Here We Go!

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a BE)

JB: As they say in those Bud Lite TV beer commercials, "Here we go!"

BE: Huh?

JB: The start of a new era, dude. Today's the last full day of Ed Rendell as Guv, and tomorrow starts the era of Tom Corbett as Guv.

BE: Oh, yeah, right. And that means?

JB: Big, big difference in how state government operates. Partly because of the big, big difference between these two guys when it comes to spending (full-speed-ahead Ed & cut-cut Corbett), and partly because government everywhere is being forced to cut due to the economy. Check out the New York Times piece today on how states, regardless of the party in power, are slashing spending and avoiding taxes.

BE: Could be good, no?

JB: Could be good. Will be different. Here in Pennsylvania, we'll get to see the basic difference bewteen a government geared to be proactive and a government running in idle.

BE: Got an off-the-bat example?

JB: Adult basic health insurance. It's running out. If Rendell were staying, he'd find the $50 million or so to keep it going through June. Corbett's people won't.

BE: So what happens.

JB: Well, if your among the 42,000 income-eligible folks now paying $36 a-month for basic coverage for hospital visits, doctor care and treatment for injuries or illness, you're likely going to pay double to five times that amount under a program sponsored by the Blues.

BE: I'm guessing lots of folks won't be able to afford it.

JB: You're guessing right. And then we'll see whether having thousands more people without insurance ends up costing taxpayers more or less than the cost of the state-subsidized program. Government proactive/government in idle.

BE: And who are these folks?

JB: Largely working folks who can't afford regular insurance or whose jobs don't offer it, but who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Under adult basic, a family of four with a household income of $44,100 can qualify, and there's a huge waiting list.

BE: So, what's the right thing to do?

JB: Define "right." If you mean the political right, then there'll be no effort to find a way to continue the funding. Remember the mantra is cut-cut. But if you mean the correct thing to do, then you slash spending unrelated to health and safety -- legislative slush funds or spending for private projects or automatic pay raises or government operating budgets -- and you provide basic coverage for people who need it.

BE: In other words, protect and serve.

JB: Yep. It's just a question of whether you protect your conservative base (almost all of which has health insurance) and serve your cost-cutting image, or whether you protect and serve citizens whose health and safety is compromised by slashing this program.

BE: And given that choice?

JB: As I say, we're about to head in a new direction. Here we go.