PRN: An Open Letter

Physician's Money Digest, May 15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 9

To: The President and Congress

From: Your Average Working Doc

Re: Our Money

We know we have serious troublesoverseas, and you seem to be doingokay making the tough calls. And wegenerally support the big bill you'vegenerated for us in doing so. Weknow how expensive these things are.

At the same time, we don't muchlike how you've avoided doing anythingabout issues like Medicare andour dysfunctional health care system,with which we are all too familiar. Weknow these 2 problems alone willgenerate a bill that is an order ofmagnitude even bigger than a modernwar. We know too how complexthese health care–related problemsare and how they affect us all, includingfuture generations, so we'd reallylike you to get these right. The clock isticking, but we've been grumpilypatient while you've been castingabout for some workable approachand looking for a national health careconsensus to build.

In the meantime, you've had to payattention to the budget squeeze. It'shere that we part ways a bit and say,"Wait a minute." You've chosen aquick, simplistic solution of a tax cut;at the same time, we're also committinga lot of national funds to the warand to security at home, and still havethese big domestic problems to payfor. And it looks like most of the personalfinancial benefits of this particularplan are going to those whoneed it the least.

Now, we don't like paying taxesany more than you folks in Washington,DC, do—no, sir—but our kitchen tableeconomics tell us this is thewrong approach. Didn't the Reaganera's "trickle-down" tax cut for therich as a supposed stimulus to theeconomy already flop once? Beinggrownups, we see the United Statesas an expensive enterprise, and gaininga new huge deficit just doesn't sitright, particularly after we were justgetting used to the idea of a balancedbudget and a reduced deficit.

In fact, for the first time in 40years, a Harvard/Kaiser national polljust found that 70% of Americansagree, even in a down economy andstock market, and with our electedofficials arguing the other way, thatwe don't want to cut taxes now, inview of our pending obligations.

Let's see if we have this straight.For the first time, we Americans aren'tall just asking, "What's in it for me,financially and personally, right nowthrough a tax cut?" We're just notbuying it. We seem to be saying, foronce, that it makes more sense for usto invest in a more fiscally soundfuture by leaving taxes alone, big asthey are. Thanks for listening.


Your friends holding downthe health care fort

Jeff Brown, a partner on theStanford Graduate School ofBusiness Alumni ConsultingTeam, teaches in the StanfordSchool of Medicine FamilyPractice Program. He welcomes questionsor comments at