Congress Misreading The Mood Of The Public

The Democrats have been decrying the hostility being experienced by House and Senate members during their town hall meetings about health care reform and other topics of importance. But rather than looking at why the hostility exists, they'd rather point their fingers at alleged GOP conspiracies funded by the health insurance companies as the cause. They cannot conceive of the idea that their constituents might actually be angry with them for supporting or voting for spending and programs John and Jane Q. Public know will bankrupt the country and raise taxes to unsustainable levels. And rather than facing their constituents to go over health care reform, they cancel town hall meetings or don't show, change them over to “invited guests only” meetings (meaning fellow loyal Democrats or union stooges need only apply), or convert them to teleconference 'meetings', in effect shielding themselves from tough questions by an angry and frustrated public. That's no way to treat the people paying for your salary, perks, and benefits.

“Town halls have become town hells,” says Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush who supported Barack Obama in the November election. He was referring, of course, to contentious meetings between members of Congress and constituents on the subject of changes to America’s healthcare system. [...] But deep concern about the government’s healthcare activity is nothing new, and politicians who believe that the opposition to the Democrats’ plan is a put-up job are deceiving themselves and imperiling their own careers.

Those Congresscritters brave enough to confront their constituents are far too often just glossing over the talking points, mouthing platitudes, making claims not backed up by facts or disputed by the Congressional Budget Office, or worse, giving explanations that the people just aren't buying. They're having their heads handed to them by members of the public better informed about the details of the health care reform bill (HR3200) than they are.

No doubt, many House Democrats wish they could skip town-hall meetings with their constituents this summer. Their explanations in defense of a proposed government health care system have fallen flat, and lawmakers are getting hammered for the embarrassing revelation that the bill exempts Congress from the system they would foist on the rest of us.

With members dazed by angry protests, the Democratic House leadership put together a list of suggested responses to constituent questions about the health care plan. The spin machine isn't working.

It isn't working because enough people know how to use the Internet, know how to find a copy of the proposed legislation, and actually spend time reading it. They know when they're being sold a bill of goods and they don't like it. Is it any wonder members of Congress are not getting the kind of welcome they expected during this recess?

When there are plenty of examples in the the US to show how the proposed health care reform will work, or in this case won't work, then perhaps Congress should go back to the drawing board. Better yet, they should start with a clean sheet of paper and forget the steaming pile of manure that is HR3200.

What doesn't help their case is the President insists it's necessary to burden an extremely large number of people in order to cover a small percentage of people not covered by an employer's health insurance. Many of them are covered by individual health insurance policies. Others would be covered by Medicare or Medicaid if they bothered to apply for it. And yet others aren't eligible because they aren't legal citizens of the US. There are some few that aren't covered by health insurance of any kind for one reason or another, but again the number is quite small. So why tear down a health insurance system that, while not perfect, works and is seen by a majority of those covered as quite satisfactory?

There have been a number of suggestions to fix the problem of rising health care costs, including rolling back the extensive coverage of such insurance and making it for catastrophic care or long term chronic care instead. The rest would be covered out of pocket. Most visits to the doctor's office are for routine care: checkups, minor illnesses (colds, flu, sore throats, ear infections, etc.) and so on. Paying a retainer to the local physician's practice would give you access to such health care without further expenditures. It would also eliminate the increasingly high overhead of dealing with the insurance paperwork (one of the main drivers of rising health care costs). It would also keep the need for government to get involved to a bare minimum.

But none of these suggestions have even been considered by the majority party in Congress or dismissed out of hand as not “practical”. (As if what they've proposed is practical by any sense of the word.)

Congress had best wise up and start listening or a good portion of its members could be looking for work as of January 2011.

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