Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Squat from Scott

The Globe did no favor to Senator Scott Brown by publishing his embarrassingly ill-informed letter ("The health care fight is not over" 3/30). Mr. Brown's most glaring mistake is to say that the Democrats used "the reconciliation process to ram through their health care bill." This is simply not true: the health care bill was not passed using reconciliation, but by old-fashioned large majorities in both houses -- in fact, by a supermajority in the Senate -- enough to defeat any filibuster. Was Brown too busy driving his truck to read the newspapers? In fact, the "sweetheart deals and special carve-outs" that he deplores were removed from the bill by later reconciliation; you'd think he'd applaud this excision.

Brown has also cooked up a claim that the bill will cost taxpayers $ 2.6 trillion -- a figure that is certainly news to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. He doesn't mention all the cost-saving features of the bill -- which is OK, since his op-ed piece is, after all, partisan -- but he does claim that it overcharges students for health insurance by taking over student loans from the banking industry. Brown's statement is taken straight from an insurance industry propaganda sheet and is simply not true. Under health reform, the government will offer lower rates for student loans by eliminating the banks' profits; furthermore, the bill allows students to stay extra years on their parents' health insurance. Brown claims he wants to add preventative medicine, but that too is already in the bill.

Brown is all worked up about proposing a bill to allow states to opt out of the "individual mandate" -- i.e. requiring individuals to buy insurance. Although he should know that this mandate was a Republican idea, he seems not to have read the provision in the healthcare bill that explicitly allows states to opt out if they have an equivalent or better plan to save money and protect their citizens from insurance company abuse.

Finally, Mr. Brown thinks he knows what the "American People" think and want: he consults some private polls of his choosing. Last I looked, matters are decided in our country by votes; there is not one mention of polls anywhere in the Constitution or in any binding law that has ever been passed.

Brown also mouths off about how he'd "[allow] individuals to purchase insurance across state lines." This of course is Republicanese for allowing insurance companies to circumvent individual states' consumer protection laws. When this happened in the credit market, all the credit companies moved to the small handful of states that didn't have anti-usury laws. That's why we're now all subject to 30% (and more) APRs when the prime is in the very low single-digits. How much are T-bills offering, or CDs? See my blog on Credit Card usury.

Wouldn't it be nice if a sitting Senator took the trouble to get his facts straight? Mr. Brown should stop "texting", pull over, and read and listen a bit.

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