Redundant Idiocy

March 22nd, 2010

by Jane Thomas

My husband prefers to go fishing rather than listen to my Sunday morning TV programs dealing with political activities. His special pet peeve is Washington Journal when general public calls are taken, calls which he deems range from incredibly ignorant to purposefully stupid statements.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day watching the health care issue play out in Washington. What a ridiculous circus! All I could think of as I watched the Republicans’ attempt to obstruct the process was the hypocrisy and waste. Their attempt to denigrate the Democrats for earmarks when they had heaped endless earmarks into the funding bills for Iraq gave new meaning to disingenuous. They railed about the process but seem to have forgotten that they purposely used special appropriations for their war funding to keep it out of the budget.

Only one Democrat even mentioned the previous administration sending Tommy Thompson to Iraq with a guarantee of universal health care for the Iraqis, while no effort was being made in the US to make that available to our own population. I heard them say again and again that we have the greatest health care in the world, but, short of cancer and coronary success, statistics do not support this claim, even though we spend more than twice as much per capita on health care than any of the other developed countries. Although I’m not a fan of Madeleine Albright, she speaks the truth when she says that no matter how many times you say it, if it was not true the first time, saying it over and over will not make it true.

As the evening moved on, I could not help but think about what it cost us to keep that House open, manned, and running while idiots spewed from the podium, knowing all along what the final outcome would be. Every delaying tactic just cost you and me money and had no chance of changing the final decision. Boehner’s call for a roll call vote, while he leaned casually on the podium, was wisely ignored in favor of an electronic vote. What a stupid delaying tactic! Just a waste of time and money! At the point that Stupak agreed to vote for the bills, the statesman thing to do was get the vote over with and shut down the House.

One good thing came out of the discussions. Not one single speaker misrepresented the form of government under which we function. Political scientists get very tired of hearing the general population and even some politicians, when they want to justify some action, saying that our system is not a democracy but rather a republic. Robert Dahl, in his excellent treatise On Democracy, deals with the misinterpretation of these two words as representing different forms of government, when, in fact, they represent the same form of government. We are a “representative democracy” or a “representative republic.” Either is accurate. Yesterday, the members of the House referred to us as a representative democracy. Bully for them in getting this one right.

However, having vented my disgust over yesterday’s behavior of our House members, I would be the first to tell you that I am not a fan of this bill, even with the changes in the reconciliation bill. Much as my initial approach to health care reform was the need to tackle it comprehensively, I have been won by the arguments of Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) that we should begin with cutting waste and fraud, which admittedly by both Republicans and Democrats, constitutes over one-third of our health care cost. I also like the Republican idea of crossing state lines to buy insurance. I think a credible beginning might have been legislation to tackle these two problems. Then, if the cost is not reduced, steps in the direction of more extensive government intervention would be justified.

I lived for years in the UK. I liked their health system. I don’t fear national health care. But, I do worry about our budget deficit and would have been willing to accept legislation less costly and less government dependent.

On the other hand, I cannot buy the Republican argument that we should start from scratch and we could get their support. If the Republicans really had health care reform on their list of to dos, they would have done it before, maybe when we had a more vital economy. They were too busy deregulating everything to consider regulation that might have helped our public have more cost effective access to health care. So, they are as much to blame as the Democrats for a piece of legislation that is convoluted, expensive, and potentially ineffective. So, it is what it is.

Let’s hope the members of Congress do better on the immigration reform measure.

Jane Thomas has a B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Letters from Kings College, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She has taught at the high school and college levels in the US, Thailand, and Scotland. She’s now an archivist and does research on terrorism and disaster recovery.

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2 Responses to “Redundant Idiocy”

  1. Clarissa |

    A brilliant post! Thank you for writing it. I wonder whether behind all the endless bickering and in-fighting, our Congresspeople can see how tired the people are getting of their backroom dealing and corruption. If the same spectacle is repeated on the immigration reform, this will destroy the last shred of confidence the American people have in their Congress.

  2. Tom |

    Jane, I agree with Clarissa — great post! I think your views represent those of millions of other Americans of all political persuasions. All the partisan bickering and slanted information put out by both sides on the health care debate has been ridiculous. We ought to fire the bunch of them in November, all of the House and that third of the Senate we can get our hands on. Maybe that will finally get the point across to them and their successors.

    I really don’t have any hope that they’ll do much better on immigration and any other major legislation. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they duck the big issues between now and the election, prefering to hide in their foxholes and hoping they can suck up to the voters enough to get re-elected.

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