Saturday, July 18, 2009

Doing It Fast

Last fall Henry Paulson took a group of members of Congress aside and whispered in their ear some threats about impending economic disaster that were so dire it had them leaving the room pale and shaking. Literally, by their own admission, pale and with their hands trembling. If Congress did not pass a bill authorizing $700 billion to provide for the purchase of certain “toxic assets” within a few days, our economy would “melt down” in a manner not seen since 1929.

It’s seems farcical in retrospect, and did to many at the time, but the nation took it seriously; so seriously that McCain suspended his presidential campaign to deal with it. It later turned out that the $700 billion was merely a number that Paulson and Company pulled out of their collective backside because it “sounded big” but wasn’t too big to pass muster with Congress. The toxic assets never did get bought and are magically not toxic any more; somebody waved a wand or something.

This was all under the Bush Administration and a Republican Congress though, so… Oh wait, the Congress was Democratic. Oh well, they had that Republican Administration misleading them and we were about to elect a Democrat to the White House which would “change everything.”

Now we have this health care “reform” bill that has to get passed before the August recess. Part of the reform that has been being demanded by Obama is that it reduce the cost of health care, which is going to be difficult since the bill consists only of extending health insurance to everybody who doesn’t have it. That doesn't sound like a big cost reduction move and, sure enough, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determines that the bill, in its present form, not only does not reduce cost but actually raises it. So of course Congress in it’s entirety rises up and says, “Whoa.”

Well, no, other than Republicans who are saying “no” anyway, exactly six members do that, and they are decried as obstructionists. Their point is that we need to slow down a bit and do health care reform in a manner that makes sense rather than doing it in such a hurry that we get it wrong. (Maybe like we did the relief for “toxic assets” last year.) The President, Democratic leadership, and “progressive” media punditry all scream that we cannot slow down and that health care reform must be passed by August.

Because, what, if we get it right the insurance companies might suffer?

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