I had a little feedback from a story that ran in Friday's Daily News when I said that "what was on the verge of an angry mob" turned out to give their opinion about health-care reform.
One caller was upset with the terminology "angry mob". Quite possibly, the reason I used the language "on the verge of an angry mob" was because that was exactly how I felt about the proposals now being discussed in Washington. If you had cloned about 80 of me and put me into a room you would have had, well - an angry mob.
That's not to say that everyone felt that way at the meeting Thursday at the Iowa Lakes Community College auditorium. The people were indeed polite and well-behaved. However, it was obvious there was an undercurrent of anger running through the room. Would everyone call that "on the verge of an angry mob?" I guess that's a matter of interpretation. Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, and I apologize for that.
The same caller assumed I was a Democrat because of the article, an assumption which totally baffles me. I love guns and I hate paying taxes and I wish the government would get off my back. I guess I probably take about as much offense at being considered a Democrat as the caller did when I wrote that the group Thursday was "on the verge of an angry mob".
Personally, I was one of the biggest advocates of health-care reform a few decades ago when the proposal on the table was to make affordable health care available to everyone. I thought that was a fantastic idea. But to make health care mandatory, and to remove the deductibility of the employee match of employer health benefits to pay for others' health care, is simply unfair.
I personally took a $15,000 yearly cut in pay to take a job that offered health benefits. If that deductibility is taken away, I could just as well go back to doing what I was before, make another $15,000 a year, and get in on this great, new affordable health insurance the government is going to offer us.
Another problem I have with the government getting into the health insurance business is that it threatens the insurance industry. As the former editor of field communications at Aid Association for Lutherans (now Thrivent), I became adequately acquainted with the industry to understand that the revenue stream from insurance premiums helps insurance companies pay interest on annuities. It's plain and simple microeconomics.
If the government competes with the insurance industry and puts it out of business, will Washington come along and bail out that industry too?
Anyway, the two questions I asked congressman Latham dealt with those two issues - taking away insurance deductibility and the total lack of any consideration by Washington as to what impact a government plan would have on the insurance industry. I do not think those were Democratic questions.
To be perfectly honest, I don't think there were enough questions from the "other side" - or those in favor of the government plan.
Probably the closest came from one constituent who offered concern about those who don't have health insurance and have to pay the full rate because they don't have the bargaining power that insurance companies do to negotiate down rates.
Latham's response was there was a movement toward a uniform claim and that people who don't have insurance go to the emergency room and that "the hospital eats it."
I do think Latham skirted the issue that the person was addressing. I also think Latham's answer was a bit of a slap in the face of those people who don't have insurance and don't go the emergency room and who are responsible citizens and pay their bills. Those were probably the people the person was thinking about.
And I think it's pretty big of me as a Republican to admit that.
I don't believe the obvious subterfuge of anger at Thursday's meeting was necessarily about health care per se. Rather, I think it was about people being upset about the government cramming this whole health-care plan down their throats. They're afraid that big government is getting out of control.
And everyone - Democrat, Republican and independent - should be concerned about that.