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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/10/09

No Public Option, No Re-election, NO KIDDING

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No one on the right wrung their hands and worried, "how will we pay for this," when they enthusiastically passed George W. Bush's $1.6 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Instead they said, "not to worry," that the cuts would have "a tremendous multiplier effect," as they "trickled down" through the economy. Well, if what we've got now is an example of that "multiplier effect," it's the strangest form of math I've ever seen.

When Bush decided we absolutely had to invade Iraq, no one asked "but how are going to pay it?" A trillion bucks later, and counting, we still don't have an answer that one, and that war goes on.

And few in Washington worried about "how are we going to pay for this," when the Bush administration bailed out Bear-Sterns, and laid the groundwork for the mulit-billion financial sector bailout that would come to fruition under the new Obama administration.

And few in Washington tried to put the brakes on the GM bailout just because no one had figured out how to pay for it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for balanced budgets and, generally speaking, all for debt-free living. I only point all this recent spending history out because, suddenly every Republican in Washington, and a few Blue Dog Dems, are holding up health care reform because it suddenly dawned on them that we don't have the money to pay for it. Well, we didn't have the money to pay for the other stuff either, so why this sudden conversion to fiscal tightwaddishness?

The answer is simple... and, strangely it's the same answer I'd give if you asked me just how the Bush tax cuts, Wall Street and banking bailout and the GM bailout were passed: it's all about the money, honey -- it's ALWAYS about the money, honey.

In the case of the Bush tax cuts, contributions from those with the most, who wanted even more, got that passed. "How do we pay for it?" Not to worry. It would magically pay for itself, we were told. And that was good enough for Congress.

In the case of the Iraq war, it was manna from heaven for defense firms like Halliburton and Lockheed/Martin, Blackwater, et al. And, of course, they shared their blood-soaked bread with members of Congress.

In the case of the Wall Street/bank bailouts, it was contributions from the very banks and Wall Street firms that had pissed away their depositor/investor funds chasing phony baloney crap investments, that won the day. "How do we pay for it?" No one cared. It needed to be done or things would get worse, we were told. It got done, things still got worse, and they still can't answer the question, "how we gonna pay for this?"

In the case of the GM bailout it was money from both labor and industry that put the wheels on that cart.

Which brings me to health care reform, and why, rather than the easy sledding these other issues enjoyed, is instead dying a death of a thousand cuts.

Again, it's the money, honey -- in this case money from the an industry that's become nearly as politically powerful as the defense industry, when it comes to getting what it wants out of politicians. They like things just the way they are. And wouldn't you if you could insure only those least likely to get sick, leaving the walking wounded for taxpayers to deal with. Heads they win, tails we lose. Such a deal. I wouldn't want any changes either, if I were on the receiving end of a deal like that. And neither do they. And they're paying up mightily right now to make damn sure very little changes. (Go to www, to see how much money your members of Congress have gotten... so far.)

Anyway, "how are we going to pay for this," is a question that, under our campaign finance system, always (ALWAYS) takes a backseat to another question: "Who's going to contribute most on this issue?"

I don't know "how we are going to pay for," health care reform. All I'm saying is that the big fish got taken care of over the last eight years of so, and without regard to how we're going to pay for all those goodies. Sooner or later we're going to have to pay for it all, and it ain't gonna be pretty when all those IOUs are presented. But while we're at it, why not give ordinary Americans the same care and regard already shown for Wall Streeters and Bankers, Automakers and Unions. Give us health care everyone can afford. At least that's something we'd be happy to "pay for," down the road, long after all the war profits, and bailout funds are gone and forgotten.

One more observation and I'll let you go:
The neolithic GOP base has found a new boogieman to replace the now defunct "commie threat," -- those pinko "Yuro-pee-ans." Europhobia is all the rage at Tea Party gatherings. It's also been front and center whenever the issue of government involvement in the nation's health care system is discussed.

For those who've never been to Europe, hearing the right's warnings about "old Europe," they must believe that Brussels, Paris, Madrid and Rome are dark, oppressive Orwellian hell holes. This leaves those who have spent time in western Europe scratching their heads. Maybe we visited the wrong parts of "Old Europe," but we just didn't see a problem. Exactly what is it about Europe Americans should fear? Is it the pastries, the clean streets, the seemingly well-fed, the lower murder rates, all those mostly happy, well-governed citizens many of whom worry that "Old European" is becoming too much like "New America."

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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