Sunday, September 13, 2009

Be careful what you wish for

In response to the Friday, September 11, Opinion page article, Careful what you wish for

It is clear as it can be in every statement that I have heard or read, and in President Obama’s message to congress and the American people that he would NOT require Americans to participate in a nationalized government-run health care system. The President said, Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have; But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. It would only be an option for those who don't have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance.

The current American economic crisis festered and materialized during the tenure of the administration of the past eight years, and is continuing today. Whether one wishes to place the blame on the Bush Administration or not, the fact is that it did happen on his watch. There was a failure to adequately understand and monitor the economy. It was not until December of 2008 that we officially learned we had been in a recession since December of 2007. Bush and his administration claiming all of that time that the economy is strong. Bush said in September 2008, following the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment firm, that the markets are resilient enough to handle the disruptions. I find it amusing that the Bush administration failed to react and now conservatives and many Americans are criticizing Obama for reacting.

It is true that we have a deficit in this fiscal year approaching $1.85 trillion. However, this deficit would have been smaller if the Bush administration had recognized and taken action in 2008, or in the previous years, against a failing economy. (the overall federal deficit would be a lot less if Bush had not received approval for tax cuts while at the same time conducting two very expensive wars: one that was not necessary and the other arguably not necessary) At least $482 billion of this deficit was forecasted for this year regardless of who is in the White House. The deficit includes more than $330 billion in spending for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) enacted last fall by the Bush administration, and $125 billion from legislation the President was seeking to provide additional authority for TARP activities. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would cost almost $136 billion (that represents $11.3 billion every month providing there are no other contingencies) for the 2009 budget year. And, of course, the $787 billion targeted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provisions. This is all discretionary spending and in one way or another contributes to that $1.85 trillion deficit.

Mr. Chilcott states that When the economic solutions stopped working, the President moved onto health care. Disaster number two. Under his 1,500-page proposal that even the lawyers in Washington cannot understand, he would require most Americans to go onto a nationalized government-run health care system, like in France or Canada.

To use that wording is being disingenuous. The president has and continues to work on healthcare legislation; it is not because he decided -- which he has not and in fact quite to the contrary -- that the economic solutions stopped working and therefore he better work on something else. President Obama does not have a 1,500-page proposal, he does not have a proposal at all -- he has outlined his expectations in an overall plan -- and I cannot imagine if he did that Washington lawyers would not understand it.

The issue of healthcare reform that insures illegal immigrants is false from all accounts. The President of the United States said in his message to congress: This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. has rated this as Pants On Fire; says that it is simply not what the bill says at all and therefore declares it false. The falseness of this declaration can be verified by reading the proposed bills for oneself or by Googling it.

In regard to the declaration that Congress and the President will keep their current health care plans, the President said: As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It's how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it's time to give every American the same opportunity that we give ourselves.

Has anyone taken the time to research the life of Van Jones? If Patrick Chilcott,
or anyone else who was so quick to criticize had, they would have known without any doubt why President Obama asked Van Jones to serve as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. They would have known of the good work he has done and his accomplishments. You know, being a communist does not make you a bad person. Communism was an ideology he embraced for a time in his youth, and later rejected. To have and embrace new thoughts and ideas, and consequently sublating those thoughts and ideas in the process of their consideration, and through and based on life’s experiences continuing this process are all part and parcel of evolving, of growing – it’s what should make one a wiser old man or woman. Are we reverting to McCarthyism in this country when we still use communism as a way of creating fear?

Perhaps the call for Van Jones to be fired, and consequently his voluntary resignation, came about as a reaction by those on the right to the campaign by the Color of Change organization against Glenn Beck. Fox News Glenn Beck declared that President Obama was a racist who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. That is most likely the reason for the hateful attacks against Van Jones and the call for his ouster, because in July 2009, Color of Change, an organization Van Jones founded in 2005 but left in 2007, launched a campaign urging advertisers on Beck's Fox News show to pull their ads.

The statement that He told us before he was elected that he believed in wealth distribution is false. The wealth distribution comment was made during a discussion about civil rights and had absolutely nothing to do with wealth as it relates to money.

The other time it came up was on Oct. 12, 2008, when Obama had an exchange with plumber Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, who has come to be known simply as Joe the Plumber. Wurzelbacher said to Obama that he was close to buying a plumbing company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year. He complained that Obama would tax him more, punishing his success. Obama’s response, You know, I would be open to it [a suggestion made previously to him for a flat tax] except for here's the problem with a flat tax. You'd have to slap on a whole bunch of sales taxes on it. And I do believe that for folks like me who have worked hard but, frankly, also been lucky, I don't mind paying just a little bit more than the waitress who I just met over there who — things are slow, and she can barely make the rent. Because my attitude is if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's going to be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're going to be better off if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you. And right now, everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody. And I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.

Obama’s response is in essence certainly a far cry from the intention and context of Mr. Chilcott assertion that he believed in wealth distribution.

We have a healthcare reform choice that falls between two extremes, which represent the essence of the liberal-conservative divide in ideology, and another choice that would be more reasonable.

On the left there is complete government takeover, everyone will want for nothing, and whatever it cost it will be government paid; on the right everyone is on their own and only if you can pay for it can one receive healthcare. That is, on the left everyone has a shot at being and staying healthy but there is extraordinary cost; on the right there are people who are sick who never have a chance of being well, and some even dying on the street, as what happens in some third world countries, and cost are not managed, but limited to those who can afford it. The left embraces a compassionate concern for the welfare of people, and on the right a mindset that dictates: I will take care of myself, and everyone else can go to hell.

So, Patrick Chilcott is absolutely correct: Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

With that in mind, but with a more reasonable approach: do we stay with the status quo by leaving it up to the same folks who contributed to getting us into this economic and healthcare quagmire in the first place. Leave it to the private insurers to provide affordable, universal, and accessible healthcare, and in that process expect them to eliminate their policy of denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, even though in the quest for profit they have no motive to do that, or are changes necessary – meaning forced changes on private insurers on how they take care of Americans.