Thursday, January 20, 2011

Goodlatte's Folly

This letter hit my inbox yesterday from Congressman Goodlatte's office. Of course the outcome of his vote is symbolic at this point but the meaning is clear. Mr. Goodlatte is bound and determined to replace the current health care law and put in its place something called "commonsense measures."  That's a pretty interesting choice of words considering that none of these measures have yet been brought to the light of day.  It is true that there are some proposals being generated in the right wing think tanks and some of these are floating around in the blogosphere.  Yet, Mr. Goodlatte's intention with this letter is not to inform, but to shill unashamedly for the corporate cruelty of the status quo.

We begin after the jump:

Today the House will vote, with my support, on legislation to repeal the big government takeover of our health care system which was rammed through Congress last year and signed into law by President Obama.
At the beginning of the big health care debate last year, Frank Luntz set out the talking points that Republicans were to use to defeat health care.  These were focus group generated buzz words that were found to get the biggest reactions.  As buzz words go, they could be used in pretty much ANY advertising campaign against any political policy or proposal brought to any legislature big or small.  Mr. Luntz advised that attaching these negative buzz words to the health care package would be the best strategy for defeating it. (Got that? Advertising Against Health Care.... no mention of any allowance for honest discussion, only misleading and sinister calculated marketing.)

In his letter, Mr. Goodlatte has managed to hit almost every hot-button buzz word. The first three: "big government," "big government takeover," and "rammed through." The first two are simplistic and historical complaints about EVERY governmental program but most especially those programs that benefit the poor and middle class working folk. Mr. Goodlatte lovingly calls them, "entitlements."  The reference to the "ramming" is an interesting way to let us know that in a legislative body the rules of order dictate the actions.  Mr. Goodlatte is aware that the procedures used are called the "democratic process" and that his "commonsense" description of said process, ALL legislation is "rammed" through.  He reference of course, is to the power of the majority to make and pass legislation.  Is it really Mr. Goodlatte's view that the minority gets "rammed" every time they lose a legislative battle?  (Try and ignore the violent connotation in the name of civility, please...)
This health care reform law is a monstrosity which will lead to fewer choices, higher prices and rationed care.  It creates more than 150 new government agencies and programs at a cost of well over $1.2 trillion.  In addition to mandating that folks have health insurance, the government-run plan included in the law, will force millions out of the coverage they currently have.  The law also includes over $560 billion in devastating new tax increases on families and small businesses and cuts Medicare for our nation’s seniors by over $500 billion.
With all these heavy statistics and important and massive numbers thrown at us in a blast (dare I say ramming it into our discussion?), nowhere do I see or hear about the cost of the status quo.  Nor do I hear the cost of Mr. Goodlatte's replacement. (Mr. Goodlatte's "commonsense measures" are missing from the debate so far... Mr. Goodlatte?)  There is no mention of the human cost and the corresponding economic cost of the status quo.

More Luntzian buzz words:
  • "monstrosity"(a reference to the 2000 pages that he didn't want to read), 
  • "fewer choices" - mandated by Senate Republicans who didn't want there to be ANY choices for 52 million Americans. This references yet again the systemic Republican aversion to government and the idea that any consumer profit lost to a government program is lost to the corporate world. ie "fewer choices for us to make a profit."
  • "higher prices" - because of Mr. Goodlatte's cosy relationship with the health care corporations who insist on their profit margin.  The cheapest proposals were excluded from the debate from the very beginning.  (see "mandate" below)
  • "rationed care" - This one's very confusing because Mr. Goodlatte is actually FOR corporate rationing and state mandated "death panels."  He actually favors corporate bureaucrats making the decisions for you based on the aforesaid profit margin. 
  • "government mandate" - an important one, here it is again listed with its evil twin, "government run."  This is the second major cost cutting proposal in the health care package that Mr. Goodlatte doesn't like.  The larger the pool, the lower the prices for everyone in the pool.  Mr. Goodlatte would like to drain the pool and allow everyone the "choice" to pick a nice little washtub.  Common sense?
  • "forcing millions out of coverage" - and allowing millions into coverage.  As much as I can tell, this one is pure fabrication.  I think the reference is to the effect on small businesses, which lately have been INCREASING the health care coverage for their employees because of the tax credit in the bill.  This is an example of a well-intentioned talking point turning into a bald faced lie. Shame, Mr. Goodlatte.
  • "cuts Medicare" (actually cuts the corporate advantage drug program that was only a cash cow, expensive AND unpaid for.)
Rather than dictating medical decisions from Washington, we should be concentrating our efforts on making premiums more affordable for all Americans and giving them the freedom to choose the plan that best fits their needs.
Goodlatte would take us straight into the loving hands of corporate dictators who would make decisions for us based on our profitability to THEM.  Think about that for a bit.  Corporate cruelty 101. ("Are there not workhouses?" comes to mind.)

We need a positive, patient-centered strategy that puts patients, families and doctors, not Washington bureaucrats, in control of personal health care decisions.  While we can all agree that our current health care system needs to be reformed, the new health care law was not the right way to do it which is why we must repeal it and replace it with commonsense measures that expand access and choices while lowering costs.
At last!  A plea for common sense, a desire to put "doctors, not bureaucrats" in charge of health care. (wait.... no bureaucrats would EVER make life and death health care decisions for ANY patient under the health care reform law!  Me thinks this is a DAMN lie... pardon my vitriolic rhetorical flourish, please.) If only Mr. Goodlatte would actually give us an alternative that would "replace it with commonsense measures."

Mr. Goodlatte, you just can't legislate with talking points.  An advertising campaign is one thing, but actual life and death policy making is quite another.  You've not even bothered to educate your constituents regarding your true positions.  You offer no explanations and give us only shallow sloganeering as you shill for your corporate allies and dismiss the concerns of your valley constituents.  You've chosen your party and your seat in Congress over the needs of your constituents.... again.

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