Bumped

Senator Orrin Hatch gave the people more of his time than expected on his segment on KCPW today and I had to be bumped from Midday Edition Friday. We all like to hear from the Senator, so I’m happy to defer. I’ll let all the readers know when we reschedule.

Let’s consider what Orrin had to say.

First he contends that abolishing the filibuster in the Senate is necessary for the sake of ten more Bush judges (out of over 200). This is a little silly seeing as how Orrin is famous for blocking judges he doesn’t like by denying them even a committee hearing.

Second Orrin talked about high level nuclear waste storage. Orrin has voted for the Yucca Mountain project every time he can in an attempt to force the waste from Eastern nuclear plants onto our neighbors. He contends that waste will end up in Skull Valley if it isn’t going to Yucca, but then admits that Yucca will be fully booked the day it is opened.

Orrin, if Yucca is full the day it is opened, the how could it relieve pressure to store waste in Skull Valley?

In fact, Orrin is covering for his embarrassment. In 2002, he made a deal with Private Fuel Storage (the Skull Valley developers) that he would work to store waste in Yucca Mountain and they wouldn’t ask for federal money to build the Skull Valley site. Orrin and Sen. Bob Bennett cast the decisive votes to give Yucca a filibuster proof majority. Immediately afterward PFS gleefully announced that they had plenty of private money to build the site and they were going full speed ahead with putting waste from Eastern states in both Utah and Nevada.

Eastern Utility lobbyists were laughing and whooping it up at our expense that night, thanks to Orrin’s blunder.

Other Western Senators were upset and Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) and Sen. Reid (D-NV) blocked Rep. Hansen’s attempt to permanently block waste from Skull valley in a Military Authorizations rider that year.

Now we need the help of Sen. Minority Leader Reid if we are to block Skull Valley waste right in the path of flights from Hill Air Force Base and Orrin can’t admit his mistake and work for a better future. If we do end up hosting the dangerous castoffs of Eastern utilities that think of Utah as a waste dump, Orrin has to take the the biggest slice of blame.

Third Orrin discussed some Republican plans to phase out Social Security. He suggested that Republicans might have to cut benefits by 2018 if we didn’t accept benefit cuts sooner for all but the poorest seniors.

Of course, the Social Security Administration numbers show that if the economy continues on the track it has for the last fifteen years, we will never need benefit cuts. That’s why Orrin wants to make the cuts now; when the ‘crisis’ never arrives, Republicans won’t get the Social Security cuts they lust for.

There are programs with a crisis coming, and Medicaid is one of them. Lucky for us, that came up next.

Fourth Orrin said that a 7% increase in Medicaid funding is more than enough, even when health care prices are rising 10% to 15% a year.

The Senator suggests that rising health care prices are the result of bad government policy and we should fix it instead of just paying more. I agree one hundred percent. Orrin has acted as the pharmaceutical industry’s lackey on Capitol Hill, working hard to help drug companies charge monopoly prices and bilk consumers and health insurance companies as he drives more and more of our money into the pockets of drug company lobbyists.

This is the worst kind of corporate welfare. Drug companies develop some of the most important technology on Earth, but Orrin makes them dependent on government for their biggest profits. When patents are extended and price negotiations are prohibited and imports from lower cost countries are blocked and cheap old drugs are banned in favor of more expensive new drugs that don’t work better (except for pharma profits), companies invest in lobbying instead of innovation.

None of the money Washington is funneling to drug companies from our pockets is for innovation. It’s all in exchange for graft and campaign funding. How long can a drug company make its money through corruption in Washington and still retain its focus on creating health miracles?

We saw in the 1990’s the side effects of a bad poverty-fighting welfare program sapping initiative from people are far more expensive than the dollar cost. Today the worst thing about corporate pharma welfare isn’t even the trillions of dollars in waste, it’s the loss of vigor devoted to research and development that follows.

Just like Orrin says, rising health care costs are largely a result of bad government policy. Solution number one is the end the career of Senator Orrin Hatch in 2006.

Fifth Orrin talked about tenure and the power he holds as a senior senator.

One of his most important roles, he says, is defending Hill Air Force Base. But as I describe in number two above, the best thing Orrin can do for Hill is to apologize for how he has endangered it and retire.

Just like Orrin said today, seniority is great if a senator is voting for your values, but if he votes against you it is terrible.

That’s one more thing Orrin said I can agree with. Let’s take it seriously and defeat Orrin at the polls in 2006.

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