Is this the change Americans really wanted?

Published 7:37 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A common theme in recent elections has been “change.” Voters have demonstrated with their actions that the present conditions of America are unacceptable. It is important that we look at what change may bring. A major concern that many see is that our federal budget deficit continues to grow and is projected to dig our nation deeper into debt in the future.

President Obama before the election stated that for 95 percent of the people, “You will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.” However, recently some members of the administration have hinted strongly that taxes will have to increase to pay for change, some not for the good of our nation.

I think we all agree that there needs to be improvements in our health care and health insurance systems, especially some cost controls. Revamping health care has been a top priority for President Obama, but is he moving too fast?

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It seems like the president and some of those elected to Congress are attempting to get something passed without considering the costs and effectiveness of the legislation. Republicans and many conservative Democrats recognized several issues and have slowed the progress of passing legislation.

Questions to ask:

What will be the actual costs?

 How will we pay for the additional costs?

How will it affect employers / jobs?

Do we want “best practices” or rationing of health care?

Can the government manage the programs?

Is the health bill just a bridge to government health care?

 Why aren’t members of Congress willing to enroll in the same program?

Additionally, how and who will monitor the new programs? Already the government has grown during this administration with several new “czars” being added. Government-operated health care would add further to our growing government to monitor the program. It is important that our politicians take a fiscally realistic look on the true costs to Americans because estimates show the actual cost if changed to increase the cost of care by more than $1 trillion. Many citizens have been attending local congressional meetings and expressing their displeasure on our move to a government-run insurance program.

Do we want a system similar to Canada or Great Britain? Many Canadians come to America to receive the best health care, including Canadian Prime Minister Belinda Stronach. Yes, great innovations and cutting-edge technology to enhance and extend our lives have a cost. Do we want rationing of services or long waits for care when immediate needs must be met to save lives and for quality of life?

The government has not demonstrated the ability to manage current social programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, which are essentially bankrupt. How can we trust them to manage a government health care program? The handling of the stimulus spending, prisoners at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, cap and trade, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and cash for clunkers programs, as well as many other programs have demonstrated the lack of ability to manage what they legislate.

Would it be beneficial if members of Congress or their staff had printed copies of final bill language to read prior to voting? Would it hurt if the public had something more than a vague, secondhand account of the final language in a bill before voting?

This isn’t a partisan issue, but some bills are not even printed in time before voting. At times bills have been brought to the floor prior to a holiday recess with last-minute additions and back-room deals. The cap-and-trade energy bill had 300 pages added after 3 a.m. prior to the Independence Day holiday and no copies were available for review. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wanted to pass the bill without members receiving the last-minute additions. Is this the way we want our elected officials to run the country?

Change can be good and sometimes provide us with better programs, but is this the type of change that will meet our needs? Personally I struggle greatly with the growing deficit and how the decisions are made. Is this the change that will benefit our children in the future? I want change, but not simply for the sake of change.

Albert Lea resident Ken Petersen is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.