Spend 100 Billion Bucks a Year...For Health Care or Afghanistan.....You Choose.

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    Nov 12, 2009 3:10 PM GMT
    America’s Defining Choice
    By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
    President Obama and Congress will soon make defining choices about health care and troops for Afghanistan.

    These two choices have something in common — each has a bill of around $100 billion per year. So one question is whether we’re better off spending that money blowing up things in Helmand Province or building up things in America.

    The total bill in Afghanistan has been running around $1 million per year per soldier deployed there. That doesn’t include the long-term costs that will be incurred in coming decades — such as disability benefits, or up to $5 million to provide round-the-clock nursing care indefinitely for a single soldier who suffers brain injuries.

    So if President Obama dispatches another 30,000 or 40,000 troops, on top of the 68,000 already there, that would bring the total annual bill for our military presence there to perhaps $100 billion — or more. And we haven’t even come to the human costs.

    As for health care reforms, the 10-year cost suggests an average of $80 billion to $110 billion per year, depending on what the final bill looks like.

    Granted, the health care costs will continue indefinitely, while the United States cannot sustain 100,000 troops in Afghanistan for many years. On the other hand, the health care legislation pays for itself, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while the deployment in Afghanistan is unfinanced and will raise our budget deficits and undermine our long-term economic security.

    So doesn’t it seem odd to hear hawks say that health reform is fiscally irresponsible, while in the next breath they cheer a larger deployment of troops in Afghanistan?

    Meanwhile, lack of health insurance kills about 45,000 Americans a year, according to a Harvard study released in September. So which is the greater danger to our homeland security, the Taliban or our dysfunctional insurance system?

    Who are these Americans who die for lack of insurance? Dr. Linda Harris, an ob-gyn in Oregon tells of Sue, a 31-year-old patient of hers. Sue was a single mom who worked hard — sometimes two jobs at once — to ensure that her beloved daughter would enjoy a better life.

    Sue’s jobs never provided health insurance, and Sue felt she couldn’t afford to splurge on herself to get gynecological checkups. For more than a dozen years, she never had a Pap smear, although one is recommended annually. Even when Sue began bleeding and suffering abdominal pain, she was reluctant to see a doctor because she didn’t know how she would pay the bills.

    Finally, Sue sought help from a hospital emergency room, and then from the low-cost public clinic where Dr. Harris works. Dr. Harris found that Sue had advanced cervical cancer. Three months later, she died. Her daughter was 13.

    “I get teary whenever I think about her,” Dr. Harris said. “It was so needless.”

    Cervical cancer has a long preinvasive stage that can be detected with Pap smears, and then effectively treated with relatively minor procedures, Dr. Harris said.

    “People talk about waiting lines in Canada,” Dr. Harris added. “I say, well, at least they have a line to wait in.”

    Based on the numbers from the Harvard study, a person like Sue dies as a consequence of lack of health care coverage every 12 minutes in America. As many people die every three weeks from lack of health insurance as were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

    Health coverage is becoming steadily more precarious as companies try to cut costs and insurance companies boost profits by denying claims and canceling coverage of people who get sick. I grew up on a farm in Yamhill, Ore., where we sometimes had greased pig contests. I’m not sure which is harder: getting a good grip on a greased hog or wrestling with an insurance company trying to avoid paying a claim it should.

    Joe Lieberman, a pivotal vote in the Senate, says he recognizes that there are problems and would like reform, but he denounces “another government health insurance entitlement, the government going into the health insurance business.” Look out — it sounds as if Mr. Lieberman is planning to ax Medicare.

    The health reform legislation in Congress is imperfect, of course. It won’t do enough to hold down costs; it may restrict access even to private insurance coverage for abortion services; it won’t do enough to address public health or unhealthy lifestyles.

    Likewise, troop deployment plans in Afghanistan are imperfect. Some experts think more troops will help. Others think they will foster a nationalist backlash and feed the insurgency (that’s my view).

    So where’s the best place to spend $100 billion a year? Is it on patrols in Helmand? Or is it to refurbish our health care system so that people like Sue don’t die unnecessarily every 12 minutes?
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    Nov 12, 2009 5:50 PM GMT
    In the U.S., we've gone from 5% of the folks controlling 95% of the wealth in 1987 to 1% controlling that same wealth now. Those same wealthly one percent have given their CEOs a 649% pay increase since 1987, but...real wages have declined since Reagan was in office, while the military industrial complex spending on preemptive actions against an imagined enemy have taken the budget surplus of The Clinton Presidency and put the country in incredible debt all to line the pockets of the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater while actually increasing the risks of attacks from foreigners. We leave our sick and injured to fend for themselves, yet, Bell Helicopter gets 1 BILLION for a new presidential chopper (which President Obama stopped dead in its tracks). The Republican spend-fest and the fleecing of the middle class has to stop.
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    Nov 12, 2009 5:55 PM GMT
    Or Obama can just print more money and inflate his way out of this!

    Isn't that what happened in the Weimar Republic and the 1920s?
  • tas_515

    Posts: 133

    Nov 12, 2009 5:58 PM GMT
    The inconvenient truth is that we need both. Unfortunately, the enemy in Afghanistan is not imagined, and health care is not a luxury that we can allow anyone in the U.S. to forego. For our sake and that of our children and grandchildren, please choose both, and please be prepared to pay higher taxes as a result. False choices are lies.
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    Nov 12, 2009 6:15 PM GMT
    tas_515 saidThe inconvenient truth is that we need both. Unfortunately, the enemy in Afghanistan is not imagined, and health care is not a luxury that we can allow anyone in the U.S. to forego. For our sake and that of our children and grandchildren, please choose both, and please be prepared to pay higher taxes as a result. False choices are lies.



    it's when i hear statements like "for the sake of our children and grandchildren" and it's related to fighting a war in a country in which no foreign government ever won a war, and in which the government that is supported by the US is deeply corrupt and essentially stealing money from your children and grandchildren, that i start to question the very validity of any statement that you are making, aside from the hysterical tone of "children and grandchildren" overall.

    get the hell out of the war you can't win! legalize drugs and cut the money supply to the terrorist organizations in the area. boom, you win the war. then spend the money you saved and made by taxing the drugs on treating the addictions.
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    Nov 12, 2009 6:38 PM GMT
    chuckystud saidIn the U.S., we've gone from 5% of the folks controlling 95% of the wealth in 1987 to 1% controlling that same wealth now. Those same wealthly one percent have given their CEOs a 649% pay increase since 1987, but...real wages have declined since Reagan was in office, while the military industrial complex spending on preemptive actions against an imagined enemy have taken the budget surplus of The Clinton Presidency and put the country in incredible debt all to line the pockets of the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater while actually increasing the risks of attacks from foreigners. We leave our sick and injured to fend for themselves, yet, Bell Helicopter gets 1 BILLION for a new presidential chopper (which President Obama stopped dead in its tracks). The Republican spend-fest and the fleecing of the middle class has to stop.


    They'll conveniently come back with the fact that the top 1% pays 39% of income tax. What they'll never tell you is what the tax as a percentage of income statistics are.

    We should be spending this money on health care. The fact that, in this country, any middle class citizen you see walking down the street is just one illness away from bankruptcy is appalling.
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    Nov 12, 2009 6:40 PM GMT
    Pianist said

    They'll conveniently come back with the fact that the top 1% pays 39% of income tax. What they'll never tell you is what the percentage of income statistics are.


    Well if they have 95% of the wealth they should be paying a lot more than 39% of the total tax, no?
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    Nov 12, 2009 6:42 PM GMT
    Lostboy said
    Pianist said

    They'll conveniently come back with the fact that the top 1% pays 39% of income tax. What they'll never tell you is what the percentage of income statistics are.


    Well if they have 95% of the wealth they should be paying a lot more than 39% of the total tax, no?


    That's exactly my point. Despite the talking points, wealth inequality has sharply increased over the last 30 years.

    Afghanistan is a money pit. The population is so dispersed that it's next to impossible to get any real security without a force many times the size of our current military. Political reform isn't in the future, either. We are abusing our military. I have friends that have made two or three tours and are expected to return. The war is a very poor investment in the country.
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    Nov 12, 2009 6:49 PM GMT
    Screw the war...the point of Obama being president is also to fix our domestic affairs...any president's job is to focus on that, before he dives into anything else. The war is only going to cause more economic stagnation as as the Iraq War did...I vote healthcare is where it should go.
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    Nov 12, 2009 10:41 PM GMT
    If we had the luxury of a cut and dried easy choice I'd definately go with spending the money here on healthcare. But we don't, we've got a mess in afghanistan and something has to be done. A few weeks ago it appeared to me that Obama was going to go whole hog with the neocon war hawks that just have "winning" on their minds. they cannot seem to tell us what we win exactly in clear terms. They say, 'support our troops' well how the hell is it supporting our troops to send more in to die under these shaky circumstances with the crooked government bush put in and started propping up under Karsai and his crooked brother. (excuse me !!! Just now I watched a news piece about our wounded vets playing basketball with Obama in wheelchairs because most of them there had no legs from this war, my eyes teared up, these guys are courageous) Well now I see that Obama has rejected the status quo "send more troops' requests and the options the military is trying to forward. He is asking for other options, like the ones offered by Matt Hoh a Marine and state dept official who resigned to oppose sending more troops, and the current Ambassador, a retired military general under Bush, both of whom say we should 'support our troops' by not following the status quo by just sending more troops. They both say our troops being there is whats bringing about the talaban popularity and their increased recruitment. They want Obama to take ahold of a completely different strategy for the sake of our troops and the saving of American treasure. I have a strong feeling we will be proud of our President for taking his time in deciding cautiously what to do. So in the end, I am hoping that more will be spent here at home rather than just to continue an open ended war.
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    Nov 12, 2009 10:43 PM GMT
    Maybe im crazy... couldnt we just not spend the money?
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    Nov 12, 2009 11:01 PM GMT
    You would be hard pressed to find someone in healthcare that doesn’t want this.
    “at least they have a line to stand in”
    I need to start using this.
    I’m tired of people talking about the lines in Canada and the waits for specialist; never saying how long a wait is here.
    I had to wait 4 weeks to see a dermatologist.

    Do we really need to be in Afghanistan…do we… really?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Afghanistan_Pipeline


    Why is there an add against Health Care reform on this thread...WTF
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    Nov 12, 2009 11:04 PM GMT
    ISOLATE and the hell with the rest of the world....take care of our own people first...so much for anything imported from anyplace, huh? LOL!
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    Nov 14, 2009 3:44 PM GMT
    Actually, that's more than a bit clueless. Logan, who is 20 years old, unemployed (not by choice), and a type 1 diabetic who lives with me. Because he's over 19 he's NOT eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is generally for minors. Now, in Texas, there's a public option, but, by law, it's not permitted to compete, and MUST, by law, be higher priced than the majority of the insurance market. It's operated for the state by Blue Cross, and can't deny insurance because Logan has type 1 diabetes, which happened through no bad behavior on his part. However, Logan has to pay into the fund for a period of 1 year, before he can get anything out. So, now, he's 20, unemployed, and has insulin that runs $108.25 (he uses one jug every 9 days or so) a jug a Walmart (28.25 in Canada) and supplies that run over $700 a month. Logan is bright, and ambitious, but, has his limits. Now, given that his medical costs, ALONE, are nearly $1300 monthly. Of course, don't forget, in our order to get insurance, he also needs to pay about $500 a month into the Texas Risk Pool and get nothing back, for a period of one year, bringing his costs to self-insurance to $1800.00 monthly. That's before he eats, pay his rents, OR SEES A DOCTOR.

    Your lack of knowledge of the Real World is mind blowing. Your sense of responsibility in the bigger picture is astounding. So wrapped up in I,I,I,me,me,me, that you've forget any sense of the responsibility to "The Village."

    Universal health care has been working in Europe for in some cases for 140 years (since the 1880s), delivering health care to everyone at a lower price, and performing care before problems get big. All regular countries have had universal health care since after World War II.

    Now, in this country, don't be sick, nor injured, because you're on your own. You might lose your life's savings to a millionaire doctor, or to a corporate group who has a 100 million dollar a year CEO who takes 30% of health care billings to be the middle man. In this country, if you call the fire department, they don't say "how will you pay today?" They come put the fire out before it burns down the neighborhood. Same goes for the library, police, schools, roads, etc. We have a large number of social programs from Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, police, fire, schools, emergency services, national parks, you name it. This is hardly a new idea.

    No person should lose a leg, or be injured, or sick, and left untreated. The real death committees in this country are the insurance companies. They do it every day to maximize shareholder returns on investment.

    Folks like you exemplify a terrible thing that some folks have become. So wrapped up in selfishness, that they have forgotten how to be decent humans. That goes beyond sad. It's deplorable. You would do well to take a lesson from more advanced folks in regular countries.
  • ATLANTIS7

    Posts: 1213

    Nov 14, 2009 3:53 PM GMT
    The Russians spent 19 years in Afghanistan and they pulled out and nothing changed? Leave it to the Talaban because the govt there is corrupt and always will be! So lets all get a life ok!


    No more American or other soldiers being sent back in body bags?

    At least if the Taliban is there we willl all know where the terrorists are ok!
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    Nov 14, 2009 3:56 PM GMT
    This country is so F*cked.

    It's just nice that I stopped hearing "well he's cleaning up from Bush"
    hahaha
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    Nov 14, 2009 3:56 PM GMT
    Killing 100,000s of folks in the Mid East, and meddling in their local affairs has only served to further their disdain for us.

    We've lined the pockets of the military industrial complex on the backs of American military personnel and their families in two preemptive wars that cannot be won no matter how you define "winning." It's an endless pit of pain and suffering for all those involved except the military industrial complex.

    That money would be much better spent on our schools, roadways, health care, and other critically needed infrastructure.

    We should have never gone, and we need to get out.
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    Nov 14, 2009 3:58 PM GMT
    Healthcare for vets and fucking nuke the creaicon_neutral.gifvace between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • ATLANTIS7

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    Nov 14, 2009 3:59 PM GMT
    chuckystud saidKilling 100,000s of folks in the Mid East, and meddling in their local affairs has only served to further their disdain for us.

    We've lined the pockets of the military industrial complex on the backs of American military personnel and their families in two preemptive wars that cannot be won no matter how you define "winning." It's an endless pit of pain and suffering for all those involved except the military industrial complex.

    That money would be much better spent on our schools, roadways, health care, and other critically needed infrastructure.

    We should have never gone, and we need to get out.

    YES charity begins at HOME!!!!
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    Nov 14, 2009 4:00 PM GMT
    Pianist said
    chuckystud saidIn the U.S., we've gone from 5% of the folks controlling 95% of the wealth in 1987 to 1% controlling that same wealth now. Those same wealthly one percent have given their CEOs a 649% pay increase since 1987, but...real wages have declined since Reagan was in office, while the military industrial complex spending on preemptive actions against an imagined enemy have taken the budget surplus of The Clinton Presidency and put the country in incredible debt all to line the pockets of the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater while actually increasing the risks of attacks from foreigners. We leave our sick and injured to fend for themselves, yet, Bell Helicopter gets 1 BILLION for a new presidential chopper (which President Obama stopped dead in its tracks). The Republican spend-fest and the fleecing of the middle class has to stop.


    They'll conveniently come back with the fact that the top 1% pays 39% of income tax. What they'll never tell you is what the tax as a percentage of income statistics are.

    We should be spending this money on health care. The fact that, in this country, any middle class citizen you see walking down the street is just one illness away from bankruptcy is appalling.


    The net wealth distribution of the United States does almost coincide with the share of income tax - the top 1% pay 36.9% of federal tax (wealth 32.7%), the top 5% pay 57.1% (wealth 57.2%), top 10% pay 68% (wealth 69.8%), and the bottom 50% pay 3.3% (wealth 2.8%). (wikipedia - take with a grain of salt)


    Poor people pay very little of the overall tax base. It's reality that if you have more material wealth you will have access to better services in all areas.

    If as a "middle-class" family you're one illness away from financial ruin, maybe this is indicative of bigger problem involving personal finances and accountability.

    Jet-ski payment or health insurance.... there are a lot of jet-skis out there.

    Keep the bombs flying.
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    Nov 14, 2009 4:46 PM GMT
    Thanks Chucky…truly

    Why does it always have to boil down to: “if it doesn’t affect me why should I care?”

    Why do some people need the rock to hit them in the head before they pay attention?

    Paying attention doesn’t mean just listening to talking heads…research, and listen to those whose shoes you would never walk in.