Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can We Afford It Right Now?

As the Watchman listened to the President's speech on health care reform in an attempt to sway the congress to see it his way, I couldn't help but refer to my own situation regarding my beat-up old 98 Jeep. The President made a reasoned call for buying into a new system as the old was sorely out of condition and costing huge sums of money to continue. He promised the cost would be less than $90 Billion dollars over the next 8 years and would not "add one dime to the Federal deficit". One commentator mentioned the President may wish he hadn't said those words, referencing Bush 41's famous "Read my lips: No new taxes." line that killed him in his reelection attempt. Almost all agree, the President's math is flaky and who is he kidding that his program won't add to the deficit. However, I digress from the Jeep issue.

Here is the analogy: My old 98 Jeep has 137,658 miles on it. It runs okay, but I sense its age and at 53 mph a slight shimmy develops that is a bit disconcerting until it disappears at 64mph. The windshield is pitted. It has a deer dent on the left passenger door. The tires are showing signs of wear and the rear differential now drips, leaving a HOA unapproved grease spot on my driveway. Continued operational costs only continue to climb as it ages. By every account, this old system needs to be reformed, junked out in the parlance of used car sales. I know this fact and I know I could correct the problem by playing let's make a deal at the local new car dealership. The question is can I afford to do so now?

Our 'get it now' society demands full coverage and complete error free operation. And we like our stuff all shiny and new. We don't like rusty deer dents in our cars. Thus we look for a 'reformed' system at our earliest convenience. But can I afford to purchase a new Jeep now? Already my own personal budget is nearly maxed out. Unlike our Federal government at least I have a positive net worth, but still it is so slim that one false move could plunge our household finances down the tubes into bankruptcy. So do I take the risk to add on more debt load to an already heavy loaded system? I think not. Instead the wiser or more prudent move is to shore up those components that make the vehicle run safely, while I endeavor to reduce overall debt load, and one day, two or three years down the road, take on buying a newer vehicle.

Why can not our government do likewise and ask: Can we afford this level of health care reform right now? The President is fond of telling us he took over a government that was 1 Trillion in debt, yet in less than 200 days through his party's control of congress he has quadrupled this years debt and it is projected these debts will multiply to 12 to 15 Trillion over the next 10 years! Again, as badly as reform is needed, is the reform he is proposing affordable right now? I think not. So wouldn't it be more prudent to invoke reforms that could make the system better without breaking the bank? How about tort reform? Savings estimated at $38 Billion per year! Reducing waste and fraud with the existing systems? Saving over $200 Billion per year NOW! How about allowing true insurance competition through inter-state purchases policies? Driving down premiums by %20 to 30%. How about certifying drug importation from other nations? Saving close to $300 million in drug costs. These are just a few of the things that could be done NOW and are very affordable. However they are not being proposed by the Democrats. Why?

The Watchman's fear is enough of the 'get it now crowd' will ban together and shove through something that will jeopardize the entire US economic system's stability. When the nexus of insolvency, medicare and social security, is over-topped by some form of government health care system it will so undermine the foundations of our economy we will stagger under the load much as the old Soviet Union. The President proposes to buy today what we can't afford, in the hopes that we can afford it tomorrow, when most likely we'll be unable pay the loan? That is the sales pitch we heard tonight. Cheap credit along with a free lunch. We'd be wise to consider a more prudent approach.

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