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December 23rd, 2009
12:30 PM ET

Dear President Obama #338: For crying out loud: Just vote already

Reporter's Note: The Senate now plans to vote on approving its version of health care reform on Christmas Eve. Nothing says Christmas quite like a steaming bowl of lawmaking, eh? So like a captured solider on a forced march I continue trying to follow it all, and writing my daily letters to the White House.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

A group of friends and I went golfing once, and this guy Craig said, “Hey, let’s put some money on the game to make it interesting.” Not being a regular or particularly skilled golfer, my immediate response was, “My tee shot just sliced over two fairways and knocked out the beer cart girl. Don’t you think that’s interesting enough?”

Apparently it wasn’t, because we all agreed that a side wager would be fun. So then Kevin, who golfed all the time chimed in. “OK, let’s keep it simple. We’ll go with a Manhattan Low, over-under split bet on the even holes, with the best putts trumping the best drives for triple backpays on the odd holes. Bogeys are a buck. Fair enough?” We all stared at him in dumb wonder and asked for a more complete explanation. Five minutes later as he continued to make the little abacus in my head clatter uncontrollably, I interrupted. “How about this, Kev; let’s just play and when we’re done, tell us how much we owe you.”

That’s pretty much how I feel about health care reform now. Trying to figure out what a final deal is going to look like, and who is going to vote for it, and whether it will pass, and how much it is going to cost whom and when, and what might we be overlooking in the whole equation, is exhausting. The trapezists in Cirque du Soleil spend less time calculating angles and timing. The effort is sapping my will and robbing me of sleep.

My health care concerns wills soon be at and end, because I am slipping into a fatal ennui of the type that takes down so many heroic characters in Russian novels. (If reading aloud, please insert a giant sigh here.)

It’s not like I don’t care about the concept anymore, or that I’ve just given up. It’s more like, I find myself saying too many times on too many days, “If I’m spending endless hours reading this stuff, studying analyses, talking to experts, and grinding through the language of the actual bills and I can’t grasp it, what is a normal voter supposed to do?” Granted, plenty of normal voters are much smarter than I am, and perhaps they are consuming the finer points of the debate as easily as peeled grapes. Maybe in their blessed land, health care reform is no more complicated than an Etch-A-Sketch. But not in mine.

Here’s what I’d love to see. Give me a great on-line calculator, calibrated for the language of this proposal in all its various forms. Let me plug in the numbers of my life, then give me a price tag and a read out of what I’ll get for that money; plain and simple. Then put next to it what I am paying now and likely will pay in years to come.

Show me clearly how my fellow citizens will fare. And leave all the political sales jobs at home. That’s really the only way I know to honestly decide if a deal is good. And if you did that, and the numbers ran as true as your fellow Dems say they will, I suspect your sales job on this legislation would get a lot easier…and I would start sleeping nights again.

Call if you can, and don’t worry about the hour. I’ll be up studying.

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Annie

    I say it's for the best. All people should have affordable health care. If that means some of us tight-wads have to loosen the grips on our wallets, so be it. All I can say is, if you have money, why not let some of it be of some good use? Look at how much money is wasted on gambling every day in this country. And not one tear is shed over that...

    December 23, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  2. graham

    Tom
    You've just got to have faith for a year or two in your government; then if the healthcare plan doesn't work you can chuck'em out. Here in the UK the NHS (National Health Service) has it's problems, but on the whole it is best for most people and relieves the parents of the young, the older person and desparately ill from stress – so that's gotta be good. The taxpayer bears the burden, so what's wrong with that?

    December 23, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  3. Conserve' for USA

    Go ahead and vote in one of the biggest tax bills of our lives!

    December 23, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  4. Marie Noguerole

    The fact is that the average voter never reads a piece of legislation. They trust that the people they vote into office is going to represent their interests and has the legal know how to get it done. At 60 I admit that for years I have only read the summaries of bills before voting. Its only since the Obama administration's efforts to put everything online that I started reading the fine print.

    December 23, 2009 at 9:21 am |