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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

January 20, 2008


"As mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."
- George Washington, Thanks to David W.

Another "YO-YO" Health Care Plan

John McCain is now the guy to beat in the Republican party. After Rudy Giuliani's self-destruction (yes - I'm writing him off even before all of those displaced New-Yorkers-turned-Sunshine-Staters vote just over one week from today); and Mitt Romney's ability to only win the states he calls "home" (don't laugh - there's at least ten of them!), the senior Senator from Arizona has risen like the phoenix from the ashes and is now 'da GOP man.

So in honor of his new-found title, it's time to examine Senator McCain on the issues, and, as most of you might have already guessed, there is no more important issue to me than health care.

After listening to the Democrats talk about their plans for the nation's un- and under-insured, with most of the original candidates making health care a mandate; and cringing when hearing the "ideas" that the Republican candidates came up with (or took from President Bush), I wanted to examine "The Maverick's" plans to help us out of the crisis which will eat up 20 cents out of every GDP dollar by 2016 (the last year of the new President's second term, if he, or she, makes it that far). McCain's website "straight talks" health care (http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/19ba2f1c-c03f-4ac2-8cd5-5cf2edb527cf.htm) in just the same manner that the GOP, the Right Wing and the Bush "base" of "haves and have more" talk about health care: It's the YO-YO (You're-On-Your-Own) plan all over again.

"John McCain is willing to address the fundamental problem: the rapidly rising cost of U.S. health care."
-"The Maverick's" website

It's good to know that McCain is "willing" to address the fundamental problem" that is health care in the United States today. Even though some might consider it to be more of a "crisis" than a "problem", it's still good to know that he's "willing" to offer up some lip-service towards what more than 25 percent of us consider to be the most important problem facing America today. And while it's true that the cost of US health care is "rising" at a pace that is hundreds of times greater than the "rise" of our wages (for those of you whose wages have actually risen - like the Global CEO's), it's also true that McCain's - like President Bush's - "plan" is to say whatever he can to get elected an do nothing once he achieving his goal.

"John McCain believes that insurance reforms should increase the variety and affordability of insurance coverage available to American families by fostering competition and innovation."
-from JohnMcCain.com

Allow me to interpret: If you can't afford health care insurance today, there is little to suggest that you'll be able to afford it if McCain is elected. In a nation where the median family of four's income is about $50,000, that same family is paying almost $12,000 per year in health care insurance premiums alone. That doesn't include what the average American family will have to pay for deductibles, co-pays, medicines they need that the insurance companies will consider "not proven effective for your disease", and the amount of the doctor's fee that is out of the "usual and customary" fees that insurance company execs determine that you, their insured, will pay.

By the way, not once did McCain's website mention bother that all bankruptcies are due to health care. So as he's screaming about the pseudo-rich who bought homes that were over their heads and the banks that we (the American middle class) will be bailing out, many of "we" (that same American middle class) won't be able to afford our health care bills.

That's a crisis.

"Reform the tax code to eliminate the bias toward employer-sponsored health insurance, and provide all individuals with a $2,500 tax credit ($5,000 for families) to increase incentives for insurance coverage. Individuals owning innovative multi-year policies that cost less than the full credit can deposit remainder in expanded health savings accounts."
-Part of the McClain plan

Well if the Republicans get their wish, there will be no more tax code because there will be no more taxes. And what will a $2,500 or $5,000 tax cut do for most Americans? When it comes to purchasing health care coverage for yourself ($2,500) or your family ($5,000), not much. Let's face facts here: The Average American family without health insurance doesn't even pay $5,000 in federal income taxes (remember - federal withholding taxes are for Social Security and Medicare). So what will their minor adjustment net them? Not much.

And how with this great tax-cutter, as all of the GOP hopefuls claim to be, going to pay for such a tax break anyway? Let's do the math: There are 180 million American households, most of which containing families (husband, wife, children - husband, wife - one parent with children). If two-thirds of these households get $5,000 each; and the other third are given $2,500 each to pay for their health care, the total increase to our nation's annual budget would be around $700 billion ($700,000,000,000.00).

President Bush has expanded the 2008 federal budget by about four percent from 207 to 2008 - larger than even the inflation rate. Today it stands at $2.9 trillion, which doesn't include the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which are paid for by "appropriations". It would be well in excess of $3 trillion if they were included.

John McCain wants to increase it - yes, increase it - by nearly one-third and it still wouldn't cover most of the 47 million Americans who have no health care coverage today.

Stupid, huh?

And to add insult to injury, McCain's plan would force states to pony up even more of their taxpayers' dollars.

"Require any state receiving Medicaid to develop a financial 'risk adjustment' bonus to high-cost and low-income families to supplement tax credits and Medicaid funds."
-"The Plan"

Just as George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind educational program forces states to pay for their federal mandates, John McCain's health care plan would force us - the middle class taxpayer - to pay to cover those who still wouldn't be able to afford their doctor's bills. We'll still have jammed emergency rooms; we'll still have thousands of Americans dieing because they can't afford even a simple check-up; and we'll still have health insurance companies running amok on our middle class while their CEO's take millions in bonuses and perks.

"Allow individuals to get insurance through any organization or association that they choose,"

hey John... We're allowed to do just that now, but 47 million of us still can't afford it.

As McCain closes his health care web page, he talks about making sure Americans take care of themselves. He talks about "Childhood obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure" as if those who develop these diseases should be considered pariahs. Of course McCain himself might be one of those people who had brought his own disease upon himself. After all, he hails from Arizona - the state with The Sun on it flag - and probably spent too much time in the sun himself. Should we, the US taxpayer, have been responsible for his skin caner treatment? Using his own logic, the answer would have to be "No".

In the balance of health care plans being offered by the candidates left in the race for the White House, McCain is just like the others on the Right side: A lot of rhetoric with no substance.

It may make for good GOP politics, but the lack of health care for every American is bad for every American, whether they have insurance or not.

-Noah Greenberg

Obama and Reagan

"(Ronald Reagan) tapped into what people were already feeling, which was, 'We want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing,"
-Barack Obama in Nevada

"When you think about what Ronald Reagan did to the American people, to the middle class, to the working people created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day.
This president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change,"
-John Edwards, who also pointed out Reagan's destruction of Labor Unions

In my opinion, Reagan was probably the third worst President this country has ever had to endure, after Dubya Bush and Andrew Johnson. He did incalculable damage to the middle class, which everyone is still paying for, and I'm immediately suspicious of any politician who pretends otherwise. (I'm a bit extra-disillusioned with Ronnie since my parents knew him personally when he was a sportscaster in Des Moines shortly before I was born. They couldn't stand him. In fact, my dad, who usually liked nearly everybody, loathed young Ronald Reagan. As a kid I heard endless tales of Reagan's hollow phoniness, sneakiness, social climbing, and eagerness to be a lap-dog to the rich.)

The more I see of Obama and his tactics, the less & less I like. His vague "hope" message may appeal to New Agers, but, tragically, they seem to require spaced-out feel-good stuff that's either ludicrous (like astrology) or blows away like dandelion fluff when you try to analyze it. So "feel-good" doesn't sit well with me. This is a time for facing reality, not running from it! I want a definite program with substance, and of the three Democratic front-runners only Edwards has presented economic ideas that express intelligence. His stance on the Iraq War indicates that he also has the honesty and guts to admit when he's been wrong. I am very disappointed in Kucinich for endorsing Obama.

The question is, have the American voters--even the ones most badly damaged by Reaganomics--been so badly brainwashed by mass media and New Age cotton candy that their ears are stuffed full of it? Can they no longer hear and feel underfoot the marching doom of reality?

-Jenny Hanniver

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-Noah Greenberg