Fantasies of Representation from Maine to Montana

Sen. Olympia Snowe wants a trigger. Too bad the rest of the gun is
pointed at your health. The Associated Press had a story Monday with a
headline that read: "Snowe is the Woman with the Clout on Healthcare."
They say it's because she's the lone Republican on the Finance
Committee who may vote for the health care reform bill if her "trigger"
gets put in place. The trigger is the mechanism that will release the
public option bullet only if the insurance companies act greedy five or
so years after health care reform is passed. Judging from past behavior
I doubt there's any question how those companies will act, but the
senator insists on waiting.

That means that her clout comes from the likelihood she'll do the
bidding of the private insurers who have brought the U.S. health care
system to its knees by denying claims and disallowing procedures and
turn her back on the people who overwhelmingly desire that the public
option be in the bill from the get-go.

How sad for the voter. A health care activist friend of mine said
that Olympia Snowe committing billions of tax dollars and borrowed
funds to this health care bill while at the same time ignoring the
sentiment of more than three-quarters of the electorate - and not just
the national electorate but Maine voters as well - is truly taxation
without representation.

My friend doesn't believe that tax
dollars matter anywhere near as much to the Finance Committee - upon
which Sen. Snowe sits - as special interest dollars matter. I agree.

I have a fantasy. Well, actually I have a bunch of them. I bet you
do too. Ours may be a little different and most of mine are pretty
predictable. Like the fantasy where every elected official has to live
on food stamps for a month. And they have to walk into a grocery store
and use them without telling the clerk that they "really aren't on food

Another one of mine is each and every member of Congress and each
state legislature has to fill out the paperwork for the veterans in
their state. And that if any veteran is denied services or benefits
that the elected officials then pay those benefits out of their own
pockets until the problem is resolved.

I have another fantasy that no elected officials are allowed to send
their children or grandchildren to anything but public school. And the
kids don't get extracurricular activities like art, sports or music
unless the school department provides it.

Oh and one of my favorites is that anyone who puts down the migrant
populations in the U.S. must do the job that the migrant came here to
do for one month. They have to pick grapes, clean toilets or work in
slaughter-houses, etc. And they have to spend that month learning the
migrant's language as well.

But back to my fantasy about the senators on the Senate Finance
Committee: I fantasize that every member of the committee who is
against the public option or against universal health care has to pay
back just $10 of insurance lobby contributions for each person from
their state without access to health care.

You can look up statistics on the under- and uninsured at Families
USA, a Web site using U.S. Census Bureau figures. In Olympia Snowe's
case, Maine has about 114,000 uninsured. So she'd have to return $1.14
million to the health care lobby. Sen. Max Baucus, the chair of the
committee, his home state of Montana has 279,000 uninsured so he'd have
to pay back $2.79 million.

No problem! Daily Kos reports that "Sen. Olympia Snowe raised
$1,147,630 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of her
career." She could keep that trigger amendment with a clean conscience
if she turned the money back and still have enough left over for a nice
trip to a spa or something.

And committee chair Sen. Baucus who wants to fine people who don't
buy health insurance? Well, the Washington Post says that between 2003
and 2008 he's taken $3 million from the insurance industry. This much
money going to our elected officials ought to trip our trigger so that
we wake up and realize that they don't represent us.

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