Imagine buying a used car from Rep. Andy Barr.
He’s got a great deal: you can have the latest model for a substantially lower price than other sellers offer because he has “flexibility” (wink, wink) in complying with federal rules.
So, you buy the car, and not long after the wheels come flying off as you speed down a dark highway in the middle of nowhere.
Don’t blame good ol’ Andy. If you’d read the small print, you’d know that lug nuts were not part of the cheaper package you bought.
That is exactly what Barr and his fellow Republicans are trying to sell you when it comes to health insurance “reform” or financial “reform” or tax “reform.”
They want you to believe that the way to fix Obamacare is to give states “flexibility” to opt out of some of Obamacare’s 10 “essential health benefit” requirements. In other words, let insurance companies sell junk policies missing protections you don’t think you need —until you get sick.
Not only does that not make any sense, it undermines a fundamental principle of affordable health insurance — leveling the playing field. The more standardization and participants, the less the overall costs are for everyone.
Not satisfied with wrecking your health care, Barr and his enablers have taken their lug wrenches to a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau regulation shielding consumers from predatory financial institutions. The measure, just passed by Congress, overturns a CFPB rule prohibiting banks from forcing consumers to accept arbitration of any disputes instead of filing suit.
Because of Barr, if Wells Fargo opens unauthorized accounts in your name and charges you fees for the privilege, you can’t sue. If you want any money back, you have to submit to confidential arbitration and maybe get back a few bucks. The bank would continue its rip-off because no one else would know.
Now, if there were 2 million more people with the same problem, and you got together with greedy lawyers (who only get paid if they prove the banks’ scam, by the way) and sued, you might get a lot more back, and the bank might think twice about cheating customers again.
But Barr clearly doesn’t care about consumers.
If he did, why is he sneaking up in the middle of the night to steal back the lug nuts on the cars you bought years ago?
That’s exactly what he did when he voted for the 2018 federal budget resolution that cuts Medicare by $473 billion over 10 years, or 5.5 percent. That means the money you’ve been paying into Medicare every pay check for decades will be stolen from you.
Barr’s Republican budget rips the lug nuts off the safety net for just about everyone, unless you’re wealthy and have a big estate or multi-million-dollar stock portfolio.
In all, the resolution cuts funding for non-Medicare health programs like Medicaid and Obamacare by $1.3 trillion, or 20 percent, over 10 years. “Income security” spending for food stamps and other poverty programs also face a $653 billion, or 13 percent, cut over the same time period.
Barr, who constantly decries the nation’s $20 trillion debt and who just voted against increasing the debt limit, is apparently blind to his hypocrisy in voting for a budget that adds as much as $1.5 trillion to federal deficits over a decade.
So, when Barr comes up to you and tries to sell you another used car or to win your vote by talking about “flexibility” or “reform” there’s only one thing to do: gird your lug nuts!
John Winn Miller of Lexington is a retired journalist, indie movie producer and internet entrepreneur.