Health Care Reform: Hypocrisy or Real Debate

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I have watched our decaying Political Landscape and felt disheartened at the utterly irresponsible behavior of our politicians and the media. And, as I follow, along with millions of others, the final wranglings in Washington re the Health Care Reform (HCR), I can not help but wonder ... what has happened to America in this 21st century?  I found myself asking certain questions, ... and I would raise these questions whether I was a Democrat or Republican or Independent or other.

What happened to an honest and civil debate regarding real issues, such as HCR, that are facing America ?... a reasoned debate that is steeped with facts, policy positions, and substantive dialog instead of the current drama with emotions, twisted facts or spin, obsessive polling numbers, misrepresentations, and hollow, highly politicized dialog that is full of hypocrisy. Unfortunately, despite best intentions, the HCR debate, almost from the outset, was minimized by slogans like "death panels" or "socialized medicine" or "Government takeover."

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Why are we suddenly so very concerned about "deficit reduction" whereas in the past 8years ('01-'08) the operative principle was "deficits don't matter" (remember the Cheney doctrine)? The same Republican politicians that adhered to this hypocritical doctrine are almost hysterical re "we must reduce deficits.... and this bill must be paid for etc etc...." This same Republican Party had no issue pushing the so-called Medicare Drug Benefit in 2003 which was a straight addition to the federal deficit (while HCR is, at least, being paid for by spending cuts and other measures). CBO at that time had estimated the cost of this Republican bill @$395B but OMB disclosed, only two months later, that the actual cost was @$534B. Republicans were unconcerned with any addition to the deficit nor was there any dialog (substantive or otherwise) re "how is this going to be paid for?" This fiscally irresponsible behavior was on top of an already "war mired country." Any politician knows that war costs are horrendous, at best, and yet there was no outcry re this 1/2Trillion $$ bill that would further add to the deficit beyond the war cost? Also, it is worth noting that this bill provided billions of dollars in subsidies to insurance companies and HMOs while claiming to reduce costs of prescription drugs for seniors - a ploy used to attract the seniors' vote for the '04 elections. ....

Here's an excerpt from a Nov 20, 2009 post by Bruce Bartlett, titled: "Republican Deficit Hypocrisy." Bruce was a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and was a Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush.

"... Just to be clear, the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway with a gross cost greater than either the House or Senate health reform bills now being considered. Together the new bills would cost roughly $900 billion over the next 10 years, while Medicare Part D will cost $1 trillion. ..."

Moreover, there is a critical distinction--the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit, whereas the health reform measures now being debated will be paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, adding nothing to the deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. ..."

Bruce is an honest and honorable Republican not just because I agree with his views but because he is an objective observer, calls a spade a spade, and truly cares for America by putting country before party - something that is sadly lacking in current day politicians particularly Republicans though Democrats have their share as well.

 

Why did the media not expose such fiscally irresponsible behavior at that time ? Were there days, weeks, or months of debate and/or media coverage of this action. Why was "we must pay for this program" not the constant focus in 2003 ? Why were Republicans not being "called to task" for not "paying for the program?" Why, during the current HCR debate, is the media not exposing such blatant hypocrisy of Republicans re past deficit additions, reckless spending, and funding insurance companies ?

Why is the media not focusing on the responsible attempts by President Obama and the Democrats to at least pass a HCR that is paid for and does not add to the deficit. Why is the media not highlighting the fact that HCR will help millions? Why are such benefits not inundating the media waves?  For example, why is the recent
House Energy and Commerce Committee report on the benefits of HCR district by district, not given constant attention in all of the various news shows? This would help demystify HCR and foster real debate. That is responsible journalism is it not?

Why is
WhiteHouse.Gov not constantly showcased by the media? It is a regular and current storehouse for facts re the ongoing policy initiatives of this administration, particularly HCR. No such instrument was available in the past and no previous administration provided this level of transparency for the public. This fact alone is big news and should be heavily publicized. A responsible action by the media would be to encourage visiting this site so that the public can inform itself directly, have their own opinions, and thus engage in a real debate re HCR. Instead, the media and Republicans are interested in fueling the confusion re HCR.

Why are we so comfortable with waging wars but are uncomfortable with HCR which is about our own health & well being? There was no real or deep concern about the cost of war nor was there a constant focus of the politicians or the media on dissecting such costs and yet we want to incessantly quibble over the cost of HCR ? Why were town halls and tea party gatherings not organized re the war, its impact, and its cost? Why were multiple monthly polls not conducted re the war, its cost, and its implications? Why was the media not obsessed with such details re the war and show its concern re such a significant and far reaching policy? Why was the rush to wage war not put under extreme scrutiny by the media or politicians like the HCR?

The Iraq war cost had none of the extreme, ad nauseam analysis like that of HCR. And for those who might claim that "Iraq is old news" the fact remains that it is still going on and is there any real coverage of the continued financial cost of this fraudulent and utterly unnecessary war? And I won't even bring up the cost of human lives and its lasting and highly volatile, destructive consequences. The
financial burden of the war is over 1T $$s allocated; with $973B spent and still counting. The war costs are an unchecked spending whereas HCR is at least looking at ways to pay for itself while also effecting real deficit reductions in the future.

How come BIG Government and its spending is OK when it comes to waging war? But it is not OK for this same BIG Government to take on adequate and proper health care for the entire population of the "Greatest Nation on earth?"

And, why are we so driven by polls that cover only a few hundred people ... 500+ or 1000+ ? There was a huge outcry not just in America but in the world to NOT wage war on Iraq, public sentiment was overwhelmingly against the war and yet the war was waged and that too on known, I repeat known, false pretenses. The operative phrase used to be "you can not govern based on polls" whereas some of the same politicians repeatedly and obsessively use poll numbers every time they want to make some argument against HCR. Regardless of one's view re polls why are polls used in one case but not the other? The media is equally complicit in such hypocrisy - why were the media waves not inundated with polling numbers like they are presently?

Why do we not expose such blatant hypocrisy of media and politicians? Why are real and serious questions either not asked or asked very rarely? And, why are they not asked repeatedly to ensure that the public is indeed better informed? Instead, why does "spin" based dialog prevail over real dialog so much so that either the spin is almost all one hears or the real information is just drowned out by the spin? Why are we so accepting of simplistic slogans like death-panels, socialized medicine, big government, government take over of health care etc etc? Why are such shallow arguments not exposed for what they are? And why are the perpetrators of such actions not called out? Why is such behavior not thoroughly exposed for what it is even in this age of Internet news?

And since when is the media liberal? Does anyone really believe that CNN is liberal? CNN is more interested in reporting that
Health Care Foes are 11 votes shy of defeating bill vs How many are on the Yes side? Just this "simple twist of facts" presents the HCR in a "negative light" and easily leads to further negative views. Does the existence and popularity of Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, or Jon Stewart make the media liberal? Really? No wonder people are confused.

When did we become so shortsighted that 8 years of systematic dismantling of the American constitution and devastation of the American Economy has been forgotten so quickly? The Bush/Cheney Administration and Republicans saddled us with at least $3+T of debt when you count only three of their major policy initiatives: 1st) $1.35T in tax cuts for the wealthy, 2nd) $1+T (& counting) for the unnecessary wars, and 3rd) the $1T for the Medicare Bill of 2003. Why is such highly irresponsible governance not hammered by the media so that we do not forget and thus ensure that such policies and their representatives are not returned to power for a long time? How can we improve and grow if we are not willing to consider and take a hard look at our mistakes? If a management team effectively destroys a company would you bring back this team or their practices/policies? Would you gloss over or minimize these mistakes? Instead of ensuring that Republicans are held responsible for the past, the media continues to hammer President Obama who is trying his best to usher in recovery, on all fronts, and any reference to the egregious actions of the past is stifled by slogans. This is a President who is truly interested in the people but he is obstructed at every turn.

It is also very disappointing to see the waverings and lack of quick, decisive actions by the Congressional Democrats even with strong majorities in both chambers. Republicans, misguided as they may be, are always united. They passed massive tax cuts for the ultra wealthy with only a few days of debate whereas HCR has been debated for almost a year. Such tax cuts were passed using reconciliation and yet Republicans have the audacity and absolute hypocrisy to question such a process for HCR? And, again, why is such hypocrisy just mentioned "in passing," in the media, instead of the same intensity and scrutiny as is being lavished on Democrats and the HCR?

Any process - whether reconciliation or the recent "deem and pass" has been
used by both Republicans and Democrats but Republicans have used it more than Democrats. Such methods are inevitable given the current dysfunctional political machinery. And even if they are an issue why were they not an issue when Republicans used them? Republicans reversed the failed 216-218 vote into a 220-215 vote for the Medicare 2003 Bill, through an unprecedented bending of the rules, never ever done before, ... by keeping voting open for an extra 3hours beyond the allowed House Rules. Why was such rule bending not given media attention like reconciliation or "deem and pass" is receiving presently?

And why is it OK to re-build another country at any cost,  but it is not OK to spend 100s of Billions of dollars on our own recovery? Why are the costs of HCR dissected in every possible manner but no similar scrutiny is being applied on the Iraq re-building/war costs ?

I can not fathom how anyone making less than $250K per year can support Republican fiscal policies? In recent history, when did Republicans look after the "common good" of the American people? Were they for the "common good" when they tried to kill Medicare in 1965 on a procedural motion almost succeeding at one point but fortunately losing in the end? Did they help the "common good" by passing the massive tax cuts for the ultra wealthy top population bracket all under the garb of "this will boost the economy!" Really? This so-called "boost" resulted in
unemployment going from 4% to 7.6%, foreclosures going from 0.48% to 1.19%, population living in poverty going from 12.7% to 17%! These numbers are for the period '01 to '08. And, how well was the economy boosted? By the Wall Street Collapse? by the Car Industry collapse? By the Banking Industry collapse? By allowing only "no bid contracts" for rebuilding of Iraq so that a handful of corporations could benefit? How can such utter disservice to the common people be overlooked? And how can such abject hypocrisy not be exposed for what it is?

I invite you to ponder these questions and reach your own conclusions.

And, when I speak of Media here I am referring to Main Stream Media (MSM). My points re proper, fair, and objective information or reporting can certainly be found on the web and I am most deeply grateful for that. My issue is with the MSM, with their irresponsible, biased, sensational, and unfair coverage that does nothing to help save our Country.

And finally, why is liberal such a bad word? I had to finally look it up so here's an excerpt from the
dictionary definition for the word liberal:

  1. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
  2. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression.
  3. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
  4. free from prejudice or bigotry.
  5. open-minded or tolerant.
  6. favorable to progress or reform.
  7. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts.
  8. not strict or rigorous.
  9. of, pertaining to, or befitting a free man.


You decide for yourself if liberal is bad or good?

Related articles links:

Benefits of Health Care Reform, District by District Impact, March 18, 2010,
Steny Hoyer: A Man Worth Listening To, By Bruce Bartlett, March 1, 2010,
Did Republicans Use Reconciliation for significantly bipartisan bills?, Ezra Klein, March 3, 2010
GOP Senators Who Used Budget Reconciliation To Pass Bush Agenda Items Now Calling It "Chicago Style Politics", March 24, 2009.
Republican Deficit Hypocrisy, Bruce Bartlett, November 20, 2009.
Pelosi trades shot with GOP over Health Care., March 16, 2010.
Real Time Cost of War.
The Bucks Never Stops: Costs of Iraq and Afghanistan War Costs Continue to Soar.
Why Don't Honest Journalists Take on Roger Ailes and Fox News, By Howell Raines, March 14, 2010.
"
19 March 2008, The Iraq War: Counting the Cost" and "8 April 2004, The cost of the Iraq war: One year on" ...  both BBC News posts By Steve Schifferes.
Iraq War: The Cost of Bush Lies and His Influence of Not Being Accountable
, February 1, 2009.
Privileged Resolution on Culture of Corruption Surrounding Prescription Drug Bill, December 8, 2005.

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