Monday, March 29, 2010


(It's only money...)

Dear Robert and Lynda,

First, thank you for the kind words! This cranky old schoolteacher is more often the target of the other kind.

Second, some news. State competition was last week. We took home two golds and three silvers. I have great kids (most of them) and they are national contenders, especially in audio production.

Third, some musings...

Last week, the American People took a beating but the bruises won’t show for years. It is hard to imagine the abject cowardice of a Congress which passed an obscenely expensive bill which will not take effect until the majority of those who voted it in are safely out of office or the public has forgotten who voted for what. It is incomprehensible to reconcile the urgency of a president who berated us that we must do this now! This is our last chance! with a bill which comes into effect over a decade, not a day.

I want better health care, more widely accessible health care. I am ashamed that the richest nation on the planet ranks somewhere between 28th and 32nd in infant survivability, behind such nations as Portugal and Poland. I was outraged when my insurance company tried to avoid covering my cancer treatment because the cancer was so advanced it must have been there before my college adopted them as a carrier. I would like my insurance to be portable when I move. Does it take three thousand pages to fix that?

How dare they say they will add a population equal to that of California to the insurance pool at public expense and save money in the process! Therein lays the dirty little secret! It took three thousand pages of gov-speak smoke screen to mask how this bill will be funded. Oh, the CBO didn’t actually lie; they did come clever counting to be sure, but did not lie (sort of …). There is an old saying in Washington. “If you add it up and you don’t like the numbers, change the way you count.”

First, they will “clean up the fraud waste and abuse in Medicare.” One is led to ask why that wasn’t done before and without this bill. Or, in fact, are they going to slash what Medicare covers by determining what care is appropriate and which is wasteful? Aha! That will save money. It will also place the federal government between my doctor and the care he or she prescribes for me. But health care will not be rationed. Just ask them.

Then they will cover millions more under Medicaid! Well, that won’t cost the Fed anything. The Federal deficit will not be affected! Instead, already financially strapped states will be hit by a massive surge in Medicaid costs mandated from but not funded by Capitol Hill. Federal taxes won’t climb but States will be forced to raise funds, therefore increase taxes. Is that passing the buck, dodging the bullet or dirty pool? Does it have a name other than reprehensible?

Then, conveniently after the midterm elections, Medicare taxes will climb. Every working man and woman will see their take-home pay shrink. How big is the bill you and I will pay? According to the most optimistic projections out there, the aggregate cost for the first decade (during which no appreciable changes come for the first four or more years!) is approximately $932 billion. During this time, the bill will supposedly reduce the federal deficit by $140 billion.

Some will ask when was the last time a federal program came in on or under budget and when was the last time the deficit was actually reduced, but even without that, the bill is astronomical. As in your comment about the lesser of two evils, a reduced deficit is still a deficit. How about reducing spending? How about stimulating this mummified economy by reducing taxes thus stimulating general consumption? How about, God save us, reducing the national debt?

How’s this for a contradiction? After decades of encouraging seniors, especially, to increase the depth of their coverage through Medicare Advantage and other supplemental insurance, let’s call that a Cadillac plan and add a surcharge! Let us penalize people for getting their own damn insurance! And let’s eliminate the tax break which encourages companies to help insure their retirees! That’ll work! Ask AT&T, Caterpillar or Deere! Let’s reduce the cost of medical care by levying new (and high) taxes on medical equipment from wheelchairs to linear accelerators! We’ve sold the American people reverse math before; this should be easy!

Last, immigration legislation is pending. May God help us and our children if we legalize the fourteen or so million illegal immigrants in this country, thus adding another enormous drain on the health care system at public expense. Oh, it will add to the roles of the Obamacrats if they vote. We won’t fund health care for illegal aliens, he says. We’ll just make them legal! So there!

Clearly, it is the sense of the current regime in Washington that we the people are incapable of caring for ourselves, even so far as choosing our own insurance. It is the frighteningly apparent trend to peel any vestige of authority from the several states and usurp a greater authority in Washington. “Specified powers” be damned, they say. What has become of us? It is a true Obama-nation …

I still consider myself a liberal. However, I will not allow my name to be spoken in the same sentence as the word “democrat” after the sleazy back-room treachery of the last few months. I remember when “government” was the result of a process, not a remote, voracious entity seemingly in opposition to the People.

Robert, please take back a little of what we have lost. Fight! Vigorously! Even if you do not win this time, you will not have lost if you inspire a few voters to pay attention. If your opponents must modify one plank in their platform because of you, it is better than it would have been. Please.

Sorry. I got wordy. I love my country. I want it back.


(Major Michael Fagan was a rescue helicopter pilot in Vietnam with 301 combat missions and 28 combat saves. In addition, Major Fagan served as a helicopter operations officer in Cambodia during the evacuation of Phnom Penh. He currently serves as Head of the Electronic Media Production Department at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri)

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