Day: February 12, 2010

Republican Hypocrisy On Medicare: Time For the President And His Party To Act!

As Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman declares yesterday in the NY Times, the Republican party is extremely hypocritical on Medicare.

After spreading distortions on the Obama Health Care plan, including the concept of “death panels” and the idea of the plan cutting Medicare funding dramatically, it turns out that the budget plan released by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, often seen as a leader of the future in the Republican party, calls for even bigger Medicare cuts over the next decade, if the GOP ever gains control of Congress in the next few years.

The Ryan proposal would end Medicare for those under 55, creating privatization, and would cut future coverage benefits for those about to go on Medicare or already on Medicare.

The American people fail to study history or have a collective memory. The GOP opposed Medicare in 1965, and the party worked to undermine Medicare under Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995, but was stopped by the opposition of President Bill Clinton.

These realities should be enough for the Democrats to move ahead on their health care reform plan and use “reconciliation” to accomplish it. Better to push through a program under a web of controversy than to do nothing at all, which will convince the American people that the Democrats are unable or unwilling with a nearly 60 percent majority in both houses to accomplish their major goal.

A failure to take action on health care will doom the American people, including those on Medicare, to a future of Republican efforts to dismantle federal programs on Medicare, a crime against humanity at a time when health insurance companies are jacking up rates on health insurance faster than ever.

The health care crisis will only grow if the Democrats allow the Republicans to have a victory. The planned health care summit at the White House should be the last attempt at bipartisanship, extremely unlikely to work. Then, it is time for Barack Obama and the Democrats to act like a combination of “Give Them Hell Harry” (Truman) and “Wheeler Dealer” (Lyndon Johnson) to get things done!

The Kennedys Leave Congress

An era is ending as Patrick Kennedy, Democratic Congressman from Rhode Island and son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, announced his retirement at the end of this Congress.

There will be no Kennedy family member in Congress in 2011, after having had one or more Kennedys since 1947, with the exception of two years in the early 1960s.

John F. Kennedy served in Congress from 1947-1961 when he was inaugurated President. After a brief two year hiatus, Ted Kennedy was elected to his brother’s Senate seat and served from 1963 to last August, nearly 47 years. In addition, Robert Kennedy served from 1965-1968, and Joe Kennedy, Robert’s son served in the House from 1987-1999, and Patrick from 1995 to the end of this Congress.

This is in many ways a sad moment as the Kennedy Family served well and honorably overall, although of course any politician can be criticized in some way. Still, we owe our gratitude for their public service, as they could have chosen other pursuits but chose to do what they did, and in a way that overall we can admire and salute!

The Growing Number Of Members Of Congress Retiring A Bad Sign

It seems like every day, we hear the news of another one or two Congressmen or Senators deciding to retire at the end of this Congress, in larger numbers than ever before.

The announced retirements are from both parties, and include members who have often served for many terms, and in many cases state the reason for leaving as wanting to spend more time with their families.

This is a cover for the reality that serving in public office is becoming a more undesirable position as the years pass. The stress level from being a public servant elected by the people is such that after some time in office, the feeling develops that it just is not worth it to deal with the constant pressures that present themselves in the modern era, with the constant public scrutiny and ideological attacks from the left and the right, that over time wear down even the strongest personalities, and makes them decide that their commitment to serve has become faced with the reality of a barrage of constant criticism which can sour anyone, no matter how idealistic he or she may have once been.

Think about it: What other profession requires as much constant scrutiny and second guessing as being a politician? And despite the fact that politicians make four to five times the average salary of a typical American, they can all earn a lot more compensation in other fields, with far less scrutiny on a daily basis, and much less criticism.

So while certainly the American people have the right to attack and criticize their politicians, in the process they may very well be causing the most talented and committed to quit, leaving us with self servers who just want to advance their career, have no idealism or true commitment, and are likely to produce far worse results in their performance than we now are complaining about.

So expecting too much from politicians may lead to greater mediocrity in the long run. Is that what we want? 🙁