sure. Certainly the objective is correct, but the execution may be lacking. The overall impact of the bill is hard to gauge. There are just too many factors and it’s a complex area.

The strategy is apparently to get the Health Bill in place and then, once the details are known, sell it. I think this is a major mistake and the delay simply magnifies the mistake. The bill, or at least the desperate need for a bill, should have been sold all along.

By allowing its opponents to frame the debate, public support for the bill has dwindled to a weak minority and it’s not going to be easy to resurrect it.

So what about the Republican’s concerns?

I’d have to ask, which set of concerns? The story has changed almost daily. You know you’re being lied to when the arguments you’re hearing change without notice.

First it was Death Panels, then it was illegal immigrants would be covered, then it was elective abortion would be covered and now, in the latest correspondence I’ve gotten from my Republican Congressman, Scott Garrett, it’s unconstitutional.

Garrett sent me an e-mail in November with a list of specific areas he wanted to “bring to my attention.” Last week I got a transcript of his official statement on the bill from the House floor.

Interestingly, NONE of the items in the November e-mail were mentioned in the March statement and NONE of the issues in the March statement were in the November e-mail.

Now, there may be a perfectly logical explanation for this but, off hand, I can’t think of one.

In January, in his response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Bob McDonnell said “Most Americans do not want to turn over the best medical care system in the world to the federal government."

In his floor statement on Health Care Garrett said “For the most part, Republicans and Democrats agree on the problems our health care system faces.”

Really? Did anyone clue in McDonnell and all the other yahoos that have been declaring it the best in the world? It’s the best in the world only IF you can afford it.

Granted there has been a consistent mantra from the Republicans related to cost but that appears to have been addressed in the bill. There are plans being put in place to bring medical costs under control. The questions are will they work, will they be enough and will Congress have the political will to leave them in place when the pinch starts getting felt and the howls of indignation can be heard.

I’m guessing the answers are Maybe, No and No.

The other semi-consistent mantra has been it will undo the economic recovery achieved by the stimulus package and send us back into an economic recession. Oh, but wait, they also claim the stimulus didn’t work. So which is it?

As for the Health Care bill causing an economic downturn, that’s based upon the voodoo economics of the Supply Side which is total nonsense. The fact is that it will effectively redistribute wealth from the rich to the working poor. This is a good thing because the propensity to consume of those folks is much higher. This will expand demand which will in turn spur investment.

If people could be made to understand the benefits in the bill, except for the most partisan Right Wing Evangelical Christian types, people would breathe a sigh of relief and wonder what all the fuss was about.

How is it going to affect me? I expect to get hammered with higher premiums. Someone has to pay for all those new benefits.

But this is a teeny, tiny step in the direction of resolving the budget crisis. In fact, we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t end up making things worse due to the lack of political will I see on the horizon. Attention now needs to be focused on eliminating the budget deficit and starting to reduce the current national debt.

May I suggest we start by getting the hell out of Iraq?

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