Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Republicans Are Not Their Brothers' Keepers

When a respected insurance man supports Obama's Affordable Care Act it's worth listening. The question he leaves us with is this: Why is the national Chamber of Commerce working so hard to screw over small businesses across the country?

Obama's healthcare reform would help small businesses keep their employees healthy at an affordable cost. It would also help the people who they do business with, the people who buy their goods. Their average customer would have fewer financial worries, fewer health worries, and would be a better consumer with more dollars to spend. Why do Republicans oppose something that would boost the Main Street economy?

There's a moral dimension to this too. Society is responsible for its most vulnerable members. It isn't an optional responsibility, but the Republican position gives the richest Minnesotans an opt-out clause. They pay lower tax rates than the rest of us now. Rather than put their taxes back where they were under former Republican governors, the Republicans in the legislator would rather cut the poor and the sick off entirely. An extreme position opposed by most Minnesotans, and rightly so. But they are standing firm on it. Better to lose thousands of poor people than inconvenience the wealthiest members of our society.

I'm reminded of a famous quote: "Let them die then and reduce the surplus population." It was Scrooge who said that, but it might just as well be a modern Republican.

These new Republicans (so different from the old moderate Republicans) manage to put a smile on their faces and dress nicely, so the unsuspecting, inattentive voters don't imagine what their policies really mean. They go to church on Sunday and worship Jesus, but the rest of the week they forget the Sermon on the Mount and their Christian responsibility to the poor.

What's more sacred is their solemn promise to very very rich people to keep their tax rates lower than everybody else's, even yours and mine. How is this good politics? How is it good business? How is it consistent with Minnesota values?

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