Ebenezer Howe: Will the good outweigh the bad in compromise?

Published 10:20 pm Monday, May 8, 2017

My Point of View, By Ebenezer Howe

Well, it is getting down toward crunch time at the state Capitol with the session winding down and the uncertainty of what the federal legislation might be on the termination of Obamacare, if any.

Being an ideologue, it is hard for me during the season of compromise, otherwise known as end of session. There are certain things I believe are absolute, and it is extremely hard to swallow accepting some bad to get a little good.

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I have not been elected, or could I ever be, to the level of state senator or representative. I am sure I would find it an impossible job to cast a vote for something bad in order to attempt to prevent something much worse. Our elected representation seems to do a fairly good job at attempting to keep constituents informed on what is going on at the Capitol. Peggy Bennett and Dan Sparks write columns now and then explaining where they stand on issues and how they feel the session has progressed. Reading their columns you get their ideological leanings, even though they may claim to have none. I wish them well in the coming weeks and hope they use lots of un-common common sense.

I generally feel there is more bad than good in the compromise deals. Through compromise it seems like it only takes a few billon in poor spending to get a few million in needed spending. I am afraid we will end up with way too much money going to the rat hole of light rail ‘choo-choo’ trains just to get insufficient dollars for highways.

You might have determined that I am not a fan of the light rail boondoggle. It is reported that the cost, per ride, from Big Lake to Minneapolis is $30 but the train ticket is only $8 and generous taxpayers are picking up the other $22 in subsidies. I remember my mom taking me on a street car ride in Minneapolis in the early 1950s. She wanted me to experience a street car before they were disbanded and removed. Street cars had reached end-of-life because buses could do the job at less expense and routes were flexible so they could move as communities evolved. This is still true, so why go to fixed rail again?

Repeal and replacement of Obamacare, or ACA, really only needs one step, repeal. This should be able to be accomplished in one page. The state does not know how to react because federal action is unknown. No matter what steps either take, health care will still happen. Who pays is the question. Insurance is shared risk against an unknown. Pre-existing condition is not an unknown. It was reported that over 20 million people got coverage with Obamacare, most with pre-existing conditions. A report from an independent insurance agents group said there were close to 20 million newly uninsured. Those are folks who could no longer pay the skyrocketing premiums.

Fraud in government programs is an area overlooked or ignored way too much. An article in the Tribune a few weeks ago on March 27 with the headline, “Audit finds some welfare programs make errors in eligibility,” stated that Minnesota’s legislative auditor has found that some welfare programs do a poor job in eligibility verification. “Some problems were discovered.” The audit reviewed 24 families and found eight had not been eligible for benefits received. That is not some — eight out of 24 is one-third or 33.3 percent. I call that an excessively high rate of fraud!

Waste in government programs is another area needing attention. The EPA has over 15,000 employees, with 6.6 percent being considered essential. It has been reported that this department has a high level of employees that watch porn on our dime. This is the department that had a hand in “Waters of the United States.” That little EPA action could turn a Freeborn County farmer’s grass waterway for erosion control into a federally controlled stream. Actually, we may be better off if they watched porn!

I feel cutting budgets could go a long way in reducing fraud and waste in government, as those in management roles would have to improve their performance to keep their jobs.

Last week when I dropped by the courthouse and dropped off a few thousand dollars in first half taxes, I felt quite good, thinking maybe only 33.3 percent was going down the rat holes of waste and fraud.

Peggy and Dan, I will keep in touch on how I feel. God be with you as you ponder compromise over the ending weeks of session.

Alden resident Ebenezer Howe is chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the local party members.