Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Political Front

Very soon, a comprehensive health care bill will be submitted by the House of Representatives and Senate, which could finally bring universal health care to the United States. Universal health care coverage is considered the centerpiece of President Obama's domestic agenda. Considering the Democratic advantages in the House and the Senate, this is the best opportunity yet to implement a universal health care (or "single payer") system.

Socialized medicine has been implemented in countries such as Great Britain and Canada and the results have been mixed. While everyone in those countries is covered by health insurance, when those of us in the U.S. hear of universal health care, it is of the horror stories of the 12-18 month waits for hip replacements. Also, the cost of implementing such a system in the U.S. would be astronomical. When I read of the cost projections for universal health care, I immediately think of Boston's Big Dig. The original cost estimate for the Big Dig was supposed to be $2 billion. Fifteen years later when the project was finally completed, the cost was $14 billion. I'm very skeptical about the projections that universal health insurance will cost $1 trillion over the next decade. I believe these projections are based on a very best case scenario.

However, a convincing argument by populists can be made regarding the cost of the Iraq war and the bank bailouts. Proponents will say if we can afford a war and bank bailouts, why can't we provide health insurance to all? This is certainly a legitimate point.

The cost of private health insurance continues to skyrocket and outpace inflation. Eventually companies are going to try to depress the salaries of their employees and consider the cost paid for employees health insurance as part of their salaries. Everyone knows that the cost of a routine doctor's visit is outrageous. The biggest issue with the cost of healthcare is the insurance required by doctors due to medical malpractice suits. Tort reform to prevent frivolous medical malpractice suits is certainly one of the measures needed to "bend the curve", the current buzz phrase being used to bring health care costs in line.

Ideas are being floated to help pay for the cost of universal health care. One idea is for the federal government to treat any health insurance that costs greater than $15,000 as income and tax it accordingly. Already, this proposal is being met with resistance from both Republicans and moderate Democrats.

I don't necessarily believe all the demagoguing coming from Republicans who are against it, but I also am skeptical about the way the Democrats are selling this - You can have it all and everyone will be covered! If it sounds like a pipe dream and too good to be true, it probably is. Also, don't forget that such a system will require the creation of a massive new government bureacracy, and as we all know, the federal government isn't exactly known for it's efficiency.

The key to the success of the Democrats passing universal healthcare legislation are seniors. So far, from what's been proposed, there hasn't been much of an additional benefit to them other than what they receive from Medicare. Considering seniors are the most reliable voting bloc in the U.S., placating them and giving them additional benefits could be the difference between getting a bill passed or it failing.

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The results of the recent election in Iran has turned into a real problem for the world; a problem that must be handled with finesse and restraint. Heading into the June 12th election, polls had challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi holding a big lead and getting 63% of the vote. Such poll results are in line with the frustration of the people of Iran, who have experienced very high inflation and chronic unemployment under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So imagine the surprise across Iran when the results were quickly announced by the state run media that incumbent President Ahmadinejad won in a landslide. Mmm. Something certainly smells fishy there.

President Ahmadinejad is a terrorist sponsoring thug, who is working to build up a nuclear weapon arsenal in Iran. Considering his past radical statements about Israel, he isn't someone the world would want to have access to nuclear weapons. However, Mir Hossein Mousavi isn't exactly an altar boy, either. Mousavi is also a proponent of terrorism, but in this case, seemingly any change at the top in Iran would help ease world tensions.

Since the results have been announced, there have been rallies and protests in the street. The people of Iran believe the election was stolen from them, and they seem to have a good case. Tensions rose yesterday, when gunfire broke out from a militia group shooting at the demonstrators, killing at least seven and wounding several people.

I don't see a resolution to this situation where Mousavi winds up the victor. Any recount efforts (wink, wink) will likely result in a similar result. One thing I do know is Mousavi may want to put a will together, because based upon the situation, he doesn't appear to be long for this world.

1 comment:

Nick McNulty said...

I hear Acorn has already been sent over to certify the veracity of the Supreme Leader's recount, I am glad that is settled. See? They are worth $6 billion in bailout kickbacks after all...

Universal healthcare is a boondoggle, it is strangling economies where ever it is deployed, including in Massachusetts.

C'mon 2010, get here already so we can end the madness.