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Foxx crosses line of decency

by Jim Longworth

Unlike some incumbent politicians who won’t appear on my ‘Triad Today’ television program because I have criticized their stands on the issues, Rep. Virginia Foxx has never refused a chance to spar with me on camera.

She is also the hardest working woman in Washington, by Jim and is fiercely dedicated to Longworth her constituents. That’s why I columnist have continued to admire her despite our differences over such matters as when to bring the troops home from Iraq. That’s why I cut her some slack after she apologized for saying that efforts to portray the murder of Matthew Shepard as a hate crime, were nothing but a “hoax.”

But last week, Foxx made a deliberate, scripted plea in opposition to the president’s health care plan that can only be described as morbid. Said Foxx, “Republicans have a better solution that… is pro life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.” Foxx’s unconscionable statement was an indecent attempt to frighten voters into thinking that Obama and the Democrats were in favor of euthanizing elderly people. In fact, the House plan as written merely provides Medicare coverage for hospice services, and for counseling on end of life issues, including living wills. Unfortunately, Foxx is not the sole offender in the debate over health care.

Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey said, “If the healthcare reform bill is enacted, it will lead to millions of additional deaths to children, and millions of mothers will be wounded.” Smith defended his alarmist claim by saying that Obama’s bill would require health insurance companies to cover abortions. First of all, that’s not what the bill says, and second, CNN reports that more than 80 perecent of insurance companies already cover termination surgeries anyway, so there is no reason to believe a rise in deaths would occur under any reform bill. And then there’s good old Richard Burr who stated over the weekend that the Democrats’ healthcare bill would “decimate North Carolina’s economy.” Burr has introduced his own version of reform, which includes taxing health benefits and leaving insurance companies free to drop us whenever they see fit. Thanks, Richard. I’m sure that wealthy Blue Cross executives appreciate your effort. The practice of political hyberbole is nothing new in Washington, especially with regards to social and medical related legislation. According to WhatifPost.com, the American Medical Association invented the term “socialized medicine” in the early 1900s in order to help defeat FDR’s efforts to put a health care provision in his Social Security bill. Congressmen both then and now have relied on money and talking points from lobbyists such as the AMA, so it’s no wonder that as far back as 1920, HL Menken wrote, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” By the 1960s the AMA was at it again when they poured money into a misinformation campaign to oppose Medicare. Their spokesperson was Ronald Reagan, who frightened people into thinking that Medicare would lead to a totalitarian government.

Today, thanks to lobbyists and toelected officials like Foxx and Smith, the general electorate is onceagain being thoroughly confused and frightened about health care.Believe me, I am no fan of Obama and Pelosi. They have cavedin on important initiatives, and thrown money at Wall Street like wehad it to spend. But giving credit where credit is due, the Democrats’health care plan is the right prescription for a broken system.According to Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, the US has the mostexpensive health care system in the world, and is also the leasteffective in terms of public health outcomes. In fact, our healthcaresystem is ranked 37 th in the world. The Obama plan would go a long waytoward correcting those problems. Yes, it insures the 46 millionAmericans who currently have no coverage, but it also helps everyoneelse. It mandates affordable premiums. It won’t allow insurancecompanies to drop you if you get sick. It prohibits caps on coverage,so that those of us with catastrophic illnesses who have always paidour premiums won’t be left without care when we really need it. Itwon’t allow insurance companies to disqualify us for pre-existingconditions. And, it will guarantee that we won’t lose our healthinsurance if we lose our job or change jobs. Clearly, anyone who hasour best interests at heart can’t possibly oppose these vital reforms. Sowhy are Republican members of Congress fighting to retain adiscriminatory, inefficient system? The answer is because they alreadyhave affordable health care coverage, lifelong pensions and fortunes inperks, which keep growing as long as they stay in power. Andthe people who keep them in power are the lobbyists who oppose anythreat to the status quo. It’s just one more reason why we need termlimits on the Federal level. In the meantime, we’re stuck witha corrupted system of governing. Simply put, people in power want tostay in power. But do we really want to keep electing people to officewho will do or say anything to stay there?

Speaking at a symposium inLincoln, Neb. in 2006, University of Michigan professors Arthur Lupiaand Jesse Menning explained the basis for this recurring phenomena:“Politicians can use fear to achieve self-serving outcomes (or suboptimal policies) that are bad for voters.  Init, a politician provides information about a threat. His statementneed not be true.”

I am sorry to say that Foxx has now fallen firmlyinto that characterization. No doubt she believes what she says isright, and that is the sad thing about this fiasco, and about the womanwho has worked so tirelessly for people of the 5th District. Foxx owesus all an apology for her euthanasia remarks, then she owes us thecourtesy of stepping down after her term is up.

JimLongworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m.on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cablechannel 15).

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