Friday, January 7, 2011

Random Thoughts

While I'd rather not think of myself as being a partisan, the fact of the matter is that I'm not a Republican. There are moderate Republicans that I think would be good in office, but they don't live near me, so I can't vote for them. Instead, I'm stuck with the die-hards who want to pander to the base, and cast me as villain for not being a part of said base. Don't get me wrong - I don't care for the common Democratic vintage of Whine... but if I have to chose, I find it a shade less disgusting than Republican-bottled Haterade.

The newly Republican-majority House of Representatives is launching into an effort to repeal the Democratic health care reform bill. I have some thoughts about this, in no particular order.

  • One of the big Republican complaints about the bill, outside of feeling shut out of the process was that the public would rather that the President and Congressional Democrats dealt with the economy first. So why is this such a huge priority?
  • If one is charitable, you could make the point that the President had enough faith that his economic team would turn things around that he didn't have to worry about it himself. If you're less charitable, you could assume that the focus on health care was an admission that he couldn't fix the problem. I, for the record, am less charitable.
  • I think that we can also take the focus of Republicans on repealing health care reform and retaking the White House in 2012 as an admission that when it comes to the economy, they've got nothing, either.
  • Those people who back them on this either aren't feeling much in the way of economic pain, or have given up on any sort of political fix, so the Republicans aren't really under any pressure. I think the only thing that stops them from just coming out an admitting that they can't fix things is that one never rocks the boat on denial.
  • The Republican leadership's willingness to publicly refer to the Congressional Budget Office's reports on things as "opinions" when they don't jive with the party line is telling. They're encouraging people to buy into the notion that "accurate/factual" and "in line with what you already think" are one in the same. I wish I could be disappointed and/or bothered by that.
  • The common idea that "Waste, Fraud and Abuse" are code for "Government Programs that benefit Someone Else," is likely false. I suspect that "Waste Fraud and Abuse" are actually code for the idea that the Government doesn't need to borrow and spend to prop up the American standard of living - so spending can be drastically cut to balance the budget, and we'll never notice the change. This is how the CATO institute can refer to tax increases as "damaging," while working under the assumption that lowering spending while leaning taxes where they are - so that one receives less for one's tax dollars doesn't also represent an effective tax increase, and therefore, is not damaging to standard of living.
  • Despite the fact that we have poor health outcomes considering the per-capita amounts that we spend, and American children don't come off as being that well educated when compared to nations with higher taxes, it's common for Americans to think of themselves as "overtaxed," rather than simply receiving poor value for money.
  • Why do Middle-class Americans think of themselves as being one step away from the poorhouse? You'd think that they were completely unfamiliar with grinding poverty, which we know to be false, given their willingness to send millions of dollars overseas after any appropriately photogenic disaster.
  • Oh... that's right, I was talking about health care. Since when does anyone repeal a law when their intent is to replace it with a different law?
  • If you take the Republicans at their word that they aren't being symbolic with their attempts at repeal, the only other intelligent option is basically blackmail - if they were confident that their proposal, whatever it turns out to be, would be objectively better than what we already have, simply replacing the old law would be a no-brainer, right? But if it's only an improvement when compared to the old status quo, then the old status quo would need to be in place for it to pass, correct?
  • Back to the economy for a second. I wonder if we've heard the last of the idea that you can combat deficits through economic growth.
  • "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act?" Really? And we're supposed to think that this isn't pandering, fear-mongering or both?
I don't know. It all seems ludicrous to me. It's been said by people more politically astute than myself that the primary function of both parties is to keep the other party from being able to claim credit for anything good that might happen. But that's not the parties' doing. After all, they don't elect themselves. I'd like to say that I can't believe that we, as the public, buy into this idea that the best thing one can do in office is shaft the other guy, but I was told that this was basically human nature from a pretty young age. Still, it sucks to learn that I wasn't misinformed on that count.

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