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3/31/2010 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

The stock market has had a pretty good run the past few months. The employment situation in the US is improving. Things aren’t nearly as bad as they were a year ago.

The stimulus package passed by the Obama Administration will kick into high gear this summer. You’re going to see vastly improved economic conditions nationwide.

The conservatives claimed government was the problem not the solution, so they took government out of the business of policing the financial industry. Left to do as it pleased, the private financial sector went hog-wild and came close to collapse. Only the infusion of $700 billion of federal money kept the system going.

If the Obama Administration had not acted with speed and sufficient resources, we would be hunkered down in a depression.

We find now that the taxpayers may even come out on the investment in the financial sector. The Washington Post reports that the federal government is going to make a profit of about $8 billion on its bailout of Citigroup. In other words, Citigroup will pay back all the money it borrowed from the US government and the taxpayers will get an $8 billion bonus.

It is not known how much of the $700 billion will be paid back, but it is expected the total program will cost less than $100 billion. Maybe there will be a profit. No matter. It was a wise investment that has already paid off handsomely by thwarting a depression.

Conservatives, of course, were opposed to the bailout. Government, they believe, can’t do anything right. The conservatives were also opposed to the bailout of Chrysler in 1979. The US government put enough money into Chrysler to allow it to survive. Chrysler paid back all the money with interest. But the biggest payoff for the US government was that all those jobs at Chrysler were saved for 30 years. The conservatives would have let Chrysler fail 30 years ago because government can’t do anything right.

Today the conservatives are fighting against reform of the financial system. Nothing has been done to see to it that we won’t have a repeat performance. In fact, the banking industry spent $150 million last year lobbying against reform.

The conservatives were opposed to Obama’s stimulus program because government can’t do anything right. The whining and crying began almost immediately. The stimulus isn’t working and it won’t work they whined.

You watch. The stimulus program was exactly what the US economy needs to get the nation’s economy out of the ditch. This is Keynesian economics and it works.

The conservatives are counting their chickens. They see huge gains in Congress in the fall election because of the passage of the health care law. Government can’t do anything right, you see.

But the new law isn’t really about health care. Government isn’t going to be providing health care. That will continue to be provided by doctors, clinics and hospitals. Unless, of course, you are a member of the US military or a veteran being treated at VA hospitals. That is true socialistic medicine and it’s comparable to the private sector with some facilities providing better care than other facilities.

The new law is not a government takeover of the health care system. It will be more involved in regulating insurance companies. The government will also set up and regulate a competitive new exchange, or marketplace, where small businesses and the uninsured can buy coverage.

But the coverage would be plans offered by private insurance companies.

The bill is, in fact, designed to preserve employer-based health benefits and the private insurance industry. So, increased government role, yes. Government takeover, no.

The new law puts the clamps on the most horrid practices of the insurance companies.

Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage when people get sick.

Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.

Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime caps on coverage.

Children will now be able to stay on parents’ policies to age 26.

There’s also a $250 rebate to Medicare drug beneficiaries, which is a way to close the so-called "doughnut hole."

People who have no insurance because of pre-existing conditions will be put into a pool where they can purchase insurance.

The conservatives lie that these items are "socialism" and a "government takeover." People are going to realize they have been lied to. They just might vote against the conservatives who’ve been lying to them. All those chickens they’re counting may not hatch.

The conservatives were wrong when they opposed Social Security in 1935.

The conservatives were wrong when they opposed Medicare in 1965. They are wrong to oppose reform of the health insurance industry today.

They were wrong about repealing government control of the financial system. They were wrong about the bailout of the financial sector when everything went to pot. They were wrong to oppose the stimulus package.

One thing you can say about the conservatives is that they’re consistent. They always seem to be wrong.

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