June 12, 2010
I think COBRA Commander must be running Congress because lord knows that COBRA Benefits for the unemployed are not.
In the 1980s cartoon G.I. Joe, COBRA Commander was a character with a mirror face, but when the mirror was removed, you found an evil snake like man-creature with a lisp and a penchant for all out drag queen temper tantrums. COBRA was an evil organization out the rule the world.
Outside of the lands of Hasbro, COBRA is a government program, created in the 1980s, that allows workers leaving or let go from their jobs to continue their health care benefits for up to 18 months by paying the associated premiums and a small administrative fee.
COBRA led by snake face is bad. COBRA led by the U.S. government is good.
Up until May 31, 2010, there was a provision that was included in the stimulus package that paid subsidies of 65% of COBRA benefits for eligible workers that lost their jobs. As quoted in an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, for a that has health care payments of $1,500 a month that subsidy drops the payments down to $525, a much more manageable figure.
As we all know, the latest unemployment figures still have unemployment hovering near 10% (9.7% to be exact), and while there has been slow growth in the economy, the numbers of jobs added have been pretty much pitiful. So it would seem to make sense that since the need for the COBRA subsidy is still great, and since the economy is only just beginning to recover that it would make sense to reauthorize the $7 billion dollar program. Right?
Wrong. Turns out that COBRA Commander (evil snake face) is alive and well and living in Washington. Blue Dog Democrats are howling at the moon because it is an election year and they fear that voting to re-extend the program, which will add to the deficit, will hurt their re-election chances.
Two notes here for you Blue Dogs, 1) Your job in Congress is to serve the people, not your re-election efforts, and 2) if you are an incumbent, you should start packing your bags any old ways cuz this year just ain't your year.
But, seriously, seriously, we are spending $12.2 billion dollars a MONTH on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan according to an article in U.S.A. Today published on May 12, 2010. That, ladies and gents, comes out to $145 billion (and some change) a year on those two wars. And, now we have some asshole Congressmen, such as Democrat Rep. Cardoza of California, magically worried about deficit spending of $7 billion for a year to cover millions of unemployed Americans?
We will pay to kill people living far far away, but we won't pay a fraction of that amount of money to keep our own people healthy and alive. Fail.
Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio are offering an amendment to re-authorize the COBRA subsidy program to a bill in the Senate to extend unemployment benefits. The bill has already passed the House where douchenozzle Rep. Clyburn of South Carolina led the charge to strip the COBRA Reauthorization from the bill. I think Clyburn should stop working for the EVIL COBRA and worry about the crazy shit going on in South Carolina right now in the gubernatorial and senatorial elections.
In the end, failing to reauthorize the COBRA subsidy is not only wrong and bad politics, it is bad economics. When those folks that have been able to maintain their health benefits are forced off of their private insurers, they will be forced to join the rest of the unemployed masses in using the country's emergency rooms as primary care facilities. This is absolutely the most expensive way to receive health care in our system, and it will only overburden and overtax a health care system while at the same time forcing local and state governments to pick up the costs incurred.
Smooth move, Congress.
Please contact your Senators and let them know that you support the COBRA extension, and, if necessary, that you support bringing in GI Joe to deal with Evil COBRA and the Blue Dog Democrats.
General Hawk signing out.
This piece originally appeared in Brandon's blog My Feet Only Walk Forward.