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Chuck McConnell: No thanks, Sen. Bennet

— On Dec. 17, I participated in U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's Conversations with Coloradans here in Steamboat. I wanted to learn how our senator could vote for the health care "reform" legislation now being promulgated when the majority of American voters' opposition has been made abundantly clear. Sadly, Mr. Bennet will vote in favor of this bill, and I have heard absolutely no rational reason why.

The Conversations with Coloradans meeting format was individual 15-minute interviews with Bennet's local representative, Todd Hagenbuch. The town hall style was eschewed. The closed meetings eliminated any opportunity by Steamboat citizens to reveal their collective fears surrounding the bill now in debate. It also, by design, obviated all interest by the media.

American voters do not want the proposed health care legislation. I showed Mr. Hagenbuch the Dec. 14 Rasmussen health care reform poll that reported that 56 percent of voters oppose and only 40 percent support the Obama and Congress plan. The same poll reported that 46 percent strongly oppose the plan, compared with only 19 percent who strongly favor it. Five other well-respected polls showed similar opposition.

Voters opposed to the proposed new federal legislation know that ambitious, comprehensive, state-run health care programs in Tennessee (TennCare) and Massachusetts failed miserably. TennCare never achieved universal coverage, caused increases in charges to private insurers, reduced access to care, and ultimately put the solvency of the state at risk. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee, warned Congress that TennCare became so costly at its peak that it "ate up one-third of Tennessee's budget." I asked Mr. Hagenbuch why Tennessee's experience would not discourage Bennet from supporting the proposed new law.

American voters opposed to the proposed new laws know that the Congressional Budget Office evaluated the cost of the proposed health care reform plans based on the first 10 years after the law is enacted. Costs to Americans such as the tax on medical devices, increased premiums on existing health care insurance plans, penalty taxes on the so-called "Cadillac" health care plans, increased taxes on small businesses and massive Medicaid costs dumped on currently near bankrupt states (except for Ne­­bras­ka, whose Sen. Nelson was the final democratic holdout after being promised Nebraska would never have added Medicaid costs) will be imposed from Day 1. Benefits begin only after the first four years. The actual cost of the plan is huge and breaches Mr. Obama's mandate of revenue neutrality over a true 10-year comparison. I asked Bennet's representative if the senator thought voters were too stupid to understand the flim-flam in the CBO evaluation.

I also informed Mr. Hagen­bu­­ch that many voters I speak to here think the mandated health care purchase provisions of the proposed law are unconstitutional.

After my meeting and a study of the details of the Obama health care reform plan (I actually read 53 pages of one of the House versions), I cannot understand how a representative of the voters of Colorado could vote for such a flawed plan. I successfully ran a $1 billion-dollar business that would have failed with this kind of leadership. I believe the U.S. Constitution defines America as a government by the people with representatives responsible to the people. I asked how Sen. Bennet, a representative of the people of Colorado, could vote against the clear will of the voters and overwhelming evidence the health care reform legislation is terribly defective.

Our representatives apparently do not respect the will of their voters and they continue to enact laws that accelerate America's out-of-control debt spiral. The question I hear with increasing frequency from my fellow voters who feel helpless in the wake of current political irrationality: "We must do something, what can we do?"

Chuck McConnell

Steamboat Springs