By the time you read this, we will know the results of the Minnesota state caucuses. I hope you all attended and enjoyed the grassroots style of politics that the caucus offers us, and, that your candidate won. Most of all, I hope that the candidate who did win our delegates and our votes will follow through on all their campaign pledges. Let’s hold them to their words. If after the election, the candidates do not follow through on their word, let’s write them and remind them of what they promised all of us.
In the Saturday, February 2, 2008, edition of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, there was an article discussing what’s going on at the capital concerning health care issues, and describing the work of a group that Christian Knights talks about in his front page article in this issue, “Plenty of Work to Do.” Representative Huntley (DFL from Duluth), co-chair of the legislative commission on health care access, seems to think that Minnesota is about to make health care history. Rep. Huntley said, “I think we’re making dramatic steps towards changing…our sick care system into a health care system.” Governor Pawlenty has appointed another group to make recommendations on health care reform, and it sounds like both groups are on the same track. Senator Berglund (DFL from Minneapolis), said there is momentum on health care reform right now that will not last forever. She is suggesting, I believe, that it’s not going to be an easy task, but the time is right for real reform. On the other hand, Senator John Marty (DFL from Roseville), has said the recommendations to the governor from his commission didn’t go far enough. So it is possible that legislators are going to butt heads—and we all know what that means: little or nothing will happen. So, If Sen. Berglund is right, maybe there will be some real reform. I hope she’s right, and she is right far more often than many.
It’s awfully worrisome when the first thing you hear on a Monday morning is that President Bush’s budget has been released and that he’s cut Medicare and Medicaid by $200 billion. Senator Berglund talks about momentum; this news sure seems to take the momentum out of any kind of health care reform. It’s hard to imagine any way to make President Bush’s ’09 budget work other than by slashing programs. It is, by the way, the largest federal budget ever. I think it’s time for a new president who is truly dedicated to an agenda of fiscal responsibility—and not at the cost of the middle class or working poor. Tax credits for the services that the middle class and working poor use certainly would be a good start. Also, putting money into the pockets of the middle class and working poor, with jobs, is another good way to get the economy back on the right track. That is why the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act (H.R. 1279) is so important. I employ these professionals, and there are not many of them that I know who own stocks or have much in savings accounts. These, too, are some of the people that need public transportation, and ultimately support public transportation with their purchasing power. These are also often, like many of us, people who cannot afford preventive health care, and end up in emergency rooms costing two or three times what preventive care would have cost.
Finally, let’s work for a president and senator who will stop the war. It hasn’t stopped terrorism, and it’s now killed more Americans than 9/11 did. It’s also added more than 150,000 people with disabilities to the population. If the amputations, brain injuries, psychological trauma, blindness, and spinal cord injuries had been caused by Osama bin Laden, we’d be traumatized as a society. Instead, we’re leaving thousands of men and women soldiers to be traumatized by a unwanted—and obscenely expensive—war. Let’s give peace a chance.