Scalpel Please

 I have watched with great interest the inaugural speeches of several governors over the past few weeks. There is a sense of sobriety across this great country of ours.


There were of course the usual platitudes but there was a sense of urgency from everyone. Cuomo didn’t have an inaugural party and Jerry Brown had hot dogs. There are plenty of those in California. Our governor had a barbecue here in Colorado.

It’s been a binge, an orgy, a frat party or whatever. It’s the morning after. Now do  they have the you know whats to get it done? One of you pointed out in my New Years blog that I didn’t come up with any solutions. My apologies.  Here’s a start.

When I was a kid, we lived in relative proximity to the Long Island Railroad. If you cut through the woods behind Tom Troy’s house, you had a birds eye view of the single track line. And of course the dreaded third rail. It was covered by a protective wooden top piece but everyone knew that touching it was instant death. Zapped. Fried. It was scary in every way.

Well today that is what is going on in legislatures, both local and national. It is come to Jesus time. Incredibly the pols say you can’t touch Social Security, Medicare and the Military. The third rails. But that is where a great deal of the problem is.

Medicare will be unfunded over a period of time. To the tune of several TRILLION dollars. The boomers are coming in force. My view is I am happy to have Medicare. But only because I am now covered. I would pay more to get that. But as I updated my plan, I also discovered that my supplemental premiums went down substantially if I had a big deductible or opted to copay $25.

Last year there were over a billion doctor visits. Why not make everybody on Medicare copay something? Two things happen. One is you raise some money instead of giving it out. Secondly, if you have to pay when you go you might not be as quick to pick up the phone for an appointment. Brilliant TTG! Brilliant!

Last year we had $60 billion in Medicare fraud. One of the reasons is that we didn’t have enough inspectors. Let’s just say we hired 1000 inspectors at $70,000 per. That’s $70 million to save maybe $10-20 billion. Duh?

What if we paid people who reported fraud like whistleblowers? There was a woman from Maine who was as healthy as a horse. She saw on her statement that she supposedly had two prostheses, a liver transplant and was on oxygen. Her Medicare number had been stolen.

The prescription bill of 2004 refused to provide competitive pricing of drugs. The Veterans Administration is not under the same handcuffs and pays about 50% less by negotiating. Is it me or is this stuff really self evident?

There was a news piece on the Chief of Naval Operations. It seems the Navy had to replace some hovercraft used for amphibious landings. There was a tweek here and there but the design had stayed the same for the last 25 years. But the contract called for three years of testing of the “new” craft at the cost of $100 million. Someone finally nixed that provision. How many more are there throughout the government? Yeah, but Ted it is not all that much money in the overall picture. Right.

How about this? We can not account for or find $9 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq. Think that is bad? We can’t find $18 billion of the same monies in Afghanistan. But don’t dare touch our military budget. Leave all the outdated bases open. Not in my back yard.

Lastly that mighty mistress of all… Social Security. The bipartisan Deficit Reduction Committee said we should change the retirement age to 67 by 2050 and 69 by the year 2075. Please reread those numbers slowly and carefully. The screams of horror were heard around the country. Most of the most vehement won’t be alive!

Simply put, we have to face the music. The way we get out of this is to cut smartly. Even the sacred cows. The healthcare system under Obamacare or otherwise is going to bankrupt us as a country. Nobody addressed costs. The Pentagon is fighting two wars and yet is obsessing over new weapons systems. Some needed. Some not. Social Security? Enough said.

Governor Chris Christie gets it. Notwithstanding his untimely vacation in Disneyworld, he is pretty sharp and says we have to have adult conversations. He takes special interests on full bore. Both left and right. People ask him if he realizes he might not get reelected? He said he doesn’t care. I hope he means it. Others take heed.

I am not a rocket scientist by any means but have stumbled on the above without even trying hard. Farm subsidies. Bloated bureaucracies. I am sick. I am mad. I have sharpened my scalpel. Is the above good for starters, mes amis?

As always,

Ted The Great.

Factoid: The autopsies performed on great nations and civilizations have shown death not by conquest but by self inflicted wounds…suicide.

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