Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren has been rocking some pretty swanky boats of late as she presides over the Congressional TARP Oversight Committee (Troubled Assets Relief Program, you remember - it's the taxpayer-funded bail-out). Warren has been tough and clear and focused on the truth like we all need her to be.
We need her in so many areas of this nation's policy review and reform - I'll admit it, I'm jealous that she's not heading up an oversight panel on the healthcare reform effort. I cannot even imagine the difference in the debate if Warren were overseeing the healthcare industry bail-out now, as it takes shape in Congress. But instead we'll be waiting to sweep up the mess following the inevitable waste of taxpayer funds and national resources that is about to happen as Congress gets ready to force all Americans to buy health insurance and pay any tax load necessary to protect the big money industry interests.
It will be sold as the long-awaited health reform the nation has needed so badly. But nothing about it will resemble a national healthcare plan - it will be a national healthcare financing plan, and you and me will be footing the bill and praying we somehow can maneuver our way through the maze of rules and regulations and health industry requirements to get healthcare when we need it. The healthcare industry will say when we are allowed to get care and when we are not. The healthcare industry will say from whom we can seek care and from whom we cannot. The healthcare industry will set the rates paid for treatment and for premiums and they alone will decide who lives and who dies under their reform.
And finally, the healthcare industry will determine for the nation - for each and every one of us - what we will pay for the basic human right of healthcare through our taxes. Congress is simply putting the closing document s together for the industry.
Warren is an expert on consumer debt and bankruptcy, and she could surely take a gander at the plans being floated to keep the healthcare industry happy and see if those same plans will keep America's working and middle classes happy and healthy. I'd like to see her overview of what would happen to an average American family if someone got sick, couldn't work for a bit and needed care under the plans being offered by our Congress. I am betting we wouldn't like what she'd tell us.
So, knowing this has become strictly a financial and taxpayer-funded deal in the making, I want Warren to look things over and tell me a few things. Straight up. Clear and clean. She is smart enough to be defending us all surrounding the TARP deal - and asking the sticky wicket questions. Like, where is all the money going? And why are taxpayers being screwed over when it's our money bailing out these huge financial interests? I love when I hear this no-nonsense, down-to-earth woman speak truth to power. She speaks for me, and I like the sense of honor and justice she brings to the discourse. Better yet, she isn't funded by the special interests dictating what gets said.
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Professor Warren could sure look at where the healthcare dollars are going to go too. Which CEOs are traveling in style while policy-holders and patients die or wait for care? Which hospitals and industry groups are enjoying huge tax breaks and write-offs while premium-paying, tax-paying Americans wonder if they can see a doctor or afford a prescription? Which healthcare industry pirates are holding which government leaders hostage and demanding the ransom of blind loyalty and national servitude? How are those insurance company profits doing in the current economic downturn? And how are their stockholders being told the companies will profit going forward?
We deserve these answers before we bail out the healthcare industry. We need an Elizabeth Warren asking the questions and reporting to some committee of Congress that will actually take sides in this healthcare reform effort - and the side they take needs to be ours. The taxpayers. The funders of the whole damned show.
We, the taxpayers of this nation, write all of the checks - the Congressional payroll and benefit checks, the tax subsidies, the bail-outs, the premiums, the co-pays and deductibles and therefore even the insurance company, pharmaceutical company and hospital corporation stockholder dividends. An estimated $2 trillion over the next 10 years to give the insurance industry everything they want in this system. $2 trillion. We ought to at least have an accurate accounting of what we're paying for, eh?
And then how about an accurate comparison of all the viable options before us, like a publicly funded, privately delivered plan? I'd like this before we just give away the farm.
But with this bail-out, we certainly deserve to know these answers up-front. Now. Before we commit to the programs worse for the nation than we can even fathom in this broken healthcare system. I'd like an opinion rendered by an oversight panel headed by someone very much like Professor Warren.