November 1995 Home   Newsletters

December 1995

January 1996

Viewpoint (Astrid Monson)
Honolulu League Endorses LWVUS's Focus on Initiative
But for the Grace of God (Astrid Monson)
Council Member Felix Speaks on East Honolulu Settlement
Con Con Panel Discussion
Court Monitors Needed


Like everybody else, I have been following the battle of the Budget in Washington. Like everybody else I have been bombarded by at least three totally different interpretations of what is going on, with particular reference to Congress' refusal to enact a resolution permitting the Government to continue to operate unless the President agreed to its terms on budget balancing.

  1. Congress and the Administration have been squabbling like a bunch of kids, with personal enmities interfering with attempts to reach a compromise.

  2. Committed or possible candidates for the Presidency in the 1996 election are using the issue to posture themselves for future advantages.

  3. The Congressional majority is forcing the minority and the President to accept a budget plan which would reduce future expenditures for health care, welfare, education, environmental protection, and other socially oriented services while at the same time reducing capital gains and other taxes.

Health care is perhaps the clearest issue to look at. To this effect I dug up the national League of Women Voters position, adopted for 1993, on health care. It was taken after local League chapters all over the country were asked for input . Fundamentally, the U.S. League "believes that a basic level of quality health care at a affordable cost should be available to all U.S. residents." It calls for "equitable distribution or services, efficient and economical delivery of care, advancement of medical research and technology and a reasonable total national expenditure level for health care.

On financing and administration, the League "favors a national health insurance plan financed through general taxes in place of individual insurance premiums. As the United States moves toward a national health insurance plan, an employer-based system of health care reform that provides universal access is acceptable."

On taxes, the League "supports increased taxes to finance a basic level of health care for all U.S. residents, provided health care reforms contain effective cost control strategies."

We all know how the administrations 1993 health care reforms package was shot down. But who would have dreamed that two years later, proponents of better health care would be beaten back to merely defending what we have - Medicare for the elderly and disabled, Medicaid for the poor? Who would have dreamed that the principle of "entitlement" would be abandoned, that these programs would be proposed to be cut by $400 billion in the next seven years, while taxes are proposed to be cut by $245 billion.

In September 25 issue of the New Yorker, there is a thoughtful article entitled "Medicine Show". I recommend it to all league members. It takes apart the scare tactics being put forward of the imminent bankruptcy of Medicare, quoting a Republican pollster that "older voters would never accept changes in Medicare until they were convinced the system's going broke."

There is a lot more to what is going on than childish or political ambition. The issues are serious and proposed solutions potentially devastating. They are particularly of concern to women - there are a lot more single mothers that single fathers, a lot more elderly widows than elderly widowers. Both as women and as voters League members should know the issues and be active in their resolution.

Astrid Monson

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