A rational conservative solution for health care reform
August 13, 2009 8:29 AM   Subscribe

E.D. Kain with a moderate conservative solution to the health care crisis
posted by reenum (88 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
By now we are all aware that should liberal health care reform pass through Congress we will face government-sanctioned euthanasia of the sick, elderly and mentally incompetent...

*close tab*
posted by DU at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


Wow, DU really hates sarcasm.
posted by billysumday at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


*reopens tab*

It's so hard to tell which rightwing nutjobs are kidding about that and which aren't.
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on August 13, 2009 [43 favorites]


So... it's not eating babies?
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that the Democrats' plan is the "moderate conservative" solution.
posted by deanc at 8:44 AM on August 13, 2009 [61 favorites]


DU if we label both the people talking about death panels and people recognizing a broken system and wanting to make it better in ways that don't quite match what we want "rightwing nutjobs", it gives people no incentive to choose the latter. The second option may be less entertaining and doesn't let us play the outrage game we so love, but it makes it possible to reach a compromise and perhaps actually accomplish something.
posted by ND¢ at 8:47 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


"rational conservative"

I don't believe I've ever seen those two words next to each other..
posted by HuronBob at 8:47 AM on August 13, 2009


It's so hard to tell ...

Truth - just look at the signs the protesters are carrying. Interesting point about Denmark as an example of limited government - usually Scandinavian countries are castigated by conservatives for socialist excess that can only work in small, rich countries. Also, the Heritage Foundation scores Hong Kong as #1 for economic liberty. When I lived there, you could get a hospital room for $6 a day. Hong Kong is anomalous in several ways, but it's interesting that rampant capitalism is not incompatible with universal health care, if that's a real goal for the government.
posted by QuietDesperation at 8:48 AM on August 13, 2009


I know it's naughty of me to concede anything to conservatives, but he's got some actual points, some of which are even based on past personal experience and empathy.

Are we quite sure he's conservative?
posted by adipocere at 8:49 AM on August 13, 2009


I like a good faith effort which acknolwedges that lots of people in the US cant afford health insurance and that there is no good reason to tie health care to ones employer.

However, he states as two things he wants to see: So we need to give 45 million people effective health care and it has to cost nothing. I dont see how this can happen. Maybe he thinks that everyone without health care can afford to buy it? Isn't the problem that so many people who do not qualify for medicaid cant afford health care?
posted by shothotbot at 8:52 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that the Democrats' plan is the "moderate conservative" solution.
posted by deanc at 11:44 AM on August 13 [2 favorites +] [!]


Bingo!
posted by geos at 8:53 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's no neo-con. This is one of those unpopular old-school Republicans who's an actual fiscal conservative. Crazy talk. This kind of considered prudence is attractive to me, too bad there's not really a sane political party who practices it.
posted by empyrean at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


On the one hand, I disagree with this dude on a lot of details.

On the other hand, this is the best-thought-out and most level-headed writing on the issue that I've seen in a while. It's not frothingly irrational or pure FUD, which is nice. But it's also not an obsessively, fumingly hyper-rational enumeration of the other side's errors, flaws and misstatements.

He just, you know, calmly and respectfully tells you what he thinks. And you can tell he's thought a lot about it, even if (like me) you feel like that thinking's taken him around a wrong turn or two.

Shit like this gives me hope for humanity. Thanks.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:57 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Given how many other countries have already done it successfully, simply switching to single-payer or "socialized" medicine would be a pretty moderate solution. A radical one would involve lining insurance CEOs up against a wall.
posted by DU at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2009 [16 favorites]


[He would oppose] Any reform that is fiscally insolvent, cannot pay for itself, or leads to massive deficits or a great deal of new taxes

By that standard, we should disband the department of defense, which cannot pay for itself, contributes to the deficit, has increasing expenses, and has required the government to consistently find more sources of tax revenue to pay for part of it.
posted by deanc at 9:00 AM on August 13, 2009 [27 favorites]


However, he states as two things he wants to see:

* Any reform that is fiscally insolvent, cannot pay for itself, or leads to massive deficits or a great deal of new taxes.
* Any reform that does not achieve close to universal coverage.

So we need to give 45 million people effective health care and it has to cost nothing. I dont see how this can happen. Maybe he thinks that everyone without health care can afford to buy it? Isn't the problem that so many people who do not qualify for medicaid cant afford health care?


It sounds like he wants to make health care affordable by reining in the insurance and medical industries' profiteering, rather than by pouring in money from the government. One of the assumptions seems to be that if insurance and health care are made cheaper, the current amount of government spending will be able to cover more people who need coverage.

It's not my top choice, but it's not immediately and obviously irrational.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:01 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


'Course, I'm no economist. Maybe a better way to put it: it's not a flat-out contradiction, what he's proposing. The question is whether it would work or not, and I'm in no position to judge that.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:02 AM on August 13, 2009


It's telling that in a nation dominated by a privatized system designed to care for the health of our nation's people, the care of the industries that are given that charge has taken precedence over their stated missions.
If the objective of caring for our sick cannot be met by private corporations - and it clearly can not - it only makes sense to seek out an alternative system that will.
posted by rougy at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is one of those unpopular old-school Republicans who's an actual fiscal conservative. Crazy talk. This kind of considered prudence is attractive to me, too bad there's not really a sane political party who practices it.

For reals, every time I see a conservative who's like this, despite all kinds of other ideological disagreements, I want to hug him and buy him beer.

GLENN BECK I HOPE YOU'RE KEEPING TRACK, I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT YOU A BEER IF YOU DIDN'T GO SO NUTS
posted by Greg Nog at 9:15 AM on August 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


As an urban, not-rich renter without children, who paid off her student loans before the Clinton and then Obama initiatives, I'm a little cranky that the *only* tax break I get -- my employer-provided insurance and my health care savings account -- is apparently going to be eliminated. I'll deal if/when it happens, but I'm cranky.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2009


I had the same reaction to this as DU. I read the first sentence, closed the tab in disgust, and then reopened it assuming that it must be satire in order to get at some better bits further down.

But you know, I'm just so worn out by all the crap being spewed about health care by conservatives - conservatives who have either willfully obstructed or conveniently ignored the problem when they were in power - that I just couldn't muster the energy and interest to read the whole thing.

I guess, in this way, the conservatives and insurance industry have won, again. They have made the dialogue so muddled, shouty, intimidating and surreal that it's just too high a peak to climb for the rational actors that want to make progress. The more I hear about how the Democrats are caving in on this point or that, the more I am losing hope that we'll end up with anything other than some "reform" that doesn't really address the issue, but merely suffices to kick the issue down the road another 20 years.

God damn this screwed up system.
posted by darkstar at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ah yes, I always forget about this site. I'm pleasantly surprised each time I come across it. If the GOP were smart, this is the sort of mind they'd be tapping into.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:23 AM on August 13, 2009


But you know, I'm just so worn out by all the crap being spewed about health care by conservatives - conservatives who have either willfully obstructed or conveniently ignored the problem when they were in power - that I just couldn't muster the energy and interest to read the whole thing.
This is an awfully good point-- if conservatives have such good health care ideas, why were they so silent about them until now?
posted by deanc at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


see, this should be the starting point on the conservative side of debate on health care. We actually might have had a good exchange of ideas. Some of his points are worthwile, some... well seem a little contrived to insert a conservative feel-good catchphrase: Deregulation of insurers to allow national competition: with proper rules... I always though deregulation was the removal of rules and oversight, here he says deregulate and apply rules...

whatever...

not a wast of time to read.
posted by edgeways at 9:31 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


His suggested policies sound reasonable to me but the problem simply isn't in the policy arena. The problem is a pathology in our political system. Until we address & solve that problem there's just no point in putting together reasonable policy alternatives from either side because they have no chance of being enacted.

What Obama should do is call an immediate halt to the health care reform process & announce a plan to confront the craziness head-on. If all my years of handling trolls & bullies online have taught me anything, it's that they can't handle it when you go meta & peel back the layers to show what's really underneath.
posted by scalefree at 9:34 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not my top choice, but it's not immediately and obviously irrational..

Except that the dude's holding the reins want cheques from the reined for the next election cycle. Not exactly the firmest grips there.
posted by srboisvert at 9:37 AM on August 13, 2009


Crap, I got here too late. I wanted to be first in the thread to overreact without reading the article.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:39 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like the Death Panel crowd has won a battle: "... it appears that the Senate Finance Committee will not be including a provision to reimburse Medicare doctors who provide end-of-life counseling to dying patients in its bill."
posted by Flunkie at 9:42 AM on August 13, 2009


As an urban, not-rich renter without children, who paid off her student loans before the Clinton and then Obama initiatives, I'm a little cranky that the *only* tax break I get -- my employer-provided insurance and my health care savings account -- is apparently going to be eliminated. I'll deal if/when it happens, but I'm cranky.

Well, then, you need to get cranky with the conservatives and the "Blue Dog" Democrats who seek to compromise with them, because it's been those parties who've floated the idea of taxing health benefits--and that's only because they insist it's necessary to manage costs (it's not; they're just considering these provisions as a bad faith tactic to make the bill less popular).

Look, the reason many states and our entire country is in the mess it's in now as far as deficit spending and budgetary woes that make national economic recovery, health care and other forms of public spending more challenging is simple: The massive property tax cuts designed to benefit primarily wealthy commercial land owners and real estate investors that were enacted across the board in states like Florida and California just before the collapse of both states economies, and the massive Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy.

Since the primary justification for all those tax cuts was that they would provide a boost to the economy and encourage growth, and we've obviously seen nothing but financial ruin and hardship since, it just might be time to put the old "no new taxes" line back on a shelf in a very dark storage closet for another few decades until the next time America's wealthy oligarchs decide we've seen enough economic prosperity and it's time for another period of national profit-taking. Because don't kid yourself--that's what we're in right now: a period of capitalist profit-taking. It works just like the profit-taking cycles in the stock market only on a much larger scale. And that's why ordinary Americans are feeling the pinch right now.

The reality is, year-after-year, every step taken to roll back the progressive public policies enacted in the New Deal and post-depression era have done nothing but contribute to further economic weakening and widening income disparity in this nation. How can any other conclusion be drawn from the data? With every new "market friendly" reform enacted, the economic indicators for personal income and quality of life have seen declines. Public health care reform and increased taxes on the wealthy don't represent dangerous departures from America's traditional approaches to domestic policy, they represent a fundamentally conservative return to long-established domestic policies that have only been undermined in the last several decades, with Reagan's aggressive pro-growth policies in the 80s (which, in fact, were incredibly modest changes compared to what we've seen just in the last couple of decades under both Clinton and Bush).

These town hall hooligans thump their chests spouting empty, mindless slogans about how "this isn't the America our parents grew up in and fought and died for," and that's absolutely true. Today's America has a black president instead of school and lunch counter segregation, and today's America has a drastically less powerful and less progressive federal government. The miracle of it all is that the economic interests on the right have so completely bamboozled the American people that they don't even see the hypocrisy and absurdity in things like gratefully drawing medicare benefits while shouting and grandstanding about the imminent dangers of public health care leading America down the road to socialism.

/blinding rage fueled rant
posted by saulgoodman at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2009 [25 favorites]


A radical one would involve lining insurance CEOs up against a wall.

We could use them for organ harvesting, except their livers are probably worthless these days.

And because they'd first have to be human to be compatible.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:55 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Looks like the Death Panel crowd has won a battle:

Which means health care reform is dead. The right wingers will keep attacking provisions, and the spineless SOBs in congress will keep yanking them out, until there's nothing left.
posted by eriko at 10:01 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's a crying shame that obama doesn't have an opposition that talks like this - we might not get everything we want but is there any question that we wouldn't get something done with this kind of principled questioning and counter proposal making?

i'm rather disgusted with the state of politics in this country - obama needs to invite this guy and others like him to the white house to talk and listen and then he needs to ask the republicans where their rational spokespeople are

divide and conquer

make them propose a solution
posted by pyramid termite at 10:02 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Funny that they're taking out the end of life consultation, considering that provision was added by a Republican.
posted by billysumday at 10:04 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm neither a psychologist nor a rhetorician, but it seems to me that the over-the-top opening paragraph would help the article reach those who do believe Obama wants to create death panels. People like to hear things that agree with them. To death-panelers, the first paragraph might seem to be slightly hyperbolic, but it's making the points they believe with some humor. They'll head into the rest of the article feeling that the author is a good guy, and they'll be much more receptive to his ideas than they would be had he opened with something else.

It's like the converse of the study that showed how presenting someone with facts that contradict their political beliefs can actually strengthen those beliefs. I can't find that exact study now, but this one (pdf) finds that political reasoning often happens in emotional centers of the brain, as opposed to "cold reasoning" that happens elsewhere, and reward centers lit up in the fMRI when contradictory facts were ignored. Tell people what they already believe, and they'll feel good. "OMG did you know that chocolate saying 'death panels' activates the same pathways in your brain as cocaine?!?!"

People aren't terribly rational, and it can be very effective to play them for the emotional yet fairly predictable creatures they are. (That means you, too. Sorry.)
posted by whatnotever at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Given that the end of life consultation business was based on wholesale fabrication, do they think that anything will be gained by taking it out? I'm more concerned with validating the crazy.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:12 AM on August 13, 2009


Is it the introduction of favorites that led to Metafilter going from a place for rational discussion to a race to be the first one to shoot your mouth off with the least thought out, most knee-jerk choir-preaching possible? Seeing the shallow superficialities being favorited in this thread just makes me sad.

Oh wait I mean:

conservatards sux amirite lol
posted by ND¢ at 10:26 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Funny that they're taking out the end of life consultation, considering that provision was added by a Republican.

See, I think that's actually one of the opposition tactics right now: the bought-and-sold Blue Dogs and Repubs keep inserting potentially unpopular, or confusing provisions into various drafts of health care legislation in the process under the seemingly reasonable rationale of "cost-cutting," but in reality, they're working hand in hand with the Big Health lobby to create new opportunities for muddying the debate and derailing support for meaningful reform.

The mainstream Dems haven't been able to stop the tactic because they actually would like to take cost-savings seriously and in good faith. It was the Republican/Blue Dog "cost-cutter brigade," too, that introduced the "health care co-op" concept as an alternative to the public plan. Now, regardless of the fact that the basic co-op idea is actually to create a new class of health care options in the private sector, you couldn't hold a year's worth of focus groups to come up with a name that could more immediately rekindle fears of the lurking Red Menace in the hearts of the more hysterical elements in America's right wing.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:27 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think he respent his good intention points in vicious hyperbole at some point. Honestly, terrible strategy. Around level 60 it's going to hurt.
posted by vrogy at 10:29 AM on August 13, 2009


whatnotever: "People aren't terribly rational, and it can be very effective to play them for the emotional yet fairly predictable creatures they are. (That means you, too. Sorry.)"

Fuck you! Now, I'm going to strengthen my stance that I AM rational. How dare you call me irrational!
posted by symbioid at 10:40 AM on August 13, 2009


This is why I am so hard pressed to say "conservative" when referring to Republicans.

E. D. Kain has just provided an example of old school conservatism. Moderate conservatism to be sure, but the proposal recognizes the problem (Poor health care), aims at an idea (Accepting the Democrats' idea of national health care) and tooling it to what he thinks is the best approach. This proposal is designed to be compatible with ideology while also shooting for the general idea that this ideology should benefit America as a whole.

I only wish Congress had room for this type of thinking, rather than PAC-funded initiatives and emotional grandstanding. That's aimed at Republicans and Democrats alike.
posted by Saydur at 10:40 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


derail
A couple(?) of days ago The LoOG was linked from here and I took a look around. From the commenting policy section of the linked site:

This site exists for the purpose of advancing debate and understanding of any number of issues. Perhaps no principle is more essential to this purpose than the basic concept of civility. Although we recognize that there can sometimes be a fine line between honest but passionate debate and outright ad hominem attacks, we reserve the right to delete comments that do not appear aimed at advancing the relevant discussion.

...In general, a comment will be deemed uncivil or inappropriate if it accuses a contributor or commenter of an intent that the contributor or commenter has not expressly disclosed.
...
Additionally, comments that are blatant spam will be deleted, as will comments that repeatedly assert the same point.


I think those are great policies for "political" debate but would terminate with extreme prejudice any entertainment to be had in most other subject areas.
/derail
posted by vapidave at 10:49 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


it seems to me that the over-the-top opening paragraph would help the article reach those who do believe Obama wants to create death panels

My Vader TIE x1 advanced fighter had death panels. It was pretty sweet.

What?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:01 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


So far, I see no indication that this guy is a moderate conservative; he seems more like a straight-up moderate. Let's see: he wants universal health care and he is willing to accept a socialized system, but he would require it to be fiscally responsible. If it's conservative to want government programs to be frugal with taxpayer money, then count me in! But I thought that was just common sense. If anything, he dangles a little to the left on this issue.

Anyway, I like the piece, the writer and the site. Thanks for the heads-up, reenum!
posted by Edgewise at 11:04 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: "divide and conquer"

Any time somebody uses military or sports metaphors—'our' team versus 'theirs'; winning and losing; victory and defeat—it encourages the sort of bullshit that the "death panel" camp is putting out. That's the logical conclusion when you treat politics as a battle between 'your side' and some Enemy: it becomes perfectly acceptable to lie or spew FUD in order to undermine them. It's all part of the game. All's fair when it's us versus them.

The worst part about the two-party system in the US—worse even than lack of choice during elections and the marginalization of third parties—is the adversarial nature that ever single issue tends to take on. The goal shouldn't be crushing the opposition, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of their interns; the goal ought to be putting together a solution that appeals to the most people possible. A compromise.

Yes, a large part of the blame goes to people like Palin, who wouldn't know a compromise if it had a hide and teeth and was legal to hunt from a helicopter. Granted. But you're playing right into the hands of her—and people no better than her on the left, really—when you reduce politics to nothing more than a marble-veneered Thunderdome: two ideologies enter, one ideology leaves.

It's a bit off-putting that here we have a guy, who at least self-identifies as conservative, who seems to actually be interested in having a discussion. But I doubt he's going to be interested in being used as a tool to "conquer" whatever you perceive the opposition to be.

That's the sort of attitude that drives would-be moderates, interested in a discussion and presumably in some sort of compromise, into the trenches of extremists.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:11 AM on August 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Some of his points are worthwile, some... well seem a little contrived to insert a conservative feel-good catchphrase: Deregulation of insurers to allow national competition: with proper rules... I always though deregulation was the removal of rules and oversight, here he says deregulate and apply rules...

In another more recent post he clarifies what he meant by "deregulation" in the first piece...
posted by Perplexity at 11:12 AM on August 13, 2009


If it's conservative to want government programs to be frugal with taxpayer money, then count me in! But I thought that was just common sense. If anything, he dangles a little to the left on this issue.

Go back and read some American history. Prior to the current decade, there hasn't been a conservative movement in America's history that wasn't willing to develop costly government programs if the ends were seen as justifiable or necessary for promoting the long-term national welfare: Lincoln spent hand over fist to fund interstate railroads, Teddy Roosevelt implemented progressive taxation and poured Federal dollars into the interstate highways and land preservation projects, Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.

What's happening in American politics today is utterly bewildering and nonsensical from an historical perspective--literally, it's like a significant portion of the population is completely disconnected from historical reality.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:14 AM on August 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Funny that they're taking out the end of life consultation, considering that provision was added by a Republican.

Why, it's almost as if the GOP did that to scuttle the whole thing. Surely they would be avove such an approach.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:20 AM on August 13, 2009


The whole health care debate has obviously come too soon. Proper preparation would have consisted of sending out a questionnaire to evey Medicare and Medicaid recipient, asking them if they are in favor of government provided health insurance. Those who said no could safely be removed from the rolls. Then when the health care debate came around, there'd be a lot more support from people who don't already have their government-guaranteed coverage.

What this debate comes down to, it seems to me, is less left vs. right than it is people who've always had affordable health insurance vs people who haven't. This disparity masquerades as left vs right because more people in the armed forces are conservative, more of the poor are conservative, and more of the elderly are conservative. Those are the three groups who have most likely not had to worry about health insurance that much because, in an irony that would make me seriously clench up and vomit if I could look at it with any but the most corner-of-the-eye glance, those are the three groups that have the best government provided coverage.

I hope we get something out of this, but I have no illusion it'll have any effect on me. I'm not poor enough to be covered by the government, and not nearly rich enough to afford to pay for my own insurance. All I can really do at this point is throw my hands up and hope fervently that everyone opposed to single-payer dies broke, of something expensive and painful. Pour encourager les autres.
posted by rusty at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


About the actual article: That seemed like a more progressive proposal than what we're hearing from Democrats in Congress. I welcome this gentleman as my brother in spirit, if not in political affiliation.
posted by rusty at 11:35 AM on August 13, 2009


it's a crying shame that obama doesn't have an opposition that talks like this - we might not get everything we want but is there any question that we wouldn't get something done with this kind of principled questioning and counter proposal making?

Technically, what opposition? The Dems control all three powers-that-be. If they collectively got their shit together as to what they want, they'd have it.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:37 PM on August 13, 2009


It's depressing that someone bothering to address healthcare issues seriously and honestly and constructively is so rare (astonishing, even) as to be FPP worthy.

It gives me the feeling that this country is a sinking ship.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:50 PM on August 13, 2009


About the actual article: That seemed like a more progressive proposal than what we're hearing from Democrats in Congress.

I disagree: the Democratic proposals are progressive. It's the Blue Dog Democrats (who are a minority but a powerful one among the Dems, especially in the Senate) and the Republicans on the various committees the legislation has to move through that keep making proposals that threaten to make the reform efforts fall short.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:00 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


This disparity masquerades as left vs right because more people in the armed forces are conservative, more of the poor are conservative, and more of the elderly are conservative.

No, poor people are not conservative. Or are you just thinking of poor white people?
posted by billysumday at 1:11 PM on August 13, 2009


If the Republicans weeded out such wackos as Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter - ship them to Saudi Arabia, where their theocratic-fueled credulous dumbass cretin bloodlust fits right in there (those militantly ignorant synapseless cretins I have no regard for in any way, not even as humans, partially because their patterns of thinking don't strike me as very human or fact-based anymore)! - they'd get somewhat more respect from me.

I hate social conservatism. Can't stand it. Economic conservatism is more up for debate; I'm halfway between socialist and capitalist regarding my views on economics, and realize that improving the situation for Americans while being aware of the resources we have to do it is necessary.

The article was a good read.
posted by kldickson at 1:13 PM on August 13, 2009


Don't confuse 'poor' with 'dumb'. I have a very good friend who lives in Romania who is poor as all crud right now and just kind of barely gets by, since his parents died and he's living on saved money at the moment. At the same time, he's getting a university education at their best polytechnic university.
posted by kldickson at 1:15 PM on August 13, 2009


I would go even further saulgoodman , I would argue that there has been no truly fiscal conservative president. The GOP talks this line, but looking at what has happened under each of the republican presidents, Bush jr. by no means was fiscally conservative, he was socially conservative. Bush Sr. was, in hindsight, a moderate, Reagan spent truckloads of money, Ford? Nixon? It's all just a sham.

Kind of like so many things.. gay rights? I'd bet you my next paycheck that if it was a secret vote and each congressional member voted how they truly believe repealing DADT, and enshrining gay marriage would pass in a heart beat. Bush Jr. was not anti-gay in his personal life, and I doubt Cheney was, but they sure talked a mean streak up and down this country.

Health care? yeah, if the Senate Minority leader can't be bothered to read the proposal but is against it, then I say he isn't serious in his opposition to the bill... just in opposition to whatever comes along.

We aren't talking about leadership, or governance, we are talking about political careersmanship. And point making.
posted by edgeways at 1:17 PM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just wanna say, the League is my favorite website next to Metafilter. It is the perfect counter-balance for intelligent discussion (usually... well, okay, often).
posted by cimbrog at 1:39 PM on August 13, 2009


edgeways, I find it a tad distressing that if that is truly the case, politicians who are on the edge of retiring can't just let it all hang out.

Hopefully, in Obama's next term, he'll get a little more aggressive about doing what's right instead of doing what is a lame attempt at appeasing a population that consists of a large amount of people who have two neurons, one of which is inhibitory.
posted by kldickson at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


kldickson, well take a look at the Sotomayor vote, the R's who voted for her: Bond/Voinovich/Gregg/Martinez - retiring, Snowe/Collins/Graham/Lugar/Alexander- no worthy political challengers from either party, not part of the "leadership" and all (more or less) moderate anyways.
posted by edgeways at 2:05 PM on August 13, 2009


billysumday: You're right, I was just thinking of poor white people. My bad.
posted by rusty at 2:10 PM on August 13, 2009


God I love reading things like this. I so want to buy this man a beer and just sit down and talk with him. To me, this was the key line of the article:
I think health care, whether or not it is a right is certainly an essential piece of a stable and aging society. Either way, I think we need to achieve as universal coverage as possible, and I think we should do it right. Implementation is everything. Once entitlements are implemented, they become terribly difficult to reform.
Now I'm in favor of health care being an entitlement while Kain seems generally - though not irrevocably - against it, but damned if he isn't dead-on about how tricky this will be to re-reform if that entitlement is issued and we do this wrong.

The moment Health Care becomes an entitlement, we can bring Due Process claims relating to it's denial, which is good. However, these claims will almost certainly relate to how the Pharmaceutical companies are dealing with the state and federal agencies determining which drugs are necessary and which ones they can keep at high-dollar prices, which then floods the DC Circuit until half-assed interpretations of the "entitlement" are set in stone, more or less, probably leading to a situation where those under the government program are forced to settle for the thirty-year-old formulas they're guaranteed while anything new and more beneficial is kept at arm's reach. That situation scares me, and won't be a hell of a lot better than what we've got now.

I think there are members on both sides of the aisle who understand this, and truly want this done right. But they are drowned out from the left by well-intentioned members who are willing to give up the farm just to pass something and by less-well-intentioned opportunists trying to pack the bill with their own interests, and drowned out from the right by a base that doesn't care what the reform is, they just want it to fail no matter what. This has a little to do with actual fear of Health Care Reform (on behalf of their Big Pharma brethren) and a lot to do with their only plan right now being to try to defeat Obama at every possible moment.

They don't have the votes to push their own initiatives, and they're technically filibuster-proof in the Senate, but they can recognize that the people who really want this and know how to make it happen are trying to thread a needle, and that the best thing they can do in opposition is to throw a tantrum to distract them. And it's working, apparently.

Not that Obama has been in top form on the issue. He let Congress and Sebelius trumpet it out there on their own for far too long hoping that it would be clear that this was Congress's proposal instead of his dictate coming down from the mountain, and still even the god damned Washington Post is calling it the Obama Plan. Then when he speaks, it's to address statements made by Sarah Palin, a non-governmental stooge attempting to stir up shit by introducing "death panels" into the conversation. Obama's response gave the idea an air of legitimacy, and now the actually-very-good provision has been dropped because of a completely disingenuous misinterpretation that was simply shouted loudly enough by the right person.

I've lost my hope for this to go through with any merit this time around, and I agree with scalefree that it might be time to just kill it for real and gear up to fight more deftly next time - hopefully with a plan developed in part by the adminstration I guess what I really like about Kain's proposal is that it allows for further reform, including entitlements, in the future, and is in every respect I can see better than what we've got now.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:39 PM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


edgeways, thanks for topping up my daily quota of misanthropy.
posted by kldickson at 4:18 PM on August 13, 2009


oh, aye anytime.
posted by edgeways at 4:58 PM on August 13, 2009


kldickson: Don't confuse 'poor' with 'dumb'. I have a very good friend who lives in Romania who is poor as all crud right now and just kind of barely gets by, since his parents died and he's living on saved money at the moment. At the same time, he's getting a university education at their best polytechnic university.

A university system based on merit, and not wealth? That's downright socialist!
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:26 PM on August 13, 2009


Kind of like so many things.. gay rights? I'd bet you my next paycheck that if it was a secret vote and each congressional member voted how they truly believe repealing DADT, and enshrining gay marriage would pass in a heart beat. Bush Jr. was not anti-gay in his personal life, and I doubt Cheney was, but they sure talked a mean streak up and down this country.

They are that class of people who are not in politics to serve the people's greater good, but are in politics as the means to a business and employment end. They want the big paycheque, the excellent healthcare, the ego stroking, the power trip, the business connections, the lobbyist payoffs, the skimming, the outright scamming — and they want it to continue, so they'll do whatever they need to do to keep their jobs.

This is going to continue until the voting public has made a majority effort in ousting the rat bastards and electing some honest people.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:23 PM on August 13, 2009


five fresh fish, honest people who are eventually going to realize that the big paycheck, the excellent healthcare, the ego stroking, the power trip, the business connections, and the lobbyist payoffs depend on whether the public likes them enough.

That's the problem with politics and why no matter how honest a politician is, I hate them all.
posted by kldickson at 7:24 PM on August 13, 2009


The case against Obamacare from Investor's Business Daily:
“People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless”
quoted by an AJC editorial since IBD changed it when they found out that Hawking was, in fact, both British and Not Dead.
Editor's Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.
posted by swell at 7:38 PM on August 13, 2009


Speaking of marginalizing the nutcases that are intent on destroying America: more advertisers bail on Glenn Beck.

Consumers wield a lot of power in the West. It doesn't take many outspoken realists to nudge the media's corporate interests. Those that make noise, get noticed.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:15 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


He let Congress and Sebelius trumpet it out there on their own for far too long hoping that it would be clear that this was Congress's proposal instead of his dictate coming down from the mountain, and still even the god damned Washington Post is calling it the Obama Plan.

See, that's why I think it's time for the left to start mobilizing more aggressively against the media itself: The press has promoted this all along as "Obamacare" or "Obama's Health Reform" when President Obama's clear intent was for this not to be his plan, but to be a plan crafted by congress (who, after all, are the ones elected to represent the people) conforming to the principles his administration set out.

It was a political necessity for President Obama to take this approach, because, as the Clinton health reform debacle demonstrated, the top-down approach doesn't work: the simple reality is congress can't be forced to adopt the administration's proposed reforms. And they wouldn't have adopted them. They would have simply rejected the original proposals, and then gone about their business, kicking the can down the road again, like they always do when confronted with controversial issues.

By tasking congress with constructing the legislation and taking the initiative, President Obama meant to put them on the spot, to hold their feet to the fire and make them fulfill their constitutional responsibilities--a deft political strategy that would have worked a lot more effectively if the deck weren't so heavily stacked against him due to the media's lack of independence and willingness to carry the water for the big health industry interests that contribute to their bottom line.

Even if the Obama administration drafted a model health care reform bill that implemented Kain's approach--hell, even if he buckled completely and just offered some lame tax cut proposal along the lines of McCain's $2,000 a year health care tax refund proposal--the resistance to the proposal would be just as heated, just as belligerent, and just as bitter.

No meaningful political or social progress has ever come in this country without heated conflicts, often escalating into violence. We've all seen the images of National Guardsman surrounded by jeering mobs of angry whites as they escorted black school children on their first day at a newly desegregated school.

We have simply got to stop getting ourselves in such a tizzy and simply throwing in the towel whenever reform efforts are met with social unrest and resistance. Social unrest is inevitable when great changes are underway. It's not a reflection of poor leadership that the same old agents of intolerance are making themselves visible again. Most significant turning points in American history--moments when America most fully realized its potential greatness--have drawn exactly such angry crowds of dissenters to the streets and town halls. But those angry crowds, too, were on the wrong side of history.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:48 PM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


The real question is, why should we accept corrupt, inefficient, government-mandated death panels when the free market would provide cheaper, fairer ones?
posted by wobh at 10:44 PM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I actually have a death panel van.
posted by Artw at 10:51 PM on August 13, 2009


I appreciate Ed Kain's efforts.

But I can't help thinking there were analogous "moderate conservatives" in the '50s who while honestly decrying lynching and Jim Crow, argued that "separate but equal" could be fixed, could be made to work without the radical dislocations of Brown v. Board, if we could just agree to give a few more dollars to bolster the "Negro school system".
posted by orthogonality at 11:37 PM on August 13, 2009


No meaningful political or social progress has ever come in this country without heated conflicts, often escalating into violence. We've all seen the images of National Guardsman surrounded by jeering mobs of angry whites as they escorted black school children on their first day at a newly desegregated school.

Where were they when Teddy Roosevelt created the Forest Service? I don't recall hearing about the riots that followed the creation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. While there are certainly milestones of mob aggression following some moments of meaningful social or political progress in the US, they are not universal. Some changes come with little fanfare at all.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:08 AM on August 14, 2009


I don't recall hearing about the riots that followed the creation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Redefining a set of existing standards to be more stringent and increasing funding for compliance monitoring and enforcement hardly constitutes a sweeping social or political change. The idea that affordable health care is a basic right is a much more substantive change, and that's the basic idea being put forth here.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:36 AM on August 14, 2009


Also, these mobs aren't just about health care. They're at least as much about America now having a black president.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:57 AM on August 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Before the creation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, do you know who controlled, regulated, and monitored consumer product safety in the US? No one. Certainly not any single organization, but that's fine, I can provide numerous other examples. How about arguably the most radical change to the structure of American society in this century: the Federal Highway Act?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:18 AM on August 14, 2009


Well, it's not like there hasn't been any opposition to various consequences of the Federal Highway Act. One crucial difference is that the Federal Highway Act had the support of the business community, car makers and organizations like the US Chamber of Congress were on board. Anytime truly populist reforms intended to serve the public interest or asserting expanded rights for consumers and laborers at the expense of capital, on one side or the other, there's going to be unrest.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:46 AM on August 14, 2009


These people aren't protesting health care reform: Some just hate Obama. Others are protesting what they mistakenly believe is an expansion in governmental authority. Others are operating under the misguided idea that immigrants, poor blacks and other minorities will get a free ride on their tax dollar if reform comes to pass, all while the federal deficit (a concept they don't even really understand particularly well, which only frightens them even more) just continues to balloon.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:51 AM on August 14, 2009


Next on the industry hit list: Energy policy reform. I'll be showing my shocked face again when this issue is on the front burner and suddenly ordinary citizens are all riled up, showing up at Town Hall meetings over this issue, in a completely spontaneous show of grass roots activism.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, these mobs aren't just about health care. They're at least as much about America now having a black president.

Are they actually saying that, or are you just reading their minds? I support Obama's healthcare plan as well, but I have a feeling that you're jumping to conclusions because you don't understand why anyone would act like such an ass.
posted by Edgewise at 10:44 AM on August 14, 2009


Yeah, the guy with the gun sure had a real point that didn't just revolve around being a total idiot tool riled up by a bunch of racist propaganda.
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on August 14, 2009


As did the guy who painted a swastika on Blue Dog Democrat Rep. David Scott's office door last week (Scott happens to be black; but I'm sure that's coincidence, and the point of the swastika was to compare him to a Nazi, not to intimidate him).

And all this stuff is related solely to the substance of the health care reform issues, too (I won't link to the original Fox news item, but here's a link to the Google cached version):
"There were tea baggers all around the place," the congressman said of the meeting, later holding up a flier with a picture of a now infamous poster of President Obama styled as The Joker from the Batman movie series.

"If you look at this, that's a picture of President Barack Obama," Scott said holding up the sign. "He's grinning there like he's the clown from Batman. Underneath that it says, 'N---a, n---a David Scott. It says you were, and you are, and you always forever shall be but a n---a.' If that ain't it I don't know what is.

"This was sent to my office as a result of this event that we've had in terms of reaction to the news clips of this being misconstrued as a health care meeting," he said.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:23 AM on August 14, 2009


Britons defend their health care from US criticism
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on August 14, 2009


edgewise: Personally i'd say that some of the opposition is genuine . Some of it is people being riled up with stupid falsehoods, it is surprising how ... well... lets just say misinformed, a significant portion of the US population can be. then there are pockets of deliberate agitators, and then classists like Whole Foods Market owner. A nice little stew of stupid.

Some are definitely of the racist variety, the lady who shows up with an Obama/Hitler mash-up poster, who's elderly mom (who made the poster) is on medicare and.. oh so is her disable sister... I would wager a 20 spot she knows exactly what she is doing.

I don't have an idea what the % of "honestly misinformed" to racist the "deathers" are but the Birthers? Yeah that's 90%+ pure racism. Or so I think.
posted by edgeways at 2:46 PM on August 14, 2009


Are they actually saying that, or are you just reading their minds?

back when we had "hillarycare" on the table, where were the mobs?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:44 PM on August 14, 2009


This thread is still open, so I guess this is the place to put this even though no one will see it. There is a mind-blowingly awesome post at the League about the origins of the fractured nature of our health insurance companies.
posted by cimbrog at 12:36 PM on August 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


That is a link to spread about, cimbrog, fersure.

"Last in outcomes and first in expenditures" seems to me to pretty much define the results of every case of privatization in BC and Canada. I don't think there is a single instance where the private outcome resulted in greater consumer benefits vis a vis reduced costs and improved results.

It is not surprising at all to me that privatized healthcare is a disaster. It is such a necessary component of having a civilized society that it can only be considered a public service. Things that are public services need to be cheap, hence they can not be highly profitable. Businesses that are not highly profitable are called "failures." Privatized healthcare must be a failure if it is serving the greater public good.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:59 PM on August 21, 2009


cimbrog - perhaps with a couple of more explanatory links this would be good fpp material

i didn't know about this - it's a real eye opener
posted by pyramid termite at 9:13 PM on August 21, 2009


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