Fun happenings in the Minnesota Senate this week.
Tuesday, there was a health care debate. Specifically, health care for the poor. Senator David Hann, a Republican from Eden Prairie, introduced a plan to move 15,000 of these folks, all single adults, off of the Human Services plan, called MinnesotaCare, and give them vouchers so they could buy health care insurance themselves.
Hann said this will give these adults better health care, it would be cheaper for the state, they would have more choices, and Minnesota would no longer be in the health care business.
Now comes the fun part…
Senator Barb Goodwin, a Democratic-Farm-Labor party member, wanted to add an amendment. Because of the praise being heaped on this bill, she thought the legislative members should try the plan first, for two years, as a test. Then, if it worked well, they could start taking people off the rolls of MinnesotaCare.
According to the MinnPost.com, this stunned the Senate. Silence greeted her amendment. A rookie Senator was actually offended that the legislature would be asked to test something they wanted their constituents to do!
Is this how far away from average people legislative members have come? The people they want to push this plan on are the same people who elected them into office. If the plan is good enough for them, then why isn’t it good enough for the State Senate?
I believe this situation happens again and again, every day, from the local to the federal level of government. Legislation is passed by people we elect into office. Many have the attitude of ‘we know what is good for you better than you do.’ They don’t listen to their constituents. They make campaign promises with little intention of keeping them, yet blame it on having to compromise.
The federal health care package is an example. Since the law passed in March of 2010, weekly polls have been taken asking Americans if they think the law should or should not be repealed. The weekly percentage of people who think it should be repealed ranges from 50 to 63. Are the legislatures voting the way the American people want them to? Fifty-five incumbents we voted out of office in November 2010. Does anyone wonder why?
This type of thing happens often for almost every elected body. It has even happened here in my home owners association, recently on replacing mailboxes.
We live in a neighbourhood that has very strict standards, with everything from outdoor paint colours to landscaping needing approval from the board. We have no choice in mailboxes, they are all the same. The current style fits in well with the rural aspect of our community.
Last year, against home owners approval, the board members voted to approve new style mailboxes that must be installed by some random date in 2013. Now, in this economy, when some of our neighbours are struggling to even put food on the table, we all have to come up with $160 to replace mailboxes that home owners don’t even like or want.
My point is not whether the Minnesota Senators should try the health care plan, or whether Obama care should be repealed, or even whether our community should get new mailboxes
For the record, I don’t like the style of the new ones and I don’t think they fit in with the rural character of community. If the board would enforce the current covenants regarding keeping the mailboxes in good repair, I don’t think the mailbox issue would even had come up. But, I digress…
My point is elected officials rarely seem to listen to the people who voted them into office. Yet, we have kept voting the same one into office. 2010 was a wake up call to elected officials, or at least I hope it was. They need to start listening!
I also think all elected officials should be held to the same benefits their constituents are. If they pass laws for the average person, it should apply to them also. If they vote to freeze pay for workers, their pay should get frozen too. If they vote to lower the amount of Social Security or raise the retirement age, the same should happen to them.
Members of Congress can retire at age 50, with full benefits, if they have served for 20 years! 20 years! I’ve worked full-time for almost 30 years and yet I have to wait almost another 20 until I can collect Social Security. That’s if they don’t raise the retirement age yet again. And I won’t be getting anywhere near the amount of retirement pay they do. In 2006, 290 retired members of Congress were receiving an average retirement pay of almost $61,000. I think I’m eligible for under half that much if I retired now. But I wouldn’t be able to collect it for a long while.
It’s time for elected officials to really start representing the people who elected them instead of just giving lip service to them. But, in the immortal words of Dennis Miller, “That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”