Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bagwell Announces 2010 Congressional Campaign

Democratic challenger Tim Bagwell, PhD (D-Olney), formally began his congressional campaign against U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, on March 31, 2010, during a press conference in the Statehouse in Springfield, Illinois. The State Journal-Register (SJ-R) provided a little information on the subject – emphasis on little.

The article provided almost nothing of the two issues that Dr. Bagwell feels are import to the people of Central and So. Illinois. It mentioned nothing of his recommendations.

Since Dr. Bagwell’s first campaign in 2004, his has been nothing but transparent. He provides any information organizations request. The first issue he addressed in his press conference relates to the selection of a candidate of Lieutenant Governor by the Illinois State Democratic Central Committee.

As part of the process of screening candidates, the central committee distributed a questionnaire that asked for detailed information about the candidates' personal lives, including divorces, bankruptcies, traffic violations, academic and military disciplinary actions and other areas that many citizens would feel uncomfortable if not offended by the extent and depth of inquiry.

Dr. Bagwell noticed that the standard set forth in this questionnaire is higher than any Federal office seeker or any other state constitutional officer. He felt that Democrats should also meet the same high standards so he revised the form appropriately, renamed it Public Office Questionnaire, and published his replies to his campaign website.

His challenge to Mr. Shimkus to do the same thing is simply full public disclosure. His idea for all candidates for the U.S. House in Illinois to do the same thing is an excellent idea. The SJ-R was the only media present to mention the questionnaire with little emphasis when it published the press release. Such minimal support (using the term loosely) puts Dr. Bagwell at a risk since there is no effective pressure from the news media to encourage other politicians to follow suite.

The passage of Health Care Reform was the second issue in the press conference. Dr. Bagwell spoke on his perspective of free market economics and the problems in the health care insurance and delivery system. He feels he can help advance the discussion in Central and So. Illinois. Too bad his words never made it into newsprint:

For nearly 100 years our nation had failed to provide the kind of health insurance and care coverage available in competitor nations and to the elected members of Congress. For nearly 100 years, while state and federal governments provided special exemptions and incentives, the health insurance industry’s so called free market has been allowed to fail consumers to the point that 46 million Americans had been uninsured. The free market fundamentalists know that markets fail and it is when markets fail that government must take action. With the passage of health care reform have begun the process to reverse the effects of the market failures of the insurance industry with the historic passage of Health Care Reform.

History making social legislation has been at the core of the values of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party was on the right side of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Civil Rights and now Health Care Reform. These programs are marked by their fundamentally inclusive coverage and accessibility. We should not forget that the Democratic Party was also on the right side of history in other forms of government-supported assistance to its citizens who had more specific needs.

The GI Bill recognized that the exclusion of Veterans from the advantages of society they defended was a wrong that needed correction. The devastation of American agriculture during the early years of the Great Depression led to the Agricultural Adjustment Acts of 1933 and 1938, helping to stabilize the family farmer. In 1965, Pell Grants were created to help low income students attend college. In that same year, Head Start was authorized and has been assisting in the education of low-income children for 45 years.

There are many more government programs that have advanced our society. Not all of which were social programs many of which were programs to benefit specific business interests. Too many of the ideologues on the right tend to ignore or forget important historical facts about the role of government.

In this round, Republican backed proposals for reform had focused on cost reduction measures across an immense range of health care insurers and health care providers. The free market theory supported by these advocates is that the free market will solve economic problems. However, 100 years of evidence is to the contrary. Real cost reduction can only be achieved through first addressing the market’s failure to provide coverage to the uninsured, and second the eventual administrative streamlining and simplification across the marketplace.

The health care insurance market has depended upon the micro-management of risk to provide health insurance coverage to the majority of Americans. However, in so doing they have systemically excluded a growing number of consumers. This exclusion has created problems of bankruptcy, preventative treatment, emergency care and Medicaid among others. The risk model of the insurance industry assesses the risks to their financial portfolios. That risk model does not assess the risk borne by consumers, courts, charity care providers, emergency care facilities, local governments, state governments and ultimately the risk to the nation.

A Republican, President Theodore Roosevelt first proposed a system for national health care. Later Presidents Nixon, Ford and George Bush, Sr. would make proposals. The attempt to associate socialism and communism with the Democratic Party is a partisan rhetoric of lies inappropriate for the debate of the serious issue of health.

Former Senate Republican majority leader Bill Frist in an interview with Time Magazine, both a physician and a stockholder in a major health care provider stated, I would end up voting for it, he said. As leader, I would take heat for it. . . . That's what leadership is all about. Others have described this reform as Mitt Romney’s program in Massachusetts.

John Shimkus has a genuine disgust for debates. That is common knowledge. Dr. Bagwell is all about transparency. His is the exact opposite. Debates in front of audiences are a good idea. They are a good forum for transparency. Dr. Bagwell used his press conference to call on Mr. Shimkus to meet him in a series of three debates over the next seven months so that the people of the 19th congressional district can decide on the kind of leadership they really want. The topics would be health care for all Americans and for jobs, economic progress and the future of Central and So. Illinois. One more subject not found in print covering the press conference.

For the sake of argument, Dr. Bagwell obviously provided the press too much information during one press conference for the reporters to cover effectively. They share some of the fault, too. Significant shame belongs on the press. If the press fails to see and publicize a candidate's cutting edge efforts at transparency, the public could never expect transparency to become part of the political culture. Dr. Bagwell takes a great risk being the only candidate to supply such self disclosure. The press needs to take notice. They need to recognize and acknowledge a true reformer:

Tim Bagwell, PhD

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