Elise Patkotak: Tea Party talks big, walks small

By ELISE PATKOTAKOctober 1, 2013 

I have to assume that somewhere in the world there are governments more dysfunctional than ours. I could be wrong. Unfortunately, the people who are at the top of this pile of congressional excrement are the ones getting not only big bucks, but also gold plated health plans.

The argument over funding government for the next few weeks - at which time we will be treated to a repeat of this boondoggle based on the need to raise the debt ceiling - makes little sense under any circumstance. But in this particular circumstance, the very group causing the shutdown consists of the same people admitting that there is no chance that they will succeed in defunding or repealing Obamacare. They are playing games with our government to make points with their constituents in order to raise money for their next campaign. And this, I am given to understand, is what passes for statesmanship in our current day and age.

To be quite honest, if every member of this little pool of Tea Party candidates agreed to give up their government health care benefits and pensions, I might be willing to listen to their arguments. But they all seem quite content to keep that gold plated benefit in their back pocket while lobbying to deny millions of Americans the chance at affordable health care. Worse yet, the lies and innuendoes they have perpetrated - from the insane "death panels" to the idea that some bureaucrat will now make your health care decisions - are not only mean spirited and wrong, but are scaring people for whom this law will provide the most benefit.

Anyone in this country today who thinks that the decisions made under current health insurance programs are logical, in keeping with your doctor's recommendations and based on your health care needs should immediately lay down and put a cold compress on their heads because they are hallucinating. Anyone who has ever had to fight for needed treatment for a loved one, only to watch them die as the insurance company dithered around trying to avoid paying for that treatment, can tell you the reality of who makes health care decisions here.

I had someone comment to me that this health care bill would mean lines of people waiting for appointments with doctors overwhelmed by the amount of patients needing care. My response to that argument is simple. If you have diabetes and cannot afford health insurance, six months from now you will still have diabetes and still not have the wherewithal to seek medical attention. If you have even minimal health coverage and have diabetes, six months from now you will still have it but will also be sitting in a doctor's office where you will get care for your problem. Not getting that care not only ensures an early and painful death for the patient, but also ensures that our emergency rooms will continue to be impacted by problems that could have been averted with some simple preventative treatment early on - to say nothing of the money we consumers will save if the more serious problems can be avoided. Because, like it or not, we are a country that decided a long time ago to not turn ill people away into the streets to die. We demand that emergency rooms see them. And those hospitals pass that cost on to everyone else.

But that's not a problem for our congressional men and women because they have that aforementioned gold plated health insurance plan, paid for by the same government that has no money for you. Decisions on their treatment will be in the hands of the same government bureaucrats they claim will not be able to make good decisions for you. Yet they keep those plans. Even after leaving office they will have better coverage than the majority of Americans, at no cost.

So what about it, Tea Partyers? Ask your congressional favorite to voluntarily turn away the benefits that former Congresses voted unto themselves. Then come back and talk to me about Obamacare. But meanwhile, admit what really frightens you most is that once it goes into effect, people will like it so much that you'll never repeal it. Not only that, but they may also vote your candidates' sorry butts out of office for all the damage they've done.

Elise Patkotak's latest book, "Coming Into the City," is available at alaskacalendarsandbooks.com and at local bookstores. Web site, www.elisepatkotak.com.

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