Thursday, April 14, 2011

2012 Federal Budget: Let the Debates Begin?

Keywords or Terms: Obama's Budget Speech; Bipartisanship; Congressional Leadership; Tea Party; 2011 Budget; 2012 Budget; Fiscal Commission; Republican Sen. Alan Simpson; Democrat Erskine Bowles; Private Insurance Market; Keith Hennessey.

For all the Tea Party rhetoric over President Obama’s budget speech on Wednesday, it is now on record that some of them voted alongside the Republican leadership in congress to move the nation past the horror of a belated 2011 budget. Paul Ryan, are you there? One of the critics of the President’s speech was that it failed to reach across the aisle. Even if President Obama’s speech had reached across the political aisle, the ideological constraints that have made some Republicans, mostly Tea Party members, abstain or refuse to vote in support of the 2011 Budget, necessarily negate the need for such an olive branch or endeavor. Bipartisanship and cooperation require respect, understanding and compromise.

The contribution of the republican leadership in congress, especially those Republicans who understand the dynamics of negotiations in passing a bill, exposed the weakness of the neophytes Tea Party members, who still saw the need for a pound of blood, in exchange for a pound of flesh. With the negotiations over the passing of the 2011 budget bill sealed at the beginning of the week between the Republican and Democratic Parties' leadership, you imagine that less than fifty-nine Republicans will vote against the passing of the 2011 budget; or, more than eighty-one Democrats will vote in its favor. Frankly, no one should frown on the Republicans who voted against the passing of the 2011 budget more than the Democrats, who did. The reality of the case today is that bipartisanship, respect, understanding and compromise won over, to give us a vote of 260 Yea and 167 Nay in the House of Representatives and 81 Yea and 19 Nay in the Senate, to pass the 2011 Federal Budget.

The next step on the budget debates has moved to 2012 Budget; and, President Obama’s speech has redefined the essence of bipartisanship; if not given us the moral compass or road map to a less acrimonious debate(s). As deficient as the President’s speech may have been, it definitely has shown the President as a leader willing to borrow from the Fiscal Commission’s proposal and recalibrate the purpose budget in the context of being our brother's keeper, rather than defaulting completely on the advancement from Republican Senator Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles. The gloomy recommendation of Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative Paul Ryan, would have dissolved Medicare and Medicaid, as we know them currently, into Armageddon. If the private enterprise insurance market could not save America before the depression of the 1930’s, how does Representative Ryan expect it, to provide a more friendly competitive market for our elderly to buy health insurance with a coupon or subsidy? The private insurance market does not attract enough competition to lower premiums or rate, if there is no hand of the government to afford a level playing field. There is always a need for an expanded supervision of the arm of the market for there to be full competition that will allow for reasonable prices. Even with all that, the private insurance market is known to be full of other extraneous variables, which make it difficult for not only the elderly and beneficiary of social programs as Medicare and Medicaid to suffer a disadvantage; but also, for average American to seek and purchase health insurance at reasonable rates.

Fraud is often embedded in private insurance market. The intertwining practice of railroading customers, dumping high risks customers and reselling policies and insurance companies, just to get around competition, is the stock in trade of the insurance industry. How does representative Ryan, expect such a system to provide adequate insurance products to our seniors with fixed income and small savings, yet huge health issues. The relationship between insurance companies and their customers has shown that a ‘free-for-all’ health insurance market, will never substitute for the quality of care and services provided by the current Medicare and Medicaid programs. Except you believe in miracles, it is imperative that Republicans who are nursing the idea of us throwing our seniors to the dogs, abstain from advancing the free-market dynamics to the prescription drugs and treatment needs of men and women over 55, in the dispensation of Medicare.

Most of the time, ideologues bite their nose to spite their face. Ideologues will never drive debates of mutual interest to opposing parties on an issue. For all conservative opinions like: “The President attacked the Ryan plan and stressed what he will not do: He will not cut spending in medical research, or clean energy technology, or roads or airports or broadband access or education or job training. He will not allow changes to the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which added two huge and unsustainable new entitlements on top of the already unaffordable promises made by past politicians’ from Keith Hennessey of the Hoover Institution, there are talks like: 1) Thank you for reminding people that we should be looking out for our fellow neighbors and other people because when people look out for each other, the society itself will be stronger. I like how you mentioned the compassionate ground of many Americans that certainly looks to be long gone in the midst of terrorism and today’s cut-throat world; 2) Thank you for denouncing the insane Medicare “Voucher program” which is not only unsustainable but it is insulting to our seniors. Would you really tell your grandparents to purchase insurance from these rotten insurance companies? And be subjected to the very death panel these right wingers are crying about. Analyst mentioned the voucher program as 1 trillion dollar jackpot for insurance company and I cannot fathom why in the world anyone want this to happen. This program would give the seniors $15,000 in voucher for them to purchase insurance. Shame on you if you support this program. This country has not been responsible for the health care of its citizens and [often]leaves it to the hands of for-profit organizations. The ever increasing share price and profits of insurance company is the vivid example of this sham; and, 3) thank you for being optimistic. In this hard time, there is no better medicine than being optimistic amid growing pessimism from those in the right wings. These are information threads from ordinary Americans on Facebook. Except you believe that a senior economic adviser to a Presidency under whom the economic tanked, millions lost their jobs and many more suffered humiliation, will serve the larger interest of our seniors better, would anyone subscribe to Mr. Keith Hennessey of the Conservative think than Hoover Institution, comments.

The Debate Proper

First, having struck on the implicit fraud of privatizing Medicare and Medicaid to save our budget deficit, this blog has defined the burden that is about to be unshared, as propagated by Republicans and their cohorts. Hence, the perception that Republicans, especially the Teas Party members, have the silver bullet to solve our deficit problem, is a shroud. President Obama has called for a shared burden in bringing about some sensibility in cutting down our deficit. can we give it a chance?

Second, the republicans overemphasize security, increased military expenditure at the expense of quality life for our citizens, and in their usual self, a willingness to mortgage the future of our retirees and seniors, under the pretext of cutting our deficits. Tea Party members and by extension Republicans, must put themselves in the shoes of our seniors: would they accept insufficient monetary vouchers to cure their economics science amnesia?

Third, the disjunction in the proposal of Representative Paul Ryan has been exposed in President Obama’s speech. The critical comments from Keith Hennessey of the Conservative think tank, Hoover Institution, seem more like groundless assertions based on concocted innuendos. AARP vigorously rejects and abhors any gimmick to privatize Medicare and Medicaid. If republicans want to continue to irritate this huge voting bloc, we wish them the best of luck in the coming 2012 elections.

Fourth, lawmakers on either sides of American congress, must realize that time is ticking and there is need to find solutions to our huge deficit problems. There must be the willingness to work together to achieve reasonable solutions to the continued nagging problems as we know them today. However, let us not achieve this goal by haunting and throwing our seniors under the wheels of the bus.

Finally, the gap in our debt ceiling has to be dealt with first. Our legislatures must be well informed of the dynamics of our debts and the possibility of defaults, if something is not done. Raising the debt ceiling is probably the first consequential effort that needs to be made on the road to solving our budget issues. Republican and Democratic leaderships in congress must begin to coordinate their efforts to help fight the possibility of a default. The nation cannot be allowed to slide into a default mode that would compound the budget issues. If we do not do something, quick, neither the Tea Party proud stars nor the negligent lawmakers will survive. We are now in suspenseful and dramatic times and no amount of wishful thinking can save us!

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