Health care spending – Harry Reid style

October 07, 2009 05:00 am

Why does expanding Uncle Sam’s control of health care make so many people nervous?

This question has many answers, some reasonable and some less so. Count Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., among the former.

The Senate majority leader, according to a story in today’s Curry Coastal Pilot, is attempting to grab more Medicaid money for his home state. Because of the way it’s written, his proposal – tacked onto health reform legislation – would also help three other states, including Oregon. The extra money would be welcome, to be sure. But what’s going on?

Reid is up for re-election next year, and his prospects are uncertain. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, in fact, Reid trails not one, but two Republican challengers. One of these, state GOP chair Sue Lowden, has a 10 percentage point lead. And what do struggling incumbents always do to prove their value to voters? They bring home the bacon, of course.

It's nice to pretend that Congress will expand its reach into the world of health care rationally, allocating money only where it’s needed and working in good faith to rein in costs. But Reid is living proof that power drives spending, that political considerations trump all else.

Besides, if this is how congresspeople behave when health care reform hangs in the balance and the public is watching, just imagine what will happen the moment the pressure's off.

— Wescom Wire Service