Cliff Diving

Wednesday, January 2, 2013
December 19, 2024

They were much too angry and type A to stand in line. But they waited for their turn and one by one marched to the podium, faced the few assembled Congressmen not from their states, and held nothing back. They were all there, every single member of the delegations from California, Arizona, and Nevada. 38 Democrats, 27 Republicans, 2 Socialists and a Libertarian were in total agreement. The federal government needed to act, NOW. And it wasn’t going to happen. The Speaker of the House, James L. (Jimmy Lee) Russell (R-La), had already left. There was not going to be a vote tonight. And if the citizens of California, Arizona, and Nevada were dying from a flu epidemic and needed more medical attention than was currently available, well it was, in part, their fault for not being smart enough to live in Louisiana.

Hell, everyone should live in Louisiana, except of course, that damn Socialist.

The idea that the House of Representatives would adjourn without completing the people’s business would seem absurd to anyone who wasn’t paying attention to the drama of the last few days. But last night I watched the delegations from New York and New Jersey, Democrats and Republicans alike, shake in fury at the idea that Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) would adjourn prior to allowing the vote for emergency relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

As we march towards the nationalization of our health care delivery system, I again wonder if the people in Washington are up to the task. I know, I’ve met many of the suits at the major insurance companies. They don’t instill unqualified confidence, but the insurers seldom suffer from the self-inflicted wounds that our current leaders have mastered.

Our Republican leaders have attempted to starve the government. They have tried, with a great deal of success, to lower taxes without reducing expenses. Now that the election is over, we are hearing about entitlement cuts. We are learning that the Republicans seem to believe that Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are the sources of our financial problems. Defense, government subsidies to favored industries, and revenues should be off the table. What happens when our health care is just one more line item on the budget and the choice is adequate funding or the happiness of a few large campaign donors?

I don’t like our odds.

And my fellow Democrats aren’t any better. There is no such thing as free. And though a modest increase in the taxes some of us pay may not hurt (too much), the truth is that you can’t tax your way out of this mess. That and we seem to fixate on the low hanging fruit. Most people don’t mind increasing the taxes on other people. If we really need the money so badly, why not ask everyone to chip in? Pick a number. $5 a week from the paychecks of everyone making under that $250,000 threshold? Something. Anything. Shared pain seems to mean someone is in pain and the rest of us will watch and pretend to feel bad.

It is difficult to not feel frustration after watching the New Year’s Eve mess. I was transfixed. I couldn’t help myself. I kept waiting for our country’s leadership to lead. In the end it fell upon Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Vice President Biden to craft a deal that could pass. I was not surprised to see Joe Biden ride in (limo not horseback) to save the day. McConnell’s participation was a pleasant surprise.

But nothing is really solved. The US government is run by people unwilling and unable to craft a realistic budget, a doable system of taxation and tax collection, and a logical strategic plan. This is nothing new. What is new is that we are less than ten months from the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The federal government will be running the exchanges in states like Ohio where the governor thought that a President Romney would make all of this moot. How politicized, underfunded, and uncertain will our health care funding become?

I think we will all be cliff diving.