Freddy Krueger Goes to Washington

The Freddy Krueger Approach to Budgeting

An editorial in the New York Times said yesterday, “Are there any adults in charge of the House? Watching this week’s frenzied slash-and-burn budget contest, we had to conclude the answer to that is no.” I thought that seemed a little condescending until I read the entire editorial. Among the Republicans this week, there seems to be a contest to see who can propose the most ridiculous budget for the balance of 2011. No one is paying any attention to the results of their proposals, even if they have any idea what those results would be. A perfect example of that is Representative Kristi Noem, a Republican of South Dakota, who told the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, “A lot of us freshmen don’t have a whole lot of knowledge about how Washington, D.C., is operated,” last week. “And, frankly, we don’t really care.” (Emphasis Mine)

Yeah, that’s the attitude we want in those who presume to govern us. Who elected her, anyway? Oh, right, the radical right-wing Republicans. People like her obviously do not care about the country, do not care about the people in this country, and do not really care if we survive as a nation or not. Jim Boehner could help—might even be expected to help—from his position as Speaker of the House. However, his response when asked, was that President Obama added 200,000 federal employees in the past two years and that if some of those jobs were lost, he didn’t care. First as to the facts, the federal government did add approximately 141,000 non-postal jobs, but reduced the postal work force by 83,000 for a net gain of 58,000 jobs. That is a long way from the 200,000 figure Boehner used.

None of them is talking about what those cuts would mean to the employment picture in the US, either. The loss of 700,000 jobs is predicted, given what various Republicans are asking for. With our current unemployment rate of near 10%, do you really want that many more people competing for scarce jobs? With one slash of his pinky finger knife, the Freddy Krueger of the House would raise our unemployment rate another 1%, making it the highest since the Great Depression.

On top of that, what would some of the grim results be? For one, at least one of the proposed cuts would actually cost the nation money, not save—that is the proposed cuts to community health centers. I heard someone say on the radio today that CHCs waste a lot of government money, (Note: I did not hear who made this claim and cannot verify it. If you have information that proves me wrong, please send it to me.) and that that is the justification for reducing funding for them. CHCs are wasting money. If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny.

Let me tell you just a little about our local CHC in Tacoma/Pierce County, Community Health Care. Our annual budget is approximately $30 million. For that, we served more than 34,000 patients last year—an average annual care cost of only $882/patient. Can you get your health care paid for $882/year. How much does your insurance cost on an annual basis? And what does the community get for that investment? First of all, national studies have shown that our care saves the emergency rooms in Tacoma approximately $20 million in unnecessary visits. Most of those would not be paid for. So our services keep an extra $20 million in the community.

The supplies and services we purchase locally would add a few more million into the local economy. And just keeping those 34,000 patients healthy—if it just keeps them at work one or two additional days per year—we add another $5 to $10 million dollars to the local economy. So for investing $30 million in our CHC—actually less than that because of the insured patients we have—we are putting an additional $50 to $60 million back into the local economy. What other employer brings that kind of benefits? CHCs are the best investment in health care in the country. Cutting funding for them will not only mean a lot of people go without health care, it means the emergency rooms will get greater utilization without pay—taking money out of the economy plus driving up the cost of your health care.

That’s just one effect if the childish Republicans get their way. What about fewer inspections of the chickens you buy with the increased risk of e. coli? Is that what you want your kids eating? How about gutting the Environmental Protection Agency? Do you want to go back to having your children breathing particulates in the air? How about going back to the “Tacoma Aroma?” You want to lay off state and local police officers? You think they’ve so thoroughly dismantled the Crips in Tacoma that we can afford to stop policing them?

The Republicans say we cannot afford our government any more. I agree. The Democrats agree. President Obama agrees. That’s why he has proposed a more reasonable budget plus stated his willingness to sit down with the Republicans and negotiate. But all the Republicans seem willing to do is slash and burn at random pet peeves. There is no logic, sense or restraint in either their proposals or their speech.

And one more thing: The Republicans know there is no chance of getting those cuts enacted. No chance. If they pass them in the House, and manage to get them through the Senate, President Obama would veto them because no reasonable person would want to put the nation through the suffering they would cause. No reasonable person! All this amounts to is children screaming about what they want so they can get through to the people who elected them. Then they can go home and say, “We tried…really. Go ahead an re-elect us so we can go do it again.” They didn’t! If they really want to do their job—the one they were elected for, to govern—they would be putting forth reasonable requests and sitting down at the negotiating table to work out something that works for the entire nation.

Let’s send Freddy Krueger home. Let’s put some adults in charge of Congress.

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