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Search This Blog - Modernization Must Come to Washington, Health Benefits Included

Washington, DC has a modernization problem, from cronyism to lobbyists to public employee entitlements, the "swamp," is alive and well. But it shows signs of being dragged into the 21st century with increased newsy coverage and new ways to track what's really going on and that's good news for consumers.

For consumers, our discontent is also a sign of modernity, insisting that our varied voices be heard. But we too, must not be so busy fighting with one another that we ignore the goal, to achieve a public employment sector, whether it's the federal or state or local governments that is much less likely to continue old-time politics and processes. In this light, our discontent and diverse views is a good sign and should be taken as a promise of modernity, specifically non-acceptance of business as usual from public employees.

For instance, I've frequently and still argue that the key to beginning health insurance reform is making no escape hatch for public employees. In a complex government, it's the best way to incentivize our representatives to pass laws that work for us. It's the old idea of skin in the game which means that whatever they pass for us applies to them. It's the simplest notion yet public employees have been immune from this very obvious protection to consumers.

While health insurance reform is stagnating, consider how Congress never delays for long money allotments that covers their pay and other public sector expenses.

Certainly, in terms of morale and expectations, no thinking Democrat could have remained hopeful about Obamacare when it turned out that the very lawmakers using their muscle to control the access to and quality of health insurance policies sold in this country carved out their own neat exemption. After all, there's no less persuasive argument then, "This is good enough for you, though not for us."

This exemption was accomplished first by use of taxpayer funds to pay up to 72 percent of their premiums, second to label the Federal Government as an employer that just happened to use our dollars to pay for the benefits they provide to their "employees," and third, President Obama, in his typical myopic way issued a special rule for Congress and their staff to get additional and "special subsidies" to purchase exchange plans. (Reported in lots of places, including as reported on CNN Political Ticker in 2013.)

Technology and good government monitoring allow us peeks into this protected oasis of old-time America and benefits, including job security should be the laser focus of consumer attention. Without discussing what public employment used to be, it's necessary for the modern public employees to join the rest of America with job insecurity, benefits slashing, pension cuts and the rest of the cannibalization of the American dream that the rest of us live with. This is our chief protection against lawmakers acting in their own self-interest at the expense of ours, make OUR interests vital for them to pursue their own self-interests.

While we've begun to pinpoint and reveal the problem, it's more difficult to get the very people enjoying the luxury of this special treatment to pass and change laws and provisions that have provided them with the public employment entitlements we have today. That requires a steady focus and a steady pressure and leadership that supports such change.

As consumers, the taking the knee debate has been going on for a week, yet President Trump has not addressed a single aspect of the swamp excepting his donation of his salary to…the swamp.

President Obama used his ability to manipulate public employment to exaggerate the benefits provided to those public employees, which in the early days might have been spun with a positive view that he was using the federal government to set an example, but ultimately revealed itself as a means of creating an insulated fiefdom that stood in sharp contrast to the slow-erode of the middle class during his presidency.

It was this realization that encouraged many moderates to vote for "disruptors." But President Trump misunderstands what disruption means in government. Disruption for disruption's sake is merely bad behavior.

For now, Donald Trump must get off football and start cleaning house, the federal government, to the best of his ability. The news of the week should not be five days of "debating" whether or not rich sportspeople, playing games for rich audiences who choose to act like (surprise face) spoiled brats is OK or not.

Cleaning your own house is always more admirable. Why did he drop the ball on repeal of Obamacare? Why doesn't he use his influence to advocate for a public employee equalization act, making public employees live in the same world they're governing for?

President Trump is a quarter way through his term. He must do more than hold back the worsening of Obama presidency policies and address those policies that created the erosion of the middle class (again, as covered by CNN in September of 2013, "Obama Admits Obama admits 95% of income gains gone to top 1%," Hibah Yousuf).

For those examining the "tax" plan escaping the hypothetical old-time theories that have created the public entitlement class and the highest inequality between rich and poor in over 30 years, which was the result of Obama's presidency, ("Inequality Between America's Rich and Poor Is at a 30-Year High," Gillian B. White, 12/18/2014, The Atlantic, for example), it's not whether there are ALSO tax breaks for the wealthy, it's what concrete benefits, not hypotheticals but CONCRETE benefits are to become immediately effective for the middle class.

Health benefits and the protection of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid availability are critical in this conversation, NOT the protection of public employees who have been skating by with old-time job securities and pensions even as they legislate away the non public employee middle class.
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