Problem-solving: Not Jim Jordan’s Thing

You don’t solve a complex, multi-faceted problem like the opioid crisis with a simple, one-shot “solution.” We must confront each aspect of the problem. There’s the medical aspect: how to provide people access to needed treatment; the public health aspect: how to prevent additional numbers of people from becoming addicted to opioids or becoming opioid fatalities; the “supply” aspect: how do we keep these dangerous substances off the street; and the demand aspect: how do we curtail the demand or craving for these drugs? Further, as we search for solutions to the many pieces of the problem, we have to work through a number of distinct issues. We must find any proposed “answer,” and we must identify the kinds of organizations or levels of government that would operationalize the solution. Finally, we must determine how to roll out and implement a strategy, and how to measure the effectiveness of each step.

Jim Jordan offers a very different approach. He’s for having families, schools and churches solve the problem. Unfortunately, the families, houses of worship, and schools that are on the front lines are overwhelmed, and none – individually or collectively at the community level – could possibly tackle this crisis without help. The reality is that people and organizations Jordan thinks can best shoulder the crisis are actually being crushed by it.

But, of course, our congressman has always bought into cheap fixes for our problems. For him, government funding isn’t the answer to anything other than national security and securing the border. And this is strange because Jim – that hard-nosed opponent of wasteful spending -- has no problem with pouring mega-billions into building a wall along the Texas border while he refuses to spend money combating the opioid crisis at home. Maybe he believes that heroin, fentanyl, and other deadly drugs have only a single route to our communities. If so, this is dangerously naive.

The New York Times recently published a piece describing how experts from different fields – law enforcement, public health, public policy, and government – responded to the question: how would you spend $100 billion to solve the opioid crisis? Although these experts differed on some key points such as how much to devote to public health versus law enforcement, the article cited one point of agreement. None of the 30 panelists proposed spending any of the hypothetical $100 billion on a border wall with Mexico.

What’s really troubling, though, is that Jim Jordan utterly squandered the opportunity to make a difference regarding a problem so close to home. As chairman of a House of Representatives’ panel expressly responsible for overseeing federal health programs, Jordan could – and should – have convened a series of hearings on the opioid problems Ohio was experiencing. Early on, he could have heard from experts, and could have helped solve this problem long before it became a crisis.

But, the sad and profoundly troubling fact is that Jordan doesn’t appear to care much about his district. He’s focused on other things. His number one interest seems to be appearing on television where he regularly and obsessively spreads conspiracy theories and attacks our country’s premier law enforcement agency and the Department of Justice.
While his biggest job in Congress is as chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he’s largely going through the motions. The subcommittee has no substantial record of accomplishment during his tenure.

The fact is that Jordan is not a problem-solver. He’s not out to find solutions to the opioid crisis. He’s not looking for ways to improve access to health care or to get veterans their benefits faster. He’s shown zero interest in whether newly proposed EPA rules are putting public health at greater risk. No, Jordan’s an ideologue. He’s devoted two full hearings to looking into freedom of speech on college campuses. While that’s a legitimate issue, I’m not aware of any strong sentiment in our district for making that issue a congressional priority. I’d like to hear Jim explain why those hearings are a good use of taxpayer dollars when there are so many important issues to tackle that are under Congressional authority.

But let’s get back to the opioid epidemic. Clearly, we need solutions that deal with the multiple aspects of this complex problem, including international interdiction of illegal drugs; a wider range of treatment avenues; addiction-prevention measures; and more. Unfortunately, Congressman Jordan doesn’t seem to have patience or interest in dealing with complex problems. He especially doesn’t like to deal with solutions that cost money. So when experts state that the most effective step we can take to combat the opioid epidemic is to expand Medicaid, Jordan suggests that Medicaid expansion helped cause the epidemic, a completely debunked myth.

But that’s Jim Jordan! Don’t ask him to deal with complex problems! He would much rather attack easy targets like the Medicaid expansion, law enforcement officials, and food stamp recipients.

The attack-approach has worked for him in the past, but it’s time to put it to an end. If Jim Jordan won’t be a part of the solutions this country needs, then it’s time for him to go.

Janet GarrettComment