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Conflict or Cooperation
September 29, 2013 - 7:00pm

Our Business School is named for Frank Zarb who has had a remarkable career in government and business including service as President Ford's energy czar.  Because Mr. Zarb has had such a distinguished career spanning almost half a century, we have been recording his oral history to include with the Zarb papers and materials we already have in our library.  One video clip contains a conversation between Representative John Dingell and Mr. Zarb and contains an important lesson for today's government leaders. The lesson concerns cooperation between the Democratic and Republican parties to successfully confront, what in their case was the energy crisis.  Cooperation carried the day then; confrontation threatens our economic recovery today.

The fight today is over health care, Obamacare as it is widely known, and instead of cooperation we have escalating confrontation. I remember from when I was growing up, the effort to pass Medicare and the efforts to discredit Medicare as socialized medicine.  I was persuaded in those days that health care support for the elderly, especially the poor elderly was an important responsibility of government in an affluent society.  Time has proven both the need for and the merit in a system of support for the elderly just when they most need access to health care.

The fight against Obamacare has that same tone.  The message is we need to stop Uncle Sam before he takes over our health care system.  But we have so many uninsured individuals and families that need help, that our affluent society has a responsibility to do more.  In addition with our current system we have tremendous unrecovered health care costs and the accompanying loss in productivity.  For these reasons, I support Obamacare but also understand the concern from the critics.

Our economy is in a fragile and halting recovery.  Inflation is still low, the unemployment rate is slowly dropping, the GDP is increasing at a meaningful rate and the stock market has flirted with record highs.  Against this backdrop, government is hitting a debt ceiling and there is an effort to tie any help with the economy to a defunding and destroying of Obamacare. 

We need cooperation and even more we need for government leaders, both Democratic and Republican to remember the pain of the recent recession and the need to continue cultivating the recovery. Combining the health care bill with debt ceiling legislation is a recipe for economic malaise.  Where are the Frank Zarbs and John Dingells of 2013?

 

 

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