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GOP Congressman Equates Purchasing Health Insurance With Buying An Expensive Vacation Home

Just when you thought it could not get more ridiculous, GOP Congressman and Chairman of the House Appropriations Labor-Health and Human Services subcommittee, Denny Rehberg, has come up with a novel idea. He wants the Congressional super committee to solve $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by simply killing off the expansion of Medicaid and the subsidies that will open the door to health care for millions of Americans.

In making his argument, Rehberg noted that expanding the Medicaid safety net program, and providing subsidies to low and middle class workers, is akin to the “expensive vacation home” that the average American would choose not to buy if that American was facing a deficit as serious as the nation’s.

Before getting to the heart of Rehberg’s suggestion, one can’t help  but wonder what makes the Congressman think that the “average” American  can afford an expensive vacation home (or any vacation home for that  matter) on what the average American earns, even if that American is not  in debt?

But should we be surprised by the Congressman’s view of the world?  This is the same Denny Rehberg who is not only listed as number 23 on  the list of the wealthiest members of Congress, but is the same Congressman Rehberg who had no idea what the minimum wage was in his own state (check out this video as it is priceless.)

Of course, far more important is Rehberg’s inability to grasp that  getting treatment for cancer or unblocking that clogged artery that is  going to make someone a widow or widower is not quite the same as  purchasing a vacation home—expensive or otherwise.

And while life might not be worth living for Rep. Rehberg and friends    without that idyllic home on the lake, the average American would   still  prefer to remain alive, thank you very much, which is precisely   why  Medicaid coverage was extended to more people and subsidies are to  be made available to the   working poor and middle-class so that medical  care will become an   option in their lives.

When asked how low and middle class  Americans will manage to purchase   health care, should the mandate requiring them to do so be  found to be Constitutional by SCOTUS, Rehberg answered that Health and  Human Services would be able to grant waivers to those who cannot afford  coverage without Medicaid or subsidies.

Thus, Rehberg’s solution is to simply leave millions of Americans without coverage by way of a waiver. Nice.

Health Care For America Now’s Executive Director, Ethan Rome, put it this way:

Rep.  Rehberg’s proposal is yet another part of the Republican assault on the  middle class. Denny Rehberg says that basic health care is a luxury  item, as if a mother in Montana taking her children to the doctor or a  cancer patient getting treatment is the same as buying ‘an expensive  vacation home.’

Considering that estimates place the uninsured under age 65 in Montana at somewhere between 16 percent and 20 percent of the population, a number well in excess of the national average, I suspect that Rehberg’s fellow Montanan’s might disagree with his approach.

Let’s hope they voice that disagreement at the ballot box next November.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Mother Jones, October 6, 2011

October 7, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, GOP, Ideologues, Income Gap, Medicare, Minimum Wage, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tea Party Budgeting: Everyone Doesn’t Deserve A Fair Shot

Three lessons I’ve learned from Tea Party budgeting:

1. Charles Lightroller was a chump.

Lightroller was the second mate on the Titanic. Legend holds that no one enforced the command to allow women and children to board the lifeboats first more rigorously than he did. Some call him a hero. But not me. That’s because I, like Rush Limbaugh, think Paul Ryan’s budget is “wonderful.”

And how could you not? Ryan surveys the budget battlefield and here’s what he sees: on one side, an onrushing horde of seniors, working people, and the disabled. On the other, defenseless corporations and their affluent compatriots prancing like happy kittens amongst the flowers. In the face of such forbidding odds some might duck, but Ryan strides onto the field of play and bravely interposes himself between the conflicting parties, prepared to defend the defenseless come what may.

Here’s what that looks like: Medicare, the health program relied on by millions of seniors, is replaced with a benefit guaranteed to fall further and further behind the actual cost of healthcare. Medicaid (healthcare for people with low-incomes) sustains deep cuts. But tax rates on corporations and the highest earners are lowered, while subsidies for oil companies remain untouched. Truly a profile in courage.

2. Pell Grants are destroying America.

I feel badly for not recognizing it, but it seems so obvious now. Freeloaders figured out how to get free food, free housing, and free electricity years ago, but they’ve never been able to reach the Holy Grail: free Biology of the East African Mud Turtle 101. Until now. “You can go to school,” warns Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana, “collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, Section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college.”

Welfare cheats scheming to take the college courses of their dreams? (And then not graduate!) It’s an outrage. How many of them are sitting in a college cafeteria right now snickering over a steaming plate of American Chop Suey? (Purchased with food stamps, natch.) “It’s turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century,” Rehberg says. Talk about getting schooled: that’s got to be one of the smartest theories I’ve ever heard. 

Of course, it’s not just Pell Grants that are so nefarious. It’s Head Start too, and Medicare, and Medicaid, and …(hence, Lesson 1 above).

3. Better than Government? Fairies.

A signal question in American political life today is: when things go wrong, what role, if any, should government play in trying to make things right?

We seem to have settled on some answers. When we’re to blame for the bad things that happen, we’re on our own. The same is true when we do our best but lose fair and square. But what about when people encounter difficulties through no fault of their own and in a way that offends our sense of fairness? A kid who’s born into a family without the means to send him to a good school, or a mother who works hard every day but loses her employment because global economic forces are moving manufacturing jobs to other countries? Should government lend a hand in those kinds of cases?

The Ryans and the Rehbergs conceive of a government that does so less and less. They say the benefit of helping the disadvantaged is outweighed by its expense. What they don’t say is what happens to people who no longer can rely on needed government assistance. Perhaps magical fairies come along, wave their magic wands, and everyone who used to get a Pell Grant can still go to college, only this one is taught by chocolate bunnies! And all those people who can’t afford healthcare anymore? It’s OK. They’re now living in a cottage made entirely of gingerbread!

Let me be clear: there’s every reason to be serious about reducing the budget deficit. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle should be open to good faith ideas that emanate from anywhere on the political spectrum. But it’s reasonable to ask whether using concern over the deficit as an excuse to accomplish purely ideological goals can be considered serious.

Democrats agree that the private sector should be the engine that drives our economy and that we need the discipline to cut government programs that aren’t working. But there’s something else we believe that sets us apart from the Tea Partyers: there’s a promise inherent to the American free market system that says everyone deserves a fair shot, and that promise goes unfulfilled when people are disadvantaged by forces beyond their control and we all stand by and do nothing about it.

In other words, bring back Charles Lightroller. Boy, do we need him.

By: Anson Kaye, U.S. News and World Report, April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Democrats, Federal Budget, Health Care, Ideologues, Medicaid, Medicare, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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