Beyond M101

This op-ed was submitted to The Oregonian 1/6/18

Oregon Progressive Party encourages a Yes vote on Measure 101. The hole in the state health care budget which would be created by its defeat would mean too many individuals being denied health insurance and being forced to use the all-too expense emergency room. That is not a tolerable situation.

However, we also recommend that everyone read the voter pamphlet arguments against passage. When you do, you will find many of the same arguments that we, as progressives, usually make ourselves of government policy and process.

First is that we are taxing the wrong people and organizations. Progressives were strong supporters of Measure 97 to tax the largest of the large national and multi-national corporations in order to fund our shared governmental expenses. Measure 101 abandons that approach completely. Instead those corporations will not pay these increased tax “assessments” at all. The tax increase instead will be paid by people like you and I and small businesses and school districts. As one opponent wrote in the voter’s pamphlet: “And it’s absolutely indefeasible that big corporations and insurance companies were exempted from sharing the burden to pay for Medicaid.” Or a small business owner wrote, “Asking families like ours to shoulder the burden of paying for Medicaid while big corporations contribute nothing to help provide health care to Oregon’s most needy citizens is outrageous.”

Second, this measure will increase taxes paid by schools by $25 million when schools are already underfunded. $25 M likely means laying off teachers at the least..

Third, this measure will increase the premium costs of people and businesses currently covered by various insurance programs. These premiums are already too high and not affordable. Should we really be asking those who are already stretched to pay more and more?

Fourth, the bi-partisan group of legislators who approved this tax received more than $2.7 million in campaign contributions from the health care special interest PACs. And so we wonder whose interests they represented when they enacted the legislation in the first place.

We need health care reform and we need to fund it so that all Oregonians can afford to access quality, affordable health care. We don’t need health insurance. We need health care.

How do we get it? We do that first by taxing the large national and multi-national corporations who have not paid their fair share. Second, we pass limits on campaign financing so that we don’t have to wonder in whose interest our political leaders are working. And third, we enact universal, affordable health care for all. That would be a single payer system like Canada and most of the rest of the developed world has.

The Progressive Party encourages you to vote Yes on Measure 101 and then to follow that vote up with calls/letters to your legislators saying that you understand the need in the short term to provide funding for health care via Measure 101 but that you expect that they will work diligently to enact limits on campaign contributions/expenditures, taxes like Measure 97 to tax those large corporations who have not paid their fair share, and affordable, universal health care.

David Delk is the Chair of the Oregon Progressive Party

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