Where, Oh Where, Has Common Sense Gone?By Kim Phelan
Article Date: 09-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
As far as I can tell, it’s not being applied in the nation’s approaches to two of its largest problems.
It’s the last week of August as CED goes to press, and health care reform dominates every news medium you turn to. Running on the treadmill the other day, for example, (that’s my brand of health reform!) I was watching CNN’s “Situation Room” program. After a featured expert explained some of the key elements of Obama’s plan, particularly the meaning of the public option, the camera turned to Jack Cafferty, who reported that, “The percentage of Americans who say economic concerns are the nation’s top problem is decreasing – while the number worried about health care is on the rise.”
An aside: I regret to say that my level of esteem for public opinion is rather on the low side. However, the power of public opinion cannot be underestimated.
So Cafferty then announces his poll question of the day: “Which concerns you more: health care or the economy?” He did preface this by conceding that the two are much intertwined – but for the sake of the question, he asks us to pretend they are separate issues.
Another aside: Are folks recognizing how adversely the economy could be affected if the wrong health care reform legislation is adopted? The price tag of the plan currently proposed by Obama exceeds $1 trillion.
Back to Jack: I don’t think I could answer his question. No, I’m afraid health care and the economy are totally inseparable – primarily because of the raunchy state of the economy and the negligence Congress and the president demonstrate by favoring social reforms over such basic economy-reviving legislation as infrastructure funding, aka, highway trust fund reauthorization. If this pre-existing condition of the economy and higher priorities were not present, perhaps I’d feel differently about casting my vote. As it stands, there is too much at stake in ignoring or postponing federal action on the nation’s roads and bridges – and it has to do with the health of the economy and Americans!
In this issue of CED, we lead off our features section with an exclusive HTF status report authored by Christian Klein and Daniel Fisher from the AED Washington team. Their introduction related to the safety side of the highway debate is most compelling. (See page 18)
But a memorable crescendo of their article really lights my ire: “…despite intense lobbying by AED and its allies, and the myriad studies and reports documenting needs and proposing solutions, Congress has failed to focus on highway reauthorization. Even the economic collapse in the construction industry, where unemployment rates are above 18 percent, hasn’t gotten much attention on the Hill. Indeed, instead of working on highway reauthorization, health care and climate change legislation have taken center stage this year, despite the fact that neither bill is expected to create jobs or stimulate growth.”
Something may have occurred on the reauthorization front by the time this edition reaches your desk, but I’m afraid there isn’t much to indicate that Congress’ Sept. 30 deadline will be taken seriously by those with authority to act.
One last aside: It occurs to me that maybe the reason more Americans are concerned about health care is because the president has pushed it to the center stage (and they’re frightened about the outcome), rather than the opposite scenario in which a president acts because of the majority’s concerns. So which came first in this case?
Let’s pick up the dialog at AEDToday right after Executive Forum. Please don’t tell me you’re not subscribing yet. (aednet.org/aedtoday)
Thanks for engaging in the issues, and thanks for reading.
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