Column - 'In the middle': Republican wins mean more stagnation

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It was no surprise waking up Wednesday morning and hearing the Republicans had made historic gains in the mid-term elections.

It wasn't unexpected, but it was disappointing. Now our fates are back in the hands of the same party that sunk us into this mire we're now in. It's not just that President Obama has only had 22 months to dig out from under eight years of Republican mismanagement, but the majority of voters have chosen people who offer no new ideas, no solutions, and clearly don't have a clue how to get us back to a healthy economy. After all, they've spent the time since Obama was elected blocking every initiative he tried to implement. Not that they had anything better to take its place, but it seemed to be Republican policy to just say no to any solution proposed by Democrats.

Already there is talk of making tax cuts permanent, including those that benefit only the wealthy, and social programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are being looked at as likely places to make budget cuts.

No one is talking about reducing military spending or ending the wars that continue to drain our coffers. Just last week, the government was planning to spend another $2 billion in foreign aid in Pakistan. And a woman on NPR last week was insisting we had to go into Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, and pretty much bail them out if we didn't want them to become terrorists. So now we're paying people not to target us.

Obamacare is also being targeted as a great place to cut spending. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have a government health care plan. Who benefits from this situation besides the insurance industry? Certainly not ordinary people.

I lived in Canada for 26 years with "socialized" medicine. No one there goes bankrupt when they get sick and no one fears becoming ill, besides the physical discomfort and fear of illness that is only natural. Just before my family left in 1998, we were paying the whole bill for our health insurance because we had quit out jobs. It was $98 a month for a family of three.

Because insurance is so affordable, most employers also cover dental insurance and eye care. The result is a healthier, more productive population. How can that be a bad thing?

All the horror stories of long waiting lists for certain procedures and a shortage of doctors are just that: horror stories. You have to be referred to a specialist, but the few times I needed to see one I waited less time than I've waited in Northwest Arkansas because there were more doctors.

So who pays for all that care? Taxes are higher than in the U.S., there's no arguing that, the cost of living is a little higher, depending on where you are, but people are also paid more. Frankly, I'd rather pay a little more in tax because I got so much more in return.

So now that the Republicans don't have to block every Obama initiative, what are they going to do with all their power?

I doubt if they've thought that far ahead. It was all about winning the election and showing the Democrats who "the people" really wanted in office.

Well, now they're in office and we get to see just how they will do things differently. Let's hope they do something productive.