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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Same church, different pew

To hear Republicans tell it, we've entered a new era of fiscal responsibility with eyes firmly focused on what everyday Americans can afford. And as usual, they are telling tall tales.

It seems the first people GOP negotiators saw when they left the closed meetings -- and the first they saw upon emerging -- didn't represent you and me. Nope, they were representing industries with large lobbying budgets and positions that reflected their needs and not those of the people who will be forced to bear the brunt of the cuts.

For example? A plan that would have allowed some 300,000 workers to pick their own insurance coverage through employer-financed vouchers. A plan that it had little to do with budgets or government shutdowns.

A plan that was killed through the combined efforts of lobbyists from big business and big labor. The Times reports:
The plan to allow some employees to “opt out” of their employer-sponsored plans and choose their own coverage drew opposition from an unusual alliance of unions and businesses. Supporters said the vouchers would give employees more options and spur competition in the marketplace. Critics contended that younger, healthier employees would leave the plans and make insurance costlier for older, less healthy workers.

The American Benefits Council — a group that represents employers and insurers and spent nearly $1 million on federal lobbying last year — wrote its members that the Wyden proposal would have a “destabilizing” impact on employer insurance plans. The AFL-CIO, which employs a formidable Washington lobbying force, warned that the proposal would create a “death spiral” of higher costs.

But it's nice to know Republicans are not completely averse to the interests of Big Labor, at least when it actually meshes with the interests of Big Business rather than its members.

At the head of this unholy alliance was the Business Roundtable, which spent more than $8.2 million lobbying on a range of health care and financial issues last year. Apparently they didn't like the idea of letting employees pick their own insurance plans.

And here I thought the problem with the health care law was that it took away employers as the source of health insurance and turned that over to the Big, Bad Government?

Says Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the chief sponsor:
“This is a textbook case of the special interests prevailing — Exhibit A. Everyone knows the Business Roundtable wanted this killed, and now they can go back with a trophy to say they protected business as usual.”
It's a scene that has played out countless times as Congress, controlled by either party, does its business. The proclamation is "we are for the little guy," the worker, the taxpayer.

Nope, they are for the guys with the biggest checkbooks. And that's definitely not you or me.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both parties screw the little guys at different times, different ways. Term limits couldn't hurt, we do it for the President why not the Congress.

April 13, 2011 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no doubt the Framers debated term limits -- and rejected the idea. For one, it infringes voters' rights to vote for who they choose to vote for.

For another, term limits eliminates instuitutional memory. How would you like to see an experienced legislator such as Barney Frank term limited, only to be replaced by a novice who would be more vulnerable to being bought?

Hating gov't isn't the solution -- and the Framers were obviously pro-gov't. Engaging with the system, informing oneself beyond the glib and shallow, and voting, is to be part of that which is gov't:

"Government is the means by which the community regulates itself." -- James Madison.

We are the gov't. Walk away from that and you've no legitimate beef about what it becomes.

April 16, 2011 2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The founding father George Washington had the good sense to walk away after serving his country well and leaving the the transition of power as a shining example to the world of humility and institutional security. The influx of new ideas and vigour are necessary to cleanse the government so blowhards from Strom Thurmond to Ted Kennedy don't get so enamoured of their own importance.

April 17, 2011 5:03 PM  

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