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Summer in Washington

A Commentary By Susan Estrich

Friday, July 17, 2009

The stimulus program must really be succeeding in Washington, D.C. Government is hiring; people are working. In fact, if news reports are to be believed, they're working night and day. So maybe there's some sleep deprivation thrown in for good measure. And don't forget the legendary heat and humidity that made service in the nation's Capitol hazardous before the advent of air conditioning.

What other explanation could there be for my friends in Congress and the administration thinking that what the country wants them to do right now is raise taxes and spend a trillion dollars to overhaul health care, much less to push it through in a month in a 1,000-page bill being rewritten every day?

In California, where I live, unemployment is in double digits and climbing, and the state has been issuing IOUs for weeks. I'm blessed, and I'm not complaining.

But not a day goes by that someone doesn't call me, desperate for help in finding a job. And it's never been harder to help. For all intents and purposes, unless you have some very special skill to sell, there are simply no jobs. You want to wait tables or make coffee drinks? Good luck. Get in line.

The idea that somehow you're going to tax the "rich" enough to pay for quality health care for every American who doesn't have it, can't afford it or stands to lose it, not to mention for all of the undocumented aliens who receive it for free now and presumably will continue to in Obama health land, is almost laughable. It's one of those things candidates say in campaigns, ignoring the fact that it doesn't add up. But in a bill that might pass? Add a 5 percent surtax on every small business in the country that makes $250,000 or more? This is going to create jobs? What am I missing?

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office came out with a report this week concluding that the bill being written by House Democrats would increase the deficit and weaken the already weak economy. Duh.

No one is explaining to people how the big changes in the bill will affect people who have insurance now, which happens to be the overwhelming majority of all Americans (and an even higher percentage of all voters).

Will our premiums and deductibles go up or down? Will our doctors and hospitals be better or worse off? It is simply not credible to tell me that if I like my insurance now, nothing will change. If you turn the health care delivery system on its head and start regulating, mandating and controlling the terms, don't tell me it won't change things.

Changing the tax treatment of insurance benefits changes who gets them and who pays for them. "Controlling costs" means what? Does my doctor have to see more patients? Get more approvals before ordering tests? Order less expensive tests? I don't know a single person who is willing to sacrifice, or even risk, their health care right now to an uncertain plan that they don't begin to understand -- except folks in D.C.

I went to my doctor this morning and suspect I had an experience that's being repeated in doctor's offices across the country. My doctor told me how worried she is about the plan. Actually, it was much stronger than "worried."

She wasn't a big fan of HillaryCare, but from her reading, it was a carefully drafted and thought-out program compared to what's being discussed now. She's convinced that if the administration succeeds, the ripple effect will cost Democrats the House in 2010 and her patients' their access to high quality, affordable care.

I reassured her that the Democrats would never be that foolish. I hope. Maybe it's time for Congress to get out of Washington. They'll get an earful when they do.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM

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