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January 07, 1983 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-01-07

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OPINION

Page 4 Friday, January 7, 1983 The Michigan Daily

Jesse Helms:

How the

mighty fall

By Michael Caro witz
His name carried a lot of weight in
Washington's halls of power a year and
a half ago. His endorsement or op-
position to a congressional bill was a
force to be reckoned with.
But while the beginning of the 97th
Session of Congress brought Sen. Jesse
Helms of North Carolina to the zenith of
his influence, the end of that session
certainly signaled his demise.
WITH A conservative ally in the
White House, Helms had looked for-
ward to leading the fight against man-
datory busing, abortion, and laws ban-
ning voluntary prayer in public schools.
The darling of conservatives across the
nation, Helms was even profiled by
Time magazine in a September 1981
cover story.
Helms was also viewed as being
somewhat of a political kingmaker. The
Congressional Club, the political action
committee over which Helms presides,
has funnelled money to several suc-
cessful candidates of Helms'
ideological vein. The club's most
notable achievement was the upset vic-
tory of Helms protege John East over a

popular Senate incumbent in 1980.
President Reagan made a special ef-
fort to cultivate Helms' support in the
early days of his presidency. He sought
the senator's advice concerning
presidential appointees and consulted
him on policy issues.
IT SEEMS ironic now that Helms'
position and influence have changed so
dramatically in such a brief period of
time.
Helms' extremist views have
alienated many of his Senate
colleagues. In fact, in the eyes of many
senators, Helms has become an ob-
structing force in the day-to-day
business of Congress.
This was particularly evident when
Helms sparked the wrath of many by
filibustering the proposed federal
gasoline tax in the days before the
Christmas recess. The only noticeable
effect of this filibuster was to interfere
with the holiday plans of many of his
fellow lawmakers.
IN ADDITION, Helms' Congressional
Club can no longer boast of its success
in unseating liberal incumbents. All
five of the North Carolina congressional
candidates that the club financed met

with defeat in the recent elections.
President Reagan also has begun to
put a measurable distance between his
administration and Helms in recent
months.
Even Helms' own future is now in
doubt. Popular Gov. Jim Hunt is expec-
ted to challenge him for the Senate seat
in 1984, with the Democratic Party
making an all-out effort to oust Helms.
HELMS' DECLINE in influence is
representative of a weakening of con-
servative muscle in Washington. Con-
servatives are unhappy because they
lack a strong voice in the Reagan ad-
ministration.
President Reagan has always been
an ardent conservative himself, yet he
has never shown a strong desire to act
on the social issues that Helms' New
Right holds dear. The President's
economic program has long been
recognized as the top priority of his
administration.
Although their music is abating, the
conservatives still pose a problem for
President Reagan. Token actions and
promises may no longer keep the New
Right from publicly breaking with the
administration. President Reagan's

foot-dragging on social issues and his
call for a tax increase have left conser-
vatives angry and disillusioned.
THIS PROBLEM has left the
president between a proverbial rock
and a hard place. On one hand, he needs
to retain the support of the New Right
activists who help to make up his elec-
toral base. On the other hand, the grim
realities of administration policy have
brought President Reagan into
frequent disagreements with conser-
vative leaders.
President Reagan must be careful
not to make Jesse Helms and other New
Right leaders into ideological martyrs.
In the interests of party unity and to
avoid political embarrassment, the
President must prevent a public debate
from occuring between his ad-
ministration and the New Right.
Perhaps, with the case of Helms,
President Reagan has already
discovered the best strategy for han-
dling disillusioned conservatives. He
can steal much of their thunder by sim-
ply ignoring them.
Carowitz is an LSA sophomore.

Helms (left) with Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.). Helms'
power has eroded, and his future in the Senate may be in doubt.

V

di e ibysdent atTUnearity
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

Vol. XCIII, No. 79

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

I

Toward better
health insurance

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FOR YEARS, politicians have
discussed ways of helping
Americans cope with high health care
costs, and for years politicians have
wound up doing very little. Today, af-
ter decades of political haggling, a
large number of Americans are left
with little protection against the cost of
illness-especially against the cost of
catastrophic illness.
Now, however, the Congressional
Budget Office has released a study
which may help to end the legislative
lethargy.
The study showed that for the
"typical" American-covered by
neither Medicare nor Medicaid-the
threat of paying for a catastrophic
illness remains a very real danger. Of
the 53 million "nonpoor" sand
"nonelderly" households studied, the 5
percent which paid for catastrophic
illnesses accounted for more than half
of the health care expenditures of the
entire group.
According to the study, paying for
catastrophic illnesses poses little
problem for those families with in-
surance. Coverage for workers
through private insurance companies
is generally good-paying an average
of 92 percent of the first $20,000 in
medical bills.
The solution to the problem is not
easy-at least politically. The Reagan
administration, while it seems to favor
some sort of mandatory insurance

system for catastrophic illness, is op-
posed to requiring workers to buy
comprehensive insurance. The ad-
ministration favors allowing in-
dividuals to choose their policies for
themselves, and to let the free market
drive down their insurance costs.
While it may sound nice, the ad-
ministration position is flawed. The
congressional study indicates that in
many cases expenses for catastrophic
illnesses do not simply start and stop in
a short period of time-that just isn't
the nature of catastrophic illnesses.
Instead, the expenses for such illnesses
often continue for years.
As a result, if the administration
plan is adopted, families with high
medical bills would naturally buy the
most comprehensive insurance; com-
prehensive insurance policies would
then become more expensive-and less
attractive to the large majority of con-
sumers. The result would be that most
Americans would be stuck with cheap,
but inadequate, medical insurance.
A more logical approach would
mandate payroll deductions for in-
surance for catastrophic illness, but
would require that individuals buy a
comprehensive, rather than a limited,
policy.
The study points to some answers to
a problem that has been ignored by
lawmakers for too long. Perhaps now,
with the study's clear-cut results, there
will be no more excuses for
equivication.

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Reagan keeps quiet on

"REAAN SAYS IF WE SPENP EN06A MONEY ON ARMS
FOR ENOUGH YEARS, WE CAN CLOSE A 'WINPOW OF
VERA31IlTY
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Social Se,
By Walter Mears
WASHINGTON- President Reagan knows
a no-win issue when he sees one. He learned
the hard way.
So he isn't touching the Social Security
problem just now, thank you. That panel he
had commissioned to find a way out has taken
to asking him for guidance, but the president
has none to offer at this point.
TIME IS growing short. The commission's
mandate, already extended once, expires a
week from today.
Reagan said the whole idea of a commission
was to take Social Security out of politics. He
built it into his own politics years ago, and,
he's had trouble with the subject ever since.
He has accused the Democrats of making it
intoa n litical football in more recent times.

REAGAN TOLD his news conference Wed-
nesday night that if the commissioncannot
come up with a set of recommendations, it
should submit alternatives to him, "and then
I think that is the time that we join together
and seek to work out a compromise."
But he insisted that the next move is up to
the commission, not the White House.
The 15-member panel agrees that Social
Security will need $15 billion to $200 billion in
savings or additional revenues over the next
seven years. But the panel has been unable to
agree on a formula of payroll tax increases
and slowdowns in benefit increases to
produce the money.
ALAN GREENSPAN, the Republican
economist Reagan chose to head the panel,
said a month ago that what was needed was
guidance from the administration and
Democratic leaders in Congress. Reagan wasn't
intervening then, and he isn't intervening

curity-he 's learned

unlessaa bipartisan consensus emerges from
the year-old commission.
"WE ARE going to look at all the things
that they present," Reagan said.
Including the possibility of higher Social
Security taxes.

"As I've said, we'll look at that."

Reagan's caution was born of harsh
political experience. He had criticized the
whole Social Security concept early in his
political career, and when he began cam-
paigning for president, those long-discarded
views were raised repeatedly by his opponen-
ts. So during the 1976 campaign and again in
1980, Reagan said that as president he would
name a panel of experts to study Social
Security and recommend a way out of its
financial crisis.
Early in his administration, Reagan

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