Sometimes life is almost too ironic for words. Average Americans look at the way the world is drifting, and just shake their heads. Among those who know better and ought to be heard more often are America’s seniors – particularly those who still believe, as most do, in fiscal responsibility, national security, a comprehensible foreign policy, and a sense of moral compass.
As the leader of an organization that proudly represents 1.3 million seniors who fall generally into that group, many veterans and most engaged in their communities, the latest irony is almost too much for a head shake.
Here it is: On the same day that the federal government confirms that health care costs associated with Obamacare are predicted to bend the cost curve up by 14 percent to 49 percent for most Americans, and highest for older Americans, the Democratic leadership in Congress has come forth with a bill to provide the same benefits – compliments of your tax dollars and mine – to illegal aliens nationwide. Really?
If we are going to get serious about health care, let us unpack this problem – and this irony – quite succinctly. First, the Obama White House said that the “cost curve” would “bend downwards” for Americans, not upwards. Again, we are presented with incontrovertible proof that this nationalized healthcare idea is morally and economically bankrupt. Bad policy begets waste. This policy wastes taxpayer dollars at an accelerating and incalculable rate, while delivering less and less to a majority of hard working and pension-tied Americans, the operational definition of failure.
The numbers that back up the failure are staggering. In one state alone, Minnesota, the numbers tell a story that should leave every member of Congress embarrassed, shocked or both. 2016 state rate increases are sobering, if not objectively tragic for many seniors. “Almost 180,000 Minnesotans will see increases of at least 45%, which is more than half of all customers” on that State’s exchange. Now multiply that spike nationwide.
Now enter the world of utter fiction, or what should be utter fiction – and a good reason to question the reasoning, motivations and intellectual acuity of Democrats in Congress. The Democratic leadership is apparently this week seeking, in a bill authored by Representative Luis Gutierrez, to change current law. His bill, framed as a denial of benefits (really?) offers illegals “access to the healthcare exchanges in Obamacare under ordinary rules of residency in the states in which they live.” That would, as he says, make them “just like the rest of us.” Again, one has to ask – why? How? On what pretense? And on whose nickel? Especially when America’s oldest age cohort is struggling already to pay for fewer benefits with smaller pensions and higher payments?
So, what is to be done? The answer is this: As fast as methodical undoing will permit, within what is a split Congress, let us start to help seniors and all the other taxpayers who are now paying twice for half of what they used to have. They are paying higher taxes (or penalties) for Obamacare, while now also paying shockingly higher premiums, and getting less before the benefits kick in, due to higher deductibles. In short, let’s dismantle the house of cards that is Obamacare.
Second, let us trumpet a return home for those who are illegally in the United States, not continue to belabor the issue, not provide them with sanctuary from our laws in cities facing rising crime rates, not add health care benefits – compliments of a generous but broke American worker and pensioner, and certainly not offer benefits that will now create new waves of illegal immigration. In short, let us tell Congress to represent those who work legally, vote legally, and have done so all their long lives.
Finally, let us pause to think about the veterans and the older Americans who made this country, who defended it with their lives or were married to those who did, and now struggle in the face of zero Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase, which Obama is likely to announce in the near future, for 2016.
Let us – and let the new Republican leadership in the House – embrace a good idea, good policy, and those who expect better from Congress. Author a one percent increase in the COLA for all seniors, offset by a cut in the runaway mandatory unemployment benefits that soak the old and still working Americans. In short, let us start to think creatively and with our heads, like many older Americans always have, instead of politically and in ways that suggest we are indifferent to moral and fiscal reality.
There are answers to many of the most vexing problems confronting our nation and our seniors, and it is about time we started picking them out of the pile – and getting Congress to push them to the president’s desk. Irony is getting old, and both words and head shakes are no replacement for action. Congress, if not now, when? If not you, who?