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Blue Blood in the Water

By Robert Romano

There's blue blood in the water.

Congressman Mike Ross (AR-CD4), chairman of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force, dropped a bombshell yesterday on Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi's plans to implement a so-called public “option” for health care.

Ross stated that if the House Majority brings their bill to the floor as proposed, an “overwhelming majority” of his 52 member coalition would vote against it.

As well they should, a group that claims that their “top priority will be to refocus Congress on truly balancing the budget and ridding taxpayers of the burden the national debt places on them.”

Congressman Ross' statement is encouraging, but it needs to be backed up by action to defeat any proposal that threatens to bankrupt the nation by creating another unsustainable entitlement.

With the national debt now soaring above $11.4 trillion, unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security totaling $104 trillion, a proposed annual budget of $3.6 trillion, and a projected deficit of $1.8 trillion this year alone, a vote in favor of a trillion dollar government-run health care plan would decidedly be against Blue Dog, fiscal conservative principles.

And with legislation moving through Congress at a frightening speed this year—trillion dollar “stimulus,” carbon energy taxes, nearly a $4 trillion dollar budget, and now healthcare—with only 178 House Republicans, the only chance at saving privately-provided health options will be if Democrats vote against their leadership, and against this legislation.

But that will only happen if pressure is brought to bear on each and every member of the Blue Dog coalition and beyond. They must hear from the more than 201.7 million constituents who possess privately-provided health care as of 2007—and would undoubtedly like to keep it and not be forced to trade it in for a substandard government plan.

For, unless the users of health care defend what is rightly theirs, the so-called public “option” will take over the entire system, devouring all other options.

What's worse is the exact details are not yet publicly known of the plan. And it is moving swiftly: House Democrat leaders plan on unveiling it today, and committee votes are expected as early as next week.

Only there's just one small problem. They have not even shown it to their Blue Dog colleagues yet.

“We've just got a lot of questions and the top of the list would be how to pay for it," said Congressman Marion Berry (AR-CD1). That, of course, is an excellent question, since the only way to pay for any new spending programs with the country in such a steep deficit will be to borrow more cash from overseas, raise taxes, or print more dollars.

And in all of the above financing alternatives, the American people will wind up paying more. Borrowing too much leads to higher interest rates as U.S. debt becomes less attractive of an investment. Raising taxes obviously takes more money away from Americans to purchase their own health options. And firing up the printing presses leads to inflation, which will mean higher prices on just about everything, including health care, thus fueling the bottom line of whatever proposal is enacted.

But that may not even be the worst of it. An even more fundamental question to be answered about the so-called public “option” is: Who will qualify?

If it is truly to be an option for all Americans, then in principle everyone would qualify. And if that's the case, say goodbye to private health care, as everyone starts lining up for government freebies.

Advocates of the public “option” claim that it will be “cheaper” than private care. That they want to cut health care costs—which in reality means price controls that unfortunately always lead to shortages. It will also put private insurers who attempt to compete out of business, since they cannot borrow trillions of dollars to stay in the black.

As a result, even if government does not issue free health care outright, and just heavily subsidizes individuals and employers to switch to the government plan, the net effect will still be a state-run monopoly that crowds out private options, long lines at the doctor's office, and a declining quality of care as doctors are forced to take pay cuts and yet work even longer hours.

So, the Blue Dog Democrats really ought to consider the 201.7 million American people who like the quality of their privately-provided health care that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. Because they do not need “more time” to consider this plan.

They need to know that there's somebody in Congress who is going to fight to help them keep their options.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of ALG News Bureau.


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