Friday, August 7, 2009

Minnick's conditions for health care reform are poison pills

Idaho's titular Democrat in the Washington congressional delegation, Rep. Walt Minnick, is at it again opposing his own party's agenda.

Minnick has published a blueprint of his conditions for voting for health care reform that can only be charitably described as a sham.

Among the conditions, President Obama's trillion-dollar proposal must be "fully funded" and with "no socialized medicine." Health insurance must be "private—not run by the government."

Those points alone qualify Minnick as one of the reddest Blue Dog Democrats.

They put him in company with Republican naysayers who want to sink the Obama reforms with ridiculous obstacles. They put him pandering to far right-wing voters in his heavily GOP District 1.

Fully funding the nation's government health plans is as absurd as fully funding the vast array of other Washington programs. The phrase explicitly means money in the bank to pay for expenses, even those that are unanticipated.

Why does Rep. Minnick think the federal government's $11 trillion in debt and $400 billion-per-year in interest payments on debt exist?

It's because programs are not "fully funded" and the government must borrow—something Minnick also opposes as supporter of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not fully funded to account for surprise costs. Hurricane Katrina's costs were not fully funded. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are not fully funded.

As for demanding no government insurance option, that's more Minnick snake oil. Government insurance is everywhere—government insurance covers bank deposits and FHA mortgages, and military service personnel can buy government life insurance. And, what about Medicare or the new GI Bill?

One final example of Rep. Minnick's arrogance: After the Mountain Express editorially chastised Rep. Minnick for voting against President Obama's climate change legislation, one of the congressman's staff complained the newspaper had no right to criticize a congressman whose district doesn't include Blaine County.

Gall is not in short supply in Rep. Minnick's repertoire. Without blinking, he's announced he'll be outside of his district in Blaine County next Wednesday for a noon "town hall" meeting at Smoky Mountain Pizza in downtown Ketchum to listen to voters who can't vote for him.

Still, it's certain he wouldn't turn down a campaign donation from a county full of Democrats.

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