Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Health Care Reform delay is symptom of larger political problem

The Senate Finance Committee will vote on Chairman Max Baucus bill today. The Baucus Bill is to cost $856B, protect nearly 29M uninsured over the next decade while trimming the federal deficit by $49B over the next decade per the Congressional Budget Office. Under the Baucus Bill all Americans will be mandated to have "qualified health insurance coverage by 2013" (Baucus Bill). All Americans will either purchase private insurance or public insurance through the exchange. Why wait until 2013? Why not start with months of passage?

Currently all Federal employees use an exchange to purchase their own insurance. If that system works so well then let's open up the doors for the rest of America. People on both side of the conversation are frustrated at the delays that are taking place to pass reform. The big question is being missed here. Neither side of the argument wants to enact true reform because they will upset either their base or the donors they rely on to fill the re-election coffers.

The Founding Fathers warned of the dangers of political parties. President George Washington said during his final "farewell" address in 1796 (http://www.fourwinds10.com/siterun_data/government/fraud/elections_campaigning/news.php?q=1208746351):

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy....

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It wasn't until when Adams and Jefferson ran against each other that the political party formation saw its birth. The lobbying that is going on Capitol Hill, on an array of topics, is a symptom of a bigger illness. The illness is the manner in which America elects their officials. It is not just on the National level either. Evidence can be seen in the Governor Race already in full gear in the state of Minnesota. Even though the election is not until 2010, many Democrats and Republicans have thrown their name in the hat to gain their party nomination. Why? Reform is needed now. Last Presidential election cycle we saw an insane amount of money raised by Sen. Obama and his opponent Sen. McCain.

Government has grown. It is through that growth that people have and continue to see Government as "Big Business". Nearly all election cycles in my lifetime, with few exceptions, have seen only two viable candidates. By viable I mean a candidate that has one of the two mainstream political machines behind them. Having only two viable options has established a prevailing thought at the polling booth of "choosing between the lesser of two evils." Granted Minnesota did see Jesse Ventura shock the mainstream parties by winning the Governorship of Minnesota but that was a rare situation. People like Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have attempted to break the strangle hold the Democrats and Republicans enjoy.

It is time for Congress to establish shorter election cycles and make room for others to join the fray. The type of reform required is to limit the campaign cycle to four months. No longer will candidates be required fundraise because all elections will be public and public funds will be used. On the National scene, the candidates will no longer be voted as a package. The top two vote getters will become President and Vice President regardless of "party" affiliation which is how our Founding Fathers had it. All candidates will participate in a series of public debates. Then in November citizens of the United States will vote as they have done for years.

Making reform to the process of electing political figures will assist our Government as our elected representatives will no longer have to fundraise and can concentrate on doing the job they are elected to do. This way we will no longer have to read "Democrats, who have traditionally depended on trial lawyers for political donations, have also shied away from protecting doctors form frivolous lawsuits if they adhere to safety standards and treatment protocols" (The Boston Globe). Or "Republicans hope linking House Speaker to Democrats can turn centrist districts" (Wall Street Journal). At the end of the day our government grows larger, our freedoms eroded, our ability to "throw the bums out" is in the hands of PAC's, and the vision of Founding Fathers is becoming a distant memory.