Monday, November 16

The Congressional Healthcare Confusion

Note: This article ran as an opinion piece in the Dunn County News.

Confused about the healthcare bill? You’re not alone to be sure. Just take a look at some of our local Midwestern representative’s statements and let your head spin. I’m not even talking of the partisan debate. Take three rural Democratic Congressmen: Collin Peterson (D-MN), Jim Oberstar (D-MN), and our own Ron Kind (D-WI). Collin Peterson voted against the bill because "We've got over a $70 trillion unfunded liability in this over the next 75 years and we're just going to make it worse. And I don't see how that's sustainable.” Kind said, “The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has confirmed that the House health care reform bill reduces the national deficit by $109 billion over the next 10 years with estimated subsequent savings through 2029.” (Personal email with Kind).

Federal funding for abortion is even more confusing. All three said they supported keeping federal funds from going toward abortion. Yet Ron Kind said that the healthcare legislation would not use public dollars to fund abortion; Peterson and Oberstar said it would. Let the debate begin!Publish Post

The original bill (H.R. 3200) on page 110 said, “[N]othing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing for” payments for all elective abortions. Indeed, a nonpartisan watchdog group confirmed that the bill would allow for public funding of abortion. Kind might say that only premiums paid for the public option will go for abortions, but that is like letting AIG employees earmark their Medicare payment for spa treatments and claim there is no public funding. Logically and legally the government can only spend public dollars. Strike one for Kind.

As has been widely reported, there was also an amendment by Bart Stupak (D-MI) that the Catholic Bishops supported to specifically and narrowly keep public funding for abortion out of healthcare reform. Regardless of what they thought the bill originally said, you would hope they could all support clarifying no public funds for abortion. Nope. Of the three, Kind was the only one that voted against it. Strike two for Kind.

According to a recent Gallup poll Congressional approval is at historic lows along with the trust in government. There is little wonder why. When Congressman from the same party in neighbouring states cannot agree or accurately explain a bill to their constituents back home, we should lose faith in them to properly serve us. And that is a strikeout for everyone.