As we approach a vote by Congress this weekend on health care reform, it’s becoming clear that health care is not the issue at all. It’s lack of trust in Congress.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib reports that a new WSJ/NBC News poll reveals voters, if given the chance, would replace 50% of all members of Congress. People want to see consensus and an end to the bickering in Washington. They want action, not rhetoric, not grandstanding.
I won’t break down the demographics of which voters are most likely to “throw the rascals out.” Nor will I bore you about the reasons. What’s crystal clear, however, is voters’ lack of trust in Congress and how it’s handled the debate over health care.
Imagine any company or large organization operating in a similar fashion as Congress. Sure, they’re politics and hidden agendas in all companies, but members of the House and Senate have splintered the debate over health care reform. The constant bickering and unrelenting argumentation has caused the American public to throw their hands up in the air. This is enough to kill off any business. And Congress, despite what we think, is a business, although poorly run.
Meanwhile, drug companies and other special interests add to the clamor through their self-serving corporate interests.
Are there concerns about health care reform and the predicted huge deficits in the years ahead? Sure, but those deficits (over one TRILLION) per year will occur anyway until the American economy does a 180 degree flip toward prosperity. Spending money now to reform health care in this company will lower the deficit around $160 billion, which is nothing to sneeze at.
But that’s not the reason for the fight in Washington over health care. Americans, although rating their own representatives fairly highly, perceive Congress as a gigantic amoeba floating in a large lake without any direction.
To most citizens of this country, Washington D.C. is an octopus with tentacles extending in all directions. People don’t trust creatures like an octopus who sliver in multiple directions. Congress must let go of its indecisiveness and make decisions, even if those decisions cause troubles down the road. Making a decision to move from first to second base is better than standing still.
Despite Republican resistance to play ball on health care reform, most members of Congress, including Democrats, look only to the next election. If not spending money is a vote getter–despite the long-term savings achieved through health care reform–then that’s what politicians will do. It’s safer to not spend money when long-term outcomes are unclear than sign the check hoping for the best.
If this democracy survives, politicians must become more decisive and risk losing the next election by acting “in the public interest.”