Monday, December 28, 2009

Unhealthy for New York

It's good to see that the mayor, and Governor Paterson as well-is finally looking out for us-in going after the senatorial nonfeasance when it comes to protecting the economic interests of New York. As the NY Post reported last week: "Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson warned that the health-care bill passed by the US Senate yesterday will badly shortchange New Yorkers and must be rewritten when negotiators hammer out a compromise with the House. Paterson said he was "deeply troubled" because the Senate bill would cost the state nearly $1 billion and could mean a 15 percent reduction in payments to hospitals, nursing homes and other health providers. He said that Medicaid has "dissed New York from the time it was founded," and the Senate terms made it worse. Bloomberg said of the Senate version's Medicaid terms, "It penalizes the states and cities that reach into their pockets and take care of the neediest."

And his ire was really directed at our newest senator, the chameleon Gillibrand: "Mayor Bloomberg laced into New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a tense phone call this week over the Senate health-care bill, a source told The Post yesterday. “The mayor really gave Gillibrand a piece of his mind over the damage the bill will do the city,” said the source, who is close to the Bloomberg administration. “He wasn’t happy, and she didn’t have much to say other than to claim it wasn’t as bad as he was saying.” The call came just days before the Senate is expected to approve its health-care legislation this morning. Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson have both been railing about what they see as the bill’s destructive impact on New York, while New York Sens. Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer have been praising the plan."

But what did Mike Bloomberg expect? And, why has he waited so long to weigh in on this issue-after all, the House version of ObamaCare also has some pretty devastating impacts on the city-particularly its pantheon of taxes on the "wealthy?" Perhaps his reticence has had something to do with the recently concluded mayoral election-you know, the one where he tried to present himself as Obama's BFF?

In any event, our ire isn't directed at hizzoner, but at the epiphenomenon known as Gillibrand-someone for whom allegiance is ruled by expedience. Gone forever is the old Gilly, the congresswoman with moderate political views, and in her place is the Schumer Muñeca, a person so malleable she makes Gumby like stiff necked.

But our views on the larger issue of health care reform are no secret-and we believe, as does the WSJ, that the expansion of the government into this sector is a slippery slope that we should hope to avoid at all costs. Mark Steyn captures our own pessimism: "Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise."

Still, with all of the various hold out senators hatching what looks to us like sweetheart deals for their states, you'd think that Schumer with all of his putative acumen could have done more to protect New York's interests-and pulled the strings so that both of our representative would be caroling with one voice. More Steyn: "That’s why Nebraska’s grotesque zombie senator Ben Nelson is the perfect poster boy for the new arrangements, and not just another so-called Blue Dog Democrat spayed into compliance by a massive cash injection. There is no reason on earth why Nebraska should be the only state in this Union to have every dime of its increased Medicare tab picked up by the 49 others."

Schumer's legendary schnorrer behavior, however, doesn't appear to be happening, and we believe the lethargy isn't an accident-at least not on Chuck's part. With Harry Reid an endangered species in 2010, Schumer is looking to take over the top spot, and special pleading and insider dealing isn't propitious for someone who's looking to move into a leadership role in the senate.

The end result, is that we may be facing an even worse fiscal mess because of the lack of forceful representation in Washington-unless, in the words of the NY Daily News, Charlie Rangle will, "be our champion." If not, the future doesn't look pretty: "Paterson has called the legislation a “disgrace,” claiming it will “devastate” state medical care and cost New York more than $1 billion a year in Medicaid funds. Hizzoner this week said the Senate legislation could force the closure of “hundreds” of health facilities."

Let's see how influential and effective our senators will be in the coming weeks. So far, not so much. We remain pessimistic.