Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pete Sessions Wants to Take Away Your Health Care*

Pete Sessions (R-TX) sent a mailer to voters this week that advocated repealing "Obamacare." I've received tons of campaign mailers this election season. But this one got me thinking. First, Pete Sessions doesn't need to spend money on campaign mailers. His re-election is assured. Second, Sessions gave a number of arguments, most of which were either dubious or false. Third, it's what he did *not* mention that was most interesting of all.

After the jump, more about each.

Pete Sessions is headed for easy re-election, which is most ironic given the public's anti-Washington mood, especially strong in Texas. One of Pete Sessions' supporters this morning favorably retweeted a Pete Sessions' complaint against "Washington's runaway spending." That's a nice trick, getting your supporters to forget that you were in the majority passing those spending bills and earmarks for much of your time in Congress, including that TARP bank bailout that's so unpopular. Soon after, the very same supporter favorably retweeted a poll that supposedly shows that 65% of voters favor getting rid of the entire Congress and starting over. That's a nice trick, too, getting voters who favor getting rid of the entire Congress to support the incumbent, Pete Sessions. Never underestimate the foolishness of the electorate.

Pete Sessions' mailer advocating repeal of "Obamacare" focuses mostly on supposed costs, giving dubious or false claims about those costs. Sessions complains of runaway spending but ignores the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office's estimate that the health care bills passed in 2009 will *reduce* the federal deficit. ("CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting both pieces of legislation will produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion over the 2010-2019 period.") Sessions counts on voters not believing anything coming out of Washington, but somehow believing that he, a Washington career politician, is telling them the truth. Again, a nice trick.

To be fair, there's plenty of room for argument about budget forecasts 10 years out. The CBO is bipartisan, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily right. On the other hand, Sessions' partisanship almost certainly casts more doubt on his own estimates. Still, there's plenty of room to argue. What's most telling about Pete Sessions' mailer is what he doesn't argue at all, the benefits that he promises to repeal. Instead of listing the benefits and explaining why he doesn't want Americans to have them, he lumps them under the cover term "Obamacare." In big letters Sessions advocates repealing "Obamacare," but nowhere does he spell out the benefits of "Obamacare." Here are just some of the benefits that Sessions doesn't tell voters he doesn't want them to have:

  • You can't lose your insurance because you get sick
  • No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage
  • The 'donut hole' closes for Medicare patients
  • Children may no longer be excluded for pre-existing conditions
  • Children may remain on their parents' policy until they are 26
  • Insurers must cover free preventative care
  • Small businesses get a partial tax credit for what they pay for employees' health insurance
  • Insurers must publish balance sheets and disclose administrative costs and executive compensation packages

I'll believe Pete Sessions is serious about repealing "Obamacare" when he quits calling it "Obamacare" and starts spelling out specifically the health care benefits he wants to take away from Americans when he's in charge. Let him stand up at one of his town hall meetings and promise that he's going to reinstate the "donut hole" for Medicare seniors. Or that he's going to allow insurers to cancel your insurance when you get sick. Or that he's going to take away tax credits for small businesses that provide employee health insurance. See how many of his supporters applaud. Until then, Pete Sessions is all politics and only politics.

* I know, my headline is over the top. But no more so than Pete Sessions' mailer. I'm just a blogger. He's a Congressman. You should demand more from him.

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