What it takes to make sausage

Promoted by Rosi

The zig-zag progress of health care legislation through Congress has caused any number of Americans no small amount of agita.  While the suffering over minute details can be enlightening, I suppose, it also shows how few of us understand how Congress work.  Even the false outrage over reconciliation – is it an evil, backdoor to introduce unfavorable legislation or just another legislative step? – has shown us that Americans really have no concept as to how their government works.

And it seems as if the people running the government don’t even know how it works.  Some of the objections from various Congressional people are just political positioning.  But some seem to totally miss the reason for what they are doing.

For example, Democrat Chet Edwards from Texas (whom I generally respect) said he would vote no because, “No one can predict with absolute certainty the new cost and cost savings of such a massive reform bill over 10 to 20 years. That is why I believed it was important to include a trigger to automatically reduce the cost of the bill if the projections turned out to be wrong, particularly since our nation is facing such serious federal deficits.”

Well, no one can accurately predict with absolute certainty what any spending bill will cost.  In fact, the whole point of reconciliation bills is that the best budgeting at the first of the year proves to be unsure…so they “reconcile” the budget to make sure the end result is closer to what was expected.

And an “automatic trigger” is a telling metaphor – because it would mean that, just when health care expenses have a family looking down the barrel of a gun, they have no chance of dodging the bullet.  The whole reason we need this health care reform is to make health expenses more predictable and less likely to drive people over the edge.

I even have to put our own John Adler into this group.  His statement is that, “While the final bill takes positive steps to provide insurance coverage for working Americans, I am not satisfied that the final bill will reform our health care system and prevent excessive increases in premiums for families and small businesses.”

Well, again, there are never any guarantees.  But the alternatives we have in front of us are: 1) move forward with this bill, then try to plug whatever holes end up being in the final draft, or 2) nothing.  I understand not being satisfied with the bill – I haven’t heard one person say that they are happy with it.  And I am particularly appreciative that the Congressman doesn’t want to leave consumers open to punitive rate hikes.  

But the fact is that we are going to get hammered with rate hikes if this legislation does not get approved.  As this article from 2006 makes clear, health insurance rates already suffer from inflation.  Looking back from 2006, health insurance rates had increased by 87 percent since the turn of the century, while wages rose only 20 percent.

So how are you going to save us, Mr. Adler?  I know it doesn’t match your ideal bill, but individual Congressmen don’t get their favored versions of bills at the final hour.  This is just the way Congress works.  You throw the choicest bits of meat into the grinder, but you get out sausage, not veal cutlet.  In the end, you don’t get to vote for which sausage you want…you vote to get sausage, or to starve.

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