Missing the Point: And Senator Reid wonders why so many Americans hold Congress in such low esteem?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No question about it, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has done his best to devise healthcare reform legislation that the Congressional Budget Office would agree will be “deficit neutral,” or better. That means that it would produce at least much savings and income as it costs. In fact, the CBO estimates that the Senator’s bill, while costing us $849 billion, will actually end up saving us $127 billion, albeit over 10 years – an accomplishment in which the Senator and our President take considerable pride.

In the process of developing this legislation, Senator Reid submitted earlier versions to the CBO for its analysis. The CBO would estimate costs, Senator Reid and his cohorts would make changes, back and forth until they had a bill which worked financially. On the face of it, this is a standard and perfectly reasonable interaction through which Congress takes into account the financial implications of new legislation it is considering.

Here’s the rub. Legislation to protect the health of the American people SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED AS A PROFIT CENTER for the federal government! (If ever there was legitimate reason for a writer to use bold print, capitalization and an explanation mark, it’s to make that last point. It’s the written word equivalent of shouting.) Let me get this straight. We’ll spend whatever it takes – to hell with the budget deficit and national debt – to protect us from the threat of terrorism, for example, or bail out Wall Street and the likes of AIG and General Motors, but the health of millions of our countrymen and women is somehow of lower priority? Senator Reid and President Obama say they know what’s at stake, but do they really?

The bill only insures an estimated 31 million of the 46 or so million Americans who are currently without insurance – not to mention millions of others who have inadequate coverage. It fails, in other words, to accomplish the primary, the most important objective of healthcare reform: universal coverage. That’s “universal” as in “everybody.” And it makes this cut for concerns about a budget deficit?!

It proves, once again, that our Congress is lost in space, and deserves the low esteem in which its constituents hold this forever disappointing institution. It’s so simple, Senator Reid. It’s not the legislation that needs to be “deficit neutral,” it’s the entire US government budget that needs to be balanced, or at least re-imbalanced, taking money from something else less important to pay for the universal healthcare we need to provide. The President is inexperienced and naïve. That’s why he doesn’t understand. But Harry, you’re an old guy who’s been around long enough to be the Senate Majority Leader. You should know better.

Give us healthcare reform legislation with the universal coverage and other bells and whistles that we want and deserve, as cost effectively as possible and, if it costs more than what it saves and the new taxes you’re imposing to pay for it, find the difference by not funding something else – like maybe our continuing military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. …I know now. It was just a thought. I’m sure there are other billions of wasted funding in the budget that we can cut to make universal healthcare affordable.

Thank you.

Oh, and if you can’t get good legislation passed by some deadline that Congress and the President feel would be politically expedient, grow a set and take the extra time you all need to get it right. It’s that important.

-wf


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