"Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts."
- attributed to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reviews bills that are being considered by Congress and determines how those bills will affect the budget. Since its creation, the CBO has always been accepted as apolitical and disinterested by both ends of the political spectrum. Its expertise about budgetary matters is unquestioned by any fair-minded observer.
They have reviewed the Republican Congress' centerpiece, ballyhooed legislation, the bill they are calling "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," which will be considered this week. They have concluded that repealing the reform law would drive up the deficit by $230 billion over the first decade and much more in later years.
And what was the Republicans' response to this review by the CBO? Did they take another look at their bill and try to come up with commonsense ways that it could be made cost neutral, or perhaps even reduce the budget? Don't be silly! No, John Boehner's response to the budget experts' report was that they were "entitled to their opinion" but that he disagreed. He offered more basis for his disagreement.
Furthermore, the new "deficit hawk" Republican majority in the Congress has loudly touted their new rule that any bill that increases spending must be offset by cuts in other programs. How did they get their "Repealing the Job-Killing...etc." past this new rule? Again, don't be silly! Rules don't stop these people. They can do anything! They simply exempted their bill from the rules. I suppose this means that anytime they have a bill that cannot live up to their rule, they will simply wave their magic gavel and exempt it! They've already said that any bills cutting taxes don't have to pass this rule.
So where does this leave us? It leaves us with an unserious "Keystone Kongress" that does not rely on facts, but instead chooses to govern based on its opinions. Those opinions will, this week, lead them to pass a bill which, among other things, will do the following:
1. Allow insurance companies once again to deny children coverage because they have pre-existing medical conditions.
2. Allow insurance companies to once again rescind a policy after a person becomes sick and needs its benefits.
3. It will allow insurance companies to cap the amount that they will pay for medical care over a lifetime.
4. Parents will no longer be able to keep their children on their health insurance policies until the children are 26.
5. Insurance companies will no longer be required to cover preventive care in new policies without cost-sharing.
6. Insurance companies will not be required to spend at least 80 percent of their premium income on medical care and quality improvements, rather than profits or administrative costs.
7. Small businesses will no longer receive federal tax credits to help them provide insurance coverage to their employees.
8. It will also put an end to a reinsurance program that is helping more than 4,700 employers, large and small, provide health coverage to early retirees.
9. Many people will be required to pay more out-of-pocket for their health care, as estimated by the CBO. The "doughnut hole" for people on Medicare Part D will return.
And what are the Republicans offering to replace all of these benefits? Don't be silly! They don't believe that the government should have any part in assisting people to get health care. They would see us return to the early 1900s - each man, woman, and child would be on his or her own. That is their philosophy, their morality, if you will. It is a morality and a philosophy that is based entirely on opinion. And a very self-centered, narcissistic, "I've got mine, who gives a flying fig about you?" opinion it is.
Are these really the kind of people that we want governing our country?