[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/09/art.youlie.gi.jpg caption="Rep. Wilson the congressional heckler."]
Tanya M. Acker
Simmer down Congressman Wilson, the Confederacy has been dissolved, the Civil War is over, and your side lost. Like it or not, he is your President too.
Now, on to other news.
While I doubt that the President’s speech will change the tone in Washington, I hope it will at least change the subject from the absurdities about “death panels” and other such nonsense to the truly important fiscal issues implicated by reform. (I don’t know if Eric Cantor and the rest of the GOP’s “dream team” will be able to follow that conversation – engrossed as they were in their Blackberries during such a critical address by the President of the United States – but one can only hope.)
Like many, I am fascinated by the numbers. The President said that he would not sign any reform package that added to the federal budget deficit, yet analysts already have disputed that assertion, maintaining that the only way the current reform proposals can be considered “budget neutral” is if one embraces Washington’s fuzzy math. Similarly, the Congressional Budget Office disputes one of the key economic assumptions underlying reform, namely, that increasing access to preventive care will ultimately bring down costs in the long run (according to the CBO, the increased utilization of resources may ultimately increase, rather than reduce, expenditures on medical care).
I don’t dispute the necessity of being in penny-pinching mode – it’s long overdue and we have much further to go on that front – but I wonder how accurately the CBO or other budget analysts can measure the costs of being sick. For instance, does the CBO’s projection of potential outputs accurately factor in the increased productivity of a population that has access to appropriate preventive care?
A study by the Commonwealth Fund indicated that health problems result in about $260 billion dollars in lost productivity every year. Is it fair to assume that if Americans have better access to care we will be more productive citizens, resulting in an ultimate increase in tax revenues? Couldn’t it be possible that by doing the right thing (and yes, I do think that ensuring that every American has access to basic preventive care is the right thing to do) we could ensure a broader base of support upon which to rest our economic foundation?
These, and other fiscal issues, are important questions to consider as we measure the nature and impact of any proposed reforms. Let’s just hope our friends in Congress aren’t too busy imitating “The Real Housewives (of Washington)” with their ill-concealed disdain for the nation’s Commander-in-Chief to give these matters sufficient attention.
Follow Tanya Acker on Twitter @tanyaacker
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with