Our elected officials: patriots or lackeys?

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
It's becoming increasingly obvious that our elected leaders need to quit playing political chicken. Otherwise, there are going to be some bleak days ahead for We the People.

It used to be said that politics is the art of compromise. What happened?

Maybe it's that another election year is underway. Maybe it's that the lawmakers we have put in office have simply lost their minds. Maybe it's something else. Regardless, it seems that most Democrats and Republicans would rather score political points than do their day jobs.

Consider the goofy GOP budget proposal released earlier this week by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). All that plan would do is gut Medicaid funding by an average of $81 billion a year for the next decade.

This would be done by giving states block grants. And would these block grants be indexed to say, the actual costs of providing long-term care services? Of course not. They would essentially be a completely inadequate bag of money that competing groups would have to fight over. And one of those groups would be nursing home operators. Yes, it is 2012. And yes, this is being floated as a “responsible” plan.

But to be fair, it does seem that Team Obama has fallen into its own rabbit hole. For the Democrats, it's blasphemy to touch Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security funding. Doesn't matter how foolishly those dollars are being spent. They are simply off limits. End of discussion.

But here's the deal: We cannot “save” our way out of the current mess. Nor can we treat every government-funded benefit like a sacred cow. Democrats need to give ground on the entitlement programs that are breaking what's left of the bank. Republicans will have to compromise on tax revenue.

Anyone who can operate a calculator should be able to see as much. But the rhetoric out of Washington tells a different story. Our shame-proof leaders would have us believe the real answer is to simply blame the other side.

And these people consider themselves patriotic?


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.