People call me crazy for advocating single-payer not-for-profit health coverage. People need to be responsible for their own medical bills, my conservative commenters tell me. Socialized medicine would bankrupt the country, fiscally and morally.
So wrap your head around this: President Bush is asking Congress to raise the national debt limit so we (yes, we, the taxpayers) can buy up "toxic" mortgages. Price tag: $700 billion.
Seven. Hundred. Billion. Dollars.
I'm still checking to see if I misread that. Nope: NYTimes, AFP,... $700 billion.
The cost of seven million houses like mine.
Hundreds of thousands of people bought more house than they needed, more house than they could afford. Hundreds of banks, smart folks with MBAs, ignored sensible lending procedures and extended credit to bad risks. And a Republican President calls on us to erase accountability and, in contravention of everything fiscal conservatives and Mom taught us, to eat something (in this case, debt) clearly labeled "toxic."
To make things worse, I think the Democrats in Congress will go along with it, tacking on some goodies rather than standing against bad fiscal policies.
$700 billion. That's over two years, so it's not as bad as it sounds [smirk]. But for perspective, here's how much President Bush asked to spend this fiscal year on various projects:
- "Security" (Defense, Homeland, etc.): $553.9 billion
- "Global War on Terror" supplement: $145.2 billion
- Health & Human Services: $69.3 billion
- Education: $56.0 billion
- Veterans: $39.4 billion
- NASA: $17.3 billion
Maybe we can't afford to sit on our hands (and our wallets). Maybe a general financial collapse and Depression would be worse practically than buying out the mortgage meatheads.
But for all the money we're spending to erase other people's mistakes, it's time we get something more in return than staving off a theoretical economic downturn. Let's get creative and combine these bail-outs with a national service program. I want some bankers over here mowing my lawn. Let's see AIG investors out shoveling snow for little old ladies. Let's see Bear Stearns brokers hauling garbage. Let's see the bankers and homeowners we rescue working off their debt by filling potholes and putting in 10 hours a week with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable houses.
When even Jimmy Kimmel can muster the brainpower to joke that the Bush Administration is turning to socialism, something is seriously out of whack. Talk about fiscal and moral bankruptcy: by my count, we're headed for a trillion dollars to buy out big business. At this rate, forget universal health care; we won't even be able to afford combat boots.