Priorities

Sunday, December 5, 2010
Retiring Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ) has been a frequent guest on Morning Joe, MSNBC’s morning news and talk show. The show’s namesake and principle host is former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough. Mr. Shadegg has always been particularly candid on Morning Joe. I caught his November 30th appearance.

Congressman Shadegg extolled the virtues of the Bush tax cuts. He warned of dire consequences if taxes reverted to the rates of the 1990’s, even if only for people making over a million dollars per year. Actually, he was most concerned about those in the top tier.

How would we pay for continuing these cuts? These tax cuts were temporary because we couldn’t pay for them nine years ago. But reducing the tax rate was supposed to be such a powerful economic driver that the resultant job creation would have more than offset the short term loss of revenue. That hasn’t happened yet. But, according to Congressman Shadegg, continuing the Bush era tax cuts will ensure a reduction in unemployment.

Congressman Shadegg’s empathy was highly selective, especially when it came to the unemployed. He was very concerned about the tax cuts that could create jobs, but not terribly worried about those people who are actually unemployed. When it came to extending the unemployment benefits for the victims of the worst recession in seventy years, Mr. Shadegg suddenly became focused on every dollar coming to and leaving from Washington. He was positive that we couldn’t afford to continue benefits to the out of work. He implied that it was a waste of money. He opined that the unemployed wouldn’t stimulate the economy since they would just hoard the money.

Mike Barnicle: “Let’s get back to what you said about unemployment checks. People don’t spend that money?”

Representative Shadegg: “No, they will spend as little as they can because they’ll hold on to it as long as they can. In reality, they don’t create jobs.”

Yes, this is Health Insurance Issues With Dave and yes, the above has everything to do with the delivery of health care in this country. Watching Representative Shadegg the other day reminded me of why I have always been concerned about single payer, government run health care.

If nothing else, the last ten years have shown us that you may have to be thirty years old to serve in the U. S. Senate, but you don’t have to be an adult. Ten years ago, at the end of a major financial growth spurt, instead of saving money for the upcoming lean period (think Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream), we cut taxes. When we were attacked and went to war, our youth were asked to sacrifice twice, first in blood and secondly by being saddled with incredible debt. We then invaded Iraq, but still didn’t ask the American public for any sacrifice.

Somewhere along the way we screwed up the housing market, forgot the real purpose of banks, and sold our financial soul to China. And now we have well over 10% of our workforce unemployed and we are debating whether their food and shelter are national priorities.

Ten years from now. Twenty years from now. At some point when we have all been herded into a government run health care system, will your surgery be a future Congressman Shadegg’s priority? Will this government program, unlike all other government programs, be properly funded?

You don’t have to like Medical Mutual, Anthem, or UnitedHealth Care. You may even be really ticked at the annual rate increases. But, your policy will perform as per your contract and the insurer will always have the money to pay your claim.

Keith Olbermann has been highlighting the current mess in Arizona. Governor Jan Brewer has eliminated coverage for transplants from the State’s Medicaid program. Arizona can’t afford transplants. The eighty-some people who were waiting for lungs, kidneys or livers aren’t her priority.

The President and Congress have a lot of issues to tackle in the next few weeks during the lame duck session. Tax Cuts. Unemployment Benefits. Estate Taxes. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A war or two. And, Harry Reid wants to talk about gambling. They all have their own agendas. Compromises will be made. Some bills will be signed.

And somewhere in Arizona there is a young woman with Cystic Fibrosis waiting for a lung…


DAVE

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