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Don't Blame Me, Kodos Told Me He Would've Vaporized Aetna
August 16, 2009 11:32 AM   Subscribe

The Obama administration signaled today it is ready to entirely abandon the public option, i.e. giving Americans the choice of government-run health insurance (AP, Daily Kos, Politico, Hill). Further, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicated that end-of-life counseling was "probably off the table", presumably due to Republican "death panel" commentary.
posted by WCityMike (491 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well that will stop the complaining...
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuck.
posted by dosterm at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


*sigh*
posted by brundlefly at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm disappointed, the Obama administration really dropped the ball on the PR battle. Good luck getting anything else done now that the republicans know they just have to shout loud enough to derail future proposals.
posted by exhilaration at 11:38 AM on August 16, 2009 [53 favorites]


Proving that a tiny minority of frothing maniacs can STILL someone dictate the future of us all. Fuck you tiny minority and yes, fuck you Obama. I'm too disappointed in you to even speak.
posted by Bageena at 11:39 AM on August 16, 2009 [46 favorites]


I guess this means Obama is giving up hope.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 11:39 AM on August 16, 2009


So what now, some Hillary style bullshit?
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on August 16, 2009


Just give the private sector 10 years to screw up their monopoly, and we'll get single-payer.
posted by vhsiv at 11:40 AM on August 16, 2009


.
posted by defenestration at 11:40 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm so livid right now I can barely keep my hands steady enough to type. How is it that when the Republicans have the Presidency and a narrow advantage in the House and Senate that they can start a war based on lies that bankrupts the country, but when the Democrats have a bigger advantage and a mandate to provide the country with affordable health care, they can't get it done? And yet they were able to shovel money to the banks and insurance companies, which promptly pocketed it and continued to foreclose on homes and generally screw us over every chance they get.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:42 AM on August 16, 2009 [127 favorites]


Someone should make a website in response to the abandonment of a public option called WTF, Obama? where people send in a video of them simply saying, "What the fuck, Obama?"

Also:

What the fuck, Obama?
posted by defenestration at 11:43 AM on August 16, 2009 [25 favorites]


It's a stealth win for Obama. Co-operatives were something the Clintons were pushing in 1994, only they called them "alliances" back then. And no one's going to get anywhere by running to the left of Obama.

I'm optimistic that if you come back after the mid-terms, and things will look even better for him.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:43 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's a stealth win for Obama.

Pretty fucking stealthy.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:45 AM on August 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


The red states should be encouraged to secede. If they won't, give them the boot. Tuck a check in their back pocket with enough funds to build Reagansburgh, the capital of Brawndonia.
posted by fleetmouse at 11:45 AM on August 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


The finance industry was too big to fail, and now health care is too broken to fix.
posted by box at 11:45 AM on August 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm not a big fan of Nader, but totally agree with the position that he was so adamant about on Democracy Now last week, which was that despite his personality, Obama is in no way a real transformative leader but only a concessionary office holder. This sucks. Dude never was going to go against the insurance giants in any substantive way.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:45 AM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


D'awwwww.
posted by lumensimus at 11:46 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


There goes my only hope for affordable healthcare. Fuck you, bastards. If I had as little compassion for you as you apparently do for me, I'd wish you get an expensive chronic illness and then lose your insurance.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:46 AM on August 16, 2009 [26 favorites]


To quote Astro Zombie 3:
Growl tear rip shred grrr grr garf garf
Arroo HOWL rip rend tear arf arf
Grr grr grr grrr
Grr grr grr grr
Shrep rid rend tear shred grrr narf narf.


I'm just completely inarticulate and angry about this. Any Canadians wanna get hitched?
posted by dilettante at 11:47 AM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


What Kutsuwamushi said, verbatim. Die in a fire, you selfish fucks.
posted by bink at 11:47 AM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm optimistic that if you come back after the mid-terms, and things will look even better for him.

I don't care if things look better for him. I want things to be better for us.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:47 AM on August 16, 2009 [32 favorites]


It's down hill from here, now that his opponents know for certain they can do damage.

By the time this mess is through, all we're going to have is a big-ass give-away for insurers...a mandate that we all have to buy insurance, but with absolutely no financial assistance or cost controls. But, hey, we'll all have coverage, right? We just won't be able to afford food or shelter.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:48 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This really is stupid and lame on the part of Obama. Even if the plan was to get co-ops all along, as per Cool Papa Bell, and even if he knew/knows that the Senate will not present to him a bill with a public option, there is no reason whatsoever why Obama could not and cannot continue to advocate for the public option. Then when he is presented with a bill without a public option, he could shrug and say that he did what he could to implement strong healthcare reform.

Not only is this bad policy on the part of Obama, it's bad politics. And that's not really something I expected from the gang in the White House.
posted by billysumday at 11:49 AM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Health insurance premiums will see a big spike this year. All those Blue Dog democrats and Fox talking heads don't come cheap.
posted by benzenedream at 11:51 AM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's down hill from here, now that his opponents know for certain they can do damage.

Especially given that they can do damage through the spread of absurd and outrageous lies. This is so fucking ridiculous.
posted by defenestration at 11:52 AM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Lincoln administration signaled today it is ready to entirely abandon the emancipation proclamation, i.e. freeing Americans from slavery. Further, Agriculture Secretary Isaac Newton indicated that freeing the slaves was "probably off the table", presumably due to southern "seceding from the union" commentary.
posted by pashdown at 11:52 AM on August 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


I was enraged to hear that they were spinelessly dropping the end-of-life counseling provision because of the dumbass "death panel" shit. Now the entire point has been removed.

Come the fuck on.
posted by odinsdream at 11:52 AM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a stealth win for Obama.

And a loss for America.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:53 AM on August 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Also - Mefi should start their own co-op.
posted by odinsdream at 11:53 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


No really. The co-op option isn't bad; having massive non-profit health insurance cooperatives would be great, and certainly a massive improvement over the private monopolies that have wrecked the current 'system.' Add a bit of government regulation and a desire to increase their risk pools, and it's easy to see the co-op as a stealth 'public option.' It could well end up like the Federal Reserve - government created but not controlled, and an absolutely essential part of its field of interest.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:54 AM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


While there are some things Obama's done since election that I've been grateful for (the COBRA discount, the unemployment extensions), and while he is a far better man than his predecessor, he has done so much to disappoint those who looked at him with bright eyes on Election Night.

The Republican Party has taken formerly edge-case, morally reprehensible tactics and adopted them as its bread-and-butter way of operating, and Obama constantly rewards this behavior by letting his "need" for bipartisanship constantly water down his initiatives until they're nothing but dried-up, worthless prairie grass.

He's got to start slapping people around. It's not polite, civil, or bipartisan, but it is what is needed, for Pete's sake, when you are dealing with opposition that resorts to the basest of tactics. It's not a pretty mode of fighting, but, by God, to still keep up this "withdrawn bipartisan civility" act in these kinds of circumstances is not only a bad move, it's a fatal one.

Obama will have to win back my vote with where he goes from here, because as of now, I'll be going third-party. The last thing America needs when dealing with the Party Led By Glenn Beck is Walter Mitty.
posted by WCityMike at 11:54 AM on August 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


Let's hope this trial balloon helps people to realize just how threatened substantive health care reform really is and finally prompts a united and forceful reaction in favor of a public plan.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 11:55 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then when he is presented with a bill without a public option, he could shrug and say that he did what he could to implement strong healthcare reform.

Or... he may actually be a consensus politician, committed to incrementalism, like he's been saying since before he accepted the nomination. He never claimed to be what many of his supporters wanted him to be.

I don't know enough about co-ops vs public option to know whether to share in the fury here. But I imagine it would have been tricky for the White House to have the maximum possible influence on the details of a co-op option behind the scenes, while publicly pretending to still think a public option was feasible.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:56 AM on August 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


it all starts with campaign finance reform.

until money stops 'talking" we are just here to give our incomes to our wealthy corporate masters.

"they hate our 'freedoms'" what a fucking joke
posted by Max Power at 11:57 AM on August 16, 2009 [29 favorites]


Well, time to start drinking more orange juice and wearing surgical masks the moment I hear someone cough on the subway.
posted by MoreForMad at 11:58 AM on August 16, 2009


It seems like a little judo might get something very close to the public option. Federalize the regulation of the insurance industry so that you only need one co-op. Ban pre-existing conditions exemptions and resending policies, and it looks a lot like a public option. Put some fairly restrictive stuff in the charter to keep the membership from changing it into something else.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:59 AM on August 16, 2009


Bipartisanship is a worthy goal when you're operating within a group where there is an operative shared identity. The US doesn't have one. Unfortunately, pushing through something that Republicans are so opposed to will only push that wedge in even further. Tough predicament.
posted by knapah at 11:59 AM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jesus fucking Christ, people. It's clearly a trial ballon being sent aloft with short-term political (read: tactical) implications and all you can do is gnash your teeth and joke about moving to fucking Canada. Again? Really? That's still funny or cutting or something? Get off the fucking computer and get your ass to a town-hall if you care so goddamn much about health care reform. I'm logging off and calling everyone who allegedly represents me in DC. Bunch of petulant whiny-ass titty babies up in here. Take it to Kos already.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:00 PM on August 16, 2009 [42 favorites]


If there's no public option, he's lost my vote in 2012.

Period.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:01 PM on August 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


NO!

Goddamn it this is infuriating and embarrassing. How on Earth can he cave to these mouth-breathing, illiterate obstructionists screaming about shit they read in an e-mail forward? Why the fuck would he want to appease Republicans who aren't going to vote for this bill, no matter what changes?

Goddamn, I am so fucking disappointed. It's not like this cowardly cave-in will quiet the opposition - this is just demonstrating to them that the Obama administration will blink if you rile up an angry fucking idiot mob. This is only going to encourage them. This is going to make them feel as if screaming in town halls is how one participates in the political process. And why shouldn't it? Apparently, it fucking worked.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:03 PM on August 16, 2009 [22 favorites]


It's not over yet; this may just be a bluff to suck some of the oxygen away from the shrieking rhetoric so we can get back to actually talking about the issue. On the other hand, it's definitely a bad sign. We've wasted so much time on this issue already, and the Obama administration doesn't have the political capital to pursue it indefinitely.

I have to say, I'm disappointed that they didn't seem to work the same magic that made his campaign such a phenomenon. If the rumors are true that they were caught off guard by the blatant lying of the far right, then that's just a bush-league mistake to make.

But you know what? I'm still putting the blame on the people who actually opposed this necessary reform, rather than the people who supported it inexpertly. If they're not going to participate in good faith then the republicans can have a nice "fuck you" next time they whine about bipartisanship.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:03 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Tree of Crazy in America must occasionally be watered by the blood of the liberals.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:06 PM on August 16, 2009 [19 favorites]


...titty babies?
posted by odinsdream at 12:09 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Look it up, kid.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:09 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I would like to point out that there's no shame in being beaten by the best.

I would also like to point out that the Democrats seem to have been beaten by Glenn Beck.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:10 PM on August 16, 2009 [37 favorites]


(forgive my expletive-laden attitude: I'm quitting an addiction at the moment and feeling agitated. also.)
posted by joe lisboa at 12:11 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm optimistic that if you come back after the mid-terms, and things will look even better for him.

He's playing the long long game.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on August 16, 2009


“What's important is choice and competition,” Sebelius said

What's important is affordable health care for everyone. By choice and competition, by government monopoly, by hook or by crook. Stop kneeling at the altar of "choice" and work on improving lives, however it should happen.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm optimistic that if you come back after the mid-terms, and things will look even better for him.

He's playing the long long game.


Perhaps. But in the meantime, almost fifty million Americans are uninsured.
posted by defenestration at 12:14 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've watched and read coverage of this with horrible fascination for the last few weeks. Obama and others in the administration should have called out the absurd lies like the death panel nonsense and rabid cries of "Marxism" or "Socialism". They didn't, probably because it would offend some in their own party as well as the thought that such a calling out of absurdity would be political suicide. Not calling it out is political suicide. Now millions have to continue to kowtow to what amounts to either a clinically insane or clinically vindicative group (or a combination of both).

The astronomical level of bullshit was an opportunity that, rather than being shot down, has now been embraced, if reluctantly.

I'm extremely disappointed for everyone in the States who continue to get shafted now and for years to come and am extremely thankful I'm Canadian and don't mind taking part in funding a government run health system that helps others as well as myself.

Yes we can becomes we thought we could?
posted by juiceCake at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gotta hand it to Republicans. They lose the presidential election, get reduced to a minority in both houses (including a superminority in Senate), and they still run the show.
posted by rocket88 at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


and joke about moving to fucking Canada.

I'm not joking, but they won't take me on my own, what with the MS and all. Why do you not believe I'd leave if I could? And that there are reasons the health care situation means so much to me?

I've contacted my representative, and my senators are Bunning and McConnell (*spit*). You think contacting them would really help? We don't have town halls here, since the local rep has better sense and McConnell and Bunning don't give a rat's ass. And fuck you if you don't realize some of us do live in these places and these circumstances.
posted by dilettante at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


defenestration: "Perhaps. But in the meantime, almost fifty million Americans are uninsured."

Fifty million is less than the number of the dimensions of the chess he is playing.
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Surely this...
posted by eriko at 12:18 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is an unmitigated fucking disaster. fuck.

This healthcare bullshit has made me angrier than I ever was during all of the misinformation spewed during the last administration. How have lobbyists and idiots gotten so powerful that they've been able to destroy any shred of sense in this country?
posted by pkingdesign at 12:18 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


My fear is that Obama has played himself into a corner here. It's entirely possible that he'll be presented with a bill that is worse(!!!???) than what we have now. I'm thinking he may not have the balls to not sign it.

Why do I keep dreaming about Rome and fiddles?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:19 PM on August 16, 2009


We don't want to get between you and your doctor me and my lobbyist.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:20 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've watched and read coverage of this with horrible fascination for the last few weeks. Obama and others in the administration should have called out the absurd lies like the death panel nonsense...

To be fair on this point, Obama directly addressed the death panel bullshit, and the very next day I heard republican senators using his exact phrasing in retelling the lie shamelessly. It didn't matter that the lies were clearly lies. Everyone reasonable already knew they were lies.
posted by odinsdream at 12:22 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, looks like I'll never move back home.
posted by chillmost at 12:22 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


rocket88: "Gotta hand it to Republicans. [...] they still run the show."

Yeah, but how much of that is the blue dog zone of the party just kind of allowing it to happen? I just finished reading an article in Harper's this morning about the UN conference in Durban that was all set to get the ball rolling on slave-trade reparations, and its recent follow-up (that Obama declined to attend), and how, for both meetings, there were overblown Arab/Israeli arguments that ended up totally derailing the conferences, and Western powers were all too happy to allow those arguments to flare as a convenient excuse.

so I have this great new hammer in my brain I'm busy applying to all the nails I see...
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:22 PM on August 16, 2009


Fuck fuck fuckity fuck. What is the best way to communicate with the White House these days? USPS? Email? Telephone? This cannot stand. Without the public option, all we have done is hand the insurance industry a green card mandate to rape and pillage the American public while offering the same sub-standard service they have for the past decades.

Just give the private sector 10 years to screw up their monopoly, and we'll get single-payer.

Another decade of spiraling costs and people dying needlessly. Goodie.
posted by hippybear at 12:23 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


If there's no public option, he's lost my vote in 2012. Period.

Get 1,000,000 signatures on that, even if it's just on a website, and see what happens.

Eventually, if you get all the Beck-fed R's on one side of the outrage and all those who voted for Obama on the other... the White House must surely notice which side is a few percentage points bigger.

Do they really need to be reminded? Sad.
posted by rokusan at 12:23 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]



I'm optimistic that if you come back after the mid-terms, and things will look even better for him.


This argument that if-things-keep-getting-worse-it's actually-good-for-our-side is pretty fucking tired after 9 years. Things in the US will never look better for our side than *right now.*
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:24 PM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


And fuck you if you don't realize some of us do live in these places and these circumstances.

As someone without health insurance who is unemployed at the moment and $1.59 in the bank, I assure you I realize this just fine. And I apologized up-thread for my attitude, maybe you missed it. I guess Will Rogers was right.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:25 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]



Eventually, if you get all the Beck-fed R's on one side of the outrage and all those who voted for Obama on the other... the White House must surely notice which side is a few percentage points bigger.


We.. we just did this.. it's the whole goddamn reason he was elected. I didn't walk through dozens of neighborhoods talking to hostile idiots for this.
posted by odinsdream at 12:26 PM on August 16, 2009 [17 favorites]


Just give the private sector 10 years to screw up their monopoly, and we'll get single-payer.

My family will be bankrupt long before then.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:27 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


The astronomical level of bullshit was an opportunity that, rather than being shot down, has now been embraced, if reluctantly.

The mainstream press seemed more than happy to give serious coverage to every 'death panel' rally, I noticed. And when Obama finally started responding, he was 'thawing out the salesman tactics from the presidential campaign' and on and on.

I understand why Big Insurance Companies would want any reform squished. They have about three trillion good reasons. But it bothers me when other Big Businesses oppose reform.

Maybe a saleable package should emphasize how much less business would need to contribute. If one could get other Big Industries squared off against Big Insurance, there might be hope.
posted by rokusan at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


he White House must surely notice which side is a few percentage points bigger.
We.. we just did this..


Yeah. That's what I meant by "Do they really need to be reminded?"

Every straw poll I saw had Health Care as the #1 or #2 voter concern. If they're now ignoring this... well, it had better cost them the White House next time.

Of course, then god help us all.
posted by rokusan at 12:30 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Good luck getting anything else done now that the republicans know they just have to shout loud enough to derail future proposals.

I recently listened to an interview with Frank Schaeffer (clip from town hall meeting on health care starts 1:40; interview starts approx. 2:30), former religious right activist, in which he explained that shouting down the opposition--literally just screaming in your opponent's face instead of responding with any sort of logical argument--is a favourite tactic of the far/religious right. And the worst thing is, apparently it's highly effective, especially when coupled with crazy misinformation like "the government is going to force children with disabilities to be euthanized." WHAT??

I'm very sorry about this. I can only imagine how heartbreaking this is to anyone who is waiting desperately for affordable healthcare, or who worked so hard to get Obama elected.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:30 PM on August 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Seriously, the time is now to get out in the street, to drive to political rallies in red towns and shout these fuckers down. At the very least, if you haven't yet, you need to let your representatives know what you think about this.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:31 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


The brownshirts won.

That's pretty much all I have to say, and all you need to know.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


.

God DAMN. I'm so angry I - I just don't have anything original to say. Not with a bang but with a fucking cowardly whimper.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2009


Well, it's long past time to start screaming in the opposition's faces, then.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:33 PM on August 16, 2009


As time goes by, I only become more and more convinced that www.change-congress.org is our best hope. It won't stop Beck & the army of wingnuts, but it will stop insurance companies from exerting as much influence. I figure they're the ones who have more of an impact.

Still, Obama's editorial today does mention the wingnuts, so I guess we need something for the PR battle as well.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 12:34 PM on August 16, 2009


Jesus. I'm sorry, you guys.
posted by jokeefe at 12:34 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


OK, on the face of it, health co-ops don't seem too bad:
I think there will be a competitor to private insurers," Sebelius said. "That's really the essential part, is you don't turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing."

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate's budget committee, pushed the co-op model as an alternative.

"It's not government-run and government-controlled," he said. "It's membership-run and membership-controlled. But it does provide a nonprofit competitor for the for-profit insurance companies, and that's why it has appeal on both sides."
Alright, I'm following this so far, but then:
As proposed by Conrad, the co-ops would receive federal startup money, but then would operate independently of the government. They would have to maintain the same financial reserves that private companies are required to keep to handle unexpectedly high claims.
Can someone explain to me how a non-profit business receiving no government support will be able to handle major insurance claims? Wouldn't it become prohibitively expensive? Someone educate me here.

Also, yes, THANKS A HEAP, Obama. What's next, make a public statement that maybe Operation Rescue "has a point" or something?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:35 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


And fuck the Democrats that allowed this to happen, because I blame them first. They couldn't have chosen a better way to destroy Obama if they'd tried.
posted by jokeefe at 12:37 PM on August 16, 2009


I honestly have no idea at this point what the plans are of this fables power team of the Obama White House. I keep waiting to hear exactly what Obama has done to push anything resembling what he promised on the campaign trail with anything beyond recording a YouTube video once a week.

The problem isn't pussy Democrats. There will always be pussy Democrats. There were pussy Republicans, from their perspective. But there's no Democratic Tom DeLay or Trent Lott. Democrats do not have an effective legislative whip team, and Obama has refused to exert any authority over Harry Reid whatsoever. Pussy Democrats are actually quite advantageous if you are willing to grab said pussies and order them to do what the Democratic leader tells you too. Instead we have a party that gives the chairmanship of the Homeland Security panel to the guy who was almost the Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee.

Obama has the ability to make Kent Conrad and Max Baucus' lives a living hell. He has the authority to promise signing statements that fuck over appropriations for his state, and if he had any ability to push Harry Reid around- which shouldn't be too hard given how fucking easy it is to push Harry Reid around- he'd be telling them they can either oppose their own president or keep their committee seats. He just chooses not to do it and for the life of me I can't understand why. His team has to be smart enough to realize that if they cave on health care it's going to be 1994 all over again.

And for all this current bullshit in the media, Obama himself still has about 30 points over the Senate Democrats in overall popularity. For all the fear-induced downturn on the Obama plan, a majority of Americans still support a public option. Obama has no excuse for not publicly stating he demands this, expects this of his side of the Senate, and will ensure that if they don't do what their president tells them, he'll find a team that will.

All of this, of course, relies on the idea that this is even remotely what Obama wants. And perhaps the biggest problem is the total lack of cohesive statements from the White House as to what exactly he wants to begin with.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:39 PM on August 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


I really can't believe all you people. Get off yer asses and start your own goddamn Pro health Care Bill group. Don't just sit back and blame it on the well organized opponents who, you know actually went to the meetings, actually read the bill, actually interpreted some of its more questionable components and loaded their weapons with them and blasted Obama, and anyone who came anywhere near approving of this horrendous mess. Whining about it will get you nowhere, or worse it'll get you the Massachusetts plan which fines people for not having adequate health insurance.
posted by Gungho at 12:40 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Scolding always works, thanks.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:42 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


And I apologized up-thread for my attitude, maybe you missed it.

I was busy trying to control my cussing at the time. But seriously, after you go 4 or 5 years losing feeling in your feet every now and then and can't get any diagnosis because you're uninsured, and then when you do get insurance and a diagnosis you have to stay in a job you hate for 7 years because you know how much you need insurance that you can only get through a very large employer....yeah, this place starts to look pretty barbaric and talking about leaving is no joke.

Hope the addiction stuff goes well, anyway.


posted by dilettante at 12:43 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Gungho, we did all of that last year when we elected Obama and gave him a huge majority in both the House and Senate.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:44 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Adding- I truly think that a lot of this is a failure on Obama's part to understand the logic that exists in almost every schoolyard and prison in America- there is no rationalizing with bullies who see you as the weakling, and you don't become the pack leader just at a ballot box. With a large majority in Congress and a landslide electoral victory, that Obama has shown no semblance of a bully pulpit is a weakness that is truly and painfully his own.

The reality is that most of Congress, Democrats included, think Obama is beneath them. This can be any percentage of his experience, their sense of entitlement, and yes, a little racism. "He's an elitist" wasn't just a dog whistle on the campaign trail; I heard it just as often in media circles when I lived in DC. Obama has completely failed to show that he's the actual fucking boss to his own party. I truly hate to have to stoop to such juvenile metaphors like this, but I really think that's the problem here. Republicans rallied behind the Bush/Cheney machine. A lot of Democrats don't accept that Obama is their boss, and he has to, metaphorically of course, beat some sense into them on that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:44 PM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


you know how you can make a difference... ?? The momentum for the behavior at the town hall meetings (and the rest of the bullshit that fuels the negativity and destruction in this counrty) is carried forward and promoted by the right wing media outlets (here in Southeastern Michigan that would be WJR Radio with the idiot Paul W. Smith at the helm of the hate machine).. Those media outlets need advertising $$$'s to continue the great crusade... stop buying the products that are advertised, and make sure the advertisers know why you are making that choice.. get the hate mongers off the air and the crusade will falter, and fail... talk with your wallets!

But, this probably takes a lot of time and energy, eh?
posted by HuronBob at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2009


Democrats do not have an effective legislative whip team, and Obama has refused to exert any authority over Harry Reid whatsoever.

This. No confidence in Reid.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Get off yer asses and start your own goddamn Pro health Care Bill group.

MoveOn is working on this, and they are actively soliciting donations.
posted by dilettante at 12:45 PM on August 16, 2009


Someone should make a website in response to the abandonment of a public option called WTF, Obama? where people send in a video of them simply saying, "What the fuck, Obama?"--defenestration

Fuck fuck fuckity fuck. What is the best way to communicate with the White House these days? --hippybear

Not only is this bad policy on the part of Obama, it's bad politics. -- billysumday

If there's no public option, he's lost my vote in 2012.--fourcheesemac

I'm holding back here: I'm not impressed...not impressed at all....with you all.

With friends like these, who needs fundies? Fourcheesemac, we may just Palin in 2012 yet!


Think, guys! Do you think he wants to do this? Do you think he has any choice? Maybe he live in your fantasy world where this bill would pass as written and abandon any chance of any kind of public health care.

Why, oh why, do we put all of these things on Obama's shoulders? What the heck are all of you doing to convince American's that the public option should stay in the bill? Without lots and lots of people countering insurance company propoganda, there is no choice.

The fault does not fall with Obama, it falls with you.
posted by eye of newt at 12:48 PM on August 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


You can tell when I'm getting emotional. My typo count skyrockets. "Maybe he should live in your fantasy world...and abandon any chance" etc
posted by eye of newt at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2009


Calling the White House will do a marginal amount of good. Your Senator is far more important by a longshot, particularly if you live in Arkansas, Connecticut, Deleware, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Virginia, or Wisconsin.

Open Left has a Public Option Whip-Count that you'd probably want to peruse to find out who needs a good talking to. Your House Represenative less so, but it wouldn't hurt to call if you know you have a Blue Dog (or Joseph Cao) representing you.

Senate contact information is here. House is here.

They're getting a lot of calls from the "Get your guvmint hands off my Medicare!" crowd, so you want to show that there are impassioned constituents who want a public insurance option. It's probably more effective than bitching about it on the Blue.
posted by Weebot at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


But seriously, after you go 4 or 5 years losing feeling in your feet every now and then and can't get any diagnosis because you're uninsured, and then when you do get insurance and a diagnosis you have to stay in a job you hate for 7 years because you know how much you need insurance that you can only get through a very large employer....

Jesus dilettante that sounds awful, I'm really sorry.


If there's no public option, he's lost my vote in 2012.

Period.
posted by fourcheesemac


You can add me to the list. We didn't climb up this mountain only to be thrown off now.
posted by nola at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I feel so bad for you Americans, dealing with such a fucked up healthcare landscape, and a fucked up political landscape for fixing it. It's easy for Canadians like me to shake my head and say "man, what's going on down there?" But I lived in the U.S. for six years, and follow U.S. political blogs, and understand that you've got just a deeply, hugely complicated mess through which you're trying to find your way.
posted by fatbird at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Michael Moore also has some links to single payer events and information through HealthCare Now!, but there's not been much talk about single payer.

of course, a public option really isn't necessary if we do single payer.
posted by dilettante at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2009


Democrats do not have an effective legislative whip team

The GOP's whips have power because Republican Congresscritters are terrified of pissing them off. The Democrats have no fear of the left (or center) whatsoever, and are themselves terrified not of their party's whips, but of the Republicans.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Further, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicated that end-of-life counseling was "probably off the table", presumably due to Republican "death panel" commentary.

Silly democrats, don't they realize that removing the provisions won't actually stop anyone from complaining about them?
posted by delmoi at 12:52 PM on August 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Get off yer asses and start your own goddamn Pro health Care Bill group.

It's not that that's a bad idea, but this "why aren't Democrats fighting for this on the left" argument is infuriating. We did fight for this on the left. It was called an election. We fought for 7 more Senate seats, two dozen House seats, and the White House in a massive landslide. Voting for a party platform is just that kind of fight. The White House has responded in kind by sitting on its ass.

Obama is effectively sitting back and hoping his hands don't get dirty. And that is in no way a a failure of motivation on the party of any progressive activist. That is entirely a failure of leadership and Obama deserves to be called on that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:52 PM on August 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


and joke about moving to fucking Canada

And we don't have a national health care system either. We have the Canada Health Act, which is a framework for minimum standards of care and how it is to be funded, plus decades of fighting between the feds and the provinces/territories about who's on the hook for what. If Obamacare goes down in flames, there are more than a small number of policymakers at all levels of government up here who'd love to use the failure as an excuse to further gut our own systems.
posted by hangashore at 12:52 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


But, this probably takes a lot of time and energy, eh?

Well, yes, involvement doesn't end with voting. We still need to stay in contact with our elected officials to let them know how we feel. The thing is, Obama and his team knew damn well this is like one of the biggest reasons we voted for him, and we trusted them to fight for this. Instead, they're backing down. And that's a real punch in the gut. Give the loonies an inch and they'll walk all over you. There's being bi-partisan, and then there's giving the extremists a seat at the table. Fuck that. Marginalize those idiots. Now I expect - or hope, anyway - that rather than turning their backs on the Dems in disgust, those who voted for them will be in even tighter contact with them to tell them, no, dude, get back in there and fight for this thing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:52 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why, oh why, do we put all of these things on Obama's shoulders?

This is exactly what I'm talking about. It's almost like he's the leader of the free world or something.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:53 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just another perspective. Is this really the end of the world? I mean, really:

The Proposed Government Health Insurance Company — No Substitute for Real Reform

A Public Option Isn’t a Curse, or a Cure

Maybe it is, but I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel yet. I want to understand why this is or isn't so essential.
posted by girlmightlive at 12:55 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stop playing paddy cake with the Republicans and do what we elected to do.
posted by nola at 12:57 PM on August 16, 2009


We put these things on Obama's shoulder because he's the goddamned president.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:57 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


do what we elected *you to do.
posted by nola at 12:57 PM on August 16, 2009


Metafilter: Palin in 2012 because we hate Obama because he doesn't have the God-like powers we thought he did and everything is all his fault.
posted by eye of newt at 12:58 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I've set up wtf-obama.com. please mefi-mail me any videos you make of yourself saying "what the fuck, obama?", or send them to the email address in my profile.

I'm setting up a simple wordpress site to just have a simple list of all the videos, it should be up in an hour or two. I'll post any videos I receive there.
posted by localhuman at 12:59 PM on August 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


wtf-localhuman
posted by eye of newt at 1:00 PM on August 16, 2009


Did Bush have god-like powers when he pushed through a war based on lies? No, he just had a good political team and the will to use them.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:00 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yes, eye of newt, that is what everyone here is saying. You've nailed it!
posted by defenestration at 1:01 PM on August 16, 2009


I can't believe the end of life counseling is on the chopping block.

I did my nursing assistant clinical hours in a hospital as well as a nursing home, and saw (and cared for) hospice patients, comfort care patients, palliative care patients, as well as those being aggressively treated up until the very end. Families and patients seemed to be fairly unaware of their options, even those who simply chose not to aggressively treat their terminal illnesses anymore. I don't think many of them knew that they could get the support, help, and dignity from hospice care at the end, that they could stay in their own homes, that their family wouldn't have to be the sole caregivers, and that ultimately hospice care could be cheaper than the final hospital visits.

That's something I really don't understand: beyond the emotional/comfort/psychological issues, financially, hospice care, palliative care, it just makes sense. Is that why it's a problem -- it's cheap, it's not aggressively treating terminal illness, therefore it's the same as government actively trying to kill people to save money? i don't get it.

/incoherent inability to understand.
posted by circle_b at 1:02 PM on August 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


I guess the thing you all need to understand here is that America is not a democracy or even a republic. It's a financial oligarchy with the rituals and trappings of 18th century Enlightenment republicanism but little else.

And the thing is, the real kicker here, is that there really is no Cabal. There isn't a secret bunker where the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers meet under a full moon to decide the fate of the nation. The "oligarchy" here is actually what you might hear counter-cultural types call "The System". The System has no discernible head, no Central Committee For The Exploitation of the American Worker, no Oppression Czar.

The System has no offices, no mailing addresses, no telephone numbers. It's not the White House, it's not Congress, it's not even the Pentagon. It's not Haliburton or Blue Cross or Blackwater either. It's none of those things and yet it's all of those things at once.

It's everything. That's what the system is: everything working together, every aspect of society, like lightning, taking the path of least resistance into the ground. You can't shoot the CEO of your insurance company. You'll get raped in the ass before your lethal injection and he'll get replaced by another CEO with better bodyguards. You can't do anything against the system. Neither can Obama, and he's the most powerful single individual in the whole system.

People are wondering why it's so easy to go to war but so difficult to get healthcare for Americans. Again, it's the path of least resistance into the ground. War is easy and highly profitable. It's good for morale and the national character. We idolize our soldiers and idolize war. Individually we may not, but collectively, as a herd, we do.

But the System is even stronger than the herd. When the herd speaks overwhelmingly against the System -- as it did last November -- the system merely keeps doing what it does best. It just keeps chugging along, churning out misery and oppression along with record profits, hot dogs and hit singles. That's what it does no matter who's in office. You can't "send a message" to a mechanical beast with no consciousness.

Go into our nation's inner cities and ask the dark-skinned denizens therein about the System. Ask them how it makes useful change impossible, about how it keeps them within a geographic and spiritual ghetto from which very few ever truly escape. Ask them about it. They'll usually be more than happy to tell you.

I guess were just entering into a time period where middle-class whites are starting to experience a taste of the System's lash after being exempted from it for so long. We're all getting poorer, sicker, less mobile and more hopeless -- and, like poor blacks throughout American history -- we are expected to blame ourselves. The chickens really are coming home to roost, it seems.

tl;dr: if you want to see the future of this country, imagine a neck being strangled by an American flag, forever.
posted by Avenger at 1:02 PM on August 16, 2009 [165 favorites]


Cowards.
posted by billypilgrim at 1:02 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Get off yer asses and start your own goddamn Pro health Care Bill group.

One step ahead of you.

I've been working to put together some of the simplest, quickest ways to speak out on health care reform on one site. It's not quite done yet, but you can visit the pre-launch version here. [self-link, obviously]

There will be plenty of time for gnashing of teeth soon enough. First, click a few links and make a few calls.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 1:04 PM on August 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


The GOP's whips have power because Republican Congresscritters are terrified of pissing them off. The Democrats have no fear of the left (or center) whatsoever.

That's because they have been part of a long, sustained effort to paint the radical left as crazy people who we should roll our eyes and laugh at. And maybe we should, but nobody -- not the Democrats, not the national media -- does that same thing with radical right-wingers.

Maybe it's because they have all the guns.
posted by rokusan at 1:04 PM on August 16, 2009


You can also make your opinion known more directly through the the White House website contact form. I tried not to quote AstroZombie 3 in my comments there.
posted by dilettante at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2009


As I see it, the problem with a co-op competing with private insurers is either:
(a) the private insurers cherry pick all the healthy people (like they do now) and the co-ops, loaded down with people with chronic illnesses and the like have to charge outrageous premiums.
or
(b) the co-ops have to be selective in who they insure as well, leaving lots of people *still* uninsured.

We need to ban insurance concepts like "pre-existing conditions". Want real reform? Regulate the industry that they have to take anyone who will pay and can pick any plan they offer, and require all premiums with each plan to be the same amount for everyone on that plan.
posted by fings at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


eye of newt has it, people. You want something? Go fight for it, don't just whine when it isn't given to you. You say that it's a tiny minority of frothing maniacs who have caused Obama to cave, when the overwhelming majority of the country wants healthcare reform. More accurately, there is a small but powerful group of people with an interest in the status quo, and an overwhelming majority who are too apathetic and/or stupid to care. In the end, America will get the healthcare program it deserves, just like it almost always gets the government it deserves. In that sense, it's actually a pretty well-functioning democracy.

If 'the people' don't want the interests of big business running the place and dictating very important things about their lives, they need to say so clearly, forcefully, and be ready to back it up with strong, committed, and unwavering action. They don't need to continue to guzzle its products and leave the thinking to someone else.
posted by notswedish at 1:07 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Regulate the industry that they have to take anyone who will pay

...and for those who can't pay?
posted by Avenger at 1:07 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


With friends like these, who needs fundies? Fourcheesemac, we may just Palin in 2012 yet!

Think, guys! Do you think he wants to do this? Do you think he has any choice? Maybe he live in your fantasy world where this bill would pass as written and abandon any chance of any kind of public health care.


Well, I'm not much of a fan of the "you have to support the president or the republicans win!" argument. It's just lazy. But in this case, well, the president doesn't write the laws, congress does. It doesn't really make any sense to blame Obama for not being able to convince them to vote for the bill.

But I think you can blame him for not being willing to let the progressive movement really go after recalcitrant senators and congressmen. Progressive activists can remove these guys through the primary process. Look at Joe Lieberman, for example. He lost his primary, and in many states he wouldn't have been able to run again as an independent.

That said, passing something now would probably make it easier to pass something better in the future.

Having a more progressive house and senate would help on a lot of other issues as well. If progressives actually worked to push out bad democratic senators and congressmen in 2010, we could see a second round of health care legislation later.
posted by delmoi at 1:07 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


You can also rant at the Democratic Party here.
posted by dilettante at 1:11 PM on August 16, 2009


Palin in 2012 because we hate Obama because he doesn't have the God-like powers we thought he did and everything is all his fault.

I hate to break it to you, but by getting the end-of-life counseling provision thrown out, Sarah Palin has already beaten Barack Obama.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:11 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Well, I'm not much of a fan of the "you have to support the president or the republicans win!" argument. It's just lazy."

Yet that's exactly the approach that allowed Bush to have 'God-like' powers. It wasn't him, it was the incredible well organized and well financed support he got throughout the nation and the 100% party-line support in Congress.

Obama does not have this. Instead of support, he gets blame. I see so much of it here it makes me sick. No wonder the health bill is having so many problems getting passed.
posted by eye of newt at 1:12 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seems to me that keeping poor people uninsured is a good way to kill them off. How many people will die needlessly in a country that could easily do something about it?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:13 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


The head of the Executive branch of the US government can often establish and push the legislative agenda. We saw this repeatedly with Reagan and Bush I and II. We didn't see it much with Clinton because of Gingrich and the 1994 election. But right now, if there ever was a government (meaning both Executive and Legislative branches) which has a mandate to make things work differently and to push things through whether the minority wants it or not, it would be the current US administration. Why Obama, Pelosi, and Biden don't stand up and say "this is what we're going to pass, and here is how it's going to get done" and then start just pushing it through, I'm at a loss for that.

Again, we have solid modeling for this process from history within my memory. If those currently in power cannot learn from that, then we have truly lost and we are nothing but an industrial-corporate oligarchy, and the population of the country has no HOPE, and should simply expect their lives to be ground into ones and zeroes in a computer in a bank someplace.


Again, I ask: what is the most effective method to communicate to DC critters? I got some communicatin' to do.
posted by hippybear at 1:13 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm tempted to set up a wtf-Metafilter website.
posted by eye of newt at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2009


It does make me curious, eye of newt, what you are doing to help the process yourself?

Or are you outside the argument altogether for some reason?
posted by hippybear at 1:16 PM on August 16, 2009


Again, I ask: what is the most effective method to communicate to DC critters? I got some communicatin' to do.

Emails are often ingored. Letters are now screened and take forever. Make a phone call. Better yet, make a bunch of calls to their regional offices as well as D.C.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 1:16 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


“This is a Third World country”
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's no way this is a political tactic? Hedge on it during the recess to try and deflate the giant flaming bag of crazy and come back with it later?


I mean....fuck.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's everything. That's what the system is: everything working together, every aspect of society, like lightning, taking the path of least resistance into the ground. You can't shoot the CEO of your insurance company. You'll get raped in the ass before your lethal injection and he'll get replaced by another CEO with better bodyguards. You can't do anything against the system. Neither can Obama, and he's the most powerful single individual in the whole system.
Assuming he's even trying. While he's obviously trying to improve healtcare, he is clearly not even trying to reform "the system". Remember, this is a guy who worked out a secret deal with the drug companies for their political support. Does that seem like the actions of a guy who thinks that the immense political power over American's lives by corporate interests is fundamental problem that needs to be solved.
posted by delmoi at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


My father is in the process of emigrating to Israel. In order to obtain citizenship based on 'right of return', one must prove they're Jewish by having a North American Rabbi vouch for them. It's a quick one line letter. My father was able to procure his using a Quebec birth certificate - since they used to list religion. His U.S. girlfriend, on the other hand, is having a hell of a time - even though she has her mother's death certificate which shows she was buried in a Jewish cemetery. In the past, this would have sufficed. These days, with so many unemployed and uninsured U.S. citizens, the Israelis are scrutinizing them as if they're from a Third World country attempting to fraudulently gain this basic human right.
posted by gman at 1:22 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


fings: The ban on pre-existing conditions, coupled with an individual mandate, is pretty much settled by now in all the bills, regardless of the status of the public option.
posted by Weebot at 1:23 PM on August 16, 2009


It does make me curious, eye of newt, what you are doing to help the process yourself?

It may be a very small step, but if I can stop a bunch of otherwise very intelligent people from going halfcocked after the President, when what they should be doing in going after the Congressmen and all of their friends in neighbors, in support of the President, then I will consider it an accomplishment.

How about a WTF-America website instead of a WTF-Obama website?

Think, just think for a minute. If Rush Limbaugh could read the messages in this discussion, do you think he would smile or be sad? I think he'd be smiling so much he'd rip is face apart.

Would you rather the health bill pass with a government option, or would you rather see Rush Limbaugh smile? Which result do you think a wtf-Obama website would better support?

Don't be your own worse enemy.
posted by eye of newt at 1:23 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


sorry, eye of newt. i didn't mean to offend anyone. i just thought that defenestration had a good idea in her/his comment. and i'm bored on a sunday. it is fun to set up things. if you think i should spend my time doing something better, give me a hint.
posted by localhuman at 1:25 PM on August 16, 2009


It's a very very small step indeed.

Are you organizing any of these groups yourself you are calling for? Have you written any letters or made any phone calls? How are you working to directly affect this argument.

Would you rather the health bill pass with a government option, or would you rather see Rush Limbaugh smile?

Um... I think the answer to this question is obvious, but I'm not sure it's the question you meant to ask.
posted by hippybear at 1:26 PM on August 16, 2009


i guess i could set up wtf-america instead. I actually agree that the past few weeks have made me more angry with america and its reaction to the health care debate rather than obama himself.
posted by localhuman at 1:27 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Can someone explain to me how a non-profit business receiving no government support will be able to handle major insurance claims? Wouldn't it become prohibitively expensive? Someone educate me here.

Obviously the co-ops would have to be careful not to accept people with pre-existing conditions, and rescind coverage of anyone who actually gets sick, to protect their meagre reserves.
posted by nowonmai at 1:29 PM on August 16, 2009


Ugh. I'm just getting ready to return to Chicago from Paris, and I hear about THIS. What a homecoming gift.

Since I've been out of the US since the last election, I've been absent from the rising tide of crazy over there and I'll admit that I've been doing my best to switch channels when coverage of the town-hall-meltdowns comes on French news. The sheer, surreal falseness of the claims being made against Obamacare and the frothing rage with which they're being picked up by people gives me this creepy, foreboding feeling that I imagine other people have felt throughout history as they watched their own community turn to mass paranoia and violent uprising.

Admittedly, I have the benefit of having an escape-hatch—Canadian citizenship—but I had been planning on spending at least part of my career in the US, where academic salaries are a bit higher, before settling in Canada or elsewhere. This makes me want to run for the border as soon as I have my PhD in hand (if not earlier) not just because the health care situation is better for me, but also because this recent display of frothing crazy is changing my view of what America is and what Americans are like. Of course, I have lots of American friends who are just as horrified as I, and I know that the folks losing their shit at town hall meetings do not speak for them, but—at some deep, intuitive level—what I'm hearing and seeing from this debate is scaring me.

And I don't think that I'm alone. At a party just last night with all of my French friends, there was a brief discussion of the health care debate in the US and I felt like their tone has changed. They oscillated between laughing at the absurdity and expressing genuine concern about the political situation. On current-events / debate shows on French, Belgian, German, British and pan-Arabic (Al-Jazeera), I see the US being alternately made a laughingstock of political discourse and a tragic example of american-style marketing/propaganda politics taken to extremes.

Obviously, the most pressing concern and the most tragic outcome of what's happening now is that an opportunity to change health care for the better is being missed and people will continue to live with and die from inadequate health care in one of the world's richest countries. However, even if this thing turns out OK, I suspect that a significant side-effect of this Summer of Crazy will be a lasting international image of the US as irrational, unreasonable, unpredictable and dangerous.
posted by LMGM at 1:30 PM on August 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Are you organizing any of these groups yourself you are calling for? Have you written any letters or made any phone calls? How are you working to directly affect this argument.


Heck, I'll take suggestions as long as it doesn't involve attacking the President. My Congresswoman and both Senators are strong supporters of the health bill, so letters to them won't accomplish much.
posted by eye of newt at 1:33 PM on August 16, 2009


Roberto Benigni (that oscar winning funny italian actor of La Vita è bella) today visited the victims of the Aquila earthquake of april 2009. He didn't stop only to amuse them, but to deliver a very simple message: if government delays reconstruction, breaking promises, don't stop letting them know you are MAD at them. Let Obama know you support him.

Scream, shout, make noise, make demos.

If you shut up, it means there is no problem. The vociferous minority leadership understood that well and never ever stop complaining.

Were the fuck is the majority ? I mean the real one, not the minority pretending to represent the majority ?

Wake up! Be counted! Make your points be heard and picked up by media, it doesn't have to be creative (but it better be if you want better results).
posted by elpapacito at 1:33 PM on August 16, 2009


The GOP must be loving this right now. 2012 is theirs to lose.
posted by tommasz at 1:34 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes we can. Guess he can't.
posted by gman at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


When I proposed the website, I was, well, joking. But still, why would you assume that we don't engage the people we know and come in contact with on the issue? Also, a lot of work has already gone into electing Obama and getting Democratic majorities. Is it up to us to wipe their asses, too?

eye of newt, please understand that some of our responses here aren't measured and tactical/political, but rather immediate and reactionary. It doesn't mean that they are our only thoughts on the matter.
posted by defenestration at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2009


homunculus... Unfortunately, I have a feeling the people fighting against reform would read that post and see it as a positive, shining example of how "the market" is responding to the need.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:36 PM on August 16, 2009


~ Can someone explain to me how a non-profit business receiving no government support will be able to handle major insurance claims? Wouldn't it become prohibitively expensive? Someone educate me here.

~ Obviously the co-ops would have to be careful not to accept people with pre-existing conditions, and rescind coverage of anyone who actually gets sick, to protect their meagre reserves.


That's what I thought. So it's basically really shitty insurance for people who never get sick or seriously injured. They already have that; it's called crossing your fingers.

You know, I'm not in the "Obama isn't a real leftist and he isn't doing anything right" camp at all. I realize it's a complicated system. But "systems" are made of people. They're not monolithic, faceless, separate entities that operate outside of human control. As such, the "system" of legislative and executive power is Democrat controlled. The failure here was failure to rally, plain and simple.

Well, we got him into office by being able to rally, and we should be able to push back the same way.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:36 PM on August 16, 2009


If the friendly political forces outside our borders can collectively flex and bend whatever will they have our way, we could sure use the extra help! Seriously, we need some leaders of countries and corporations to do more than point and laugh. We need them to put that "You Americans are CRAZY" into some positive action with a little bit of heft behind it, because obviously we're too unorganized, stupid, or tired to do anything more effective than tread water at this point. Please.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's still early to be giving up on meaningful health care reform just because the public option has been conceded (to say nothing of the craziness of not voting for the President again because of this result). For instance, see Ezra Klein's post on five pieces of health care reform that are just as important as a public option.

If the public option that we could possibly get passed is toothless, there's not much point in keeping it around. It might well be great strategy to give it away in exchange for other things-its 'trade value' is quite inflated right now, since both sides are using it as the benchmark in the process, for whatever reason.

If there's one consistent theme that we've seen from the Obama team throughout his campaign and presidency thus far, it's that his political moves are made for good reasons. The President is a dealmaker and he'll get the best bill he can. I wish everyone would dial down the rhetoric and dial up his/her congresspersons.
posted by Kwine at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Sigh. Time for yet another angry call to my dear Senator Grassley.
posted by nbergus at 1:40 PM on August 16, 2009


I have to leave so I'll leave a parting comment.

Why do you think Obama is suggesting this idea? Obama is pragmatic. He knows he doesn't have the support or votes to get the bill to pass or he wouldn't be pulling the government option out.

It is really hard for an idealist to understand this, but you must if you want to fix it. Simply make sure that he does have the support and votes to get the bill to pass in the form that you want it.

Obama never had the 100% party line voting in Congress that Bush had, so his only choice is to be pragmatic.

We need to single out those Democratic Congressmen who are wavering. Their names should be known by all. And furthermore--education. By any means possible let the general public know what they are getting or giving up by the public option being in or out of the bill. We are up against a well organized propoganda machine and the only way to fight it is to counter it with education. This is what Obama has been trying to do across the country. He needs help, not attacks! Lets help him out!
posted by eye of newt at 1:43 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


The Moonies strike again.
posted by johngoren at 1:48 PM on August 16, 2009


A few weeks ago, I was at the Raleigh town hall with President Obama. I sat in the third row. When he came by to shake hands, I said: Mr President, if the Senate Finance Committee wants co-ops, let's give them one giant co-op by making the Democratic Party and all of its 70 million members into one co-op.

He smiled. Maybe he listened?

I still want public option single payer.

Related: http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009062517/not-health-care-co-ops-they-had-mind
posted by paulinsanjuan at 1:48 PM on August 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


eye of newt: On the point of "well why don't you pass comprehensive health-care reform, huh?"

Look, we had an election. It was a very, very difficult one full of crap. Lots of people put in thousands upon thousands of hours. I contributed to that effort myself by calling people, walking miles through neighborhoods talking to crazy people, and organizing other volunteers. We don't live in a direct democracy. We elect representatives to do shit because most of the time we all have jobs to go to. I don't have eight hours a day to spend writing letters and following news headlines all day, calling representatives, and so on. This is not to say that I don't write letters, or call representatives; I most certainly do. However, there is a point you have to reach where you assume some baseline of action from the representatives you elect. For instance, I would assume that Obama's team would be politically adept enough to easily counter blatant, offensive lies spouted by, literally, insane people. Politically managing that is their job.

So, yes, while I will be calling representatives and letting them know how I feel, I won't be bussing teams of delusional people into public venues to shout at the opposition. It isn't possible for someone on the left to do such a thing for several reasons. Chiefly, organizers of such people rely on the fact that they are organizing morons. They don't require internal logic to their positions, like most people who would fall into the "want public option/single-payer health care" camp would.

It is absolutely insane to suggest that "fight fire with fire" is a reasonable way to proceed on this front.
posted by odinsdream at 1:49 PM on August 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


“This is a Third World country”

That link is a perfect example of what I'm talking about with Obama's ineffectiveness. This should have been on national news. Obama should have flown there, stood at it, forced the cameras to film it, and say to the camera "this is America's health care system right now. This is what happening because you're busy freaking out about death panels. This is where you might be next year if you lose your job."

It would have taken a few hours of his day. And it would have highlighted exactly that activism normal Americans are doing that he isn't.

But instead there's a dozen people already in this thread complaining that the impetus lies still on us, not the goddamn leader of the fucking country, to actually pitch a coherent message. There's something terrifying here about one of the largest opinions in this, the debate about health care coverage, being that we as a people aren't working hard enough. Last time I checked that's what the right wing is telling the uninsured too.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:49 PM on August 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


Above, "public option" was supposed to have a strike-through line.

I still want public option single payer.
posted by paulinsanjuan at 1:50 PM on August 16, 2009


Ok sorry, its not working!!!
posted by paulinsanjuan at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2009


it's not really the health care plan that gets me; let's face it, there are cultural and social forces at work in America that make operable, affordable health care difficult (e.g. a predominantly alive-without-regard-to-quality approach to end of life issues that makes absurd bullshit like "death panels" resonate with the median, an idea that all problems have a single cause which leads to litigation, in turn leading to (not quite significant) malpractice insurance and (the attending significant) overtesting and overtreatment, a median sedentary lifestyle coupled with a median farmer's diet). Doing healthcare right requires a measure of socialism, because medical conditions are distributed unevenly, without correlation to wealth (at least until the time of first treatment), but damn don't we hate us some socialism.

It would be hard to get something reasonable done in America even without the fact that we have to fight an entrenched industry that eats kittens, shits evil, employs your neighbor, and owns your senator.

And this fight isn't yet over.

No, what gets me is this proves that, still, all you have to do to get stuff done in America is run the Bush playbook: yell the scariest, dumbest lies as loud as you can. And that makes me happy I left, but sad for my homeland, and sorry for those who have not yet followed.
posted by Vetinari at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Well, looks like I'll never move back home."

Ditto.

This whole health care thing has weirded me out way more than the whole Iraq invasion (which I opposed) did. I mean, with Iraq, the issue was "does he have WMD and will he use them" and nobody could say "Yes, he does" or "No, he doesn't" definitively. Instead, people had to guess based on the evidence, so the most damning thing one could say would be "We certainly have no credible evidence whatsoever that there are WMD". That's a pretty strong argument.

But now we're talking about a system which actually exists in many countries. Unlike WMD, where we were dealing with theoreticals, with this issue you can just go look. Japan has nat'l health insurance. Taxes aren't sky-high. Nobody tells you what doctor you can or can't go to. There is no murdering of invalids. None of this is speculation, it's reality which, unlike WMD, is right out in the open for anyone to see. This goes beyond "strong argument".

If the health care plans were shot down for other reasons -- if there were peculiarities in America based on demographics or malpractice insurance costs or anything like that -- I could understand (though not agree with) a nat'l health insurance system plan being abandoned. I might disagree, but it would at least make some logical sense. This is more like someone saying they're going to take a boat to England, and then being convinced that they should give up on the idea, not because boat trips are long or you get seasick, but because "the world is flat, and you'll fall off the edge".
posted by Bugbread at 1:52 PM on August 16, 2009 [29 favorites]


Here we go:

I still want public option single payer.
posted by paulinsanjuan at 1:52 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, hey, co-ops, this is great! I'm absolutely sure that when my chronically-ill ass walks up, the doors will be flung wide open for me.

Here's back to hoping my husband never loses his job or I might as well just lie down and die.
posted by sugarfish at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is my surprised face.

Obama has been barely mentioning public-option for weeks now. I keep reading how they have to drop it because it won't get sixty votes in the senate.

Sixty?? Not voting for the bill is one thing, but he seriously thinks DEMOCRATS are going to filibuster a bill their president wants passed? It wouldn't happen. If Obama wanted it passed, it would pass. I would like to believe he cares about something besides political expediency and winning a "victory," no matter how devoid of actual benefit to actual people, but there's no evidence of that at all.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:58 PM on August 16, 2009


Surely this...
posted by fuq at 1:59 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blue Cross/Blue Shield started out as a system of co-ops.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:02 PM on August 16, 2009


"We know that our health-care system is broken: wildly expensive, terribly inefficient, and poorly adapted to an economy no longer built on lifetime employment, a system that exposes hardworking Americans to chronic insecurity and possible destitution. But year after year, ideology and political gamesmanship result in inaction, except for 2003, when we got a prescription bill that somehow managed to combine the worst aspects of the public and private sectors - price gouging and bureaucratic confusion, gaps in coverage and an eye-popping bill for taxpayers."

Obama, B., (2006) The Audacity of Hope, pp. 22-23
posted by knapah at 2:03 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is another one of those things which I'll explain to my wife, only for her to make the face that means "Michael, your country is fucked up".

Really, I just don't understand this thing at all. I was against Iraq, the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, Bush, etc. I thought the supporters were imbeciles. But they were imbeciles who I understood. They were scared by 9/11. But this? I just plain don't understand.
posted by Bugbread at 2:04 PM on August 16, 2009


As proposed by Conrad, the co-ops would receive federal startup money, but then would operate independently of the government. They would have to maintain the same financial reserves that private companies are required to keep to handle unexpectedly high claims.

until they can't maintain them and have to approach the government for a bail-out - at which point the question will be "we could bail out the banks and gm, why shouldn't we bail out the health co-ops?"

it's sneaky - i don't think it's the right way of reforming health care at all, but it is sneaky
posted by pyramid termite at 2:05 PM on August 16, 2009


Or... he may actually be a consensus politician, committed to incrementalism, like he's been saying since before he accepted the nomination.

A public option is incrementalism. In a very tiny increment.

He's playing the long long game.

I bet that's what they said when FDR caved to the AMA and dropped his public health plan seventy-five years ago.
posted by enn at 2:07 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Another example of failed leadership.

In any effective presidency, Rep. Ross would already be in a closed-door meeting with White House staff and preparing the apologetic walkback statement he'll be making tomorrow morning. Instead the most right-wing Democrats from some of the smallest districts in America are bullying the president around. How Rahm Emmanuel of all people isn't ready to kill these guys- the guys mocking his boss on national television- amazes me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:08 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


You say that it's a tiny minority of frothing maniacs who have caused Obama to cave, when the overwhelming majority of the country wants healthcare reform.

i don't - it's an even tinier minority of people with cash buying off congresspeople, like they always do

the frothing maniacs are there to provide misdirection while the real outrage happens in washington
posted by pyramid termite at 2:12 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


We.. we just did this.. it's the whole goddamn reason he was elected. I didn't walk through dozens of neighborhoods talking to hostile idiots for this.
posted by odinsdream at 12:26 PM on August 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


I'm sorry, but no. I know other people have made this point, but Election Day was the beginning of the work we needed to do. Winning the election was the easy part. A lot of people "walked through hostile neighborhoods," some knocked hundreds of doors, other made thousands of phone bank calls. Those were important, necessary steps, but they were preamble.

Now we really have to get to work. Yeah, it's about you calling and venting to your Congress people, but it's about organizing, too. Talk to your family. Give them the words to say if they don't know them. Tell co-workers, friends, acquaintances, anyone who shares your values. Ask them -beg them- to make four phone calls or send four emails: to the President, their two Senators, and their Representative. (You can find contact information on the OpenCongress.org web site, amongst other places.)

I know you know this - in the American system, you don't win an election and then BOOM, you have the country and community you dreamed about. You can be angry if you want, and complain as much as you like, and blame whomever you choose, but if we commit to working on this, organizing around this, and changing this, there's still a chance.
posted by elmer benson at 2:12 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is of course heartwrenching, but what I can't help thinking is that all the realities of life for under or uninsured Americans and what they are suffering don't make a fucking bit of difference to those who are screaming out lies and accusations and doing anything they can to derail the possibility of reform. They don't care about the uninsured, and aren't moved by their plight. They just care about the possibility that they might lose something. It's not amenable to reason. Or compassion, apparently.
posted by jokeefe at 2:13 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


And yeah, it almost makes me want to toss a marriage license over the border just to help somebody out.
posted by jokeefe at 2:15 PM on August 16, 2009


Here's what I sent to the whitehouse.

I recently moved back to the US from Europe. I had been living in the UK and Finland for the past 3 years.

I am a game developer by trade, and historically, have had very good health insurance. Before that, I was carried by my parents insurance. Because my dad is a doctor, I received what is arguably the highest quality care available in the United States.

Now that I am back in the country, I have a high deductible insurance plan and an HSA. And for the first time in 3 years, I have to consider.. "Do i need to take this pill today? Can I get by without? Do I really need to go to the doctor for this or will it get better on its own?"

I suddenly cannot afford day-to-day healthcare. And I have a stable job and high quality insurance.

I've experienced the NHS and Kela, supplanted by private insurance. I've experienced the best that US system has to offer, and the best that the European systems have to offer. I've paid taxes in all 3 countries. The dirty secret is that my tax burden in Finland was less than California when you factor in healthcare.

There is no excuse for not passing comprehensive healthcare reform, with a vibrant public option. Not a handout for the insurance companies, but a true step towards health-care for all americans.

This is a make or break moment. We're in the middle of the largest economic downturn in the history of the United States. It will continue, and probably get worse.

Want to kick-start a revival of the american entrepreneur?

Give me healthcare. Real affordable healthare.

Make it so I don't have to worry about where I'll scrape together enough money for prescriptions so I can function. Make it so I don't have to ship drugs in from India because we refuse to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.

Move past the graft and corruption in DC and get us affordable health-care for all Americans.

You have a chance to shine, prove to me and other young(ish) Americans that the system isn't broken. To prove that it works, and we can move into the 21st century as leaders of the democratic world, and not be relegated to the backwaters of history, a less in corporate interests trumping the good of the people.

// End email.


I don't expect a response, nor do I expect a change in direction.

The system is broken. Irrevocably. Corrupt to the core.

How did we end up embracing idiocy, stupidity, ignorance, hate as virtues? Consumerism and wealth disparity as the shining pinnacle of the American ideal?

What happened to us?

I came back to the US expecting a glimmer of forward progress, progressive thinking, newfound understanding of the social fabric and communities that surround us. Not an overnight revolution, but at least an inkling of an emergence from the past 10 years of bullshit.

What I got was a country driven by ego and emotion, by an uneducated and borderline violent political minority that is being riled up to guarantee corporate interests over the wellbeing of the populace.

It's the worst of both worlds. The corruption and graft of a third world country with the community infrastructure of a new-american suburb. The collapse of the american empire while we stuff our faces at applebees.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [18 favorites]


I think I'm actually starting to get why people vote Republican (and I'm not being sarcastic here at all):

If both sides are completely without ethics, why not vote for the one that at least has the balls to get their agenda done? Obama comes off here as both unethical and a coward, diving for the foxhole before a shot's even been fired. This is some major "Mike Dukkakis in the tank helmet" shit.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:16 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
posted by belvidere at 2:24 PM on August 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


er...apparently "No, they can't"?

couldn't resist that.

BHO & the Dems screwed up when they did not explain the "we can cut Medicare costs" sufficiently to the elderly. BHO & the Dems screwed up when they used the Post Office example in an attempt to negate the complaints against fair competition (an aside: do *you* want health care run as "effectively" as the Post Office?) BHO & the Dems screwed up when they actually cut the "end of life care discussions" after the complaints about "death panels", thus pretty much ack'ing they were death panels (when they weren't). There are plenty more examples of where they dropped the ball in "selling" the plan.

If these folks can't even get PR right about the health care system what hope did they have of actually implementing it?

I am actually amused at all of the complaints I've heard about the "loons" at the town halls who are obviously shills for the "other side". It's nice seeing that both the Republicans and Democrats can come together with the same type of complaint when the other team is in power.

Stop backing R's & D's for open elected positions (local to state to fed) and find as decent of a third party as you can next time. You want *real* change? *That* would be *real* change.
posted by hrbrmstr at 2:29 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I watch the game, aware of tricks I do not want to see.
posted by The Whelk at 2:37 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless Rahm Emmanuel starts booting Blue Dogs in the ass and soon the entire Obama admin is going to be hobbled by this.
posted by PenDevil at 2:40 PM on August 16, 2009


I really should go see a doctor about this knife in my back but I don't have any health insurance.
posted by effwerd at 2:41 PM on August 16, 2009 [26 favorites]


But this? I just plain don't understand.

30% of this country are basically Goldwater conservatives now. Add in another ~15% who want to see Obama fall flat on his face on the general principle, and you've got a tenuous Democratic powerbase.

Don't underestimate the power of bullshit in this country.

22% believe human beings evolved naturistically from earlier species.

We are a nation of idiots and I hope Palin runs and wins in 2012. My Mandarin should be up to speed by then.
posted by @troy at 2:46 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


do *you* want health care run as "effectively" as the Post Office?
I've heard this used rhetorically a lot. I honestly don't get it.

I can pay 44 cents and drop a letter in a box -- actually one of many, many boxes, easy to find and pretty much everywhere. That letter magically appears at the intended recipient's doorstep, virtually without fail, within a day or two, clear across an entire continent.

Forty-four cents. Two days. Across a continent. Without fail.

The worst part about the US Post Office is that if I have to ship something heavy, I might have to wait in a line for five or ten minutes. And that's the same "problem" as would happen if I were to ship it via a private carrier.

Yes, I want health care run as effectively as the Post Office.

Honestly, what's wrong with the Post Office?
posted by Flunkie at 2:50 PM on August 16, 2009 [96 favorites]


As much as the Republicans helped, I'd like to point out that Baucus (and others) are Democrats. Owned by the insurance industry.

Primary the fuck out those shits.
posted by DU at 2:50 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Democrats need to start voting for actual Democrats. These Blue Dogs aren't even paper trained, for fuck's sake.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:55 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


They signaled their eagerness to raise taxes on the wealthy strictly for the public option itself, and thereby killed it with the specter of its supporters losing elections for years to come. Not just incompetent, but deliberately so. Taxes could have been raised later after we failed at cutting costs, so everyone would know who to blame.

The tax base for a public option could and should come from junk food alone, where it would serve as a preventive measure. Let the detractors raise their heads to fight it. We recently raised taxes on cigarettes and didn't even need a reason.
posted by Brian B. at 2:58 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, real life is becoming more like The Wire every day.
posted by nasreddin at 3:04 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


iamkimiam: "If the friendly political forces outside our borders can collectively flex and bend whatever will they have our way, we could sure use the extra help! Seriously, we need some leaders of countries and corporations to do more than point and laugh. We need them to put that "You Americans are CRAZY" into some positive action with a little bit of heft behind it, because obviously we're too unorganized, stupid, or tired to do anything more effective than tread water at this point. Please."

Not to sound too snarky, but I don't think that would be a good idea. For one thing, we tried that with that whole Iraq war thingy, and it seems no one listened to us back then. For another, any kind of political maneuvering would play into the hands of xenophobic Republicans: "Look, these foreigners are trying to dictate the politics of the USA!"

I'm sorry to say that the best thing we can do right now is watch this trainwreck happening; again, I'm not trying to be snarky, but from over here it looks like the promised Change™ is a little bit long in arriving.* There has been no significant probe into the start of the Iraq war, no clear denouncement of the previous administration's tactics, no dissolution of Guantanamo - granted, your new president has been trying to mend relationships with other heads of state, but I am not aware of any drastic, sweeping changes either domestically or with regard to foreign policy. And this caving in on yet another front seems to once more call out people who desperately cling to the hope that this is all brilliant tactical positioning, that all those retreats will culminate in overwhelming triumph in the end.

The only way out of this that I can see is holding your politicians to their promises and letting them feel it when they disappoint immediately - it appears that the threat to vote for the other party in three years' time is not really working.

*: I'm not an avid follower of American politics, and I'd love to be corrected on any errors caused by a distorted perspective, looking in from the outside - I in no way wish to diminish the achievements of president Obama or his voters, it's just that this string of negatives drowns out what little positive news there might be.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:05 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey, you know what, everyone upthread who is saying "Well, why don't YOU get off your asses and do something? Why don't YOU call your congressperson/join moveon.org/go to town hall meetings?"

Many of us do. So how about looking to your own house, and stop assuming that complaining only comes from people who don't get involved. WTF??
posted by tzikeh at 3:10 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I bet that's what they said when FDR caved to the AMA and dropped his public health plan seventy-five years ago.

Yeah! Fuck that guy. I mean, what did *he* ever do for progressive causes in the first six months of his presidency? Very astute. Very, very astute.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:16 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey, you know what, everyone upthread who is saying "Well, why don't YOU get off your asses and do something? Why don't YOU call your congressperson/join moveon.org/go to town hall meetings?"

Many of us do.


Many, many, many, many more don't.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:22 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So would we get further if we showed up at these town halls screaming about how the lack of single-payer is genocide and slavery? It's working for the paranoid on the other side.
posted by dilettante at 3:27 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I mean, similar tactics are working for the Ranting Right.
posted by dilettante at 3:27 PM on August 16, 2009


I may be more radical than most of you on this issue... I am among those who have been personally bankrupted by the current system and who believes he is alive today due to the extraordinary effort of a doctor (doing things a doctor should never have to do) in getting me past an insurance company keeping me out of a hospital in spite of a life-threatening condition (yes, I've faced a private Death Panel, and it's terrifying).

That said, End-of-Life Counseling should never have been a part of this bill. It's a process that has long been promoted by Right-Wingers as a Cost Saving device, which would be the opposite of a Life-Saving device.

And I don't want a 'public option'; I want Single Payer, the ONLY way to fairly administer Universal Heath Care. Period. Oh wait, I already have that. With Social Security Disability and Medicare, I feel more secure about my health than at any time in the last 20+ years, even if my last 3 months will be spent in the "Prescription Donut Hole". (The American Medical Insurance system shares some of the blame for my disability, but that's another story) So I can tell the rest of you to go to Hell (or stay in there) I got mine.

Do you know the meaning of "trial balloon"? The "drop the public option" balloon is a test for political support of the proposal, not Obama. If you 'give up' on Obama because of it, he doesn't fail, the proposal does and YOU do.

But based on what I've learned about the American Political System since my 8th grade Civics class in 1968, taught by a football coach who put on a little Glenn Beck show in every class (and whose obvious propagandizing led me to start studying on my own), I come to the following conclusions:

(1) Obama would never have been elected if he were as Progressive as some of you thought; he's a good orator/communicator (much better than Reagan, but he has better material to work with), a skilled organizer, a relative newbie in Washington where seniority counts like crazy (why he picked Biden for VP) and more pragmatic than dogmatic (which always worried me). So he hasn't disappointed me all that much, and hasn't surprised me at all. Also, in the 2008 campaign, his Health Care proposals were less 'Liberal' than Hillary Clinton's.

(2) Big Omnibus Bills are one of the worst things in the D.C. system, always covered with unnecessary and often unrelated fluff and always watered down from their original intent. The Health Care Bill should have been stripped down and rushed through like the Economic Stimulus (which was still too Omnibus for my taste), with cost concerns being brought up in a second phase. Still, even a mostly-toothless bill passed would be a big political win for Obama where the "savvy Media" makes everything a horse race or playoff.

(3) The Congress is not "Liberal". Never was, even in the long years of Democratic Party dominance. By not pushing away the "Blue Dogs", Obama and his allies are making a very wise (sly?) move, making the Democrats less scary to millions of non-Insane Republicans, with the very possible goal of shrinking the GOP down to irrelevance, a very desirable outcome. A one-party system in the U.S. for a couple years at the most until the inevitable split between Moderate/Conservative Dems and Progressive/Liberal Dems would not be worse than the either-or system that has made so little progress over so many years. If the GOP doesn't make gains in 2010 (when the 'out' party always does), it's a Dead Party Walking. My ideal? MORE than two viable parties, but we'd have to make some fundamental changes to more of a Parliamentary legislature, and anyone pushing 3rd party now is blind to the historical lessons of Nader, Perot and John Anderson.

(4) Kind of a side note: the very first time I heard the name "Bill Clinton" was in a 1984 news report of his efforts to make the Democratic Party more "business-friendly". My conclusions: (a) he's a crook (b) he'll go far, maybe President (c) if successful, he'll do irreparable damage to America. My best job at predicting EVER.

(5) The most important part of Health Care Reform as an incremental process is outlawing the "pre-existing conditions" rules and otherwise making it harder for insurance companies to "cherry-pick" customers. If done right, within a few years, the insurers will be begging to be put out of business.

(6) The only reason Health Insurance is tied to employment in the U.S. is the efforts by Union organizers before any of us were born to get the benefit for their members. It made sense as a way to give Unions leverage over Employers but less so for improving the health of anybody but Union members and their families. The later development of legal requirements to provide coverage to full-time workers was a wrong-headed effort to provide "Universal" health insurance at no cost to the government that was not just a failure but a major factor in weakening Organized Labor, at a cost to all workers. I don't see any reason why Employers aren't in the lead in getting this nuisance/sometimes-burden off their backs unless they think it helps give them control over their employees' lives (explains why the CEO of WholeFoods loves the system).

(6) When I first heard the idea of co-ops as an alternative to a 'public option' I thought it was semi-brilliant. Yes, it would have some financial weaknesses (but it would almost immediately become 'too big to fail', heh heh heh), but a good possibility to transform the system while semi-disarming the Guvmint-Haters.

(7) The American People are NOT more 'batshit crazy' than they used to be. President Johnson tried to end racism with civil rights legislation but President Nixon's "Southern Strategy" nipped that in the bud. Most bigots have learned very well how to be "Politically Correct", and in the Glenn Beck era, it's not nearly as important. Frankly, my WORST political prediction was that a half-African dark-skinned man who chose to be called Barack rather than Barry would NEVER be elected president, not in 2008, 2012 or 2040. The fact that he's there, even if he's not the man some of you want him to be, is a very encouraging sign for America. If a large group of American Bigots have dropped their PC masks, it's not a bad thing, because we were being lulled into a false sense of feeling they don't exist, that 'this kind of thinking' will die out with a generation's passing. But that's not true because parents are still the greatest influence on their children, even if it isn't true for most MeFites (it's what makes us 'special snowflakes', isn't it?)

(8) I'm glad there exists a MetaFilter where I can speak my mind and not get rhetorically castrated (although the wise crack about me being 'bullshit faux populist' over my opinion of WholeFoods & Apple was hurtful... I am totally UNpopulist. I am SO special a snowflake, I'm five-sided. I am so much an outlier I may be a evolutionary dead-end. I'm a mutant rejected by the X-Men.) I have pretty much given up on trying to convince anybody of anything, even here, but I'm glad I can sound off in this forum (and not have it get back to the neighbors who know me by a different name). Still, I have just sounded off about two weeks worth, I didn't see more than small bits of sense in the 200+ comments before this, and I don't see much value beyond personal catharsis in participating in this topic any more. (As I noted earlier, I got mine).

To those of you who have read this entire rant, thank you and ARE YOU FRAKKING NUTS?
posted by wendell at 3:36 PM on August 16, 2009 [64 favorites]


Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore
posted by cmyk at 3:48 PM on August 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


(5) The most important part of Health Care Reform as an incremental process is outlawing the "pre-existing conditions" rules and otherwise making it harder for insurance companies to "cherry-pick" customers. If done right, within a few years, the insurers will be begging to be put out of business.

Well, not just the pre-existing conditions. They need to have guaranteed-issue and community rating as well. Otherwise it still gets priced out of reach for most of the same people who are uninsured now.
posted by dilettante at 3:53 PM on August 16, 2009


It's not that that's a bad idea, but this "why aren't Democrats fighting for this on the left" argument is infuriating. We did fight for this on the left. It was called an election. We fought for 7 more Senate seats, two dozen House seats, and the White House in a massive landslide. Voting for a party platform is just that kind of fight. The White House has responded in kind by sitting on its ass.

You know, if people think that simply getting people voted into office was going to magically do everything, then maybe we deserve what we get.

Because getting people elected is only the bloody beginning. We are supposed to keep talking to them once they're in office, letting them know what we want them to do. Just getting them into office and then waving and saying "okay, go to it" does fucking nothing.

And The White House isn't "sitting on its ass" because Obama's just letting us twist. The White House is "sitting on its ass" because there is literally nothing else he can do at this stage. Obama does not make the laws, he can't actually craft the law -- he can't do anything but sign the thing. The Congress -- Senators and Representatives -- are the ones who have the hands-on law crafting experience; they are the ones who are sitting on their ass. The only thing Obama can do until they hand him the bill to sign is talk to Senators and Congressmen, and who knows whether they're listening to him.

This is Civics Class 101 stuff, here. The people talking about how NOW they're going to call Obama and complain about this -- where were you before all this, and why not call your Senator INSTEAD of Obama?

Complaining to Obama about a law is like complaining to Jack Nicholson about how Stanley Kubrick's directing was in THE SHINING. YOu're talking to the wrong person.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:54 PM on August 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm not "disappointed" in Obama. I didn't vote for him because I thought he'd do kick-ass great stuff. I voted for him because, unlike the other party, at least he wouldn't actively make things worse. So far, he's doing exactly what I expected. Do I wish he did more? Hells yeah. But I never expected it, and I'm not disappointed that it's not happening.

Frankly, I never, ever expected the concept of national health care to ever even come up in American politics. When it came up, I expected it to fail. The fact that it was even discussed was an awesome surprise. In the same way, I never expected a half-black person to become President in my life. The fact that he actually won was also an awesome surprise. So while my first thought was "America is so fucked up", on more sober reflection, I'm going to go with "As always, America is fucked up, but we've elected a black man and actually discussed national health care as a possibility, so things are better than I expected". What galls me isn't that the idea was shot down. I pretty much figure that was inevitable. It was the reasons it got shot down that gall me. The whole "Stephen Hawking wouldn't be alive if there were national health care" thing.
posted by Bugbread at 4:00 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Incidentally, Kodos more likely would have vaporized Medicare than Aetna.
posted by Flunkie at 4:05 PM on August 16, 2009


cmyk:

Holy synchronicity. I was playing that song when I read your comment. Excellent choice. May I add:

So that's how it is
That's what we've got
If the president wants
To admit it or not......
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:09 PM on August 16, 2009


Don't underestimate the power of bullshit in this country.

That's exactly right. I believe in dropping as much blame on spineless Democrats as possible, but I fail to see, specifically, what Obama could have done here. The idea that his own party was just gonna say, "Sure boss, no problem," is a fantasy that you'd have to have missed the Iraq War to believe -- the bulk of elected Dems in the House and Senate are nothing but opportunists; they bought the war when they thought it made them seem tough or moderate, but ducked responsibility for it when the cards were on the table and the hand came up empty. Now? They were happy for all the "death panel" talk, because it gave them the excuse they were hoping for to not have to support it. "The people aren't convinced, you see."

At the end of the day, Obama's failure was a failure to convince the high number of morons in this country that they are, in fact, morons, and that they don't know what they're talking about with regard to healthcare, just like they don't know anything about "socialism," or foreign affairs, or immigration, or "teh gay," or any other goddamn thing they keep working themselves into a froth over. Yes, that's a shame, but if anyone had even the foggiest idea how to eliminate idiocy and self-interest once and for all, we wouldn't have had to deal with swiftboat veterans, or birthers, or Sarah Palin, or all the rest of the crap that dogs the heels of rational, non-fuckwits from coast to coast. I can't blame Obama for not figuring that out any more than I can blame him for not figuring out cold fusion. It's a *huge* loss of political capital for Obama, and the idea that the guy just kinda said "Fuck it; I didn't really care about this in the first place" is insane.

So vent your anger appropriately and be your own party whip. Call up your local representatives; make sure your Reids and Baucus's know that you're in their party and you will make them pay for shit like this. As for the rest of the disgruntled Democrats: if you want to walk away, walk away -- then at least I don't have to feel bad about what happens to any of the country.
posted by Amanojaku at 4:10 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight:
Why doesn't the public option have the votes for passage? You'd think that a provision that is both fairly popular and money-saving was a good bet for passage. But the insurance industry really, really does not like the public option. We'd previously estimated that its lobbying influence has cost the public option something like nine (9) votes in the Senate.

This is an unpleasant truth. But jus because it's an unpleasant truth doesn't mean it's not the truth.
P.S. to Silver: Please get a spell-checker.

And from another FiveThirtyEight article a few weeks ago, concerning Baucus's compromise co-op plan which is being talked about as a replacement for the public option:
Baucus's bill will not contain an employer mandate -- a requirement that employers provide health insurance to their employees -- even though it does contain an individual mandate.

Does this look familiar to anyone?
-- No employer mandate
-- No public option
-- But yes, an individual mandate

It should -- because this particular permutation on health care reform looks an awful lot like the incomplete draft of the HELP Committee's bill that the CBO scored last month, which also lacked an employer mandate and a public option but contained an individual mandate. That bill, the CBO estimated, would cost about $1.0 trillion -- but would only cover a net of about 16 million people. In contrast, the revised version of the HELP Committee's bill, which did include both a public option and an employer mandate, would cost about the same amount but cover a net of 37 million people.

[...]

The AP may be right that Baucus's bill will cost less than $1 trillion, but it accomplishes that by shifting the burden to middle-income families, some of whom have poor balance sheets and will face a really tough choice between paying for health insurance they can't quite afford and facing some kind of penalty. Odds are that many of them will take the penalty, which is why coverage probably won't expand very much. Or, the enforcement mechanisms could be more stringent, in which case they'll have to buy health care, at the cost of reducing their spending in other areas -- and in probably being very teed off at the Democrats who passed the bill.

[...]

Just to underscore this point: when it scored a similar bill, the CBO estimated that 15 million people would lose their employer-provided coverage. Most of these people are likely to be lower-to-middle income persons with somewhat tenuous employment situations, a group that tends classically to be swing voters.

Now, how are those 15 million people going to feel about health care reform when they find out that:

a) Although the bill was supposed to guarantee access to health insurance, they've in fact lost theirs;
b) They're required to buy an expensive, private plan on their own, or to pay a fine;
c) They're probably not getting any government assistance;
d) They certainly don't have any Medicare-like alternative to fall back upon;
e) All of this cost the country about $1 trillion dollars.

You think those 15 million people are going to vote for the Democrats again, like, ever?
I'm having trouble understanding how Blue Dogs consider lobbyist pressure more persuasive now than the very real political damage they're doing to themselves in the long run by passing such shitty policy.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:39 PM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


I don't even know what to say. Its hard for us to keep the hope alive when it appears the people we elected have given up at the first opportunity.
posted by Bunglegirl at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jesus people.

One official shows up on the talking head circuit, saying the administration is open to co-ops and not married to the public option and ya'll freak out like babies.

Remember a few weeks ago when Geither and Summers said, while on the same damn talking circuit, that the administration was open to raising taxes, only to have that walked back on Monday? This is not final bill, there are still 3 committees in the House (who all have a public option) and 2 committees in the Senate, which have reconcile their differences within each chamber before forming a bill for said chamber and then the House and Senate have to reconcile their separate bills with each other and the White House has said it really wants to get into the mix come that point.

You can't get into a tizzy over every damn thing a person says or that you see on tv, even if the networks really want you to.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:55 PM on August 16, 2009


One official shows up on the talking head circuit, saying the administration is open to co-ops and not married to the public option and ya'll freak out like babies.

And hopefully not a few of us go out of our way to remind our elected officials and political parties just how important this is. If they said this and got no reaction and no anger, what would happen?
posted by dilettante at 4:58 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't even know what to say. Its hard for us to keep the hope alive when it appears the people we elected have given up at the first opportunity.

I agree, and it reaffirms the misplaced zeal of the early Obama fan club. Their venom towards Hillary Clinton always looked like blatant disregard for health care reform, in favor some kind of wishful anti-war policy that was never even promised. I'm sure Obama never felt pressured to deliver after winning the primaries by making it less of a priority .
posted by Brian B. at 4:59 PM on August 16, 2009


If they said this and got no reaction and no anger, what would happen?

Anger is fine, but let them know, don't just post randomly on a website to vent and go about your day.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 PM on August 16, 2009


Yeah! Fuck that guy. I mean, what did *he* ever do for progressive causes in the first six months of his presidency? Very astute. Very, very astute.

Too little, and a lot more than Obama's managed. What's your point, exactly? Mine is that it's a bit much for people to talk about being patient and the "long game" (not to mention the right-wing canard that health-care is being "rushed") as though somebody just thought this shit up last week and we're all a bunch of whiners for wanting it done overnight when in fact we've been patient since before my late grandparents were born, we've been patient for decades past the point where every other industrialized nation in human society has managed to get its shit together, and if the Democratic Party wants any more patience out of me on this particular plank of its 1932 campaign platform well I'm afraid I'm just flat out.
posted by enn at 5:14 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


The USPS rocks. I'm fond of Royal Mail, but Britain is a small country. The USPS offers the same reliability over a much bigger country, with excellent and professional service.

I also would be very happy with healthcare run as well as the USPS.

Now, Canada Post - that's a different story. Fortunately, our health care is still excellent.
posted by jb at 5:21 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rhaomi: "which also lacked an employer mandate and a public option but contained an individual mandate."

So, let me get this straight. Not only no single-payer, not only no public option, but a $100 penalty if you're uninsured? What the bloody hell?
posted by WCityMike at 5:31 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am not AT ALL advocating individual mandates but I think the idea behind the individual mandate is uninsured people cost us all more money or something, so it's a punitive encouragement to get insured. Of course it helps to have some forms of health care people can actually afford before you lay down punitive measures like that, but I'm no expert.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:37 PM on August 16, 2009


One official shows up on the talking head circuit, saying the administration is open to co-ops and not married to the public option and ya'll freak out like babies.

Apparently, from looking at the month of August, freaking out like babies is how you get things done in the country.
posted by vibrotronica at 5:56 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


and if the Democratic Party wants any more patience out of me on this particular plank of its 1932 campaign platform well I'm afraid I'm just flat out.

Good luck with that, grasshopper. And I say that as someone "on your team." What I was trying to say was that you (apparently, I don't know you from a goddamn hole in the ground, so I assure you it's not personal) are willing to bitch and moan about not getting the reform(s) you want on this particular issue whilst attempting to link it to FDR's apparent inability to usher in the Workers' Paradise in his first six months of the presidency. Like I said up-thread, good luck with that. Again, I say as your (presumptive) ideological ally: get off your high horse, it's preventing precisely the sort of real change that will give me and my nascent family access to health care. Then again, if it gains you graduate school credits in theory, then who am I to challenge your naive idealism?
posted by joe lisboa at 5:56 PM on August 16, 2009


If Obama really and truly wanted a public option he would drag the democrats in congress into line and do it. When he wanted to conjure a trillion dollars out of thin air and give it to his pals in the financial industry he was able to get everyone on board and get it passed within days. The democrats CAN get things done, they just don't give a shit about health care.

What they want is to broker a giveaway of tax payer money to the insurance industry and convince people that it's real reform so he can say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED in 2012. That's all this is about. Stop falling for this "welp, we DO agree with you we're just too wimpy!" shtick.
posted by hamida2242 at 5:59 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know what? I'm out. Once all of the IT douchebags here are done playing Monday morning federal policy quarterback, I'm still without health insurance. If you really care about this shit, run for local office, do what you can, but at least get off your fucking left-leaning bookmarks and put your goddamn money where your goddamn mouth is. Because "god" knows I don't have either, and there's nothing quite so rich as people who deigned to show up last November and pull the lever for the black guy whilst assuming this absolved them all of an civic fucking follow-through or responsibility. Ya'll will be just fine. Meanwhile, folks like dilettante and myself are left holding the bag. At least you've absolved yourselves of any bad faith, what with your multiple posts on yuppie websites and all. Bravo, dickheads. Bravo.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:04 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


get off your fucking left-leaning bookmarks and put your goddamn money where your goddamn mouth is.

This is metafilter irl
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhqUk28OwHs
posted by hamida2242 at 6:08 PM on August 16, 2009


Whoah, hey, hang on there. Plenty of people here have said they believe democracy starts with voting; not ends with it. There's nothing saying we can't bitch on the internet and contact elected officials.

Is there? I hope not. Because I looove to bitch on the internet.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:09 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Careful Marisa he's mad
posted by hamida2242 at 6:11 PM on August 16, 2009


Who says we haven't done that, joe lisboa? Who says we're not going to continue to do that? Being hopping mad and bitching on "yuppie web sites" is not mutually exclusive with contacting your congresscritters, donating to MoveOn, and volunteering. In addition to bitching on this web site, I've written to both of my Senators, my Congressman, and the President today.
posted by vibrotronica at 6:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then I applaud your consistency, vibro.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:19 PM on August 16, 2009


Forgive me: hamida2242 wins the internet with his/her youtube race-baiting. Well done!
posted by joe lisboa at 6:20 PM on August 16, 2009


I think hamida2242 was just showing the video version of this popular meme. Comes in handy when people e-rage.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:24 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm curious, what are the specific details of the public option and the co-ops that make the former better than latter?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 PM on August 16, 2009


like dilettante and myself are left holding the bag

I'm doing okay now, actually. I just remember all too clearly what it was like when I wasn't, and I know it could happen again. One problem is too many people can't let themselves believe that it could happen to them.

posted by dilettante at 6:31 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm curious, what are the specific details of the public option and the co-ops that make the former better than latter?

It's my understanding that while the public option receives a continuous federal revenue stream, the co-op gets a one-time starter sum and then is pretty much on its own to cover costs.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:32 PM on August 16, 2009


Nevermind!
An administration official said tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "misspoke" when she told CNN this morning that a government run health insurance option "is not an essential part" of reform. This official asked not to be identified in exchange for providing clarity about the intentions of the President.
posted by wendell at 6:38 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


*drops sandwich*
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:41 PM on August 16, 2009


Health care NERF.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 6:42 PM on August 16, 2009


Dear Mr Sam Brownback,

joe lisboa on Metafilter asked that we contact our senators in regard to healthcare. Holy fucking shit you're my senator.

Thanks,
geoff.
posted by geoff. at 6:48 PM on August 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Comes in handy when people e-rage.

That's fucking rich. You've got health care. But by all means, carry on with your theory.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:48 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm really sad and disappointed.
posted by agregoli at 6:53 PM on August 16, 2009


Shit, you think you've seen it all and then all of a sudden your high-school-dropout ass is getting called a yuppie and a grad student by some jagoff Internet lawyer.

I don't have insurance either, joe, and I'd be willing to bet money I've spent a lot more time since the election calling voters and knocking on doors than you have. But I guess this is all old news seeing as how you've got me pegged so well.
posted by enn at 6:53 PM on August 16, 2009


A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill.

"Nothing has changed.," she said. "The President has always said that what is essential that health insurance reform lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes that the public option is the best way to achieve these goals."*
Sometimes, I think he has people in his team say things designed to enrage Democrats, giving signs that he's caving, just to light a fire under the electorate and remind them what they're up against if the Right gets their way, only to reaffirm his position later in the day. It's a clever strategy, after all - the cons start shilling their hype, people start murmuring "hm, maybe they have a point", Obama fakes like he's going to take a step back and people freak out, pushing against the Right.

Other times, I think he wakes up, walks to the kitchen, has a cup of coffee and asks himself how close he can get me to a coronary.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:58 PM on August 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Here ya go. A place where you can all lay the proper blame.
posted by Gungho at 7:04 PM on August 16, 2009


Forgive me, for this may be long...

I was at a very strange party this afternoon, which at one point included me standing up and explaining the whole "death panel" nonsense to a group which actually already had a good view of some aspects of it, such as that the end-of-life-counseling isn't an especially new concept, and has in fact been around for a few years now (according to my fellow party-goers) and that it was added by a Republican (which I already knew, thanks to MeFi.)

After the doctor in attendance explained that private physicians actually perform the "death panel" duties every day, I went outside to talk with my good friend, who recently determined that he'll be running for congress in 2012, and wants me (at least he says so now) as a chief political adviser and media manager. My friend is an objectivist libertarian, to the point where he can't stand other objectivists because he sees them all as opportunists who miss the points that 1.) if you claim to live for no one but yourself, you have to also not let anyone else live for you, 2.) that you can't cheat the system and then claim that the system will solve everything, and 3.) that money can't be the only objective. In other words, he's the one guy who read Rand and then found a way to twist it into a genuinely moral, humanitarian philosophy about building a safety net to allow for the greatest freedom and advancement. In a very liberal group of people who know him, we're all behind him 100%

He's been working this summer on research into the AMA and the weirdness surrounding scientific studies of acupuncture, which has put him at the forefront of receiving news about the Health Care debate, so I've been getting multiple daily updates all summer about how a.) the Republicans are making shit up, and b.) the Democrats are responding to it in the worst ways possible.

So here are what I see as the main problems:

1. Republicans are actually stronger.
They're not right. They're not morally correct either. But they stay united, more or less. If we look at '94, the GOP took congress and kicked ass - not for the good of anyone but themselves and their benefactors, but they did it nonetheless. When Bush took office, even more so. The GOP thought is, "we've got power, let's do something with it." The Dem thought process is, "we've got power, but if we do anything with it and somebody doesn't like it we'll lose power. That's fucking weak, and we're seeing it now.

The Republicans have their backs to the ropes but they're running the show, because they only care about getting back in power and then doing things then. They're not stupid enough to try to advance an agenda right now - all they have to do is screw up ours. They destroyed the economy, health care, and everything else, and now that the democrats are in power all they have to do is prevent them from fixing it. Not because they'd prefer it to stay the way it is - and this is very, very important - but because they get power again by keeping it broken.

The Republican Party has spent decades cannily setting itself up to have every advantage. You want to inspire people to action? We've got hope, and the GOP has fear. You want to organize people to meet together and form a united front? We've got websites and they've got Megachurches. You want to get on the networks? We've got reason and they've got loud soundbites. Most importantly, we say that government can get things done, and they say that it can't. They don't have to do anything constructive to be right - they just have to keep us from getting anything done, which is a hell of a lot easier. They've literally created a dichotomy where if the government - which they are a part of - fucks up, they win.

2. It doesn't necessarily have to be this way.
There are examples of Democratic, liberal and populist political hardball out there, and they're not hard to find. Obama needs to look no further than Huey Long, or Tammany, to see how to kick ass with tha message, but it will mean him becoming publicly corrupt. To hit closer to home/modern times, he need look no further than Chicago.

He could get this going, if he really wanted to. I think his biggest problem is knowing that to do so would mean losing his own soul to political gamemanship.

I also think that's what we elected him to do.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:05 PM on August 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


So vent your anger appropriately and be your own party whip. Call up your local representatives; make sure your Reids and Baucus's know that you're in their party and you will make them pay for shit like this.

This, exactly. I vented here. Then I wrote to both Senators, my Representative, and the President too. After that I sent out a heads-up to my friends, encouraging them to do the same.

It doesn't take long to write a couple of emails. With any luck it'll show that there's someone else paying attention besides the people convinced that I want to stab Stephen Hawking in the back.
posted by cmyk at 7:08 PM on August 16, 2009


Wendell, I don't care if you really are a 'bullshit faux populist'... I love you dearly.

Pleas don't ever shut up.
posted by rokusan at 7:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


OK. There's a lot of anger here and let's face, the republicans have used the best community organizing tactics to support large corporations in the insurance industry. So why not start to fight back. The democrats are saying let's do away with the public option and we disagree. So why not simply call our politicians, write to them and generally tie up all their lines to voice our discontent? If we don't, we're basically agreeing that the option is off the table. If we do, we might put it back there.

MeFi tends to hold the really influential people on the web. Let's get rolling and make this happen.
posted by TNLNYC at 7:16 PM on August 16, 2009


[Some comments removed. joe, please take a breather from this thread/topic if you've having trouble keeping it civil.]
posted by cortex at 7:18 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. Republicans are actually stronger.
They're not right. They're not morally correct either. But they stay united, more or less. If we look at '94, the GOP took congress and kicked ass - not for the good of anyone but themselves and their benefactors, but they did it nonetheless. When Bush took office, even more so. The GOP thought is, "we've got power, let's do something with it." The Dem thought process is, "we've got power, but if we do anything with it and somebody doesn't like it we'll lose power. That's fucking weak, and we're seeing it now.


Eh, yes and no to this. The Republicans are not actually stronger. In '95, Clinton did a great job in standing up to the Republican-controlled legislature over the budget at least, and they certainly weren't able to get him kicked out of office. W's "win" in 2000 is pretty suspect, and while they did manage to grab the brass ring in 2004, they lost it again in 2006, and then in 2008, and have grown increasingly shrill and hysterical and marginalized. OTOH, I have to agree that Democrats do tend to see power as some delicate little flower that they must handle with great fragility, whereas cons just take the ball and run with it. Which is why I think Obama was absolutely right in his acceptance speech when he said the real work is just getting started. November 4th was the bottom of the uphill battle. The Dems will need a major change in attitude with regards to power to make it work.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:22 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm a long way from the action and I have no direct interest here other than as a voice in solidarity but this whole ideological brinkmanship many lefties want to see played out would have maybe larger impeding consequences going forward for both the WH agenda and the country as a whole. It seems to me that, irrespective of the margin of victory in the election, Obama has inherited a fairly conservative and very capitalistic country and he's attempting to turn the dial just a little to the left so that it sticks, so that hearts and minds become slightly more open to the idea that some measure of collectivist social policy isn't as bad as everyone on the right would want you to believe.

All you ideologues want it all yesterday with no compromises and a cherry on top and that's insane; it has to be incremental or it will drive a bigger wedge into the chasm between the left and the right and probably result in the next guy not only undoing any gains made now, but lurching even further back to the right. The public option was what Obama admitted a couple of months ago would have been how he would have crafted the system if he could have started from scratch. Ambinder or Coates at the Atlantic gave a run down of good modest legislative changes in some area or another that were lightweight when started but came good with subsequent amendments. In this gargantuan and complex area of debate (is it healthcare or is it health insurance??), getting any score on the board now that makes things a little better might be the best that the short term has to offer. And the thing that militates against a more radical adjustment is most likely that poll that has >50% or so happy with the status quo on their health insurance rather than as a consequence of big pharma or insurance lobbyists and that ilk. Sidestepping the townhall crazies, there are still a lot of people scared of changes negatively affecting their life and this is general subject matter just rife for loading with fear language by those who are agin' it.

By all means call someone, stop voting democrat, scream at the top of your lungs, but you don't live in Holland or UK or Australia and every other 1st world democracy where government intervention in health care and health insurance (however flawed individual frameworks and outcomes might be) is seen by the overwhelming majority of citizens as sensible and obvious and desirable. You don't have the luxury of historic belief in govt solving problems and you can't just flick a switch and change everyones' minds. And I say this having established my own lefty (much further lefty than most of you lot) politics by having worked in the public hospital system: I have huge ideological interest in humane govt policy working to better the whole of the population and not just those with money; but I can see that the best hope you guys have of getting to some better place as a country in the future (meaning: more towards a social democracy) is to accept that compromises on this legislation will have to be made now. Or don't you want to change policy on immigration and relations with Cuba and and and ....
posted by peacay at 7:24 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm not shutting up, just running out of things to say and don't want to repeat myself too much. joe lisboa is justifiably angry but not necessarily lashing out at the people who deserve it. I've been on BOTH sides of that. We just need to put him in a quiet room until the next Town Hall and give him car fare so he can outyell the paid astroturfers. If today's misstatement/trial-balloon gets the joe lisboas among us where they can get some attention (and not just from us), we'll all be better off.
posted by wendell at 7:24 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


MSTPT: I don't mean that the Republicans are stronger in numbers or polling, but in the way that they use power. The fact that their "win" in 200 was bullshit is just a case in point, since it didn't matter to them - they just treated it like a carte blanche to do whatever they wanted.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:29 PM on August 16, 2009


There was a reason you really believed in Obama. That reason is that he is a transformational figure. The transformation isn't going to look like the movies. There won't be an amazing moment totally acknowledged by the movie audience. Instead, it will occur for each and everyone of us separately in a medical office, when we realize that the government is going to put a floor under medical care and everyone will have a place to get care.

Then you'll get it. There's going to be a bill, I guarentee it. It will have some of what I want and some of what you want and some of what nobody wants. That's how compromises are made in liberal democracies.

But it will be real and solid, and one day, late next year, everyone is going to wake up to the fact that Obama delivered on what he said he wanted. Then he's going to get reelected, they will ramp up the coverage and things will be just fine.

oh and pot will be legal by the end of term 2.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:31 PM on August 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I know this sounds shitty, but reading the comments here actually gives me some hope that the US might be on track for real change now. Consider how long it took us to get rid of slavery, how long it took us to give women then vote, how long it took us to desegregate, how long it took us to "legalize" abortion. The US lags behind every other developed nation and many developing nations, and always has. It's only when American progressives get into a prolonged rage that we ever do anything.

Get pissed off, and send a loud, prolonged, howl of discontent. Your day will come, but not before you've shouted yourself hoarse.


Nick
posted by saysthis at 7:31 PM on August 16, 2009


And The White House isn't "sitting on its ass" because Obama's just letting us twist. The White House is "sitting on its ass" because there is literally nothing else he can do at this stage. Obama does not make the laws, he can't actually craft the law -- he can't do anything but sign the thing. The Congress -- Senators and Representatives -- are the ones who have the hands-on law crafting experience; they are the ones who are sitting on their ass. The only thing Obama can do until they hand him the bill to sign is talk to Senators and Congressmen, and who knows whether they're listening to him.

Jesus fuck, he's the president of the United States, not a developmentally disabled person. You really think he "can't do anything?" Did the last eight years not exist to you for the sake of this argument? Have you heard of this thing called a "press office?" Do you really not understand what the concept of "bully pulpit" is?

What, pray tell, has Obama done so far to promote an effective health care plan an/or a public option? Specifically? Please tell me how much hard work he's done that I've clearly not done enough of. Because if you're bitching that Obama has "no ability" to influence that, than how the holy fuck are you bitching that I have that ability?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:34 PM on August 16, 2009


(Um, I blanked just before I hit send and assumed for a moment that I was writing an email.)
posted by saysthis at 7:35 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Have a little faith, you guys.
posted by kathrineg at 7:41 PM on August 16, 2009


I've become more and more convinced that part of the problem is that insurance is simply the wrong model for providing universal (or even near-universal) health care. Insurance is made for dealing with uncertainty, like whether I'm going to need an appendectomy. It's tolerable for dealing with small recurring expenses (like tooth cleaning), but it's more expensive to use an insurance model for those than to simply pay for them out-of-pocket; the only reason we use insurance that way here is, as wendell alludes, that it was a way for employers to get around WWII-era wage limits. But insurance is a terrible way to deal with expensive chronic conditions that the sufferer can't afford to pay for. Because we're no longer talking about risk pools and the like; we're talking about "this person will definitely cost more to treat than they can pay in premiums; they are a guaranteed net cost to the company". A lot of health care proposals center around different ways to force insurers to take some number of known-losing bets in order to be allowed to insure other people who are probably healthier, but that seems like an awfully brittle solution, and is the kind of situation that insurance companies are traditionally very good at gaming. IMHO, the notion of universal health insurance is kind of a red herring; what matters is universal health care.
posted by hattifattener at 7:45 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't mean that the Republicans are stronger in numbers or polling, but in the way that they use power. The fact that their "win" in 2000 was bullshit is just a case in point, since it didn't matter to them - they just treated it like a carte blanche to do whatever they wanted.

Ah, so we agree. While I'd also agree that the Dems really need to toughen up their game, I hope we don't fall into some Jacobin trap of behaving as ruthlessly as the people we unseated. Not that there's much danger of that happening at this point or anything. I'd just hope we can strike that balance of leading strong, taking command, and calling bullshit without mimicking the caricturesque villains that alientated mainstream America away from the Republicans.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:45 PM on August 16, 2009


The only pragmatic thing to do here is to assume it's a trial balloon, and vociferously object. And I mean it. I agree with those who say that complaining isn't enough, and having been active in the elections isn't enough. We put these folks in a position to make change, but they aren't magic, and they can't buck what seems like an overwhelming a public will aligned with corporate interests. We've got to prove that that public will is an illusion created by a very loud few, some of whom have media empires. There's not a lot of time to kibitz: act. I applaud the many people inthread who have already communicated with their reps, and urge the rest of you to do so immediately - even if they are already in support. Also, letters to the editor are still quite powerful - much more than comments on websites - as are well-researched op-eds or essays written from a personal perspective. Most areas have some coalition groups working to promote the public option - you can join one and go to demonstrations and town halls. And don't neglect your own network. You can open up conversation on this topic on Facebook and in person with family and friends; you can send email.

We're down to the battle of hearts and minds. That takes place person to person.
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on August 16, 2009


I love lamp.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:46 PM on August 16, 2009


What, pray tell, has Obama done so far to promote an effective health care plan an/or a public option? Specifically?

If you don't know than you probably shouldn't be talking about this subject.

Don't forget that he has to preform all the duties of the executive, too, and, you know, there's a fucking war on and terrorists and torturers to bring to justice etc.
posted by kathrineg at 7:47 PM on August 16, 2009


I still love ya'll. I'm just flabbergasted. Sorry cortex et. al. Class War: 1, Joe Lisboa: 0. Now I'm officially butting out and letting the accountants rule this one. They've earned it, after all. Carry on.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:49 PM on August 16, 2009


torturers to bring to justice

Heh.
posted by nasreddin at 7:51 PM on August 16, 2009


Anyone still freaking out should really, really read this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:51 PM on August 16, 2009


You should read that and remember that critical thinking doesn't just mean being critical
posted by kathrineg at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm doing okay now, actually. I just remember all too clearly what it was like when I wasn't, and I know it could happen again. One problem is too many people can't let themselves believe that it could happen to them.

Well then I'm sorry, dilettante. I just can't help but chafe at how so many posters here treat this as chits in an internet checkers game. I apologize for invoking your name without clearing your confirmation. For folks like me (and again, I presume, like you) this is no game, this is life. But it's hard to let that get in the way of database engineers trying to score clever internet points. But, whatever: clearly that puts me on "personal attack ground," given the demographic make-up of this entitled white-boy site and all.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2009


(Adding: I know what I said is already a large part of the debate, I'm just responding to the fact that the way I usually see this framed is about insurance, not health care.)
posted by hattifattener at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2009


Anyone still freaking out should really, really read this.


Wendell and Marisa nail it. None of the major media "outlets" (NYT, CNN, WaPo) are reporting a rout for Obama.

Instead, as Atrios says, being open to something else is not the same as being ready to drop the public option - but the noises emanating from the administration aren't awesome.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:55 PM on August 16, 2009


torturers to bring to justice etc.

Um... you might not want to order those Mission Accomplished banners on that one just yet. :(
posted by rokusan at 8:01 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm so confused, so what's the status on the private option being dropped? (so many conflicting links, don't send me there!)

Also, can we please stop being awful to each other in this thread? Eyes on the prize, people.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:04 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Maybe a saleable package should emphasize how much less business would need to contribute. If one could get other Big Industries squared off against Big Insurance, there might be hope."

I think Big Businesses like the control private health care gives them over their employees and the ability to treat so many of them like shit because they or their kids have MS or something. It's not until rising costs bitch slap them into bankruptcy that they head over to the other side.

"what I can't help thinking is that all the realities of life for under or uninsured Americans and what they are suffering don't make a fucking bit of difference to those who are screaming out lies and accusations and doing anything they can to derail the possibility of reform. They don't care about the uninsured, and aren't moved by their plight."

It is at least partially the "I've got mine now fuck off". And I dispear a bit because as the population ages more people are going to fall into that group with a little "I managed without healthcare so suck it up".

However, and I admit this is crazy cynical, I think at least a little of the religious right opposes stuff that increases the standardsecurity of living because it tends to weaken the hold of religions. People who aren't scared for their life probably think about god a lot less than people who know a minor, treatable illness can kill them because they can't afford treatment. A good portion of the appeal of religion is about comforting people who are afraid.

jb writes "Now, Canada Post - that's a different story. Fortunately, our health care is still excellent."

Canada post is excellent too, especially considering the population density of Canada. I sure don't see any private business coming even close to their service at their price. Sure would like some of those awesome and _cheap_ pre-paid boxes the Americans get though.
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on August 16, 2009


just asking
posted by Flunkie at 8:06 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm so confused, so what's the status on the private option being dropped? (so many conflicting links, don't send me there!)

Let me reiterate what wendell posted:
A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill.

"Nothing has changed.," she said. "The President has always said that what is essential that health insurance reform lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes that the public option is the best way to achieve these goals."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:07 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


[Seriously, everybody cut the shit.]
posted by cortex at 8:07 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we add hummus instead of ad hominum?

It's much more tasty.
posted by hippybear at 8:09 PM on August 16, 2009


In other words, don't let Drudge push your buttons. On a Sunday, even.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:09 PM on August 16, 2009


torturers to bring to justice etc.

Um... you might not want to order those Mission Accomplished banners on that one just yet. :(


I KNOW, it is an example of something that is directly under the control of the executive branch that still needs to be done.
posted by kathrineg at 8:12 PM on August 16, 2009


Anyone still freaking out should really, really read this.

First one anonymous official says Sebelius misspoke. A named official then says Obama thinks the public plan is the best way. Then another says that no, she didn't misspeak, the media misrepresented what she said. Then we get "press secretary Robert Gibbs said that fostering competition and choice were non-negotiable, but the specific mechanism designed to do so was up for discussion."

Dunno. Sounds like opinions differ within the administration, but someone is wavering on this. Still probably good to keep sending melodramatic letters about it.
posted by dilettante at 8:12 PM on August 16, 2009


[Seriously, everybody cut the shit.]

Sorry. Too easily baited. Consider shit cut.

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:12 PM on August 16, 2009


Dunno. Sounds like opinions differ within the administration, but someone is wavering on this.

Well, least of all not Obama, nor Obama's director of health reform communications. I reckon that counts for something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:14 PM on August 16, 2009


Seems like the debate should be should we expand Medicare and be like Canada (HR 676) or try to create a marketplace and hope the economics work out (HR 3200). I don't care if a President saves face or not.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:15 PM on August 16, 2009


Yeah, that's all written in the past tense. It's not clear that the public option is being pushed/promoted, despite what Obama believed (past tense). Even though he 'had not backed away from that belief'*, is the option still on the table? And does he still want to see a public option in the final bill (present tense)?

Also, 'nothing has changed'...that's so vague. Does she mean that, "in the grand scheme of things, nothing has changed." Specifically, 'nothing has changed' since when?

I'm sorry to be pedantic, but that whole statement confuses me. I read it both ways and I'm not sure what to think.

*'had not backed away...' reads to me like 'even though he didn't back away before, he is now, despite his (current?) beliefs on the matter'. Otherwise, why not say 'he is not backing away from that belief'?
posted by iamkimiam at 8:17 PM on August 16, 2009


If you don't know than you probably shouldn't be talking about this subject.

You Googled "Obama health care" and got a page of articles, half of which don't mention Obama in any context related to action on health care, and the other half mentioning the handful of townhall appearances he has made in the last week and a half. Thanks much for proving my point.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:18 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm employed and insured? Jeez. I wish someone would have told me months ago. I've been doing daily job searches and spending my savings bonds all this time when I didn't need to??? What about the $300 I just paid out of pocket to the local clinic after begging them not to charge me for the office visit and to only pay for the actual services?

Blanket statements are not only inaccurate, but also insulting.
posted by hippybear at 8:19 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry, everything I just wrote is in response to the text that MSTPT pasted in her comment a couple up from mine.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:19 PM on August 16, 2009


He could get this going, if he really wanted to. I think his biggest problem is knowing that to do so would mean losing his own soul to political gamemanship.

There is a lot of money and power behind the push against any sort of meaningful health care reform, and it is deeply intertwined with our political system. The risk is that he will be utterly demolished if he defies them, but it's still a risk, not a certainty. A lot of people thought he'd never really get elected. But he would save his soul by taking that risk, not lose it. I'm not sure if it's quixotic to push for real reform, but I can't be too fatalistic. If it is hopeless, then what's the point anyway?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:21 PM on August 16, 2009


The president doesn't exactly get to say what's what with this. It's really up to the House and Senate to draft the bills. As far as I know, Pelosi has said a public option is a must. I've still got some hope.
posted by luckypozzo at 8:23 PM on August 16, 2009


Yeah, that's all written in the past tense.

I think it's the article written in the past tense, as in, "we contacted Douglass and she said this to us". The action of everything that is happening is in the present tense. Obama's health reform communications director is saying a) contrary to what the media has been saying, Obama has not backed down, and b) he wants to see the public option in the final bill.

Beyond that I can't see what's confusing about this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:27 PM on August 16, 2009


The risk is that he will be utterly demolished if he defies them, but it's still a risk, not a certainty

what we really need in this country are politicians who are willing to take that risk, who are willing to say "i'm going for what i think is right this term and if it costs me the next election, so be it"

i don't think we have that in this country
posted by pyramid termite at 8:27 PM on August 16, 2009


iamkimiam, you're seeing all uses of the past tense in the paraphrase of the spokesperson's response, while the exact quote is a mixture of present tense and, err, past-pluperfect-running-with-the-wolves tense (?). Seriously, I don't see any time issues here.

A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill.

"Nothing has changed.," she said. "The President has always said that what is essential that health insurance reform lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes that the public option is the best way to achieve these goals."

posted by maudlin at 8:28 PM on August 16, 2009



Contact your Senator or Representative.

Need help writing a letter? kliuless recommended starting with the AARP, I wrote one based on healthreform.gov.

Stop bickering.
posted by boo_radley at 8:28 PM on August 16, 2009


Okay, I probably shouldn't jump into this muck, but damn. Here's what I've done since February:

gotten asked to be on the Leadership Committee for New Hampshire for Health Care Reform.

gone to Washington DC overnight on a bus to talk with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen directly. (she even let me use her mic - helluva gal!)

tons of interviews, press, press conferences, radio, print, and t.v. time.

All about healthcare, which currently I don't have. Along with a job that would provide it.

People - get real with this. It didn't end when you voted. It started then. You want affordable, quality health care in this country, in your lifetime? Make it happen yourselves.

Read the bills. Know your reps, your Congresspeople, your Senators, etc. Write them hand-written letters.

Then write Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper (ours are filled with Freeper racism and xenophobia about this issue, and more are printed every damn day.)

I've been spit on, yelled at, swung at, and threatened by town hall asshats since this whole "wrap it by August" thing went into high gear.

I WILL NOT ALLOW IDIOCY, RACISM AND GLENN FUCKING BECK TO DISTORT TRUTH IN THIS COUNTRY.

We're going to get this done. All of us. If you care enough to send the very best, people.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:30 PM on August 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Can't you guys just hold a federal referendum and speak up?

Or are you afraid somehow the Mormons will win again?
posted by omegar at 8:36 PM on August 16, 2009


Okay, I see what you're all saying. Granted, I am/was confused, but I think just waiting and seeing what happens tomorrow is going to be the best way to really know what's going on. Sometimes I get hung up on reading into things, but that's partly driven by being scared and skeptical. Either way, I'm writing my senator. Also, tensions are pretty high in this thread and that's not helping anybody really. Can I derail the derail and ask that we try to avoid aggravating others and stick to the topic(s) at hand?

Also, tips for writing these types of letters would be a great resource here (I see that there have been some helpful links already, so thanks). What's the most effective way to write a letter or email? Is it better to call and leave a voicemail instead? Better to be general or stick to a specific point? Is more than one letter/call/email considered noise, or is it more effective to be consistently and repeatedly pointed? How are these things 'tallied' or taken into account?
posted by iamkimiam at 8:48 PM on August 16, 2009


Despite my annoyance with the perceived whining in this thread, I do wish Obama or someone from his administration would elevate this "debate" to the level of reality it needs.

Find someone denied healthcare, possibly several people and drag them around to every fucking Republican town hall and have them ask why the Republicans are supporting death panels that have denied these real live people, this Helen, that Bob, decent hard working citizens who didn't do anything wrong except get sick and then be denied medical service in the wealthiest country in the world while their insurance provider increases profits year and year. If that's not a goddamn death panel, I don't know what it is. Back it up with facts and figures, but make the plain and simple moral argument that this can not can not be allowed to continue and any lawmaker that does should be hounded to every corner of their state and asked "What would Jesus do?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oh, it's not in the bag by any means, no matter how badly Obama might want this. Getting on your elected official's back is a smart move right now. It's generally better to call in terms of emotional effectiveness, and encourage others to do the same.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:55 PM on August 16, 2009


According to this web site, these are the Democratic Senators who are against the government option in the health bill:

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) http://lincoln.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) http://carper.senate.gov/contact/
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) http://billnelson.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) http://landrieu.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) http://hagan.senate.gov/?p=contact
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) http://conrad.senate.gov/contact/
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) http://baucus.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm

President Obama can't pass a bill without at least a few of these votes.

Let these Senators (and the Republican Senators) know why they should be voting for the public option in the health bill.

Quote today by Senator Conrad: "The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for a public option. There never have been."

If you want to write, don't write the White House, write to these Senators. Know anyone in these states? Get your friends to write.
posted by eye of newt at 8:57 PM on August 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


You know I'm 48 this year with my ass hanging out with no insurance for like the 12th straight year... can we pick up the pace a bit?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:01 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Quote today by Senator Conrad: "The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for a public option. There never have been."

Well, of course this is false. There are not enough votes to overcome a filibuster against a public option, but there are enough to pass it. The use of the filibuster as a routine tool is totally new.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 PM on August 16, 2009


With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?
posted by univac at 9:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


eye of newt: Hmmm, this web site (Open Left) lists Cantwell as being in favor of a public option. (And seems better-sourced in general.)
posted by hattifattener at 9:32 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't you guys just hold a federal referendum and speak up?

Not without amending the constitution to allow referenda first.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:35 PM on August 16, 2009


In other words, don't let Drudge push your buttons. On a Sunday, even.


As a non-American looking in on (from time to time) the American health care "debate", all this Canadian can say is holy sweet Jesus fuck: what a dysfunctional society.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:35 PM on August 16, 2009


Not without amending the constitution to allow referenda first.

Yeah, and after seeing what happened to California, no thanks.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:44 PM on August 16, 2009


As soon as I heard the foxes had been called in to design a new chicken coop, I just laughed.
posted by telstar at 9:45 PM on August 16, 2009


That’s what’s needed: a massive rally or series of rallies. And I mean big. Civil rights marches big. And they need to be focused on the issue at hand, which is health care. No “FREE MUMIA” signs. No talking about climate change, much as I would like that to be important too. Have your rally be ONLY about health care, and the need for a comprehensive system, be that Canadian-style single payer or French-style multiple regulated risk pools or German-style health funds or British-style actual socialized medicine. Yes, some of the media will try to ignore such a rally, but the important thing is that this isn’t 2002 and the bulk of the United States is not expressly devoted to a bad idea.

The anti-reform crowd have a morally bankrupt message; in terms of health care the United States is rapidly progressing to third world country status. Use that: if they want to talk about the evils of Teh Socializm, you talk about the needless suffering and death caused by the current healthcare system in the United States. If they want to talk about rationing, you talk about the rationing that already exists. If they want to talk about taxes, you talk about selfishness, because that’s what the free-trade-health-care movement is: it’s institutionalized greed.

--Via http://mightygodking.com/, about the ability of the teabaggers to get all in your face and hog media time and why progressives should be doing the same.
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 PM on August 16, 2009


Well, I guess the upside is that if they're giving up on the important stuff like healthcare they'll have more time to focus on DOMA and gays in the millitary and all those things that I'm told got pushed to the side to fight the big fights, right?
posted by rodgerd at 10:12 PM on August 16, 2009


eye of newt, you live in this weird world where Obama achieves nothing and somehow we're all to blame.

A lot of people worked extremely hard to push the election away from the crazies and towards Obama. And a lot of us now feel that Obama has completely fucked us over in every possible way. What, exactly, has he done for us? We have eternal war; we have the death camps still; we have trillions given to Wall Street while looting the pension funds of auto workers; and now this.

And your answer is that it's our fault? That we somehow didn't do something more to force Obama to actually do what he said he was going to do?

Words fail me.

Tell us, o wise eye of newt - what, exactly are we supposed to do? Both political parties in the largest country in the world are allied against us - what are we supposed to do, o great one? You're so very smart, please enlighten us!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:13 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just submitted this to my senators:
Dear Senator _______,

I'm sure you receive more letters each day than I've received in my entire life, so I'll get right to my point... I would like you to support health care reform. I want that reform to consist of a single-payer solution, but I would be satisfied (for the time being) by a public option.

However, I'm not just looking for your vote on an eventual bill. I wish for you to *actively* pursue those ends. Speak out about the merits of a nationalized system. Criticize your Republican opponents who are using outright lies to stand in the way of change. Take control of the discourse. Stick your neck out.

The majority wants this reform; all the polls I've seen bear that out. The minority who oppose it will be convinced soon enough as they watch the bureaucracy they took for granted evaporate before their very eyes.

You have everything to gain by taking an active stand, but letting this get quietly defeated will only drive the "common wisdom" that the Democratic Party is spineless or ineffectual or complicit in the status quo.

I am not naive. I realize that's a simplistic view of a complex political ecosystem. We are more of a coalition of progressive interests than a single party, and we'll probably never see the solidarity enjoyed by the Republicans.

But in a country with 55% voter turnout in presidential election years and 40% turnout otherwise, that doesn't matter. We just need to *engage* people so that they show up to vote their support. The best way to do that is to set an example. Show that this issue matters to you, and it will matter to your constituents.

I'm sure many people have threatened to vote against you if you don't support this legislation. Now *that* is naive. We won't make any progress if we let the enemies of reform gain more ground while we stomp our feet and pout. Let me be clear: you have my vote as long as you are a Democrat and as long as reform remains the Democratic party line.

But you don't just need my vote. You need my support, and that comes at a steeper price. Take a stand. Put your name out there, take the risk. For every voter you alienate by being on Sean Hannity's blacklist, you'll gain a campaign volunteer who will earn you ten "undecided" votes.

To that end, I offer this. If you convince me that you are on the front lines of this fight, you will have my support in your primary battles and you will have my volunteer hours devoted to your reelection campaigns. This is not an idle offer... I have lots of free time and I care about a progressive future for this country.

I sincerely hope you make the right decision. Thank you for your consideration and your service to this country.
Seriously, take the time to do this. We have leverage beyond "well I'm not voting for you anymore nyah nyah". Our currency here is how much we care about this issue, not just whether or not we'll punch a ballot every two or four years. Convince your congressfolk that your opinion matters.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:28 PM on August 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


Stunned and disgusted to see Maria Cantwell's name on the list of Democratic Senators standing in the way of the public option. I expect better of my Senators, Ms. Cantwell, especially ones that I've voted for multiple times.

Oh my goodness, the conversations your staff and I will be having tomorrow! Oh, the letter that I'm off to draft! Are you excited? I'm excited.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:32 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It seems that Sebelius's statement is already being walked back.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 10:37 PM on August 16, 2009


"Nothing has changed," said Linda Douglass, communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform. "The president has always said that what is essential is that health insurance reform must lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and it must increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes the public option is the best way to achieve those goals."

So, she's evidently a Communications Director. Right!
posted by blucevalo at 10:41 PM on August 16, 2009


The only effective vote people have is where they spend their money.

So start thinking about who's NOT going to see your money over this. Is it the right wing yack show advertisers? The firms that fund the think tanks? The funders of the lobbyists? Going after their cash by determining where you spend yours (and influencing others as to where they are going to spend) bypasses the left/right BS and goes to the pocketbook.

An example:
advertisers-wimp-out-boycott-glenn-beck-but-stay-on-fox-news


Next, you need to think of a way to get that message out - now the Internet is a fine idea. But if you are effective, you'll need a budget - unless you can build a tool like a limewire/torrent/say-oh-UUCP and the data storage and xfer is the burden of the like minded. Toss in cryptographic sigs so nodes "know" that the content about Bayer settling for nearly $100 million over medicare false claims comes from a source one has come to trust VS just some dude on one of the series of tubes. Oh, and a distributed tool - less likely to be able to be shutdown.

Don't get mad....write some code to leverage where the money gets spent. Make it effective enough to get firms to start acting ethically VS it being cheaper to pay off PR firms to create the 'correct' image. You know you have won when laws are drafted to stop such ad-hoc weighted databases.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:14 PM on August 16, 2009


I was talking with my father, a former unionized steelworker who's spent the 25 years since the plant left town learning that hard work and honesty alone won't get you that far in this world, about the health care debacle, and he said something that struck me as true: that this fight for health care is probably the last opportunity Americans will have to uphold the public interest in the face of corporate intransigence. If we win, if the majority of the American people successfully demonstrate their political strength, people-powered reforms can follow in other areas. If we lose, on an issue that commands broad public support and represents an area requiring real change, it will be the death-knell for an American democracy bought and paid for by private interests. If we can't reform this, what can we reform?

If anything, though, I think he was being too idealistic. This seems to me to be another instance of the Democrats running one from the playbook, albeit with even less justification than usual: pretend to want to enact the popular will despite the fact that it would anger your corporate backers, then back down and blame the GOP, asking for further concessions from the voting public and making promises about Next Time. In the past, they've used this line to encourage us to give them majorities in Congress, and then the White House and finally a filibuster-proof majority. Now they've been reduced to blaming powerless, completely unrepresentative fringe crazies for derailing the process of reform. Are they serious? Of course not. To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it's difficult to get a Congressman to do something when his salary depends on his not doing it.

And Obama? Even though he lacks the iron in his soul that separates the statesman from the politician--I haven't really trusted him since his idiotic about-face on FISA last year--I still believe in his fundamental sincerity. But my fear is that some concern of his--for his electoral future or for his legacy--will compel him to champion a bullshit fig-leaf of a plan "acceptable to Republicans" that squanders billions and solves nothing, a Medicare Part D writ larger.
posted by Makoto at 11:16 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Um, I blanked just before I hit send and assumed for a moment that I was writing an email.)

No big deal. That happens to me all the time, too.

Todd Lokken
posted by armage at 11:21 PM on August 16, 2009


Then again, there's a very very VERY good chance that this was a regulation trial balloon, perhaps floated a bit more publically than usual. Yes folks, it ain't over till Obama signs something in.

Also, to this Westminister-addled brain, you really really REALLLY need an overlap between the executive and legislature and quite a significant amount of reform in the legislative process, even ignoring the whole lobbying gambit. I blame this entire mess mostly on that. Just me, I'm sure.
posted by the cydonian at 11:24 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ugh.

Round XLIV of

The Party That Will Do Anything to Win vs. The Party That Will Do Almost Anything to Not Appear to Be Cheating Too Extensively

A rather striking counterpoint to Obama's health care push was Dubya's first tax cut-- Bush first pushed an astronomically large cut, and then "settled" for a merely mammoth tax cut... Obama offered a relatively mild, moderate-on-the-face-of-it program, which of course has been promptly shellacked.

Since it's pretty much the GOP platform to oppose anything major from the Dems in lockstep fashion, it seems absurd not to pursue the traditional bargaining approach: Ask for much more than you can expect to get, and then settle for what you wanted in the first place. This approach of asking for what you want, and then getting less than that, doesn't seem that great a substitute.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:25 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It seems that Sebelius's statement is already being walked back.

This only means that Barack Obama has no control over even his own cabinet!

Could you imagine this from the Bush administration? Jesus Fucking Christ, we're fucking doomed.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:36 PM on August 16, 2009


darth_tedious: "Ask for much more than you can expect to get, and then settle for what you wanted in the first place."

That doesn't really work here. The analogy would be when you bring your oblivious spouse along and he or she starts raving about how amazing this car is in front of the salesperson and totally undermines your hard-line stance.

If the Dems push for something that's not actually supported by the party's constituents, the Republicans will know it (thanks to the glut of commentary and polling data), and run a land-grab strategy for all the people to the "right" of whatever's proposed.

But the playing field is asymmetrical. The Democrats can't take that same approach. The republicans to the "left" of Bush's astronomical tax cut were never at risk of siding with the gays and the blacks and the hippies and Michael Moore. That's because the republicans have the solidarity of a proper political party, and the democrats are more of a coalition of varied (and occasionally conflicting) interests.

Progressive interests, in the current political environment, will always Do More and Get Less. Our only edge is that we're, you know, right. I hope that's enough.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:42 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


On a more serious note, I, like bugbread, live in Japan, where there is a single-payer health insurance system, split into two parts: one for those employed by companies, and another for self-employed, unemployed, retired, and other people. (There's a third for public employees, but it works largely like the others.) The first system is administered by about 1500 non-profit cooperatives set up by large companies (like Sony, Toshiba, Toyota, etc.) or by groups of smaller companies that each charge a monthly insurance fee that varies depending on the provider. The company pays a fraction, usually around 2/3, and the employee pays the remainder. For example, I pay about 25,000 yen a month for my insurance, which allows me to pay only 30% of any medicine or medical expense I incur up to a per-month limit depending on my salary (I believe in my case it is about 150,000 yen or so, but I don't recall precisely). There are also differing rules for the elderly and low-income people, and the insurance fee is waived for low-income people, but ultimately everyone is covered and no one has to worry about losing their coverage. The system is not perfect, as there are some issues regarding cost controls and maintaining the system's viability with an aging and shrinking population, but compared to the US, it's a godsend. Taxes here are also lower, on balance, than either the US or Europe -- even when you add in health insurance costs.

Knowing all this, and hearing horror stories from my family and friends back home, I am in no rush to return to the US anytime soon.
posted by armage at 11:42 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sure many people have threatened to vote against you if you don't support this legislation. Now *that* is naive.

Before Obama, I would have agreed. Now, I'm not so sure. If the officials I elected misrepresent their assent with my views, by actively working against my interests after election, I'd argue it would be naive to continue voting for them out of allegiance to a political brand name.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 PM on August 16, 2009


dirigibleman> This only means that Barack Obama has no control over even his own cabinet!

Could you imagine this from the Bush administration? Jesus Fucking Christ, we're fucking doomed.


Well, sure, but in this instance, I prefer "communications fuckup" to "message discipline".
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:42 PM on August 16, 2009


Also, here is Krugman with his take on how health care reform without a public option could be acceptable.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:44 PM on August 16, 2009


For the past month, this whole thing has been reminding me of the theory that as humans we're much more afraid of losing something we have than not gaining something we want.

For the past month, this whole thing has reminded me too much of Prop 8, which I still insist was a political loss, i.e. not a true indicator of mainstream opinion, but simply one side outmaneuvering the other.

I've been watching the news,and wondering why folks like Olbermann and Maddow are doing nothing but reporting on the town hall nonsense and Death Panel bullshit. Because there's been little to no collective noise from the other side. No central organizing force or philosophy.

We know that the Town hall disrupters were paid shills and, that lobbyists are getting to the Dems...but where's the other side? Where's the real grassroots movement? There doesn't seem to be one. If one doesn't pop up real soon, getting mad after the fact will be useless.

Who's hiring PR hacks in favor of health reform? Why hasn't anyone tapped into the deep well of "here's how the current sytem has made my life hell" stories that we all know are out there? Where's the t-shirt ready slogan? Where's the lapel ribbon, and what color should it be? Where's the "not in my name" folks with their protest songs and stirring poken word poems? Where's Diddy with his "health care or die" shirts? The Shepard Fairey poster? It's like nobody made it trendy, so nobody knows how to make noise about it. And it sucks that this is what it comes down to, but that's the reality of the world we live in.

I know these things aren't a substitute for real political action, but it's part of the game. And the cruel twist is Obama just showed us all the biggest most successful example of how that works with his campaign, and maybe we're all still a little blinded by the flash of it all. Those big ass crowds (and those big ass donation numbers) that turned out for him won him that election, because it was easy to put that image on TV and say, "Look, this is what America wants". If we cant figure out how to make that same show of collective will without him, then those tactics will most assuredly be used against us. We see that with the "Joker posters" and Sarah Palin's insane Facebook rantings.

I think a lot of the sentiment here that says "what are YOU doing about it?" isn't really directed at anyone in particular, or meant to let Obama or anyone in Govt. off the hook. I think there's just a feeling that this is big enough that we should be yelling louder about it. Or should have started yelling the second the issue was on the table.

I don't really know what the answer is. Maybe i should get married and do a crazy healthcare reform dance down the aisle. That'll get people's attention.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:51 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, sure, but in this instance, I prefer "communications fuckup" to "message discipline".

I might agree if this weren't the most important legislation since the Civil Rights Act forty years ago!

We're fucking doomed.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:55 PM on August 16, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: actively working against my interests

With all respect, BP, has that happened? Failing to get support for a public option is, at worst, "unsuccessfully working for your interests". I know that seems like I'm equivocating, but I genuinely believe that if we could get a solid filibuster-proof majority (and I mean in real terms, not including DINO "blue dogs"), those democrats would enact this reform.

Every time I've heard people complain about the democrats passing legislation they hated, it's been something that basically ALL the republicans voted for and the majority of democrats voted AGAINST. That seems like a party that's on your side but just needs more (or better) support. I'm all in favor of replacing blue dogs with more progressive candidates if we can, but writing off the party as a whole just strikes me as short-sighted.

The only way it makes sense is if you believe that things will get so bad that it'll beat sense into the electorate. I might have agreed with you in 2000, but after the Bush administration went from bad to worse to HOLY FUCKING ASSCRACKERS I no longer subscribe to that theory.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:56 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you need help getting properly outraged, this is a good place to start...Bill Moyers Journal from July 31 on the tactics of the Insurance industry to fight reform.

We can be mad at our govt. for not doing enough to protect us, but lets save some of our outrage for those who they should be protecting us from.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:02 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


> If the Dems push for something that's not actually supported by the party's constituents, the Republicans will know it (thanks to the glut of commentary and polling data), and run a land-grab strategy for all the people to the "right" of whatever's proposed.

I could be wrong, but I suspect that the Dem's constituents would be in favor of a maximalist approach-- the various sitting Dem senators and congressmen are another matter.

On another level, small changes are easy to sell at the negotiating table, but big changes are what move the grassroots. Better, then, to push for something big, motivating, and easily explainable ("Medicare for All!") at the outset-- get the grassroots motivated-- and then be prepared to whittle things down later, once everyone's buddies at the insurance companies do their dialing and lunching.

And that inevitable "land-grab" is, from my perspective, pretty much the point of jamming that Overton window as wide as possible. The idea is, or should be, not to secure votes at the outset-- because the votes may not be there, in the present environment-- but to get constituents breathing down the backs of congress.... so as to hopefully produce votes that otherwise wouldn't be there.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:07 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


dirigibleman> I might agree if this weren't the most important legislation since the Civil Rights Act forty years ago!

We're fucking doomed.


I don't entirely disagree with that sentiment.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 12:10 AM on August 17, 2009


The lack of understanding of how our government works in this thread is rather embarrassing. A couple things to remember. First, politically August is the least important month. None of these town halls are going to matter. What is going to determine what the final bill is like is when the house and the senate sit down to write the final version.

Second, the public option is not the same as single payer nor universal coverage. The public option is basically cheap government supplied insurance. Without the public option you still have cheaper insurance it's just not provided by the government. I wish we could get single payer health care, but it's not going to happen anytime soon.

And if you want to contact your senator or congress person, send them a FAX.
posted by afu at 12:19 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


According to this web site, these are the Democratic Senators who are against the government option in the health bill:

...
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/


A website with real sources says he is for a public plan but he wants to see a bill first so he's not advocating much for it until that happens.
posted by cmonkey at 12:20 AM on August 17, 2009


Looks like Cantwell is on board after all. Hooray! I'll still call and write both her and Patty Murray, but I'm sure glad I double-checked before sending out what I wrote while believing Cantwell was against a public plan. Close one!
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:19 AM on August 17, 2009


I scrolled down to say that I sent this email to Blanche Lincoln via the link given by eye of newt previously. I still have more reading to do in this thread.


Please understand that a lot of us are upset about your not being for health care reform.

I have voted for you in the past, but will not again unless this attitude changes.

For many years, I could not afford health insurance, and, now that I have it via my husband's work, I'm afraid to use it. I likely have pre-existing conditions and won't find out until my insurance claims are denied, putting my family in a black hole financially.

I have had bad dealings with QualChoice before, and I don't expect them to be my friend.

However, I do expect my elected officials to at least have my best interests at heart. That is why I have voted for you in the past.

From a hardworking mother,
lilywing*

*lilywing is obviously not my real name
posted by lilywing13 at 1:29 AM on August 17, 2009


First, politically August is the least important month.

That was true in the past.

This is not 1993. This is not a relative uknown elected on a mere plurality because two fiscal conservatives split the vote. This is someone elected with a dominating majority who ran ads explicitly endorsing a public option. Who has (had) a double digit approval advantage over Congressional Democrats, who has (had) a majority of the country behind him on both health care reform and a strong public option, who still can't even control his own cabinet! And he now has congressional Democrats openly defying him (by name! By Name!) and embracing the disgusting libellous lies that Palin and the Republicans have vomited. This is unconscionable.

Once again, Democrats fucking learn the wrong lesson from their accidental win. Unlike 1993, the Democrats are in "power" because of the President, and it should have been the President leading the way to real health care reform, not the spineless cowards in Congress.

When we win, we still lose.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:33 AM on August 17, 2009


Also, this woman, Blanche Lincoln, used to be Blanche Lambert and got maternity leave at my expense for living in her state and voting for her. So I'm extra pissed that she'd not support decent health care in this state and why I included "hardworking mother" in there.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:36 AM on August 17, 2009


darth_tedious - On another level, small changes are easy to sell at the negotiating table, but big changes are what move the grassroots. Better, then, to push for something big, motivating, and easily explainable ("Medicare for All!") at the outset-- get the grassroots motivated-- and then be prepared to whittle things down later, once everyone's buddies at the insurance companies do their dialing and lunching.

And that inevitable "land-grab" is, from my perspective, pretty much the point of jamming that Overton window as wide as possible. The idea is, or should be, not to secure votes at the outset-- because the votes may not be there, in the present environment-- but to get constituents breathing down the backs of congress.... so as to hopefully produce votes that otherwise wouldn't be there.


Exactly. Obama should have come out, in like March, when your average Joe Sixpack would have pitchforked the first rich person he saw, and proposed Medicare for all, free of charge, paid for by raising taxes on the rich back to what they were after Reagan's first term. You want to keep your private/employer-based insurance - feel free to

Doing this would have de-facto ended the employer/private system and brought in a lot of government revenue from the massive untaxed employer health spending being redirected into people's (taxed) incomes, and got the Democrats a simple, permanent, untouchable solution to the health care crisis. And when the average person found himself with a $10,000 raise along with his free health care, the politicians who voted for the bill might find themselves more likely to stay in office than the ones who didn't

Instead we've had 24 hour cable/blog/twitter/facebook coverage of every industry giveaway and unprincipled compromise from inside the legislative sausage factory until it makes you physically ill to even think about, and still NO FUCKING SAUSAGE

No one understands what this bill is going to get us. The best case scenario being painted right now is a whole bunch of insurance industry regulations (because if the past 12 months have proven anything, it's that regulations work) and the bittersweet "win" of a mandate for citizens to buy health insurance from corporations, with a government subsidy for the very poorest

Well, fuck you everyone involved. Fuck you very much and I hope you get sick and no one helps you and you die, just like the 20,000 Americans your actions kill each year
posted by crayz at 3:18 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


who still can't even control his own cabinet!

It's called a trial balloon and like I said earlier, this has been done before by this administration.

Seriously, people, chill. A lot of ya'll are acting the flip side of the idiotic Republicans this site loves to mock. ONE official says the administration is open to co-ops and ya'll think the world is ending and you're ready to note vote for the guy next time around.

Mind you, this is isn't a done deal or anything close to it. The Senate still has reconcile the different versions within its chamber, as does the House. When each chamber has a bill, then those will have to reconciled with each other for the final bill that Obama will sign. But the rapid response whining and willingness to take your vote elsewhere while calling Obama names should be remembered the next time ya'll want to complain about the Democrats not being solidly behind him. 'Cause ya'll are exhibiting the similar behavior, just on a smaller scale.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:42 AM on August 17, 2009


Obama (and H. Clinton) only supported a public option s after Edwards support for it started making them lose points in the primary. Obama is more conservative than many old school Republicans (pre-Moral Majority) Peopl do not realize how far right this country has been pushed - it was done incrementally but it has worked.

I look forward to the day when I can permanently leave this place. I'm 45 and it is the same old isht but with worse cnadidates every election cycle.
posted by hooptycritter at 4:15 AM on August 17, 2009


"Looks like Obama's spinal implant has been denied by his HMO. They've opted for a repeat walletectomy instead." - NYT commenter
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:36 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by kalessin at 4:43 AM on August 17, 2009


You know what I love about the Democrats? It's how they fold a millisecond slower than Republicans in the face of private corporate rapaciousness and avarice. My heroes, the Democrats.
posted by telstar at 4:46 AM on August 17, 2009


Canada post is excellent too, especially considering the population density of Canada. I sure don't see any private business coming even close to their service at their price. Sure would like some of those awesome and _cheap_ pre-paid boxes the Americans get though.
posted by Mitheral at 11:06 PM on August 16 [+] [!]


That's a good point, and if I were mailing a letter to Northern Saskachewan I wouldn't complain. But it really shouldn't take up to 2 weeks for a letter to go from an address in Toronto to another address in Toronto - which is does. Toronto has plenty of population density, as much as anywhere in the US. My mother discovered just how long it took by mailing two letters to friends who lived in the same building complex - the one to the friend in the same hall took two days, since she was the same postal code. But the building next door took two weeks, because it was one postal code over.
posted by jb at 4:54 AM on August 17, 2009


Also, to this Westminister-addled brain, you really really REALLLY need an overlap between the executive and legislature and quite a significant amount of reform in the legislative process, even ignoring the whole lobbying gambit. I blame this entire mess mostly on that. Just me, I'm sure.
posted by the cydonian at 2:24 AM on August 17


There is a good reason that the Westminster system has been copied all over the world and is considered to be one of the more stable systems. Hundreds of years of working out the kinks has produced a damn good system - the American system was designed (by idealists working in a very small country, with an even smaller electorate), but the Westminster system grew. (And all along was pruned by war, and revolution, and reform).
posted by jb at 5:10 AM on August 17, 2009


Seriously, people, chill. A lot of ya'll are acting the flip side of the idiotic Republicans this site loves to mock. ONE official says the administration is open to co-ops and ya'll think the world is ending and you're ready to not vote for the guy next time around.

Not to mention Obama's own health care communications director saying Obama wants to see the public option in the final bill, nothing has changed, and so forth. But what does that matter in the face of sweet, sweet PANIC?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:29 AM on August 17, 2009


Organizing For America, Obama's support network, is hosting a series of listening tours. The site mentions education and the environment as additional topics for their "grassroots movement", a reminder that even after we get universal health coverage, we have a long way to go. I've signed up for the one near me - seems the least all of the above folks asking "where's the rally?" can do. I'm all for additional action: just telling my friends how important this is and reminding them to contact their representatives has been enlightening - no one had done it.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/event/search_simple?source=sidenav

I also dropped off an OFA petition, in person, at my senator's office. She's already pro- reform, but I figure this provides more ompf. I hope everyone who is outraged has done that too. OFA has a big, obnoxious DONATE button on every e-mail. But if you want to be your own "lobbyist", there's your chance.
posted by AppleSeed at 5:35 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


How many of those snarking and mocking and hand-wringing over Pres. Obama or the Democratic party "folding" have gotten up from their keyboards and gone out to public meetings to counter the very visible right-wing propaganda machine? Because, you know, if we on the left sit at home and act to the outside world like it's not a crucial enough issue to actually do anything about -- then our leaders will believe us.
posted by aught at 5:51 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Public Option is a red herring:
Can you think of a domain where a government-run business competes successfully with private-sector companies? In a town hall meeting last week, President Obama mentioned one such example: the market for overnight shipments. This market now has two main private suppliers, FedEx and UPS, and one public one, the United States Postal Service. When you have to send something overnight, which one do you use? Most shippers choose one of the private companies. (Indeed, even the idea that we need a government-run postal service is doubtful. Sweden has successfully privatized its postal service. Sweden! And the European Union will open mail service to competition in 2011.)

The Postal Service offers another instructive lesson. When it periodically starts running deficits (as it is now) and proposes cost-saving measures like eliminating Saturday delivery or closing tiny post offices, Congress often intervenes under pressure from predictable interest groups like bulk mailers, the 600,000 postal employees, and the users of those tiny offices.
I couldn't be arsed to read through this whole thread after the first hundred or so comments, but the teeth-gnashing I saw there was pretty silly. I'm a big fan of this community's capacity to think clearly, but this thread is a case of FAIL. Anybody paying attention should already know and embrace Richard Thaler's cautions.

Congress should have passed a lightly amended version of Wyden-Bennett two months ago and be worrying about something else by now. The fact that they didn't is a collective failure attributable to both Democrats and Republicans, but I think Democrats ought to shoulder the blame and bow to the inevitable.

PASS WYDEN-BENNETT NOW.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:56 AM on August 17, 2009


More generally, it is hard to find examples where government-run businesses compete with private companies and win.

What does this mean, "win"? That it drives private companies out of business? That's not what they're there to do; they're an option for people out of the economic grasp of private companies. Government-run businesses like the post office and Medicare are usually the only affordable resources for people who can't afford FedEx or private insurance. I'd say that makes it a win for them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:13 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Which isn't to say Medicare is wildly successful, of course. Just that if we're saying "government-run stuff can't do better than private-run" we're still ignoring the qualifier of affordability. If you can't afford the service, it doesn't matter how good it is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:14 AM on August 17, 2009


That's not what they're there to do; they're an option for people out of the economic grasp of private companies.

Marisa, I know you're not an American, but you clearly have no clue what you're talking about here. Nothing you've written is in any way relevant. I'm sorry that seems snarky, but if you're clueless, maybe you should shut up: we've got more than enough blowhards of our own.

We're not just talking about insuring those in poverty: we're talking about fixing health care for the middle class, too. If all we wanted was to increase the size of Medicaid, it could be done much more cheaply by increasing subsidies and raising the income caps. The Obama administration isn't proposing a poverty-alleviation program, they're proposing fixing a disfunctional system. And in the struggle to do that, a Public Option isn't particularly good or particularly bad, it's a red herring that won't be able to do most of what its defenders hope or its detractors fear.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:30 AM on August 17, 2009


"So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests." (source)
posted by jonp72 at 6:35 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, to this Westminister-addled brain, you really really REALLLY need an overlap between the executive and legislature and quite a significant amount of reform in the legislative process, even ignoring the whole lobbying gambit.

Hundreds of years of working out the kinks has produced a damn good system - the American system was designed (by idealists working in a very small country, with an even smaller electorate), but the Westminster system grew. (And all along was pruned by war, and revolution, and reform).


I mean, if you want to go there, Montana and North Dakota in the Senate = rotten boroughs. Nate Silver sort of touched on this a few days ago. The Senators who are problematic represent a very small slice of the US population--none are from New York, California, Illinois, Florida or even Texas.

Soft changes to remedy this might involve further campaign finance reform, or even rule changes in the Senate (maybe committees could be required to have representation from large states as well as small somehow).

Hard changes like reconstructing the Senate are almost impossible, since they'd involve rewriting the Constitution, which would reopen for debate every contentious issue that people have fought over since, well, since 1789.
posted by gimonca at 6:42 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, re-reading the thread, it looks like maybe you are American. I apologize if I mislabeled you and you're not a foreign ignorant blowhard but rather homegrown.

But I think you're still laboring under a misapprehension: whether we use "co-ops" or a public option, the poor will still get subsidies to make health insurance affordable. To over-extend the post office metaphor, the needy will be issued free stamps (like food stamps) that can be used either in the "co-op" or at a private insurer. You might also think of these as "insurance vouchers." So there's no reason to believe that forgoing a public option will shut out the poor.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:42 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, re-reading the thread, it looks like maybe you are American. I apologize if I mislabeled you and you're not a foreign ignorant blowhard but rather homegrown.

Oh, hey, apology accepted? Jesus.

I'm aware that the public option isn't the sole answer to all our problems, thanks. I just take issue with the faulty logic in the NYT op-ed piece that government-run programs have to "win" in their competition with private business. It's a ridiculous, all-or-nothing argument. We're supposed to have a varied system that caters to everyone, fashioned after how they can best pay. Government-run businesses will work better for people who can't afford private-run businesses, because mediocre service is better than none at all.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:54 AM on August 17, 2009


If there's no public option, he's lost my vote in 2012. Period.

Get 1,000,000 signatures on that, even if it's just on a website, and see what happens.


Is anybody doing this yet? I've got at least 100 guaranteed signatures on my street alone.

If there's literally no backbone in the office, we the people must provide one that matters to us.
posted by phylum sinter at 7:02 AM on August 17, 2009


We know that the Town hall disrupters were paid shills

Come now, some were bound to be useful idiots.

Start figuring out the money flows and stop contributing to their money flows. Your money is being used against you.

posted by rough ashlar at 7:04 AM on August 17, 2009


Government-run businesses will work better for people who can't afford private-run businesses, because mediocre service is better than none at all.

Are you illiterate? Does the fact that the grocery store is privately run prevent them from serving poor people?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:17 AM on August 17, 2009


Obama, you goddamned fucking coward, fuck you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:17 AM on August 17, 2009


Maybe it's just a ploy to get everyone to mobilize against the misinformation 'death panel' squad.

Maybe?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:18 AM on August 17, 2009


Are you illiterate? Does the fact that the grocery store is privately run prevent them from serving poor people?

Yes? There's a million articles online (plus it's easily observed if you bother to) about how grocery stores are nearly non-existant in poor neighborhoods, and carry subpar, overpriced produce where they do exist. This is a major part of how the poor stay poor (and unhealthy, too!).
posted by Dr.Enormous at 7:26 AM on August 17, 2009


Look, I understand the desire to just lay the blame for everything at the feet of one dude (it's called "scapegoating" and it's a pretty common human impulse), but how can you not see that the problem is much bigger than Obama here? The problem is our system has been captured--Obama was one of the few people in Washington pushing for a public option and meaningful reform at all. The original Clinton plan didn't even include one and no one called Hillary Clinton a traitor to progressive values.

Meanwhile, the rest of congress has been about as enthusiastic about the idea of a robust public option as the town-hall thugs have been well-informed and reasonable.

I still think Obama genuinely wants to transform things, but how the hell is he supposed to do that with so much opposition and with such a stacked deck, and when even those who should have been supporting him during his push to make this happen spent most of their time declaring the cause lost already and denouncing him for his failure? If congress refuses to come to terms on any legislation that includes a public option, how the hell is Obama supposed to remedy that? Threaten to veto every piece of legislation that congress puts out from now until the end of his term and become indisputably the least successful president in history?

Congress is irredeemably corrupt, plain and simple. Corporate money in the election process has completely skewed Washington's priorities and that will not change as long as there are only two viable political parties and both parties limit their candidate selections to those able to raise the most campaign funds. No truly progressive reformer has been able to get significant political traction since Roosevelt--unless you count Nixon with the establishment of the EPA, but that's a stretch. Why? Because the American right-wing business interests realized after their failed attempts to dislodge FDR through force that they didn't have to use force if they could capture the system itself.

We claim to have a democratic system, but that's false. We have an oligarchy. We have two parties that control the nomination process, and both parties nominate based not on political philosophy or issues orientation but based on fund raising ability. Most potential candidates have already been paid for in full by some set of financial interests before they even see the national political stage.

(Everybody knows the dice are loaded... Everybody knows the good guys lost.)

Obama's just the most convenient lightening rod for criticism now. But that misses the real problem, and in so doing, perpetuates it.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:27 AM on August 17, 2009


MSTPT: illiterate ignorant homegrown blowhard. I'm sorry if that seems snarky.
posted by gman at 7:29 AM on August 17, 2009


Are you illiterate? Does the fact that the grocery store is privately run prevent them from serving poor people?

Let me try a simpler way of explaining this: if you can't afford a service, you won't be able to get it. Government-run businesses tend to be cheaper than their private counterparts. Hence those who cannot afford private services tend to go with the government equivalent. So while nothing is preventing the grocery store from serving the poor, if the poor can't afford to shop there, they won't be buying anything.

I'd also ask you tone down the bile there. Shouting about how everyone in this thread is full of fail, how I'm ignorant and possibly illiterate, thanks but no thanks. Go get a chamomille tea or something, Mort.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:34 AM on August 17, 2009


Soft changes to remedy this might involve further campaign finance reform, or even rule changes in the Senate (maybe committees could be required to have representation from large states as well as small somehow).

Hard changes like reconstructing the Senate are almost impossible, since they'd involve rewriting the Constitution, which would reopen for debate every contentious issue that people have fought over since, well, since 1789.


Even the simple step of dropping the 1975 procedural filibuster would help cut the bullshit in the Senate.
posted by enn at 7:37 AM on August 17, 2009


Let me try a simpler way of explaining this:

FOOD STAMPS.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:38 AM on August 17, 2009


Yeah someone needs to set up a 4chan/Anonymous style raid of weak-kneed Dems. Play dirty and threaten to donate $100 en mass to anyone that is willing to run against any insurance-friendly Dems in the primary races, public smear campaigns etc. Petitions are useless.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:43 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


FOOD STAMPS.

Uh huh? Yes, this would be an example of a government service. Thanks.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:46 AM on August 17, 2009


Look, I'm sorry that I'm in a bad mood. I expect ignorance from conspiracy theorists on the right, but I expect better from commentators here. If you can't be bothered to get your facts straight (Medicare, not Medicaid, for instance) then how are you different from the idiots shouting about "death panels"? You don't understand how the co-op plan works: you admitted as much in your first comment here, but then you proceeded to drop, 24 more comments in the thread defending your ignorance.

It's really worse that you're on my side, politically, because we agree on general policy goals but you're ten times more vocal than me and don't know what you're talking about. That means that the general public and our political opposition will assume that everybody on our side is as ignorant as you, and that everyone who supports that policy has the same bad reasons for supporting it.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:50 AM on August 17, 2009


You realize that the food stamps aren't food, right? That poor people buy their food from regular grocery stores using food stamps?

That's what an "insurance voucher" would be for, it's what Medicaid and SCHIP do, and that's what Wyden-Bennett would convert into a "wrap-around supplement" to cover the remaining uninsured. The idea is to have an individual mandate and then reimburse poor people. But you didn't know that, did you?

You don't buy food from government run grocery store, and you don't need to buy insurance from a government run insurance company. I don't know where you got the idea that the state does it cheaper, but it's not true. Governments sometimes do it fairer, but there are plenty of better institutional models for combining fairness and cheapness.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:56 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't really know what you're going on about, to be honest. What I've been saying in this thread is a) yes, I'd like to know more about co-ops although at first glance they seem pretty shakey, b) it doesn't look like the public option is off the table, c) some general stuff about democracy and d) a social system is designed to hold the fabric of our society together, not just so the poorest among us don't fall through the cracks, but also so that everyone's standard of living can raise to a comfortable level. Yes, I believe in government-run social networks, having lived under both the private-run and social-democratic political systems I find the latter works better. That's where I'm coming from. I'd love to compare notes, but as long as you're flinging shit from your high horse about how ignorant and full of fail we all are, there's really nothing to discuss. Have a great day.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:59 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Boycott Whole Foods
posted by jonp72 at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2009


To follow up on my earlier comment--here's a lot of the problem--we are conditioned by entertainment (movies, TV, novels) to follow a story with a narrative arc. We expect that story to have a beginning, a middle part, a rise in dramatic tension, and then an end where emotional tension is released.

Obama's election followed this to a T, perhaps deliberately. It all built up to election night in Grant Park, where everyone waited for the 11 PM hour when the networks were allowed to call the election for Obama. The first Black President! Bush is done! the GOP is out of power entirely! Talk about an emotional moment.

But actual governing is nothing like this--it is a long slog, with no script, no end and a lot of little fights. Its a lot like work in the workplace for you and I. That's way different. So when people don't get exactly what they want, they feel disappointed. It hasn't followed the great story arc.

Get used to it. We're going to have health care, from no less an authority than Pat fucking Buchanan, who after ripping the whole thing for 20 minutes on the McLaughlin Group, said there would be a reform bill this year--the constellation of forces for it are just too great. The GOP is going to take a pound of flesh out of Obama, the bill will get passed, and there will be no giant opening of the sky or relaxation of dramatic tension. It will take two years for people to figure out "Holy shit! They passed health care!"
posted by Ironmouth at 8:05 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Genuine question: How is an"insurance voucher" different from a government paid plan? Is the difference that the money from the government goes to a private insurance company rather than the doctor? Wouldn't it make more sense for the government to pay the doctor directly (like Medicare) rather than pay a private company who then pays the doctor? Or am I misunderstanding how insurance vouchers/subsidies would work?
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:08 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't really know what you're going on about, to be honest.

I'm trying to tell you that you're wrong. You are making false statements. The fact that I'm not being polite about it may be off-putting, but surely you'd still rather be right than righteous?

So long as you assume that your opinions are valid just because you fell them deeply and that people who disagree with you are out to screw poor people and eat the homeless, you deserve this sort of reaction. So, yeah: have a great day, I guess. Or, how about you have an educational day, instead?

Wouldn't it make more sense for the government to pay the doctor directly (like Medicare) rather than pay a private company who then pays the doctor?

It might make more sense to do that, but the government has significantly higher costs for administrative staff than private companies do, and they're much worse at sniffing out fraud and scams. Also, they tend not to be very good at negotiating with their counter-parties, so the private company can often get the same procedure for cheaper. This isn't true of Medicare, which can set costs as low as it wants because it basically controls the market in geriatric care, but then you run into supply-chain problems where doctors refuse Medicare patients and just won't do the work because the price is too low.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:14 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like to know whose insurers are paying for checkups. Someone upthread posted that insurance is good for those who need occasional checkups but are crap for catastrophic illnesses. I'll tell you right now: my employer-paid insurance pays for NOTHING (maybe a smallish pittance here and there, but every single visit costs me something) until you hit the magic deductible amount--I would have to visit the dr every single day to hit the deductible amount.

I have no dental or vision benefits. That article link posted above about the dental issues in Inglewood, CA? None of those people had dental insurance, most likely--whose employers pay for dental? Small companies sure don't.

Insurance is useless for me--unless I gods forbid get cancer. Then maybe it will pay for some-damn-thing. I have no other health insurance options right now. Hell, my husband is entirely uninsured because the family plan through my employer would make my paycheck meaningless.

WTF is the solution!?!?!?!
posted by cass at 8:15 AM on August 17, 2009


So long as you assume that your opinions are valid just because you fell them deeply and that people who disagree with you are out to screw poor people and eat the homeless, you deserve this sort of reaction.

I'd just like to add that I think you're making assumptions about what my opinions even are, let along on what they're based. I believe in a health care program that employs multiple facets of public and private utilization. I base this on having lived 20-odd years in America, and ten years in social-democratic country, i.e., my experience. I can read, too. Did you catch Rush by accident on the way to work this morning or something? You're really firing off half-cocked. I guess we all have bad mornings, but man. Couching bitchiness with some straight-shooter routine about setting the facts straight or whatever doesn't make you any less unpleasant.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:25 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It might make more sense to do that, but the government has significantly higher costs for administrative staff than private companies do, and they're much worse at sniffing out fraud and scams.

Can you please give examples of this? Everything I've read seems to indicate the opposite of this (such as this Krugman column where he states: "This seems like fairly overwhelming evidence that single-payer systems do, in fact, have low administrative costs compared with private insurers." Furthermore, in this article states "In 1999, health administration costs in the USA were $1,059 per capita, as compared with $304 per capita in Canada. As for individual doctors, their administrative costs were far lower in Canada."

If you have counter examples in healthcare, I'd love to read them.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


It might make more sense to do that, but the government has significantly higher costs for administrative staff than private companies do

For somebody so vehement, you ought to do a little of your own fact-checking. It's hard to compare apples-to-apples, but every single rational survey done on the issue shows government health care options having massively lower administrative costs, and this doesn't even figure in the administrative costs of doctors who have to deal with our ridiculous mess of a system.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:29 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree that single payer reduces administrative costs, but the public option is not single payer. The public option would have higher administrative costs than a true single payer system, because it would have to compete with private insurers, but be staffed by government employees.

Also, single-payer systems have other problems, like fraud. Arguably, some of the cost savings for single payer partly come through externalising fraud investigations to law enforcement.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:36 AM on August 17, 2009


Avenger: Very well said, except why not call The System by its common name: ideological capitalism? When capitalism becomes a goal in and of itself, elevated above whatever good it can do for actual people, your description of The System is the result. And the United States of right now is the best possible demonstration of that fact.
posted by rusty at 8:38 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, there goes any kind of rational thought in our government. We've proven that ignorant shrieking succeeds more. I'm disgusted with both Obama and America.
posted by Legomancer at 8:48 AM on August 17, 2009


We're not talking about single payer exclusively. This also applies to things like Medicare and the VA, which are existing "government options" that compete with the private sector (in very limited areas, granted). They also come in well under the private companies, which makes sense if you stop to think about things it doesn't need like fabulously weathly CEOs, advertisement all over every city in America, swarms of lobbyists...

This "government is inefficient" mantra only occasionally matches reality, and even in those cass, you often find that the efficiency gained by the private sector is mostly in screwing you over (which the government does too, clearly, but at least they do it inefficiently and don't have an inherent interest in doing so).
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:50 AM on August 17, 2009


Ironmouth: "We expect that story to have a beginning, a middle part, a rise in dramatic tension, and then an end where emotional tension is released.

Broadly true, although not true in the fashion you describe; the public's tendency to see things in terms of narrative results more in a pigeon-holing of news players into stereotypes than an Aristotelian arc of ascendence and decline.

Obama's election followed this to a T, perhaps deliberately. It all built up to election night in Grant Park, where everyone waited for the 11 PM hour when the networks were allowed to call the election for Obama. The first Black President! Bush is done! the GOP is out of power entirely! Talk about an emotional moment.

That had nothing to do with narrative chasing. What did Obama's campaign have to gain from playing the media in a campaign they had already won? And all the things you point to seem pretty damn noteworthy. Poor example.

But actual governing is nothing like this--it is a long slog, with no script, no end and a lot of little fights. Its a lot like work in the workplace for you and I. That's way different.

Arguably so. But....

So when people don't get exactly what they want, they feel disappointed. It hasn't followed the great story arc.

I think people are damn right to be disappointed that the person they elected has done something they are profoundly disappointed in. Not a single thing that you, or EyeOfNewt, has said has convinced me otherwise. Saying, effectively, "waah waah get over it" seems simply a ploy to diffuse rage, a ploy that turns up in nearly every massively-outraged Metafilter thread.
posted by JHarris at 8:53 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The public option would have higher administrative costs than a true single payer system, because it would have to compete with private insurers, but be staffed by government employees.

Again, I'm not sure I'm following you. You already stated above that Medicare, which competes with private insurance (specifically Medicare Advantage companies) has lower administrative costs. Krugman again:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that administrative costs under the public Medicare plan are less than 2 percent of expenditures, compared with approximately 11 percent of spending by private plans under Medicare Advantage. This is a near perfect “apples to apples” comparison of administrative costs, because the public Medicare plan and Medicare Advantage plans are operating under similar rules and treating the same population.
I agree fraud is a big problem; however, it occurs in private insurance as well as this article from the American Medical News reports:
Health care fraud accounts for as much as 10% of overall health spending and is occurring just as frequently among private insurance plans as public programs, according to a recent report..The report's authors called the issue "a systemic problem affecting public and private insurers alike, in the individual market, the employer-sponsored group market and public programs."
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:58 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oops, here's the AMNews fraud link.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:59 AM on August 17, 2009


I think people are damn right to be disappointed that the person they elected has done something they are profoundly disappointed in.

Why the f__k doesn't it ever occur to you people to get pissed at the people who actually have the constitutional power to make law?

And where were the news headlines "Congress Signals It will Not Support Public Option," because that's what really happened.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:10 AM on August 17, 2009


Oh hey, and get this, turns out there's a decent chance that this entire media kerfuffle story might be a misrepresentation of the Obama administration's position anyway, which would make a lot of sense if this were all part of a coordinated campaign whose goal is to dupe the public into losing confidence in President Obama's commitment to reform.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eye of Newt: Heck, I'll take suggestions as long as it doesn't involve attacking the President.

What about meet-ups, in state capitals? Let's go en masse and in person to the US Senators' offices while they're home in August.

Empress Callipygos: The people talking about how NOW they're going to call

Yes. How amazing! When’s the last time a national party organized town halls across the country like this? I respectfully disagree with afu’s opinion that it won’t matter. True, August is usually downtime, but not this year. Members are going to the people and they’re responding to what people say, in person, on television.

TNLNYC: There's a lot of anger here

People are angry about more than health care. It has become a stalking horse for passions about money, corporate greed and accountability. Stay on task. Weigh in on heath care since that’s the issue you can shape right now.

iamkimiam: Better to be general or stick to a specific point?

Short and sweet.

Consider the power of two words: “Death Panel.” Killer phrase. (I know, groan.)

Staffers are buried in information: you don’t need to educate them about the content of the four different bills. It’s a confusing issue. Be clear. What matters right now is where you stand on universal health care, and maybe one or two points you really, really want to survive the conference committee process and make it into the final bill.

Heed the words of Brandon Blatcher the Wise:

Back it up with facts and figures, but MAKE THE PLAIN AND SIMPLE MORAL ARGUMENT that this can not can not be allowed to continue and any lawmaker that does should be hounded to every corner of their state and asked "What would Jesus do?"

Flunkie: Forty-four cents. Two days. Across a continent. Without fail.

We could come up with some strong talking points for capital meetups. MeFites in Texas: let me know if you want to storm Austin. I'm in.
posted by woodway at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, it has taken me two days to read up until 8:10 AM EST on this thread. (I've done other things in that time, haven't been reading the WHOLE two days).

I called both my Senators and my Rep, I'm going to write some letters tonight like I've been saying I'll do for a week. I asked them to push for a public option because people are dieing because of lack of health care.

These town hall whackos and people talking about the "death panels" are fucking killing people.
posted by marxchivist at 9:19 AM on August 17, 2009


Thanks for the "apples-to-apples" correction, Staggering Jack. I find both of those arguments persuasive, although if Medicare Advantage can find room for profits in the same total expenditures that that Medicaid can barely break even on, isn't that an argument in favor of private insurers? (That is, Advantage plans supply the same benefits at a lower overall cost, and reinvest the difference.)

I was basing my claim on an earlier study comparing the US and the UK, but we should always be wary of international comparisons. See, for instance Henry Aaron's criticisms of the US-Canda comparison, where he demonstrates some of the major errors in the comparisons across systems: for instance, they don't take relative wage rates into account, i.e. Canada spends less on administration because they paid less on administrative personnel.

That said, the US system is terribly complex and difficult to navigate and it needs to be reformed. I'm all for reform! I just think that artificially limiting the debate (single payer/public option or death!) and demonizing your opponents, is not a good strategy for achieving the needed reforms.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2009


Ack... in the same total expenditures that Medicare can barely break even
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:29 AM on August 17, 2009


And, just to clarify, if people want to meet up it'd be best to leave the MetaFilter brand un-politicized and go as concerned, private citizens.
posted by woodway at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2009


The use of the filibuster as a routine tool is totally new.

Really? Because conservatives used it for a century to stop civil rights legislation. Maybe we're talking about some other Senate.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:34 AM on August 17, 2009


Ironmouth, from the article in the Nation I linked to above:
In the 1960s, before the procedural filibuster, there were seven or fewer "old" filibusters in an entire term. In the most recent Senate term, there were 138.
posted by enn at 9:39 AM on August 17, 2009


if Medicare Advantage can find room for profits in the same total expenditures that that Medicaid can barely break even on,

I would prefer that government run programs not make a profit. Breaking even should be the goal, with any minimal excess going into a rainy-day fund or being refunded to the taxpayers. Taxes are payment for services rendered, but I don't expect my local firehouse to be giving out stock options to the firemen.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 AM on August 17, 2009


I think people are damn right to be disappointed that the person they elected has done something they are profoundly disappointed in. Not a single thing that you, or EyeOfNewt, has said has convinced me otherwise. Saying, effectively, "waah waah get over it" seems simply a ploy to diffuse rage, a ploy that turns up in nearly every massively-outraged Metafilter thread.

I think you need to go over what Obama said during the campaign. He was against single-payer and he contrasted that with Hillary, who was for it. Obama has always been for a system like the one federal employees have--insurance companies in managed competition with a statutory floor of required benefits. The public option was added at the beginning of the process this year and Obama fought for it.

But Obama doesn't rule by Diktat. We are in a democracy where another branch of government passes the laws. So that means that enough of them have to be convinced for this to go through.

So what is your plan? March troops into the Senate chamber and hold a gun to the head of senators who do not agree with you? Because the votes are not there. Let me repeat that. The votes are not there.

And yes waah waah get over it. Seriously, hasn't anyone followed U.S. politics for the last 243 years? This is how it is done. You have to have the votes. The public option does not have the votes. Obama has done the head counting--its his job. Have you done the head counting? If so, list the 60 senators that are going to go along with the public option. There's one named Kent Conrad for sure who won't vote for it.

We don't get everything we want in a democracy. That's how it is supposed to work.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:44 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because the votes are not there. Let me repeat that. The votes are not there.

Eh, the votes "weren't there" for the Civil Rights Act but look what happened anyways when people actually cared enough to work for real change. This idea that the "votes aren't there" is the politics of chickenshit, frankly.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was against single-payer and he contrasted that with Hillary, who was for it.

Actually, I don't recall Hillary Clinton having endorsed single-payer. She did, however, endorse a universal mandate (i.e., a legal requirement that everyone purchase private insurance). It was only in the amended version of her reform proposal that she even included a public option equivalent.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on August 17, 2009


If so, list the 60 senators that are going to go along with the public option.

You only need 51 to drop the procedural filibuster. And then you only need 51 to pass your health care bill.
posted by enn at 9:49 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the 1960s, before the procedural filibuster, there were seven or fewer "old" filibusters in an entire term. In the most recent Senate term, there were 138.

That's because the threat of the filibuster was enough. I suggest you read Robert A. Caro's Master of the Senate. Admittedly it is 1200 pages, but it is 1200 pages that are worth it. Back in the day 66 votes were required to beat a filibuster. That's why there were only 7 filbusters. Because the people counted the votes, knew they didn't have it and withdrew the bill. Now it is used as a political posturing tool designed to demonstrate a position more than anything else. People submit bills they know are going to fail so they can pin it on the other party.

Having said that, I am in favor of returning to the old style filibuster, personally. But this is the reality we are looking at.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:50 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You only need 51 to drop the procedural filibuster. And then you only need 51 to pass your health care bill.

I think you are confused. 60 votes are required for cloture, which is required to stop debate and move to a vote. There is a budget process known as reconciliation, which is used to avoid the filibuster for budget votes. It only requires 51 votes. But your own party has to support that move first. And not enough of them do. They've counted the votes, over and over and over again. That's what they do--it is the essence of lawmaking. They don't have the votes. Stop decieving yourself that they do, because if they did, this thing would pass like a knife through butter.

So what's Obama to do? All these brilliant complainers here somehow think they know better than Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama? Really? Puh-leeze. You know better than the people whose job it is? Nope. I've been living in this town for 12 years and when I see this situation I know we don't have the votes for the public option.

The plan as it is structured now is the plan that will pass, public option or no.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:56 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Eh, the votes "weren't there" for the Civil Rights Act but look what happened anyways

Sure they were. It couldn't have become law if there hadn't been. It eventually passed the Senate 73--27. Even despite the best efforts of the Senate's longest-serving (and longest-winded) Democrat, exalted Klansman, Robert Byrd.

Now if your point is the marches on Washington forced the House's hand in passing the original bill, then maybe so. But that required the American people to actually get off their asses and force the issue, instead of just sitting around laying it all at the feet of the democratic equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free-card that President Obama seems to have become in some people's imaginations.

Now, if there were massive pro-public option marches on Washington, the story might be different. But so far, the only ones doing anything to make their presence significantly felt have been vehemently opposed to reform of any kind.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:00 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was against single-payer and he contrasted that with Hillary, who was for it.

Actually, I don't recall Hillary Clinton having endorsed single-payer. She did, however, endorse a universal mandate (i.e., a legal requirement that everyone purchase private insurance). It was only in the amended version of her reform proposal that she even included a public option equivalent.


You are right, I was simplifying and didn't need to. Hillary wanted a mandate. Obama knew damn well that that would never fly. People would hole up with guns rather than do that--you'd have conspiracy theories left and right about killer viruses and you name it.

But the fact is that Obama has always wanted this type of plan. The public option would have been great. But we can't get it. So what? We can get a ton more people covered and more importantly, our foot in the door for further reforms. Because once the American people understand what this bill can do from experience, they ain't never going to let it go. And we can add enough for everyone to get covered if they want.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 AM on August 17, 2009


I would prefer that government run programs not make a profit.

You're missing the point: if Medicare can perform a service for $100, but the (Medicare Advantage) private insurer can perform that same service for $94, then the private insurer can re-invest that $6 into something else: developing a cheaper technique or better data management software or, hey, something totally unrelated to health care that people need or want: electric cars or e-readers. They got the job done cheaper. Everybody hates bureaucrats, but they're what makes the world run, whether they're private bureaucrats or public bureaucrats.

Taxes are payment for services rendered, but I don't expect my local firehouse to be giving out stock options to the firemen.

No, but you do want the fire engine and radio manufacturers to make a profit so they have an incentive to invest in innovation, right?

This is such a 1980-style argument: capitalism or communism, man? We're long since learned that you can get better results with well-regulated markets, subsidies, and incentives, than you can with state-ownership of most services. The consumer pays for the regulated service and the state pays the regulator, helps the poor join the market, and acts as insurer-of-last-resort. Profits aren't evil.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think you are confused. 60 votes are required for cloture, which is required to stop debate and move to a vote. There is a budget process known as reconciliation, which is used to avoid the filibuster for budget votes. It only requires 51 votes.

You're misunderstanding me. 51 votes are required to amend the Senate rules of procedure, in particular Senate Rule 22, eliminating or amending the procedural filibuster.
posted by enn at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2009


You're misunderstanding me. 51 votes are required to amend the Senate rules of procedure, in particular Senate Rule 22, eliminating or amending the procedural filibuster.

There aren't 51 votes for eliminating the filibuster, on either side. Seriously. If there were, Bush would have rolled through like Jordan.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 AM on August 17, 2009


No, there aren't 51 votes right now (though I'd challenge you to come up with better examples of cases where the filibuster saved us from Bush excesses than the relatively few TPM did when they looked). But it's a structural change to work toward that would mitigate the ability of a few small-state senators representing a negligable fraction of the population to derail popular reforms as they're doing now.
posted by enn at 10:24 AM on August 17, 2009


Yeah, I'm not sure you get what I was saying, which is that the profit motive is not what I feel government-provided services should base themselves on. I'm all for lowering costs, innovation, etc.

The way our health care system is broken way beyond your example of Company X gets a service for $100 and another gets it for $94. Have you ever tried to price out medical care WITHOUT having insurance? The prices you are quoted are hugely inflated, basically smoke-screen prices. They do this because a typical medical office will have a different reimbursement schedule for every insurance company they deal with, and they don't want any player in the game to know what the other players are paying for identical services. As an individual, I don't have any of the clout to demand the lower prices insurance companies pay. I'm left paying two or three times what an insurance company might pay. Furthermore, most medical care providers cannot TELL you what their company charges for any given service, because that is all handled behind the scenes in a completely different office.

Believe me when I tell you this, because I've lived without insurance coverage for about 15 years (employers don't offer it, private coverage is too expensive), and have tried to be a good consumer getting my best value-for-dollar repeatedly. It's nearly impossible to research well enough to make good choices.
posted by hippybear at 10:28 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Health Insurers Have Already Won: How UnitedHealth and rival carriers, maneuvering behind the scenes in Washington, shaped health-care reform for their own benefit

Democracy Now interview with co-author Chad Terhune, senior writer at BusinessWeek.
posted by homunculus at 10:29 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And as to the argument that the mere threat of a filibuster was enough to block bills in the pre-1975 era: well, the threat is clearly still enough to do so; at this point the Democrats don't seem to even try to bring up anything remotely contentious for a vote until they've got 60 senators on board. I think it remains accurate to say that the use of the filibuster, threatened or actual, has become routine in a way that it hasn't been historically.
posted by enn at 10:29 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it remains accurate to say that the use of the filibuster, threatened or actual, has become routine in a way that it hasn't been historically.

We'll have to agree to disagree on that.

Eh, the votes "weren't there" for the Civil Rights Act but look what happened anyways when people actually cared enough to work for real change. This idea that the "votes aren't there" is the politics of chickenshit, frankly.

When people cared for real change? Read a bit of history. Let me tell you who got that true. Lyndon Baines Johnson, an election-stealing-little-kids-bombing-mean-as-hell asshole who basically stabbed his closest political allies in the back to get that passed. It certainly wasn't "people who actually cared enough to work for real change." It was 100 years behind-the-times conservatives who had their back broken by one of their own.

You underestimate the difficulties. You underestimate the achievement so far. We are on the brink of near-universal health care. Millions of people who couldn't get care are about to get that care. If you are willing to toss this away, fine. But you have to tell all of the people who can't get the health care they can't have it because it didn't have every little thing you wanted.

We don't have the votes. We don't have the votes. If Obama had the votes, it would be in the bill. This is quite simple.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:40 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


structural change to work toward that would mitigate the ability of a few small-state senators representing a negligable fraction of the population to derail popular reforms as they're doing now.

its in there for a reason. Sometimes with good results and somtimes with bad, but the idea is the protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. There will be times when bad people use it, but it may be the last line of defense for us at some point and I don't want to throw it away becasue we can't get the public option on this bill.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2009


No, there aren't 51 votes right now

So let's all agree that we aren't going to get the filibuster changed and therefore don't have the votes for the public option. So therefore we should support Obama to the hilt to get what we can get now. This is a beachhead people. Normandy-style. Once we get there, its straight to Berlin!
posted by Ironmouth at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2009


Well, I'm not sure we can get anything now, if a bill with a public option can't pass the Senate and a bill without one can't pass the House, as House progressives are claiming.
posted by enn at 10:48 AM on August 17, 2009


Believe me when I tell you this, because I've lived without insurance coverage for about 15 years (employers don't offer it, private coverage is too expensive), and have tried to be a good consumer getting my best value-for-dollar repeatedly.

That's not good. I hope we as a nation end up fixing that by the end of the year. But I'm not sure that it matters whether we fix that for you by paying a private insurer to insure you or a public institution, I'm not sure why it matters to you. For instance, if the Democrats passed Wyden-Bennett, then you and I would likely end up with the same health insurer, and I don't see a problem with that, though it's private and seeks profits. Do you?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:49 AM on August 17, 2009


Well, I'm not sure we can get anything now, if a bill with a public option can't pass the Senate and a bill without one can't pass the House, as House progressives are claiming.

Nancy Pelosi will crush their balls or ovaries if they don't. Seriously, they are going to vote down the bill against her wishes? Laughable. That woman is a powerhouse, trust me. She counts the votes. She's the one who destroyed the GOP on the first TARP vote. They came out and whined and cried like little babies. And she forced McCain to "suspend" his campaign, which Obama turned into one of the best fuck-you moments in modern politics.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:55 AM on August 17, 2009


and I don't see a problem with that, though it's private and seeks profits. Do you?

I do. The profit seeking pressures of shareholders will always drive health insurance providers to increase profits. Since health insurance providers are not medical providers, able to cut costs to grow profits through innovation in new medical technologies or procedures, the only option for health insurance providers to satisfy their shareholders demands for profit growth is to increase their fees over time or to cut administrative costs.

There's only so far you can go cutting administrative costs alone without compromising the quality of those services, and presumably, most of the blood the insurers could squeeze from that turnip has been squeezed out already, so at some point or another, they'll have to resort to increasing fees or excluding services to make the kinds of returns their investors expect. That's why we're where we are today in the first place.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:58 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


the only option for health insurance providers to satisfy their shareholders demands for profit growth is to increase their fees over time or to cut administrative costs.

During the 1990s, it was popular to assume that every profitable company must not just pay a dividend but also increase its dividend-paying capacity. However, this does not seem to be the only or even the best model: many companies are satisfied to pay the same dividends as they always have. We call these companies utilities, whose only growth potential comes from a growing population, and I see no reason why health insurance couldn't, eventually, become similar to such companies: steady, dependable profits that stockholders are satisfied to own because they are dependable and have low volatility.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:19 AM on August 17, 2009


"And if you want to contact your senator or congress person, send them a FAX."

Do they actually have Fax Machines? Most large organizations I've worked for have a fax server that turns faxes into email or otherwise makes them available electronically.
posted by Mitheral at 11:26 AM on August 17, 2009


There's only so far you can go cutting administrative costs alone without compromising the quality of those services, and presumably, most of the blood the insurers could squeeze from that turnip has been squeezed out already, so at some point or another, they'll have to resort to increasing fees or excluding services to make the kinds of returns their investors expect. That's why we're where we are today in the first place.

The whole purpose to this bill is to put a floor under benefits offered. Prevents the excluding of services. Works awesome for the Federal Government, which is the largest employer in the country.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:30 AM on August 17, 2009


Nancy Pelosi will crush their balls or ovaries if they don't. Seriously, they are going to vote down the bill against her wishes? Laughable. That woman is a powerhouse, trust me. She counts the votes. She's the one who destroyed the GOP on the first TARP vote. They came out and whined and cried like little babies. And she forced McCain to "suspend" his campaign, which Obama turned into one of the best fuck-you moments in modern politics.

Obama didn't do shit to McCain over the bailout nonsense except along with other Democrats refuse to vote on it unless McCain promised to as well. As far as his "suspending" stunt, all he had to do was issue a press release and sit back and watch David Letterman and a handful of blogs make fun of him. It's ridiculous to imagine that anything the McCain campaign was doing after summer 2008 wasn't a result of internal self-implosion.

As for the "powerhouse," oh yes, this would be the Nancy Pelosi who stated emphatically that there would be a House vote on the health care bill before the August recess- two days before a handful of Blue Dogs far smaller than these 100 progressive Dems you're now mocking said no, and she caved. Immediately. And I'm sure that Democrats who aren't listening to Obama are just aching to listen to someone with a third of his approval numbers.

The health care bill has passed five Senate committees. Let's repeat that- five Senate committees have already approved a health care plan close to the House version and with the inclusion of a public option. Four or five Senators representing about 1% of the U.S. population have said "they don't see a public option passing." That was enough to make Pelosi hold the bill.

Are 100 progressive Dems really going to torpedo health care if there's no public option? Of course not? But because Nancy Pelosi told them to? Give me a break. That progressive Democrats are likely going to cave on the public option is likely true. That you think it's because it will be on the orders of a strong and forceful Democratic leadership is goddamn hilarious.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:33 AM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


The health care bill has passed five Senate committees.

No, it hasn't. It's passed four, 3 in the House, 1 in the Senate. Still waiting on the Senate Finance Committee to finish.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:36 AM on August 17, 2009


Ack, scratch that XQU, missed the Senate part.

What five Senate committees has it passed?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:37 AM on August 17, 2009


Adding, and this is also an emphasis on that silly "well what can OBAMA do, HE'S not in Congress!" nonsense earlier on. It's actually good you mentioned the bailout bill, because it's a perfect example of Obama's utter lack of ballsiness. In this entire debate he has neither offered protection nor threatened recriminations to supportive/unsupportive Democrats. That is exactly the thing a popular and effective Executive Branch is supposed to be doing, not sitting back and pretending that Nancy Pelosi is a champion cat-herder.

BB: you're right, my mistake there. My point still stands that this has already been repeatedly approved and is now being held up by a minority collective of Republicans pretending they'll actually support any version of the bill and conservative Democrats who the White House has refused to strongarm.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:40 AM on August 17, 2009


Adding to the adding: and I just want to be clear here that I wish Ironmouth was right. I truly do wish Nancy Pelosi (and Obama and Harry Reid) were actually powerful, forceful leaders of their respective branches. They're not, or at the very least aren't showing it. And the rot extends to their respective press offices, who have failed to combat any of the media narratives the Republicans are allowing to be used to diminish them.

I truly don't understand where Obama's presidential campaign talent went. We've gone from one of the most effective election campaigns to one of the least effective policy teams in six months. This is a White House who's most prominent policy accomplishment so far was a stimulus package that they allowed to be so watered-down they are now being attacked for it not saving enough jobs. That is the result of having no control over the legislative branch or the media.

For better or for worse- oh hell, like there was a better- one of the most truly successful accomplishments of the Bush White House was restoring the authority and power of the Executive Branch. There is no advantage Obama has wasted more spectacularly than this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:48 AM on August 17, 2009


House vote on health bill now being delayed to end of September. Wheeeee!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:52 AM on August 17, 2009


one of the most truly successful accomplishments of the Bush White House was restoring the authority and power of the Executive Branch. There is no advantage Obama has wasted more spectacularly than this.

If Obama does nothing but weaken the authority and power of the Executive Branch, his time in office will be well-spent.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:53 AM on August 17, 2009


They're not, or at the very least aren't showing it.

How can you possibly tell if he's not showing it or if the media's not letting us see it? In practice, how could you possibly tell? We already know the media outlets all have a vested interest in pleasing their advertisers, which includes their health industry sponsors.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:53 AM on August 17, 2009


All our family income is from nfp, small biz (under 10 employees) and/or religious, all of which will be exempt from employee mandates, which means the ONE place that offers me insurance now will drop it, and I'm a 53 year old cancer survivor, meaning my individual mandate is going to have a $$$$ deductible and cost me $1000+ a month. I am FUCKED.

Where do I get in line to give these assholes-- on both sides, and their teabagging zombies-- what they deserve. (I'd spell it out, but that will just get me a visit from the FBI)
posted by nax at 11:57 AM on August 17, 2009


amuseDetachment: Yeah someone needs to set up a 4chan/Anonymous style raid of weak-kneed Dems. Play dirty and threaten to donate $100 en mass to anyone that is willing to run against any insurance-friendly Dems in the primary races, public smear campaigns etc. Petitions are useless.

Neat idea, and prompts plenty of thought experiments about what seat(s) could be tipped for how little money. Unfortunately, as one notable Mefite found out last fall, acceptance of such micropayments can be (perhaps unfairly) used as ammunition by the opposition, even to the point of changing campaign finance regulations to hinder you. Besides, if you and I and 10,000 of our best friends send in $100* to knock off an incumbent who's in the pocket of Big Health, Big Health just throws in a mill and it's back to the starting line.

*And my $100 would be sort of copper-coloured and very illegal for a U.S. candidate to accept.

anotherpanacea: I was basing my claim on an earlier study comparing the US and the UK, but we should always be wary of international comparisons. See, for instance Henry Aaron's criticisms of the US-Canda comparison, where he demonstrates some of the major errors in the comparisons across systems: for instance, they don't take relative wage rates into account, i.e. Canada spends less on administration because they paid less on administrative personnel

Indeed. Think of how much less we're spending up here per employee on health insurance.
posted by hangashore at 12:03 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


How can you possibly tell if he's not showing it or if the media's not letting us see it?

I don't have the time to gather a collection of the numerous links on this, but I refuse to believe you haven't seen the messaging on health care being solidly against Obama and the Democrats here. The reporting on the town hall disruptions devoid of context, analyzing every latest update in the context of "a new blow to Obama," refusing for weeks to factually acknowledge when Palin, Grassley, et. al are simply lying, this goes on and on. The Obama team is not controlling the message. This is killing them.

If Obama does nothing but weaken the authority and power of the Executive Branch, his time in office will be well-spent.

Yeah, I said that wrong, naturally I'm not referring to abusing executive power vis-a-vis executive orders, signing statements, etc. Obama's been very good at that. You're looking at the powers of office Bush abused; I'm talking about the effectiveness of the media pulpit and the Cheney/DeLay machine. Where is the evidence of Obama actually managing to hold sway over some of these Blue Dogs and conservative Dems? As I said way upthread, these people are mocking him- their own party leader- and getting away with it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:03 PM on August 17, 2009


a perfect example of Obama's utter lack of ballsiness.

People often mistake their lack of comprehension of the circumstances for a lack of gonads on the part of others.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:09 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you, that was very helpful, guy who was talking about crushing peoples' balls a half hour ago.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:14 PM on August 17, 2009


That's my point, XQUZYPHYR. If the media isn't giving Obama's messages fair coverage because it runs counter to their own broader business interests, what in the hell can Obama actually do about it now that there are no rules on the books to require fair or accurate news coverage in the media? I've seen this happening time and time again: When the administration puts out a message, the media often waters it down until it barely cuts through the noise, or frames it from an adversarial perspective. Like this thread for example.

As of right now, the official White House spokesperson is still saying that the administration supports a public option. There's a good chance this story is nothing but a manufactured scandal. And yet, even supporters of reform are ready and willing to hop on board without thinking critically even for a moment and accept the news at face value.

Given that the media has that kind of power even over those who should no better, doesn't it stand to reason that whoever controls the media for all practical purposes controls what lives or dies in public policy?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:14 PM on August 17, 2009


You're looking at the powers of office Bush abused; I'm talking about the effectiveness of the media pulpit and the Cheney/DeLay machine.

I'm talking about the imperial presidency, by which the bully pulpit becomes a real bully. Obama came from the Senate and has a lot of respect for its deliberative function. He's letting Congress do its job, and he's apparently committed to the task of returning his branch of government to its rightful place executing the will of people as expressed by their representatives in law. That's a good thing.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:16 PM on August 17, 2009


The Obama team is not controlling the message. This is killing them.

My point is the Obama team cannot control the message. How could they? The FCC has no authority to guarantee the official message gets out and is treated fairly anymore. It hasn't since the 80s.

So what's he or anyone else supposed to do? He bought a bunch of primetime space to get the message out, and all the news media reported on was the polls showing that people were annoyed to have their favorite shows preempted by all that trivial talk about health care reform.

Gore got so frustrated by the monopoly the moderate-to-hard right has on the media that he established his own cable network, Current TV.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:22 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've gone from one of the most effective election campaigns to one of the least effective policy teams in six months.

Dude's passed the bailout, shot down the F-22, is pressing Israel for the first time ever, and is on the verge of passing the most comprehensive health care bill ever all in 6 mos. What else do you want? What did Bush do in the first six months? Vacation, if I remember.

As a liberal, I'm so tired of panicky liberals worried about losing.

I will never forget when McCain "suspended his campaign." People here got so scared. They were sure Obama had fallen into a trap. Obama pwnd McCain in that whole exchange.

Obama is kicking ass. The timetable on all of this is amazing. He's shoving health care down their throats and they've got nothing. The Public Option isn't the most important thing in this bill and it isn't worth throwing the bill away on it.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:23 PM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Here's more evidence this story is yet another media hit job attempt.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:25 PM on August 17, 2009


"I think there’s something perverse in the very strong desire I see among liberals to make problems in congress be about anything other than congress. It’s just not in the power of Barack Obama to make the senate anything other than what it is. To pass a bill, you need sixty votes. To get sixty votes you need Ben Nelson or Olympia Snowe to back your bill. Neither Nelson nor Snowe is especially liberal, and the President doesn’t have a great deal of leverage over either of them. You can try to change the rules, or you can accept that you’re at the mercy of Nelson and Snowe and maybe a few other moderate members. And it’s crucial to remember that these people—each and every member of congress—is an adult human being, capable of making up his or her own mind, responsible for his or her own decisions, and possessed of moral agency. These are men and women who have amassed a great deal of power, and who ultimately need to decide on a daily basis what it is they want to do with that power. If they choose to use it for bad ends, then blame them for that, not Obama or his team’s alleged lack of familiarity with the United States Senate." (source)
posted by jonp72 at 12:51 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I think there’s something perverse in the very strong desire I see among liberals to make problems in congress be about anything other than congress. It’s just not in the power of Barack Obama to make the senate anything other than what it is. To pass a bill, you need sixty votes. To get sixty votes you need Ben Nelson or Olympia Snowe to back your bill. Neither Nelson nor Snowe is especially liberal, and the President doesn’t have a great deal of leverage over either of them. You can try to change the rules, or you can accept that you’re at the mercy of Nelson and Snowe and maybe a few other moderate members. And it’s crucial to remember that these people—each and every member of congress—is an adult human being, capable of making up his or her own mind, responsible for his or her own decisions, and possessed of moral agency. These are men and women who have amassed a great deal of power, and who ultimately need to decide on a daily basis what it is they want to do with that power. If they choose to use it for bad ends, then blame them for that, not Obama or his team’s alleged lack of familiarity with the United States Senate."

Repeated for emphasis.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:56 PM on August 17, 2009


What did Bush do in the first six months?

IIRC He seemed to be working on really annoying China.
posted by Artw at 12:57 PM on August 17, 2009


The Obama team is not controlling the message. This is killing them.

At the risk of being Captain Obvious, they aren't the ones who are dying.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:59 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the media isn't giving Obama's messages fair coverage because it runs counter to their own broader business interests, what in the hell can Obama actually do about it now that there are no rules on the books to require fair or accurate news coverage in the media?

This was actually just addressed very well on TPM:
Obama isn't saying the right thing. He should be saying, "Stop lying." Or maybe he should send Biden out to say it. That's probably the best thing.

I'm not basing this on some misguided sense that being aggressive is what's required. Rather, I'm basing it on how the MSM works. They report what politicians say. And they don't fact check them. That's the system -- maybe you don't like it. I don't like it either. But it's not changing any time soon.

That's a key point, so I'm going to repeat it. All the broadcast MSM does is report what politicians say. They don't fact check them. Afterwards, they have blowhards sit around in panels and have disingenuous spin-meister discussions about whether or not what was said is playing well with the general public.

But they don't have real journalists who pour over data, or who ask questions, or who talk to economists, or whatever. instead, they have the blowhards on TV. (OK, some of them do have journalists -- but those guys don't dominate the coverage. The blowhards do.)

If the Republicans are lying -- and they are -- we have to call them on it. If we don't, no one will. And by "we", I mean our politicians. They have to say, "Stop lying." If they say that, the blowhards will say, "Do people like it when the president calls his opponents liars?" And after that, they'll say, "Is it a lie to say that there will be death panels?"

This is exactly what Kerry did when he got swiftboated. The whole, "This is so stupid, and so insulting, I won't even dignify it with a response," response. It's why he lost. If you don't dignify something with a response, the other side controls the entire
discussion.

We know how the MSM works. Tim Russert responded to all of the criticism he got by explaining it, over and over again. "I just let these guys talk. I ask them questions, and I let them talk. The public can judge their responses." I know that sucks, and he should have done more. But it's not like we don't know what the score is. We have to be realistic about the way things work.
We have to be realistic about the way things work. Amazing how the people screaming here that "all that matters" is "getting a bill through" forgot that Obama's now being blamed for the weakened stimulus because it was rendered less effective. That Clinton got reamed for health care because he caved. That Kerry lost because he just needed to concentrate on holding Ohio.

If and when a critically weakened version of health care passes, the message will be "how hard was Obama hurt by this?" Because it's the only message anyone heard earlier on and because no one made any fight for something better to talk about in context.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:20 PM on August 17, 2009


IIRC He seemed to be working on really annoying China.

And pissing off Robert Kagan and William Kristol when he consequently tried to deal - relatively successfully - with an annoyed China.

And in his 6th month.... tax cuts.
posted by knapah at 1:21 PM on August 17, 2009


Dude's passed the bailout, shot down the F-22

I find it very curious that in the rest of this thread, you've been saying and/or quoting others saying that Obama simply has no control or influence over legislative actions vis-a-vis health care, and yet when you want to praise his effectiveness as an executive the frist two examples you quoted were pieces of legislation. Could you explain that?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:26 PM on August 17, 2009


Well, in this case, XQUZYPHR, I think the press is following a predetermined playbook, and doesn't have much intention of giving airtime to any contrary messages, no matter how blunt.

Consider that just since this morning, the story has evolved from being about the administration "possibly signaling" that it's position on the public option has "softened," to the latest reports about Liberals complain[ing] over Obama concession. It's gone from a signal of a possible softening to an outright concession within the space of a single news cycle, despite the only significant new development being a statement from a White House Aide contradicting the claim that Obama has conceded support for a public option.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:28 PM on August 17, 2009


Belatedly, I just want to say how impressed I am that Astro Zombie 3 can get favorites without me even noticing until just now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:41 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude's passed the bailout, shot down the F-22

I find it very curious that in the rest of this thread, you've been saying and/or quoting others saying that Obama simply has no control or influence over legislative actions vis-a-vis health care, and yet when you want to praise his effectiveness as an executive the frist two examples you quoted were pieces of legislation. Could you explain that?


The third being the health care bill that you wish destroyed because it doesn't contain a public option.

Slow down on the straw men, ace. Nobody on this thread said Obama had no influence on congress. They said he didn't have the votes. Big difference.

Seriously, this is hard shit, and he's done very well. Health care doubly so. He killed the f-22 personally. The bailout was his baby.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:47 PM on August 17, 2009


We'll never make it.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:47 PM on August 17, 2009


The third being the health care bill that you wish destroyed

Slow down on the straw men, ace.


Huh.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:49 PM on August 17, 2009


you've been saying and/or quoting others saying that Obama simply has no control or influence over legislative actions vis-a-vis health care

Slow down on the straw men, ace.

Nobody said "no control or influence."

Just that he doesn't have the votes. What's your plan to get Ben Nelson to agree with you?

Because all these complaints boil down to "I don't know what Obama could do better, but I know he could."

These people have been working day and night to get things through congress. But everybody seems to know better than a person who until a few months ago was an actual Senator. Really? You know better than Obama? I somehow doubt that.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:56 PM on August 17, 2009


Riki tiki - Just so you know, I blatantly plagiarized your letter and fired it off to both of my senators and my congresswoman. You said it far better than I could. Let's see if it does any good....
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 2:05 PM on August 17, 2009


What's your plan to get Ben Nelson to agree with you?

You make him an offer he can't refuse. Obama is not just the president, he's the leader of the democratic party. The opponents of health care reform and the public option have been playing hardball to the extent that they've now got people with guns showing up at events where Obama is speaking. It's time to start kicking some fucking ass and reminding people who the fucking president is. Health care reform is why we elected Obama. Once again, I ask, why was Bush so much more effective at getting his way in Congress with a smaller majority? If it was ruthlessness, then let's get ruthless. If that means hurting Ben Nelson or Max Baucus' feelings, so fucking be it. People are going bankrupt and dying because of this issue. It's the biggest problem in American domestic life today. Fucking fix it like you were elected to do.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:11 PM on August 17, 2009


This is why we can't have nice things.

Also:


posted by Foosnark at 2:45 PM on August 17, 2009


Right, eaten HTML.

http://www.notempire.com/images/uploads/obama-6.jpg
posted by Foosnark at 2:46 PM on August 17, 2009


"What's your plan to get Ben Nelson to agree with you?"

You make him an offer he can't refuse.
Obama is not just the president, he's the leader of the democratic party. The opponents of health care reform and the public option have been playing hardball to the extent that they've now got people with guns showing up at events where Obama is speaking. It's time to start kicking some fucking ass and reminding people who the fucking president is. Health care reform is why we elected Obama. Once again, I ask, why was Bush so much more effective at getting his way in Congress with a smaller majority? If it was ruthlessness, then let's get ruthless. If that means hurting Ben Nelson or Max Baucus' feelings, so fucking be it. People are going bankrupt and dying because of this issue. It's the biggest problem in American domestic life today. Fucking fix it like you were elected to do.


As a Canadian watching all this with a great deal of frustration, the failure of real health reform would anger and sadden me a fuck of a lot, too. But you haven't offered anything here beyond movie quotes, metaphors and threats. What real things can a president do to make a Senator act against his self-interest and agree with him? That's a serious question, not a diss. What can Obama actually do to the Blue Dogs?
posted by maudlin at 2:54 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first thing he could do would be to threaten to support a no-confidence measure against Harry Reid if Reid can't get his troops in line.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:57 PM on August 17, 2009


vibrotronica: "why was Bush so much more effective at getting his way in Congress with a smaller majority?"

This is why. I think I might've gone a bit overboard with the moralizing rhetoric at the beginning of that comment, but I stand by the point as a whole: the Republicans are a party. The Democrats are a coalition. They can get things done with a simple majority, and thanks to the filibuster they can stop us from getting things done with less than that.

I don't point this out to whine about how unfair it is. Life is unfair.

But any view of American politics that assumes symmetric warfare between the Rs and the Ds is doomed to irrelevancy. We have to fight differently, we have to fight better.
posted by Riki tiki at 3:04 PM on August 17, 2009


What can Obama actually do to the Blue Dogs?

I think at this point it's not a matter of doing something to them so much as doing something for them. Negotiations are all give and take. And that's a good thing. I'd rather a deliberative president than one who lays down the hammer with impunity. I've had my fill of that, thanks.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:06 PM on August 17, 2009


maudlin: "What can Obama actually do to the Blue Dogs?"

Support and help raise funds for their primary challengers. I'd whip out my wallet in a heartbeat for someone who promised to run against them in the primary over this issue. Make a list of every dem who's wavering, and a list of their primary challengers. Include links to the challengers' fundraising pages. At this point it's got to be "Get on the bus, or get under it."
posted by mullingitover at 3:08 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first thing he could do would be to threaten to support a no-confidence measure against Harry Reid if Reid can't get his troops in line.

1. How is threatening Reid going to influence Nelson? Is Reid the horse's head in the bed? (Yeah, cue obvious joke.)

2. And if Obama threatens to support a no-confidence vote, and that vote never happens (why would the Senate want to get rid of a Daddy that doesn't even try to make them eat their veggies?), or Reid survives it, Obama is weakened. Look, Reid is a spineless wimp, and he needs to be replaced, but trying to take him down NOW is reckless and counterproductive.

On preview: OK, what sort of things can Obama offer Nelson or any other obstinate Senator? And threatening to raise funds for primary challengers may work, if there are progressives ready to step in, and if progressives are actually electable as senators in that state. What else?
posted by maudlin at 3:13 PM on August 17, 2009



Belatedly, I just want to say how impressed I am that Astro Zombie 3 can get favorites without me even noticing until just now.


I, on the other hand, am somewhat shaken to find I get more favorites quoting Astro Zombie 3 than I do speaking for myself.

Back on topic, where's Lyndon Johnson when you need him?
posted by dilettante at 3:35 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


why was Bush so much more effective at getting his way in Congress with a smaller majority?
(1) Exploitation of 9/11 for political gain.

(2) Jackboots march in lockstep.
posted by Flunkie at 4:02 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like to point out that the Republican party is very much a coalition, the main parts being lassiez-faire business people (known as 'the brains'), fundamentalist LOLXtians ('the heart'), and people who wouldn't know their own economic self interest if it ran over them in a Hummer ('the muscle'). We could probably add Fox News to the list, as well ('the mouth'), though it is primarily an extension of the brain, and functions like a central nervous system to send messages (via dog whistle) to the other parts of the party.

The party has at various times, such as during the last election, suffered from fractures between the party leadership, which is mostly concerned with maximizing profits, and the fundies, who are mostly concerned with outlawing abortion and bringing Zombie Jesus back for another season after 2000 years of reruns. The muscle never seems to have much problem with anyone so long as they are allowed continued access to their guns.

The Republican party fails whenever the parts of its coalition fail to agree with each other. Drive a wedge between the heart and the brain, and the body can't decide what to do. Cut off the muscle and it cannot act. A compelling argument could be made that reformed health care is a Christian prerogative, and thus drive a wedge into the system.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:07 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What did Bush do in the first six months? Vacation, if I remember.

Vacation, picking fights with China, and ignoring repeated warnings about Al Qaeda.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:21 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not satisftied with the apparent death of the public option, the GOP is now turning its sights on the co-op plan:
“PUBLIC OPTION” BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE

Sen. Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Says Co-Ops Another Form Of Government-Run Health Care. “‘We’re going to have some type of public option, call it “co-op,” call it what you want,’ Reid said, adding that Democrats are working on ‘some version of a co-op that may satisfy everyone.’” (Trish Turner, “Reid Says Co-Ops Might Be Public Option,” Fox News’s “The Speaker’s Lobby” Blog, 7/9/09)

Open To Co-Ops, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Doesn’t Care What Government-Run Health Care Is Called. “’We don't care what it's called. We need something that's going to keep the insurance companies honest,’ Schumer said, adding that any co-op plan must also ‘be available right at the beginning, have competition ... and have the strength to bargain.’” (Trish Turner, “Reid Says Co-Ops Might Be Public Option,” Fox News’s “The Speaker’s Lobby” Blog, 7/9/09)

SO WHAT IS A “CO-OP”?

Co-Ops Would Be Funded By Federal Government. “Senator Kent Conrad, a Democrat, proposed creating nonprofit, member-operated health cooperatives to compete with insurers … The government would offer start-up money -- Conrad said $6 billion would be needed -- in loans and grants to help doctors, hospitals, businesses and other groups form nonprofit cooperative networks to obtain and provide healthcare.” (“Q&A – Co-Ops In Focus In U.S. Health Care Debate,” Reuters, 7/30/09)

Co-Ops Would Be Regulated By Federal Government. “Advisory board makes recommendations to HHS Secretary who makes final decisions about approvals of business plans … Business plans must meet governance standards, and eligible applicants must meet the standard for non-profit, participating mutual insurance.” (“Senate Finance Committee Draft Proposal,” 6/19/09)

Co-Ops Would Force Individuals Who Want To Join To Go Through State Governments. “Co-op membership would be offered through state insurance exchanges where small businesses and individuals without employer-sponsored plans would shop for health coverage.” (“Q&A – Co-Ops In Focus In U.S. Health Care Debate,” Reuters, 7/30/09)

Federal Government Would Use Co-Ops To Monopolize Health Insurance. “[T]hese co-ops sound a lot like a health-care Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which Congress created because there was supposedly no secondary mortgage market. The duo proceeded to use their government subsidy to dominate the market and drive out private competitors.” (Editorial, “Fannie Med,”The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/09)
Keep in mind that this is a center-right compromise being promoted by one of the most conservative Democratic legislators -- and the Republicans are still crying "SOCIALISM!!!"

When will Democrats realize that Republicans will oppose any reform, no matter how many concessions are given? It's just like how Sarah Palin did an about face and attacked cap-and-trade, even though it was originally part of the McCain-Palin energy platform. It's the same reason Republicans are now "defending" the Medicare entitlements they used to vilify with "death panel" scare tactics.

This isn't about policy, it's not about ideology. It's about bringing down Barack Obama -- and damn the consequences.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:21 PM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't it make more sense for the government to pay the doctor directly (like Medicare) rather than pay a private company who then pays the doctor?

Yes, it would. That's why there should be a real public option.
posted by jb at 4:27 PM on August 17, 2009


The public option would have higher administrative costs than a true single payer system, because it would have to compete with private insurers, but be staffed by government employees.

And government employees are paid a decent wage and have health benefits, unlike the private sector - yeah, creating more jobs like that would be really bad for society.

This is just like how there are no decent manufacturing jobs in North America because everyone shops at Walmart, and everyone shops at Walmart because they don't have a decent manufacturing job. Or maybe it's the other way around.
posted by jb at 4:33 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So I was wondering what LBJ did to get Medicare passed back in the day. Turns out that the 1964 landslide gave him 68 Democrats in the Senate, so he could push through all kinds of stuff.

What can you do with that kind of majority? Quite a bit.
posted by gimonca at 5:00 PM on August 17, 2009


The public option would have higher administrative costs than a true single payer system, because it would have to compete with private insurers, but be staffed by government employees.

I don't have the hard numbers, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that that is not true. Factor in the huge and redundant numbers of administrators at the all the private insurers and the government probably looks pretty lean. Especially since there's no real incentive for insurance companies to watch their costs in the system we have now. This is another example of, as mentioned above, ideological capitalism.

BTW, overhead numbers from other industrialized countries' health care systems show much lower administrative costs than ours.

On another front, insurance stocks rallied today in response to the public option death knell. We really have turned into a country of self-centered ghouls.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:13 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Will Home Nurse Visits Survive Health-Care Reform?
posted by homunculus at 5:14 PM on August 17, 2009


I don't have the hard numbers, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that that is not true. Factor in the huge and redundant numbers of administrators at the all the private insurers and the government probably looks pretty lean.

That's because you're thinking that the Public Option won't be a real competitor, but will rather quickly become single-payer by another name. It's true that single payer would be cheaper. But it's not true that the public option would be cheaper: the public option would be statutorily required to compete "fairly" with private insurers. It wouldn't be allowed to negotiate bulk pricing or become a monopoly. It'd have to spend money advertising! As a result, it would likely have a unionized federal workforce competing head to head against the private insurers, and on that playing field, it would lose.

Thaler's whole point is that the 'public option' wasn't a clever Democratic trojan horse for single-payer. Instead, it threatened to become a clever Republican trojan horse to discredit government-run health care through adverse selection: the idea was to gather all the poor and expensively sick people together in one health care plan and then watch costs balloon, until the middle class cried "Uncle" and cut it off completely.

If you want single-payer, you should advocate single-payer, not a stealth plan: sneakiness can backfire. If you want a public option, it has to be for realistic reasons, and lower costs probably aren't one of them.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:39 PM on August 17, 2009


But it's not true that the public option would be cheaper: the public option would be statutorily required to compete "fairly" with private insurers. It wouldn't be allowed to negotiate bulk pricing or become a monopoly. It'd have to spend money advertising!

On the other hand, it wouldn't be beholden to stockholder demands for constant growth and thus presumably not operating towards maximized profit in service to that demand. That would in principle be a big coup for the public option in terms of cost management—whether that would mean an actual advantage or just a mitigation of an unflattering differential is a good question, but it's not something to shrug off.
posted by cortex at 5:48 PM on August 17, 2009


Find a town hall event near you.
posted by boo_radley at 6:08 PM on August 17, 2009


I've mentioned the numbers from this month's Harper's Index but they bear repeating:
Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large U.S. health-insurance companies : +87

Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies : +428
It's really amazing that this situation is tolerable to so many. If the situation were reversed, and we already had a UK- or Canada- style medical system and were proposing total privatization, there would be armed revolt before it would be allowed to pass. Heck, half of the ammunition that the republicans have is that reform would threaten our (omg socialized!) Medicare benefits.

I predict this will get completely bungled and we'll have near-serfdom to the health insurance companies until 2020, when the Supreme Court cuts the gordian knot by ruling that it's unconstitutional to discriminate among Medicare recipients on the basis of age.
posted by mullingitover at 6:21 PM on August 17, 2009


Just for kicks (or uncontrollable sobbing as you look at the comment ratings and realize how fucked we are) I recommend Yahoo! Buzz's thread on this topic.
posted by mullingitover at 6:26 PM on August 17, 2009


According to the Washington Post:

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Obama could lose up to 100 Democratic votes in the House by abandoning the [public] option.

Maybe congress will institute a "death panel" if the bill is too shitty.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:43 PM on August 17, 2009


I've mentioned the numbers from this month's Harper's Index but they bear repeating:
Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large U.S. health-insurance companies : +87

Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies : +428
The issue of health care reform is personal for me in part because I've been living this statistic. Over the last five years, I've seen my employer-based family health plan premium creep up from roughly $3,600 bucks a year to over $10,000 dollars a year straight off the top of my take home pay.

That's more than 15% of my annual pre-tax income. That's just so I can be assured my family won't go bankrupt in the event one of us has a serious medical problem. But increasingly, the bigger threat is that insurance premiums are going to bankrupt us.

And I've looked into personal health plan alternatives in my state; the deductibles are so high on the few plans even remotely within our budget we wouldn't see any benefits in terms of routine or minor emergency care. My son's already been to the emergency room twice this year with respiratory problems (which fortunately turned out not to be serious). Without the coverage I have now, we'd be buried under medical debt just from those events.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:14 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]



That's more than 15% of my annual pre-tax income.


Which is why Canadians who compare income tax rates between the two countries are out to lunch if they think lower tax in the States is better.... 15% on income is probably 50% increase to income tax ....
posted by Rumple at 10:32 PM on August 17, 2009


Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large U.S. health-insurance companies : +87
Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies : +428


Benefit expense ratios (health payments divided by premiums) have been pretty constant since 2002, though. I'm pretty sure the explosion in profits is due to: industry consolidation, lowered operating expenses, larger asset sizes and better returns on investments (2002 was a bad year for investing, so the insurance companies saw awful investment income that year).
posted by FuManchu at 1:07 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]



It might make more sense to do that, but the government has significantly higher costs for administrative staff than private companies do, and they're much worse at sniffing out fraud and scams. Also, they tend not to be very good at negotiating with their counter-parties, so the private company can often get the same procedure for cheaper. This isn't true of Medicare, which can set costs as low as it wants because it basically controls the market in geriatric care, but then you run into supply-chain problems where doctors refuse Medicare patients and just won't do the work because the price is too low.


It's funny that someone who's being so rude and obnoxious and is claiming to be right is spewing this horseshit.

Fact: the heavily privatised, insurance-driven system in the US is the worst in the first world. This is not an opinion. This is a fact. Healthcare driven by private industry in the US delivers worse outcomes, by objective metrics, for more money, than public options in other, comparable options.

This is not an opinion. This is a fact. Privatised funding and management of healthcare has demonstrably failed to do as good a job as government management and funding.

Or, how about you have an educational day, instead?

If Marissa does, it sure as fuck won't be from your posts, which are fact-free assertions which bear more resemblence to the Religious Dogma of the Church of the Holy Free Market than anything gleaned from looking at healthcare in the real world.

Adding, and this is also an emphasis on that silly "well what can OBAMA do, HE'S not in Congress!" nonsense earlier on. It's actually good you mentioned the bailout bill, because it's a perfect example of Obama's utter lack of ballsiness.

It's certainly interesting to compare LBJ's ability to "persuade" people to his point of view on issues that mattered to him (his Civil Rights program.)

Of course, he pretty much felt he had to stay in Vietnam to keep his chances of achieving that...

is pressing Israel for the first time ever,

I seem to recall Bush I pressing Israel very effectively. Perhaps I'm going senile.
posted by rodgerd at 1:43 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's not true that the public option would be cheaper: the public option would be statutorily required to compete "fairly" with private insurers. It wouldn't be allowed to negotiate bulk pricing or become a monopoly. It'd have to spend money advertising! As a result, it would likely have a unionized federal workforce competing head to head against the private insurers, and on that playing field, it would lose.

That remains to be seen. Given that US insurance stocks just rose on this rumour, it seems investors don't have faith that a public option would fail.

In my country, the government was strong-armed by a minority member of a coalition into creating a state-owned bank to compete with the local banking oligopoly. The bank (Kiwibank) is not government-guaranteed, is not subsidised, and has to obtain capital through the same means and on the same terms as commercial banks, but it offers better rates, is hugely popular, and appears to have forced more competitive rates and terms from the existing banks. Win.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:45 AM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everybody gnashing their teeth about this just needs to chill: we're going to cover the uninsured, I promise. We probably won't make health care more cost effective, though. It costs a lot to get a lot.

Congress has hoodwinked you. Democrats want single payer, so they gave us a plan called a "public option" and we assume it'll be the same. It won't. Republicans fear single payer, so they fight for a plan with a different name, "co-ops," which isn't much different in practice. The name is a distraction: none of these plans is single payer.

i_am_joe's_spleen: That remains to be seen. Given that US insurance stocks just rose on this rumour, it seems investors don't have faith that a public option would fail.

Those stocks rose because those specific companies would be the ones competing on the insurances exchanges that the new plan creates. The closer we get to actually creating such exchanges, the more investors are betting that they'll profit from it.

cortex: On the other hand, it wouldn't be beholden to stockholder demands for constant growth and thus presumably not operating towards maximized profit in service to that demand.

Some stockholders demand constant growth, but the plan that Democrats are working on now will so heavily regulate insurers that they'll be more akin to electrical utilities: they'll receive a steady income stream in exchange for becoming a state-managed monopoly with little growth potential. I'm not saying the public plan will fail, but I am claiming it's not going to fundamentally change the equation.

If you really want to get up in arms about something, start worrying about community rating and the state-sized insurance exchanges. There's no reason for Minnesotans to be getting different health care options than New Yorkers, and one major place to find cost savings is in standardization. Get rid of the 50 different Aetna and Kaiser-Permanente plans that are priced and aimed at fifty different populations and everybody will have lower administrative costs!
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:04 AM on August 18, 2009


Republicans fear single payer, so they fight for a plan with a different name, "co-ops," which isn't much different in practice.

Actually, the Republicans are against co-ops, as well. They will never support any bill that the Democrats or Obama will get credit for.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:10 AM on August 18, 2009


60 House Progressives promise to vote against bill without public option.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:27 AM on August 18, 2009


They will never support any bill that the Democrats or Obama will get credit for.

At this point, it looks like you are right. That's a sad bit of strategy on their part, but this time I think (hope, really) it'll backfire.

One more reason to support Wyden-Bennett, maybe, although I worry about the state-centric nature of the insurance exchanges, which Wyden-Bennett calls HHAs.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:28 AM on August 18, 2009


My point still stands that this has already been repeatedly approved and is now being held up by a minority collective of Republicans pretending they'll actually support any version of the bill and conservative Democrats who the White House has refused to strongarm.
posted by XQUZYPHYR


Sure, it's annoying, but that's how Congress works, no matter what party is in charge, on large and small issues. Legislation really works smoothly and quickly and that's by design.

It's also interesting to note how fired up some Democrats, especially in the House, are getting fired up about the supposed threat to the public option. Sebelious didn't say anything new when she said the public option wasn't essential, she was repeating a line the White House has said before, but it's fascinating to see how people have interpreted it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2009


What's your plan to get Ben Nelson to agree with you?

Nothing. Just get the public option to the floor. It's amazing how many people are willing to insist that 60 progressive Democrats are just bluffing while Nelson and Conrad, etc. aren't.

Steve Benen points out the curious dissonance between Kent Conrad's constant whinging on "not having 60 votes to pass it" and his refusal to A. point out the bill only need 60 votes to bypass a filibuster of said bill, and B. admit if he himself will even be part of it.

Conrad and Nelson claiming there aren't 60 votes for "passage" is a way of pretending to threaten that they themselves will join Republicans in a filibuster without saying so. Why aren't they saying so? Because they won't. With 60 votes in the Democratic Caucus, "they don't have 60 votes" means they claim a Democrat will join Republicans in a filibuster. They just... umm... don't want to tell you who. Yeah, that's the ticket. This is concern trolling on an epic scale.

They might vote no on the bill but they're just not going to hold a filibuster on a final bill. Because even shitheels as they are, they're Democrats, and they don't want to be the Democrat who sided with Republicans to kill health care reform.

Kill. That's the big word here. Because once the bill hits the floor that is the choice: pass or kill. And as Ezra Klein explained today in detail: if the public option survives a conference report, the only choices remaining for Conrad and Nelson are to join the Republicans in filibustering the bill, or allowing, at a minimum, an up-or-down vote.

That is what this is all about for the moderate and conservative democrats: it is not about stopping the bill the way the GOP is trying. It is about preventing the most progressive plan from even reaching the floor, forcing them to have to vote for it.

That is the "plan." We have 60 votes. The health care bill, whatever form it ends up as, is going to pass when it reaches the floor. The only reason Nelson and Conrad are flailing about how it won't is because they know this, and are trying to get in as little trouble with their lobbyists as possible.

The issue, however, is if the support can survive up to conference committee, and that is exactly where Obama and his team are dropping the ball forcing the progressive Dems and others to, as usual, pick up the slack. The August delay and inaction on right-wing lunacy has already cost the bill a few points. As Ezra noted, this all requires a lot of trust in the White House and they've done very little so far to instill that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:56 AM on August 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


0 House Progressives promise to vote against bill without public option.

Wow. How reactionary and stupid can you be?
posted by kathrineg at 10:23 AM on August 18, 2009


katherineg: "Wow. How reactionary and stupid can you be?"

If the bill that passes requires everyone to purchase health insurance, but doesn't include a government option to keep the health insurance oligarchy in check, it could (and I know this barely sounds possible) make our health care system even more fucked than it is now.
posted by mullingitover at 10:28 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are correct, and in that case they should kill it.

Ugh. No wonder Obama wanted this done before August turned all of our brains into mush.
posted by kathrineg at 10:30 AM on August 18, 2009


doesn't include a government option to keep the health insurance oligarchy in check

You know we can keep private companies in check using plain old fashioned laws, right?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:39 AM on August 18, 2009


anotherpanacea: "You know we can keep private companies in check using plain old fashioned laws, right?"

Haha, good one! No, our institutionalized bribery system would obviously prevent that.
posted by mullingitover at 10:44 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know we can keep private companies in check using plain old fashioned laws, right?

Worked with Enron, right?

Or for two health insurance examples:

Insurance company calls miscarriage elective abortion, denies cover

Insurer drops coverage for patient in middle of chemotherapy

Even if the law does catch up with them, it doesn't excuse the behaviour.
posted by knapah at 11:04 AM on August 18, 2009


Commentary on CNN from Wendell Potter, former PR person for CIGNA:

[The]point couldn't have been made clearer than by the man standing in line to get free care at Remote Area Medical's recent health care "expedition" at the Wise County, Virginia, fairgrounds, who told a reporter he was dead set against President Obama's reform proposal.

Even though he didn't have health insurance, and could see the desperation in the faces of thousands of others all around him who were in similar straits, he was more worried about the possibility of having to pay more taxes than he was eager to make sure he and his neighbors wouldn't have to wait in line to get care provided by volunteer doctors in animal stalls. [...]

So the next time you hear someone warning against a "government takeover" of our health care system, or that the creation of a public health insurance option would send us down the "slippery slope toward socialism," know that someone like I used to be wrote those terms, knowing it might turn many of the very people who would benefit most from meaningful reform into unwitting spokespeople for the industry.

posted by jokeefe at 12:51 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Blue America PAC has set up an ActBlue page where you can donate money to be split among the signers of the letter to Nancy Pelosi promising to block any bill without a public option. It's up to $48,000 since this morning.
posted by enn at 1:27 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know we can keep private companies in check using plain old fashioned laws, right?
Never underestimate the power of the dark side.
posted by woodway at 6:30 PM on August 18, 2009


New poll finds that public support for health care legislation ‘collapses’ if it doesn’t include a public option.
posted by homunculus at 1:51 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


ActBlue's Public Option page is up to $150k as of now.
posted by benzenedream at 2:44 PM on August 19, 2009


Democrats Seem Set to Go It Alone on a Health Bill
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


DEMOCRATS?! WITH WORKING TESTICLES AND OVARIES?!

Goodness me, I find myself in need of a fainting couch.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:52 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why I love Britain's socialized healthcare system: As I learned when my newborn daughter was very sick, in U.K. hospitals, people take care of each other
posted by homunculus at 3:14 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


benzenedream: "ActBlue's Public Option page is up to $150k as of now."

They just cracked $400k. Nice.
posted by mullingitover at 2:53 PM on August 25, 2009


Reich: Obama Handed His Power Over to The Gang of Six. Why?
posted by homunculus at 7:56 PM on August 25, 2009


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