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Harry Says Now Is The Time PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Tuesday, 06 October 2009
AFF Sentinel Vol.6#28

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decreed the next two weeks showdown time for the Democrats' health care plan. He's cancelled the Columbus Day recess next week to speed things. Probably he's really cancelled the recess to save his members further stress from close contact with constituents at home.

With polls showing voters' opposition to Obamacare getting stronger over time, perhaps Reid has figured waiting is counterproductive. As Congressmen finally read the bills and discover what has fueled town hall rage, they are raising questions. Blue Dog and "moderate" Democrats looking at furious voters now and an election next year, are going to have a perilous time navigating the myriad array of votes on versions and amendments.

For those who have been contacting your members of Congress, now is the time to re- double efforts. For those who have not bothered, it's time for the big push. One thing is clear: the furious and continuous vocal opposition of plain old citizens has definitely changed the playing field. The polls show a majority of voters opposed to the Democrat's plans. Seniors, in line for serious cuts in their programs, have overwhelmingly revolted. Polls show only 16 percent of seniors favoring the plans.

Although predictions are hazardous, the consensus is that a bill with an outright public government option cannot get through the Senate. We don't believe that would have been the case without this year's continued voter pressure. Voter opposition has undoubtedly changed the whole playing field for Obamacare - despite moans from apathetic voters for years about powerlessness. The final bill may still include some version of a public/non-profit/triggered- later government option but now the political price will be enormous.

In the next few columns, we'll update you on the key issues and arguments and suggest some real improvements our present system could use. The process of melding bills and proposals starts this week, with Reid aiming towards a vote the week of the 12th.

Much of the opposition to Obamacare has been directed at the cost, piled on existing government programs already near insolvency. While Congress and the Congressional Budget office have pegged the cost of the HR 3200 at around $1.3-1.7 trillion, few have talked about the real truth. No major government program comes in at the projected cost. The real question is whether the multiplication factor will be two, three or ten times the estimate. If they are off even by a factor of three, we're talking an extra $3 trillion, the kind of numbers that could bury a world economy, let alone one country. And that's with a head start on taxing in 2011 and not starting the program until 2013.

Even more repulsive than cost are the ways being suggested to raise revenue. Stuart Varney summarized them neatly (Fox News, 10\6\09): 1) an individual mandate to buy health insurance or be fined, as much as several thousand dollars; 2.) employer mandates - companies provide insurance for employees or get fined up to eight percent of payroll, (small business definition?); 3.) millionaires' tax - the top one percent already pays 40 percent of all taxes; 4.) "Cadillac" health plan tax - if you're lucky enough to have a top-drawer health plan, the government will tax you as punishment, (the unions object to this one); 5.) force the uninsured into Medicaid (the states hate this one -- they cost share) and 6) tax medical devices and drug companies (your new knee, hip or pacemaker would be taxed).

Then there's the question of management, when government has proven unable to handle current programs. Sen. Tom Coburn, one of two physicians in the Senate, cited studies suggesting that fraud alone will cost Medicare and Medicaid $100 billion this year ("Making the World Safe for Medicaid Fraud," Wall Street Journal, 10/2/09). Harvard's Dr. Malcolm Sparrow, (his book - "License to Steal,") estimates the losses could be much higher - 20 or 30 percent of over a trillion dollars.

Would Congress fix the fraud? They voted again against requiring immigrants to present a photo ID for care. Yet President Obama has said he will help pay for Obamacare by cutting out $500 billion in waste and fraud. How? By not even doing the first step, requiring ID? If government was capable of operating without fraud, why hasn't it the first 40 years? Why do big government advocates think after hundreds of years of proof otherwise, that they finally can make government run efficiently?

The implications for animal agriculture, from cost to the economy through possible dietary mandates, are staggering.

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