Once upon a time, I had the good fortune to serve the people of New York as a state legislator. I experienced many exciting changes in how government operated and was witness to the passage of many great laws that improved upon the quality of life of all New Yorkers. Looking at the workings of the leadership and actions of the current U.S. Congress has to make the average voter depressed and angry.
Those of us who belong to any established religion know that one of their core beliefs is compassion for the less fortunate. The daily happenings in Washington are dominated by people who not only lack compassion, but instead are full of contempt for the common man or woman. The debate over health care reform is one glaring example of how our federal government continues to sink to new lows every day of the week.
You can hate Obamacare or love it, but more than 20 million people signed up for it so they could get that lifesaving operation or get continuous care for their very sick child. It also helps pay for the last days of life for a grandparent or other family member. Contrary to some of the conservative critics, health care is not a program aimed at a bunch of lazy shiftless adults who sit at home watching television. Its purpose is to give life to others, who but for the federal government, would continue to be an even more expensive drain on our federal and state budgets.
A short time ago, the House of Representatives passed its version of the Affordable Care Act. It stripped away coverage for most pre-existing conditions and set the stage for massive increases in premiums for the elderly. In a weak moment, President Trump, who had applauded the House for its actions, changed his tune and called it “mean.” He promised that any new bill would be more “humane.” Because the leadership of the Senate is fixated with tax cuts for the rich at the expense of middle and low income families, the newest health care bill will never get any better without bi-partisan input, which is not going to happen.
There are a handful of senators who are genuinely concerned about the less fortunate and one has to hope that they will not be bought off by promises that the public pain will be delayed for a few extra years. Whenever the Senate passes a health care bill, it will harm the people least able to protect themselves and then go to the House where the membership is even meaner. The only place to take meanness out of government is in the voting booth and even 2018 may not come soon enough to avoid the harm to come.
Former State Assemblyman Jerry Kremer is a partner at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.