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Sully forth, Congressman Rooney!

News-Sun - 1/13/2018

Congressman Tom Rooney’s June 2017 favor to Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels — the $4.5 billion FY18 Cerner sole-source electronic health record (EHR) contract in the Veterans Administration (VA) budget — just might hit a wall. What wall? The Wall.

After Congressman Rooney (FL-17), who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, gave his multi-billion-dollar asset family a multi-million Christmas cash present with his YAY vote on the Trump Tax Bill, President Trump began making noises about his wall, again.

That might have something to do with firin’ up Trump’s hardcore base so they don’t download the “Fire and Fury” expose of his administration’s first months, but who knows? Maybe he and Congressman Rooney actually agree that squeezing blood from a rock is preferable to paying their fair share as members of billionaire families.

At any rate, President Trump has announced that he wants $18 billion over 10 years to build 700 miles of wall on our southern border. It isn’t really 700 miles of new wall, but it is to extend the current 654 miles of border wall to nearly 970 miles. In English, that means new construction of nearly 316 miles and tearin’ down and rebuilding nearly 338 miles of currently serviceable wall.

In gross figures this equates to slightly more than $25.714 million a mile or $4,870.13 per foot of imaginary wall.

I call it imaginary because as any U.S. Army engineer can tell you there are four ways to get through a wall. Over, under, punch through it, or go around. Further, any obstacle can be breached.

Once you are through a wall, even if there are arrays of sensors and battalions of ICE agents arrayed on the ground, there is that lag between knowledge and being able to act on it. And that is even without the additional 1,030 miles of border where there won’t be a wall.

But there is a problem. And it isn’t the bleeding-heart liberals and their incessant harping on those DACA Dreamers and other immigrants, illegal aliens, and people here under provisional residency permits or the farmworkers and other “seasonal” workers here under the H-2A visa program — all of them emmeshed in our communities and national economy.

The problem is funding. Congressman Rooney’s sole-source favor to Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels has ballooned in cost, over a 10-year period, to potentially $18 billion. Though Cerner, in order to wiggle the bill through the Senate after a protest from a competitor, keeps saying, it is more likely to be $10 billion. Same bull-pucky they fed DoD to snag the competed contract there. But even $10 billion or $4.5 billion would start getting that imaginary wall built.

In mid-December, the VA put the Cerner contract award on hold pending resolution of “interoperability” with other commercial systems electronic health records as the privatization of VA care is in full swing.

Back in the Clinton Administration, Microsoft was able to get a virtual commercial business monopoly on its Office Suite by leapfrogging from an initial Army contract that required proposals to be “interoperable” with the Microsoft Office Suite.

The EHR sandbox is a little more crowded. Not to mention the Congressional Republicans are avidly dismantling the Affordable Care Act and, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, talking about taking apart Medicare and Medicaid with the mandates and incentives for electronic records.

But the bigger question for Florida District 17 constituents is why did Congressman Rooney sully his own ethical reputation? After all, he seemingly stood up to then-candidate Trump in October 2016(1). Unfortunately, it probably has something to do with the regressive Trump Tax Bill signed into law Dec. 22, 2017.


(1) http://postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2016/12/08/after-un-endorsing-donald-trump-rep-tom-rooney-very-heartened-by-transition/

Polly Parks, is a resident of Sebring. Formerly, she was a Washington representative for a multinational metal recycling firm handling policy issues and federal contracting. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.


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