The common good

Most Americans want Medicare and Medicaid retained, polls say. As components of the Affordable Care Act are phased in and become familiar, it, like Medicare, becomes not scary anymore. Who, after all, could read legislation that delivers 30 million new customers to private insurance companies as evidence of a socialist take-over? (See Five Obamacare Myths, Op-Ed, Bill Keller, The New York Times, July 16, 2012.) Who could lament that 438,000 children, here in Virginia, can no longer be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions? (See

If this were not an election year, our determination to improve health care delivery might be bi-partisan. But it is an election year, and the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United has enabled un-named corporations to air inflammatory assertions at an unprecedented scale. Their excuse? If allowed to succeed, the Affordable Care Act would help people, and win votes for President Obama!

Oases of reason exist. Consider the work of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, chaired by former Senator Alan Simpson, Wyoming Republican, and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat. Charged by the president to find ways to reduce the federal deficit, the commission delivered a plan spelling out hard-won recommendations to cut spending and raise taxes. The plan won bi-partisan support, but failed to pass in the Senate.

The Simpson-Bowles Plan should be re-visited, or another group of public servants will have to repeat the same hard trek. As Virginia Senator Mark Warner has said of the deficit reduction challenge, “Anybody that thinks there’s going to be a one-party solution is living in a different reality.”

As to oases here in central Virginia, you have only to think of any civic contribution you have accomplished lately working as part of a group. Local electoral boards offer an additional example of task-focused and efficient impartiality.

Hang on to temperance and independent analysis. Take responsibility sometimes for making somebody else’s idea work. For Congress and the White House, my votes go to those who steer toward the common good.

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