11/25/2009 – Editorials


By Richard Peterson

You would think we were in the middle of an election, judging by the lying television ads attacking Earl Pomeroy for his vote in favor of the House bill on so-called health care "reform." The ads are probably being run by front organizations funded by the health insurance industry, which is fearful of being thrown off its gravy train.

The ads run by The 60 Plus Association make outlandish statements to scare people. The lying ads claim that care will be rationed, that government will choose your doctor and that Medicare benefits will be cut. FactCheck.org says all these statements are false.

The Associated Press reports that small businesses and middle class families will pay no new taxes. Only one percent of the nation’s richest, those making more than $500,000, would pay any new taxes.

Gullible people will believe these lying ads. Don’t be one of them.

The attack ads on TV are always, without exception, lies and distortions. Don’t pay any attention to them.

The Senate took a vote Saturday night which will allow debate to go forward on health care reform. The vote was 60 to 39 with all Democrats in favor of debating the issue and all Republicans opposed to letting the issue be debated and voted on.

So now the Senate will pass a health care reform bill. It’s hard to say what the final bill will look like. After it passes, a conference committee will try to put the House bill and the Senate bill into one bill that both houses will have to pass again.

There’s a lot of discussion on the so-called public option, a government-run insurance company that would provide competition to the insurance companies. Conservatives are dead set against any such organization being formed.

Writing in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof points out how shortsighted and silly the conservatives are. Back in the 1930’s conservatives stormed that Social Security was a socialist program that would compete with private insurers and add to Americans’ tax burden so as to kill jobs.

Republican Rep. Daniel Reed of New York predicted that with Social Security Americans would come to feel "the lash of the dictator."

Sen. Daniel Hastings, a Delaware Republican, declared that Social Security would "end the progress of a great country."

Rep. John Taber, a Republican from New York said of Social Security:

"Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought here so insidiously designed as to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers."

Fortunately, the Party of No lost that fight when President Roosevelt managed to get Social Security instituted into the fabric of America.

When Medicare was being debated in the 1960s critics claimed that health care reform (Medicare) is "a cruel hoax and a delusion." Ads in 100 newspapers thundered that reform would mean "The beginning of socialized medicine."

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page predicted that the legislation would lead to "deteriorating service." Business groups warned that Washington bureaucrats will invade "the privacy of the examination room" and that we are on the road to rationed care and that patients will lose the "freedom to choose their own doctor."

Conservatives bitterly denounced Medicare as socialism, as a plan for bureaucrats to make medical decisions, as a means to ration health care.

Such nonsense! Fortunately the Party of No was again defeated in its efforts and Medicare became a part of the American fabric.

The conservatives were wrong 70 years ago and they were wrong 50 years ago. They are wrong about the health care reform we so desperately need today.

I don’t know if the bill which finally gets to President Obama’s desk is what we need, but at least it will be a start. It may have to be modified as we go along. After all, Social Security has been modified several times, most recently in the 1980s when President Reagan presided over an increase in the Social Security tax and increasing the ages at which full Social Security benefits will be granted. This will probably have to happen again.

The public option would provide competition for the insurance companies. Boy are they against that! But in my opinion, a health care reform bill without the public option merely validates the ticket for the health insurance companies to continue riding on the gravy train.

If the government isn’t going to provide the competition, who is? The health insurance companies? Don’t make me laugh! The government is the ONLY entity that can possibly bring about reform.

Conservatives whine that government involvement in the health insurance business guarantees the demise of the insurance companies.

Really? Has the US Postal Service put FedEx and UPS out of business?

They also claim that government will make a mess of the health care system. They can’t have it both ways. Either the government will be successful or it will not be successful. It can’t make a mess out of providing health care benefits and still put the insurance companies out of business.

Actually, putting the health insurance companies out of business would be a good thing. The health insurance companies don’t provide any health care whatsoever. They are merely middlemen inserting themselves between patients and doctors for the purpose of extracting profits. The health insurance industry profits and outrageous compensation for its executives are part of the total health care bill we’re all paying. We don’t need them.

We don’t need 2,000 page health care reform bills, either. But apparently that’s what we’re going to get. A one page bill putting everyone in the nation under Medicare would do the trick.


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