No, it’s not what you think…
I admit that I’m somewhat new to commenting on politics, so bear with me if you’ve heard this one before…but I think this needs some serious (re)consideration.
We all know the aphorisms that lawmaking and sausage making are best left unwitnessed, but we have been actively engaged in discourse all this year that demands that our representatives in Congress be more honest and ‘transparent’ with their process of making laws–especially when it deals with one-sixth of the economy and our very lives. I think we, and they, have missed an important point: this is the way things are because Congress knows no (different or) better way to do it. You can make a very strong case that the Democrats are intentionally stretching their own rules, and common sense, to the breaking point–but this is the way they’ve done things for a very long time.
I come from a background which lays things to be accomplished out in specifications, or in a design. The design has an overall architecture, or framework, and then the details are filled in by comparing various factors. The process of selecting the details comes by many names: trade studies, optimization, requirements verification…but the net effect is the same: the details are tested against the overall architecture/design and those that don’t match are tossed out. Finally, all the details are put together in a cohesive whole and compared to the specification or design. It’s detail intensive, sometimes stressful and maddening, but in the end, the final ‘thing’ meets the need.
There seems to be no similar mechanism in law making. Despite cries that ‘there ought to be a law’ followed by a stampede of hearings and committee meetings, it seems pretty obvious that the final result is never compared to the original specification, design, or intent. Thus, you get a great idea — all children in the US deserve access to the same education– and it metastasizes into No Child Left Behind and completely misses the boat. Or you get an idea –to allow faith based organizations the freedom from needless regulation so that they can provide services to those truly in need — and you end up with the complete collapse of compassionate conservatism….only to find it replaced by corrupt and ineffective leftist organizations.
My point is this: on Health Care, the people have communicated to their representatives a set of design requirements. Admittedly, the requirements are heavily conflicted in some essential areas, but the point of the discourse should be to gain consensus on the requirements BEFORE the representatives sit down to craft the means to meet those requirements.
If we can’t gain consensus on the design, it makes no sense to slog through the process of writing a gargantuan bill that no one can (or will) actually read. If there are serious sticking points, such as public option vs private option, those points should be negotiated; only if negotiation reaches an impasse should we then resort to writing two competing bills and have a ‘vote off.’
But the fundamental thing that is missing in our current situation is that there is no useful way to compare the bills to their specification–so we resort to arguments of emotion and feeling rather than fact.
Given where we are in the process, we must insist that those who are proposing the bills before the House and Senate must demonstrate how the bills meet the specification–not merely the cost:
- If the proponents cannot show us that we have given access to health care to those that we are insisting must have it, we should go no further.
- If the proponents cannot explain how we will reduce the cost of Medicare by hundreds of billions without sacrificing quality of care to those who need it, we must insist that they stop (after we have asked them why we can’t effect those savings now!).
- If the proponents cannnot rationally explain how penalizing the very people we are seeking to help (those uninsured) by levying taxes against them, we should go no further.
- If the proponents cannot rationally explain how levying further costs on small businesses and employers will not cause even further damage to the economy, we should go no further.
We simply cannot let up in opposition to this poorly thought out hodge-podge of law that we see before us. There is no possible way to ‘reconcile’ the House and Senate variations of these bills using the same old political deal making and arm twisting–this effort is simply too important to our future to leave it to that.
We must make our opposition stand on strong foundations of fact and logic, dare I say, to “intelligent design.”
At the same time, we have to recognize the powerfully negative emotions associated with being without access to health care when it is needed. The First Lady is showing that the Democrats intend to pull on emotions to cloud the issue in order to gain support for their approach. We need to acknowledge the emotion and counter with reassurances:
- no one is left without emergency care when it is needed now.
- unleashing creativity and market forces will give a better result than a bureaucracy every time. The President bumped into this when he compared the Post Office to FedEx, and we should drive home that point.
Our laws are meant to be durable, consistent and stabilizing. The issue of health care deserves careful and thoughtful design, not raw, emotional reaction to fear.