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13 January 2010

Guest Blogger: Congressman Jack Kingston

On Health Care, Government Is Not The Answer

By Congressman Jack Kingston

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have been accused of not being good listeners. They don’t listen to the American public, but they are keen listeners when it comes to what it will take to buy votes.

Senator Mary Landrieu was able to strike a deal during the healthcare debate, bring her home state of Louisiana $300 million dollars in aid, ultimately the option that made her vote in favor the of bill. And she wasn’t the only Senator who was persuaded to vote in favor of the bill by obtaining extra benefits for her state.

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska struck gold when he became the 60th and final vote needed to pass the legislation in the Senate. What made him vote yes? He was offered and accepted a permanent exemption from Nebraska’s share of Medicaid expansion. This amounts to $100 million over 10 years.

Now Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid are bringing in Members and Senators to pass health care. What baffles me is their undying faith in the federal government having the ability to run programs and get things done.

Just look at a few examples:

  • The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775, and today they are roughly $7 billion in debt and considering cutting down on delivery days.

  • Social Security was established in 1935. The federal government has had 74 years to get it right and yet the account is drained by decades of the Treasury Department borrowing money.

  • Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. Though each program has existed for 45 years, a 2009 Government Accountability Office report found upwards of $100 billion in fraud and abuse in the programs.

  • President Johnson introduced the War on Poverty in 1964 and said it would reduce poverty rates and improve living standards for America’s poor. But the poverty rate has remained steady since the 1970s.

If the federal government cannot operate these programs effectively, why should we believe it can successfully takeover health care? The fact is, it can’t.

I hope you’ll stay active and stay engaged on this important issue. I cannot support current proposals to simply place a massive new bureaucracy on top of our existing health care system. I will, however, continue to push for targeted reform like associated health plans, purchasing health insurance across state lines, tax credits, state high risk pools and medical liability reform.

Jack Kington represents Georgia's first congressional district in the 111th Congress. First elected in 1992, Kingston is currently serving in his ninth term.