Advice for Governor Otter and the Idaho Legislature from Idaho Mountain Express:
They need to talk about the elephants in the room, including the de facto zero sales tax on sales of goods on the Internet and taxes on gasoline that haven't been increased since 1996.
The first is grossly unfair to bricks-and-mortar retailers who must charge sales taxes on goods while Internet merchants gain the advantage of being able to charge less.
The second is stupidly shortsighted.
State departments and commissions on the chopping block have quickly found ways to stave off their demise for now.
But nothing will save education and the services needed by Idaho's weakest citizens unless Otter and legislators take off the political blinders, roll up their sleeves and do what businesses and families do every day: Figure out palatable ways to bring more money through the door.
Won't happen. Won't happen because stupidly shortsighted is apparently a sacred mantra for Idaho leaders. As we speak, the governor and legislators are hoarding money on the off chance they'll need to tell the federal government to shove its health care reform. And not to shove health care reform for them. They've already got theirs. They want to tell the federal government to shove health care reform on behalf of every other Idaho citizen.
What they don't like—what they are stockpiling our money to fight—is a mandate that everyone buy insurance, never mind that they are already enforcing their own insurance mandates on Idahoans. (Apparently they don't like the feds creepin' on their corner.)
In very simple terms the problem is this: if you don't require that everyone buy insurance but you do require that companies insure everyone with preexisting conditions and not drop anyone when they get sick, the price of health insurance will go through the roof. Companies simply will not take on the cost of paying millions of claims for the less healthy without increasing premiums, co-pays or deductibles for everyone. There has to be a larger pool of generally healthy people in the mix.
And that is why those who understood it were demanding that a public option be included in any health care reform package. If you are going to require that everyone buy a policy, you have to give them a choice. A choice that includes something besides the crappy policies currently offered by the insurance company monopoly. A choice of buying into a not-for-profit pool if it meets their needs.
It would be like having a freeway system alongside a toll road system. One built and maintained by the government and one built and maintained by private companies. Those who like the private route and find that it gets them where they want to go, can take that road. For those who don't, there is an alternative route.
A requirement that everyone take the toll road would be insane, yet that is exactly what a mandate without a public option does. On the other hand, if the toll road is going to be the only route available, without a mandate very few will be able to afford even getting on the road. But yet, it was the public "freeway system" that was demonized as "socialism" by those trying to scare people and score political points.
Idaho, those are your "leaders"—your Congressional Delegation, your Governor and your Legislature—advocating a toll road-only option for you, because they obviously know best. And on your behalf, hoarding money so they can tell the federal government where to shove your health care reform.
Nothing ever tasted so bitter.