Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dear Sen. Harkin, These Are Terrible Materials For Building A Starter Home

By FireDogLake's Jon Walker FDL

Sen. Tom Harkin continues to refer to the Senate health reform bill as a “starter home” in a new entry on the Huffington Post.

Instead of that “partial loaf” analogy, I like to think of this bill as like a starter home. It is not the mansion of our dreams. But it has a solid foundation, giving every American access to quality, affordable coverage. It has an excellent, protective roof, which will shelter Americans from the worst abuses of health insurance companies. And this starter home has plenty of room for additions and improvements.

This bill has a terrible foundation. It is a starter home built with the equivalent of toxic drywall, lead paint, a poorly mixed cement foundation, and faulty electric wiring.

The bill is built on the extremely wasteful and inefficient private insurance system and contains one of the biggest rollbacks in decades of women’s reproductive rights. It, in effect, gives a permanent exclusivity to expensive biologics, and still denies Americans the ability to buy cheaper drugs from overseas. It has insufficient regulations and leaves the regulator enforcement purely up to the states, which have a poor track record enforcing the current regulations on their books. Regulation without enforcement is worthless. It throws good money after bad without fixing the underlying problems. The cost of the insurance will be too high and the quality of the insurance is too low. Funneling billions of dollars and forcing millions of Americans to buy a product that is frankly a terrible bargain is not a good foundation to build on. It is only a good foundation for the private insurance companies because it further enriches and entrenches them. Rewarding the failure of the private health insurance system with even more money and more customers is not how you want to build your “starter home.”

Harkin is definitely correct when he says, “a starter home has plenty of room for additions and improvements.” There are many, many, many problems with this bill that need to be corrected. Unfortunately, no one is going to want to put additions on a terribly built home, and no one is going to want to rehire the same contractor that so completely botched the construction of the home to build the addition. I would love it if this were a smaller home, but built with a sturdy foundation.

In reality, what we have is a massive corporate giveaway that will serve to discredit the “progressive” principles that Harkin falsely claims this thing is built on. Teddy Roosevelt was the progressive trust buster. It makes a mockery of the term “progressive” to claim a plan to force Americans to buy expensive, low-quality goods from insurance companies exempt form anti-trust laws (laws that Roosevelt championed) and subsidized with taxpayer money is in anyway “progressive."