A Telling Omission From Dan Coats
Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately, I’m not sure…), I was unable to watch last night’s first debate among the candidates vying to become Indiana’s junior Senator. However, as I read some of the coverage of the debate in the paper this morning, one thing really jumped out at me. Here’s a portion of former Sen. Dan Coats’ response regarding health care reform:
This is one of the prime examples of what is wrong with Washington. The Obama administration, supported by Nancy Pelosi and by my opponent, as he has just acknowledged, thought that forcing through a 2,000-page, $1 trillion dollar health-care reform plan for this country rather than focusing on getting Americans back to work…. This was a pent-up, 25-year liberal wish dream when they had the votes to push it through. My opponent was one of those very late votes that brought it to fruition. I have traveled this state and talked to dozens of doctors, dozens of nurses, dozens of practitioners, insurance companies, medical providers and found no one who thinks this is the way to deal with legitimate reforms that have to be made.
I’ll come back to the first part of this statement in a moment. But first, focus on who Sen. Coats says that he talked to about health care reform. Notice anybody missing from his list? Sen. Coats talked to doctors, nurses, practitioners, insurance companies, and medical providers. But you know who I don’t see on the list of people that he talked to about health care reform? Patients. The insured. Those who can’t get insurance. Those who’ve been cut by their insurance provider when they get sick. Kids who are kicked off their parents’ policy before they have been able to get out and get a job. People with pre-existing conditions. Kids with pre-existing conditions.
Sen. Coats talked to those who make money in the health care system, not to those who have to spend money or deal with the health care system. Given his background as a lobbyist, is anybody surprised that he seems to have limited his discussions to the business and profit side of the equation? After all, how many patients can afford lobbyists. How many kids with pre-existing conditions can afford lobbyists. By this one sentence in a debate response, Sen. Coats demonstrated, quite conclusively, who he thinks about, who he wants to elicit information and views from, and who he intends to represent if elected to the Senate. And folks, it ain’t you and me.
A few other things to point out about his response: Sen. Coats complains about the Democrats “forcing through a … $1 trillion dollar health-care reform plan rather than focusing on getting Americans back to work”. First, he doesn’t mention that according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform plan will reduce the deficit. Yes, it will cost money, but in the long run, it will reduce what we’re spending. Second, he fails to acknowledge that lowering health care costs will help put people back to work. Third, though I don’t know for sure, I certainly suspect that Sen. Coats, like almost all of the rest of the Republicans in Congress, would have opposed the Stimulus and other plans designed by the Democrats to help put people back to work. Other than lowering taxes on the richest Americans and giving tax breaks to companies who outsource jobs overseas, what does he plan to do to create jobs?
And finally, I’m really sick of the “forcing through” argument. I’m sorry, but I seem to recall the issue of health care reform being a major issue in the 2008 election, being on the front burner of the discussion for nearly a year, being at the heart of contentious town hall debates in the summer of 2009, and then after the Democrats finally got tired of Republican obstructionism, being the subject of democratic votes in Congress. Debating issues for a year and then voting on them is not “forcing through” a policy; rather, it is letting the democratic process work. Or, I guess we could say that the Bush tax cuts were forced through, too.
What we need to worry about is who Sen. Coats will be working for if he gets elected to Congress. When it comes to health care, he doesn’t seem to be very concerned with the issues facing patients and average Hoosiers. Nope. Sen. Coats is concerned with those who work in the medical or insurance fields and those who are probably funding his campaign and the profits of other lobbyists like him.
By the way: Sen. Coats is 67 years old. He’s eligible for Medicare.