I’ve heard stories about how FDR used to have “Fireside Chats” which endeared him to the nation. President Obama should don a sincere blue sweater, sit in a comfy chair by a fireplace and talk to us about how we, as a nation, will deal with the dreaded but inevitable cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. [Reforming Social Security should be handled separately as it does not add to the deficit and is funded until 2037.]
We have the best doctors and healthcare system in the world, but, we cannot afford it any longer. Our superb doctors and surgeons must be salaried with their skills and training in mind. However, is our system out-of-hand? Are some of the tests we undergo inflated in cost? IMHO, after expensive equipment is paid for and depreciation sets in, it should cost less to use them for tests. Couldn’t laboratories offer a discount to doctors and hospitals for routine tests? I have to get a PSA test every six months. I make sure that my family doctor and my oncologist don’t both order that test. I had a bone scan when my prostate cancer was diagnosed. A month later I complained to my oncologist about what seemed to be bone pain. Without skipping a beat he ordered a second bone scan which Medicare declined to pay. I am sure you have stories of your own about duplication of service. If not and you’re a baby boomer, you soon will.
Everyone is afraid that cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will mean rationing of service and, in elder cases, what is tantamount to Sarah Palin’s “death panels.” The old saying is, “Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die.” Doctors are able to advise families on the wisdom of extending life through advanced technology. Pardon my frankness, but vegetables can live a long time. I don’t want to be in my right mind hooked up to dozens of machines and having no quality of life…or hope. [I need to get a living will done.]
Mr. President, I suggest a series of chats on TV during the family hour on a suitable night of the week. Your language should be plain and re-assuring. You might confer on camera with experts in an easy conversation. You might fashion a system to allow interaction with us (our questions) through Twitter. [Robert Gibbs and Austan Goolsbee had some experience with that.] Your measured delivery and concern for our welfare would go a long way to ease into cutting Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid will be quite difficult, I imagine, because it deals with the poor. Although the middle class struggles with Medicare. Surely, behind the scenes your staff is already preparing for what must come.
Along with cuts in the budget must come a swift end to the war in Afghanistan. Am I correct that we are borrowing $2 million a day to finance that war? I’m not good with math, but, I am sure that bringing our boys and girls home will impact the deficit greatly in a positive way. Must the senseless borrowing continue until 2014? What will we have accomplished that we haven’t done in ten years?
Mr. President, the House GOP Leader, Eric Cantor was on “MorningJoe” Wednesday morning. Howard Dean asked Eric why republicans did not include cutting subsidies to the oil companies along with their talk about cutting entitlements. The question went unanswered. Will you do something about ending subsidies to oil companies? Their huge profits negate any ethical or reasonable need for subsidies. [Thanks for resuming oil drilling permits again in the Gulf.]
Of course, we need campaign finance reform along with cuts in the budget. Many of the sources of campaign money would/will be affected by anticipated cuts. If every member of Congress agreed who not to take money from in aid of reform, we finally could make some of the reforms you envisioned during the campaign.
Your healthcare bill is very complex. I doubt that many of those who oppose it can discuss it in plain language. I shudder to think what the “man on the street” might say when asked to explain what republicans derisively call Obamacare. I think the goal of explaining budget cuts in a series of chats will re-assure the nation that we can survive with smarter and more lean healthcare. It’s just a suggestion.