Alan Zendell, June 27, 2017
One constant of the current administration is the level of noise coming out of both the White House and the Congress designed to distract and confuse the public. It’s a tactic Trump is famous for and one that Steve Bannon promotes relentlessly. It’s also a tactic that’s been used effectively by the Right and the alt-Right over the last decade as the Koch Network summit in Colorado Springs clearly shows. What happened to “of the people, by the people, and for the people?” This isn’t the way the process was supposed to work.
How do you navigate all the lies, distortions, and misdirections? Whatever game you compete in, every coach says, “Never take your eye off the ball.” If you do now, you’ll be a victim of a shell game. As a voter and taxpayer, keeping your eye on the ball means never forgetting that virtually every member of Congress is politically indebted to some large money interests. Once in power, most politicians’ highest priority is staying in power, and money from highly motivated donors can make or break them.
That’s most important right now as we watch the Senate Republicans desperately try to force a large square peg into a small round hole so they can pass their version of the health care bill. It can’t be done without breaking something, and in this case what’s at risk is the physical and financial health of tens of millions of Americans.
Donald Trump famously said that health care was a lot more complicated that he realized, but he was wrong, it’s pretty simple. As I and many others have said before, the battle is really about a massive transfer of wealth. The wealthy in this country do not want to share what they have with everyone else, and that’s what would happen if the government lived up to its promise of affordable health care for every citizen. Health care is the most expensive non-military or public safety item in every national and state budget.
Governments can only spend the revenue they collect and revenue is just another word for taxes. What the health care debate comes down to couldn’t be simpler. Guaranteeing good, affordable health insurance would raise the taxes of the wealthiest Americans significantly. Passing either the House or Senate version of the health care bill would reduce their taxes by a quarter of a million dollars each, at the expense of everyone at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Don’t be fooled by the illusion of a debate. The only debate that’s going on is how to package this can of worms in a way that the Congress people who vote for it can defend it to the voters next year. And that’s only possible if we, the voters, let ourselves be hoodwinked.
Everyone must take this seriously right now. You can’t wait until you need coverage and either it’s not there or you can’t afford it. Imagine you’re me for a moment. Last year, I had open heart surgery which was paid for entirely by Medicare and supplemental insurance . My wife and I spend more than $10,000 each year on health insurance premiums in addition to the Medicare tax dollars we still pay, and we do it without complaint. How much more simply can I say it? WITHOUT MY HEALTH INSURANCE I WOULD BE DEAD NOW.
Last week, as I was about to depart on a car trip of a thousand miles, I felt stiffness in my chest. Because of my excellent coverage, I was able to follow the advice of my cardiologist and get checked out at my local hospital’s emergency room. The bill for my six hour stay in the ER will be about $2,000, which will also be fully paid by my insurance. Would I have made that choice if I had to come up with the money myself? What would someone who could it afford it less than I have done?
It’s not that the peace of mind I got knowing everything checked out fine isn’t worth the cost. It is, but I’m one of the lucky ones. Most people in this country do not have the kind of health insurance I rely on, and if they’re senior citizens on a budget, the premiums I pay would be a major hardship. If the bills presently before the Congress pass, one-fourth of all Americans, mostly dependent children, the aged, and disabled won’t even have those options. A lot of people are going to die because of it. It’s up to us all to assure that that doesn’t happen.