Sunday, April 5, 2009

Congress Rebukes Wrong Party

Congress rebuked President Obama for not providing revenue to pay for health care reform in his ten year budget. Doesn't Congress have the power of the purse? Taxing wealthy people at rates imposed under Ronald Reagan produce cries of socialism and communism.

How do the wealthy respond? James A. Baker III recommended postponing health care reform on Fareed Zakaria GPS. Baker was recently in Russia looking to lock up oil and gas deals. Was he doing so on behalf of the Carlyle Group's Riverstone Holdings?

Another billionaire Pete Peterson continued his campaign to lower taxes on the rich. Mr. Peterson made his wealth via the Blackstone Group, a private equity underwriter (PEU). He took profits from selling a chunk of his firm and started the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. It wants government to cut retirement and health care programs. Tim Geithner recently pandered to Mr. Peterson at a Council for Foreign Relations meeting.

Geithner also gave a hat-tip to Peterson that may rankle some of Peterson's critics on the left, who oppose his push to cut spending on Social Security and Medicare.

"We are all fiscal hawks now because of Pete Peterson," Geithner said, at least half-joking. "There are no doves left."

Neither Baker or Peterson want to pay more taxes. Congress is scared to ask the super rich or American branded global corporations to pay more. For the last four years ExxonMobil could've paid all unpaid hospital bills for the prior year and had $10 billion in profits leftover.

Despite widespread public demand for help with health care coverage, there's no political will to fund reform. Coverage costs are a fraction of the $13 trillion in financial system rescue funds, yet Congress won't ask business or the wealthy to step up.

Ex-Triad Hospital CEO Denny Shelton offered to pay for his Medicare coverage, but not much more. The offer came after he grossed $42 million in the sale of his company. Incidentally, Health Care Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle pocketed $1.4 million in the same deal. Prior to her White House appointment, Ms. DeParle was a PEU.

There are no doves left. Hawks and a chickenshit Congress rule the health care roost.