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Monday, April 5, 2010

The Process of Passing Health Bill Shameful

The Process of Passing Health Bill Shameful
By Jon Barela
Republican Candidate for Congress

To hear Rep. Martin Heinrich tell the story, as he did in an op-ed for the Albuquerque Journal last week, the majority of New Mexicans and Americans who disagree with the recently-passed 2,500 page health care bill are simply scared of change. He's not giving his constituents just credit, is he?

While I respect Mr. Heinrich and his office, I have a fundamentally different point of view of how to reform health care and reject such a "government knows best" attitude. The bill will increase the cost and decrease the quality of health care in the United States, and it was passed using a thoroughly non-transparent process by representatives who appear to be woefully out of touch with our greatest needs and concerns.

This health care legislation, with a price tag between $940 billion and $2.5 trillion, reflects the misguided priorities that are dominating Washington today. The bill contains a whopping $569 billion in job-killing tax increases and creates a new marriage penalty with new income and investment taxes. It cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion, a significant portion coming from the Medicare Advantage program.

Worse yet, this bill will lead to a massive bureaucratic expansion that will require the IRS to hire more than 16,000 additional employees just to enforce all the new taxes and penalties in the plan. If it concerns you that the IRS will now be in the thick of personal health care decisions, you are certainly in good company.

Sadly, during the last year, more than 2.5 million American jobs were lost — nearly 7,600 jobs per day — while politicians in Congress spent their time trying to ram through this unpopular piece of legislation. Americans have been quite clear that creating jobs, reducing the national debt and cutting wasteful spending are their top priorities, yet this legislation levies large tax increases on job-creators, raises insurance premiums for American families and heaps greater debt onto the shoulders of our children. When all the spending is done and the bill fully implemented, 23 million people still will be uninsured in 2019.

Just as importantly, the process used by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to pass this bill did not represent American democracy well. It wasn't bipartisan, it wasn't inclusive, it wasn't honest and it wasn't transparent. Instead, it was reckless, distorted and thoroughly undemocratic, and it's no wonder Americans are feeling ignored, angry and shunned.

They pulled out every legislative trick and scheme in the book, with the unfortunate highlight being their consideration of the so-called "Slaughter Solution," where representatives considered trying to pass the bill without actually having to vote for it. Nothing projects courage, confidence, or reassurance quite like that.

Combined with the closed-door, back-room meetings, where sweetheart deals were struck with taxpayer money, along with the efforts to shut down debate and exclude dissenting viewpoints, there is no amount of perfume that Martin Heinrich can spray on this odorous process to mask its stench.Even Pelosi stated, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

Unlike those who have served the 1st Congressional District in the past, I am convinced that Martin Heinrich lacks the independence necessary to represent New Mexico families well. At every turn, he supported the policy prescriptions of Speaker Pelosi, proving himself to be at the left fringe of his own party by so vocally supporting a robust "public option" that was completely out of the mainstream, was rejected by most of his Democrat colleagues in Washington, and would have further dismantled our free enterprise system.

There is a better way to offer high quality, affordable health care in America, and it begins by discussing proposals that could win bipartisan approval, as well as the support of states, small businesses, and American families. Among other things, these include allowing for the sale of health insurance across state lines, encouraging small businesses to pool together to compete for lower insurance rates for their workers, significant tort reform to reduce the waste that is generated by junk lawsuits and defensive medical practices, and providing tax credits to individuals to use in health savings accounts.

New Mexicans and Americans are not ignorant about what has unfolded in Congress over the past year. They are not scared or confused by what is or is not in this bill, as Martin Heinrich suggests. Instead, they are rightfully concerned that their voices and thoughts were never heard or appreciated, and a bill was passed over their strong objections through a process that was devious and shameful.

It's time for a heavy dose of accountability in Washington.

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