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How to Tell the Neocons Without a Scorecard: Rep. Judy Biggert.

February 15th, 2010 · No Comments · Health Care, Politics

We have a huge problem in this country. It is a problem of recognizing what kinds of people our politicians really are. Are they moderate or are they conservative? A man climbs into a pickup truck and merges images of Jack Kennedy with his own. Suddenly he is a moderate. He goes to Washington as the Senator from Massachusetts, and—miracle of miracles—becomes a Neocon over night, vowing to vote against anything that President Obama and any Liberal or any Moderate (if there were any Moderates left) would strive to achieve.

So, it is clear. We cannot recognize political lies when they are clearly before us staring us, or sometimes slapping us, in the face.

Take the example of Judy Biggert, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Illinois, the 13th District. She represents the 800,000 people of largely middle-class Southwest Suburban Chicago. You can see it on a map on her web site. The map, however, like Judy Biggert herself, who, over her time in Congress from this relatively safe seat, has become a political millionaire, leaves something to be desired in accuracy.

It does list the municipalities and villages of Orland Park, Tinley Park, Downers Grove, Aurora, Westmont, Bolingbrook and Joliet, which are pretty solidly middle class. But it neglects to show the villages of Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Burr Ridge—all very high income—and Oak Brook, a neighborhood with some gated neighborhoods, unusual for very communal northern Illinois often statistically the highest income community in Illinois.

Why does this matter? Well, Judy Biggert has a truly Neocon Republican dichotomous personality. You see, she pretends to be with the people of the former communities and votes with the wealthy of the latter. She claims to be an Illinois moderate but votes with the Southern Conservatives. She lives in Illinois but votes with the South. She says she is with the people but votes with corporations. Not the least of which are the banks, which she supports with ardor.

She is a lovely person in her early 70s. She has a certain grandmotherly charm, quiet to the extreme and tries to do no harm in her personal life to anyone, including those she represents, except, of course, with her votes. She voted against every aspect of every health care program that has passed, but, as you will see, she has her own plan.

She has done very well under the “tax-cut and spend” political firm of Reagan, Bush and Bush. She is the kind of person ideally sought out by people like Karl Rove and Grover Norquist to finish us off by bankrupting the country, farming out services to private companies. The idea of course if that, if you do not support these private entities, which used to be public services, you will not have those services at all.

To be fair, what would Judy say about all this? She should have a chance to explain herself. Here’s what she says from her own web site. She provides a perfect example with her proposed health care plan. I would lead you to believe that she is sincerely interested in that large segment of her district, those non-wealthy areas where there are people struggling in a bad economy.

Health care is the issue of the day. Judy doesn’t like “Big Government Takeover of Insurance” programs that have passed the House and the Senate that would provied checks against the insurance companies, lower costs, and guarantee insurance. While not participating at all in the debate, the Republicans, like the wealthy Judy, like her wealthier constituents, demurred. She is for something else, something called: The Medical Rights and Reform Act. It’s on her web site.

It “…guarantees the rights of patients to carry out the decisions of their doctor without delay or denial of care by the government. Our bill upholds the rights of individuals to receive medical services as deemed appropriate by their doctor to ensure all Americans have access to the care they need when they need it.”

Isn’t that wonderful? It’s what we all should want. Ok, let’s see. Let’s go through it…. yadda, yadda, yadda… Ah, here: “evidence based research.” CER, they call it. It is when doctors get together to determine that there is a new, advanced technique to save your life. And let’s see, ah…here it is…Judy’s bill would “establish a governance structure for CER that is spear-headed by an independent commission that will work to insure that CER…” yadda, yadda.

What does that gobbledeegook mean? It means that CER, which is done by doctors will be controlled by an “independent commission” made up of…you guessed it…health insurance executives and others, just enough of them so that they can overrule the doctors on the commission…and save Judy’s friends and big contributors a lot of money.

Well, ok, but that isn’t even really the heart of the matter, is it? Why should that lead off, unless you are trying to make the point to the insurance industry that they won’t be paying for any big bills for procedures that might actually save someone’s life? How about the bread and butter issue of costs? Judy is right on it. Part two (Title II) is “Lowering the Cost of Care.” This is more like it.

Let’s see…yadda, yadda…”preventing chronic disease through wellness programs.” OK, that will help. ..yadda, yadda…”the vast majority of these diseases are preventable”…well, maybe but not if you don’t have health insurance. Let’s see…ah, here we are…lowering cost in the workplace “…with tax credits for both small and mid-sized employers…when incorporating sound employee health management….”

Wait a minute. This is no different from that part of the Democratic program except that she hasn’t talked about anything but tax credits yet, and already we have a qualifier. We have to pass a test of having “sound employee health management?” Call me a cynic, but doesn’t this sound a little like a weasel-out-of-the-insurance commitment clause? Judy, Judy, Judy! What are you doing to us here?

For young people…she says her plan will make “competitive funding for programs available to schools, community health centers and others.” Available? What does that mean? Everything is “available” if you can afford it. And what “others?”

Isn’t she the same Judy Biggert who voted against the SCHIPS program that would give modest subsidies to poor families…not so they could stay healthy…but just so they could afford to take their kids to the doctor when they fell ill? And didn’t she vote against the re-authorization a couple of years later? And then when the votes were clearly there, and it was going to pass no matter what, didn’t she bravely switch her vote at the last minute to vote with the Illinois delegation rather than Alabama, who continued to vote against it?

Oh yes, here’s some thing. She would help cut the cost of health insurance “for individuals and families—incentivize participation through insurance premium reductions.” Yeah…that’s going to happen. “incentivize” insurance companies. Get a gun and hold it to the head of the President of Cigna. He’ll still ask if he can think it over for an hour!

But…she is nothing if not a good Neocon. There are more tax breaks. That’s what we need these days, with an $11 trillion deficit…less income to a government that she and her Bush Administration Neocon pals took from $5 trillion in 2001 to $11 trillion today.

Lower income families should have “flexibility and control.” The plan says that the individuals in society “not eligible for public programs” will get tax credits. So does that mean…no tax, no credits, e.g., no insurance? (For God’s sake, what good will tax credits do? Might just as well go tot the emergency room.)

And small businesses are different. They will get the same old crap. Her plan says that they “…should have the same tax advantages that large employers receive for the purchase of health insurance.” Yadda, yadda and that’s it. There is no “here’s how” or any “here’s what we’ll do.” There is, in the entire paragraph, section, only that they “should have.” Next! No help there.

The next section starts off “…the proliferation of frivolous malpractice lawsuits…” You know what that means. Despite the fact that a.) frivolous medical lawsuits, according to the only authority that means anything, the national association of state insurance regulators…they do the research…only .46%, less than half of one percent, of insurance costs have any thing to do with liability insurance costs, and b.) after some states voted $250,000 caps anyway, rates for doctors continued to go up! The idea is very simple. Make sure that doctors are not liable for their mistakes. Make you and your children pay for their mistakes. That’s good old Judy and her health insurance buddies for ya!

Much of the rest of it is what has already been done and failed…health savings accounts of about 10% of what you would need would be tax deductible…but there would be no caps on health insurance premiums. So they could simply make high deductible plans more expensive. Means nothing. And she says states should set up programs…thanks a lot. And then she talks about paying doctors more for Medicare work…yadda, yadda.

That’s it. That’s her brilliant plan. A simple, one-page plan from a simple, one-page mind. So what’s the problem? The problem is that it is a non-starter and she, like every other Neocon Republican is doing just this kind of thing. Pretending to offer help while actually writing this kind of nonsense that improves almost nothing…so it won’t pass. It isn’t intended to pass. It isn’t intended to do anything but delay and confuse the issue so that the solid legislation that will change lives has been stalled out of existence.

She doesn’t represent Illinois. She votes almost every time with the South. But she isn’t really even with Kentucky and Alabama and Texas. She is with the corporations. She is one of the bought-and-paid-for incumbents who enrich themselves by doing the bidding of the lobbyists. And then they come home and fool half of the people half of the time and—in our uneducated, under-informed society—are reelected as something that they are not and never will be…representatives of the People.

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