Health care reform could make history – just not the good kind

Suppose a ship is sailing in stormy seas and is sinking because there’s a big hole in the bottom. What to do? Well, if the captain is Harry Reid, he calls for another hole to be drilled. And while the crew is hurriedly contemplating what would be a scuttling job, he’ll shout, “Do we have 60 votes yet? Can we pass this thing now?”

No matter how irresponsible Congress has been for something like forever, how contrary to the common good politics so often is, or how far removed from reality leftist ideologies carry people, you figure some things are inconceivable. Ah, but don’t underestimate Senate Majority Leader Reid. With him at the helm, nothing is impossible.

So it is that in the fight to pass a health bill, Reid came up with the idea of extending Medicare to people as young as 55.

Apparently he forgot that with no additional costs whatsoever, Medicare’s projected costs already pose one of the gravest domestic perils this country faces.

Or maybe he didn’t forget. Maybe he never knew that Medicare has an unfunded liability of something like $38 trillion. Maybe even if he knew that, he did not understand that an unfunded liability is money you are obliged to pay out under current laws and promises.

Perhaps no one ever explained to him what this could lead to in the way of deficits and economic ruin, and maybe he doesn’t get it that extending Medicare will make the situation worse.

Perhaps he thinks some plans to reconstitute Medicare payment systems will save hundreds of billions of dollars and that this ambition will go forward whether affected older voters are happy with it or not. Someone should tell him that’s not enough.

Obviously, in the madhouse confusion that constitutes the making of laws these days, this idea could be replaced by something crazier — or even something slightly less goofy — prior to a final resolution.

When various presidents have sought the kind of semi-socialist medical system that causes so much pain and suffering in places like England, Congress has wisely stood in the way. But this time around, the determination is something on the order of fanatical.

Republicans have come up with prudent means to address the system’s worst problems without havoc or steep cost increases. The Democrats and President Barack Obama act as if nothing has been said.

History could be made here, because when incompetents enthralled with a hubristic sense of mission are leading a nation, they will often do disastrous deeds no future historian could possibly ignore.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at Speaktojay@aol.com.

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