Who put Lieberman in charge?
First the Senate killed the public option because it was what Joe Lieberman wanted. Now the Senate is going to surrender expanding Medicare to the 55-64 age group because of Joe Lieberman!
When exactly did the U.S. Senate become the servant of the good senator from Connecticut?
If done correctly the expansion of Medicare to individuals 55-64 could help tens of thousands of U.S. citizens to have access to affordable health insurance when it is most difficult to procure. The large numbers of healthy enrollees entering the program would contribute funds to Medicare, thereby helping stabilize the trust fund and prevent looming insolvency. It could also be the beginning of Medicare for all, ensuring that all of us have access to a health insurance program that has overwhelming approval ratings from both providers and patients!
Oh, wait a minute. Now I understand. Sen. Lieberman is representing his constituency, Aetna.
If Congress bows to the will of the insurance lobby (a.k.a. Joe Lieberman) instead of ensuring the health of our nation, we need to not only remove Lieberman but all those good senators who have killed the best chance our nation has for health insurance reform.
Edward Briggs, St. Petersburg
Any bill will do
The liberals have become so obsessed with passing the health care bill, it is now at the point where it doesn't make any difference what is in the bill as long as they get it passed.
They will add or remove any part of it simply to get the votes. If the health care bill was instead a railroad they were trying to build, it wouldn't matter where it went, as long as they got it built.
Thomas Varnum, North Redington Beach
We need to catch up | Dec. 10, letter
It's too late for a sudden shift in health care
I, also, have lived in the Netherlands — a total of 15 years, between the mid '60s and mid '80s. My Saudi Arabian employer had an excellent employee medical plan, so I paid premiums only and "the plan" paid the rest — no connection with the Dutch government plan. And, yes, Dutch medical service was very good. Our plan did not include dental service but we still had very good care. (By a quirk, our dentist was an American, married to a Hollander.)
I must note that the Dutch population was about 12 million to 15 million. The too-rapidly exploding population of the United States is some 300 million, so there is absolutely no way that we can play "catch up." Even if the U.S. government had the slightest inkling of how to approach universal health care with any variety of fiscal or political sanity, it is far too late to do it all at once. The only losers are going to be the hard-working U.S. citizens.
As for the "poor Third World country" where the letter writer once lived, how much humanitarian foreign aid has that country received from the United States (and maybe from others)? Probably enough to pay a major part of their health care. If the United States had invested the billions of foreign-aid dollars we have given to "political" enemies (read their United Nations voting records), we could have better health care than any other nation.
That, of course, is my own opinion.
R.J. Radford, Clearwater
Medicare was enacted under Democrats with President Lyndon Johnson leading the fight against Republicans who were dead-set against it. For years they have railed against this program, but now suddenly Republicans want to protect Medicare from cuts. Interestingly they seem to want to protect the Advantage plans, which put billions of dollars into the coffers of insurance companies who are the Republicans' real constituents.
I have nothing against Advantage plans, but the fact is that they cost 14 percent more than regular Medicare and the 20 percent of recipients who are enrolled are being subsidized by the 80 percent who receive regular benefits. Everyone should have the right to enroll in an Advantage plan and the right to pay for it themselves.
Republican leaders claim that they, too, want to reform the health care system and argue that they believe it can be fixed with tort reform and increased competition. For six years under George W. Bush the GOP held the presidency and both houses of Congress yet made no effort to begin any kind of health care reform that would address rising costs or the problems of the uninsured. Whom, besides the Tea Party people, do they think they are kidding?
William Adams, St. Petersburg
Supply side reform needed
I found it ironic reading on Monday that Paul Samuelson, the noted economist and Nobel laureate, had died. It was through Samuelson's economics textbook that I first learned the concept of supply and demand.
In the same section of the paper that day was a column (It's time to get real about health costs) by Robert Samuelson, who I understand is no relation to Paul. Robert Samuelson wrote on the current health care debate and stated well what I believe is the shortfall of the health care debate in Congress.
Robert Samuelson wrote that President Barack Obama chose to emphasize the politically appealing path of expanding benefits rather than first attending to the harder and more urgent task of controlling spending. The expansion of benefits will increase demand upon the health care system and necessarily increase costs, just as Paul Samuelson taught me in Economics 101.
There needs to be supply side reform if we are going to expand availability and reduce costs. Paul and Robert may not be related, but they are on the same page.
David Hagan, Tampa
Senate sends $1.1 trillion spending bill to president | Dec. 14, story
I read recently that my small hometown in Ohio will be cutting jobs and hours of city employees as they struggle with diminishing tax revenues. It is a scenario being played out in thousand of cities all over the country. Here in Florida, thousands of government jobs have vanished and it has been several years since raises where granted.
Apparently most members of Congress refuse to recognize any suggestion of a recession at the federal level. The spending bill passed by the Democrats in Congress and sent to President Barack Obama for his signature included raises for federal employees and healthy budget increases averaging 10 percent for departments under their immediate control.
There is only one reason for such fiscal irresponsibility. The federal government is permitted to borrow and print money, unrestrained by any constitutional requirement, and pass the debt on to future generations. State and local governments must work within the limits of their revenues. The answer to all problems faced by Congress is to simply raise the debt ceiling and keep spending money.
Is it any wonder why the latest Zogby poll puts the approval rating of the members of Congress at an all-time low of 11 percent? Shame on the members of Congress and shame on us voters if we don't work to improve on those numbers next November.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin