Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reform Is Not Enough: The Federal Government Needs a Complete Makeover - The Atlantic

Great article.  A must read for those of you who know that our government in Washington D.C. is broken and needs a thorough clean out.  The Tea Party has to rise up!

Excerpt:  The bureaucracy is a kind of Moebius strip of passing the buck. The most powerful force in this subculture is inertia: Things happen a certain way because they happened that way yesterday. Programs are piled upon programs, without any effort at coherence; there are 82 separate federal programs, for example, for teacher training. Ancient subsidies from the New Deal are treated as sacred cows. The idea of setting priorities is anathema. Nothing can get taken away, because that would offend a special interest.

Insiders don't even pretend to be motivated by doing what's right. A few years ago, trying to solve the country's medical malpractice problem, I helped organize a large group of consumer groups, patient advocates, and health-care providers behind the idea of creating special health courts. The proposal enjoyed almost unanimous support from legitimate health-care constituencies, as well as broad editorial support. Polls showed that the public strongly supported it. We had bipartisan sponsors in both houses of Congress. All we needed was a pilot project to see how it would work. Who could object to that? Here is what I was told:

A leader of the Democratic caucus in the House said he understood why this was such a good idea. Then he asked, "How do the trial lawyers feel about it?" They hate it, I answered, because they feed off the unreliability of the current system, which consumes almost 60 percent of awards in lawyers' fees and administrative costs. "Then we can't support it," he replied. But whom do they represent, I asked -- AARP and leading patient groups are on our side. "It doesn't matter," he said frankly. "The trial lawyers give us the money."

I went to the White House and made my pitch about how great it would be for President George W. Bush to stand on the lawn with consumer groups and propose a legal reform that would actually be better for patients who were injured by mistakes, as well as for doctors unfairly accused. The senior staffer with whom I was talking understood the virtues of the proposal. But, he said in somewhat guarded language, "It's better for us to propose traditional tort reform capping damages." But that doesn't solve the problem of defensive medicine, I argued. "I understand that," he acknowledged, "but we benefit that way." What are the odds of traditional tort reform passing? I asked. "Oh, about one in 100," he answered. A junior staffer had to translate what was happening: The White House wanted to propose a reform it knew would fail so that Republicans could blame the Democrats for not solving the problem.

Reform Is Not Enough: The Federal Government Needs a Complete Makeover - The Atlantic

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