Imagine That. Infrastructure Includes People, Too!
Health care was all over the news last week, but you are forgiven if other events got in the way.
Voting rights restrictions adopted in Georgia literally threaten Americans’ right to vote. They led to forceful condemnations from major area companies, the decision by Major League Baseball to move the All-Star game out of Atlanta, and a predictable flurry of reprisal threats from Republicans.
Then there was the White House’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, including higher corporate taxes and higher taxes on the wealthy in the offing. If you have sympathy for the wealthy or, if you are wealthy and believe you’re being unfairly targeted, read this academic study of how successful wealthier people have been in gaming our tax system.
This story also sucked up a lot of news bandwidth, but it also featured a major health-care provision, so let’s start there.
The plan includes $400 billion to support in-home caregiving for low-income and disabled Medicaid users. This would be such a game-changer that it deserved its own news cycle.
The Biden Administration’s definition of infrastructure is focused on people. How refreshing! This might appear odd at first glance but is there any doubt that many human beings are hurting even more than our neglected roads and bridges? Most Republicans decried the proposal as welfare socialism. But is there any compelling case that fixing people shouldn’t take precedence over fixing things?
The proposals are also jump-starting efforts to lower the qualifying age for Medicare to 60 and perhaps even younger. “Eighty-five percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans favor lowering the Medicare age to as young as 50, according to a poll taken in 2019 by the Kaiser Family Foundation,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Even such overwhelming support did not deter Republicans from again rolling out their left-wing, socialism rhetoric. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had four years to propose a Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under a Republican president and could not. As Republicans call for bipartisan solutions, it might help if they had some solid proposals to suggest.
Speaking of the ACA, President Biden has extended sign-ups into summer. Why not open the enrollment window year-around? If you think you or your family might be eligible either to get health coverage or improve the coverage you’ve got, check out Healthcare.gov. It now has full details of the ACA’s expanded coverage and cost subsidies.
I will end today’s rant, um, blog, by noting that there is a good reason that things in our pandemic-strained times might be better than you think. Beyond a booming stock market and a huge surge in employment. Beyond resuming nuclear talks with Iran and any number of other Biden-team initiatives that are reasserting traditional American values around the world.
According to a fascinating research study, a major underlying reason our glasses seem half-full is that the news media – left, right, and center – has a pronounced bias toward emphasizing bad pandemic news and ignoring the good things that are going on.
Perhaps it has always been so. The old local-TV news axiom – if it bleeds, it leads – has hardly gone away. But news has always been what’s different, and these days, what’s good can legitimately qualify as news on many days.
As the Bard said, “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not within the stars, but in ourselves,” according to this summary of the study:
“Ninety one percent of stories by U.S. major media outlets are negative in tone versus fifty four percent for non-U.S. major sources and sixty five percent for scientific journals. The negativity of the U.S. major media is notable even in areas with positive scientific developments including school re-openings and vaccine trials. Media negativity is unresponsive to changing trends in new COVID-19 cases or the political leanings of the audience. U.S. major media readers strongly prefer negative stories about COVID-19, and negative stories in general. Stories of increasing COVID-19 cases outnumber stories of decreasing cases by a factor of 5.5 even during periods when new cases are declining.”