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Oklahoma Gazette
provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its
Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit
letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to
pbacharach@okgazette. com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

Hyperbolic overdrive

The conservative response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare featured in Chicken-Fried News’ “Harumph, harumph, harumph” (June 28, okgazette.com) is a string of some of the most rhetorical and hyperbolic comments I’ve ever read.

Gov. Mary Fallin said, “Today’s decision highlights the importance of electing leaders who will work to repeal the federal health care law and replace it with meaningful reform focused on commonsense, market-based changes.”

So what exactly is a “market-based” change? It’s as though Mary strung a bunch of big words together without any intention of explaining what it meant. Remember when your schoolteachers demanded that you “show your work?” This feels like one of those “show your work” situations.

Sen. Jim Inhofe said, “Obamacare costs too much in the form of lost rights, lost jobs, higher taxes and increased debt.”

I assume the senator is referring to the right of the citizen to walk into an ER completely broke and let the private hospital eat the cost of the patient’s treatment. “Lost jobs” must be referring to the thousands of doctors, nurses and ancillary staffs in hospitals and insurance companies who will be required after tens of millions become insured. Higher taxes? Probably, but I wonder if the minimum standard of health care created by Obamacare is on par with the Cadillac policy Inhofe enjoys.

If you don’t think Obamacare isn’t good for our people, perhaps we can get the “Sen. Inhofe special” — I’m guessing that will be much more expensive. As for the increased debt, his party has enough power now to enforce the debt ceiling. The fact that they keep playing a losing game of chicken with the president tells me they really don’t care about the debt.

Rep. Tom Cole said, “Regardless of its constitutionality, most Americans agree that Obamacare should be repealed.”

This seems to be a stretch. Just over 129 million people voted in the 2008 presidential election. Obama had discussed affordable health care prior, and more than 69 million people still voted for him. Even if some are put off by this legislation, odds are that the more than 40-plus million people who will benefit from it are in favor. That would be close to one-third of everyone who voted.

John Hart, spokesman for U.S. Sen.

Tom
Coburn (who was apparently too busy to comment) said, “The court
affirmed Congress’ power to tax people if they don’t eat their
broccoli.”

I’m pretty
sure that’s not what the court said, but I’ll be sure to let Mr. Hart
know if I get taxed for not eating broccoli. In the meantime, he might
want to act like he’s gonna get taxed for not eating poultry; he’ll be
eating crow soon enough.

—Brandon Wertz Oklahoma City

Playing snow day roulette

Many
a student has undoubtedly played a game of “snow day roulette” in which
the student opts to postpone completing homework under the hope
inclement weather will result in a school closing. If the forecast is
wrong or the school otherwise remains open, the student is often in
quite a predicament.

It
seems our Republican “leadership” has opted for a similar strategy
regarding the establishment of a health care exchange. Rather than
taking federal funds to establish the exchange, the governor, under
right-wing pressure and the hope that the U.S. Supreme Court would
strike down the entire law, rejected the funds. This risky move did not
pay off for our state.

Now, the same “leadership” is placing its bets on a repeal of the law following the November election.

This, too, is an irresponsible, risky gamble.

Even
if Republicans gain control of the White House, the Senate and the
House, striking down the law will be no easy feat. While the mandate may
be struck down through the reconciliation process, large portions of
the law have nothing to do with direct spending or tax law, and
therefore, will be subject to a Democrat filibuster. The state’s failure
to establish an exchange will result in exactly what these individuals
supposedly fear: federal control of the exchange.

One
aspect of the court ruling sure to please these ideologues has made it
easier for states like Oklahoma to opt out of the expansion of Medicaid.
I fear that our governor and legislators, driven by rightwing dogma
rather than by empathy and compassion for the indigent, will reject this
expansion, thereby denying coverage to an estimated 250,000 Oklahomans.
This would be an outrage.

Ultimately,
we have gotten a modest, primarily market-based insurance reform law,
one once promoted by everyone from the conservative Heritage Foundation
to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Rather
than being the bipartisan bill Romney claimed it could be, it became an
ultrapartisan bill shrouded in hyperbolic vitriol and outright
disinformation by those who wished nothing more than to see the
president fail.

It’s
time for our state’s “leadership” to put this ultra-partisanship aside,
stop playing their version of “snow day roulette,” and do their job:
Establish the exchange and expand Medicaid, thereby working toward
affordable health coverage for all Oklahomans. As Romney rightly
insinuated in 2009, health care is too important to [Oklahoma’s] economy
and families to be at the whim at such partisan grandstanding.

—Todd Fagin Oklahoma City

Bloat and potential scandal

After reading the commentary by Linda Terrell (”Changes at DHS threaten progress,” July 4, Oklahoma Gazette), I
located House Bill 2300 as passed and found disturbing issues that look
like business as usual. While much of it can be considered reasonable,
it abolishes outside oversight of child care activities, abolishes a
biannual audit of activities and establishes a new program that gives
the appearance of funneling taxpayer dollars into an already selected
pocket.

The OK
Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Program has a long list of
qualifying factors for the successful bidder that doesn’t include such
things as national recognition of workers, programs or training — but
does include a number of established factors, including an already
existing relationship with the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

Since
there is $1,500 a year per child plus other “appropriate assistance” at
stake here in one of the most incarceration-inclined states in the
nation, this may add up to real money. Since this is a new program with
no new taxes to cover it, other underfunded programs will probably be
shorted further.

The
Republican/tea party coalition came into power talking about how much
they were going to change things. The greatest observable change is the
bloat in the size of the problems and the potential for scandal.

—Clinton Wiles Oklahoma City

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