Written by Phil Guarnieri Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00
We are now more than a week into the government shutdown and no end in sight. So things are not exactly hunky-dory in the nation’s capital. Both political parties are at loggerheads and the frustration of the American people continues to mount.
First things first: Despite the fact that there have been 17 shutdowns since the mid-1970s, it was foolhardy for Republicans to come to the table with “a take no prisoners” attitude. I have as many reservations about Obamacare being another government boondoggle as the next guy. But there is no sense in ignoring the political arithmetic. The Democrats have the White House and the Senate. That’s a deal breaker when it comes to defunding Obamacare, no matter how long Ted Cruz wants to filibuster on the floor of the Senate.
Numbers matter in politics and Republicans do not presently have them to derail the president’s signature issue. To stubbornly keep pulling at a door that is marked push is to assure that there will be no consonance between word and action. What about this Republican goal to defund Obamacare as a symbolic measure --- a sign that it is no longer business as usual? My retort echoes that of Catholic author Flannery O’Connor who said that if the Host was just a symbol then I would say the hell with it.
The key for Republicans and Democrats is how to make health care more affordable. Health care is expensive. It’s expensive because in 1943 a federal court held that employer-sponsored health insurance was exempt from income and payroll taxes. This allowed employers to offer employees more generous health benefits in lieu of higher salaries. The best estimate for this tax-exclusion employer sponsored health insurance is in the neighborhood of $300 billion. As a result, Americans became insensitized to the value of the coverage they receive.
Second, of course, was the passage of Medicare in 1965 that lavishly lined the pockets of doctors and hospitals, bills all footed by the ever compliant taxpayer. Medicare was revolutionary in that it gave retirees access to heavily subsidized health care, with virtually no mechanism to control the cost. Republicans, under the aegis of the Paul Ryan plan, tried to make some modest market-oriented changes to Medicare just as George W. Bush sought to do with
Social Security. Unfortunately, few Republicans are willing to make changes to the tax exclusion provision for employer-sponsored insurance --- mostly because it is very popular. Because we are not living in a Republican epoch, but in an environment where the GOP is regularly slandered over denying basic human rights, such a cautious posture is understandable.
Ideals go pari passu with compromise and reconciliation. That’s how the democratic system works. But now it is very clear that the intransigence over this issue is radiating from the Obama Administration. Senate Majority leader Harry
Reid, that cadaverous panjandrum, has been endlessly calumniating his Republican counterparts as being the epitome of irresponsibility in forcing a shutdown of the government. What he doesn’t tell you is that the Democratic Senate spending bill is $91 billion more than the House spending bill. Republicans are looking to cut that spending in return for raising the debt ceiling. This is hardly unreasonable in light of a debt that is going into orbit. When George W. was president, our national debt was $9 trillion and Senator Obama called that unpatriotic. Today that debt is $16.7 trillion and the Democrats want to raise it another trillion to $17.7 trillion.
Yes, Obamacare is the law of the land but glitches are springing up like crabgrass in an unkempt lawn, which is why there is no Gadarene rush for Obamacare. There is something gnawingly uncomfortable about the hospital industry lobbying so hard for it. Moreover, there is evidence that Obamacare is already driving up health costs. Folks are more suspicious about this being an innocuous and benevolent attempt to extend health insurance to people who don’t have it. A few facts:
1. Obamacare is not, as promised, going to lower the premiums of everyone. Indeed, it’s going to raise them. How can it be otherwise when the law requires insurers to cover people they now turn away for pre-existing conditions?
2. You are not going to be able, as the president has said repeatedly, to keep your health insurance if you like it.
3. Who knew about all these special privileges and exemptions for Congress and their staffs as well as for some in the business world? It’s been said that Congress would be wiser in the laws they passed if they actually had to live under them.
4. Young people, many who are struggling to make a living and paying off college loans, are bound to discover that there is a big difference in wanting everyone to have insurance and quite another for having to pay for the damn thing.
There are some compelling ramifications to having the government manage one-sixth of the economy, especially when misinformation about it is epidemic. There should be a law against such casuistry. The great 19th-century English political essayist Walter Bagehot wrote that unless people become more educated, poIitics will degenerate into a contest over which party could most convincingly promise the moon to the ignorant.
I’m in favor of the proposal to delay the implementation of Obamacare; it clearly is not ready to be put in practice and both Democrats and Republicans will benefit from a cooling off period. As for the government shutdown, the president needs to make a face-saving deal and there are steps he can take without looking like he is raising the white flag. The president can’t go over the cliff on the debt ceiling because the economy will do a nosedive and the president is always blamed when the economy goes south. Political self-interest will be our lifeline in these turbulent waters.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Saturday, 21 December 2013 00:00
If you live in New Hyde Park and your house was damaged in Superstorm Sandy, you may still be eligible for government grants from New York Rising. Even if you have received storm damage repair money already (following paperwork and inspections) you might still be able to acquire additional funding, if you total repair work is above any grants or loans already received. The total amount an individual may receive (from any sources (FEMA, insurance and SBA loans) is $300,000.
According to Jon Kaiman, a special advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising storm recovery project, as of mid-October, 4400 applications have already been filed for Long Island, with three-quarters of these applications from Nassau County.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Friday, 20 December 2013 00:00
Ellen Birnbaum plans to “hit the ground running” next month when she is sworn in as the Nassau County legislator for the 10th legislative district, which represents North New Hyde Park. With a long history of working for the Democratic party, local government and many years working for the Town of North Hempstead, she is now busy getting her office set up and already planning her agenda.
First off, Birnbaum is determined to take a “good look” at the Nassau County Police Department and try to discover if the consolidation of the Sixth Precinct into the Third Precinct has negatively impacted her local constituents. She is concerned about daily reports, believes there is “a lot” of overtime hours, has questions regarding increased salaries and is quite concerned about the lack of police reporting daily incidents to local officials.
Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00
Sewanhaka High School’s boys varsity basketball team has their eyes set on the playoffs and beyond this season.
Led by third-year head coach Jason Allen, this could be the year the Indians really turn the corner, after struggling last season.
“We can be a very good team this year,” said Allen. “I think we can be a playoff team. The conference is very deep, but I think we will be in the mix with the top four teams and the playoffs.”
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano presented citations to honorees at the recent Milan Senior Program.
The mission of the Milan Senior Program is to offer educational and recreational activities, to promote personal growth and socialization, to foster feelings of achievement, companionship, and well-being
that would enhance the quality of life for people 60 years of age and older. For more information on the Milan Senior Program visit http://www.herricksindous.org/Milan
• Boy Scout Troop 200 Of Williston Park meets every Monday between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church located at Willis Ave. and Winthrop St., Williston Park. Boys 11 to 17 are welcome to join.
• Irish American Society Social Gatherings every Monday at the Irish American Center, 297 Willis Ave., Mineola, from noon to 3 p.m. In the tradition and mission of the Irish American Society, we are here to make all welcome and be part of the local community. Bring lunch. Coffee and tea will be served. Play cards, board games or just sit and socialize. A film once a month. Ladies and gents welcome. Free to all. Call Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 746-9392 or 742-8080.
• Farmer’s Markets are held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come buy local produce, breads, pickles and other goods at the municipal parking lot on Jericho Turnpike just west of New Hyde Park Road, across from Village Hall. Rain or shine until November.
• The Port Washington-New Hyde Park Marine Corp League will now hold its meeting on the second Thursday of each month at 8 p.m. in the New Hyde Park Elks Lodge at 901 Lakeville Road in New Hyde Park. All marines are welcome.
For more information, call Commander Vinny Annunziata at 516-775-0383.
Please e-mail Calendar items two weeks in advance of this paper’s Friday publication date to firstname.lastname@example.org
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