Friday, September 21, 2012

Voucher Brain Disease


Lou Hough

Unfortunately, the Republicans in congress, and perhaps a few Democrats, have been stricken with a dangerous brain condition which this author has coined Voucher Brain Disease.  The congressmen most affected -- the worst cases -- tend to be small government, conservative Republicans.

This fad, which follows closely on the heels of one where U. S. Citizens were labeled whiners by our elected officials, seems to imply it is essential that the federal government get out of the management of our schools as well as our health care for seniors.

Consider the school children first.  Suppose the government estimates it should cost a hypothetical $2,500 per child per year to educate each one in America.  Part of the point they make is they will be saving taxpayers money in doing so.  Another part of their point is they are getting the federal government out of our schools and resting responsibility with local and state governments.  The first is probably a myth and the second is downright dangerous. 

Why is it a myth to think that it would reduce taxes?  First, these vouchers would not only be available to the usual public school students, but they they would go to private school children as well.  Does that mean we, the taxpayers, would be paying for Paul Ryan's children to be taught Catholicism in their schools?  That has been entertained as a possibility.  According to sources, the Supreme Court would probably have to decide any congressional decision that included parochial schools.

It certainly means we would be paying for Mitt Romney's grandchildren to attend private schools. These are at least two classifications of schools for which taxpayers probably should not have to pay, especially if we are trying to save federal money and are cutting taxes to the rich.  Think for a moment how many schools for which we do not pay now, that would receive children's vouchers under the proposed new plan.  How can that possibly save tax dollars?   (Note:  Mr. Romney is said to favor similar plans for education as well as Medicare, but avoids the term voucher because it is very unpopular). 

Second, as any senior on Social Security can tell you, the Congress steadfastly underestimates how much money is needed to live the barest existence.  So, they apply this typical underestimate to education and the school districts find that it costs $3,000 per student.  Who do you think will pay the difference?  Well, you will, depending on how your state and local governments decide to handle it.  Options include the student's family picking up the $500 extra per student or state and local governments increasing our -- yes, you guessed it -- taxes.  Do state and local taxes to pay that extra cost any less than federal? 

Also, they will try to tell you that it is better if local communities control the educational offerings.  Education is actually one area where a larger collection of minds designing and recommending curriculum or teaching methods is better than a small local school system doing it.  Even large ones can fail their students.  The Kansas City, Missouri, district, based on student achievement, has lost it's accreditation and caused the state to have to take over.  It not only takes a village to rear our children, as once written by Hillary Clinton, the village needs to be the entire U. S. A. in this case.

Think for a moment what the country's insurance companys could do with vouchers for Medicare.  For seniors on Medicare now, remember that from the start of the program, our pay checks were taxed for Medicare.  Next, once we were old enough to receive it, we had to pay a monthly fee which is subtracted from our Social Security payout.  Then we are told we have to pay a deductible before Medicare steps in and that Medicare will pay only a percentage of the charges with the rest being our copays.  In order to afford our deductibles and copays we have to subscribe to a Supplemental Insurance plan which currently costs in the neighborhood of $200 per month in fees.  As most of the companys charge extra for older age categories, it can be even higher.  In addition, we have to pay more per month for prescription coverage.  Now the federal government, which forced us to pay taxes to insure our future health, wants to give us vouchers and leave us to the mercy of insurance companies?  Worse still, the very ones in Congress who suffer from voucher brain disease, want deregulation of all U. S. companies

If you vote for Republicans for Congress and the Presidency this year, you are voting for these kinds of problems to be visited upon yourselves and your family.  Remember that this kind of thinking produced the Ryan budget plan that has already passed the Republican controled House of Representatives.  Think carefully what you do.  One celebrity said it's like giving them food stamps to go and get an education (or health care).