Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Unmasking the lies in Republican's Promise to repeal the health care reform law?

Republicans are in the majority in congress come January 2011 and are determined to repeal the Affordable Health Care Reform Law of 2010. The tea party faction of the Republicans party has played a critical role in allowing Republicans to gain more representatives in the house of congress. In 1994, a similar wave of unconscious determination to shift the power structure from Democrats to Republicans took place. If I can recall, it was a similar mid-term congressional election results in favor of Republicans that embolden the party stalwarts to foster their crescendo of the contract with America.

After a short romance with victory, the Republican majority found out that it was easier said than done, when it comes to legislating with purported mandate. New congressmen eventually find out that, all the assumption about how Washington works and how best to wield power, get tempered by the reality of the arrangement in congressional committees and the influence of lobbyists. So, while the Tea party is a darling of the Republican Party, their new membership can hardly confer the right to make or shake the status quo the way they envisaged during election, except those long-time Republicans, who have been in the house, allow them. What does this actually mean? This blog today will attempt to shed some light on the true arrangement of power politics in American congress.

Newcomer Republicans in the House come 2011, who are promising to repeal the Affordable Health Care Reform Law, will eventually realize that lobbyists and government officials, including the senior Republican lawmakers who are beholding to a thousand and one interest groups, are not always distinct population. Today’s unseated centrist Republicans and Blue dog Democrats are tomorrow’s lobbyists. The revolving door-transformation of government officials and dethroned lawmakers into lobbyists and lobbyists into government officials and future lawmakers, make it practically impossible to repeal many laws once passed, including the Health Care Reform law. Here is a recipe of what the bravado of the new Republican lawmakers, especially those tea party favorites, have stacked against them as documented by Marion NestlĂ©’s 2003 award winning book on food politics:

In 1968, for example, at least 23 former senators and 90 former representatives had registered as lobbyist for private organizations. More recently, among congressional representatives defeated in 1992 election, 40% became lobbyists. So did their staff; from 1988 to 1993, 42% of Senate committee staff directors and 34% of those on the House side became lobbyists. By 1998, 128 former members of Congress were listed as lobbyist – 12% of all senators and representatives who had left office since 1970 (pp. 99-100)

What does this observation mean? Well, if you are in doubt, lobbyists and former congressional staffers and lawmakers fashion bills that are passed into laws. Before a bill appears before a congressional committee, lobbyists and former lawmakers have sliced and diced it and by the time it gets to the desk of the President, nearly all and sundry would have had some input. This is why the initial laws in all instances are a hodge-podge of ideas and recommendations that has to be amended or straightened out by supplementary amendments. Hardly are theses laws repealed; and when they are, not usually in the totality that the old timing Republicans have been pronouncing and encouraging the new tea party rank and file to believe. Guaranteeing the repeal of the health care reform law is an illusion, one that no new lawmaker must romanticized with, unless he or she wants to be disappointed.

The Revolving door issue has practically crippled the process of lawmaking in American Congress. I can mention a litany of names, past and present in today’s politics that have benefitted from the revolving door syndrome and who will vehemently tell you, it is just impossible to eradicate. The lobbyist groups, think tanks and Non-profit organizations in Washington DC determine which laws are made, signed into law, amended or repealed; not the new tea party faction republican lawmaker that is dreaming to bring about change to congress! When new lawmakers go to Washington promising to make a change, they are either frustrated out or discouraged from making a difference by the existing parameters of exchange of expertise between industry representatives and tax-payers’ financed public officials.

The dilemma posed by the revolving door issue has often made that change sought by new lawmakers impractical. Lobbyists exert so much influence over public policies and legislation and make it difficult for the people’s representatives to triumph in the first few years they go to congress. It often takes more than three terms of return to congress before new lawmakers can rise in rank to be able to have some influence on laws passed, or bills in the pipe line for amendment. Republicans can lay groundwork for gridlock until 2012 Presidential election, hoping to defeat President Obama and then moving forward to repeal the health care law, but this is a long shot! They may use parliamentary oversight to cut money from implementing the remaining parts of the law; however, it is a gamble that can easily backfire in light of the provisions in the law: 1) creation of 20,000 Primary Health care Physicians training and jobs; 2) provisions to help low income pregnant women quit smoking; 3) raised threshold for itemized medical expense deduction of adjusted gross income from 7.5 to 10% for regular income tax purposes; 4) enhances incentives for adopting children with special needs and creates avenues for adoption assistance exclusions with adoption refundable credits in yearly tax filing through 2011; 5) require that non-profit hospitals conduct periodic community health needs assessments and adopt a written financial assistance policies; 6) creates a new two-year temporary tax-credit to encourage investments in new health care therapies for tax years beginning in 2009 and 2010; 6) eliminates the deduction for subsidy for employers that maintain prescription drug coverage for retirees who are eligible for Medicare Part D, starting in 2013; and 7) codifies the economic substance doctrine, among others. Can anyone imagine that these and more are what Republicans are clamoring to repeal?

Never mind Republican John Boehner’s promise of a common-sense health care reform that he is touting to 1) let families and businesses buy insurance across state lines; 2) all individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do; 3) give states the tools to create their innovative reforms that lower health care costs; and 4) end junk lawsuits that contribute to higher care costs by increasing the test and procedures that physicians sometimes order not because they thinks it’s good medicine, but because they are afraid of being sued. All these are gimmicks designed to play to the Tea Party state’s right bandwagon. All of these promises had been deliberated over in the past three decades and Republicans had even attempted to craft some of these provisions under a Republican majority in congress that never went anywhere or far. These promises from Boehner are the worst lies and improbable that is being sold to novices who hardly understand the wait game in American politics.

Americans cannot wait for a reformed health care system and the 2010 Affordable Health Care Law is the first step towards this goal. The Republicans want to take us back to where we were in the past that has hardly made health care delivery efficient or people centric. To defer to these lulitunes is to take the country backwards and keep our health care system in the destructive limbo it has been over the years. That is why we must, all concerned Americans, stand up for our health rights. No more promises, no more gimmicks, no more delayed service deliveries and no more Medicare fraud in favor of Republican’s financiers.

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