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Bill Promotes Economic, Physical Health for All

Posted Feb 02 2009 11:11pm

I never knew public policy could be so much fun. The summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 that passed the House of Representatives is more exciting than any of my favorite movies.

This bill shows an amazing grasp of the complexities of the current economic crisis. It addresses immediate needs and makes a down payment on long term goals while reducing the stresses that can lead to chronic illness and higher health care costs in the future.

Implementation of this bill could substantially reduce entitlement spending in several areas and reduce the burden for all taxpayers by addressing the following issues:

  • The increases in food stamps and food services for the elderly will promote better nutrition to reduce health care costs
  • Vocational rehabilitation and public service opportunities will allow the disabled and the able seniors to reduce their reliance on public aid
  • Increases in unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and COBRA insurance for those who have lost their jobs will help them meet basic needs, maintain their health, reduce costs associated with advanced stages of disease that result from lack of treatment, and preserve some jobs in the retail and health care sectors
  • Funds for job retraining, work study, Pell grants, and research will prepare the country and its citizens for the jobs of the future
  • Infrastructure projects and loans will create new businesses and help existing ones retain current employees and hire displaced workers from the housing and auto industries and other sectors who have transferable skills
  • Green jobs will create a healthier environment and reduce the pollution that contributes to chronic disease while reducing the need for assistance with energy bills
  • When basic opportunities are available and basic needs are met, expenses for the criminal justice system are reduced.
  • Funds to train primary care workers will avert the consequences of a shortage when they will be needed to provide care that reduces the cost of chronic diseases
  • When basic opportunities are available for the strong and basic needs are provided for the weak, fewer people enter the criminal justice system and related expenses are reduced

The bill reduces waste by utilizing public and non-profit organizations that are experienced in meeting the challenges we face and have accountability procedures in place. It also preserves jobs in those sectors and provides protection for whistleblowers who wish to report fraudulent use of taxpayer dollars.

By providing economic opportunities for a broader cross-section of society, this bill can broaden the tax base, help reduce chronic illness, and reduce dependence on entitlement programs. That can lower the tax burden for all if coupled with a more judicious use of military force. The financial sector will only return to health when the people can afford their services.

The Republican response to the bill is an example of why they don’t need to be in charge of the country’s business anytime soon. Their ideas are based on the myth that everyone can pull themselves up from their bootstraps. They don’t understand the impact of unfair public policy on average citizens. Unless they gain an understanding of the issues that face common people, they will remain the party of a vanishing breed: people who are actually thriving under their policies.

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Jacqueline L. Jones is author of Unmasking a Diagnosis: How to get Help for a Confusing Chronic Illness Without Filing for Bankruptcy. The book is available through Lulu.com and will be available this year through Amazon.com and other online book and ebook retailers.

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