When is it too late to do the right thing, negotiate, and come to the table willing to compromise? Not only are the Democrats and Republicans in Congress digging in their heels and waiting for the other to blink first, we have a similar push pull situation taking place right here in New York and closer to home, in Chautauqua County.
We'll start with the latter. Regardless of whether you want the Chautauqua County Home to be sold to a private organization, you have to admit that for the CSEA to come forth after nearly 11 months and say they are now willing to bargain is a little unsettling. They waited hoping no deal to sell the home would be made, and now when it looks like one might just be realized, they want to talk about it. Reminds me of when Alumax Extrusions closed back in 1993.
We - the management of Alumax - sat at the bargaining table in good faith, all of our cards were on the table, we talked margins, workers' compensation costs, and the added burdens of the various state regulations and taxes. Only when the decision was made to close the plant - go over the fiscal cliff so to speak - did the union, state, utilities and the EPA decide to compromise - it was too late! Just as it is probably too late for the CSEA to keep the CCH county owned, or the Congress saving us from going over the fiscal cliff in Washington.
What is this fiscal cliff? The best definition I could find came from the CBO, "Fiscal cliff" is the popular shorthand term used to describe the conundrum that the U.S. government will face at the end of 2012, when the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect. That means more taxes for everyone.
As for the reasons for the fiscal problem, if you listen to the talking heads it is the entitlement costs such as Social Security and Medicare that are causing the problem. But I believe it is more than that, I believe we have to look at curbing the costs of welfare, food stamps and the Medicaid programs (which are not entitlements).
Bringing this closer to home, we in New York state have been told recently that our governor has proposed a new Medicaid initiative that will offer cash bonuses to Medicaid recipients. According to the New York Post, Andrew Cuomo will use $2 million in taxpayer funding for this experimental incentive program by providing Medicaid recipients with up to $250 in cash for taking better care of themselves such as attending regular appointments, filling their prescriptions, monitoring their blood pressure and weight. The Post went on to report that Cuomo's plan could also reward Medicaid recipients with free lottery tickets as well.
Now I am all for lending a helping hand, but I don't see how this is going to help. I know, there are those who will say these incentives will pay off in the long run due to a reduction in state paid medical treatment, but I seriously doubt it. I think this is just one more thing that sounds good, but that doesn't add to the bottom line as it is suggested. This will soon become just another entitlement for the taxpayers of New York state. Shouldn't bad behavior be met with consequences rather than rewards? We need to stop this before it goes any further, we simply cannot afford it. Lottery tickets? Cash rewards? All for doing the right thing in the first place! Give me a break.
Our spending is out of control, but it is not always social security or Medicare. These things need to be talked about and the right thing needs to be done for the betterment of the country. And, if not now when?
I listened to many elected officials over the weekend, and I still don't understand why they can't work together in Washington.
Whether it is due to Grover Nordquist, or just stubbornness on the parts of the Congress. On CBS' Face the Nation, Senator Lindsey Graham to declared that, "we're going over the cliff." This, in my opinion, is like throwing one's hands in the air and taking their toys and going home. Graham said, "The president's plan does nothing but damn us to becoming Greece," Graham said, and he called the entitlement cuts "a joke."
A joke?! Please Senator Graham, isn't it time we start somewhere? Shouldn't the Republicans put on big boy pants and stop whining and make their plan known? Shouldn't both sides start working together?
While it may be a done deal for the Chautauqua County Home remaining as it is, and Gov. Cuomo may indeed pull off his proposal to reward Medicaid recipients for doing what they should do anyway, when it comes to the proverbial "fiscal cliff" that our country is facing it is not too late to do the right thing. Waiting to see who blinks first is not the answer, compromise.
Have a Great Day!
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident and author. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org