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December 15, 2009 7:19 AM   Subscribe

The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn declares the public option dead. "The Senate isn't going to include any version of the idea in its bill. And while the House can still demand a public option in conference, nobody I know expects the House to prevail."

The cause appears to be Joe Lieberman's threat to vote against the underlying bill if it included the public option and expanding Medicare to those in their 50s, an initiative he supported in September. The President will host senators for more negotiations this afternoon. Senate Democrats are eager to move forward with what's left of the reform bill. "Democrats aren't going to let the American people down," says Harry Reid. POLITICO asks whether Democrats should punish Lieberman.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (584 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cowards. Reconciliation only requires 50+1 votes. The Republicans had the balls to use it; the Democrats don't.
posted by billysumday at 7:23 AM on December 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


billysumday, reconciliation is only used for budget votes.

And, yes, I think that Lieberman is just one more Democratic senator away from being kicked down to the boiler room. I sure hope he enjoys these little moments while he can.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:26 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm unhappy about this, but if the bill that does get presented for Obama's signature prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on prior conditions, meaning that my sister can finally get somebody somewhere to sell her health insurance, that's at least some comfort.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:27 AM on December 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Halloween Jack, it's only supposed to be used for budget votes, but has been used for non-budget bills in the past. The Bush tax cuts, for example.
posted by Bezbozhnik at 7:28 AM on December 15, 2009


Yeah, Halloween Jack, reconciliation could easily be used for health care and it's brought up often; sadly as soon as the idea is floated it gets shot down because it's not befitting the spirit of the Senate or some such bullshit. Well, not befitting the Senate when the Dems are in majority, but totally appropriate when Repubs are in power.
posted by billysumday at 7:31 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


not befitting the spirit of the Senate

What better endorsement could there be?
posted by enn at 7:32 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


My only comfort in the fact that Gore lost to Bush is that this stupendous sneering arbitrary and hypocritical fucking jackass wasn't a heartbeat away from the presidency.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:32 AM on December 15, 2009 [62 favorites]


GRIM REAPER: Be quiet!

REPUBLICANS: Can I just say this at this time, please?

GRIM REAPER: Silence! I have come for you.

REPUBLICANS: You mean... to--

GRIM REAPER: Take you away. That is my purpose. I am death.

DEMOCRATS: Well, that's cast rather a gloom over the evening, hasn't it?

REPUBLICANS: I don't see it that way. [sniff] Let me tell you what I think we're dealing with here: a potentially positive learning experience to get an--

GRIM REAPER: Shut up! Shut up, you Republican. You always talk, you Republicans. You talk and you talk and say 'let me tell you something' and 'I just wanna say this'. Well, you're dead now, so shut up!

REPUBLICANS: Dead?

GRIM REAPER: Dead.

REPUBLICANS: All of us?

GRIM REAPER: All of you.

DEMOCRATS: Now, look here. You barge in here, quite uninvited, break glasses, and then announce, quite casually, that we're all dead. Well, I would remind you that you are a guest in this house, and--
[whack]
Ah! Oh.

GRIM REAPER: Be quiet! DEMOCRATS, you're all so fucking pompous, and none of you have got any balls.
posted by sciurus at 7:33 AM on December 15, 2009 [31 favorites]


My only comfort in the fact that Gore lost to Bush is that this stupendous sneering arbitrary and hypocritical fucking jackass wasn't a heartbeat away from the presidency.
posted by Astro Zombie


Adding to that, I was thinking this morning that the one bright side of my Nader vote in 2000 is that at least it shielded me from voting for Lieberman.
posted by COBRA! at 7:39 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is news?
Honestly, anyone watching the process could have made this prediction months ago. The noise level against a public option was just too loud. Honestly, even without the faux-democrat Leiberman, it was a long-shot a public option would survive.

but if the bill that does get presented for Obama's signature prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on prior conditions, meaning that my sister can finally get somebody somewhere to sell her health insurance, that's at least some comfort.

Is it clear whether they will be barred from pricing the coverage so high that your sister can't afford it anyway? Or barred from inserting so many restrictions and out-of-pocket expenses to make the coverage worthless? I read so many different opinions on issues like this, that I'm never clear where the process stands on points like these.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:40 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuck you too, Reid.

(Yes, Reid and not Lieberman. He's the leader and he has the power to do this without Lieberman.)
posted by DU at 7:41 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


The reason the Democrats have not used reconciliation is because the procedure restricts the contents of bills to budget-related items only. So while you could get the public option and other new public programs in there, bill opponents could cut out the ban on pre-existing conditions and other regulatory reforms because they don't impact the budget.
posted by anifinder at 7:42 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The public option has been declared dead a few times already; I'll believe it when the bill passes.
posted by jckll at 7:43 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason the Democrats have not used reconciliation is because the procedure restricts...

No, the reason the Democrats have not used reconciliation is that they don't want make the insurance companies mad. If they really, really wanted to pass this bill, it would be called "The Medicare For All Bill" and it would consist of a single provision: "Everyone is covered by Medicare". It would get like 70 votes in the Senate, we'd all be covered and we'd have been done with this 80 year battle months ago.
posted by DU at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2009 [36 favorites]


"the faux-democrat Leiberman"

Hah! Faux Lieberman! It rhymes!
posted by Eideteker at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2009


boy i sure am glad the democrats gave lieberman everything he wanted that sure did ensure his cooperation on life-saving legislation
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [22 favorites]


The campaign for the public option pushed the entire debate to the left--and, to use a military metaphor, it diverted enemy fire away from the rest of the bill.

I hate this. I agree with this, but I hate this.

One person, just one, a disinterested, potentially stupid little man decided that a large segment of this country should not receive the kind of benefit that could save lives. And for what? Lieberman's hopes for re-election have diminished because of this. He has alienated, not just his party, but anyone on the political left who had been paying attention to this process. Lieberman was for the buy-in idea just a few months ago, so this doesn't make him look consistent. All for what?

Because his feelings got hurt? We can salve our wounds with appropriate reality checks and maybe this will help the electoral chances of several at-risk Democratic senators... but this live-to-fight-another-day mentality is devastatingly morale crushing.

In light of this, I think it is appropriate to wonder why the Liebermans pretend to care about health care.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


The reason the Democrats have not used reconciliation is because the procedure restricts the contents of bills to budget-related items only. So while you could get the public option and other new public programs in there, bill opponents could cut out the ban on pre-existing conditions and other regulatory reforms because they don't impact the budget.

Which is why you first pass a bill with those measures and no public option, then later ram through a bill with public option using reconciliation. But again, that wouldn't be very "nice" to the Republicans, now would it?
posted by billysumday at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


> The noise level against a public option was just too loud.

Americans won't man the barricades for much these days, but apparently they will to protect their right to get ripped off by insurance companies.
posted by you just lost the game at 7:48 AM on December 15, 2009 [22 favorites]


The public option has been dead so long it's absurd people still held out hope. The loss of the Medicare extension, however, is a pretty bad deal.

My backup hope was that we'd get Medicare for 55+, federalized and extended Medicaid, and a few small limitations on insurance companies, like pre-existing conditions. That's the real route to a a single-payer system, with cost-cutting along the way. The public option was always a red herring: not nearly as strong as its supporters hoped, and potentially an Trojan horse to discredit public medical provision further, with all the risks of dumping expensive patients on the public's dime.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:49 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


And, of course, the Medicare buy-in provision which is now so undesirable to Lieberman is pretty much exactly what he proposed several years ago. This isn't principled opposition, or even unprincipled opposition; it's a self-serving tantrum from a sad little egomaniac that may well have derailed any chance for meaningful healthcare/insurance reform.

Another reason it would have been nice for Gore to win in 2000: No matter what, Joe Lieberman would NOT be a Senator today.
posted by Bromius at 7:50 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


If they really, really wanted to pass this bill, it would be called "The Medicare For All Bill" and it would consist of a single provision: "Everyone is covered by Medicare". It would get like 70 votes in the Senate

Sorry, what? Forget about Nelson, Lieberman, and Lincoln. Which ten Republican senators would vote to expand Medicare coverage to everybody? Seriously, name names.
posted by EarBucket at 7:51 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Americans won't man the barricades for much these days, but apparently they will to protect their right to get ripped off by insurance companies.
posted by you just lost the game at 7:48 AM on December 15


"I don't know about that it's pretty - of course I fucking do am I some sort of fucking retard? Who gives a fuck about insurance companies they can suck my motherfucking dick. I ain't never been busted up from four wheeling and go into the hospital and think to myself "thank god etna is up in this shit to pick my doctor for me that's exactly what I need is to drive all the way to fucking Palmer with my tibion sticking out because there is some bullshit network and this dude said he can stop the bleeding but he ain't in my network so fuck if I am paying 6,000 dollars for that."" — Levi "HOckey" Johnston
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:54 AM on December 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Can I still buy a cup of coffee with $2.00 plus my Hope?
posted by The Dryyyyy Cracker at 7:56 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


To those bitching for reconciliation, I would direct you to Ezra Klein's recent analysis.:
[T]hat would have required going back to the committees to refashion a reconciliation bill, and going back to the House of Representatives so it could craft a reconciliation bill, and then going back through the votes. There wasn't time for that, and even if there was, throwing the process so far back onto itself would have been an enormous risk.
It's not that simple, folks. Nothing in Congress is. Reconciliation might well result in no bill. Getting the thing out of Committee at all was a Herculean task. Getting both congressional Democratic caucuses to agree on what is potentially the most expensive single piece of legislation in human history with zero political cover isn't exactly like falling off a log.
posted by valkyryn at 7:58 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


If there was a decent progressive senator left, they'd put a hold on this bill.
posted by eriko at 7:58 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's also nothing stopping them from passing a bill with insurance reform, then going back and using reconciliation to pass a public option/Medicare buy-in/etc. Not that they're necessarily going to do that, but if they are, that's the order they'd want to do it in, and they wouldn't be broadcasting that they were planning to.
posted by EarBucket at 8:03 AM on December 15, 2009


Reconciliation might well result in no bill.

No bill is better than this let's-fuck-the-uninsured-just-a-little-harder individual mandate to buy the affordable insurance than the right wingers in the senate just can't quite believe the market hasn't provided. Fuck this rob-the-poor-to-pay-the-rich shit, I hope it dies, I hope it costs the Democrats Congress and the White House, fuck their useless sorry asses, they can go to hell.
posted by enn at 8:06 AM on December 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


I sure hope these guys know what they're doing because hoping for a public option sure got us thrown to the dogs.

All this hope. What the fuck. I might as well hope nobody hits me with a stick today.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:07 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


"opping them from passing a bill with insurance reform, then going back and using reconciliation to pass a public option/Medicare buy-in/etc. Not that they're necessarily going to do that, but if they are, that's the order they'd want to do it in, and they wouldn't be broadcasting that they were planning to." --

I have long since given up hope of ever seeing anything resembling that level of political strategy from our Democrats in office.

Republicans, maybe. Democrats, never in a million years. I just don't think they have the organization, the willpower, or the party unity.

Sad, really, that this post made me laugh instead of feel hopeful...because it's exactly the sort of thing that I wish with all my being that they would do.
posted by kaseijin at 8:09 AM on December 15, 2009


So many of us don't understand the situation with the conservaDems, I certainly didn't. Not only did the fact of having 60 senators get rendered as meaningless, the situation now is also:

"The downside to drumming Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic caucus, as many progressives are eager to do, is that Lieberman is running point (or helping to) on several other major Obama Administration initiatives.

That won't likely appease many folks, and the argument goes that if you don't stand up to Joe now, you never will and it sends a terrible message about party discipline. But the fact remains: there is no move afoot in the Senate to punish Lieberman. And if there were, the White House would be unlikely to go along. At least not now."

(From TPM site.)
posted by uraniumwilly at 8:10 AM on December 15, 2009


Which is why you first pass a bill with those measures and no public option, then later ram through a bill with public option using reconciliation.
posted by billysumday


If this has been there plan and they do it, oh sweet baby jesus magic I will be so happy.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:11 AM on December 15, 2009


What is the fucking deal with this piece of shit? Does he have the entire democratic party's children held hostage? Can someone please tell me why the entire god damn democratic party doesn't tell this piece of human garbage to go fuck himself and then destroy every damn thing he tries to accomplish from here on out? I mean, how much fucking power can this one asshole really have? Give him his fucking walking papers and put everything you've got into ruining his next election. I just do not understand this. The man is universally reviled. Why can he get away with this fucking bullshit?
posted by shmegegge at 8:11 AM on December 15, 2009 [29 favorites]


Leiberman, I mean. Not any of the other 99 pieces of shit in the senate. Leiberman.
posted by shmegegge at 8:11 AM on December 15, 2009


Insurance companies win. Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate. - Markos Moulitsas
posted by Joe Beese at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2009


Here's the problem, according to MarketWatch:

The latest average of polls from RealClearPolitics shows 53.3% opposition to the bill, with 38% support. Read RealClearPolitics polls.

The American people don't want health care for working people. They'd rather that only convicted criminals get publicly funded health care, as in the current system.

So quit your bitching and get back to work!

Yuck. I almost hope the whole process dies just to be done with it at this point, it's been so depressing watching this dismal spectacle.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the longer term fallout from this is another nail in the coffin of American representative democracy... there was an increase in turnout for the 08 election because huge swaths of the population who had previously not participated in electoral politics turned out en masse to vote for an individual and a party campaigning on core promises of significant change, not least in the health care reform area... so they turned out, and gave that party the presidency and majorities in both Houses.

And what do they get? In the area of health care at least, seemingly not much. What's going to be the incentive for these same people to turn out again in huge numbers in '12? The Democrats are squandering a level of good-will and legislative power they are unlikely to have again for at least a generation.

Oh, and FUCK Joe Lieberman.
posted by modernnomad at 8:13 AM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


No bill is better than this let's-fuck-the-uninsured-just-a-little-harder individual mandate to buy the affordable insurance

I have called my senators to tell them to vote no. This is bullshit and there is no way that in its current form the 'no pre-existing conditions' rules will mean anything other than 'insurance companies will have to think really hard for twenty minutes on how to circumvent the deliberately toothless rules that the pusillanimous corporatist worms in congress will put in the bill.'

I mean, damn I knew that Obama was going to be Jimmy Carter version 2.0 but this is ridiculous.
posted by winna at 8:15 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the OP:

The cause appears to be Joe Lieberman's threat to vote against the underlying bill if it included the public option and expanding Medicare to those in their 50s, an initiative he supported in September.

No, the cause is Liebermann's threat to filibuster the bill with the Republicans. We don't need his vote on the bill, we need him not to filibuster it. But that is too much it seems.

If the Dems don't kick him out of the party, we don't deserve to govern.
posted by goethean at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


I mean, damn I knew that Obama was going to be Jimmy Carter version 2.0 but this is ridiculous.
posted by winna


Obama is not the Senate, Obama is not Joe Lieberman.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:17 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn declares the public option dead.

no, the idea that people rule and not money is what's dead

maybe people are just going to have to start tearing shit up
posted by pyramid termite at 8:18 AM on December 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Well, so much for joining the rest of the civilized world in the 21st century. The American credo turns out to be "every man for himself". What does it take for the people of this country to be represented by their own government? Why don't we have a lobbying presence in Washington to compete with the insurance companies and big pharma? It's clear our representatives sure as hell aren't on our side. What country do we have to invade to get sane healthcare?
posted by gallois at 8:18 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obama is not the Senate, Obama is not Joe Lieberman.

No, he's just the one instructing Reid to do what Lieberman wants.
posted by enn at 8:19 AM on December 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Is it clear whether they will be barred from pricing the coverage so high that your sister can't afford it anyway? Or barred from inserting so many restrictions and out-of-pocket expenses to make the coverage worthless? I read so many different opinions on issues like this, that I'm never clear where the process stands on points like these.
posted by Thorzdad


At this point, the potential for coverage despite pre-existing conditions is still a step in the right direction, and I'm glad to have it. I also see the rational argument that the public option made for an excellent attention magnet and pushed the bill leftward as a whole.

I don't blame Reid for not wanting to use weird parliamentary tactics to force landmark legislation. I'm not sure I even blame Lieberman any more than Olympia Snowe, honestly.

Sucks to see the public option go down, though.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 8:19 AM on December 15, 2009


The House bill has two major cost-control mechanisms: the public option and the 85% medical-loss ratio requirement. The Senate bill is on track to have neither, and nothing new to replace them. The Senate bill is a recipe for national disaster. If it's that bill or nothing, I prefer nothing. - Darcy Burner
posted by Joe Beese at 8:20 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


To paraphrase Joey Michaels, I've been trying to avoid this sort of insulting hyperbole, but Bolton Leiberman can seriously eat a bowl of frosted assholes.
posted by Danf at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Shoulda started with single payer and bargained from there. Instead we get "individual mandates" which is a big fat gift to the insurance companies.

The American experiment is over, it was on life support during Clinton's years, and has been suffocated during Bush's terms.

The sad thing is that no one really notices.
posted by Max Power at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fuck Lieberman, and fuck Lanny Davis, too.
Lieberman supports health care reform as long as there is no reform included. "Not 100% of the liberal wish list" my ass. Name one thing on the liberal wish list that Lieberman supports. Hell, name one thing on the liberal wish list that has even been in any of these bills. He's not even supporting one thing on the centrist Democratic wishlist.
I'd like to see Lieberman stripped of his chairs, kicked out of the caucus and made ambassador to Somalia, or maybe Uzbekistan. But I'd settle for seeing him waterboarded 183 times or so.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:22 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does Lieberman need to be punished? Hell yes. But he should be punished by Reid's successor. Reid is incompetent, and the Democratic caucus' first order of business after the New Year should be a no-confidence vote and the election of a new Majority Leader.

I am not happy with the way the Obama team has played this in the Senate, but job one is getting rid of Reid.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:22 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is bullshit and there is no way that in its current form the 'no pre-existing conditions' rules will mean anything other than 'insurance companies will have to think really hard for twenty minutes on how to circumvent the deliberately toothless rules that the pusillanimous corporatist worms in congress will put in the bill.'

See, and from my perspective, you and your type are the real problem. You'll never get perfect or even close in this world. We haven't managed to even get as much reform as you're lazily dismissing as "deliberately toothless" passed in over 150 years of trying. Seriously. Not even that much has managed to make it through the American political circus, despite repeated efforts. And here you are pissing on it as if it were low-hanging fruit, out of righteous sanctimony and stupidity. I'm done with this crap. You don't even realize the whole point is to peel away your support so that the poll numbers show there's no support, which makes it easy to outmaneuver the reformers.

Never mind. Just fuck it.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:23 AM on December 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


All of us who haven't got any insurance and now aren't going to anytime soon (but will soon get to pay a fine for the privilege!) need to sit the fuck down and strike until these spoiled little wankers in the senate can get their fucking shit together.
posted by enn at 8:25 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh and one more thing -
"The latest average of polls from RealClearPolitics shows 53.3% opposition to the bill, with 38% support. Read RealClearPolitics polls."

What this leaves out is that a good 25% of that opposition to the bill is from the left, for it not going far enough. (Which is where I'm headed at this point: no public option + no medicare buy-in = no reason to support the bill)

The real numbers for "wants real reform" vs. "don't want real reform" is more like 52% in favor, with 38% against, and 10% undecided.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:26 AM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


You don't even realize the whole point is to peel away your support so that the poll numbers show there's no support, which makes it easy to outmaneuver the reformers.

Yeah, I guess I am just a clown in the circus, because I didn't realize that at all. Here I was thinking the "whole point" was that maybe I could go to the fucking doctor sometime before I die.
posted by enn at 8:28 AM on December 15, 2009 [21 favorites]


I thought the house was supposed to be the loonies, and the senate all the sensible folks? Another lie from civics class unmasked.
posted by absalom at 8:30 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


"You don't even realize the whole point is to peel away your support..."

My support is easy to get - put forward some real reform, and you'll get my support.
You can't cross a chasm in three small steps. Go big, or go home.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:31 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Obama is not the Senate, Obama is not Joe Lieberman.

No, my comparison is apt.

Aside from the link enn posted, one of the major criticisms of the Carter administration was his difficulty in influencing Congress to execute the plans he wanted to implement and an inability to effectively use the way Washington works to enact his policies in several areas. Unless you're still one of those people who believe he's working vast 37-dimensional chess games behind the scenes, it's shaping up remarkably similarly to the Carter administration. And that ended in Ronald Reagan, god help us all.

And no, I'm not one of those pie in the sky people who wants rainbows and free doctors on every street corner. What I did want, and what I spent countless hours writing letters and making phone calls to my representatives to ask for, was that the goddamn democrats stop acting like they have to play nice with the republicans or they won't get invited to the fucking prom.
posted by winna at 8:32 AM on December 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


...the Democrats are making a bet that the bad policy that they are supporting is "good policy" for the swing money. And they expect to see the swing money continue to back the Democrats which will be enough to either depress GOP turnout or get enough apathetic Democrats to turnout to hold a decent size majority next year. - Dave Anderson
posted by Joe Beese at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Will the Democrats still rally behind a bill that's all the gifts to the insurance companies (unfunded mandates ahoy) without the modest progressive sugar-coating of a public option or Medicare extension? I don't think it's worth pushing that far and I would prefer to see it fail.

The solution's been there for years: Medicare for everyone. Fund it by cutting the Pentagon budget the appropriate amount. Yet it's still not "on the table." F--- that noise.
posted by graymouser at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


billysumday, reconciliation is only used for budget votes.

Yes, and this obviously has a huge impact on the budget.

Let's be clear about reconciliation:
For a detailed primer on the reconciliation process, head here. The short version is that reconciliation, which short-circuits the filibuster, can only be used for legislation that directly affects the federal budget. Anything that "indirectly" affects the budget -- think insurance regulations, like the ban on preexisting conditions -- would be ineligible.

What would be eligible? Well, Medicare buy-in, for one thing. Medicaid expansions. The public option. Anything, in short, that relies on a public program, rather than a new regulation in the private market. That means we'd probably lose the regulations on insurers, many of the delivery-side reforms, the health insurance exchanges, the individual mandate and much else.
-- Ezra Klein
In other words, everything liberals like, we can get through reconciliation. Everything centrists like, they pretty much can't get (They can get some stuff like the cost reductions in medicare, but not anything like the exchange or mandates)

TPM: Rahm to Reid: Give Lieberman what he wants.

Ugh. Fuck Obama. Seriously. During the campaign the biggest difference between Hillary and Obama was that Obama was promising no mandates. But what do we get? Mandates, but no public option. Meaning what this bill is doing is forcing everyone to get shitting insurance, with by the way Annual caps on coverage even though getting rid of lifetime caps on insurance was a big part of the bush for HCR. Obviously annual caps = lifetime cap unless you plant to live forever.

Now obviously some countries do fine with universal healthcare administrated by private companies. But the health insurance industry has so much clout in Washington they'll still obviously be able to get away with whatever they want in terms of screwing the American people. Just look at the Financial services "reform". Does anyone believe the insurance companies are going to end their 'abusive' practices. If anything, they are going to do everything they can to harass the sickest people into wanting to leave them and go somewhere else.

This thing is a disaster. I'm not saying it's worse then the status quo. It's not. But if you're willing to accept anything then you're going to get screwed in negotiations.
posted by delmoi at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the longer term fallout from this is another nail in the coffin of American representative democracy... there was an increase in turnout for the 08 election because huge swaths of the population who had previously not participated in electoral politics turned out en masse to vote for an individual and a party campaigning on core promises of significant change, not least in the health care reform area... so they turned out, and gave that party the presidency and majorities in both Houses.
posted by modernnomad


Unfortunately, lots of people turning out for a single election is not enough. The differing term limits of various elected positions, and in the case of the Senate, the staggering of election years provides stability and continuity which is, on the whole, a Good Thing. If you want to see the political philosophies that motivated the 2008 presidential campaign really and truly control the national political scene, then you have to get those people who turned out in '08 to turn out in 2010 and 2012, and give them candidates who represent those philosophies.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 8:37 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love these political threads because it's like some huge cathartic exercise for everyone to just whine the sky is falling fuck these guys this is bullshit i'm never voting again wahhh

Politics sucks, welcome to the real world.
posted by palidor at 8:38 AM on December 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


All I want is for Joe Lieberman to show up at work tomorrow and be told that he needs to find a new office in the basement. that he is no longer chair of any committees, and that he is free to caucus with the republicans. Appeasing that weasel is more trouble than it is worth.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:39 AM on December 15, 2009 [21 favorites]


See, and from my perspective, you and your type are the real problem. You'll never get perfect or even close in this world

That's funny, because from my perspective, the real problem are the scumbags in the insurance industry who are profiting from denying me and my family healthcare.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:43 AM on December 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


The solution's been there for years: Medicare for everyone. Fund it by cutting the Pentagon budget the appropriate amount.

Medicare spending is 3.5% of GDP now and expected (by the CBO) to be 4.0% of GDP in 2020. Defense spending was 4.3% of GDP in 2008 and projected to be 3.4% of GDP in 2019.

Medicare currently covers about 45 million people, about 15% of the population.

Cutting defense spending to zero wouldn't come anywhere remotely close to funding Medicare for everyone. Just not even in the same ballpark.
posted by Perplexity at 8:44 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think that we all ought to remember that healthcare reform in this country is going to be a years-long project involving probably a half-dozen to a dozen bills just as contentious as this one. Meaningful healthcare reform is a very large pill to swallow for a number of influential stakeholders (insurance companies, pharma, &c-- bastards all), and the simple fact of the matter is that if any of these jerks choke on it, we all end up no better than when we started, and covered in vomit to boot. So we break the pill up into something only moderately discomforting and feed it to them one fragment at a time.

This bill cuts the number of uninsured people in half at the very least, and protects against a lot of malevolent insurance company bastardry. There is a baby in that bathwater, people.

The next bills will have to be about controlling costs, probably by expanding primary care/public health/ nutritional and physical education by changing the medicare billing structure to better support patient education and motivation while trying simultaneously to remove some of the administrative and material waste through EHR/EMR.

Yeah, though, fuck Joe Lieberman.
posted by The White Hat at 8:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I love these political threads because it's like some huge cathartic exercise for everyone to just whine the sky is falling fuck these guys this is bullshit i'm never voting again wahhh

Politics sucks, welcome to the real world.


Hey, thanks for the welcome. I've always considered myself a cynic, but this has proven to me how naive and rose-colored my supposedly cynical worldview really was. Now I know better. Consider this gnashing of teeth my official declaration that, yes, you fooled me again you sick fuckers. Consider me duly chastened, lesson learned. Now I know there really is no representation for me or anyone else below the 99th percentile of american wealth in this country. More fool me. Honestly, the nerve I had to believe I might finally have a voice in this country.
posted by shmegegge at 8:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [19 favorites]


And here you are pissing on it as if it were low-hanging fruit, out of righteous sanctimony and stupidity. I'm done with this crap

Oh I'm sorry the fruit looked exactly like a urinal.

Is it true that I am going to be required to buy insurance from a private company that I probably can't afford? I am underemployed but not UNemployed and I can't afford any extra expenses (except alcohol) and no one has explained how this bill is going to benefit me (unless I get hired by an insurance company.) I piss on it because no one has tried to sell me on the bill. It seems like it's only being sold to legislators and corporations.

I might be ignorant. If you can supply me with some clear description of the benefits of the "reform" I will consider them. I know I can google or metasitesearch, but I don't want to slog through the bullocks around this bill because there is a tremendous amount of baggage and the points of the bill seem to change on a daily basis. I don't want to hear about the process or some senate technicality, I just want to know how the "reform" will specifically help me and my community (middle-to-low income and public housing projects)

Instead of saying "fuck it," tell me, specifically, why this is a positive reform. Please.
posted by fuq at 8:46 AM on December 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Rope-a-dope! Rope-a-dope! I remember when the public option was declared dead in the House, because the Blue Dogs would never go for it. I remember the first, second and third times it was declared dead in the Senate, too.

If Lieberman is really the one and only stumbling block to getting this thing passed, then I think we're watching a fast-one being pulled. This makes for some fine misdirection while Reid and Obama quietly shore up some support from across the aisle. (Gonna be a banner decade for the shipyard up in Bath, that's all I'm sayin'.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:48 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


The American credo turns out to be "every man for himself"


That's exactly what the right wingers like to promote. Taking care of other people is for socialists! They never fail to miss the big picture and how covering people's health care is GOOD for the nation.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:50 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some countries have functioning governments that want what's best for their citizens.

We have Joe Lieberman and the Republicans.
posted by Legomancer at 8:52 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love these political threads because it's like some huge cathartic exercise for everyone to just whine the sky is falling fuck these guys this is bullshit i'm never voting again wahhh

Politics sucks, welcome to the real world.


A helpful sentiment. You'd prefer we didn't care?
posted by edguardo at 8:53 AM on December 15, 2009


Rahm to Reid: Give Lieberman what he wants

What the fuck? Rahm Emmanuel's sole raison d'etre is supposed to be personally driving to the houses of rotten little pishers like Lieberman, leaving horses' heads in their beds, and threatening the lives of their yet-unborn descendants. I would say that this shows an appallingly characteristic disarray and lack of taser-wielding party discipline on the part of the fucking useless Democrats, except that it really demonstrates that all these fuckers are totally, irrevocably in the pocket of the health industry mafia.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:53 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why the democrats don't just let the republicans filibuster? This would seem to be a great PR opportunity -- we are trying to make progress, all we want is a vote!--while the republicans are seen as just gumming up the works, with no viable plan other than NO NO NO NO NO I CANT HEAR YOU LALALALALA

This seems like something straight out of the GOPs playbook, is it not? Or what am I missing?
posted by jckll at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


FelliniBlank: "Rahm Emmanuel's sole raison d'etre is supposed to be personally driving to the houses of rotten little pishers like Lieberman, leaving horses' heads in their beds, and threatening the lives of their yet-unborn descendants."

As to that:

If Rahm Emmanuel is all he was supposed to be, we can safely assume that the Obama White House either never gave a shit about health care reform, or they managed health care reform so horrifically and incompetently that they are now willing to settle for a “win”, no matter how meager.

posted by Joe Beese at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nate Silver: Why progressives are batshit crazy to oppose the Senate bill

I think they need to pass _something_ now, without imposing the major risk of reconciliation on the whole bill, or we won't have reform for another decade, and prices will continue to skyrocket.

Is there anything procedural that would stop them from adding a public option or a medicare buy-in at a later date by using reconciliation?

Harkin has suggested banning the filibuster, using Lieberman's own legislation (!?). I wish they would do it - if they don't the next GOP Senate will do it anyway.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:59 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Joe Lieberman is a dung scrotum.

What this little exercise and the financial "reform" have shown is that corporations are more powerful than our government.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:02 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Insurance companies win. Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate. - Markos Moulitsas

This was, for progressives, a frustrating vote. But the flip side of it being morally unconscionable for Joe Lieberman to put the bill at risk over something as small as Medicare buy-in for 3-or-so million people is that the absence of Medicare buy-in -- and of the weak public plan -- is not reason enough to oppose the bill, either.

The core of this legislation is as it always was: $900 billion, give or take, so people who can't afford health-care insurance suddenly can. Insurance regulations paired with the individual mandate, so insurers can't discriminate against the sick and the healthy can't make insurance unaffordable by hanging back until the moment they need medical care. The construction of health insurance exchanges so the people currently left out of the employer-based market are better served, and the many who will join them as the employer system continues to erode will have somewhere to go. (link)

Petulantly voting down health care reform, because it will deny Lieberman or the insurance companies a "win" is nothing to be proud of. The status quo in health care is so substandard that even a heavily compromised bill from the Senate will be an improvement.
posted by jonp72 at 9:04 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


jonp72: " Insurance regulations paired with the individual mandate, so insurers can't discriminate against the sick and the healthy can't make insurance unaffordable by hanging back until the moment they need medical care."

Don't be fooled.

Discrimination by Insurers Likely Even With Reform, Experts Say
posted by Joe Beese at 9:13 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm going to go ahead and say that these unnamed sources as to what exactly Emmanuel and Obama are pushing for (and why) may not have the full story. These sources seem to be Senate aides. For who, Lieberman? Sources frequently have an agenda. So go ahead and say whatever you want, just be prepared to append an asterisk if and when the story isn't exactly as these guys are saying.

I might be wrong obviously but these stories of what went on, or where things are going in the HCR debate have been frequently wrong or outright lies.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:15 AM on December 15, 2009


I fear that real, meaningful, sweeping banking reform is probably also dead.

Although the following link is not meant as proof of that fear, it is worth reading (Putting Obama on Hold, in a Hint of Who’s Boss), b/c it highlights where the power is:

Now that Citigroup has given back its bailout money — and Wells Fargo announced late on Monday that it would, too — whatever leverage Washington had over the financial services industry seems to be quickly eroding.

There are, as I see it, three large corporate complexes that control the political process in America:

a) the financial and banking sector
b) the insurance and healthcare sector
c) the military and intelligence sector

The first wants the unfettered ability to continue to recklessly speculate, using exotic financial tools, without regulation and create bubbles that threaten the entirety of the global economy. In other words, it wants to continue to sustain what can only be called a crisis.

The second wants the unfettered ability to exploitatively continue to treat healthcare as a massive profit-making venture without having any obligations whatsoever to keeping down costs or ensuring a fair system of health coverage for the average worker. In other words, it wants to continue to sustain what can only be called a crisis.

The third wants the unfettered ability to maintain its massive imperial fortification of the globe (bases in almost 130 countries) and keep itself managing an endless series of wars against a supposed enemy ("terrorism") that by definition cannot be defeated militarily. In other words, it wants to continue to sustain what can only be called a crisis.

**

That's where we are, and it transcends partisan politics: it's systematic and it's not new, but it has solidified into something that is, without exaggeration, dragging this country down with incredible speed. America does not have the proverbial nine lives of a cat, or if it does, it's getting close to its nonetheless: we are not invincible, nor are we guaranteed to escape the fate of every dysfunctional empire in human history that came before us.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:15 AM on December 15, 2009 [33 favorites]


Well, my COBRA's due to run out in a year, so I still want them to pass this thing. Primarily for selfish reasons. Also because it will save hundreds of thousands of lives and establish a framework in which the government and the American people see healthcare as a right. Would I have liked a public option? Hell yes, or better yet, single-payer.

The passage of this bill does not stop a reconciliation measure to provide a public option or medicare expansion later. Failure of this bill would absolutely halt momentum on any future measures, as the entire subject would become toxic.
posted by condour75 at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


"The downside to drumming Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic caucus, as many progressives are eager to do, is that Lieberman is running point (or helping to) on several other major Obama Administration initiatives.
Yeah like indefinite detention and Afghanistan, no doubt. Fuck that.
Aside from the link enn posted, one of the major criticisms of the Carter administration was his difficulty in influencing Congress to execute the plans he wanted to implement and an inability to effectively use the way Washington works to enact his policies in several areas.
Yeah. I'm pretty sure Obama wanted to keep everyone in power in place so that he could "utilize Washington" and get things done the traditional way. He failed to realize that the republicans were on a kamikaze mission to do everything they could to screw up Obama. Look at all the "centrism" on the stimulus bill. He said he wanted 80 votes. LOL. I mean obviously it was important for the country so of course republicans would be for it, right?

Instead we got watered down nonsense that didn't even have enough state aide to keep states from needing to lay people off, much less actually get started on the infrastructure we needed. But we did get a lot of tax cuts!

Think about it. Who did Obama pick to be his Chief of Staff? Rahm Emanuel. The guy who was adamantly opposed to Howard Dean's "50 state strategy", which is a major reason why we have 60 seat majority in the senate now. That's how we got a senator from Alaska. Rahm knows the "Washington way". He wanted to focus DNC money on swing states and districts and play it the way it's always been done.

Well he didn't know what the hell he was doing then, and he doesn't know what he's doing now.

I don't know if Obama has noticed, but doing things "the Washington way" hasn't accomplished anything.
Cutting defense spending to zero wouldn't come anywhere remotely close to funding Medicare for everyone. Just not even in the same ballpark.
Uh, hello. Medicare costs less then private insurance, and obviously people under 65 cost a hell of a lot less to insure then people over 65. And anyway, simply redirecting insurance premiums that currently go to private insurance companies would pay for Medicare for all, including people who don't have insurance.
What the fuck? Rahm Emmanuel's sole raison d'etre is supposed to be personally driving to the houses of rotten little pishers like Lieberman, leaving horses' heads in their beds, and threatening the lives of their yet-unborn descendants.
I think you have a very strange view of Rahm Emmanuel. This is the guy who built the blue dog caucus. He recruited these people as head of the DCCC. He was never even a proponent of Universal Healthcare, back in congress he argued for simply expanding SCHIP, and medicate rather then universal coverage.
Nate Silver: Why progressives are batshit crazy to oppose the Senate bill
Keep in Mind, Nate Silver thought the public option was a bad idea to start with. He also thought that going negative against Sarah Palin was a bad idea because Americans had "made up their mind" about her and liked her. Heh. He knows his statistics but as far as political prognostication goes, he leaves a lot to be desired.
posted by delmoi at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Well, my COBRA's due to run out in a year, so I still want them to pass this thing. Primarily for selfish reasons.

You know the exchanges won't even be running until 2014, right? So you'll still have two years with no insurance.
posted by delmoi at 9:18 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


So I guess we can finally and firmly add him to the list of Pay To Play senators.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Disney)
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Health Insurance)
Senator David Vitter (R-Prostitutes)
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Grandparent Killers)
Senator Jesse Helms (R-Zombies)
posted by mephron at 9:19 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


All right chaps. Time to vote from the rooftops, what?
posted by atrazine at 9:22 AM on December 15, 2009


Don't be fooled.

Discrimination by Insurers Likely Even With Reform, Experts Say


I'm not fooled. Insurance companies are going to develop workarounds for any health care legislation that Congress passes. The article you linked simply describes possible workarounds that they might do. That's no reason we shouldn't support legislation that curbs the worst excesses of the insurance industry.
posted by jonp72 at 9:23 AM on December 15, 2009


Senator John McCain (R-Telecom)
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:24 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the Democrats want to use universal health care like the Republicans use abortion: as a carrot to hold out to their base every election year. "You've got to support us! We'll repeal Roe v. Wade this time! We promise!" Only, it never gets done, because it's too valuable as a tool to control the voters.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:27 AM on December 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


BobbyDigital: "All I want is for Joe Lieberman to show up at work tomorrow and be told that he needs to find a new office in the basement. that he is no longer chair of any committees, and that he is free to caucus with the republicans. Appeasing that weasel is more trouble than it is worth."

That's what you get when you elect Chamberlains! The Republicans told us so!
posted by symbioid at 9:30 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Continue writing your elected officials. Make it polite; make it strident; make it clear that you're now a single issue voter.
posted by boo_radley at 9:31 AM on December 15, 2009


Why does America hate Americans?

Honestly, how in the fuck can a country care so little for its citizens that it will allow them to die, go bankrupt, or suffer in ill health for ages on end? How can the leaders of a country not see that its citizens need to be healthy and secure to be productive — and especially so in a country where the GDP and economic growth are the Holy freakin' Grail?

United you stand, divided you fall.

I hope the Obama administration has a rabbit up its sleeve. It's unconscionable that the democrats are dominant in all federal roles, yet doing so little to ensure all Americans have equal opportunity to excel.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


So I guess we can finally and firmly add him to the list of Pay To Play senators.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Disney)
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Health Insurance)
Senator David Vitter (R-Prostitutes)
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Grandparent Killers)
Senator Jesse Helms (R-Zombies)


You forgot Chris Dodd (D-Aetna)
posted by jckll at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2009


I shouldn't hope for this--and I don't really--but it would be wonderful if Obama and Reid are trying to get everything they can out of Lieberman over the next few months so that they can strip him of all his privileges in April and pass the public option in a reconciliation bill in May. There's no reason that they can't, if they decide that they want to.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:40 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


jonp72: "That's no reason we shouldn't support legislation that curbs the worst excesses of the insurance industry."

We disagree that they will be curbed. And Coathanger Nelson remains to be bought off. And we have no reason to assume that Lieberman has finished torturing the liberals who defeated him in the Connecticut primary. I expect demands for massive cutbacks to existing Medicaid/Medicare funding.

It seems to me that anyone who doesn't already consider the bill "worse than nothing" will accept absolutely anything. YMMV.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:41 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


heh, filibuster. funny word.
posted by mr.marx at 9:42 AM on December 15, 2009


That's no reason we shouldn't support legislation that curbs the worst excesses of the insurance industry.
I think the Democrats want to use universal health care like the Republicans use abortion: as a carrot to hold out to their base every election year. "You've got to support us! We'll repeal Roe v. Wade this time! We promise!" Only, it never gets done, because it's too valuable as a tool to control the voters.
Well, I think a lot of liberals falsely sake Solace in the idea that republicans don't really want to end abortion because then they won't get any votes. But they've been recruiting for decades based on the idea of ending abortion and obviously a lot of people in the ranks want to end it. And they have been very effective at preventing it, if not outright banning it. They're stymied by the supreme court. They have to have the presidency long enough to get enough judges in to get it overturned.

But if they ever did manage to ban abortion, they could still use it as a campaign issue. Just say if they don't win, then democrats will just legalize it again.

Health care is even a better deal for democrats. They can say that republicans will overturn it if they get elected. But then again, republicans opposed Medicare when it was first proposed, and obviously they're all on board now. I would imagine the same thing would hold with expanded medicare or a true public option.
posted by delmoi at 9:43 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keep in Mind, Nate Silver thought the public option was a bad idea to start with. He also thought that going negative against Sarah Palin was a bad idea because Americans had "made up their mind" about her and liked her. Heh.

What? He advocated attacking her on culture war issues four days after she was named McCain's running mate. On the day she was picked, he wrote "I've concluded that this is a pick that looks better on paper than in practice. She's charming and likable, but she's about the furthest thing from what we conventionally understand to be "Presidential" as can be imagined."

He was very critical of Palin right from the beginning, and predicted that while she'd provide McCain a short-term bump in the polls (which happened) she'd be a serious drag on the ticket in the long run (which also happened). Silver's done quite a bit of bad political analysis on his site, but he was dead on the money when it came to Palin.
posted by EarBucket at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago. Just a check-up, hadn't been in more than a decade (no health insurance, dontcha know). He poked and prodded, hemmed and hawed, told me my liver enzymes were slightly elevated and that he was gonna schedule a cardiac stress test just to get some baseline numbers because there's a strong history of heart disease in my family. Plus I eat out of garbage bins, drink like a rock star, and smoke like a chimney. OK. So I go get all that stuff done. Good news is: liver is fine, enzymes were a blip, ticker is running great. Hooray. Bad news is: monthly health insurance premium: $500. Co-pay at primary care doc: $80. Bill from lab for blood work (AFTER insurance paid their bit): $60. Bill from cardiologist: $850.

I spent FIFTEEN HUNDRED BUCKS to find out that I didn't need to go see the doctor in the first place.

I am, of course, going to forward that $850 bill to my insurance company. I'm not gonna blink in THAT particular game of chicken. But Jesus fucking Christ. $1500. For a goddamn checkup. Golly, it's almost like my insurance company doesn't WANT me to go to the doctor! Who'd a thunk it, huh?

I fumed about this to my wife, a Canadian. Her response? "My lifetime medical expenditures is about, oh, $56. Had to pay for an ambulance ride once. Your system is barbaric."

No shit, honey.

So here's my new plan: continue drinking, smoking, and eating myself into an early grave. It's the only way I'll ever leave my family anything but medical debt.

Get a new health plan? Hmm, great idea! Let's check on that: I'm self-employed, so I have to buy it out-of-pocket. One company controls 90% of the market in my state, and most doctors don't even TAKE the insurance offered by the other 10% of insurers. There's exactly ONE plan for people like me: the one I have.

I know I'm lucky. Right now I can afford to continue buying health insurance. But should my situation change, I'm deeply, deeply fucked.

And my Senator gets up there and smugly brags about helping to kill "socialized medicine". And he'll get re-elected, because I am surrounded by idiots. Because thirty years of relentless proaganda have convinced two-paycheck families living in a rented trailer with one car they can't afford to maintain that they're the "middle class".

Jesus motherfucking Christ. I just hope I'll have enough money left to buy my way into Canada despite my (non-felonious) criminal background.

Fuck.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [37 favorites]


That's no reason we shouldn't support legislation that curbs the worst excesses of the insurance industry.

I'll be sure to support such legislation when I see it.

Letting Joe Lieberman effectively write this bill means that the worst excesses of the insurance industry will only be exacerbated.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Medicare currently covers about 45 million people, about 15% of the population... Cutting defense spending to zero wouldn't come anywhere remotely close to funding Medicare for everyone.

The 15 percent of the population Medicare covers are going to include the most expensive patients using costly end-of-life care. Adding everyone won't increase costs six-fold.
posted by grouse at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


delmoi, Nate Silver's argument that this bill will halve the cost of healthcare for many families compared to the status quo seems persuasive. Do you think his figures are wrong? They seem to be his strong point.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2009


Look, the house passed a public option, and the Senate would have done so, if the breaking a filibuster hadn't become necessary for any bill with any significance whatsoever. That use of the filibuster has grown dramatically over the years, making a 60 vote super-majority necessary to get important things done in the Senate. The founders never intended that, and it gives the Liebermans and Nelsons of the world tremendous power. I know this whole process is frustrating, but I have a hard time blaming Reid too much when he's got 94% of his caucus in line. This is a problem with how the Senate functions, and the problem would be there no matter who is majority leader. Really, who are you going to put in that position who is going to being Lieberman in line? Take away his rank and he's still the most powerful Senator, but virtue of being the 60th least liberal Senator in an environment where you need 60 votes. Nothing will change that until the 2010 election.

Don't you think that if threats would do it, Rahm would already be in his ninja gear? There is nothing you can threaten an irrational person with.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:52 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Having spent about the first three decades of my life in the US, and the past decade in Europe, I'm in this place where I can still understand what American conservatives oppose about the public option, while at the same time dropping my jaw over the profound stupidity of railing against something so very, very basic.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:52 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


... a word about moral hazard. If we let them get away with it this time, on the supposed "most important issue" of Obama's presidency, then forget about any other issue you care about. The Democrats in Congress and the White House will use the same "hey, at least you got 1/100th of a loaf" strategy on climate change, gay rights, immigration, and more. Past is prelude. And the future is looking mighty bleak if you thought the next three years were going to be about change. - John Aravosis
posted by Joe Beese at 9:53 AM on December 15, 2009


It seems to me that anyone who doesn't already consider the bill "worse than nothing" will accept absolutely anything.

If you look at this graph from Nate Silver, the Senate bill is still a lot better than nothing. You're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good here.
posted by jonp72 at 9:53 AM on December 15, 2009


I fumed about this to my wife, a Canadian. Her response? "My lifetime medical expenditures is about, oh, $56. Had to pay for an ambulance ride once. Your system is barbaric."

To be fair, she did pay a fair bit in taxes, though not as much as you've paid for insurance; and she must have buggered off out of Canada pretty young if her prescription costs have been that low.

Still, not counting taxes, I'm sure my wife and I have spent less than C$5000 in the twenty-odd years we've been together, and that two hospitalization events, a shit-ton of surgery and physical therapies, and a lot of check-ups. If anything, we've spent more on birth control than all other healthcare total.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:55 AM on December 15, 2009


Cowards. Reconciliation only requires 50+1 votes. The Republicans had the balls to use it; the Democrats don't.

It is far more complex than this and fraught with a lot of dangers. Josh Marshall has been discussing the difficulties for the past few days.

Get this done and get it over with.

Lieberman will prove useful for dropping DADT, where he is a big supporter and the climate bill.

Then he's done and we expel him.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:56 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, I think a lot of liberals falsely sake Solace in the idea that republicans don't really want to end abortion because then they won't get any votes. But they've been recruiting for decades based on the idea of ending abortion and obviously a lot of people in the ranks want to end it. And they have been very effective at preventing it, if not outright banning it. They're stymied by the supreme court. They have to have the presidency long enough to get enough judges in to get it overturned.

They had 8 years. Plus, they've got 5 justices on the Supreme Court who were willing to install a Republican president in 2000. If they wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade, they would have done it by now. I'm not saying the rank and file doesn't want it done, I'm saying the Republican party apparatchiks know that if they actually get around to overturning Roe v. Wade, their base wouldn't have the motivation to turn out any more.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:59 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is about votes. The 2000 election was about votes... oh wait, no, it wasn't about the popular vote. Thank goodness the Senate and electoral college save us from following through on what the majority want.
posted by woodway at 10:00 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is far more complex than this and fraught with a lot of dangers. Josh Marshall has been discussing the difficulties for the past few days.

I don't deny it's complicated. And I don't deny that it's fraught with danger. But the Republicans have used it and they are not afraid to use it. I don't see the Democrats ever risking it. Sometimes taking a risk is the best thing. Not only because you might win, but because the public respects that sort of thing. The Democrats are just so bad at that kind of messaging and strategy and discipline.
posted by billysumday at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2009


jonp72: " You're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good here."

Sorry, but this feels like the "ponies and unicorns" nonsense.

"Perfect" would have been single-payer. We're not demanding perfect. We're demanding exactly what Obama campaigned on: no individual mandate and cost containment. If Obama lacked the political power to deliver those then he shouldn't have written a check he couldn't cash.

But of course he never even tried. By standing back as his henchman Emmanuel bullied the progressives and protected the Blue Dogs, he guaranteed that we would find ourselves where we are today. Don't even get me started on the rank cynicism of his pledging to conduct the debate in the open and then cutting a backroom sweetheart deal with Big Pharm.

And if you see "good" in a bill that rewards the insurance companies who are literally murdering us with millions of new involuntary customers, plus hundreds of billions in taxpayer subsidies for dessert, thus increasing their already overwhelming stranglehold on the legislative process, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago. Just a check-up, hadn't been in more than a decade (no health insurance, dontcha know).

Yeah. My company stopped covering us two years ago. They claim that they didn't, but I think setting up a health savings account and telling us that once we'd paid 2000 dollars in a year out of pocket then the insurance would kick in for 90% isn't really insurance.

I went to the doctor the other day for the first time in three years. I had an impudent moron not listen to me for five minutes, then tell me I had to come back to do a physical, and charged me three hundred and eighty dollars for the pleasure.

The only reason my father is still alive is because he has VA coverage.

I'm not being petulant when I talk about how furious I am with this situation. I'm enraged. Oh, and I lie like hell when they ask me those family history questions. You're not going to catch me admitting that the people in my family peg out at fifty with heart attacks so the insurance company can refuse to even pretend at some point they might cover things. At least when I have my inevitable heart attack I won't have to deal with this nonsense any more.

And nothing will help me, because despite my pink collar underemployment and my constant struggle to afford gas and food every metric indicates that I am not poor enough for any assistance.
posted by winna at 10:12 AM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Josh Marshall's take:

Not Worth It?
There's a rising chorus of progressive Democrats saying: with the bill so denuded and watered down it's better to scrap the whole thing and try for real reform at a later date. In other words, no bill is better than the bill on offer now. But there's a different pattern that I've seen over the past months.

I know a lot of people who've followed health care reform issues for years from the progressive side. And from what I can tell very few of these people feel this way. That's not to say they aren't very disappointed that various key policies likely won't be included. Half a steak is always a big let down when you thought you might get the whole steak. But there seems to be a clear correlation between people who have followed health care policy closely for years (and know it inside and out) and those who think that even the scaled down reform bill is very worth passing. I wouldn't say that I have a stronger grasp of the policy implications than most of the folks in the "Burn It Down" camp. But most of the arguments I hear from them some down to sloganeering with a weak grasp of the mechanics of the bill.

The one thing that's not as clear to me is whether the health care policy experts have a clear read on the politics. In other words, how do mandates play politically absent stronger cost control? That's a good question that I don't necessarily expect the policy wonks to have a good read on. On the other hand, I'm confident that scraping the process now would likely be catastrophic for the Democrats.

But on the substance, that pattern has been the most revealing and important to me in terms of making sense of the pros and cons of the bill.


We need to get this passed. It saves more lives. There will never, and I mean never, be a chance were Obama has this much political capital to get this done.

And Dems, progressive and otherwise, will be turned out in droves in 2010 if it doesn't get done.

Not only because you might win, but because the public respects that sort of thing. The Democrats are just so bad at that kind of messaging and strategy and discipline.

The public won't accept that, this time. The numbers on this particular bill are pretty fucking bad now.

"Perfect" would have been single-payer. We're not demanding perfect. We're demanding exactly what Obama campaigned on: no individual mandate and cost containment. If Obama lacked the political power to deliver those then he shouldn't have written a check he couldn't cash.

dude never campaigned on single-payer, which requires a mandate by the way.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:13 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


The 15 percent of the population Medicare covers are going to include the most expensive patients using costly end-of-life care. Adding everyone won't increase costs six-fold.

That's true. I didn't make any claim that it would. Even if adding the other 85% of people only doubled the total cost, cutting defense spending to zero wouldn't be enough to pay for it. Another way to look at it -- total national expenditure on health is now 16.6%, projected to reach 20.3% in 2018. (cite) That's on the order of 4-5 times defense spending. It's just silly to suggest that we could pay for universal health care solely by reducing defense spending. But people seem to do it on here a lot.
posted by Perplexity at 10:15 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


What? He advocated attacking her on culture war issues four days after she was named McCain's running mate. On the day she was picked, he wrote "I've concluded that this is a pick that looks better on paper than in practice. She's charming and likable, but she's about the furthest thing from what we conventionally understand to be "Presidential" as can be imagined."
He obviously changed his opinions when it became obvious she was a liability. But when she first came out, he said going negative against her wouldn't work. My point was that he often is wrong about basic politics.
But ultimately, we are in completely uncharted territory here. Palin is the most manifestly ordinary person ever to be nominated for a major party ticket. In this year of bittergate and Britney-gate and McCain-has-seven-houses-gate, that could conceivably be a virtue; it's certainly less tone-deaf than a selection like Mitt Romney would have been.

But Palin isn't merely playing at being ordinary, the way that Bill Clinton (Rhodes Scholar) or George W. Bush (son of a president) or Hillary Clinton (wife of a president) might. She really, really comes across that way -- like someone who had won a sweepstakes or an essay contest. Her authenticity factor is off-the-charts good; her biography sings. But do Americans really want their next-door-neighbor running for Vice President, or rather someone who seems like one? -- Nate Silver 8/29/2008
Lol.
So here's my new plan: continue drinking, smoking, and eating myself into an early grave. It's the only way I'll ever leave my family anything but medical debt.
If you make it to 65, you get medicare, which is a single payer thing.
delmoi, Nate Silver's argument that this bill will halve the cost of healthcare for many families compared to the status quo seems persuasive. Do you think his figures are wrong? They seem to be his strong point.
I said the bill was better then the status quo. The status quo is awful. But less awful isn't good enough. I don't think we should pass up the opportunity to get real reform that gives a healthcare system on par with the rest of the industrialized world (increasingly even developing countries have better healthcare systems then we do. Look at Mexico, for example). Forcing the middle class to subsidize insurance companies isn't much of an improvement and it will delay any real reform for years, or decades.

By agreeing ahead of time to accept anything at all, you basically give up all your leverage. Failing healthcare at this point could lead to a bill passed by reconciliation, or even to the abolition of the filibuster in the long run (which, since democrats are never willing to use, is hardly much of a loss for our side)
If you look at this graph from Nate Silver, the Senate bill is still a lot better than nothing. You're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good here.
Oh screw that. This is more like a case of the good being the enemy of the weak. The Medicare extension, the public option, etc are not examples of "perfection" they are reasonable, moderate policies. It's possible to use reconciliation to pass something better. If that weren't the case, I would understand caving. But it is.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


What we're getting is a bill that controls insurance the same way we've controlled credit card companies, by saying "Here are some awful things you can't do." At which point the companies simply find different awful things to do until they either get a Republican in office who lifts the restrictions or until two decades pass and another list of things they can't do comes down the pike.

If we had the guts or desire to stand up to these guys, we'd say, "Here's what you CAN do. Period." Any bill that doesn't do that is, at best, playing whack-a-mole and at worst saying, "use the back door for a while, the neighbors are suspicious."
posted by Legomancer at 10:16 AM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


It is far more complex than this and fraught with a lot of dangers. Josh Marshall has been discussing the difficulties for the past few days.

I have searched for this a little and haven't found anything solid. Perhaps you could give a link?
posted by grouse at 10:16 AM on December 15, 2009


Delmoi, the bill specifies that COBRA can be extended indefinitely from the time of passage.
posted by condour75 at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2009


Sorry, not indefinitely, but until the exchanges are in place. In other words, if this passes, in 16 months I can continue to pay for COBRA. This insurance is pretty pricey, but saves me about $400 a month.
posted by condour75 at 10:20 AM on December 15, 2009


Yeah, but that quote you cite says the opposite of what you're saying it says. He's not saying that Palin's "average Joe" image is an electoral plus; quite the opposite. He's saying that her image as an ordinary person will hurt her, because voters want a candidate who seems "Presidential."
posted by EarBucket at 10:20 AM on December 15, 2009


(compared to individual, which is exorbitant, and which the exchanges will bring down by introducing community pricing)
posted by condour75 at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2009


"Should the Democrats punish Joe Lieberman?" --title of the POLITICO link.

Am I the only person here who finds this POLITICO bit a hoot? For those who don't recall the 2006 election, numerous Democrats across the nation, and I believe the party itself, supported Lieberman's opponent strongly in the primary. Lieberman just barely lost the primary, and won the general election as an independent.

They could remove Lieberman from his committee posts, but that's about all they could do to punish him further. I doubt they'll do this. If the midterm elections go as it appears they might, the Democratic party may loose the Senate as well. If they screw Lieberman even more, he may be more likely to jump to the Republican party in a Republican Senate.

Regardless, it would appear that Democracy is working. Ultimately, Lieberman represents his constituents, not the Democratic party. Given the results of the last election, even if the majority of Democrats in his district don't support him, he has the support of the majority of his constituents as a whole.

If you don't like it, quit your whining and do something about it: Move to his district and vote against him.
posted by cleancut at 10:24 AM on December 15, 2009


Move to his district and vote against him.

Better yet, give money to his eventual opponent.
posted by grouse at 10:27 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Quick poll: how many of you "it's better than nothing" guys are uninsured and are going to be paying a fine when this passes?

That's what I thought.
posted by enn at 10:28 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


We need to get this passed. It saves more lives. There will never, and I mean never, be a chance were Obama has this much political capital to get this done. -- Ironmouth
Oh please. What, are you arguing that we should let Joe Liberman hold 22k Americans/year (the number estimated to be killed due to lack of heath insurance) hostage? What position does that put us in? If he's willing to let Americans die, and we're not willing to fight him, then he wins.

You're essentially ceding power to those who don't care about human life, and that's obviously a bad idea.

Reconciliation is there, and it's a path we can take.
dude never campaigned on single-payer, which requires a mandate by the way.
But 'dude' did campaign against mandates. How many debates did he and Hillary argue about mandates? It was basically their only specific policy difference.
The public won't accept that, this time. The numbers on this particular bill are pretty fucking bad now.
The numbers for "the bill" have always been worse then the numbers for "the bill" and frankly they're about to get worse. Recent polls have shown that 17% of the public were against it for not going far enough. If all you're worried about is what the public will "accept", then frankly you should be opposed to this bill.
posted by delmoi at 10:30 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ultimately, Lieberman represents his constituents

Most of his constituents supported the public option.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2009


What's to stop Lieberman from pulling the rug out from under the caucus again if he's not dealt with this time?
posted by vibrotronica at 10:33 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is far more complex than this and fraught with a lot of dangers. Josh Marshall has been discussing the difficulties for the past few days.

I have searched for this a little and haven't found anything solid. Perhaps you could give a link?


I mentioned this in my post last night. But the key issue senate Democrats now have in dealing with Joe Lieberman isn't his position on the the Medicare Buy-In. They need to confront the problem that Lieberman isn't negotiating in good faith. No surprise that Republicans are giddy with what a problem he's creating for Harry Reid & Co. But in my conversations with them, it's as clear to them as it is to anyone else that he's now basically mocking his Democratic colleagues by moving the goal posts every time a new agreement is struck.

This puts the Democrats in an extremely difficult, politically untenable position. Yes, they need 60 votes. But they're not going to be able to hang on to Lieberman's vote long enough to get the bill passed. That now seems unquestionably clear.

People who say that the Dems should just move to reconciliation don't necessarily realize the difficulties involved -- either procedurally or politically, in terms of losing even more Democratic votes. Personally, I'd like to see them try it. But I don't know if it's possible.

Until a couple days ago I was close to certain a health care bill would pass. I still feel relatively confident one will simply because the Dems just don't have any choice but to pass one. Once it is passed, if it is, it's definitely time for the Democratic caucus to strip Lieberman of all the benefits he receives as a member of the Democratic caucus. But that doesn't accomplish anything at the moment. The only path I can see for the Dems is that they need to try to put 60 votes together with Sen. Snowe. Yes, that sounds crazy to me too. But I think she actually has a set of policy priorities that could be met. I don't think that's true with Lieberman. So further negotiating just means more game-playing.

posted by Ironmouth at 10:33 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ultimately, Lieberman represents his constituents

The majority of Connecticut is for a public option.

Lieberman does not represent his constituents. He represents health insurance companies by way of his wife Hadassah, who is a lobbyist for private healthcare companies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:34 AM on December 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Thanks, Ironmouth. I was hoping for a description of what the procedural difficulties actually are.
posted by grouse at 10:35 AM on December 15, 2009




I'd be ok with paying a reasonable fine if I got health insurance. Instead, I pay an unreasonable fine when I need medical care.
posted by josher71 at 10:37 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey Connecticut. Your senator sucks more than mine (and I am from Oklahoma).
posted by HyperBlue at 10:41 AM on December 15, 2009


It's just silly to suggest that we could pay for universal health care solely by reducing defense spending.

Ok, so it's hyperbole, based on the fact that we spend too much on war and not enough on health care. I'd be fine paying for part of it with a progressive tax focused on the wealthy and the corporations. Medicare for all is still the cheapest and most long-term-effective solution. Any insurance-co based system is nothing short of barbarism, since inherently they profit by denying medical care. Why are so many people OK with that?
posted by graymouser at 10:42 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks, Ironmouth. I was hoping for a description of what the procedural difficulties actually are.

Well look them up. I get a little frustrated when people say "Reconcilation" yet won't even look up the rules for the idea they are advancing.

But, anyway:

Reconciliation is a legislative process of the United States Senate intended to allow a contentious budget bill to be considered without being subject to filibuster. Because reconciliation limits debate and amendment, the process empowers the majority party. Reconciliation also applies in the United States House of Representatives, but since the House regularly passes rules that constrain debate and amendment, the reconciliation process represented less of a change in that body.

A reconciliation instruction (Budget Reconciliation) is a provision in a budget resolution directing one or more committees to submit legislation changing existing law in order to bring spending, revenues, or the debt-limit into conformity with the budget resolution. The instructions specify the committees to which they apply, indicate the appropriate dollar changes to be achieved, and usually provide a deadline by which the legislation is to be reported or submitted.

A reconciliation bill is one containing changes in law recommended pursuant to reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution. If the instructions pertain to only one committee in a chamber, that committee reports the reconciliation bill. If the instructions pertain to more than one committee, the House Budget Committee reports an omnibus reconciliation bill, but it may not make substantive changes in the recommendations of the other committees. . . .

Reconciliation generally involves legislation that changes the budget deficit (or conceivably, the surplus). The "Byrd Rule" (2 U.S.C. § 644, named after Democratic Senator Robert Byrd) was adopted in 1985 and amended in 1990 to outline which provisions reconciliation can and cannot be used for. The Byrd Rule defines a provision to be "extraneous" (and therefore ineligible for reconciliation) in six cases:

(1) if it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
(2) if it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;
(3) if it is outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
(4) if it produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
(5) if it would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond those covered by the reconciliation measure, though the provisions in question may receive an exception if they in total in a Title of the measure net to a reduction in the deficit; and
(6) if it recommends changes in Social Security.
Any Senator may raise a procedural objection to a provision believed to be extraneous, which will then be ruled on by the presiding Senator. A vote of 60 Senators is required to overturn the ruling.


My understanding is that the Dems would have to cut the provision into pieces and move the non-budgetary parts through the regular process. The problem is that that gives the GOP the chance to vote for the popular parts of the bill (no pre-existing conditions) and vote against the exchanges. Some Dems would also be against reconciliation. Would there be 50+1 votes? I don't know. But I think you better name names if you think you have the votes, because you are advancing the proposition that this ought to work. Same as the idea that if you think reconciliation is the way to go, you ought to do the research to prove it is a viable option. The burden of proof is on the party advancing the proposition. I've found, so far, that the people chanting "reconciliation" have little understanding of Senate procedure.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:45 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


And if you see "good" in a bill that rewards the insurance companies who are literally murdering us with millions of new involuntary customers, plus hundreds of billions in taxpayer subsidies for dessert, thus increasing their already overwhelming stranglehold on the legislative process, I don't know what to tell you.

And if you prefer spouting cheap hyperbole and moral outrage instead of actually helping the uninsured get insured, then I don't know what to tell you either.
posted by jonp72 at 10:50 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just can't get over the fact that the infrequently elected congressional body without population-based representation also requires almost a supermajority to get anything passed. I could almost understand if the house had limits like this, but the senate as it stands is could almost have been designed to be non-robust to obstructionism by the filibuster. The problem is that Lieberman, while truly and spectacularly awful on health care, is a lot more likely to go with decent bills on other topics than anyone else. If the Senate wants to pass anything until he's out of office, they need to not screw him over too badly.

And you know what, 58 or 59 votes is a lot. That's an easy vote, if it weren't for these rules that allow harm-free obstructionism and give virtually limitless power to the last people at the bargaining table. By in large, the senators themselves are far less a problem right now than the existing structures. And unfortunately this is a problem that can't be solved by Obama's whims or even an easy popular vote.
posted by Schismatic at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2009


Canada is starting to look really good right about now.
posted by gallois at 10:56 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]




I've found, so far, that the people chanting "reconciliation" have little understanding of Senate procedure.

I've found that people who copy and paste wiki entries to reconciliation have an equally small understanding of Senate procedure. Haha, take that! Your mom!

Seriously, though, dude. There are many, many people/pundits/politicians and schemers who know exactly what reconciliation is and what it entails who are pushing the Dems to use it to push through various elements of HCR. If you disagree with that, fine. But not everybody who disagrees with you is an idjit, and you're sort of a pompous asshole for suggesting that.

Just sayin'.
posted by billysumday at 11:00 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


the Democrats are making a bet that the bad policy that they are supporting is "good policy" for the swing money. And they expect to see the swing money continue to back the Democrats which will be enough to either depress GOP turnout or get enough apathetic Democrats to turnout to hold a decent size majority next year.

Perhaps the saddest thing of all: the confirmation of how our government works. It's why people think the Democrats and Republicans are "all the same." It's because they are.

They all only have one goal: to get re-elected. Because it's worth so much money.

There is nothing you can threaten an irrational person with.

Bees.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:03 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


And if you prefer spouting cheap hyperbole and moral outrage instead of actually helping the uninsured get insured, then I don't know what to tell you either.

Oh quit being such a whiner. It is possible for things to be bad you know. It's not just a gradient between "good" and "perfect"
posted by delmoi at 11:08 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


There will never, and I mean never, be a chance were Obama has this much political capital to get this done.

Ridiculous. All he needs to do is capture Osama Bin Laden.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:09 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Canada is starting to look really good right about now.

Canada's looked good for at least the last decade.
posted by blucevalo at 11:10 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just a snapshot in time of the process.

It's alive, it's dead... it is a 9 armed octopus from the planet Xuniz here to devour us all, it will solve the deficit, it will add to the deficit, it is Obama, Reid, Lieberman, Snowe, Nelson, the GOP, the Blue dogs, Emmanuel, who is the problem....

it is a choose your own adventure story that if you read this thread upwards you can basically tell who is going to say what based on their username. When something passes it will be either good enough, great, mediocre, really bad, or a complete sell-out by traitors who only want to screw us all and enrich the insurance companies. You know, we could skip that future post and I can pretty much fill in 80% of the inevitable reactions, again based on username.
posted by edgeways at 11:11 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Halloween Jack, it's only supposed to be used for budget votes, but has been used for non-budget bills in the past. The Bush tax cuts, for example.

Any tax cut legislation is explicitly a budget bill.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


To the progressives who've decided the bill is worse than the status quo, I need some education. Here's what I don't understand:

I'm uninsured. I earn a pretty solid living, have decent savings, and I'm young and healthy. Our insurance system is basically built for me. But I'm an independent contractor, and it's not clear to me that any of my current options in the Wild West of the individual insurance market are better than being uninsured, especially since I'm likely to rejoin the employer-based group insurance market within a few months.

I'm very close to someone who's uninsured and unemployed, with no savings. She's young, but is being treated for depression. She had COBRA coverage for a while, but it became too expensive. She dropped COBRA so she could go without coverage for 4 months and become eligible for MinnesotaCare (the closest thing Minnesota has to a group policy for individual purchasers).

My friend and I are both part of the ~16% of uninsured Americans whom health care reform must - at a baseline - help. And when I look at the bill going through the Senate, it seems to me that it does. If the bill - "public option" or no - is signed into law:
  • We'd both be required to purchase insurance. I consider this is a good thing, and so does she. I'll no longer be allowed to risk my life or my finances to the chance that I could become catastrophically ill or injured. My insurance choices will carry higher premiums, but I can already afford to pay them. My friend's insurance choices will also carry higher premiums, but they'll be subsidized at a rate far better than the subsidies available today, even with COBRA's enhanced subsidy currently in effect.
  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny my friend coverage on the basis of her depression.
  • If a major illness were to befall my friend or I after we'd attained coverage, insurers could no longer drop us.
  • For the first time, my friend and I would be able to join a coverage pool (health insurance exchange) for individuals who are uninsured, instead of having to deal with insurance companies independently. We'd be able to examine standard, transparent rates for plans across insurers, rather than the current system of requesting sketchy quotes that can differ from person to person. (Of course, this benefit wouldn't go into effect for a few years yet.)
As a fun side bonus, the deficit is supposed to get a bit lower as a product of all this. And the law would contain enough small, quiet experiments that they might even find ways to bring down the cost of care in the US.

If this fails, neither me nor my friend get anything except the right to continue without insurance. Oh, and maybe a fun sense of schadenfreude for Rahm Emanuel that the bill died. And probably drastic Republican gains in the 2010 mid-terms.

But that'll be OK, because the scales will magically fall from voters' eyes, and the bill's failure will ignite a progressive revolution that will sweep the nation and deliver single-payer health care, er, when exactly? Is that how this works?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:13 AM on December 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


We'd both be required to purchase insurance. I consider this is a good thing, and so does she. I'll no longer be allowed to risk my life or my finances to the chance that I could become catastrophically ill or injured. My insurance choices will carry higher premiums, but I can already afford to pay them.

Some of us are not in your happy situation, what with having a total of only fourteen dollars in the bank from payday to payday already.
posted by winna at 11:16 AM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


billysumday: Seriously, though, dude. There are many, many people/pundits/politicians and schemers who know exactly what reconciliation is and what it entails who are pushing the Dems to use it to push through various elements of HCR. If you disagree with that, fine. But not everybody who disagrees with you is an idjit, and you're sort of a pompous asshole for suggesting that.

Do you have any sources for that? The wikipedia passage seems to be pretty in line what I understand reconciliation to entail. My impression has been the same as Ironmouth's — many of the people calling for reconciliation seem to be somewhat fuzzy on what it entails. It had been floated a while ago, mostly in speculative "what-if" articles when this whole healthcare debate started, but the consensus has since been that it is a last-ditch effort that may not even work and will undeniably result in a worse, more watered-down bill.
posted by Frankieist at 11:20 AM on December 15, 2009


But that'll be OK, because the scales will magically fall from voters' eyes, and the bill's failure will ignite a progressive revolution that will sweep the nation and deliver single-payer health care, er, when exactly? Is that how this works?

Yep, or that's the hope. You can't blame people for hoping.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:20 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope it dies, I hope it costs the Democrats Congress and the White House, fuck their useless sorry asses, they can go to hell.

It's why people think the Democrats and Republicans are "all the same." It's because they are.

Really? Correct me if I'm wrong, but would the whole health care thing even be on the table right now if McCain/Palin had won? I find all this wholesale condemnation somewhat disturbing. At least there's a debate about health care going on, and the chance of a positive change. Surely this is better than nothing, and surely no one thought meaningful reform would happen without a protracted and complicated struggle.
posted by Go Banana at 11:20 AM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


There will never, and I mean never, be a chance were Obama has this much political capital to get this done.

Ridiculous. All he needs to do is capture Osama Bin Laden.


Clinton never got anywhere near it again. Neither will Obama. You have the most political capital in the first year of the first term.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:21 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you have any sources for that?

No, I have no sources. I completely made all of it up. Go ask John Podesta.
posted by billysumday at 11:24 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


grrarrgh00: "If a major illness were to befall my friend or I after we'd attained coverage, insurers could no longer drop us."

Unless of course the insurer determined that you had committed fraud in obtaining that coverage. Like failing to declare that you had acne as a teenager.

And if you think there won't be any number of loopholes like this - especially with the insurers literally writing the legislation - you should start making plans for when US forces are completely withdrawn from Afghanistan in July 2011.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:25 AM on December 15, 2009


Oh quit being such a whiner. It is possible for things to be bad you know. It's not just a gradient between "good" and "perfect"

The only whiners around here are the people who plan to take their ball and go home if they don't get exactly what they want on the health insurance bill.

Isn't it funny how most of these "kill the bill" progressives like Kos and Jane Hamsher are affluent enough not to worry about their own health insurance? It's easy to break a few eggs to make an omelet when you're cooking with somebody else's eggs. I don't see SEIU or AFSCME telling people to kill the bill. I don't see AARP lobbying to kill the bill. Why? Maybe it's because they recognize the bill as an improvement over the status that would actually help their membership.
posted by jonp72 at 11:27 AM on December 15, 2009


Go Banana: Really? Correct me if I'm wrong, but would the whole health care thing even be on the table right now if McCain/Palin had won? I find all this wholesale condemnation somewhat disturbing. At least there's a debate about health care going on, and the chance of a positive change. Surely this is better than nothing, and surely no one thought meaningful reform would happen without a protracted and complicated struggle.

With McCain/Palin, everyone on MetaFilter would be pissed as hell at people who say 'Democrats and Republicans are all the same,' and we would all be saying things like 'If only Obama had won, I would never complain about anything because even the worst policy failing or promise reversed or lie spouted from Obama is miles and years better than anything from McCain & Palin.'

And so here we are.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:27 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Responding to various random people in the thread:
1. If Gore had been elected in 2000, then there would be a good chance that Leiberman would be President right now, and would have veto power.
2. Another group to blame would be the voters of Connecticut, who had a great alternative to Leiberman last time and dropped the ball.
3. The strategy of those on the left who don't support it is an interesting one. The idea as I understand it is that steam over health care reform has been building for a long time, the fact that the USA is the only major Western nation without it is hugely telling, and it will be coming eventually. But if a weak sauce measure is passed it will release some of the steam without really fixing anything. That is the insurance companies' hope basically. By causing it to fail, hope remains that a stronger bill could get passed later.
posted by JHarris at 11:27 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some of us are not in your happy situation, what with having a total of only fourteen dollars in the bank from payday to payday already.

Well, my friend doesn't have "paydays" exactly. She has an EBT card and enough unemployment coverage to mostly cover her rent and food, most months. She can't exactly afford her anti-depressants, but she's been pretty aggressive about seeking out assistance from charities and advocacy organizations, and comparing prices at every business she has access to. Every estimate I've seen of her health care spending under any permutation of the plans under consideration indicate that it would decrease. So, again, how would the failure of this process help her?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:28 AM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


grrarrgh00...You've described the extreme ends. Now, take a look at that wide gulf between you and your friend. In that gap are the millions who really lose with this plan. The millions who make too much to qualify for payment assistance, but who still cannot afford insurance on their own. Mandating coverage for them will be disastrous without either assistance or serious price controls. But none of that will be available to them. They will be mandated to purchase coverage, at whatever cost the insurers dictate, or be penalized.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:29 AM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Will no one rid me of this meddlesome stupendous sneering arbitrary and hypocritical fucking jackass?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:33 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


billysumday, if you're referring to John Podesta's comments at the Christian Science monitor reporter meeting the other day then yeah, he's saying that democrats will probably pass a bill. That's not to say it will be a good bill, but failing to pass a bill altogether would be political suicide. It's doable, and that's certainly important, but he clearly downplayed how it would affect the bill.
posted by Frankieist at 11:33 AM on December 15, 2009


I thought that there would be a price ceiling on coverage price. Is that wrong?
posted by josher71 at 11:34 AM on December 15, 2009


I'm mad as hell, but I would like to direct attention to this fine piece of analysis by Nate Silver: Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill
posted by billypilgrim at 11:34 AM on December 15, 2009


"With the public option now out of the healthcare bill, is it still worth passing? Regular readers will be unsurprised that I think the answer is pretty firmly yes—and that liberals who now want to pick up their toys and hand reform its sixth defeat in the past century need to wake up and smell the decaf. " (link)
posted by jonp72 at 11:41 AM on December 15, 2009


jonp72: "Isn't it funny how most of these "kill the bill" progressives like Kos and Jane Hamsher are affluent enough not to worry about their own health insurance?"

Not as funny as seeing the bill's supporters - when confronted with the bill's unambiguous failure to address its purported objective of cost containment - resort to cheap ad hominem like "The bill will help me" and "The critics are hypocrites".
posted by Joe Beese at 11:41 AM on December 15, 2009


Joe Beese: cheap ad hominem like "The bill will help me"

What?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:45 AM on December 15, 2009


cheap ad hominem like "The bill will help me"

That isn't an ad hominem attack.

An ad hominem argument has the basic form:

Person 1 makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Person 1
Therefore claim X is false
posted by Ironmouth at 11:48 AM on December 15, 2009


Quoting myself from the future (mid-November, 2010): "Remember when there was a democratic majority in Congress?"

Quoting myself from the future (mid-Novemeber 2012): "Remember what it was like before Mitt Romney was President?"
posted by mullingitover at 11:48 AM on December 15, 2009


If a major illness were to befall my friend or I after we'd attained coverage, insurers could no longer drop us.

That was true until a few days ago, when annual caps were allowed, so if your medical costs go above a certain point, they'll stop paying.

Really? Correct me if I'm wrong, but would the whole health care thing even be on the table right now if McCain/Palin had won?

McCain actually did have a healthcare plain. What they wanted to do was move away from employer provided health insurance, with no mandates. I actually think that getting rid of the employer base system is actually a pretty good idea, it would decouple insurance from your job entirely, giving you total portability as long as you could pay. depending on the implementation details it could have been better then what we are discussing now, frankly. Obviously I thought the ideas promoted by Obama and the democrats were better then what McCain was pushing during the campaign. But it's not all that clear this bill is all that better then what McCain was proposing.

But on the other hand, I don't know if McCain would really have been pushing it. Plus, the Iraq war, Sarah Palin, etc.

The only whiners around here are the people who plan to take their ball and go home if they don't get exactly what they want on the health insurance bill.

Not true.

Isn't it funny how most of these "kill the bill" progressives like Kos and Jane Hamsher are affluent enough not to worry about their own health insurance?

Isn't it funny how no one ever listens to people who aren't rich? Or how everyone who attains a huge following ends up rich? Either way, the only widely known advocates for anything are going to be wealthy. So it's only "funny" in the sense of being "obvious"

Anyway I'm not wealthy enough to never have to worry about health insurance, for the record. Given the fact that the exchanges, etc, wouldn't go into effect until 2014, HCR isn't going to have much impact on my life for a long time, and there is plenty of time to try again if this fails without changing the actual implementation time line much at all.
posted by delmoi at 11:48 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. If Gore had been elected in 2000, then there would be a good chance that Leiberman would be President right now, and would have veto power.
posted by JHarris


This would have been extremely, extremely unlikely even if Gore had been President for eight years. He is a terrible campaigner, uninspiring, uncharasmatic, etc, etc, etc. Also he's non-christian which makes him a no-go as President for a large portion of Americans.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


liberals who now want to pick up their toys and hand reform its sixth defeat in the past century need to wake up and smell the decaf

"We" (regular folks like you and me) don't decide anything unless we are extremely wealthy.

So when people say "liberals ... need to wake up and smell the decaf" about health-care reform, what they are really saying is "Shut up. We don't need to hear your opinion."

Seriously. I don't even have a phone. I've never been polled, and I wouldn't do so for free anyway. How am I "handing reform its sixth defeat in the past century"?

It just sounds like the folks supporting the horribly botched effort to reform health-care are already sweeping up the usual suspects as scapegoats for why their efforts failed miserably. My2c.

The only whiners around here are the people who plan to take their ball and go home if they don't get exactly what they want on the health insurance bill.

What is my "ball"? Where is "home"? I don't vote Democrat anyway. I don't understand this analogy at all.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:56 AM on December 15, 2009


delmoi: there is plenty of time to try again if this fails without changing the actual implementation time line much at all.

I frankly don't believe this for an instant.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2009


grrarrgh00, your friend is in the happy situation of being very poor. In the US as it stands today, there are two ways to get healthcare: be very poor or very rich. If you are neither of those things, then you are screwed.

Before last Tuesday, when my youngest child turned 18, I made exactly $200 a year too much to qualify for Medicaid health benefits. Now, even though he is still living at home and still needs all the financial support he needed before last Tuesday, I make way too much for Medicaid. Fortunately, I do actually have health insurance at the moment, though my job, although there's certainly no guarantee on how long that will last, because as coverage continues going up, the chances that my job will pay for even the 1/3 of it they pay for now are going down, down, down. Also, I can't afford to pay for it even through my job much longer. If my job even exists in the future. Given what I'm hearing about our soon to be delightful new plan, should my insurance go away, I will have to buy insurance or be fined.

I do not have the money to buy insurance unless said insurance is about $15 a month, which I kind of doubt it will be. This will not matter, however, because according to the utterly ridiculous poverty and income guidelines, I am supposed to have enough money to afford insurance. bitteroldpunk said it well, upthread: Because thirty years of relentless propaganda have convinced two-paycheck families living in a rented trailer with one car they can't afford to maintain that they're the "middle class". Exactly, and indeed, and another monthly payment that we cannot afford will manage to be added to the burden of shame that the working poor in this country carry around every fucking day of their lives, because, clearly, it's our own damn faults if we can't pay for health insurance. And thus the poor stay poor and the rich get richer.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer, prompting a rebuke from patient advocates.

The legislation that originally passed the Senate health committee last summer would have banned such limits, but a tweak to that provision weakened it in the bill now moving toward a Senate vote.

As currently written, the Senate Democratic health care bill would permit insurance companies to place annual limits on the dollar value of medical care, as long as those limits are not "unreasonable." The bill does not define what level of limits would be allowable, delegating that task to administration officials.


So if they decide it's reasonable that only up to $2,000 coverage and you get cancer, you're just out of luck and it's the same boat many of us are in now.
posted by winna at 12:00 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope it costs the Democrats Congress and the White House, fuck their useless sorry asses, they can go to hell.

Have you noticed that each Republican administration gets more and more draconian each time they take over the machinery of the Federal government? All this anger sloshing around toward "libruls" will be effectively exercised if they are allowed to touch the reins of government again. They are not like Democrats, wishy-washy and actually motivated to do good under the layers and layers of lobbying money. The Republicans deep in their little black hearts desire the destruction of much of the freedoms we hold dear in the name of unfettered capitalism and control of women's bodies and your sexuality in general. This unfettered capitalism especially includes the profiteering from war and illness (for some reason, though, they detest the profiteering from human misery by lawyers; go figure).

So, even though the Dems have sorry asses, I much prefer their senile dithering to the machine-like destruction of all that is good in our country by the opposition party. I do not wish to see the former replaced by the latter.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:01 PM on December 15, 2009 [10 favorites]




there is plenty of time to try again if this fails without changing the actual implementation time line much at all.

Are you dreaming? There is no "plenty of time." The incumbent party almost always suffers losses in a midterm election. The Democratic majority in the Senate is going to be smaller after the 2010 elections, if it isn't gone altogether. The Democratic majority is as big as it's going to be for the foreseeable future. Delaying passage of a health care bill will make reform--any reform--less likely, not more so.
posted by jonp72 at 12:02 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]




Are you dreaming? There is no "plenty of time." The incumbent party almost always suffers losses in a midterm election.

Doesn't that mean that they have until September/October 2010 to figure this thing out?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:09 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also he's non-christian which makes him a no-go as President for a large portion of Americans.

I just barely imagine the American public being okay with "President Joe Lieberman." I cannot imagine them being okay with "First Lady Hadassah Lieberman."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:10 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


grrarrgh00, your friend is in the happy situation of being very poor. In the US as it stands today, there are two ways to get healthcare: be very poor or very rich. If you are neither of those things, then you are screwed.

This graph shows how the health care bill would help a family of four earning $54,000. I don't know about you, but that's a little over two times the poverty line for a family of four.
posted by jonp72 at 12:11 PM on December 15, 2009


This would have been extremely, extremely unlikely even if Gore had been President for eight years. He is a terrible campaigner, uninspiring, uncharasmatic, etc, etc, etc. Also he's non-christian which makes him a no-go as President for a large portion of Americans.

He's actually well liked among republicans at the moment.
posted by delmoi at 12:12 PM on December 15, 2009


Me: "If a major illness were to befall my friend or I after we'd attained coverage, insurers could no longer drop us.

Joe Beese: Unless of course the insurer determined that you had committed fraud in obtaining that coverage.

Again, though, this trumps the status quo. Right now, insurers can rescind insurance on a whim, essentially. The legislation under consideration prohibits rescission, except in the case of fraud.

Thorzdad: You've described the extreme ends. Now, take a look at that wide gulf between you and your friend. In that gap are the millions who really lose with this plan. The millions who make too much to qualify for payment assistance, but who still cannot afford insurance on their own. Mandating coverage for them will be disastrous without either assistance or serious price controls. But none of that will be available to them. They will be mandated to purchase coverage, at whatever cost the insurers dictate, or be penalized.

The laws under consideration exclude those who cannot afford insurance (even with subsidies) from the mandate. But if this is the principle concern with the current bill, then I have to wonder why the failure of the public option is the final straw. The CBO forecasted that public option premiums would be higher than those in current private plans.

So if affordability is the big concern, why the focus on the public option? Why not put more progressive energy into securing a better subsidy package, or better protections for those who can't afford coverage?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 12:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that one good thing about this emasculated bill is that I won't lose health insurance if I become unemployed and can't afford COBRA, which is a big plus. Some questions though:
  • Will the government pay the entire premium if I'm unemployed?

  • Is the government subsidy based solely on income, or is it reduced based on items such as my savings or the value of my house?

  • How exactly would I inform the government that I needed them to start paying? Or to switch from my previous employer's plan to something on the health exchanges?

  • How long would this process of switching plans and obtaining government assistance take? Would I even be covered in the interim?
  • Things would be so much easier with a Canadian style universal health plan.
    posted by jsonic at 12:23 PM on December 15, 2009


    I thought that there would be a price ceiling on coverage price. Is that wrong?

    With Lieberman (thus insurance companies) writing the bill, that will probably be the next to go.
    posted by dirigibleman at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]




    As a pragmatic progressive, I can reluctantly accept the need for an individual mandate if (and only if) the government does its job of promising everyone access to decent, effective, affordable health insurance. This bill completely fails to hold up the government duties in this bargain. The insurance this bill will force Americans to buy will be poorly regulated, extremely expensive, junk insurance. It will not stop financial ruin due to illness or arrest the out of control growth in our health care spending. This will be expanded “coverage,” but, for the most part, coverage in name only. The individual mandate in this bill is nothing more than government-enforced private taxation on behalf of large, for-profit corporations. It would be just one more step toward corporate serfdom. - Jon Walker
    posted by Joe Beese at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Also he's non-christian which makes him a no-go as President for a large portion of Americans.

    I think I'm still pretty well in tune with the fundamentalist/evangelical Christian world, and I don't think that's true. Being a devout Jew is something that they understand and respect. There is a shared religious heritage, plus theological and political commitments to Israel. Lieberman would have had decent shot.

    And he looks even better to that crowd now, in comparison to the commie Muslim in the White House right now.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2009


    Lieberman would have had decent shot.
    posted by Pater Aletheias


    I still don't think he would have had a good chance (even if I'm wrong about the non-christian thing), but then again I may just be woefully underestimating the JOEMENTUM.
    posted by haveanicesummer at 12:53 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    JOEMENTUM

    . . . it begins . . .
    posted by Think_Long at 1:04 PM on December 15, 2009


    More from Josh Marshall at TPM:
    In recent weeks I've read quite a few emails which say something like this: Okay, that's it. I'm done with Obama. He's just like Bush. He's governing from the right. He's disappointed me on this and that and the other. So I'm not voting or I'm voting third party. And let's go ahead and ditch the health care bill because it's not going to have a public option.

    It's times like these when the difference between political activism and self-expression and primal scream therapy become really apparent. Politics isn't easy. Political change isn't easy. It includes tons of reverses and inevitably involves not getting a lot of what you wanted, at least not at first. This doesn't mean everyone needs to agree on policy or priorities. People don't agree on things. That's life. But that's different from cashing out of the process if you don't get just what you want.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


    No but seriously I think the best way to get real health care reform as soon as possible is to shoot down every single change to health care between now and Utopia.
    posted by shakespeherian at 1:13 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


    I have a simple question: what about Stupak? If Stupak remains in the bill, will we be told to accept that, too?

    I have another question: is there any degree of compromise, of unilateral knee-capping, that will render the bill unacceptable?

    posted by Joe Beese at 1:13 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I counter the Josh Marshall quote with one by Digby:
    If this is the only chance for reform in generations, wouldn't it have made more sense to fight for a truly comprehensive bill that actually solved the problem? If you've only got one bite of the apple every couple of decades, it seems remarkably foolish not to really go for broke...And Obama can say that you're getting a lot, but also saying that it "covers everyone," as if there's a big new benefit is a big stretch. Nothing will have changed on that count except changing the law to force people to buy private insurance if they don't get it from their employer...Nobody's "getting covered" here. After all, people are already "free" to buy private insurance and one must assume they have reasons for not doing it already.
    posted by Staggering Jack at 1:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


    Is Josh Marshall telling Howard Dean that politics isn't easy? They're both progressives, but Dean is a six-term governor who chaired the DNC for five years, so presumably he knows something about politics. It's not as if Dean is just some dude with a blog.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    For what its worth, its easy to blame SoreLoserman (and its time to resurrect that nickname) for this situation, and I'm sure he's basking in the warm glow of media attention like a lizard on a rock, but I think he's just a convenient, easy to hate scapegoat here. Similarly, its more pleasant to think of Reid as spineless than as shrewdly putting the blame for the non-passage of progressive health care reform on an already despised figure.

    No, I think this isn't passing because the senate doesn't want it to pass. It behooves them to say they'd like it to happen publicly, but privately I think their corporate overlords would never allow this sort of legislation to pass.
    posted by Joey Michaels at 1:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    What happened to the "nuclear option"?

    I seem to recall, back when the Republicans had a Senate majority that we were constantly being told the Democrats didn't dare filibuster anything for fear of the "nuclear option" that the Republicans would unfold, and end the filibuster forever.

    So, during the dark days of the Republican majority nothing got filibustered, and the Democrats cowered in fear of the dread "nuclear option", and, of course, kept their powder dry.

    So now, with a supposed Democratic "supermajority", which is self evidently no such a thing, I notice that the "nuclear option" seems to have been put into mothballs.

    I'm guessing that the instant the Republicans reacquire a Senate majority (which looks to be 2012), suddenly the "nuclear option" will come back and no Democrats will dare to filibuster against the mighty and powerful Republicans.

    Can't we just use the "nuclear option" and get rid of the filibuster altogether? Or is that something that only Republicans can do?
    posted by sotonohito at 1:23 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


    sotonohito: " I notice that the "nuclear option" seems to have been put into mothballs."

    The Democrats know they'll be in the minority again someday. And at this rate, in 11 months.
    posted by Joe Beese at 1:26 PM on December 15, 2009


    Shorter Digby: Why not kill the goose? It might stop laying golden eggs anyway.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Dean is a six-term governor who chaired the DNC for five years, so presumably he knows something about politics. It's not as if Dean is just some dude with a blog.

    I respect Dean's opinion, but he still has never served in Congress. Dean has been great in executive positions, but I don't know if he'd be any better with the legislative sausage-grinder than Obama.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2009


    I respect Dean's opinion, but he still has never served in Congress.

    Fair enough, but last I checked neither has Josh Marshall.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:29 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I respect Dean's opinion, but he still has never served in Congress.

    Fair enough, but last I checked neither has Josh Marshall.


    OK, but is there anybody else besides Howard Dean on the progressive side who favors the "kill the bill" strategy that isn't in the "dude with a blog" category?
    posted by jonp72 at 1:34 PM on December 15, 2009


    After exiting a meeting with the Senate Democratic caucus, President Obama approached the microphone and proceeded to tell a bald-faced lie about health care reform:
    You talk to every health care economist out there, they will tell you that what ever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce cost for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill.
    ... What makes his lie so unbelievable is that Obama’s administration is right now fighting against one of the biggest cost control ideas that the president previously claimed to support. His administration is working to kill Dorgan’s drug re-importation amendment.
    - Jon Walker
    posted by Joe Beese at 1:36 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Really, I'm sersiously asking any of the many people here who understand Senate procedure better than I do, both a) why the Republicans could (apparently seriously) threaten the "nuclear option", and b) why the Democrats can't do the same? Surely this is as important as one of Bush II's judicial picks, right?

    Joe Beese Yeah, but when the Dems are in the minority they never seem to get to use it.

    Personally, I don't think the filibuster is a good idea at all. As with "state's rights" it appears to be one of those political concepts that only benefits the bad guys. Why not just get rid of it?

    I'm sure that somewhere, somehow, the filibuster has actually been used for good purposes. But I'm pretty sure the bad parts vastly outweigh the good parts.
    posted by sotonohito at 1:41 PM on December 15, 2009


    OK, but is there anybody else besides Howard Dean on the progressive side who favors the "kill the bill" strategy that isn't in the "dude with a blog" category?

    Sure, Grijalva, and I'll eat my hat if he's the last in the Progressive Caucus to take this position.
    posted by enn at 1:42 PM on December 15, 2009


    They're both progressives, but Dean is a six-term governor who chaired the DNC for five years, so presumably he knows something about politics.

    Not enough to avoid slipping into a bad Randy Savage impression during one of his pep rallies, sending everyone into a round-the-clock media-tizzy.

    Did you honestly expect an easy path to health care reform in a country that once drove the leading presidential primary candidate (whom I supported at the time, BTW) completely out of the running essentially because he looked a little silly once for a split-second during a public event?

    We get the political outcomes we deserve in this country, the only outcomes possible, given our intransigence and inability to form coherent, popular political movements that don't self-destruct the moment they encounter a few political obstacles or the slightest signs of resistance. The problems are systemic, it is not as simple as slaughtering a few scape goats or hoping for a superman to solve all our problems. The process itself can't help but be a struggle, and it takes fortitude to continue that struggle in a way that yields progress, rather than checking out and descending into rank nihilism.

    Obviously, I'm having trouble with that last bit myself, though at least the target of my ire isn't just the current sacrificial goat.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:44 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


    is there anybody else besides Howard Dean on the progressive side who favors the "kill the bill" strategy

    In just the Senate or in politics at large? It's a good question, but I don't think anybody knows right now--probably not many if any. Perhaps Feingold might? In the House, Kucinich, who has strongly favored a P.O., may end up arguing for killing it, but that does not count in a direct way obviously.

    In other, unrelated news, this just across the wire: Spurning Obama, McCain and Cantwell propose resurrecting Glass-Steagall to break up Wall Street. Wouldn't it be ironic if McCain ended up reforming Wall Street more than Obama so far has?
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    If Obama isn't re-elected in 2012, we won't see a Democratic candidate for President to the left of Joe Lieberman for 50 years, mark my words. To everyone who thinks that Democratic losses in 2010 and 2012 are going to send a message that they had better pay attention to the liberal wing, you're wrong. Electoral losses will be hailed as a rejection of liberalism, socialism, the welfare state, a return to America's center-right roots after a brief, anomalous swing left after Bush spoiled the Republican brand. And it will happen because liberals stay home.
    posted by mpbx at 1:49 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


    (possibly unpopular opinionfilter here, but) maybe we shouldn't have been so mean about tea partiers tactics of public shows of opinion (I'm all aboard opposing the rampant racism, and ignorance in many of their arguments, but the tactics they used are sound; and borrowed from yesterdays progressives.); if pro health care reform people could stand outside, and wave sane signs, saying we love the public option, because no tv station will go and show that opinion without a reason, but there is very little "pro-public" show's of force... no signs that we DO want, and need some public options.

    Anti- tons of visibility, and people out there..
    pro- seeing none of it, and people seem afraid to speak out, because there is a notion being fostered that anyone going out to say things in public will just be co-opted by the right, and be portrayed as "opposing the president, thus on a side with the tea partiers", or seen as being just the "far left".
    But that is NOT who want's a public option, and those are not views that define people who see the need for a public option, so don't be afraid to speak out... if we don't SHOW people what we want and need, we Cannot expect that they will a) guess what we want as a public, and b) be able to justify going against this very visable group... truly, in order to win this, there will need to be as much public demonstrating as the right has orchestrated to "oppose" things today.
    Sure, all the polls show that huge percentages of people want, nay, need some public option, but all the public consciousness Sees every day are opponents of that... so who can we expect to win this? Having elected the president is but the first step... to create change we the people have as much responsibility AFTER the election as we had back then before it!
    posted by infinite intimation at 1:50 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Sure, Grijalva, and I'll eat my hat if he's the last in the Progressive Caucus to take this position.

    Thanks for the info. Still, if you put Dean and Grijalva together, that's still only one vote in the House of Representatives. That's not enough to kill the bill, and I doubt that there will be enough members of the Progressive Caucus to join Grijalva to make a difference.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2009


    Wouldn't it be ironic if McCain ended up reforming Wall Street more than Obama so far has?

    Considering McCain's the only one of the two in a position to introduce and move law through the legislative process, I would see it as a smart, though cynical piece of political theater.

    Especially in light of the fact that the biggest drag on the financial reforms currently making their way through congress (apart from the ineptitude of the Dem leadership) still remains the Republican party.

    I guess that would be one of those patented, mavericky political moves McCain likes to make occasionally, whenever it's politically expedient, bucking the party to "do the right thing" (that is, the right thing to bolster his pseudo-cred as an independent).
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:55 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Really, I'm sersiously asking any of the many people here who understand Senate procedure better than I do, both a) why the Republicans could (apparently seriously) threaten the "nuclear option", and b) why the Democrats can't do the same? Surely this is as important as one of Bush II's judicial picks, right?

    The Republicans' "nuclear option" wouldn't have removed the filibuster altogether; it would have only affected filibusters of judicial nominees. The reason that Democrats don't want to get rid of the filibuster are twofold. First, they know they'll be back in the minority eventually and don't want to deny themselves the ability to filibuster. Second, having the filibuster makes individual senators far more powerful, as you have to keep sixty senators happy with a bill, instead of just fifty-one.

    The Senate's really not a democratic institution, and a lot of the frustration that's surrounding this stems from that.
    posted by EarBucket at 1:56 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Not enough to avoid slipping into a bad Randy Savage impression during one of his pep rallies, sending everyone into a round-the-clock media-tizzy.
    Oh please. He also ran the 50-state strategy during his tenure as the DNC chair, helping to get us our 60 senators in the first place. He knows a lot more about national politics then Rahm Emmanuel, who opposed the plan. He may not have the personal charisma and temperament to be a good candidate, but he certainly understands national politics.
    If Obama isn't re-elected in 2012, we won't see a Democratic candidate for President to the left of Joe Lieberman for 50 years, mark my words.
    Oh please. No one can predict 4 years in this country, much less 50. Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot.
    posted by delmoi at 1:56 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


    I know a lot of people who've followed health care reform issues for years from the progressive side. And from what I can tell very few of these people feel this way. That's not to say they aren't very disappointed that various key policies likely won't be included. Half a steak is always a big let down when you thought you might get the whole steak. But there seems to be a clear correlation between people who have followed health care policy closely for years (and know it inside and out) and those who think that even the scaled down reform bill is very worth passing.

    Josh Marshall's spent too much time around technocrats. Don't get me wrong, technocrats are great. I'm one myself. But, particularly on health care, technocrats can lose the forest for the trees. I have no doubt that the bill's wellness provisions, and health IT provisions and probably even the preexisting condition provision (though, do we have any guarantee that coverage for people with preexisting conditions won't just be prohibitively expensive instead of impossible to get?) will save the system a ton of money. And that's important. But this bill had another goal: to channel that money to people who need it, in the form of universal coverage at a cost savings. As far as I can tell, it doesn't do that. To that end, if passing a "healthcare reform bill" now makes it that much more difficult to pass a real healthcare reform bill later, this is a bad thing.

    There's a reason they call them "key policies." They're key to the whole enterprise.
    posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:07 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    As currently written, the Senate Democratic health care bill would permit insurance companies to place annual limits on the dollar value of medical care, as long as those limits are not "unreasonable."

    This is a bad, bad, bad signal in my opinion. Lifetime limits are understandable, but annual limits are not good -- well, they're a good hedge against loss for the risk pool at large, but they substantially decrease the value of participating in the risk pool for individuals -- even if they're vaguely "reasonable." Trauma treatment can run into six figures no problem. Chemo can run 4-5 daily. I suspect it's far too easy to accept limits that might seem not only reasonable but generous when removed from the economic facts of catastrophic illnesses and events that we buy insurance as a hedge against in the first place.

    And this isn't like the "everyone must buy insurance" stuff, which, however troubling, the math says has to go with a mandate that the insurance industry must cover everyone. I can't think of anything conceivably pro-consumer about this, and this brings to mind the shenanigans of some of the industry's well-known repeat offenders so unless this passage was horsetraded in for something totally awesome, it's very troubling indeed.
    posted by weston at 2:08 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I know it will never happen, but

    Connecticut Democrat calls for Joe Lieberman recall.

    Dodd is a total wuss in that article, btw. Pathetic Democrats. The only reason I vote for you guys is because the GOP is so much worse.
    posted by longdaysjourney at 2:11 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Will someone please start a good "Lieberman Body Count" site? Please?
    posted by jeffburdges at 2:20 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    To that end, if passing a "healthcare reform bill" now makes it that much more difficult to pass a real healthcare reform bill later, this is a bad thing.

    I think that's the crux of the disagreement in this thread. Given the distinct possibility that Democrats will lose most if not all of their majority in the Senate in 2010, we're not realistically going to have another chance at health care reform until 2012, and that's only if Obama gets re-elected. If we don't get health care reform now, things are going to getter worse, a lot worse, before they get better. Besides, health care is sucking all the air out of the rest of Obama's domestic agenda, which is not wise when we have close to 10% unemployment.
    posted by jonp72 at 2:25 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Kos makes it official:

    Remove mandate, or kill this bill

    DISCLAIMER: Just some guy with a blog
    posted by Joe Beese at 2:25 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    In other developments:

    ... today, Ben Nelson (D-Neb) called the president and told him flat out "I am not on the bill" and that Mr. Obama should not expect the meeting to get him on board.


    And:

    Senator Roland W. Burris, Democrat of Illinois, has vowed that he will not vote for a health care bill that does not include a government-run insurance plan, or public option. ... "My colleagues may have forged a compromise bill that can achieve the 60 votes that will be needed for it to pass. But until this bill addresses cost, competition and accountability in a meaningful way, it will not win mine. "
    posted by Joe Beese at 2:28 PM on December 15, 2009


    Trivia: Googling right now for "fuck Joe Lieberman" returns 79,400 hits, including a fuckjoelieberman.org.

    Why does Hallmark not make a "Fuck You" card (or line of cards)? There's a real market there.
    posted by dilettante at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    If Obama isn't re-elected in 2012, we won't see a Democratic candidate for President to the left of Joe Lieberman for 50 years, mark my words. To everyone who thinks that Democratic losses in 2010 and 2012 are going to send a message that they had better pay attention to the liberal wing, you're wrong. Electoral losses will be hailed as a rejection of liberalism, socialism, the welfare state, a return to America's center-right roots after a brief, anomalous swing left after Bush spoiled the Republican brand. And it will happen because liberals stay home.

    OK, I am for getting this process over with, but 50 years is a bit of an exaggeration.

    Stakes are high though. And we need to ask ourselves what it is we want. This is real health reform. It is better than Clinton health reform in key ways. It isn't perfect. But it has to get done now. The problem is that if we don't get it done now, it doesn't get done at all during Obama's presidency. Clinton is a good example of that kind of thing. He never came back to it again.

    If we break the seal, though, people will be fine with "tweaking" it to add a whole bunch of stuff later. This is only the beginning.

    Also I think us hashing this out is great. People are so much more politically active now. It is a sign of health in the Republic.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I take some slight comfort in the fact that my blue-dog representative is soon going to be unemployed because of his vote in this fiasco and in one other abomination.
    posted by dilettante at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Oh please. He also ran the 50-state strategy during his tenure as the DNC chair, helping to get us our 60 senators in the first place. He knows a lot more about national politics then Rahm Emmanuel, who opposed the plan.

    Gotta disagree with that. Dean? I was a gigantic supporter, but no, he does not know "more than Rahm" about US politics.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:33 PM on December 15, 2009


    Deal or Die on Health Care: Why progressives should support a Democratic compromise by Paul Starr

    DISCLAIMER: Just some guy with a Pulitzer Prize
    posted by jonp72 at 2:34 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    As far as Lieberman goes, there's one important thing to remember about him: your life is worth $60 as far as Lieberman is concerned. That's about how much he will make from the insurance industry for every person who dies due to lack of insurance .

    EarBucket Ok, but when have the Democrats successfully filibustered anything significant? I keep hearing people say "well, we have to keep it because we might need it", but when did that last really happen?

    As for the Senate as an anti-democratic institution, yup, I'm well aware of that. I'd like to see the whole thing abolished.
    posted by sotonohito at 2:39 PM on December 15, 2009


    jonp72: "Deal or Die on Health Care: Why progressives should support a Democratic compromise by Paul Starr"

    In which Mr. Starr claims:

    Liberals in Congress should also recognize that with either a 2013 or 2014 date for implementation, there will be time enough to revise the program before it goes into effect...

    But as you said - and I favorited in agreement:

    There is no "plenty of time." The incumbent party almost always suffers losses in a midterm election. The Democratic majority in the Senate is going to be smaller after the 2010 elections, if it isn't gone altogether. The Democratic majority is as big as it's going to be for the foreseeable future. Delaying passage of a health care bill will make reform--any reform--less likely, not more so.

    posted by Joe Beese at 2:47 PM on December 15, 2009


    Since the House bill HAS a public option, even if there is not one in the Senate bill, is it not possible to balance the reconciliation committee such that the final, up or down, bill comes out with some form of medicare extension, public options, or whatever?
    posted by absalom at 2:47 PM on December 15, 2009


    from one of the links provided by Joe Beese upthread:

    It looks like Senate Democrats are down to Plan D. The liberals caved on Plan A, single-payer. Then Plan B, the public option, went by the boards. Plan C, the Medicare buy-in, went up in smoke last night. Now it's on to Plan D, and nobody actually seems to know what that is yet.

    In America circa 2009, what is cast as "political compromise" is really code for letting corporate interests write the laws. Furthermore, it appears "compromise" is only expected to come from center-left positions: the right has compromised absolutely nothing in this debate, as they have been busy convincing their base that health care (health care!) is against the national interest. Thus, this entire process has been a paradigm case of a totally dysfunctional system. Now we are expected to swallow our medicine like obedient little children, b/c that is what the insurance companies and Big Pharma want. There is just no good way to polish this turd, regardless of what one thinks we should do now.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:49 PM on December 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


    In America circa 2009, what is cast as "political compromise" is really code for letting corporate interests write the laws. Furthermore, it appears "compromise" is only expected to come from center-left positions: the right has compromised absolutely nothing in this debate, as they have been busy convincing their base that health care (health care!) is against the national interest

    In other words, they've given up everything, seeing as they wanted no bill at all. The compromise is the exchanges, the removing of limits the whole thing. This is a win. Maybe not the total win, but what exactly have progressives given up from the bills that were actually introduced. Saying "single payer" doesn't cut it because it was never, ever on the table and Obama was never, ever for it. It is like you are arguing for options that were never on the table in the first place.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:55 PM on December 15, 2009


    Since the House bill HAS a public option, even if there is not one in the Senate bill, is it not possible to balance the reconciliation committee such that the final, up or down, bill comes out with some form of medicare extension, public options, or whatever?

    Even if you pack the House/Senate conference committee with members of the Progressive Caucus, you still face the problem that the Senate can filibuster the conference committee report.
    posted by jonp72 at 2:56 PM on December 15, 2009


    The liberals caved on Plan A, single-payer

    Again, when was this on the table? Never in this cycle. Nor would it have ever passed this time around. Not a single bill introduced by the leadership or coming out of any committee in either house had single-payer in it.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:57 PM on December 15, 2009


    Right on the heels of Joe Lieberman trying to kill the bill because it had a Medicare buy-in proposal, Howard Dean is exhorting Democrats to kill the bill because it doesn't have a Medicare buy-in proposal. Sigh.

    So let this serve as an encomium to Ron Wyden, Tom Harkin, Chuck Schumer, Sherrod Brown, Chris Dodd and Jay Rockefeller, among many others. All of these senators could have been the 60th vote. All of them had issues they believe in and worked for. Chris Dodd built and passed a bill. Sherrod Brown whipped up liberal support for the public option. Chuck Schumer spent countless hours devising compromises and searching for new paths forward. Ron Wyden spent years crafting the Healthy Americans Act, getting a CBO score, pulling together co-sponsors, speaking to activists and industry groups and other legislators. Jay Rockefeller has spent decades on this issue and wasn't even invited into the Gang of Six process.

    But you know what? They're all still there. Because in the end, this isn't about them, and though their states and their pet issues might benefit if they tried to make it about them, the process, and thus the result, would be endangered. I've said before that the remarkable thing isn't that Joe Lieberman acts the way he does but that so few join him. The legislative process is given a bad name by the showboats and grandstanders, but the only reason it functions at all is because the vast majority of the participants keep their role in perspective.

    If this bill passes, it will not be because Lieberman was pacified. It will be because senators such as Rockefeller, Wyden, Schumer, Harkin, Brown and Dodd swallowed their pride and their passion and allowed him to be pacified. They are the heroes here, and beneath it all, their quiet determination made them the key players.
    (link)
    posted by jonp72 at 3:00 PM on December 15, 2009


    Liberals in Congress should also recognize that with either a 2013 or 2014 date for implementation, there will be time enough to revise the program before it goes into effect...

    But as you said - and I favorited in agreement . . .


    Revision is different than implementation
    posted by Think_Long at 3:02 PM on December 15, 2009


    The cost curve gets “bent” by making the insurance you have through your employer worse. Remember Harry and Louise? They killed health care reform during the Clinton administration by making this claim. Well, now it’s actually going to be true. ...

    If I wanted Joe Lieberman writing a health care bill, I would’ve voted for John McCain.

    Howard Dean is right. Kill the Senate bill.
    - Jane Hamsher
    posted by Joe Beese at 3:04 PM on December 15, 2009


    So why exactly are people so afraid of a filibuster? Can't the Democrats who want this bill just bring coffee and a good long book to read and let the filibustering senator talk until they pass out?
    posted by Zalzidrax at 3:06 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    In other words, they've given up everything, seeing as they wanted no bill at all. The compromise is the exchanges, the removing of limits the whole thing.

    That's not really true. The health insurance companies always wanted a mandate with no strings attached. And now they've basically got it. Especially with an annual cap (which is worse then a lifetime cap, when you think about it) we're basically just forking over free money.

    Howard Dean is right. Kill the Senate bill. - Jane Hamsher

    Pfff. just some chick with a blog.

    Gotta disagree with that. Dean? I was a gigantic supporter, but no, he does not know "more than Rahm" about US politics.

    What exactly were his major accomplishments before getting appointed chief of staff? Building the blue-dog caucus? That's really done a lot of good.
    posted by delmoi at 3:13 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So why exactly are people so afraid of a filibuster? Can't the Democrats who want this bill just bring coffee and a good long book to read and let the filibustering senator talk until they pass out?

    Because it doesn't work like it does in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The filibustering side only needs to keep one Senator on the floor at a time, but the non-filibustering side has to have at least 50 Senators in the chamber to move to a cloture vote. If the non-filibustering doesn't have 50 Senators on the floor, the filibustering side can simply call for a quorum, which would fail, because you don't have enough Senators.
    posted by jonp72 at 3:17 PM on December 15, 2009


    Especially with an annual cap (which is worse then a lifetime cap, when you think about it)

    No kidding. Can I get a heart transplant if I manage to collect enough rollover minutes without dying in the meantime?
    posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 3:18 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Can't the Democrats who want this bill just bring coffee and a good long book to read and let the filibustering senator talk until they pass out?

    That's not how filibusters work anymore.
    posted by dirigibleman at 3:18 PM on December 15, 2009


    Jefferson's "laboratory of democracy" provided a sound solution. Why don't we have state run health care? Could states create government insurance companies under the current senate bill?

    I know the compromise has many good aspects, like making the "pre-existing conditions" clauses harder to exploit, but Kos' call to "remove mandate" merely means "don't give the compromisers much credit for passing the bill", not "don't pass it".

    I'm aware defeat might mean another two decades before passing health care, but I'm not convinced if this bill will hurt or help our chances for real reform eventually.
    posted by jeffburdges at 3:23 PM on December 15, 2009


    As we've talked about recently, progressives have faced this situation before. When Medicaid passed, it did very little for low-income adults. When Medicare passed, it all but ignored people with disabilities. When Social Security passed, the benefits were negligible, and the program excluded agricultural workers, domestic workers, the self-employed, railroad employees, government employees, clergy, and those who worked for non-profits. The original Social Security bill offered no benefits for dependents or survivors, and included no cost-of-living increases.

    These are, of course, some of the bedrock domestic policies of the 20th century, and some of the towering achievements of progressive lawmaking. But when they passed, they were wholly inadequate. There were likely liberal champions of the day who perceived the New Deal, the Great Society, FDR, LBJ, and their congressional Democratic majorities as disappointing and incompetent sell-outs who failed to take advantage of the opportunity before them.

    But the programs passed, and once they were in place, they improved, expanded, and became integral to the American experience. It took years and perseverance, but progress happened after the initial programs became law.

    The key, in each instance, is creating the new foundation. The Democratic reform plan does just that.
    (link)
    posted by jonp72 at 3:26 PM on December 15, 2009


    Not a single bill introduced by the leadership or coming out of any committee in either house had single-payer in it.

    I was aware that single-payer, i.e. the one option proven to actually work around the world, was never on the table. But where you see this fact as somehow negating my larger point about a compromised system, I think it instead supports my larger point about a compromised system. No matter how much people attempt in the coming weeks to spin whatever passes as a victory, almost nobody will believe it. So whether we look at healthcare reform, as it stands now, either legislatively or politically, I think it's sizing up to be a real disaster for the President and for the Democratic Party. I wish that were not the case, but this thing has been watered down so much it might as well be one of the Great Lakes by now.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:29 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The filibustering side only needs to keep one Senator on the floor at a time, but the non-filibustering side has to have at least 50 Senators in the chamber to move to a cloture vote

    Ah, so the presiding officer is required to recognize the next person who wants to speak, even if it is to continue a filibuster?
    posted by Zalzidrax at 3:33 PM on December 15, 2009


    jeffburdges: " I'm not convinced if this bill will hurt or help our chances for real reform eventually."

    Well, how much of the current difficulty do you attribute to the lobbying power of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies?

    Then consider whether that power will be increased or diminished after they receive millions of involuntary new customers and hundreds of billions in taxpayer subsidies.
    posted by Joe Beese at 3:36 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    When Medicaid passed, it did very little for low-income adults. When Medicare passed, it all but ignored people with disabilities. When Social Security passed, the benefits were negligible

    Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are all government programs that have become extremely popular over time.

    What government program does the Senate health-care bill create? What exactly is that "new foundation"? Is it the increased (?) regulation of the health-care industry? If that's the case, perhaps we should look at the increased (?!) regulation of the financial industry through the years and how well that has worked out.

    I mean, what is the big "program" of the current (proposed) legislation? I guess that's what I'm missing.

    All the specific "gains" seem like throwing shoe goo at the hull of a sinking ocean liner.
    posted by mrgrimm at 3:41 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    MetaFilter: like throwing shoe goo at the hull of a sinking ocean liner.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:45 PM on December 15, 2009


    Ok, but when have the Democrats successfully filibustered anything significant?

    In the past decade, they've successfully filibustered attempts to permanently repeal the estate tax, appoint Bush nominees to the federal bench, and limit medical malpractice awards. One thing to remember is that the current Republican practice of voting en masse against cloture on every single bill is an entirely new phenomenon in American politics. There's never been an opposition party this single-mindedly obstructionist before. It's all within the rules, but it's far outside the way the Founders intended the Senate to function.

    (Of course, they also intended it to be an oligarchical institution filled with hand-picked politicos not accountable to the people they supposedly represented. So, you know, well done.)
    posted by EarBucket at 3:47 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Nor would it have ever passed this time around. Not a single bill introduced by the leadership or coming out of any committee in either house had single-payer in it.

    I'm beginning to think it should have been. That's where we should have started. That's right, even if there wasn't a snowballs chance in hell of it even getting out of committee. That's where we should have started.

    Because at this point -- in particular, the more I think about the idea that annual limits somehow made their way into the discussion -- I'm really starting to thing that maybe nothing whatsoever, complete status quo, no change, no new regulation, no new subsidies is a better option politically and from a policy standpoint.

    I speak as a person who's basically a second-class citizen when it comes to insurance right now. I have to buy individual coverage. I have no portability guarantees, I get no benefits from being part of a group, I can be (and have been) screwed in a number of ways your typical employee-vassal is somewhat protected from. I have a lot personally to gain from almost any incremental positive change in the status quo.

    But nobody's communicated a vision about what's left in the legislation that makes me convinced there's sound policy behind it that includes real consumer protections and extends the possibility of insurance to . And the Democrats seem to believe that politically they just have to pass something, it doesn't matter what. If so, they're right, but perhaps not in a good way.

    Because at this point, no matter what they pass, they're going to be seen as the last ones with their fingers in the pie. Forget the next election, whatever happens for the next four, the next eight, maybe the next 10 and 20 years is going to be put at their feet. If costs continue to spiral upward, that's going to be their fault. If the number of uninsured rise, that's going to be their fault. If any systemic measure of health falls, if any figures indicate medical professionals are getting paid worse or worked more, if there's any case to be made that things didn't even get better while we spent time, attention, and money on the problem -- let alone if anything notable gets worse -- a health insurance reform bill is going to be an iron albatross around the neck of every politician that supported it.

    I sure hope the people in office who are considering it know that, and know a lot more about how the policies they're considering will avoid those problems than they're getting out to even their constituency right now, let alone the general public.

    Meanwhile, leaving the whole mess alone for a decade is starting to not sound like a bad idea. Present something comprehensive, sensible, and for whatever strange reasons, politically untenable, whether it's single payer or something else apparently unsupportable with the current zeitgeist. Let the current trends continue -- private industry is incapable of addressing the problems and we all know it, they even know it, that's why they're at the table right now. As time goes by and the current trends continue, you trot out the party and the people who voted against reform. Maybe in 10-15 years when insurance costs are over 60% of median income for reasonable coverage, and employers are finding it's half their payroll costs, investors are realizing how terrible a drag it is, and there's still no end in sight, we'll be willing to do actually something about it rather than horsetrade half-assed proposals into quarter-buttock "solutions."

    Or we can hand a gnawed femur to a public that apparently distrusts government more than it distrusts one of the most hated industries in America, and watch it take another fifty years before anybody can even breathe the idea of state intervention in health insurance again, unless the policy that comes out of this brouhaha is miraculously good.

    How do you want to bet right now?

    I'd seriously love to believe this is going to work and I'm wrong, the policy is a lot better thought out than I'm making it out to be. Please convince me if you've got the scoop.

    Or at least convince me that the Democrats really know that they're staking their reputation and the reputation of state intervention in general on the actual outcome here, not just whether or not legislation gets enacted.
    posted by weston at 4:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


    I used to be for the bill. Now I'm against it.

    I think I'm gonna sit out the 2010 elections unless the Democrats fire Reid and get a new majority leader who actually knows how to run a majority.
    posted by empath at 4:19 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Also, does anybody have a list of democrats facing primary challenges? Cause I'd like to primary half the Senate right now and I have some extra money to donate to challengers.
    posted by empath at 4:22 PM on December 15, 2009


    McCain actually did have a healthcare plain. What they wanted to do was move away from employer provided health insurance, with no mandates.

    Didn't employers start offering coverage because they could get it cheaper, buying it in large blocks and so having more leverage power? I don't see how making it harder for employers to provide coverage would do anything but make things even worse for people.
    posted by JHarris at 4:22 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    My only comfort in the fact that Gore lost to Bush is that this stupendous sneering arbitrary and hypocritical fucking jackass wasn't a heartbeat away from the presidency.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 7:32 AM


    And Joe Lieberman has been shitting in the punchbowl at every opportunity ever since.
    posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:32 PM on December 15, 2009


    Also, I want an apology from the state of CT for not voting for the Democrat in 2006.
    posted by empath at 4:32 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I think the number one failure here - as in so many other issues since Reagan became president - is that the Democrats lost the ability to set the terms of debate. Consistently, they have allowed the Republicans to define the political parameters of the major issues facing our society in the past 30 years.

    Why exactly is it that the U.S. is practically unique in the developed world when it comes to health care for its citizens? Why exactly is it, that single payer is seen as such a commie idea that only a lunatic would even bring it up in the first place?

    How is it, that the Democrats have extremely attractive goods to peddle: health care coverage, job creation, protection from predatory exploitation by companies etc., and yet they do no selling of their product, and Republicans whose product is: get raped by corporations, if destitute go starve to death, if not rich and you get sick, go bankrupt or croak in the gutter, and yet, they sell their product hard enough so that not only do they find tons of buyers (close to 50% of the population), but the entire debate is defined by their tactics and their product?

    Why are the Democrats not going out and fighting with bare knuckles for the plain truth: "If you went bankrupt due to medical bills, why did you vote for the Republicans?" "If you cannot afford health care or cannot afford to change a job due to medical insurance, why did you vote for Republicans"?

    Why is Obama and so many other advocates of health care for all seemingly so mealy mouthed, talking in jargon about technicalities of bills that nobody who is not a political insider can even decipher? Why can't we have some plain talk a la FDR - simply and clearly putting forth the options, and bringing down the holy wrath on the political opponents who want to enslave you, exploit you and discriminate against you?

    Democrats - you have the better product. Now act like it! "What is the matter with Kansas" is a scandal - a failure on the part of the Democrats. Every voter who votes against their own interests, has not been lost by the Democrats and bamboozled by better Republican salesmen. The Democrats have the natural majority. The Republicans represent the economic interests of maybe 5% of the population - they should lose in landslides so big, that they should not be a party anymore, they should be Whigged out of the political arena. Yet, the Democrats lose - that is a failure.

    Time to speak plainly and brutally. Declare war on the Republicans - go for the maximum from the outset. YOU define the debate from here on, instead of the other way around. Let us hear the Republicans meekly trying to explain why single payer must be delayed for 6 months, and then you roll over them anyway, instead of already coming to the table with a losing position. Of course this can't happen overnight. We need to prepare the public by going on the offensive, FDR style. Enough of this pussyfooting. It's war - people are dying. It's time to act like it's war.
    posted by VikingSword at 4:35 PM on December 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


    You know, I just read TFA. The way Cohn frames it, it's basically the story of King Solomon and the two mothers. Lieberman wants to cut the baby in half. Sherrod Brown and Jay Rockefeller, among others, are willing to give it to Lieberman in order that it can live.

    What's missing is a king.
    posted by condour75 at 4:42 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    EarBucket wrote they've successfully filibustered attempts to permanently repeal the estate tax, appoint Bush nominees to the federal bench, and limit medical malpractice awards.

    I seem to recall a certain Senator named Lieberman declaring that he was opposed to filibusters on principle, stabbing the Dems in the back, and breaking attempted Democratic filibusters of Bush judicial nominees. Am I in error?

    I also seem to notice that the estate tax is all but repealed.

    So, what, exactly did we gain by having the filibuster?

    Also, if the Republicans could nuke the filibuster for judicial nominees only, can't we nuke it for healthcare only?

    It just seems to me that the filibuster is yet another of those tools that only the Republicans really get to use, and when you'd think it's the Dem's turn they are somehow (like magic) prevented from doing anything good with it.
    posted by sotonohito at 4:49 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Time to speak plainly and brutally: bend over and vaseline your ass, because as an American citizen¹, you are bottom bitch to corporate interests. If you're not cannon fodder, you're grist for the corporate mill. Raw resource, worth nothing unless you can be processed into cold, hard cash.

    ¹And increasingly, as a citizen of any nation.
    posted by five fresh fish at 4:54 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


    Jefferson's "laboratory of democracy" provided a sound solution. Why don't we have state run health care? Could states create government insurance companies under the current senate bill?
    Some states do. But a national plan, like medicare would have lots of great advantages. And healthcare companies are just as good at lobbying state governments as the federal one.
    Ah, so the presiding officer is required to recognize the next person who wants to speak, even if it is to continue a filibuster?
    They don't have to actually talk either. They just sit there, and demand a quorum vote before any legislation can pass.
    I think I'm gonna sit out the 2010 elections unless the Democrats fire Reid and get a new majority leader who actually knows how to run a majority.
    Actually, Reid may not even be back in the senate at all in 2010.
    Didn't employers start offering coverage because they could get it cheaper, buying it in large blocks and so having more leverage power? I don't see how making it harder for employers to provide coverage would do anything but make things even worse for people.
    The big reason is that it's not taxed, so it provides a way to provide part of a person's salary tax free. But it's a really stupid system. In particular it locks down the labor market and discourages entrepreneurship.
    posted by delmoi at 5:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Snowe spoke to President Barack Obama on Monday and met Tuesday morning with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his staff to go over the outlines of the latest compromise version of the healthcare bill.
    She sure is getting a lot of face time with the President. As of yet, no word on whether the House Progressives are going to get the meeting they requested. - mcjoan
    posted by Joe Beese at 5:29 PM on December 15, 2009


    A question: since this bill(s) wouldn't go into effect until 2013 or so, isn't it possible that, in some kind of sneaky ninja move, the Dems could in fact pass a public option to add onto this one? I don't know, I'm just asking.
    posted by zardoz at 5:38 PM on December 15, 2009


    ...And once again, the Dems get their asses kicked.

    This is going to continue to happen, in greater or lesser degrees, so long as they proceed from the assumption that the good opinion of the thoroughly ossified Washington press corps-- and therefore, decorum, "bipartisanship," and so forth-- is of critical importance.
    posted by darth_tedious at 5:42 PM on December 15, 2009


    ...And once again, the Dems get their asses kicked.This is going to continue to happen, in greater or lesser degrees, so long as they proceed from the assumption that the good opinion of the thoroughly ossified Washington press corps-- and therefore, decorum, "bipartisanship," and so forth-- is of critical importance.

    Really? Getting their asses kicked? By what, passing a health bill that fundamentally changes the health care situation in this country in the face of total and complete Republican opposition?. Once again, up is down. Really, you guys need to stop calling the regular way that legislation has been passed in this Republic from the beginning "a sellout to corporations." I will say this, I cannot read your mind, but it is almost seems like you aren't for representative democracy. Rule number one is never fail to take what you can get. This is it, the final, forced admittance that government has a role in ensuring that economic conditions do not leave its citizens without access to health care. This is the Rubicon, baby. Because after this principle is admitted, we are only going to move towards a better system of care.

    That's why the GOP has fought this one so hard, because their base is going to be at their throats from here on out. Don't let the emotional feeling that Lieberman wrecked it and that sucks. Yes, it sucks. But you know what? I've got a buddy who reads Free Republic. And they were furious and felt sold out that Lieberman quickly announced that he would vote for the bill now. For a few short hours, they really thought that they were going to stop health care again.

    We need this deal. We need this win. This win positions from which we can decisively affect the health care outcomes of millions of people.

    That's why we shouldn't characterize the defeat of one very small section of the bill. You know that CBO only expected 6 million people to use it? Because it was minor in scope. Yet you guys made it into your holy grail and as a result gave the GOP a point and could allow this significant improvement in our citizen's well-being to be painted as a loss. For a lousy 6-million people program?

    This thing was decided the moment. Olympia Snowe voted for this bill out of committee and stated that she would introduce a triggered public option. From that moment Lieberman knew that if he wanted to maximize his leverage, he had to position himself to Snowe's right. As long as one Democrat was to her right, he was golden. These are just facts. You can't argue with them.

    But in the end, Lieberman was outmanuvered. Obama called his bluff. As video of Lieberman taking the opposite position leaked out, the Dems had their 60. All nice and legal-like we followed the rules. We still rammed it down their throats.

    Make no mistake, this is a big loss for the GOP. Once Uncle Sam is in the Health Care Game he isn't coming out. And their supporters will be pissed. Republicans lose steam fast when they lose.

    So let it pass and instead of boycotting the Dems, work even harder for the majority we need to do even better things. Once we secure that we are well on the way.
    posted by Ironmouth at 7:34 PM on December 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


    I will say this, I cannot read your mind, but it is almost seems like you aren't for representative democracy.

    For definitions of "representative democracy" that include corporate lobbying and law-writing.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:03 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So why all the vitriol directed at Lieberman? I mean, he's about the only Senator who will come out of this with his integrity intact. I mean, he's standing up for his principles - delivering for his constituency - the big Connecticut insurance companies. Will any "Progressive" Senator deliver for his or her principles? I doubt it. Hand wringing abounds as usual.

    I called multiple "Progressive" to express my outrage at this dismal bill, a disaster going forward for the Democrats btw without a public option, or some kind of insurance company cost containment, and the best I managed was to be forwarded to what I assumed was a step up staffer who indicated she had spoken with the Senator and he said, well there will be the House/Senate reconciliation committee. "All hope is not lost." Sheesh. Of course I pointed out that somewhere it had already been reported Reid had selected either Collins or Snowe to be on that committee and I pointed out it seemed to me the fix was in.

    I explained I was calling as many "Progressive" Senators as I could to find one who stand for his or her principles like Lieberman is standing for his. Polite they were; yes we'll forward your stand to the Senator. Ah, we'll see how that works out.

    Don't criticize Lieberman, he's just doing his job and sticking to his guns - now that is integrity. And the insurance companies who paid what a few million to get him elected? Wow, what a return on that investment. I seem to remember Obama campaigning for Lieberman against the mean old Democrat.

    Finally and again, is there a "Progressive" Senator who will stand up for his or her principles?
    posted by WinstonJulia at 8:04 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    No, criticize the fuck out of Lieberman. He's a POS. Everyone knows that. He's made himself essential and disposable at the same time. Because the minute we don't need him, he may be disposed of quickly.
    posted by Ironmouth at 8:16 PM on December 15, 2009


    ... If they counted on progressive capitulation, Reid and Obama would have been better off just killing the public option a couple of months ago rather than letting it come to this humiliating end. It's no longer just a gut check. They really forced progressives to grovel --- over and over again. ...

    ... frankly I don't see how activists can affect their decision even if we want to. If Joe Lieberman publicly forcing them to eat shit doesn't stiffen their resolve, nothing will.
    - digby
    posted by Joe Beese at 8:43 PM on December 15, 2009


    Fuck Obama. As bad as Lieberman is, it's clear that Obama was in a rush to suck Lieberman's cock on this one.

    So sure, outrage at Lieberman is fine. But let's not let that cloud who the real scoundrel is if we get a bill that's actually worse than what we have now, i.e., forcibly taking cash from every American's paycheck and handing it over to the insurance companies. This is what Obama wanted for us in order to sate his grotesque ego.
    posted by bardic at 8:51 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    We need this deal. We need this win.

    This is not a win.
    posted by vibrotronica at 8:55 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


    I am seeing more and more anger in the discussions about healthcare reform. I think that more anger is a positive development. People should be angry-- a group of oligarchs are conspiring to allow tens of thousands of Americans to die, in order to enrich a chosen few. If conspiring to allow tens of thousands of Americans to die needless deaths isn't anti-American, then nothing is.
    posted by wuwei at 8:56 PM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


    passing a health bill that fundamentally changes the health care situation in this country

    I would genuinely love it if you could explain (or point to an explanation of) which problems the legislation as it now stands will address, and how.

    Rule number one is never fail to take what you can get.

    Only if it gets you what you actually want.

    This is it, the final, forced admittance that government has a role in ensuring that economic conditions do not leave its citizens without access to health care. This is the Rubicon, baby. Because after this principle is admitted, we are only going to move towards a better system of care.

    I hope that's possible, but what makes you think this is a foregone conclusion? It's only true if, as I said above, people are convinced that the intervention yields real benefits. I don't think the other side is going to give up. They're going to be casting about for any indication they can, false or fair, that the policy is a failure. Heaven help us if there's any fair evidence, because in that event, I'm pretty sure the backlash will be big.

    That's why we shouldn't characterize the defeat of one very small section of the bill. You know that CBO only expected 6 million people to use it? Because it was minor in scope. Yet you guys made it into your holy grail and as a result gave the GOP a point and could allow this significant improvement in our citizen's well-being to be painted as a loss. For a lousy 6-million people program?

    Because from a policy perspective, I don't know if there's another way for the government to really have their finger on the pulse of cost control issues. Maybe an all payer system like Maryland's, but I haven't heard that this is part of the discussion. And because from a personal perspective, most of my experiences on the market as an individual have been bad enough that I strongly distrust private enterprise to act in good faith.

    I'd really like to believe the legislation will have measurably clear if only incremental positive results. But I don't really know where to look for a substantial indication that's likely. If you can help, feel free.
    posted by weston at 9:03 PM on December 15, 2009


    As bad as Lieberman is, it's clear that Obama was in a rush to suck Lieberman's cock on this one.

    Yeah, that's real badass. I always judge my arguments on the basis of whoever slings the most homoerotic slurs.
    posted by jonp72 at 9:10 PM on December 15, 2009


    There's this delusion among many Dems that any bill is better than no bill. Forcing people to buy private insurance but not setting up anything to control costs or guarantee access isn't even a government handout to the insurance industry. It's a fucking rape of your wallet and mine (well, if I ever decide to move back to America).

    Maybe Obama's got a rabbit in his hat on this one, but it's looking like this is what we're going to get. And any anger you direct at Lieberman should be directed at Obama, because he decided that the Senator from Connecticut's pinkie-ring needed to be kissed on this one.
    posted by bardic at 9:14 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Really? Getting their asses kicked? By what, passing a health bill that fundamentally changes the health care situation in this country in the face of total and complete Republican opposition?

    Passing a health bill that mandates every American to fork over money to a for-profit corporation that can still try to weasel out of paying claims, and dump them if they go over then 'annual limit'?

    Yeah, I'd call that getting their asses kicked. Getting "a bill" shouldn't be the goal, the goal should be getting a good bill.
    This thing was decided the moment. Olympia Snowe voted for this bill out of committee and stated that she would introduce a triggered public option. From that moment Lieberman knew that if he wanted to maximize his leverage, he had to position himself to Snowe's right. As long as one Democrat was to her right, he was golden. These are just facts. You can't argue with them.

    But in the end, Lieberman was outmanuvered. Obama called his bluff. As video of Lieberman taking the opposite position leaked out, the Dems had their 60.
    What the hell are you talking about? Lieberman doesn't have to vote for this just because he had the other position in the past. He doesn't give a shit about consistency, and he sure as hell hasn't been 'outmanuvered'. And furthermore, Snow has said she wouldn't vote for a bill with the Medicare expansion. If you think Obama "won" something by making Lieberman look bad as he (Lieberman) succeeded in getting the public option and the medicare expansion taken out of the bill, you're delusional.
    posted by delmoi at 9:26 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    forcibly taking cash from every American's paycheck and handing it over to the insurance companies

    That is the reality of univeral healthcare, no matter how you want to slice it. Yes, everyone should be forced to participate in a nationwide health care system: it's just that important to the ability of the country to remain productive, innovative, and happy.

    Forcing people to buy private insurance but not setting up anything to control costs or guarantee access isn't…

    …acceptable. If coverage is not universal, coverage is not comprehensive, and citizen contribution costs are not held in check, there should be rioting on the streets. The insurance and healthcare industry will devour your every spare dollar, your balls firmly in their grip.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I don't disagree. Everyone should pay into the system. Health care isn't free. But handing over bags of cash to insurance companies doesn't keep people healthy.

    I guess the best argument for this abomination of a bill is that in 10 or 20 years we get a real single-payer system. But that's quite a hypothetical. And it's certainly not what I wanted when I voted for Obama Lieberman last winter.
    posted by bardic at 9:42 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    >: That is the reality of univeral healthcare, no matter how you want to slice it.

    Well, absolutely. Universal healthcare has to be paid for somehow.

    The thing is, what it looks like we're going to get is a mandate that we buy healthcare- a flat tax that isn't collected by the IRS. And I'm afraid people with unstable incomes, like my parents, are going to get royally screwed.
    posted by dunkadunc at 9:56 PM on December 15, 2009


    The current sorry state of HCR is solely due to the way the senate is run. If Obama were prime minister and the House were parlialment, the U.S. would already have a nice progressive health care bill, (and a decent climate change bill as well).

    But the way things are, the president has less power domestically than any prime minister and the whole country is held ransom to the whims of conservative democratic senators solely because of the ridiculous undemocratic super-majority rule imposed by the filibuster.

    If you want long term progressive change in this country write your senator and tell them you want an end to the filibuster.
    posted by afu at 10:14 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Having just recently watched the twelve hours of Ken Burns' National Parks; it seems like it should be so obvious why we need to do this; yesterday.

    Our Nation stands together behind an idea. an idea. These are People.
    .
    posted by infinite intimation at 10:20 PM on December 15, 2009


    Maybe Obama's got a rabbit in his hat on this one, but it's looking like this is what we're going to get. And any anger you direct at Lieberman should be directed at Obama, because he decided that the Senator from Connecticut's pinkie-ring needed to be kissed on this one.

    This makes no sense. What leverage does Obama have over Lieberman? According to the current rules of the senate, Lieberman does have the power to single handedly stop health care reform, so if you want something passed you have to kiss his pinkie ring. The people you should be mad at are the other democratic senators who have the power to change the rules, but don't because deep down they all envy the power Lieberman now has and hope they will be in his position too one day.
    posted by afu at 10:23 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    > Rule number one is never fail to take what you can get.

    Okay, the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. Fair enough.

    > This is it, the final, forced admittance that government has a role in ensuring that economic conditions do not leave its citizens without access to health care. This is the Rubicon, baby. Because after this principle is admitted, we are only going to move towards a better system of care.

    I've read the suggestion before that once this principle is established, movement towards more or less universal care is assured. This seems like a kinda dubious rhetorical flight, of the form

    1) Some increased health care assistance from government
    2) ?????
    3) Universal health care!


    If small always led to big, the Pell Grants would have led inexorably to free tuition, and the small disbursements of money Jimmy Carter put toward solar energy would have led to such a flood of investment that there'd now be a solar panel on every roof.

    The larger point, though, is really the larger point: That whatever details the Dems had put forth, the GOP would have resisted... on principle. With that in mind, the Dems really should pushed zealously for single-payer... and then, given the inevitable institutional resistance to that, settled for public option, or expanded Medicare, or what have you.

    Obama, Rahm, and company acted as though the opening bid phase was the negotiating phase-- as if the GOP might conceivably have allowed something to pass quickly, if it was sufficiently moderate and acceptable-- as opposed to just accepting that the opening bid phase was doomed to be a fight, and therefore making the biggest demand possible (even if David Broder might have thought a big demand from the Democrats would have been gauche and unseemly).

    Indeed rule number one is never fail to take what you can get; rule number two is that you always get less than what you ask for, so the more you ask for, the more you can take.
    posted by darth_tedious at 10:24 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


    If it's just about healthcare, why do we let the insurance companies scrape off a profit from the system. If we're going to force everyone to pay, why not just have the government do it and remove the parasitic insurance company profit?
    posted by wuwei at 10:39 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Echo echo echo
    posted by oncogenesis at 11:35 PM on December 15, 2009


    Quack.
    posted by five fresh fish at 11:42 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    "Can I still buy a cup of coffee with $2.00 plus my Hope?"

    No. Because of skyrocketing medical costs, our coffee is now $2.25 before Hope.
    posted by majick at 11:43 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


    This video explains how the deal works

    --

    This makes no sense. What leverage does Obama have over Lieberman? According to the current rules of the senate, Lieberman does have the power to single handedly stop health care reform

    Ugh, this is just wrong. First of all, it only takes 51 votes to change the senate rules. Secondly it only takes 51 votes to pass a budget bill through reconciliation, and many components (including the public option) would be eligible. (see the beginning of the thread)
    posted by delmoi at 11:46 PM on December 15, 2009


    Ugh, this is just wrong. First of all, it only takes 51 votes to change the senate rules. Secondly it only takes 51 votes to pass a budget bill through reconciliation, and many components (including the public option) would be eligible. (see the beginning of the thread)


    That was exactly my point, the senators are the ones with the power, not Obama.
    posted by afu at 11:52 PM on December 15, 2009


    So in summary, Barack Obama's track record in office to date, on both domestic and international issues:

    1. Formulates and pushes through very bad policy, accommodating entrenched interests at every step as far as he can.
    2. Fails to explain himself and his position to the public in any kind of effective way.
    3. Stifles activism on the left, but inflames it on the right.

    Is this what people expected last year?
    posted by stammer at 12:44 AM on December 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


    Lieberman expresses regret over 'tension' created during the health care debate. aww.

    Howard Dean on Olberman's show (hosted by Lawrence O'Donnell) explaining why he's against the bill.
    posted by delmoi at 12:48 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The Reconciliation Committee - this will be where the rubber meets the road. The abortion provision needs to be removed, and a public option re-instated, or the bill needs to die. If the bill is a go, let the fuckers filibuster. Shut down government for a year if you have to, until these sonsabitches blow out their vocal chords reading the phonebook.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 3:07 AM on December 16, 2009


    Slap*Happy That would assume that Harry "the coward" Reid was willing to force a real filibuster, he isn't. Instead he'll allow a cloture vote fake "filibuster" where all that happens is that the Republicans (and of course Joe "he's with us on everything but the war " Lieberman) say they want a 60 vote majority for something to pass, he won't get 60 votes, and will announce that the Republicans have yet again defeated the Democrats.

    Yay Washington Kabuki.
    posted by sotonohito at 4:31 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Is this what people expected last year?

    Don't be gullible. The entire point of the opposition is to discredit President Obama right now, and given that the old Washington establishment still has a pretty tight grip on the reins of the political machinery, there's really not a whole lot he can do to fight back any more aggressively than he already has.

    As it turns out, the opposition is extremely well-connected and powerful, and touches a significant portion of Democratic legislators and other officials as well.

    All that the Republicans and Blue Dog Dems in congress have to do to win this game is to keep conducting business as usual, and make sure that President Obama remains the lightning rod for criticism. That gives the Republicans and Blue Dogs in congress a free pass to profiteer and carry on with their graft, shielding themselves from the full brunt of the blame they deserve.

    Polls are what matter most to politicians, and polls don't distinguish between reform opponents on the left or on the right. Anti-reform interests are just as happy to have the support of the left as the right for their causes. To them, a die-hard single-payer absolutist is just as useful as a paranoid, anti-Government-Run health care militia enthusiast. The point is, both represent great big "Nos" from the perspective of political triangulation. Conservative interests in the US are masters of manipulating the collective power of each individual, principled "No" in the world, and indeed, progressive movements are in some ways powerless in the face of the "No" in a Democracy. Just as in rhetorical argument, it's impossible to settle a debate with someone who isn't arguing in good faith.

    The reform opponents will do anything they can to push the buttons on both sides, knowing that if they can trigger a visceral, emotional reaction, they've got the public right where they want them, and that's all they really need to win. Not a coherent solution. Not a plan. All they need is to exploit the unfocused anger, frustration and will to power of the people to accomplish their political goals, because those goals are ultimately destructive in nature.
    posted by saulgoodman at 7:21 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Polls are what matter most to politicians, and polls don't distinguish between reform opponents on the left or on the right. Anti-reform interests are just as happy to have the support of the left as the right for their causes. To them, a die-hard single-payer absolutist is just as useful as a paranoid, anti-Government-Run health care militia enthusiast.

    This is asinine in the extreme. I'm for single payer, and I think it should be the major agenda item when it comes to health care. The whole debate has been calculated to exclude my point of view from even being discussed. I don't support "anti-reform interests," I want single payer on the agenda. Nobody's been "pushing my buttons" in any way; my view has been totally blocked out by all sides in the public discussion. Your assertions are just the kind of conspiratorial nonsense that has been used to stop any principled movement for single payer from forming during this long, humiliating debacle.

    It really has nothing to do with absolutism – it has to do with a whole set of solutions deliberately excluded from discussion, and to the detriment of the whole idea of healthcare reform. The only activist movement (astroturf, really) has been from the far right. That's because the left, which has been talking about single payer for decades now, has no real horse in this race. Some are trying to get better reform out of the Democrats but it doesn't have traction among the grassroots. There's been about 1 and a half cheers for the public option. What kind of enthusiasm do you expect for a bill without it?
    posted by graymouser at 8:01 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Can anybody recommend a resource which provides timely summaries of changes in the bill? I care about this a lot, but there aren't enough hours in the day to aggregate bits and pieces of information from all over the place. How are those of you who think you're up-to-date keeping track?
    posted by avianism at 8:22 AM on December 16, 2009


    Labor leaders seem likely to oppose the new Senate bill. Sane healthcare looks like it will need to wait another generation.
    posted by dirigibleman at 8:23 AM on December 16, 2009


    That was exactly my point, the senators are the ones with the power, not Obama.
    The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote [spoiler], threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won't get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday. "We're not going to help you. You'll never hear from us again," Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen.
    The spoiler, of course, being that Obama was using his power to get dems to vote for the war supplemental bill. I guess Obama has no power over democrats on a public option, just on the war bill.
    posted by Staggering Jack at 8:25 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    If the non-filibustering doesn't have 50 Senators on the floor, the filibustering side can simply call for a quorum, which would fail, because you don't have enough Senators.

    Right. And then you can't do substantive business until a quorum reappears. But the bill doesn't die.

    The reason the filibuster is ineffective is multi-track legislation, which means that if a bill is held, the Senate moves on to another. The fix is to make the GOP commit to the filibuster by tabling everything else, and then, after a failed cloture vote, wait the required 24 hours and call a cloture vote again.

    And then, in the other 23 hours, you go on *every* media source you can find with the same message -- "We just want an up or down vote, just like the GOP wanted when they were in the majority. And until the GOP stops obstructing that, we won't be able to do anything else. If you're wondering why we're stalled, it's the following senators who are obstructing the chamber and preventing an up-or-down vote."

    And you repeat, and repeat again. Make the business of the Senate debating this bill until cloture, and every time cloture fails, you keep enough on the floor to debate (because if nobody steps up, debate can be declared over) and the rest are out there telling the world that the crybaby GOP won't allow an up-or-down vote.

    That's how the GOP kept the filibuster from really affecting them. The reason the filibuster is working so well for the GOP is that the Democratic Party doesn't extract a cost from the GOP.

    The Majority controls the Calendar. Simply stop scheduling other bills until this one gets cloture, and you've just called the GOP's bluff. But as long as Reid keeps putting other things on the calendar, he's letting the GOP get a free veto on legislation.
    posted by eriko at 8:26 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


    The Majority controls the Calendar. Simply stop scheduling other bills until this one gets cloture, and you've just called the GOP's bluff.

    it's my recollection this is how lbj and the democratic leadership got the 1964 civil rights act through the senate

    you'd think the health of the american people would be just as important

    what we lack here is leadership
    posted by pyramid termite at 8:40 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The Majority controls the Calendar. Simply stop scheduling other bills until this one gets cloture, and you've just called the GOP's bluff. But as long as Reid keeps putting other things on the calendar, he's letting the GOP get a free veto on legislation.

    Except this isn't 1964. We were at the height of a huge boom right then, with no other pressing issues. Reid and Obama can't do this with the economic crisis as it is. Remember "shutting down the government" card played by the GOP in the 1990s? How'd that work for them? The people blamed them for it.

    Shut down the government for the shitty little public option that only 6 million people will be eligible for? That's only 2% of the US population. For one small part of this bill? I call total bullshit on that.
    posted by Ironmouth at 8:45 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The reason the filibuster is ineffective is multi-track legislation, which means that if a bill is held, the Senate moves on to another. The fix is to make the GOP commit to the filibuster by tabling everything else, and then, after a failed cloture vote, wait the required 24 hours and call a cloture vote again.

    And then, in the other 23 hours, you go on *every* media source you can find with the same message -- "We just want an up or down vote, just like the GOP wanted when they were in the majority. And until the GOP stops obstructing that, we won't be able to do anything else. If you're wondering why we're stalled, it's the following senators who are obstructing the chamber and preventing an up-or-down vote."

    And you repeat, and repeat again. Make the business of the Senate debating this bill until cloture, and every time cloture fails, you keep enough on the floor to debate (because if nobody steps up, debate can be declared over) and the rest are out there telling the world that the crybaby GOP won't allow an up-or-down vote.


    This also assumes that the entire Dem majority is fully on board with this. They are not. Give me your whip count for this. Because I predict at minimum we lose Bayh, Landrieu, Lincoln, Lieberman, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bingaman, T. Udall and Hagan. At a minimum. Tim Johnson is also not gonna be that strong on this. Where's your 51?

    Really, all of this "nobody has the will" talk never actually has a whip count behind it.
    posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Remember "shutting down the government" card played by the GOP in the 1990s? How'd that work for them? The people blamed them for it.

    in the short run - in the not so long run they ended up with control of congress and a president

    Shut down the government for the shitty little public option that only 6 million people will be eligible for?

    you're probably right about this - but then, real leadership would have proposed something much more substantial

    it's like a boxing match where the most powerful boxer takes a fall and loses - he's getting paid to

    that's why the dems keep losing - someone's paying them to

    i suppose what we're going to get in this bill might be an improvement - but the real problem, that of the american people having no real voice in their government due to entrenched corruption and favoritism, continues
    posted by pyramid termite at 8:57 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    What the hell are you talking about? Lieberman doesn't have to vote for this just because he had the other position in the past. He doesn't give a shit about consistency, and he sure as hell hasn't been 'outmanuvered'. And furthermore, Snow has said she wouldn't vote for a bill with the Medicare expansion. If you think Obama "won" something by making Lieberman look bad as he (Lieberman) succeeded in getting the public option and the medicare expansion taken out of the bill, you're delusional.

    My point was that Lieberman always intended, from the beginning, to make sure that he held the key position because of the GOP's solid hand on the filibuster. So he had to make sure that Snowe did not vote for the bill making his position superfulous. So he had to move to her right to maintain his position. When she said she'd introduce a triggered public option amendment, he came out and said no public option ever. Now he's to her right. That puts her in a bad spot with the GOP and her own primary voters. Because if her vote is decisive, she's a traitor.

    This is straight up politics.
    posted by Ironmouth at 8:58 AM on December 16, 2009


    At this point it's become apparent that the health care bill should die, we should aggressively pursue reform of the institutionalized bribery system we call campaign financing, and then try again when we have a real chance of accomplishing something that's not worse than the current system.
    posted by mullingitover at 9:01 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Remember "shutting down the government" card played by the GOP in the 1990s? How'd that work for them? The people blamed them for it.

    in the short run - in the not so long run they ended up with control of congress and a president


    uh, they were in the majority then too. They lost seats because of that stunt. Get real. They didn't gain the presidency because they did that.

    Shut down the government for the shitty little public option that only 6 million people will be eligible for?

    you're probably right about this - but then, real leadership would have proposed something much more substantial


    People who don't agree with you aren't exercising real leadership? You keep acting like these people aren't voting on this. You act as if there is some sort of power that could be exercised to make these people vote for what we would like.

    it's like a boxing match where the most powerful boxer takes a fall and loses - he's getting paid to

    that's why the dems keep losing - someone's paying them to

    i suppose what we're going to get in this bill might be an improvement - but the real problem, that of the american people having no real voice in their government due to entrenched corruption and favoritism, continues


    This does not constitute argument. The fact that you can't convince enough people to vote for this bill does not mean there is "entrenched corruption." It means that you don't have the votes. You think these senators who aren't voting for this bill actually agree with you, but they really want that money? Nope. They don't. They are more conservative than you are and come from more conservative states. Corporations can only donate a small amount to any campaign. Its hard money. That's not it. When less than 50 people show up for the pro-public option protest by Move On, the writing is on the wall.

    This is the system we've had for 200 years. It was the system we started with at the beginning of the year. Now you're acting all surprised that it didn't get through?
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:06 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


    At this point it's become apparent that the health care bill should die, we should aggressively pursue reform of the institutionalized bribery system we call campaign financing, and then try again when we have a real chance of accomplishing something that's not worse than the current system.

    Ah yes, the let it get worse first argument. The idea is that if we let it get really bad, peole are going to see the problem and then really fix it the way you want them to. Same as the "I hope more soldiers die in Iraq so we pull out" argument.

    I'm OK with that, as long as you cover every fucking medical bankruptcy from here until the "real" reform you want is passed.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I'm OK with that, as long as you cover every fucking medical bankruptcy from here until the "real" reform you want is passed.

    What provisions of the current bill under discussion would prevent or ameliorate every medical bankruptcy for the next several years? Seriously, if you don't give specifics this is demagogic nonsense. People questioning this bill from the left are seriously asking at this point why is it better than nothing? And if you can't make a case beyond "rahr medical bankruptcies," you're not going to convince much of anybody.
    posted by graymouser at 9:18 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The fact that you can't convince enough people to vote for this bill does not mean there is "entrenched corruption."

    i watch what people do and who's paying them

    you can go on pretending it's not happening

    When less than 50 people show up for the pro-public option protest by Move On, the writing is on the wall.

    the writing was on the wall long before that - which is why only 50 people showed up

    protest no longer works in this country and people know it - there were gatherings of up to a million against the iraq war and we still had it

    This is the system we've had for 200 years.

    one that pays more attention to the wishes of an entrenched elite than the people - it was, of course, designed as such
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:21 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    That's because the left, which has been talking about single payer for decades now, has no real horse in this race.

    On one side, the "left" - dirty, homeless hippies fighting for stuff like "equality" and "justice," while mostly doing drugs and fucking. On the other, the "right" - trust-fund socialites and captains of industry fighting for all the filthy lucre they can shove down their pants in order to do fancier drugs and have better places (and people) for fucking. Which side usually wins?

    I think Ironmouth has hit on something, though. One litmus test might be whether or not you think 6 million (out of 300 million) people is "a lot."

    I'm OK with that, as long as you cover every fucking medical bankruptcy from here until the "real" reform you want is passed.

    I'm down with that. Wait, I know. Let's make a law that covers it. Hey-o.
    posted by mrgrimm at 9:21 AM on December 16, 2009


    At this point it's become apparent that the health care bill should die, we should aggressively pursue reform of the institutionalized bribery system we call campaign financing, and then try again when we have a real chance of accomplishing something that's not worse than the current system.

    Doesn’t this kind of go against the sense of urgency reform proponents have been shouting about? “People are being murdered by insurance industries every single day, a vote against this is murder! Oh, wait, this bill doesn’t contain the absolute reform I thought it would – but rather, some form of compromise? Then lets scrap it until true reform comes, who cares how many people die in the interim”
    posted by Think_Long at 9:25 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    What provisions of the current bill under discussion would prevent or ameliorate every medical bankruptcy for the next several years? Seriously, if you don't give specifics this is demagogic nonsense.

    Al Franken will explain. Because you agree with his debate opponent, Sen. John Thune.

    Having said that, you cannot deny that waiting will make it harder for some people. No matter what, it delays it by at least 4 if not 8 years. Because the president will not have the political capital for this. And that means that people who don't get into the exchanges and don't get covered are going to be hurt coming up in the next few years. Some people are going to get hurt when you insist on making it worse until it gets better.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:25 AM on December 16, 2009


    I think Ironmouth has hit on something, though. One litmus test might be whether or not you think 6 million (out of 300 million) people is "a lot."

    This is a poor tactic, to imply that a pragmatist supporting anything less than total comprehensive coverage amounts to not caring about those who will be left behind is really really ignorant.
    posted by Think_Long at 9:29 AM on December 16, 2009


    But I think Josh Marshall gets it best. He's been getting a whole series of "gbcw" emails and his response says it all:

    I'm not sure what else there is to say. People need to make up their own minds. I'm not sure where the idea got started that any of this stuff was easy. And is anybody really under the illusion that in the history of this country this is a unique moment of political adversity or reverses?

    Its like everyone expected that once Obama got in, he'd be farting unicorns or something. Nope. He's gotta fight for every inch, just like all of the rest of us do. Where did this idea come that health reform was going to be easy? That we were going to get everything we wanted? That single-payer was ever on the table. I don't see how that was going to be the case when the centerpiece of Obama's plan from the get go was you can keep your insurance if you like it.

    Seriously.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:30 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Yeah, I'm not seeing how forcing everyone to buy insurance is going to help out with the medical bankruptices, given that most people who go bankrupt from medical bills have insurance.

    I'm not saying let it get worse. I'm saying eliminate the incentive to serve corporate interests instead of society and next time around we might actually accomplish something that's not harmful.
    posted by mullingitover at 9:33 AM on December 16, 2009


    I think Ironmouth has hit on something, though. One litmus test might be whether or not you think 6 million (out of 300 million) people is "a lot."

    This is a poor tactic, to imply that a pragmatist supporting anything less than total comprehensive coverage amounts to not caring about those who will be left behind is really really ignorant.


    I'm confused. Are you saying that blowing this whole thing on account of a small program that the CBO says will only serve 2% of the US population is the right thing to do? Because it isn't. You will be hurting the other 98% if you do. Because we need this bad. It isn't a poor tactic to say that gee, if we give up the entire bill because of this small program, we will be hurting real people.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2009


    I'm not saying let it get worse. I'm saying eliminate the incentive to serve corporate interests instead of society and next time around we might actually accomplish something that's not harmful.

    But by not voting for this bill it will get worse for a long time before it gets better!
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2009


    Yeah, I'm not seeing how forcing everyone to buy insurance is going to help out with the medical bankruptices, given that most people who go bankrupt from medical bills have insurance

    Lifetime limits will be abolished.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2009


    I don't support "anti-reform interests," I want single payer on the agenda.

    You can't have it. Not enough other people want it. No matter how convinced you or I might be that single payer is the way to go, a solid majority in congress are not even willing to put it on the table for discussion. End of story. Nothing you, I, President Obama, or anyone else could say or do will change that--Florida's Bill Nelson, for example, would never support single payer, despite being a Democrat. The answer? Get Nelson out of office. The problem? He's not up for reelection for a long time. There are many other Dems like him, and of course, there's always the Republican Borg in congress to contend with, too.

    You can't squeeze blood from a turnip. If congress can't even be pushed into accepting a watered down public option or a medicare expansion, WTF makes you think we could ever manage to squeeze a single-payer plan through that legislative sausage grinder, without first radically changing the structure or composition of congress?

    It's like stubbornly grinding away at the starter even after it's long clear the car won't crank. Single-payer is a wedge issue at this point. Until we get a congress that doesn't make Kucinich look like a radical leftist by comparison, we literally can't get the reforms you or I might want. They are literally impossible to achieve with the current cast of clowns in congress. Progressive reforms are not attractive to the Washington establishment because, when they're effective, they reduce big business' influence over the political process. But the Washington establishment by and large consists of the representatives of those same big business interests. Look into the backgrounds of nearly all elected officials, and surprise, surprise--they're business people (or their own preferred nomenclature, "civic leaders").

    Now with this being and remaining the case, why in the world would you expect to have any luck with deep progressive reforms, especially when popular support for reform, at least as viewed through the distorting prism of poll results, is broadly viewed as shaky at best?
    posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2009


    Meanwhile, Lieberman is now apparently bragging openly about leaving open his option to possibly run for reelection as a Republican.
    posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on December 16, 2009


    Now with this being and remaining the case, why in the world would you expect to have any luck with deep progressive reforms, especially when popular support for reform, at least as viewed through the distorting prism of poll results, is broadly viewed as shaky at best?

    Exactly. What we're saying is that you have radically underestimated the amount of work it will take to put the changes in that you want. And it isn't that guys are getting bribed or anything like that, it is that the type of people who are able and willing to successfully run for Congress actually believe in things other than you believe in.

    You haven't done the work needed. Anywhere near that. And just commenting on message boards doesn't get it done. Day in and day out work is what gets it done.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:52 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Meanwhile, Lieberman is now apparently bragging openly about leaving open his option to possibly run for reelection as a Republican.

    This is exactly what his BS is about. He wants to get the DSCC to promise not to fund an opponent. He thought he would trade this for the Public Option and his vote on health care. Obama called his bluff though. So now he's hopefully forced to vote for it. Make no mistake, Lieberman is playing a high-stakes game with his future and risking tons with this--I guess it is to be expected given how poorly he is percieved in Conn. and how he is going to lose the election, one way or the other. He's desperate.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:55 AM on December 16, 2009


    I'm sure Joe Lieberman is terrified at the prospect of losing his seat and being forced to cry, cry, cry his way to the bank when he becomes an an insurance industry lobbyist.
    posted by mullingitover at 10:03 AM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


    You can't have it. Not enough other people want it. No matter how convinced you or I might be that single payer is the way to go, a solid majority in congress are not even willing to put it on the table for discussion. End of story.

    Not enough other people want it? Dead wrong. Single payer has been consistently either a strong minority position or a majority position at most times in the recent past in the USA. Might be skewed now by the sheer amount of propaganda, as was the case back in '93, but the facts have never backed the "nobody wants it" case.

    A solid majority in Congress don't want it? Right. The Republicans are solid kneejerk anti-government crusaders and the Democrats get too much money from the insurance companies to let their more idealistic allies raise the idea. Single payer was not rejected, it was deliberately excluded from the debate.

    Now with this being and remaining the case, why in the world would you expect to have any luck with deep progressive reforms, especially when popular support for reform, at least as viewed through the distorting prism of poll results, is broadly viewed as shaky at best?

    It's mostly about the total failure (by you and unfortunately a lot of other people) to understand how movements work. See, I don't think the Democrats are progressive. They are, as you point out, mostly business people, and by and large they're centrists, even center-right. Sure there are token progressives. But any change is going to come by forcing a government to move to the left. That's possible. It happened during the '30s – the Roosevelt era Democrats were horrid, a mix of Northern plutocrats and Southern fascists. It doesn't happen with a bunch of timid demands for carefully planned centrist reform. It happens with big, energetic demands around immediate needs. Healthcare is one of them.

    Look at how much of a voice in the present debate the teabaggers have. If there were an organized and coordinated movement for single-payer, it would shift the dynamic totally. But the Democrats, using arguments like yours, convinced progressives to sit this one out and support the Public Option. That's not going to galvanize anybody except the hardcore. This reform is terrible, and it can't bring out any support – that's why it's not getting any. It has no reflection on what the prospect of real change would bring out.
    posted by graymouser at 10:04 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    A solid majority in Congress don't want it? Right. The Republicans are solid kneejerk anti-government crusaders and the Democrats get too much money from the insurance companies to let their more idealistic allies raise the idea. Single payer was not rejected, it was deliberately excluded from the debate.

    Look at how much of a voice in the present debate the teabaggers have. If there were an organized and coordinated movement for single-payer, it would shift the dynamic totally. But the Democrats, using arguments like yours, convinced progressives to sit this one out and support the Public Option. That's not going to galvanize anybody except the hardcore. This reform is terrible, and it can't bring out any support – that's why it's not getting any. It has no reflection on what the prospect of real change would bring out.


    I never heard anyone telling anyone to sit out the debate? Who said that? Who was convinced? I haven't heard a single voice telling anyone to "sit this one out." Point me to one person who did. Where the fuck were you guys at the Move On protest that only 50 people attended? The reason the Teabaggers have a voice is because they got off their asses and you didn't.

    The people in congress aren't being "bribed." They believe in what they are voting for. Acknowledging that they have good faith reasons for their positions is the first step in winning these arguments. And all the polls in the world don't matter, its who is elected that matters. And the people are sending representatives that don't believe in single payer to Washington. All this talk about 'bribery' is simple nonsense. These people believe in what they are voting for.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on December 16, 2009


    It's not just Metafilter that is angry. Check out Obama's Facebook page. There's a post asking people to call their Senators to support healthcare reform. If you look at the comments, an overwhelming majority of people are angry that the public option is off the table, and that we are going to be forced to give even more money to the insurance industry. People like me who are "fans" of his page are his base, at least in terms of numbers of people. Perhaps not in terms of dollars though.

    In a way, what's happening today with social networking and the internet is a lot like glasnost under Gorbachev. At first it seemed like a good idea to the Soviet leadership, since openness would let people talk more and relieve some of the tension. However what happened instead is that people realized that they were not alone in being supremely frustrated with the Soviet system. Gorbachev, while at first liked, could not do enough within the confines of the system; he could never deliver on his promises.

    Today, Facebook and social networking (MyBO was built by an original Facebook developer) have given people the ability to easily voice their opinions, and see the opinions of others who share similar interests. This is serving a similar role to glasnost. Social networking seemed like a good idea to Obama during the election because it helped him mobilize volunteer campaign workers and raise money.
    Now it's being used for something different. People who supported Obama and volunteered for him and his party are seeing that their voices are pretty much marginalized in the debate. Obama's supporters (and you see this in the comments) believed that he would deliver change, specifically, a positive change in the American healthcare system. Now many people believe that is not the case.

    Certainly the typical chorus of too-cool-for-school types will say "but look you dopes, Obama never promised any real change, you're just naive blah blah blah blah blah." My response? That's not the point, you morons. The point is that millions of Americans _believed_ that Obama would deliver substantive healthcare reform. Moreover, millions of people got involved in a political campaign for the first time in the belief that the system could work for them. To be honest, I didn't support Obama during the primaries, since I felt like he wouldn't go the distance with the insurance companies. That's why I supported Edwards, although, if he had won we'd probably be dealing with Clinton part II. Once Obama had the nomination, I had some hope that perhaps he would be able to push healthcare through, but also figured he probably wouldn't.

    The people who participated in politics for the first time have now had their faith in our system betrayed. As the Soviet experience shows, when people lose faith in their political system, there can be dramatic consequences.
    posted by wuwei at 10:13 AM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


    Not enough other people want it? Dead wrong. Single payer has been consistently either a strong minority position or a majority position at most times in the recent past in the USA. Might be skewed now by the sheer amount of propaganda, as was the case back in '93, but the facts have never backed the "nobody wants it" case.

    Arguing that "propaganda" is the cause just makes no sense. A strong minority isn't enough to get a measure passed. The fact that some people who don't agree with you say something you disagree with does not make it propaganda. These are people making up their minds based on information they are getting.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 AM on December 16, 2009


    Corporations can only donate a small amount to any campaign. Its hard money.

    Strictly speaking, corporations (and unions) can't donate hard money to campaigns at all.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:15 AM on December 16, 2009


    Not enough other people want it? Dead wrong. Single payer has been consistently either a strong minority position or a majority position at most times in the recent past in the USA.

    I hate to break this to you, but when single payer went up for a vote in California in 1994 as Proposition 186, it went down to defeat 73%-27%. And California's a heavily "blue" state. If it went up for a vote in more conservative states, it would be defeated by an even bigger margin.
    posted by jonp72 at 10:18 AM on December 16, 2009


    These people believe in who they are voting for.

    fixed that for you

    you doth protest too much ironmouth - follow the money and explain to me why it's being spent if not to get people to vote the way those paying the bucks want them to

    ---

    As the Soviet experience shows, when people lose faith in their political system, there can be dramatic consequences.

    it's been a slow process that's been going on for decades and so far, the powers that be have managed to contain it

    i'm not so sure they can keep doing that
    posted by pyramid termite at 10:18 AM on December 16, 2009


    The people in congress aren't being "bribed." They believe in what they are voting for.

    This is the most naïve thing I've read on Metafilter this year. Are you joking? Members of Congress aren't bought lock stock and barrel by corporations? What planet do you live on? And you're giving people advice on how to handle US politics?
    posted by graymouser at 10:19 AM on December 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


    you doth protest too much ironmouth - follow the money and explain to me why it's being spent if not to get people to vote the way those paying the bucks want them to

    Your assertion, your burden of proof. You can't just say "they didn't vote for what I wanted, therefore they are bribed!" You have to stand behind your assertions with evidence. First, show me the actual donations and the actual votes.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:25 AM on December 16, 2009


    I hate to break this to you, but when single payer went up for a vote in California in 1994 as Proposition 186, it went down to defeat 73%-27%. And California's a heavily "blue" state. If it went up for a vote in more conservative states, it would be defeated by an even bigger margin.

    It's funny that the "progressive" people here in support of the current health care debacle are dredging up argument after argument against single payer. You're talking about a referendum in a year that elected solid Republican majorities in both houses, a year after Clinton's healthcare mess fell apart, in the apex of anti-government sentiment in the US, which was defeated by an extremely well-funded and well-managed media campaign. It had every possible strike against it; it failed. That happens sometimes. Sometimes a great campaign fails, sometimes a great idea has a poorly run campaign – I wasn't there, I don't know which it was. It doesn't mean you give up and accept absolutely anything thrown at you with the word "reform" in it.
    posted by graymouser at 10:26 AM on December 16, 2009


    Ironmouth, the data seem to disagree with your assertions. Max Baucus is a key Senator opposing the public option. Let's take a look at his top five donors shall we?

    Hmmmmmmmm...............I wonder if that influences him?

    What's really sad is that the man sells us out for so little. Aetna gave him $42,500 over five years. Their profits last quarter? A mere 346 million dollars.
    posted by wuwei at 10:27 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    assertion proved
    posted by pyramid termite at 10:28 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    The people in congress aren't being "bribed." They believe in what they are voting for.

    This is the most naïve thing I've read on Metafilter this year. Are you joking? Members of Congress aren't bought lock stock and barrel by corporations? What planet do you live on? And you're giving people advice on how to handle US politics?


    No, it is naive to believe that somehow, a bunch of people who have spent their entire lives in business and law suddenly believe in something other than what they've been working with their entire lives. They aren't "bought lock stock and barrel by 'corporations.'"

    You can't just say that. You must prove it. Show me the money, show me the votes, by congressman or woman. Because I've known members of congress. they actually believe in this stuff! They actually disagree with you! As do large proportions of the electorate! Just because the truth of your beliefs seems self-evident to you does not mean that others cannot equally believe other things in opposition to you.

    Seriously. Believing that your fellow citizens are influenced by "propaganda" and that their opinions are somehow illegitimate isn't going to win you any votes. If the US was sold on this then we'd see a much different picture.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:30 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    It's funny that the "progressive" people here in support of the current health care debacle are dredging up argument after argument against single payer.

    It's not an argument against single payer. It's an argument that you're greatly overstating the depth of support for it. All Republicans have to do is scream "government takeover," and support for single payer collapses like a souffle.
    posted by jonp72 at 10:35 AM on December 16, 2009


    What's really sad is that the man sells us out for so little. Aetna gave him $42,500 over five years

    When the budget for reelection is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million dollars even for Baucus, don't you think that assertion might work to disprove your point? If they can only give him $42,500, why are you now saying they are controlling him like a puppet? How could they? Your argument falters on the facts. They can't contribute very much to him. They sure as hell want to help him, but with contribution caps, they can't run him.

    I'm all for more campaign finance reform, but to act like these guys do not actually believe what they are saying is pretty crazy. The idea that your ideas are so obviously right that anyone who disagrees with you has either been bought out or influenced by "propaganda" abandons the field to the Republicans. You have to convince people. If they were convinced, we'd have a lot more liberal congressmen and women.

    Look at Baucus. Stanford educated, 3 years at the SEC, where's the part where he was smoking dope with the hippies? I don't see it. I see a guy who has bought in to the system from the beginning. And you act so surprised that he votes as he does?
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    If the US was sold on this then we'd see a much different picture.

    Poll after poll after poll after poll shows Americans support the public option. It is now off the table.

    Certainly the typical chorus of too-cool-for-school types will say "but look you dopes, Obama never promised any real change, you're just naive blah blah blah blah blah." My response? That's not the point, you morons. The point is that millions of Americans _believed_ that Obama would deliver substantive healthcare reform.

    This. A thousand times this. Some people on this thread seem to believe that what finally passes will seen as a victory by the majority of voters. I think they are woefully mistaken in this, and I don't relish having to say that. There was a thirst for change. To argue that thirst was naive does not really help. The public perception on this bill will most likely be that it's already been co-opted by the insurance companies. Sometimes bad reform really is, politically speaking, worse than no reform.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:42 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    20 Questions for Bill Killers

    1. Over the medium term, how many other opportunities will exist to provide in excess of $100 billion per year in public subsidies to poor and sick people?

    2. Would a bill that contained $50 billion in additional subsidies for people making less than 250% of poverty be acceptable?

    3. Where is the evidence that the plan, as constructed, would substantially increase insurance industry profit margins, particularly when it is funded in part via a tax on insurers?

    4. Why are some of the same people who are criticizing the bill's lack of cost control also criticizing the inclusion of the excise tax, which is one of the few cost control mechanisms to have survived the process?

    5. Why are some of the same people who are criticizing the bill's lack of cost control also criticizing the inclusion of the individual mandate, which is key to controlling premiums in the individual market?

    6. Would concerns about the political downside to the individual mandate in fact substantially be altered if a public plan were included among the choices? Might not the Republican talking point become: "forcing you to buy government-run insurance?"

    7. Roughly how many people would in fact meet ALL of the following criteria: (i) in the individual insurance market, and not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare; (ii) consider the insurance to be a bad deal, even after substantial government subsidies; (iii) are not knowingly gaming the system by waiting to buy insurance until they become sick; (iv) are not exempt from the individual mandate penalty because of low income status or other exemptions carved out by the bill?

    8. How many years is it likely to be before Democrats again have (i) at least as many non-Blue Dog seats in the Congress as they do now, and (ii) a President in the White House who would not veto an ambitious health care bill?

    9. If the idea is to wait for a complete meltdown of the health care system, how likely is it that our country will respond to such a crisis in a rational fashion? How have we tended to respond to such crises in the past?

    10. Where is the evidence that the public option is particularly important to base voters and/or swing voters (rather than activists), as compared with other aspects of health care reform?

    11. Would base voters be less likely to turn out in 2010 if no health care plan is passed at all, rather than a reasonable plan without a public option?

    12. What is the approximate likelihood that a plan passed through reconciliation would be better, on balance, from a policy perspective, than a bill passed through regular order but without a public option?

    13. What is the likely extent of political fallout that might result from an attempt to use the reconciliation process?

    14. How certain is it that a plan passed through reconciliation would in fact receive 51 votes (when some Democrats would might have objections to the use of the process)?

    15. Are there any compromises or concessions not having to do with the provision of publicly-run health programs that could still be achieved through progressive pressure?

    16. What are the chances that improvements can be made around the margins of the plan -- possibly including a public option -- between 2011 and the bill's implementation in 2014?

    17. What are the potential upsides and downsides to using the 2010 midterms as a referendum on the public option, with the goal of achieving a 'mandate' for a public option that could be inserted via reconciliation?

    18. Was the public option ever an attainable near-term political goal?

    19. How many of the arguments that you might be making against the bill would you still be making if a public option were included (but in fact have little to do with the public option)?

    20. How many of the arguments that you might be making against the bill are being made out of anger, frustration, or a desire to ring Joe Lieberman by his scruffy, no-good, backstabbing neck?
    posted by jonp72 at 10:51 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


    assertion proved

    Hello. Guess what. There are conservatives in congress. Business interests are more likely to give money to members they think are going to help them--like conservatives. So the conservatives are going to get more money than the liberals on any committee from business interests. These people think that business should be helped by government! Are you trying to tell me that the Blue Dogs are a bunch of corrupted liberals?!!!!!!!!!!! Gee they are all for single payer, but wow, that campaign money that doesn't even go directly into their own personal accounts was just too much! Why they were ready to vote to abolish capitalism the other day, but then Aetna contributed to them!

    Your position isn't so self-evident that the people who are disagreeing with you are being bribed or subjected to propaganda.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:52 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Hello. Guess what.

    it really upsets you that we think your pals are corporate whores, doesn't it?

    deal with it, god knows the rest of us have to
    posted by pyramid termite at 10:56 AM on December 16, 2009


    It's not an argument against single payer. It's an argument that you're greatly overstating the depth of support for it. All Republicans have to do is scream "government takeover," and support for single payer collapses like a souffle.

    Agreed. I would like to see single-payer. But "strong minority support" is not enough.

    Poll after poll after poll after poll shows Americans support the public option.

    Poll after poll shows that people support a "government-run insurance program" but not with the specifics of the public option. Because if calls were running 99-1 in favor, you'd see all dems voting for it. Instead it is a much more mixed picture. If the support were there, we'd have it in the bill.

    We got close. Real close. But we don't have the fucking votes. I'm not willing to throw the rest of this away, especially when the stakes are so high.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:58 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Poll after poll after poll after poll shows Americans support the public option. It is now off the table.

    Most Don't Know What Public Option Is--Including Pollsters
    posted by jonp72 at 10:58 AM on December 16, 2009


    Hello. Guess what.

    it really upsets you that we think your pals are corporate whores, doesn't it?

    deal with it, god knows the rest of us have to


    The minute personal attacks come in, I damn well know I've won the argument.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:59 AM on December 16, 2009


    From the linked post by Nate Silver at 538.com:

    It is tempting to attribute these results to attempts by conservatives to blur the distinctions of the health care debate. And surely that is part of the story. But it may not be all that much of it. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to correctly identify the public option in this poll, but not by all that wide a margin -- 41 percent versus 34 percent. Meanwhile, 35 percent of Republicans thought the public option refers to "creating a national healthcare system like they have in Great Britain" -- but so did 23 percent of Democrats.

    This should serve as something of a reality check for people on both sides of the public option debate. If the respondents had simply chosen randomly among the three options provide to them, 33 percent would have selected the correct definition for the public option. Instead, only 37 percent did (although 23 percent did not bother to guess). This is mostly a debate being had among policy elites and the relatively small fraction of the public that is highly knowledgeable and engaged about health care reform; for most others, the details are lost on them.

    This is also why relatively small changes in wording can trigger dramatic shifts in support for the public option, which has been as high as 83 percent in some polls and as low as 35 percent in others depending on who is doing the polling and how they're asking the questions. You don't see those sorts of discrepancies when polling about, say, gay marriage or the death penalty, where the options are a little bit more self-evident.


    support ranges from 83% to 35%. That ain't "poll after poll."
    posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Those of you arguing that the bill, while imperfect, should be seen as a victory, are barking up the wrong tree. And those of you saying don't kill the bill are forgetting that it won't be killed. Something will pass. The question then is how it will be perceived politically by the majority of voters. I realize a lot of people will spin this as a victory for Obama, but I think they're wrong. No matter what the wonks think, the average voter is going to see this as capitulation to Big Insurance and Big Pharma. I could be wrong, but I just don't think the spin on this is going to help. People who don't follow this stuff closely are already really weary of big corporations and their influence on Washington. This slightest whiff that this thing is more of the same will not sit well with most voters. That's the political reality, and it's separate in the end from the legislative question of whether or not the bill itself is acceptable.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:04 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    The minute personal attacks come in, I damn well know I've won the argument.

    i was describing what our politicians are and what they do

    and we've ALL lost - except for those of us who have been rewarded enough by this crooked system

    have fun with your kewpie doll of "i winz the internetz" - the sideshow carries on
    posted by pyramid termite at 11:05 AM on December 16, 2009


    Not enough other people want it? Dead wrong.

    Not enough other people who actually have the power to make it happen (i.e. congress, their financial supporters, the deal makers)? It is a damned fact, like it or not, that there aren't enough reformers willing to put single-payer on the table in congress to make it happen now.

    To paraphrase a famous douche bag, we have to make reform with the congress we have, not the congress we wish we had.

    You can't change the political reality in Washington unilaterally, and no one--not President Obama, not the Pope, not even the Space Pope--has the power to change it unilaterally either. Meanwhile, if we back-out on any progress now, hoping to wait until conditions are perfect to get exactly the outcomes we want (which may never be a political possibility, short of a dramatic shift to the political left not just in the White House, but throughout all of the Washington establishment), there's a good chance we end up with nothing. After all, there's a good 150 year or so track record of that outcome resulting from previous reform efforts in this area.

    Those of you on the left who think, well, if we kill this reform effort, popular support will continue to grow in frustration behind more sweeping public health care reforms. But that's never happened before, so why should it now? And, as others have argued in this thread, the political consequences of failure will ensure no one touches the political third-rail of health care reform again for many years.
    posted by saulgoodman at 11:10 AM on December 16, 2009


    You can't change the political reality in Washington unilaterally

    The political reality, in my estimation, is that no one who votes is going to see this bill as a victory. That's the political reality. Something will pass, and what passes will be packaged as a victory. You can argue all you want that peoples expectations are too high, but in the end people who don't follow this stuff closely are most likely not to see this bill as a victory. That's the political 800 pound gorilla in this room.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:16 AM on December 16, 2009


    It’s one thing to require a citizen to pay taxes–to pay into the commons. It’s another thing to require taxpayers to pay a private corporation, and to have up to 25% of that go to paying for luxuries like private jets and gyms for the company CEOs.

    It’s the same kind of deal peasants made under feudalism: some proportion of their labor in exchange for protection (in this case, from bankruptcy from health problems, though the bill doesn’t actually require the private corporations to deliver that much protection).In this case, the federal government becomes an appendage to do collections for the corporations.

    Mind you, not only will citizens be required to pay private corporations. But middle class citizens may be required to pay more to these private corporations than they pay in federal and state taxes.

    posted by Joe Beese at 11:23 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Is the bill better than the status quo? It quite clearly is. And not just in a purely symbolic way, like the 1957 Civil Rights Act, but in a way that provides real, tangible benefits. So the only reason to oppose the bill is if you think that abandoning this bill would lead to a better one. Alas, it would be understating the case considerably to say that this is implausible. Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln et al. aren't suddenly going to become progressives. Congress will almost certainly be less progressive, not more, after the 2010 midterms. As the fact that even people like Russ Feingold oppose reconciliation for health care makes clear, most Democratic senators are going continue to support various countermajoritarian rules that increase their individual leverage even though they undermine progressive change in the long-run. For those of who believe in the Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power Over Domestic Policy, Obama's going to be here until 2012, and if he loses, it will be to someone much worse.

    Given what's at stake, playing heighten-the-contradictions would be grossly irresponsible unless one has a very convincing story about how a better reform bill is going to happen in the foreseeable future. Given that there isn't one, the bill should clearly be supported even in its current form.
    (link)
    posted by jonp72 at 11:27 AM on December 16, 2009




    5. Why are some of the same people who are criticizing the bill's lack of cost control also criticizing the inclusion of the individual mandate, which is key to controlling premiums in the individual market?

    This is objectively false. If it were true, Massachusetts premiums would be lower than average in the nation, or declining. They aren't. Mandates objectively do not work as advertised. Some politicans, including the President, may say that they do, and hell, some of them may even believe it. But that's not what Massachusetts shows us.
    posted by graymouser at 11:32 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The minute personal attacks come in, I damn well know I've won the argument.

    i was describing what our politicians are and what they do

    and we've ALL lost - except for those of us who have been rewarded enough by this crooked system

    have fun with your kewpie doll of "i winz the internetz" - the sideshow carries on


    you stated quote: it really upsets you that we think your pals are corporate whores, doesn't it?

    That's a personal attack. "I was describing what are politicians are" isn't going to cut it.

    My only point is that you need to get away from personal attacks on other mefi users. It isn't argumentation, and it violates the rules of use.
    posted by Ironmouth at 11:34 AM on December 16, 2009


    no one--not President Obama, not the Pope, not even the Space Pope--has the power to change it unilaterally either.

    This includes Pope Guilty.
    posted by Ironmouth at 11:35 AM on December 16, 2009


    Those of you on the left who think, well, if we kill this reform effort, popular support will continue to grow in frustration behind more sweeping public health care reforms.

    And you also sacrifice the people who will be helped by this bill. Because the political will isn't there now and the political capital will be gone. There's a reason Clinton never tried this again, even when he was at 65% support at the end.
    posted by Ironmouth at 11:37 AM on December 16, 2009


    your admission that you take our perception of politicians personally is noted
    posted by pyramid termite at 11:38 AM on December 16, 2009


    5. Why are some of the same people who are criticizing the bill's lack of cost control also criticizing the inclusion of the individual mandate, which is key to controlling premiums in the individual market?

    I can answer this one!

    Because it's wrong to have a mandate without a public option. With a mandate with no public option, you are forcing millions of people to buy a private company's product—and not just any private company, but a private company who has proven time and time again that they are willing to put their own profits over the lives and health of your family. If everyone should be required to buy health insurance, and I think they should, then we should have the option of buying health insurance that will actually protect us when we get sick. The private health insurance industry has consistently, time and time again, proven that they cannot provide this. That's why we need a public option.
    posted by vibrotronica at 11:40 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    GOP forces reading of 700+ page healthcare amendment in order to delay funding for troops. Why do Republicans hate our troops and our clerks?
    posted by dirigibleman at 11:42 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]






    Glen Greenwald: "The administration is getting the bill which they, more or less, wanted from the start -- the one that is a huge boon to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry."

    I don't know if I would go that far, but he certainly didn't spend much (public) effort pushing the public option. And it's certainly true that Rahm Emmanuel basically built the blue-dog caucus that's causing all the 'trouble'. And Remember, when Obama joined the senate he chose Lieberman as a mentor. He was always a centrist, pro-business type democrat (although not a member of the DLC)

    --
    My point was that Lieberman always intended, from the beginning, to make sure that he held the key position because of the GOP's solid hand on the filibuster. So he had to make sure that Snowe did not vote for the bill making his position superfulous. -- Ironmouth
    Except that Snowe has the same requirements as Lieberman. And now Ben nelson is running around saying we need a Stupak-like amendment banning abortion for him to vote for it, meaning Lieberman may still be needed, even with snow to get sixty votes. And by the way, Snowe has lately been saying she doesn't even want a trigger.

    You're obviously not paying much attention to what's actually happening.
    When she said she'd introduce a triggered public option amendment, he came out and said no public option ever. Now he's to her right. That puts her in a bad spot with the GOP and her own primary voters. Because if her vote is decisive, she's a traitor. -- Ironmouth
    What does that have to do with Lieberman? Look. Lieberman said he wanted no public option, no trigger, no Medicare expansion. And he got it. How is that being 'outmaneuvered' in any sense? I mean what you're saying just makes no sense.
    This is straight up politics.-- Ironmouth
    Lol, in comparison to everything else that happens in DC, apparently?
    I'm OK with that, as long as you cover every fucking medical bankruptcy from here until the "real" reform you want is passed.-- Ironmouth
    There are still going to be medical bankruptcies if this bill passes. Most medical bankruptcies happen to people who have the kind of shitty insurance that the bill mandates. Co-pays, uncovered expenses, and of course coverage caps (now that they're back in) are going to mean a lot of people get screwed, even with this legislation. Frankly, I'd be surprised if it had much of an impact overall.
    Lifetime limits will be abolished. -- Ironmouth
    No, idiot, the restriction on annual caps has been removed from the bill. Unless you're going to live forever, an annual cap is a lifetime cap. Like Franken said, you're not entitled to your own facts. And annual caps are actually a lot worse then lifetime caps.
    I'm sure Joe Lieberman is terrified at the prospect of losing his seat and being forced to cry, cry, cry his way to the bank when he becomes an an insurance industry lobbyist. – mullingitover
    Why wait? his wife already works for them and obviously if they're married he gets to share her money.
    Your assertion, your burden of proof. You can't just say "they didn't vote for what I wanted, therefore they are bribed!" You have to stand behind your assertions with evidence. First, show me the actual donations and the actual votes. -- Ironmouth
    Here's Nate Silver's detailed statistical Analysis of how donations have been effecting the healthcare debate. That campaign money influences vote outcomes isn't even a controversial issue. You're argumentation strategy often revolves around asking for specific pieces of information and hoping that you're opponents are too dumb to figure out how to find it. Like the other day when you asked for people to name specific bankers, as if they couldn't it would prove that bankers aren't really influencing congress.

    It's pretty ridiculous. Why should people have to go through and pick out individuals to prove things that are obviously true? Just look at the inputs and look at the outputs. It doesn't really matter whether or not congresspeople feel like they're taking bribes or if it's just cognitive capture.

    --

    Anyway, if this passes, I certainly won't consider it a "win". It will be a capitulation. It will be a loss. Millions of people will see it the same way.
    posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on December 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


    Chamber of Commerce Campaign: Fight Health-Care Reform -- And Win A Trip To Hooters!

    HCR should not include breast implants.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:55 AM on December 16, 2009


    This also assumes that the entire Dem majority is fully on board with this. They are not. Give me your whip count for this. Because I predict at minimum we lose Bayh, Landrieu, Lincoln, Lieberman, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bingaman, T. Udall and Hagan. At a minimum. Tim Johnson is also not gonna be that strong on this. Where's your 51?

    Don't need it. Need one. If you adjourn with a bill in debate, it becomes Unfinished Business. After Morning Hour, Unfinished Business is *automatically* laid before the Senate by rule, unless the Senate provides otherwise by Unanimous Consent.

    Or, simply do not adjourn, which means that until the measure is disposed of -- by passage, rejection, or unanimous consent to take up another measure, it stays as the business of the Senate.

    Yes, in the last twenty years, precedent has been to ask UC to move to other business upon failure of the cloture motion. However, filibustering everything does not have precedent, and using the Senate's own rules to force a filibuster to actually keep talking is not only possible, it's easy, because to change the business otherwise requires UC.
    posted by eriko at 11:57 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Because it's wrong to have a mandate without a public option.

    Massachusetts has an individual mandate without a public option, and it has 69% support. The program also reduced the uninsured population in the state to less than 5% of the population. It's not necessarily ideal, but I'd hardly call it morally wrong.
    posted by jonp72 at 11:58 AM on December 16, 2009


    We got close. Real close. But we don't have the fucking votes. I'm not willing to throw the rest of this away

    What are some good ways to understand what "the rest of this" is?
    posted by weston at 11:59 AM on December 16, 2009


    It had every possible strike against it; it failed. That happens sometimes.

    Yes, sometimes things we want to happen in politics fail.
    posted by Ironmouth at 12:00 PM on December 16, 2009


    The political reality, in my estimation, is that no one who votes is going to see this bill as a victory.

    But what alternate route do you propose taking to get a bill that would amount to a victory? The legislative process works the way it works (or doesn't work, as the case may be), and it's no coincidence, nor is it down solely to the fault of any individual political actor that this kind of reform has never succeeded in the past (although Lieberman's making a very strong showing in the competition for the title asshole of the decade).

    Humans have a bias toward ascribing intentional malice when facing outcomes they don't like. It's a form of fundamental attribution error: When President Obama doesn't manage to deliver exactly the policy we hoped to see, we take it as evidence he and other Dems never in good faith intended to deliver on the policy, or we attribute the failure to some defect in his leadership or character, rather than considering that the situation itself might simply be intractable.

    Consider this: There aren't even enough solid reformers among the Democratic ranks to ensure passage of a robust national health care plan option through simple majority vote at this point, which is really why shoe-horning the measures in through reconciliation isn't an option either. Nothing anyone can do (short of some fantastical scenario in which enormously wealthy campaign donors motivated by a sense of civic duty pledged billions in campaign dollars to support reformers in congress) can instantly change the political calculus in the senate that led to this outcome. As much as that reality might suck, it's the one we're stuck with, so now what?
    posted by saulgoodman at 12:01 PM on December 16, 2009


    What are some good ways to understand what "the rest of this" is?

    Read the bill.

    I think that's it?
    posted by Ironmouth at 12:01 PM on December 16, 2009


    But what alternate route do you propose taking to get a bill that would amount to a victory? The legislative process works the way it works (or doesn't work, as the case may be), and it's no coincidence
    For fuck sake. How many times has reconciliation been discussed in this thread? Are you even reading it?
    posted by delmoi at 12:11 PM on December 16, 2009


    But what alternate route do you propose taking to get a bill that would amount to a victory?

    The point is it's probably too late, politically speaking. I'm not arguing whether this is good or bad or right or wrong, simply that the political perception (again, among those not following this closely) of whatever passes may well be negative.

    As an aside, what I find most tragic about all of this is that I would be willing to bet corporations (not healthcare or insurance or pharmaceutical corporations, but all others) would save money in the long haul were we to move to a single payer system. For starters, what they would save in administration costs and no longer having to fight lawsuits would be substantial, and would likely (I'm guessing), even with higher taxes, save them money. I would be really surprised if corporations would not save money under a single-payer system.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:12 PM on December 16, 2009


    Ironmouth: Burden of proof? Please, this isn't high school debate class. Oh you want to talk about rules of evidence? Then what is your standard? What would convince you that you are incorrect?

    Also, I never said anything about Baucus "smoking dope with hippies" or that he doesn't believe in what he's doing. Please stop with the goal post moving and misstating my arguments. It is intellectually dishonest. My point is that what Baucus and his ilk are doing is representing the interests of the finance and insurance sectors over the interests of the commonwealth and the desires of the majority of Americans.

    We can argue endlessly about someone's subjective mental state and there's no conclusive way to prove it. However what we can show is that someone is doing the bidding of his corporate masters-- they pay him, he votes in alignment with their interests.
    posted by wuwei at 12:16 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Read the bill.

    I think that's it?


    1 ‘‘(c) INDIVIDUAL DESCRIBED.—For purposes of en2
    rolling in the CLASS program, an individual described in
    3 this paragraph is—
    4 ‘‘(1) an individual—
    5 ‘‘(A) who has attained age 18;
    6 ‘‘(B) who—
    7 ‘‘(i) receives wages on which there is
    8 imposed a tax under section 3201(a) of the
    9 Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or
    10 ‘‘(ii) derives self-employment income
    11 on which there is imposed a tax under sec12
    tion 1401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code
    13 of 1986;
    14 ‘‘(C) who is actively employed; and
    15 ‘‘(D) who is not—
    16 ‘‘(i) a patient in a hospital or nursing
    17 facility, an intermediate care facility for
    18 the mentally retarded, or an institution for
    19 mental diseases and receiving medical as20
    sistance under Medicaid; or
    21 ‘‘(ii) confined in a jail, prison, other
    22 penal institution or correctional facility, or
    23 by court order pursuant to conviction of a
    24 criminal offense or in connection with a
    25 verdict or finding described in section
    174
    O:\BAI\BAI09A84.xml [file 1 of 6] S.L.C.
    1 202(x)(1)(A)(ii) of the Social Security Act
    2 (42 U.S.C. 402(x)(1)(A)(ii)); or
    3 ‘‘(2) the spouse of an individual described in
    4 paragraph (1) and who would be an individual so de5
    scribed but for subparagraph (B) or (C) of that
    6 paragraph.


    oh, yeah, this is going to clear up everything
    posted by pyramid termite at 12:19 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    How many times has reconciliation been discussed in this thread? Are you even reading it?

    And how many times have you ignored all the people who explained that reconciliation is limited to budget-related items? Reconciliation gives you less to work with, not more.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:20 PM on December 16, 2009


    Read the bill.

    615 pages. I hope this thread is still open when I'm done.
    posted by mrgrimm at 12:22 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Read the bill.

    That's nice, but I was sortof hoping someone might be able to point to or provide a digest of highlights.

    Maybe things like this.
    posted by weston at 12:25 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    My point is that what Baucus and his ilk are doing is representing the interests of the finance and insurance sectors over the interests of the commonwealth and the desires of the majority of Americans.

    He doesn't see it that way.

    We can argue endlessly about someone's subjective mental state and there's no conclusive way to prove it.

    I agree.

    However what we can show is that someone is doing the bidding of his corporate masters-- they pay him, he votes in alignment with their interests.

    You just said we couldn't talk about his subjective mental state. Now you turn around and say that they "pay him" and that he "votes in alignment with their interests." It is the same with your "bribery" language. Stop using it. Start acknowledging the real complexity that exists in this world. Start moving away from black and white generalizations about people and classifying them as representing "corporate interests" or the "commonwealth." Most of all, stop equating your position with the one that is objectively in the interests of others. I happen to agree with you, but many do not, and just insulting them isn't helping. The only point I've been making is that proper strategy involves acknowledging the real difficult issues here.
    posted by Ironmouth at 12:25 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Ironmouth: Burden of proof? Please, this isn't high school debate class. Oh you want to talk about rules of evidence? Then what is your standard? What would convince you that you are incorrect?

    What I am talking about is simple. Don't make me prove the negative of your case. You can't just throw shit out there without any support and say "prove me wrong" when you haven't proven your position right. Some evidence of actual "bribery" would help. Because just pointing out that elected officials who are more conservative get more money from big business does not a bribery case make. They are giving the money because Baucus agrees with them, not because he's a lefty they can convince to vote against his own beliefs. Because that is the core of the "bribery" and "corporate masters" arguments.
    posted by Ironmouth at 12:30 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Here's a good summary of the bill:

    * Insurers have to take all comers. They can't turn you down for a preexisting condition or cut you off after you get sick.
    * Community rating. Within a few broad classes, everyone gets charged the same amount for insurance.
    * Individual mandate. I know a lot of liberals hate this, but how is it different from a tax? And its purpose is sound: it keeps the insurance pool broad and insurance rates down.
    * A significant expansion of Medicaid.
    * Subsidies for low and middle income workers that keeps premium costs under 10% of income.
    * Limits on ER charges to low-income uninsured emergency patients.
    * Caps on out-of-pocket expenses.
    * A broad range of cost-containment measures.
    * A dedicated revenue stream to support all this.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:36 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    As an aside, what I find most tragic about all of this is that I would be willing to bet corporations (not healthcare or insurance or pharmaceutical corporations, but all others) would save money in the long haul were we to move to a single payer system.

    Well of course, but their CEOs and board would have to pay higher taxes, and who do you think decides what their lobbyists should work on?
    posted by delmoi at 12:40 PM on December 16, 2009


    Ironouth: are you really arguing that the the money and influence peddling of corporate lobbying has not corrupted this process, or is somehow an open question? Really?

    Health insurers have lavished $41 million in campaign contributions on current members of Congress since 1989, with more than half going to lawmakers on the five House and Senate panels writing this year's health bills, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Since the beginning of 2008 alone, they have spent $145 million on lobbying, led by Blue Cross-Blue Shield organizations and the AHIP trade group.(via).

    Many health companies and associations increased their first-quarter lobbying expenditures, sometimes dramatically. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association upped its lobbying expenditures by a full million, to 2.8 million dollars in the second quarter; GlaxoSmithKline's spending jumped from $1.8 million to $2.3 million; Novartis grew from $1.4 million to $1.8 million; and Metlife Group reported $1.7 million, up nearly 50 percent. Allstate, which spent less than $900,000 on lobbying through March, boosted its spending to more than $1.5 million from April to June.(via).
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:42 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    * Individual mandate. I know a lot of liberals hate this, but how is it different from a tax? And its purpose is sound: it keeps the insurance pool broad and insurance rates down.

    It's basically a tax, but it's highly regressive. While poor people will get subsidies to a certain point, middle class people will be forced to pay a pretty high percentage of their income to private health insurance companies. It could easily result in a drop in living standards, especially as healthcare cost continue to rise at a rate higher then inflation.

    Wealthier people will pay a significantly lower percentage of their income to health insurance. So it's even worse then a flat tax, it's a tax that middle class people pay through the nose, while rich people pay hardly anything.

    And to top it all off, the money is paid to private insurance companies who still have every incentive to scrimp on and weasel out of payments, can still charge co-pays to discourage people to avoid going to the doctor, and so on. And they'll get to take a nice skim off the top to pay their CEOs millions of dollars.

    Most taxation takes money mostly from the wealthy to provide services for the broad population. This takes money from the middle class to pay for itself while letting wealthy people skim off the top for themselves and providing financial incentive to screw people who actually use the services provided.
    posted by delmoi at 12:46 PM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


    The people in congress aren't being "bribed." They believe in what they are voting for. Acknowledging that they have good faith reasons for their positions is the first step in winning these arguments. And all the polls in the world don't matter, its who is elected that matters. And the people are sending representatives that don't believe in single payer to Washington. All this talk about 'bribery' is simple nonsense. These people believe in what they are voting for.

    When I first read this I was dumbfounded, because I think of many Congresspeople as being bribed. But I think the argument is not that congresspeople all have our best interests at heart; it's that the assumption of bribery is not necessary to explain their actions. The mere fact that they are wealthy, pro-industry conservatives (that includes many Democrats) with a favorable view of private industry's problem-solving ability explains that stances.

    Having said that, given that Congress is a revolving door to and from industry and industry lobbying, and that these folks are at the table with the insurance industry and otherwise socially and financially connected, I'm not sure how that's a lot better than bribery. Maybe Ironmouth is saying we should just make sure to never elect people with industry ties, if that's what we want, but it's a lot harder to do than it seems.

    Just for fun, imagine that Congress was composed exclusively of local shopkeepers, teachers, and tradespeople, with a sprinkling of doctors and lawyers thrown in. None of these hypothetical people have ever held an executive job at a large corporation or worked in for a corporate lobbying group. And for good measure, let's say 15% of them don't have any health insurance. Would the health care debate be going the same way it is now?
    posted by freecellwizard at 12:49 PM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


    For fuck sake. How many times has reconciliation been discussed in this thread? Are you even reading it?

    For fuck's sake, I addressed why I don't think reconciliation will give most people what they want either. It's clear at this point that the best that even pushing reform through the reconciliation process could offer, given the makeup of congress, is the kind of enfeebled, public-option-in-name-only that everyone's been dismissing as worse than useless anyway, and even getting the scant 51 votes needed to push that through reconciliation wouldn't be a cakewalk.

    Or in other words:
    And of those pushing for the use of reconciliation, the aide concluded, "A bunch of people that watched 'Schoolhouse Rock' growing up think that they understand how the Senate works, and they don’t."

    ...

    Ultimately, passing a reform bill with reconciliation is "feasible," Dove says, but the resulting legislation "would not be pretty, and it couldn't contain a lot of things that people want to be in it."
    posted by saulgoodman at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2009


    My point was that Lieberman always intended, from the beginning, to make sure that he held the key position because of the GOP's solid hand on the filibuster. So he had to make sure that Snowe did not vote for the bill making his position superfulous. -- Ironmouth
    Except that Snowe has the same requirements as Lieberman.


    Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Snowe stated she was going to offer a "triggered" public option. Lieberman quickly then said no public option, triggered or not. These are facts.

    Follow the debate. I suggest www.talkingpointsmemo.com
    posted by Ironmouth at 12:54 PM on December 16, 2009


    Just for fun, imagine that Congress was composed exclusively of local shopkeepers, teachers, and tradespeople, with a sprinkling of doctors and lawyers thrown in. None of these hypothetical people have ever held an executive job at a large corporation or worked in for a corporate lobbying group. And for good measure, let's say 15% of them don't have any health insurance. Would the health care debate be going the same way it is now?

    But that isn't the congress we have. Nor is it likely to be the congress we will have in the near future. That's my whole argument.

    What do you want to do, ban those people from running? That's totally anti-democratic.
    posted by Ironmouth at 12:56 PM on December 16, 2009




    jonp72: " Individual mandate. I know a lot of liberals hate this, but how is it different from a tax?"

    How:

    It’s one thing to require a citizen to pay taxes–to pay into the commons. It’s another thing to require taxpayers to pay a private corporation, and to have up to 25% of that go to paying for luxuries like private jets and gyms for the company CEOs. ...

    If the Senate bill passes, in its current form, it will mean that the health care industry was able to dictate–through their Senators Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson–what they wanted the US Congress to do. They will have succeeded in dictating the precise terms of legislation.

    Now, that’s not the first time that has happened. It certainly happened on telecom immunity. It certainly has happened, repeatedly, on Defense contracting (see also Randy Cunningham). But none of these egregious instances of corporations dictating legislation included a tithe–the requirement that citizens pay corporations to provide their service, rather than allowing the government to contract the service.

    This is a fundamentally different relationship we’re talking about–one that gives corporations vast new powers.

    posted by Joe Beese at 1:00 PM on December 16, 2009


    Maybe Ironmouth is saying we should just make sure to never elect people with industry ties, if that's what we want, but it's a lot harder to do than it seems.

    yep. That's exactly it. We have this congress. We need to work with it. Not some magical congress.
    posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on December 16, 2009


    Meanwhile the Republicans have launched another procedural assault aimed at stalling the health care deliberations, this time by obstructing funding for the troops.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:09 PM on December 16, 2009


    yep. That's exactly it. We have this congress. We need to work with it. Not some magical congress.

    Is the correct way to push this congress to the left to say "Hey, we're good with pretty much whatever you guys can manage to pass"? Is that how any elected body has ever worked? Or would it be better to be agitating for the best health reform, even single payer, even if we aren't going to get it this time? I maintain you people have no understanding whatsoever of how agitation and movements work. A movement needs an actual vision, not the centrist calculation that the Democrats in congress and the White House have. If we'd been countering teabaggers with demonstrations in favor of single payer, I don't think we'd be seeing the process we've seen where anything really progressive is stripped out of the bill as thoroughly as possible. Unfortunately most of the activist organizations, labor and the traditional leadership of popular movements are either isolated or followed the Democrats in the logic we're seeing preached here.
    posted by graymouser at 1:10 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]



    What do you want to do, ban those people from running? That's totally anti-democratic.


    No, that's not what I said or even implied. I would like for a majority people to not vote for those people. But for that to happen, we have to find a way to solve some institutional problems that are preventing people from having reliable access to facts. FCC rules, campaign finance rules, etc. are all making the chance of the average person having a say less and less as time goes by. So I would like things like: presidential debates open to other parties; election day a federal holiday; less consolidation of tv, radio, print and other media; more transparency in government - that sort of thing.

    Those all seem like patently good ideas if the goal is democracy.
    posted by freecellwizard at 1:11 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    It’s one thing to require a citizen to pay taxes–to pay into the commons. It’s another thing to require taxpayers to pay a private corporation, and to have up to 25% of that go to paying for luxuries like private jets and gyms for the company CEOs. ...

    Switzerland and the Netherlands both have universal health insurance with private insurance companies. Are you saying that they should abolish universal insurance coverage simply because some of the funds for it ends up in private hands? You may think you're really "sticking it to the man" by advocating the defeat of this bill, but really the insurance company CEOs will come out unscathed.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2009


    If we'd been countering teabaggers with demonstrations in favor of single payer, I don't think we'd be seeing the process we've seen where anything really progressive is stripped out of the bill as thoroughly as possible.

    I have counterprotested teabaggers myself, and let me tell you, the support for single payer is not there. There is no magical hidden pocket of low-information "swing" voters that's suddenly going to wake up tomorrow and say, "Wow, I should've been for single payer all along!" If you can't acknowledge that, you're living in a MeFi bubble.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2009


    A movement needs an actual vision, not the centrist calculation that the Democrats in congress and the White House have.

    Exactly. We are debating a technocrat's plate of beans here, and one that stinks of rank plutocratic corporatism. My guess is the WH is already preparing its "lipstick-on-a-pig" speeches. Part of this will involve stressing that an imperfect bill is better than no bill. And maybe 20 years ago it would have worked. But people have grown more cynical, weary, and disenfranchised, especially after the Wall Street bailouts, and my own sense is that selling this thing as a victory for the people will not travel well with the average voter. We shall see.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:24 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    jonp72: "Switzerland and the Netherlands both have universal health insurance with private insurance companies. Are you saying that they should abolish universal insurance coverage simply because some of the funds for it ends up in private hands? You may think you're really "sticking it to the man" by advocating the defeat of this bill, but really the insurance company CEOs will come out unscathed."

    Your hippie-punching tone aside, you may have noticed that we will not have universal coverage.

    And I suspect that there are any number of other differences between Switzerland's situation and ours that add to the comparison's speciousness.
    posted by Joe Beese at 1:25 PM on December 16, 2009


    And as to your comment yesterday that "I don't see SEIU or AFSCME telling people to kill the bill":

    Though there’s no official word yet, early indications based on talks with various officials are that the groups will either formally oppose the legislation or, less dramatically, just not fight very hard to ensure its passage.

    Labor leaders are fuming at the concessions that Democratic leadership made in the last few days to win the support of the caucus’s most conservative members, notably Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.)

    posted by Joe Beese at 1:30 PM on December 16, 2009


    If we'd been countering teabaggers with demonstrations in favor of single payer

    But we didn't do that, did we? That's what it means to say there wasn't support for single-payer. Would-haves, could-haves, should-haves aside, there has consistently been less vigorous popular support for health care reform than there has been opposition. That's a fact. It's like Obama threw a party and no one came. Hell, don't you remember the prime time health care reform TV spot that backfired when viewers polled overwhelmingly said they were sick and tired of the health care debate and that they resented the intrusion of the issue into their precious TV-watching schedules?

    As an occupational hazard, the first thing members of congress care about is deflecting blame from themselves and not sticking their necks out to support measures that might hurt their own political prospects down the line.

    Until the makeup of congress changes dramatically on both sides of the aisle, those concerns will continue to trump whatever popular support there might be for reform. Popular will is not even close to the top of congress' list of concerns because no matter how popular a candidate's positions may be, no candidate can get elected if they can't raise enough money to get nominated and win their primaries.

    The point of the "appeal to the center" is to appeal to enough members of congress as its currently constituted to get some kind of legislation through the process. Appealing to the extremes is great populism but it makes for a lousy, unmanageable legislative process. And you seem to be overlooking the fact that the majority in congress (even with the Dem's being in the majority) simply will not come around to supporting the reforms that progressives would like to see. And honestly, progressives are pretty deeply divided about how most reforms should be fashioned anyway. Nobody really has the power to change any of these factors right now.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2009


    Your hippie-punching tone aside, you may have noticed that we will not have universal coverage.

    I don't need a hippie-punching tone, when "hippies" are doing such a good job of shooting themselves in the foot.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2009


    Thank you, jonp72. That's a pretty good list, and Drum's generally convincing in that article.

    I guess the crux of my skepticism about the bill -- and the main reason I've felt strongly about the public option -- is that my experience has been that private insurance is profoundly untrustworthy. Out of three experiences I've had as an individual buyer, two have been very sketchy and the third has been merely adversarial.

    So in my mind, a purchase mandate has to come with some very strong consumer protections. Standards for recision due to fraud which are very high, perhaps even high enough that insurers face the possibility of loss due to fraud. An ability to switch insurers at the drop of a hat and maintain continuity of coverage even while undergoing treatment for a catastrophic event. And dire penalties that threaten the very existence (and all invested capital) of a business that engages in shenanigans -- my first ripoff (and first experience buying insurance on my own) has been hit with millions of dollars in fines and some class action lawsuits and they're apparently operating with revenues in the billions and profits in the hundreds of millions.

    Do we get substantial protection? I suppose some of it is somewhat implied by non-denial for pre-existing conditions, but the thing is, once you're a net liability to the risk pool, getting rid of you any way they can -- including making your life miserable by making claims difficult and payouts dismal -- is going to be the rational way for a profit maximizing business to go. If people go somewhere else, they win -- they had your premium while you were a net asset, they don't hold your policy while you're a liability. Maybe many companies won't make that calculation, but it's a foregone conclusion that some will. And while my reading of the bill is at this point shallow, I don't see a lot focused on that. The fraud section is clearly focused on consumers.

    Maybe Drum's right. Maybe we take this now as an incremental change and at least reap benefits while private industry is figuring out how to best game the system. But I don't know. If the policy isn't solid, if this doesn't yield clear and substantial improvements, if it doesn't even result in voters feeling like they have more choices and get more from and have better experiences with their insurers, then it's going to be worse than not having another window of opportunity for a decade or two.
    posted by weston at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2009


    follow the money and explain to me why it's being spent if not to get people to vote the way those paying the bucks want them to

    The most obvious other reason why (people who work for) an insurer would donate to an MC who opposes most of these reforms is to encourage the re-election of MCs who have policy positions they approve of. The same reason most people donate to political campaigns.

    Look, this stuff is hard. You can't just look at money and at votes, see they go together, and legitimately infer that money caused votes. It may well have been that being someone who was going to vote that way anyway caused money. This is what people in the field call an endogeneity problem, and it's especially thorny when there are plausible causal mechanisms for each direction of causality. Or even for both simultaneously!

    There are some tricky statistical techniques you can use to try to get around this, but they make heroic assumptions and require additional data that's not always easy to get. Or, you can try to look at "natural experiments," like looking at the votes of people who've announced their retirements and so don't need to care about future re-election, or people who lost their primary elections, or at lame-duck sessions after the general election (though these are a lot less common after the 20th amendment).

    But the practical upshot is that, when you actually try to disentangle the endogeneity, it's not clear whether campaign donations cause votes. There are some studies that show effects, and IIRC these effects are substantively small, and other studies that show no effect.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    But we didn't do that, did we? That's what it means to say there wasn't support for single-payer.

    You're not paying attention at all. I'm saying that there was no showing of public support for single payer in part because people were thinking like you're talking about here. The left, which gets accused of self-marginalization, actually tried taking the "pragmatic" road in this case and letting Democratic legislators be the main champions of health care reform. And they're getting bupkis in return.
    posted by graymouser at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2009


    Given the centrality of those subsidies to the expansion of coverage, one of the biggest questions about this reform effort is whether the subsidies are politically sustainable. Unfortunately, history suggests they may not be. While Medicare and Social Security have broad-based support because everybody benefits from them regardless of income, means-tested welfare programs -- including Medicaid and even health insurance for children -- are constantly at risk of being cut, entirely dependent on the prevailing political winds. ...

    Moreover, because subsidies don't kick in until 2014, it's possible that in a nightmare scenario, they could be dramatically cut or even eliminated before seeing the light of day. In the absence of any systemic reform, then, we face the unpleasant possibility that with a realignment of power in Washington, DC, we could end up with a mandate -- and fewer, or even no, subsidies.

    posted by Joe Beese at 1:40 PM on December 16, 2009


    it's not clear whether campaign donations cause votes

    Maybe, maybe not, but it is clear that money and corporate clout buy political access. In almost any area one looks at, such as banking and finance reform, one sees this. Corporations would not be spending billions on lobbying if they were not getting results.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:41 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I'm saying that there was no showing of public support for single payer in part because people were thinking like you're talking about here.

    You can't magically make single payer come into existence through the power of positive thinking. This isn't Dale Carnegie. This isn't where you can make Tinkerbell come alive by saying "I believe in fairies!"

    The left, which gets accused of self-marginalization, actually tried taking the "pragmatic" road in this case and letting Democratic legislators be the main champions of health care reform.

    This is nonsense. Bernard Sanders has a bill for single-payer in the Senate right now, but he isn't joining the "kill the bill" crowd. There were also bills for single payer in the House, but it was always doubtful that it would pass the House, let alone the Senate.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:46 PM on December 16, 2009


    You're not paying attention at all. I'm saying that there was no showing of public support for single payer in part because people were thinking like you're talking about here.

    Well they shouldn't have been at the time. From the very beginning, the pro-side of this debate has let itself be rope-a-doped into spending more time second-guessing the pro-reformers motives and integrity, infighting furiously over relatively minor policy differences and otherwise sabotaging itself, from what I've seen.

    There should have been more visible, popular support on the pro-reform side--specifically, there should have been some real, visible positive support for those elected politicians who were trying to push for deeper reforms at the time--but there wasn't.

    Instead, they were hung out to dry by the Blue Dogs and the Republicans, who just love the version of the story that pins the blame for the shortcomings in the final legislation on those very same parties who originally pushed for the more aggressive reforms. That's a win-win for the reform opponents: Not only do they win the legislative battle, they even manage to blunt the political consequences to themselves, by casting all the blame on their opponents, the would-be reformers.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:48 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    There should have been more visible, popular support on the pro-reform side

    You guys can't have it both ways: you can't, on the one hand, blame progressive HCR reformers for not being active or vocal enough (which, btw, is debatable at best: Doctors, Single Payer Activists Arrested, Make History at Senate Finance Roundtable), and then, on the other, blame them for not being realistic with their expectations. I mean which is it: lack of willpower or lack of realism?
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:55 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    No, that's not what I said or even implied. I would like for a majority people to not vote for those people. But for that to happen, we have to find a way to solve some institutional problems that are preventing people from having reliable access to facts.

    This is at the core of your hubris. You assume that "if only people had access to facts" they would think like you do. Concentrate on convincing them, not thinking they are stupid and "brainwashed" for not agreeing with you.
    posted by Ironmouth at 1:58 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    yep. That's exactly it. We have this congress. We need to work with it. Not some magical congress.

    Is the correct way to push this congress to the left to say "Hey, we're good with pretty much whatever you guys can manage to pass"? Is that how any elected body has ever worked? Or would it be better to be agitating for the best health reform, even single payer, even if we aren't going to get it this time? I maintain you people have no understanding whatsoever of how agitation and movements work.


    The way to push congress to the left is to get more leftist congress members elected.

    I have never seen "agitation" or a "movement" ever get any significant number of people elected to the U.S. Congress. Ever. Frankly, I've never seen "agitation" or a "movement" get anyone elected to the US congress. Its like you guys are living in some world where giant puppets convince Joe Voter that you're right.

    This isn't the Popular Front here people.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    This isn't the Popular Front here people.

    For someone who just stated that one should

    concentrate on convincing [people], not [on] thinking they are stupid and 'brainwashed' for not agreeing,

    you sure do have a knack for coming off as patronizing. Just saying.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


    HP LaserJet P10006: I mean which is it: lack of willpower or lack of realism?

    I don't really see how these are mutually exclusive. I have a whole laundry list of things I'd like to change about the government, including some things that will never ever happen, but I haven't organized any marches or anything about them, mostly because I'm lazy.
    posted by shakespeherian at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2009


    nope... by that time, and the time anyone who has a stake in this is able to get the baseline of what this compromised bill contains; it will be signed, sealed, delivered.

    The United States of America: Justice. Sometimes it really means Just Us.

    Isn't the problem with just "accepting that" "half" of the "country" doesn't want some serious reform, and a serious consideration of a Public Option forgetting that that "half" which everyone in the gotcha media entertainment media focus on as being the arbiter of what is decent and acceptable for Our (read:shared) country, are not getting all the facts prescient to this debate? (yeah, woowoo, handwave, elitist me)

    I mean, if this were framed in terms of how much it will cost to give the farm to the insurance agencies... (insurance agencies? why? what do they have that the collective wealth of The United States of America does not have?) {besides the point}
    How many people who "oppose" this have families who had their belongings taken from them by institutions when they went broke...

    I think Delmoi hit the point when pointing out that up until now, it has very often been people WITH insurance who go broke on healthcare costs (people who may run small businesses, and have employees, people who, when they go broke paying for their Environmentally created Cancer, will cause Massive ripples in the Economic Pond.)... not people who are on state or federal health assistance. Allowing companies to whom it is PROFITABLE to deny care to insured people being rewarded here with new laws enshrining their right to own our insurability... is NOT American. Yet, intentionally, or psychologically unintended, this is what our Reps have supported.

    Given the choice between watching a parent die, while an insurance company profits; and watching a parent be treated, in an American hospital, under the coverage provided by the (boogieman alert) Government.... I think any person would have a hard time finding me someone who would, in honesty, choose the first option.

    This debate has been hijacked from the start by garbage like death panels... when death panels are what we have. The terms of reference are skewed, and it's like a dirty secret that anyone who mentions is called unrealistic. Why can government be trusted to drop bombs efficiently, and feed, water, and otherwise be a parent to a massive army, yet... The entire line of argumentation has been one of freedoms, but really, what is a freedom if you CAN'T live?
    See where that FEAR comes from?

    I do!

    The fear whipped up by these (arguably) Money influence agnostic representatives is contained in the idea that a Government run plan WOULDN'T COVER EVERYTHING(death panels), or wouldn't protect the unprotected... the OPPONENTS of Health Care Reform... without realizing it, thanks to LIES, serious lies, would, if given FACTS, SUPPORT Health Care Reform...

    seriously (and I intend by no means to attack the messenger), but all these points sound like bringing water and Papier-mâché to a gun fight; to people who have ever experienced the POWER of an insurance company (life and death)... or to the people who didn't get to start with equality of situation... (while we may be getting to a point of equality of opportunity as a nation... there is no sign of the existence of equality of situation. This makes me say, wow, ANOTHER leg up for ppl who already have enough to have electrically activated bootstraps.)
    Why does this thread get to be about the power of corporations over our elected officials... this should not be about them, who cares if their weakness is induced by some money manipulation or not.; rather, this is about the power over the individual!
    This truly is about Freedom, Rights, and the Individual... but instead it's become about "freedom", "rights", and the "individual".
    ^
    * Insurers have to take all comers. They can't turn you down for a preexisting condition or cut you off after you get sick.
    (so, assumes having money to GET them to look at you to begin with?)
    * Community rating. Within a few broad classes, everyone gets charged the same amount for insurance. (everyone doesn't have the same baseline of "reasonable" cost.
    * Individual mandate. I know a lot of liberals hate this, but how is it different from a tax? And its purpose is sound: it keeps the insurance pool broad and insurance rates down. (looks for bootstraps, do boots even have straps anymore?)
    * A significant expansion of Medicaid.
    * Subsidies for low and middle income workers that keeps premium costs under 10% of income
    . (again, why let someone skim off the top...)
    * Limits on ER charges to low-income uninsured emergency patients. (how, do we pay the balance, or is there a law that will ensure that ER charges are lowered... otherwise, WE pay the balance still, like in a public option but there's still a skim from the "insurers")
    * Caps on out-of-pocket expenses. (at what? and how, are we paying the balance?)
    * A broad range of cost-containment measures. (promises, roads, intentions, paved with? leads to.)
    * A dedicated revenue stream to support all this
    . (like when we decide to attack other nations?)


    But now I suppose I can be portrayed as sounding like as much of a fear monger toward Insurance Company as those who speak of the way Governments "always mess everything up", or a hippie, or obstruction on the road to progress, it is so hard to not be accused of being one or the other thing, and dismissed with two words and a wave.. I am not afraid of any company, nor a free market of ideas; but honestly, as shown by the passions of fellow Americans... we can do Justice better; and real opinions and strong positions are being sidelined. And by saying that the arguments here are somehow Ridiculous, or way out of the mainstream, is doing exactly what is claimed in the arguments for consideration of solid health care reform.
    This feels a lot like the bank bailout... lots of Legal and financial Promises from We the People... with Nothing in writing, or even verbally, from those in the industry of making money off of us.
    posted by infinite intimation at 2:12 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Ironmouth: We are done. Your response to me is full of non-sequiturs and condescension. You asked for evidence, delmoi and others provided it. You ignore it, and continue to misstate my argument and those of others. When pyramid termite put you on blast for your passive aggressive behavior, you screamed about personal attacks. Yet, you demean others by misstating arguments and, also, by telling me that I don't understand the "complexities" of this world. We are all supposed to tolerate your bad behavior and heaven forbid that we call you out on it.

    I do believe you that you have met congressional representatives and are involved in Washington politics. The condescending, goal-post moving and intellectually dishonest nature of your rhetoric gives me no doubt of that.

    Good day to you.
    posted by wuwei at 2:19 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Follow the debate. I suggest www.talkingpointsmemo.com -- Ironmouth
    Okay:
    The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll coming out later today will show opposition to the health care bill growing -- mainly from disappointed liberals, who are very much disappointed to see the public option getting thrown out.

    The poll has 47% saying the Obama health care plan is a bad idea, to only 32% who say it's a good idea.
    (but seriously, you don't think I'm aware of TPM? I linked to it in my second comment in this thread. You think maybe that's where I read articles like "Reid Assures Snowe That Public Option, Medicare Buy-In Are Dead").
    Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Snowe stated she was going to offer a "triggered" public option. Lieberman quickly then said no public option, triggered or not. These are facts. -- Ironmouth
    Like I said in the comment you were replying too, even if Snowe supports the bill with triggers Ben Nelson has said he won't vote for it without stupak-like abortion limits which means that even with Snowe, Lieberman is still needed. You completly ignored that even though you responded to the other part of my comment. I think you're the one who's paying less attention here. You're also seem to be unaware of the annual coverage caps, which have been talked about quite a bit in this very thread.
    Even Russ Feingold will oppose reconciliation: -- Ironmouth
    There is a difference between "not thinking reconciliation is a good idea" and seemingly being unaware of it as a possibility. Yes, it's true that we have the congress we have, but it's not true that this particular path is the only one available. Many of the things that people want (see my ezra klien post in the begining of the thread) are doable through reconciliation. And with only a 50 vote threshold, rather then a 60 vote threshold, the major anti-health-reform democrats Lieberman, Landrieu, Baucus, Nelson, Bayh, and Lincoln wouldn't be needed.
    Switzerland and the Netherlands both have universal health insurance with private insurance companies. Are you saying that they should abolish universal insurance coverage simply because some of the funds for it ends up in private hands? -- jonp72
    Yes, obviously that's what we all want. For Switzerland and the Netherlands to give up universal coverage * rolls eyes *. And btw, Switzerland's healthcare system is one of the most expensive in the world, not as bad as the U.S. but very expensive compared to it's neighbors.
    Still of all the countries with universal health care, Switzerland’s is the most market-oriented and merits discussion. Switzerland’s health care spending as a percentage of GDP is second only behind the U.S. (11.6% of GDP for Switzerland, 15.3% for the U.S. according to Frontline)
    ---
    I have never seen "agitation" or a "movement" ever get any significant number of people elected to the U.S. Congress. Ever. Frankly, I've never seen "agitation" or a "movement"
    Lol, how many times did Obama call his support "a movement" The answer is: A lot. But I guess that wasn't a congressional election so it doesn't count.
    posted by delmoi at 2:23 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    The way to push congress to the left is to get more leftist congress members elected.

    Problem with that: there's a two party system, the Republicans are insane and actually getting enough money to mount a primary campaign in the Democratic Party 90% of the time means deep compromises on any progressive principles. Do you think the New Deal Democrats were fresh out of the Communist Party? They weren't. But because the popular momentum was radically leftward, they made some fairly deep changes.

    I have never seen "agitation" or a "movement" ever get any significant number of people elected to the U.S. Congress. Ever. Frankly, I've never seen "agitation" or a "movement" get anyone elected to the US congress. Its like you guys are living in some world where giant puppets convince Joe Voter that you're right.

    Who talked about giant puppets convincing people? When something's right, you fight for it regardless of whether you have the votes lined up in Congress. Seriously, man, you have the most abashed view of how electoral politics work that I've seen. Popular movements have been built and can be built despite the muddleheaded centrism of the Democratic Party. The civil rights movement didn't win over voters one Congressperson at a time, it made objective circumstances unlivable until civil rights were conceded. A lot of the mechanisms used in the last election (in addition to the tactics of the '30s and '50s/'60s) should be getting people out there for progressive change, and they aren't.

    This isn't the Popular Front here people.

    Well, no, but that doesn't mean the techniques of pushing centrist governments left don't apply. Objective circumstances, including mass movements, can change what a politician is able to do, and what he or she is forced to do.
    posted by graymouser at 2:27 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Infinite Intimation:
    It's really frustrating. So many Americans are dying needlessly, and so many Americans are screaming out for real solutions. Yet all we get is a pat on the head from the courtiers, and a reassurance that little baby steps (that are actually overly complicated steps designed to fill the pockets of the same people that are already shafting us) are the best we can do. I would argue that the mandate is worse than the current situation, because it represents a new revenue stream for the people (financial services industry) that have made our current American situation a complete mess.

    If that's the best we can do in the face of tens of thousands of needless deaths every year, and widespread public outcry, then the American system is truly dysfunctional. That is to say, so dysfunctional that just talking about electing "better" Congressional representatives is futile.
    posted by wuwei at 2:31 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Problem with that: there's a two party system, the Republicans are insane and actually getting enough money to mount a primary campaign in the Democratic Party 90% of the time means deep compromises on any progressive principles.

    Politics costs money. If you want more progressive Democrats, then you need put your money where your mouth is and start funding some more progressive Democrats. Small donor democracy is what it's all about.
    posted by jonp72 at 2:40 PM on December 16, 2009


    Lieberman, Landrieu, Baucus, Nelson, Bayh, and Lincoln.

    Again, give me your whip count of 51. Because those votes aren't there.
    posted by Ironmouth at 5:07 PM on December 16, 2009


    Again, give me your whip count of 51. Because those votes aren't there.

    What is it with you and asking for names of people? (without ever providing your own) Why don't you give me the names of people you think will vote against a bill with the public option if passed by reconciliation?
    posted by delmoi at 5:35 PM on December 16, 2009


    Oh I came in here to post this Tea party movement more popular then republicans or democrats.
    posted by delmoi at 5:37 PM on December 16, 2009


    Has anyone else noticed that the split in the progressive blogosphere between those who are saying "it's a good bill in spite of everything" (Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, to name a few) and those who just can't bring themselves to support Liebercare (Markos and Digby come to mind, among bloggers who have been at it since 2003*) is eerily similar to the split between those who grudgingly backed the invasion of Iraq and those who fought against the war seven years ago?

    To a large degree, it's the same cast of characters, with the same tone to the arguments. It's the policy wonks versus the activists. On the wonky side, there is (and was, in 2003) a resigned sense that this isn't an ideal action, but that we don't live in an ideal world, and that consequently we should suck it up and support an imperfect initiative. On the other, there is (and was, in 2003) a resistance born of an awareness that Congressional Democrats will more often than not -- and often unintentionally -- screw themselves and the country, out of a misguided belief that powerful forces with agendas very different from that of the Democratic Party can be managed and trusted.

    It's been long enough since the invasion of Iraq that the two camps - the credulous wonks and dirty fucking hippies - have reconciled (and even interbred), but the dynamic that separated us in 2003 is the same. The fundamental difference in approach is still there. When all is said and done, the wonks trust Democratic politicians to protect our interests. The activists don't. That doesn't mean that we don't like certain Democratic politicians, or that we don't cherish our wonky brethren. It just means that we're not willing to get fooled again.


    from An Observation on the Split in the Progressive Blogosphere
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 5:39 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Small donor democracy is what it's all about.

    Yeah, what my small donor status got me today was a fucking Christmas card from the White House, which is totally cockles-of-the-heart-warming and all, but I'd really sort of prefer that President and Mrs. Obama (or, rather, the DNC) kept their holiday greetings and instead sent some vaguely reasonable facsimile of decent access to healthcare for the working poor people in my town.
    posted by FelliniBlank at 5:43 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Has anyone else noticed that the split in the progressive blogosphere between those who are saying "it's a good bill in spite of everything" (Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, to name a few) and those who just can't bring themselves to support Liebercare (Markos and Digby come to mind, among bloggers who have been at it since 2003*) is eerily similar to the split between those who grudgingly backed the invasion of Iraq and those who fought against the war seven years ago?

    Complete with Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman.
    posted by delmoi at 5:45 PM on December 16, 2009


    Some of Lieberman's critics see his stance on healthcare as shaped by his acceptance of more than $1m in campaign contributions from the medical insurance industry during his 21 years in the Senate. The blocking of public-run competition is a huge relief to an industry that has been increasing premiums far ahead of costs and making huge profits while individuals are bankrupted by chronic illnesses. Many of the medical insurance companies are based in Lieberman's home state

    from Why Joe Lieberman is holding Barack Obama to ransom over healthcare
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 5:55 PM on December 16, 2009


    There is just no way in hell this is all going to turn out okay. It's time to plan to move.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:02 PM on December 16, 2009


    FelliniBlank: "Yeah, what my small donor status got me today was a fucking Christmas card from the White House, which is totally cockles-of-the-heart-warming and all, but I'd really sort of prefer that President and Mrs. Obama (or, rather, the DNC) kept their holiday greetings and instead sent some vaguely reasonable facsimile of decent access to healthcare for the working poor people in my town."

    When I read the bit about how much face time Olympia Snowe was getting with Obama while the Progressive Caucus was still waiting for an officially requested meeting, I could just imagine the phone call:

    Hello? Have I reached the Progressive Caucus? I'm calling on behalf of the President. He wants me to extend his and and the First Lady's very best wishes for the holidays. He also is looking forward to having a serious, sit-down discussion with your group as soon as possible in the new year.
    posted by Joe Beese at 6:18 PM on December 16, 2009


    fff: "There is just no way in hell this is all going to turn out okay. It's time to plan to move."

    Not now! You're gonna miss out on all the good looting.
    posted by mullingitover at 6:18 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    HP LaserJet P10006: "Why Joe Lieberman is holding Barack Obama to ransom over healthcare"

    Seriously, this bullshit has got to stop.

    Greenwald dares to acknowledge the obvious: Everything about the administration's conduct during this farce suggests that this is the outcome they wanted from the start.
    posted by Joe Beese at 6:25 PM on December 16, 2009


    What is it with you and asking for names of people? (without ever providing your own) Why don't you give me the names of people you think will vote against a bill with the public option if passed by reconciliation.

    Read the entire thread. Names were given hours ago. And they include Feingold.
    posted by Ironmouth at 6:38 PM on December 16, 2009


    Meanwhile, in other news, Detroit's unemployment is near 50%, lending for small business across the nation is drying up, bankers are working to crush reform, and Wall Street is set for a record year. No wonder Bernanke (despite those who oppose him) has been named Man of The Year: Americans know who he works for.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:56 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


    HP: "Detroit's unemployment is near 50%"

    Wow, worse than Afghanistan.

    Michiganistan?
    posted by mullingitover at 7:11 PM on December 16, 2009


    Everything about the administration's conduct during this farce suggests that this is the outcome they wanted from the start.

    That's ridiculous. Obama wanted a health care bill before the August recess. Do you seriously think Obama wanted to have people hanging him in effigy and brandishing handguns at health care town halls? Do you really think that the last six months was just an act?
    posted by jonp72 at 7:51 PM on December 16, 2009


    Has anyone else noticed that the split in the progressive blogosphere between those who are saying "it's a good bill in spite of everything" (Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, to name a few) and those who just can't bring themselves to support Liebercare (Markos and Digby come to mind, among bloggers who have been at it since 2003*) is eerily similar to the split between those who grudgingly backed the invasion of Iraq and those who fought against the war seven years ago?

    You forgot Paul Krugman, who supports the bill and opposed the Iraq War. It's not as cut and dried as you think.
    posted by jonp72 at 7:59 PM on December 16, 2009




    It's not as cut and dried as you think.

    Who's "you"? What you're quoting there were not my words (hence the italics and link).

    And yes of course there are going to be exceptions to the argument, but the point was about pundits in the progressive blogosphere--and Krugman is not a blogger.

    I would not put too much into what is only meant to be an analogy anyway, but I thought the comparison being made was at least interesting enough to warrant the link.

    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:06 PM on December 16, 2009


    That's ridiculous.

    Sen. Russ Feingold: "This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don't think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth," said Feingold. "I think they could have been higher. I certainly think a stronger bill would have been better in every respect."
    posted by Staggering Jack at 8:06 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Can anybody recommend a resource which provides timely summaries of changes in the bill? I care about this a lot, but there aren't enough hours in the day to aggregate bits and pieces of information from all over the place. How are those of you who think you're up-to-date keeping track?
    posted by avianism at 8:22 AM on December 16 [+] [!]


    I have found this from DailyKos helpful, Key-Elements-of-Senate-HCR-Bill
    and Kaiser Family Foundation report for an in depth look comparison, etc. And this, for real junkies who follow on a day by day, hour by hour basis, from Talking Points Memo's HC Wire.

    This bill is a disaster for the United States and Democrats. It is perfectly appropriate to start over with a reconciliation process in the House. Like dur, the Dummycrats do have a majority in both houses for a SIMPLE majority vote. Time for the obstruction to be over. It's time for the few representing the insurance industry ONLY to be checked.

    Remember the good old days when the GOP had a 50/50 split in the Senate with Cheney casting the tie breaking vote, radically changing US Public Policy again and again? Democrats have fifty eight with one independent and, ah Lieberman. Fifty eight.

    The items in the current bill can "easily" be rolled into a new bill and passed separately from a public option or Medicare buy in - insurance reform is a no brainer. The core of reform is competition and some way to make that happen - a real public option to cap the current runaway costs. Obama drones on about this being a now or never proposition. Insurance reform is NOT a now or never proposition. The public option with a reconciliation process, simple majority IS a now or never proposition.

    It's as if the Dummycrats, well the DLC wing of which Obama is now shown to be solidly a part, is embarrassed about having such majority at hand. Frankly, I suspect they'll be relieved when they can lose one house of Congress so they can get down to what they really hope for - triangulation. Blame it only on the GOP then - whew, close call really getting anything meaningful done. How embarrassing for them now.

    No caps on charges, mandated purchase, excise tax on "gold plated" heath care policies, and still millions uninsured so the uninsured still troop off to emergency departments everywhere - resulting in continued increases in premiums as now, again and again? And that bonus excise tax? New York Times reported some time ago that was, as proposed to be a 35% excise tax , reg required to access, on the amount over $8000 for single individuals and $20k for families? This a huge transfer from what's left of the middle class to insurance companies - with no cost containment or competition what so ever?? Boy, that's going to work out well for Dummycrats.
    posted by WinstonJulia at 8:19 PM on December 16, 2009


    The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote [spoiler], threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won't get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday. "We're not going to help you. You'll never hear from us again," Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen.

    The spoiler, of course, being that Obama was using his power to get dems to vote for the war supplemental bill. I guess Obama has no power over democrats on a public option, just on the war bill.


    The conservative democrats who are opposing health care reform do not need help from Obama. If anything they are angling to triangulate against Obama in any upcoming elections. Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu all come from states that went heavily for McCain. Lieberman actively campaigned against Obama. According to the current rules of the senate, any one of these people can kill health care reform and Obama can't do anything about it.
    posted by afu at 8:40 PM on December 16, 2009


    New York Times reported some time ago that was, as proposed to be a 35% excise tax , reg required to access, on the amount over $8000 for single individuals and $20k for families? This a huge transfer from what's left of the middle class to insurance companies - with no cost containment or competition what so ever?? Boy, that's going to work out well for Dummycrats.

    The excise tax goes to the government not the insurance companies and the tax itself is a cost control measure that helps "bend the curve" of health care costs over the long run.
    posted by afu at 9:07 PM on December 16, 2009


    you sure do have a knack for coming off as patronizing

    most of the washington elite do - they say they're fighting for us when they're just rent seeking

    and it scares the shit out of them when they find out what honest working people think of them ...
    posted by pyramid termite at 12:45 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Michiganistan?

    Bring the troops home, along with all the Afghanis. Put 'em all in Detroit building cars to compete against the Chinese. Full employment, Americanize the hell out of them, nuke the tribal territories to glass, and put let 'em all go back in twenty years.

    Many problems solved. Hamburger with onions.
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:07 AM on December 17, 2009


    Today I was thinking about when the Republicans had taken Congress, with Newt at the helm, and they were all het up, barking about their Contract with America and what not. They tried to push through a budget that Clinton refused to sign. The end result? The Republicans came out looking like the bad guys, and eventually caved. With a Republican majority, the President got results.

    Obama could take a lesson from Clinton. The Republicans never understood partnership, conciliation and reaching across the aisle, and they certainly don't now. The time for trying to make nice is over. Hopefully this turn of events will wake the Democrats up to realize that bi-partisanship might be a fine idea, and work well enough with some issues, but sometimes you have to say, "You know what? Enough is enough. Screw these guys. Let's get this done."
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:05 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Read the entire thread. Names were given hours ago. And they include Feingold. -- Ironmouth
    You think Feingold would vote against HCR in a reconciliation vote? On the basis of some quotes saying a regular vote would be better then reconciliation? Saying "a regular vote is better then reconciliation" is different then saying "doing nothing is better then passing this by reconciliation".

    Anyway, you still need nine more names. Since you're the one who thinks it's reasonable to demand people who think a bill might pass need to list every single person who would vote for it. Even if we take Feingold and add him to the list of Lieberman, Landrieu, Baucus, Nelson, Bayh, and Lincoln that's still only six votes. Who are the other four?
    Americanize the hell out of them, nuke the tribal territories to glass --- fff
    Plus, the nuclear winter that results from all that nuking will counteract global warming!
    posted by delmoi at 3:59 AM on December 17, 2009


    You think Feingold would vote against HCR in a reconciliation vote?

    Feingold already said that he would vote against reconciliation in a health care vote. Even "progressives" can get overly enamored with Senatorial privileges.
    posted by jonp72 at 6:43 AM on December 17, 2009


    The thing is, in this case, nearly all the elements of the reform as it now stands are good things that will have to be a part of whatever superior health care reform better legislation might be able to produce down the road. Unless you're still carrying a torch for single-payer and absolutely unable to see that single-payer isn't going to happen yet, you must realize exchanges will have to be in whatever final form reform takes, as will rules preventing rescission and preexisting condition exclusion, etc.

    What's left in the bill at this point is still all good stuff that would likely have been part of even a plan featuring a robust public option.

    So, yes, cry over what we didn't get. Keep pushing for what we didn't get, by all means. But don't play into the opposition's hands and help ensure that no one will even dare try health care reform again in the future.

    Unless you want to establish a dictatorship, most Americans want a system that still allows them to keep their existing private health insurance if they want to. So ultimately, some form of private insurance exchange and all the other convoluted stuff that pads out this giant bill has to be put in place anyway.

    Also, I see the left being very effective at dissent, opposition, and in general, pissing on parades, but so far, it seems to me the left is doing a piss-poor job of advocacy and constructive activism. Activism isn't just about criticizing your opponents--you have to put forward a positive vision and work to promote what you actually want to see, too. Instead the left spends most of its energies attacking those who it should be working hard to make into stronger allies, alienating potential reformers and weakening its own political position. In the process, everyone ends up turning on everyone else, because in reality none of us agrees exactly about what shape reform should take, and the minor differences end up being exaggerated and used to divide the reformers.
    posted by saulgoodman at 6:45 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I'm all for taking the good, not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good and all that.

    But that said, I really don't think passing this bill is a good idea, and for only one reason.

    Mandates.

    Right now it's nothing but a giveaway to the insurance industry. All the promised reform appears to have vanished, the insurance industry can't put in lifetime caps but they can put in annual caps (which may be worse than lifetime), there are no price controls, etc.

    From my POV it appears that the major effect this law will have on people is that we'll be required, by law, to purchase insurance that is all but guaranteed to be worse than nothing. There isn't anything in the law prohibiting the insurance companies from using their current practices of ruinous copays and deductibles to render the insurance we will be forced to purchase nothing more or less than wastepaper.

    Heck, they couldn't even end recission.

    More to the point, this seems to basically set up insurance as a government granted fief. We are to be required, by the full force of law, to hand our hard earned money over to a for profit corporation, which can then use it to buy yachts and pay further bribes to legislators.

    Take out the mandate and I can support the bill, but as long as it is there, and there are no mechanisms to keep costs down I can't see this as anything but a giant gift to the evil insurance industry.

    After all this fighting, all this deal making, what it comes down to is that the insurance industry gets a huge influx of victims, and no rules to stop the abuse they've been heaping on us.
    posted by sotonohito at 8:24 AM on December 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


    Also, I see the left being very effective at dissent, opposition, and in general, pissing on parades, but so far doing a piss-poor job of advocacy and constructive activism.

    I think that is a very cynical view. I see many on the left having worked very, very hard to get a democratic president and democratic congress elected. It was clear during the election that the finance and healthcare sectors needed to be reformed (not just bailed out) and so people worked hard to constructively change the system in the most direct way - by changing the people in charge of the system. They did this through direct advocacy and constructive activism and it worked.

    So, yeah, maybe people should have read the small print to better understand the candidate with the "change we can believe in" slogan didn't mean change in the sense of reforming any systems. But I think you can hardly blame them for being disappointed and angry.
    posted by Staggering Jack at 8:32 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So, yes, cry over what we didn't get. Keep pushing for what we didn't get, by all means. But don't play into the opposition's hands and help ensure that no one will even dare try health care reform again in the future.

    Don't be so melodramatic. Clinton didn't get it in '94 but that didn't stop Obama. It took several attempts to get Medicare passed. The "no one will ever try it again" thing is ridiculous. Healthcare was a major part of the campaign and it's unlikely that the issue will just dissipate if it doesn't pass.
    posted by delmoi at 8:33 AM on December 17, 2009


    Doctors will get richer under this "reform." Insurance companies will get vastly richer under this "reform". Pharmaceutical companies will get richer under this "reform". But there will still be millions of people left with no access to health care. There will still be tens of millions of people who will get substandard or even pathetically trashy health care. And the cost of medical care, both for individuals and for society as a whole, already the highest in the world, will continue to soar. To make matters worse, taxes will also go up dramatically, by at least $100 billion a year. For extra laughs, while these costs would start hitting the public right away, the "benefits" of the bill wouldn't go into effect until 2013, meaning that a likely resurgent Republican Party, ousting Obama from the White House, and the Democrats from the majority in Congress in 2012, would simply undo the whole thing anyhow.

    Dr. Dean is right. This is indeed a bad bill. But it's not just a bad bill. It is a morally outrageous, politically disgusting and economically dangerous bill. It moves the country in exactly the wrong direction--not towards the socialism that the right has been decrying, but towards an increasingly costly corporatist system that will be even harder to reform down the road. ...

    The only positive thing I can see in this debacle is that perhaps if President Obama is slapped down by his own most ardent backers on what he has claimed is his number one legislative goal, he and his too-clever-by-half advisers will realize that they need to do a U-turn and rethink how they are trying to govern.

    More likely, however, this defeat will be the beginning of the end of the Obama administration, which has now been revealed as devoid of principle, incapable of leadership, and in thrall to the most cynical and greedy corporate interests.

    posted by Joe Beese at 8:42 AM on December 17, 2009


    20 Questions, 20 Responses
    posted by jonp72 at 8:47 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Health Care: The Elevator Pitch
    posted by jonp72 at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2009


    "Sen. Klobuchar just made a great point on MSNBC- using the logic of those wanting to kill the bill because it isn’t good enough, we would never have passed the Civil Rights Act of 1960 because it didn’t have the reforms of 1964, 68, and 91 included." (link)
    posted by jonp72 at 9:36 AM on December 17, 2009


    Don't be so melodramatic.

    Are you kidding me?

    Look at the history of health care reform efforts in the US.

    Teddy Roosevelt tried and failed. Franklin Roosevelt, in the midst of passing the sweeping New Deal programs, recognized that getting health care reform passed would be too difficult, so he didn't even bother trying! Truman tried twice and failed both times. President Kennedy, too, found that his health care legislation stalled in congress due to the overwhelming efforts of the powerful health care lobby.

    Pushing for health care reform in this country has never been easy, and if a failed reform attempt now sinks the presidency of the most popular elected Democrat in a generation, then you can make a pretty fucking confident bet that no one's going to be especially eager to stick their necks out over this issue again anytime soon.

    So here's a list of other presidents who sold out their progressive base and never really wanted to get meaningful reform through the legislative process found political resistance to health care reform too difficult to accomplish during their time in office:

    1) Teddy Roosevelt
    2) Franklin Roosevelt
    3) Harry Truman
    4) John F. Kennedy
    5) Jimmy Carter
    6) Bill Clinton

    This time around, popular support seemed so solid at the start, it looked like an easy win. But by now, the reform movement has been so effectively turned on itself, with infighting and dithering over the most minor policy disagreements having been effectively used to splinter what had been the makings of a decent coalition in favor of reform.

    You have to understand, to you and me this might seem like a battle between those who want reform to take this or that particular shape, but in reality, there has always been a larger battle being waged between those who do not want reform in any shape or fashion, and those who do recognize the compelling and immediate need for reform. Opponents of reform know all too well that the internecine conflicts that naturally arise within any pro-reform movement are their greatest weapon, and that by fueling these conflicts, all of the various pro-reform factions' political potency can be diminished in the process. That's what they've done successfully this time around. So now all the pro-reform folks are blaming each other again.
    posted by saulgoodman at 9:38 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    SEIU Urges Changes In Senate Health Care Bill, Calls Out Obama

    A top labor leader urged Congress and the White House on Thursday to make major improvements to the Senate health care legislation, suggesting that the labor community could not support the current incarnation.

    "I believe this is the moment when we must stand as one and say enough," Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern wrote in a letter to his fellow members.

    While he stopped short of formally opposing the bill that is making its way through the Senate, he did express outrage over the concessions made to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). "The public option is declared impossible. Americans cannot purchase Medicare at an earlier age. The health insurance reform effort we have needed for a century is at risk," Stern wrote.

    And in a significant change of tone, Stern -- who has visited the White House more than any other labor official -- called out President Barack Obama for moving away from the promises of his campaign.

    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:49 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    we would never have passed the Civil Rights Act of 1960 because it didn’t have the reforms of 1964, 68, and 91 included.

    Did the Civil Rights Act of 1960 actually make life worse for the majority of black people in the country?
    posted by dirigibleman at 10:12 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I've been getting really depressed lately about politics. I was at first depressed because the public option was dying, but now I'm much more depressed because of the anti-Obama frenzy I've been seeing coming from progressives.

    I don't know if these progressives are not old enough or simply have chosen to forget the year 2000, but there was a sizable disenchantment on the left with the Democratic mainstream then as well. And it manifested itself as both lack of enthusiasm for Gore and a movement for Nader. The lesson is clear -- if you're not willing to settle for a moderate and fight for a Gore, then you will get eight years of a Bush. I hate to think who that Bush could be in the next cycle.

    But, but, but, Obama is so disappointing! Sure. I get it. And we should let him know it. But withdrawing support from Obama? When he has to deal with birthers, and tea partiers, and beckites, and the assorted nuts du jour? It's bound to backfire. There is absolutely no
    upside to vitriol against Obama, and there is so much downside. Think of how much better off this country would be if we had a centrist, semi-corporate-friendly Democratic president from 2000 to 2008. Not ideal by a long shot, sure. But we lost so much in those years.
    Another Republican future scares me.

    The myth of the equivalency of the parties, that it will be easier to make things better if we let them get worse -- these are the most dangerous ideas to us at this point. It's the biggest threat to my hope, at least.
    (link)
    posted by jonp72 at 10:13 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    jonp72: "Health Care: The Elevator Pitch"

    Priceless. His repsonses to some of the "several" objections he anticipates:

    1. You're right: the bill is not "real reform"...

    2. No, the bill is not particularly great, or even particularly good, when it comes to cost control -- especially without the public option....

    3. In the long run, you're probably right.

    4. This is a problem that should be fixed.

    5. Some of the money, indeed, will turn into insurance company profits.


    It's been great talking but I'm at my floor now.
    posted by Joe Beese at 10:14 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]




    dirigibleman: you do realize that if you were one of the tea party people, you'd be saying the exact same thing right now, if we were on the verge of passing a sweeping single-payer plan.

    not because you can actually predict the future with any greater degree of success than anyone else can (let alone with better accuracy than the CBO, which has spelled out in excruciating detail who benefits and loses out financially under the various reform plans that have been under consideration), but because like everyone else, you sincerely believe you can.
    posted by saulgoodman at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2009


    saulgoodman Yes, you are right. Getting healthcare reform is an insanely difficult job, though if it hadn't been for the horribly anti-democratic traditions of the Senate we could have actually done something worthwhile this time.

    But thanks to those anti-democratic traditions, we aren't.

    This is not a health care reform bill, no matter what it says on the package.

    Passing something, merely on the basis that it says "health care reform" on the package, regardless of its actual contents, is not a good idea.

    Under the Senate bill recission is still legal, annual caps are allowed, there are no price controls, there are no limits on profits or overhead, there are no limits on deductibles and copays, etc.

    What, exactly, are we getting in exchange for forcing the poorest Americans to hand over their money to the health insurance vultures? They certainly won't be getting health insurance worthy of the name, what will they be getting?

    What we have is a bill that calls itself "health care reform", that contains no actual reform, and a giant gift to the evil thugs who make their fortunes by denying us health care.

    What is the benefit to this bill?

    If they took out the mandates we might be able to say "this is a terrible bill, but there are at least a few scraps tossed to the people". With the mandates all we can say is "this is a terrible bill".

    I'm opposed, on general principal, to letting the Republicans win (yet again), but when the alternative is the biggest giveaway to the corrupt and evil insurance industry that we have ever seen, I think we have to give the Republicans their win.

    And I REALLY think we need to let Obama know just how infuriated we are by his lies about this topic. He has violated pretty much every campaign promise he made on this issue, and from his behavior it is clear that those promises were empty when he made them. If he had actually intended to follow through he'd have twisted arms, that he not only didn't, but instead instructed his enforcer to push Reid the coward to give Lieberman everything he wanted shows that Obama never wanted real reform, and that his goal all along was a bill that looks more or less like this one.
    posted by sotonohito at 10:22 AM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Under the Senate bill recission is still legal, annual caps are allowed, there are no price controls, there are no limits on profits or overhead, there are no limits on deductibles and copays, etc.

    The Senate bill still has to be reconciled with the house bill and then adopted by both chambers. There are definitely still smaller battles to be fought to ensure the final state of the bill is one we can live with.

    But expanding an existing program is a much easier legislative battle than having to start from scratch. Consider the example of the Civil Rights bill, and the various expansions to Medicare and Medicaid.

    That's why reform opponents are still digging in their heels, doing everything they can to try to prevent even the current reforms from going through. The Republicans are still so determined not to let anything pass, they're even holding troop funding hostage. If the current bill was guaranteed to lead to all the undesirable outcomes some lefties are predicting, wouldn't you expect the Republicans to support the bill in its current form, knowing that its passage assured them of future electoral gains?
    posted by saulgoodman at 10:45 AM on December 17, 2009


    saulgoodman: "The Republicans are still so determined not to let anything pass, they're even holding troop funding hostage."

    This bill must die. If that's accomplished by the sweat of people I hate, all the better. And if they starve the imperial war machine in the process, then Christmas really has come early.
    posted by Joe Beese at 10:53 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The Senate bill still has to be reconciled with the house bill and then adopted by both chambers.

    It's become abundantly clear that only the most conservative elements of the Senate bill have a hope of passing. The Senate bill we have now (+making abortion illegal) is the most progressive the final, reconciled bill can ever be.
    posted by dirigibleman at 11:03 AM on December 17, 2009


    If the current bill was guaranteed to lead to all the undesirable outcomes some lefties are predicting, wouldn't you expect the Republicans to support the bill in its current form, knowing that its passage assured them of future electoral gains?

    Look: everyone, R and D and I, knows that speaking purely politically Obama has to pass something or he will look ineffectual. The real question is why he chose to bank so much on this and failed to anticipate the outcome, i.e. the current fallout in which, no matter what he does now, he potentially alienates a lot of people. From a policy standpoint what critics are arguing is that the bill is at best window dressing, not real reform, and at worst, a handout to the insurance industry. But from a political standpoint I think Obama is now between a rock and a hard place: if he seeks to pass an unpopular bill he's in danger of being seen as a sell-out from his base and perhaps from more than just his base, but if he has a change of heart and attempts to change the bill somehow back to its earlier versions (assuming this is even possible), and then fails to get it passed, he's in danger of looking like he can't accomplish anything.

    Politically speaking, it may be lose-lose for him, unfortunately. Thus the larger question is why this fallout (of potentially alienating pretty much everyone no matter what he chooses) was not anticipated earlier.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:03 AM on December 17, 2009


    And I REALLY think we need to let Obama know just how infuriated we are by his lies about this topic.

    What lies? This is exactly the fucking problem. There have been no lies: Obama failing to get what he wants from congress is not equivalent to lying. Did Teddy Roosevelt lie when he pushed for an failed to get a national health care program? Or Truman? Or Kennedy?

    If by your peculiar definition of the term, Obama "lied," then so did every other president who tried to work reform through congress and failed, from Roosevelt all the way down to Clinton.

    Oh, I see, no, those cases were different, those were different times, yada, yada, yada. This time around you just know in your heart that this attempt failed because it was never really made in good faith. Never mind that President Obama pushed for the reform as promised despite an overwhelming historical likelihood of failure, and despite paying enormous political costs. It was all just a sham, but lucky you, you didn't fall for it. Bravo!
    posted by saulgoodman at 11:07 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Thus the larger question is why this fallout (of potentially alienating pretty much everyone no matter what he chooses) was not anticipated earlier.

    It was, but we still need the fucking reform. So what are you gonna do?
    posted by saulgoodman at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2009


    I should add that I think Obama has already made a political calculation that he can afford to throw a good part of his progressive base under the proverbial bus on this. Sad to say, but he's probably right. The progressive wing, to the extent that it even exists, just does not hold that much political clout. We have drifted so far right for 30 years that we no longer know what real change looks like.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    It's become abundantly clear that only the most conservative elements of the Senate bill have a hope of passing.

    Not if the current concessions on the Medicare buy-in and public option are used as leverage to bargain for some of the lower-profile and yet still crucial, wonky components of the reform package, which one would expect. They won't/can't just give away those measures without getting something in return.
    posted by saulgoodman at 11:11 AM on December 17, 2009


    saulgoodman: " Obama failing to get what he wants from congress is not equivalent to lying."

    Obama got what he wants from Congress.

    This will be repeated as often as necessary.
    posted by Joe Beese at 11:15 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Bullshit, Joe Beese. That will be repeated as often as necessary, too.
    posted by saulgoodman at 11:20 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    You can send your precious Glenn Greenwald packing back to the Cato Institute for a handout, for all I care.
    posted by saulgoodman at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2009


    Not why you're so angry, saulgoodman, since after all the bill now in play, which you support, will almost certainly pass. If you think the potential political backlash against this bill is limited to a few folks on metafilter, think again. When the president loses Olbermann, which he did last night, it's a long climb back from here. I'm not relishing that reality, but it is reality. Deal with it.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:25 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    You sure come across like you're relishing the reality. We've become a useless and ungovernable nation, that's all.
    posted by saulgoodman at 11:35 AM on December 17, 2009


    Obama got what he wants from Congress.

    I call bullshit too. The link is based on a quote from Russ Feingold, who said himself that he wouldn't vote for health care if it came to vote through the reconciliation method. In that respect, Feingold's commitment to Senatorial "process" is as much an impediment to health care reform as Lieberman or Nelson.
    posted by jonp72 at 11:39 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    They won't/can't just give away those measures without getting something in return.

    I think you're in for an unpleasant surprise.

    You sure come across like you're relishing the reality.

    I no more relish our shitty government than I relished being right about WMDs in Iraq.
    posted by dirigibleman at 11:42 AM on December 17, 2009


    Methinks some of the progressives on this site have bought a little too much into the Green Lantern theory of the presidency. "Argggh argggh if Obama only had the will!!!!!!!!!"
    posted by jonp72 at 11:42 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The lesson is clear -- if you're not willing to settle for a moderate and fight for a Gore, then you will get eight years of a Bush. / The progressive wing, to the extent that it even exists, just does not hold that much political clout.

    I've always had problems reconciling these two thoughts: The progressives are powerless/the progressives threw the 2000 election to Bush. Maybe the lesson of 2000 was that progressives need to compromise and line up behind center/center right candidates and legislation, but I also think there is another important lesson: the Democrats need the progressives and taking them for granted doesn't work either.
    posted by Staggering Jack at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    jonp72: "The link is based on a quote from Russ Feingold, who said himself that he wouldn't vote for health care if it came to vote through the reconciliation method."

    Would you prefer Mary Landrieu?

    DEAN: You would not let us choose another program. You forced us into the insurance industry. We don’t want to be forced into the insurance industry. You took away our choice. That is wrong.

    LANDRIEU: That is not true, you never had that choice to begin with.

    DEAN: The President campaigned on it, Mary.

    LANDRIEU: In this bill we always wanted…

    posted by Joe Beese at 11:45 AM on December 17, 2009




    DEAN: The President campaigned on it, Mary.

    LANDRIEU: In this bill we always wanted…


    That's pretty weak sauce. There's no proof Landrieu is including Obama in that "We." Besides, Dean cut Landrieu off before she could finish the sentence.
    posted by jonp72 at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2009


    The link is based on a quote from Russ Feingold

    That's just one part of Greenwald's argument. Did you read the whole article or just cherry pick it to find what you were looking for?

    I think the Obama administration has been trying to dampen expectations on this thing for some time; I think Bill Clinton's appearance on The Daily Show a while back, where he talked about how Social Security under FDR started much differently than it wound up, is one indication of that.

    My only question is why the people who support this bill are so surprised by the backlash against it? Just calling people like Dean, Olbermann, Andy Stern, Markos, and Greenwald "naive" misses something: there may well be a popular backlash against the bill, i.e. among centrist Obama supporters who don't even know or care who Dean, Olbermann, Andy Stern, Markos, and Greenwald are. So if I were you I would re-focus your energies on dealing with that political possibility, since the bill itself seems assured passage at this point.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:51 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Obama got what he wants from Congress.

    This will be repeated as often as necessary.


    Joe Beese is a Naderite who helped swing the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

    This will be repeated as often as necessary.

    Seriously, let's have a thought experiment. Let's assume that everything in this world is the same, except Ralph Nader got elected president instead of Barack Obama. Prove to me how Nader would've gotten single payer or a public option out of the Senate. You can't.
    posted by jonp72 at 11:53 AM on December 17, 2009


    Turning this thing into a referendum on Nader and the 2000 election isn't going to help you with the fact that Obama's popularity is slipping in the polls. Just saying.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:55 AM on December 17, 2009


    I think the Obama administration has been trying to dampen expectations on this thing for some time

    Hmm, I dunno, could that have something to do with that ugly political reality you acknowledged up-thread where health care reform in any shape or form is not only overwhelmingly difficult to achieve, but also, inherently likely to cause political backlash regardless of the outcome? I mean, given that there has always been a much higher likelihood of complete failure than anything else, would it have been better to promise to deliver single-payer in his first week in office?
    posted by saulgoodman at 12:00 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    My only question is why the people who support this bill are so surprised by the backlash against it?

    I'm not surprised by the backlash against the bill. Although I think the bill could marginally improve the status quo, the damage that the bill is already doing to the Democratic coalition makes me wonder.

    What worries me is that the Democrats may be screwed either way. Pass the bill, and people will denounce you as corporate sellout and shit on you for being "liars." Don't pass the bill, and Republicans will gloat about Democratic inefficacy and overall wimpitude. Democratic demoralization isn't going to get Ralph Nader magically elected president; it's just going to get us a reactionary Republican president who's going to make Dubya look like FDR.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:03 PM on December 17, 2009


    could that have something to do with that ugly political reality

    If you're best argument for Obama right now is that "his hands are tied," it does not bode well for him come election time.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:05 PM on December 17, 2009


    your, not you're
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:06 PM on December 17, 2009


    jonp72: "Obama got what he wants from Congress.

    This will be repeated as often as necessary.


    Joe Beese is a Naderite who helped swing the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

    This will be repeated as often as necessary.

    Seriously, let's have a thought experiment. Let's assume that everything in this world is the same, except Ralph Nader got elected president instead of Barack Obama. Prove to me how Nader would've gotten single payer or a public option out of the Senate. You can't.
    "

    Since I live in Utah, my vote may not have been as decisive as you may think.

    Oh, and if you're not actually out of arguments, you should avoid getting personal - as it gives the impression that you are.
    posted by Joe Beese at 12:06 PM on December 17, 2009


    Gosh, almost forgot...
    posted by Joe Beese at 12:06 PM on December 17, 2009


    If Nader had gotten elected, far less actual legislative work would have gotten done than in Clinton's second term. We would have had a round the clock, seven days a week media campaign undermining him on every cable and broadcast station, and not a single element of his platform would have even made it through the legislative process for a simple up or down vote. He would have been forced to use extra-constitutional powers to achieve anything at all, and there might well have even been a military coup by now.
    posted by saulgoodman at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2009


    I wish Nader had won.
    posted by saulgoodman at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2009


    SaulGoodman:
    It's not that America is ungovernable and useless. Our nation IS governable -- by the power elite in the finance and insurance industry. They are getting exactly what they want, which is more money out of the rest of us into their pockets.

    What our nation isn't, is responsive to the popular will and the common good. Once upon a time the eilte in the US had something approaching noblesse oblige--or is was that fear of a revolution-- and that got us the New Deal. Unfortunately the power elite decided to embrace an out-of-touch death cult called ''lasseiz faire" economics, and, well we all know how that's gone.
    posted by wuwei at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2009


    If Nader had gotten elected...

    not because you can actually predict the future with any greater degree of success than anyone else can...but because like everyone else, you sincerely believe you can.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    if you're not actually out of arguments, you should avoid getting personal - as it gives the impression that you are.

    How is that personal? You're the one thread-shitting, calling the president a liar. And of course, you failed to respond to my President Ralph Nader counterfactual.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:15 PM on December 17, 2009


    Keep telling yourself there are only disgruntled Naderites to contend with when it comes to the state of this bill and the reception of Obama's "change" policies generally.

    it's just going to get us a reactionary Republican

    Why is it that it's always the progressives who are bringing down the party? Why is it never the centrists. I mean presumably you've heard the maxim that given the choice between a Republican and a Republican people will choose the Republican every time.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:24 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    LANDRIEU: In this bill we always wanted…

    I'm cranky about the missing public option too, and that we didn't start farther towards state-sponsored insurance at the beginning of the discussion. But this is becoming more than a little like entrail reading here. Translating Landrieu's last phrase as a "this is the bill we wanted all along" is a stretch. Your context-problem meter should be going bananas there. It seems a lot more likely that she was going to say something like "In this bill we always wanted [to make sure as many uninsured Americans as possible gained access to insurance]" or, if you want something more pessimistic "In this bill we always wanted [to make sure that we safeguarded the investments of private industry]." But this isn't how you say "this outcome is what we desired from the beginning."

    And when I read the rest, it sounds to me like she's basically saying the same thing Ironmouth and a bunch of others here are: that with the political opposition in place, a robust state-offered insurance program was an unlikely goal, let alone single payer.

    I'm sympathetic to Dean's anger that we don't have an option to an industry which I see as fundamentally untrustworthy, but Landriue's statements aren't part of the monologue of a villian who suddenly can't resist telling you that's it's all gone according to their evil plan.
    posted by weston at 12:26 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Why is it that it's always the progressives who are bringing down the party? Why is it never the centrists. I mean presumably you've heard the maxim that given the choice between a Republican and a Republican people will choose the Republican every time.

    If you are "progressive" and you opt out of the 2010 election, then you are in fact bringing down the Democratic Party.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2009


    Also, maybe if the Clintons had not campaigned for Lieberman against Ned Lamont we wouldn't be in the situation we're now in. Either Lieberman is part of some hidden mafia that actually controls things, which seems increasingly likely, or the failure of powerful Democrats to rally behind Lamont was just colossally stupid.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:30 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    If you are "progressive" and you opt out of the 2010 election, then you are in fact bringing down the Democratic Party.

    What about all the centrists? You guys are potentially pissing away a lot of goodwill towards Obama and you seem almost completely oblivious to it. It's not the Naderites you have to worry about.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:32 PM on December 17, 2009


    If you are "progressive" and you opt out of the 2010 election, then you are in fact bringing down the Democratic Party.

    Can you explain why the reverse is not true: If you are "centrist" and you alienate the progressives, then you are in fact bringing down the Democratic Party? I don't mean to be snarky, I'm genuinely curious.
    posted by Staggering Jack at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Why is it that it's always the progressives who are bringing down the party? Why is it never the centrists.

    In addition, if you're a progressive and you want to prove that you're building up the Democratic Party, start putting you're money where your mouth is and start funding primary challenges to these "centrists." Maybe you could draft a progressive Nebraskan like Scott Kleeb to run against Ben Nelson. Otherwise, all I see in this thread is just pissing and moaning.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2009


    What our nation isn't, is responsive to the popular will and the common good.

    I don't think the "popular will" makes a whole lot of sense anymore, honestly. We can't reach consensus over even the tiniest issues in this country anymore. We claim in large numbers to support certain reforms or principles when they're presented in the most abstract, idealized formulations. But the second a little reality creeps in, and we start having to define just what specific policy measures we support, then suddenly, there's nothing but endless contentious argument and accusations of bad faith.

    HP LaserJet P10006: Sure, sure. You caught me predicting a counterfactual future. But while I'll admit, I can't say with any certainty that's how a Nader presidency would have worked out, it sure does seem to me like it takes a lot more than one little man with big ideas to get the job done these days, no matter how determined that little man might be. Why do you think would-be reformers (like Carter, for example) have such a bad track record in the states? We tend to blame the failed reformers disproportionately. It's due to problems built into the system as a whole that progressive reforms are so difficult, not for lack of honest men and women trying.

    Every single step of President Obama's reform effort shows that he was trying to negotiate the historical difficulties of achieving health care reform. He was roundly criticized by self-anointed "progressives" for not having dictated the terms of a reform package to congress. Never mind that Clinton had been just as roundly criticized from the same quarters just a few years ago for taking that approach.

    This effort was carefully designed, with the full benefit of historical perspective, to give us the most realistic shot at achieving major reform. To the extent it failed, it failed because it's a hard thing to do, and popular support for reform is weak. It's weak partly because people don't recognize the urgency of the broader economic problems that have forced the reform issue, partly because the more complex issues can be hard to understand and follow, and partly because its easier to blame others and preemptively declare the whole project a wash than it is to put your shoulder to the wheel and actually work to promote reform.

    Here's another perspective that more or less sums up my position:
    ...the notion that Congress could go back to square one at this point is delusional. Legislative failures to fix health care in the past have been followed by years of inaction, during which medical care has grown ever more costly, and access to it more capricious.

    A bill passed today could be improved tomorrow.
    posted by saulgoodman at 12:37 PM on December 17, 2009


    all I see in this thread is just pissing and moaning.

    I'm trying to warn you guys not to take the electorate for granted. You're eager to turn this into a chance to bash progressives, but they are not your problem. Obama is a one-term president unless he can re-ignite the centrists who came out for him the first time, and who will stay at home next time around if they feel his change was all some and mirrors. He may have dug his own political grave, b/c whether or not a backlash among centrists is justified policy-wise it seems like a real possibility given the mood of the country.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2009


    Why is it that it's always the progressives who are bringing down the party?

    For what it's worth, I consider myself a progressive. And I'm not even a Democrat. (I'm a registered Green.)
    posted by saulgoodman at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2009


    saulgoodman: "A bill passed today could be improved tomorrow. "

    It could also be made worse.

    And now that Obama has insured that Republican gains in 2010 will be as large as possible, it is all but certain to be.
    posted by Joe Beese at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2009


    Can you explain why the reverse is not true:If you are "centrist" and you alienate the progressives, then you are in fact bringing down the Democratic Party? I don't mean to be snarky, I'm genuinely curious.

    I don't know. I don't consider myself a "centrist." I think this thread is more an internal pissing contest among different flavors of progressives about means vs. ends than simply something that can be blamed on "centrists" alienating progressives.

    But also let's assume that most progressives sit out the 2010 elections, but Democratic "centrists" do not. The result will be that more Republicans get elected. Some Blue Dogs in the House will get defeated, which has an upside to it, but we'll probably also have Republican Senators elected to Democratic seats in Delaware and Connecticut, which will pull the Senate even further rightward. However, some Democrats will emerge from the election unscathed. And since "centrists" will be donating the money and doing the get-out-the-vote while progressives will be sitting it out, the media narrative that will result is how the centrists "saved" what little was left of the Democratic Party in 2010, such as how Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council were posited as "saviors" of the Democratic Party after the Dukakis debacle of 1988.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2009


    saulgoodman I say Obama lied because it appears, from many sources, that this is the outcome he wanted.

    I will also note that when it comes to things that he really does want, like his very special and much more important than mere health care escalation in Afghanistan, Obama twists arms. When liberal congresspeople suggested that maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't write yet another blank check for the endless war, Obama sent out his enforcers to tell those congresspeople that if they voted against the outcome he wanted they'd be cut off from any and all future DNC money or help come next election.

    Compare and contrast to how Obama is treating Joe Lieberman. Sen Leiberman laughed, and said "God no" when someone asked if his various chairmanships had been threatened due to his actions. More important, sources say that Obama specifically instructed Reid the coward to give Lieberman everything he wanted.

    What does this tell us? It tells us that the outcome we are seeing is the outcome Obama wanted.

    To suggest that the President is a mere bystander and powerless to interfere in Congressional action is absurd.

    More to the point, he promised an open process and then promptly cut back room deals with the industry.

    He lied. He told us he'd make this a priority, yet it self evidently isn't as important to him as wasting more money and lives in Afghanistan. He lied, and we must hold him accountable.

    But expanding an existing program is a much easier legislative battle than having to start from scratch.

    Absolutely, 100%, correct.

    So, what's the program here? I don't see one.

    We have an un-named, one time only, plan to shovel nearly a trillion dollars into the maw of the insurance industry, with no cost controls, no price controls, no reform, not even an end to recission.

    As you say, and existing program is easier to expand. But a) I don't think shoveling my tax dollars into a for profit corporation is a "program", and b) this looks like a one off deal, not a program even in the very bad sense that giving a crapload of tax dollars to private industry is a program.

    What I'm really wondering is "what the hell are these people thinking?" Obama won because he was able to inspire a large number of first time voters to get out and vote. I'm a political junkie, I'll hold my nose and vote for him and the Democrats in 2012 pretty much no matter what.

    But those first time voters aren't going to go back out again. They voted for hope and change, and they got the shaft. They voted for hope and change and they were told to suck it. They voted for hope and change, and they saw the President groveling before Lieberman and giving the evil Senator everything he asked for without a fight. They voted for hope and change, and they're getting more of the same.

    I went into this knowing Obama was a pro-establishment, pro-corporate tool and I feel betrayed. I can't imagine how much more betrayed those who went into this thinking the man was really on their side feel.

    They won't be back in 2012, and I fear greatly that Obama will lose because he betrayed them.
    posted by sotonohito at 12:52 PM on December 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


    I went into this knowing Obama was a pro-establishment, pro-corporate tool and I feel betrayed.

    And isn't it funny how President Obama just confirmed your biases like that, then?

    There's no great big payout to insurers in this bill, BTW. They're are subsidies to make it easier for people to buy insurance.

    If you mean the mandate, well, I'd remind you, Obama pushed hard originally to avoid including an individual mandate in the legislation, and it was the so-called progressives (Krugman, Reich, Hillary Clinton, etc.) who most vehemently supported (and still support!) an individual mandate. In fact, that was the biggest gripe coming from what the media refers to as the progressive side of the debate during the campaign and when the legislative process first began, with Krugman, Reich and others all lining up to insist that an individual mandate was the indispensable feature of reform.

    But then, that happened, like, a few months ago, so like, all we can do now is speculate about where people really stood.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:02 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    They're --> there
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2009


    HP LaserJet P10006: "I'm trying to warn you guys not to take the electorate for granted. You're eager to turn this into a chance to bash progressives, but they are not your problem.."

    Booman thinks they are.

    The Obama administration can't satisfy the left legislatively, but they need to recognize the need to satisfy us whenever and wherever they can. That means that the administration needs to throw bones to the left in appointments, and executive decisions that don't require congressional approval. It means that they need to show more respect for what people are trying to do to assist them. It means that they need to show more fight. ...

    You can't change a leopard's spots, but you can take account of its teeth. If the Obama administration wants to avoid a disastrous meltdown in the big-tent Democratic Party, they need to do a much better job figuring out how to give the left some victories. We've eaten too much shit, and now you have a big problem.


    Then again, he also seems to believe that we might not be in this mess if we hadn't been so mean to Joe Lieberman, so he may not know what the fuck he's talking about.
    posted by Joe Beese at 1:04 PM on December 17, 2009


    Remember this kind of talk a little while back:

    We have some disagreements about health policy. You have been lambasting Senator Obama for months now because he fails to propose an individual mandate. I support Senator Obama, though I in no way represent the Obama campaign.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:07 PM on December 17, 2009


    Then again, he also seems to believe that we might not be in this mess if we hadn't been so mean to Joe Lieberman, so he may not know what the fuck he's talking about.

    The evidence I've seen has suggested Obama early on recognized that they couldn't count on Lieberman, despite Reid's insistence, and that this was why the administration placed so much emphasis on reaching out to Snow, who it considered to be bargaining in relatively better faith than Lieberman.

    But your version allows me to be more cynical, so I think I'll go with that.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:09 PM on December 17, 2009


    saulgoodman wrote There's no great big payout to insurers in this bill, BTW. They're are subsidies to make it easier for people to buy insurance.

    Which shovels money into the maw of the insurance industry. That this is done through subsidies to allow poor people to buy worthless insurance rather than by directly handing the insurance CEO's checks is beside the point.

    The point is that nearly a trillion dollars in tax money is going to the insurance industry and we're getting nothing in return for it.

    As for Obama on mandates, I'd say that yet again he's lying. If he's so all fired opposed to mandates, he damn sure hasn't been twisting arms to get that part of the bill axed, now has he?

    The only thing that will last out of this bill is the mandate. No way the Republicans and their Democratic servants will ever let that end. Everything else, the subsidies, the few symbolic pseudo-reforms, those will vanish silently away.

    The only enduring part of this bill will be that the insurance industry has been granted a government fief, and that we poor suckers must pay the Insurance Lords an exorbitant fee every month in exchange for deductibles and copays that bankrupt us.

    As you say, an existing program is hard to get rid of, and tends to grow. That's our program: make private industry in to government guaranteed fiefs. And I have no doubt it will grow.....
    posted by sotonohito at 1:28 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Meanwhile, the health insurance lobby has been offering free Hooters gift cards online as an enticement for voters to email their congressmen to express opposition to health care reform, and yet, that was obviously just a double-fake-out ploy, since as Glenn Greenwald has established, they've obviously been in cahoots with President Obama all along.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:32 PM on December 17, 2009


    Joe Beese cited this post from Booman upthread, but I wanted to quote another part of it.

    The left is immensely frustrated with this situation and inclined to blame the administration, but this is a simple logic tree. Obama cannot push the progressive position on pretty much anything if the centrists refuse to go along. Compounding the problem, progressives don't really know how to influence centrists. They tend to insult them, call them whores, attack their families, and generally question their morals. Over time, this sets up the situation we saw with Lieberman where he switched positions on a Medicare buy-in proposal simply because the measure was pleasing to people who have been demonizing him for over three years. Rather than persuade the Ben Nelsons and Blanche Lincolns of the Senate, progressive tactics make them even more inclined to reject anything they perceive to be coming from the left.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2009


    saulgoodman I just read the link Joe Beese provided and it's caused me to realize something:

    I'm more pissed about this, more inclined to blame Obama, because of the shit he's been making us eat. If he hadn't been so gung ho eager to continue Bush's abuse of the Constitution ("unlimited detention", yeah that's a brilliant idea), if he'd shown the slightest inclination to actually do something about the torture, if he'd tossed us even a bone on Afghanistan, if he hadn't appointed evil conservative Republicans to important posts in the name of the "bi-partisanship" he so worships [1], if he hadn't basically immediately taken the Washington position that the left is to be repudiated, smacked around, treated like shit, and generally ignored when it isn't being assaulted, then maybe I'd be willing to cut him more slack on his great health care sellout.

    I suppose, in a way, it isn't the single issue here that's gotten to me, but rather the pattern. So far, in every single thing Obama has done, and has the power to do, the right and "center" get everything they want, and the left is told to go fuck itself.

    His justice department fights for DOMA with briefs that compare same sex marriage to pedophilia, and now he wants me to cover his ass for this very bad bill?

    No.

    This is a bad bill, with a bad plan, and he likes it that way, and I'm damn well done pretending to like the shit he wants me to eat. Since he likes the right so much he can do without me and my support.

    Like I said, I'll vote for him in 2012, but I'm drained of any and all enthusiasm I ever had for the man. I've eaten too much shit, while the right and "center" get all the good stuff to want anymore to do with Obama. He can get his right wing friends to cover his ass from here on.

    jonp72 Yeah, decades of being treated like shit for daring not to be "centrist" will make you a tad bitter. Watching Clinton campaign for Joe "he's with us on everything but the war" Lieberman and giving the finger to Ned Lamont makes you a little less than eager to be all nice and friendly.

    But go ahead, blame it all on us DFH's, that's apparently what we're for.

    [1] And how many Republican votes on important issues has the bought him?
    posted by sotonohito at 1:44 PM on December 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


    As for Obama on mandates, I'd say that yet again he's lying. If he's so all fired opposed to mandates, he damn sure hasn't been twisting arms to get that part of the bill axed, now has he?

    Sigh. Obama promised to restore the give and take of the legislative process, and to defer to the constitutional balance of power. It was directly in response to critics on the left that the administration changed its position on the mandate. That's supposed to be a good thing, responding to the public demand, isn't it?

    I'm not even going to debate this point. This was a major sticking point at the outset! I was there. I watched as the process unfolded how much pressure there was for Obama to accept a mandate. And he did, as he promised, leave it to the legislative process to define the shape reform took, and was willing to compromise on the mandate. You'd have to have had your head stuck deep in the sand all this time not to remember how it played out. There's no point in rehashing the recent past for you if you've already forgotten it.

    But if the mandate's your sticking point, you're not on the so-called left side of the debate either. You just haven't been following this process very attentively.

    One last thing, and then I'd better hit the showers. A TPM reader writes:
    If I feel abandoned, it's not by Obama and the Democratic party, it's by those on the left advocating to kill the bill.

    I am unemployed and have a pre-existing condition that requires daily medicines, quarterly doctors visits and an annual test. I am on COBRA, which runs out mid-2010, when I will have to find new health insurance. I will need to purchase some kind of health insurance, assuming I can find provider who will insure me.

    I don't pretend to understand all the intricacies of the health care reform bill, but I do read a lot. From what I can glean, if the bill passed, I would be able to find health insurance because I could not to be turned down due to my pre-exisiting condition. And based on my income at the moment, my premuims would be subsidized.

    Am I disappointed in the reform effort? Yes. I believe in single payer. I was terribly disappointed the Medicare buy-in for 55 and older was dropped, not because I give a rat's ass about Lieberman or the political wrangling involved, but because I am two years shy of 55 and I would have loved to be able to tough it out on the private market for a little while longer knowing Medicare coverage was just around the corner. Believe me, it's scary being 52 and unemployed with a medical condition. Any form of security is vital.

    posted by saulgoodman at 1:47 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    We claim in large numbers to support certain reforms or principles when they're presented in the most abstract, idealized formulations. But the second a little reality creeps in, and we start having to define just what specific policy measures we support, then suddenly, there's nothing but endless contentious argument and accusations of bad faith.

    This, I think. The progressive vs centrist dichotomy strikes me as false -- dirty hippy vs wonk is probably closer, if pejorative and dismissive. I'd say idealistic vs pragmatic. I mean that with no aspersions to the power of either -- ideals can yield vision and pragmatism can yield means. But it's pretty easy for me to see how both can get out of control, and it's hard for me to tell which one has in this discussion.
    posted by weston at 1:48 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]




    The progressive vs centrist dichotomy strikes me as false -- dirty hippy vs wonk is probably closer, if pejorative and dismissive.

    Anybody want to call for a hippy vs. wonk truce?
    posted by jonp72 at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2009


    Duelling union bosses! Richard Trumka of AFL-CIO: The Senate bill is 'Inadequate'
    posted by mullingitover at 2:04 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    saulgoodman wrote Sigh. Obama promised to restore the give and take of the legislative process, and to defer to the constitutional balance of power.

    Except, apparently for the stuff he thinks is really important, like killing more people in Afghanistan, he'll twist arms.

    He has demonstrated a perfect and cheerful willingness to ignore the constitutional balance of power when it comes to things he cares about. Thus we are left with two, very bad, options. Either this bill is basically what he wants, or he just doesn't care about health care as much as he does killing people in Afghanistan. I'm not sure which is worse.

    If this is a genuine principled stand for the separation of powers why the heck was he out there threatening freshman Congresspeople who opposed his escalation in Afghanistan?

    I'd like you to please tell me how your view of Obama as a great respecter of separation of powers explains the wildly different actions he has taken in the two situations please.

    And, again, I'd like you to tell me what is in this bill that is worth fighting for. I see no reform, mandates to buy worthless 'insurance", giant wads of tax dollars thrown to the insurance industry, etc. You obviously see something different, but I don't know what that something different is. Can you please enlighten me?

    jonp72 What truce is can there be? The "centrists" have all the power, they get all the concessions, they get all the posts, they get everything there is to have. Why would they give up any of that for us DFH's?
    posted by sotonohito at 2:13 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    jonp72 What truce is can there be? The "centrists" have all the power, they get all the concessions, they get all the posts, they get everything there is to have. Why would they give up any of that for us DFH's?

    I said wonks, not "centrists." There's a difference. The whole point is that we (meaning the "wonks" and the "hippies") share the same ends, but we disagree about the means to achieve them. Disagreement about means does not make somebody a sellout. You may think you're training your fire against the "centrists," but really you're just stomping on the wonks. It's Nelson, Lieberman, Landrieu, and Lincoln who are the problem, not people who disagree with you on idealism vs. pragmatism.
    posted by jonp72 at 2:18 PM on December 17, 2009


    So here's a list of other presidents who sold out their progressive base and never really wanted to get meaningful reform through the legislative process found political resistance to health care reform too difficult to accomplish during their time in office:

    1) Teddy Roosevelt
    2) Franklin Roosevelt
    3) Harry Truman
    4) John F. Kennedy
    5) Jimmy Carter
    6) Bill Clinton
    -- saulgoodman
    I don't see how you can say Roosevelt 'failed'. He didn't try to do health care because he didn't want to deal with the issue of hospital segregation in the south. Kennedy failed, but then LBJ followed up with Medicare later. And G.W. Bush go the medicate prescription drug benefit passed after Clinton's reforms failed.

    The argument you made was that no president would try again forever if this failed, which is a political prediction and therefore pretty much worthless. Look at how much the political landscape has changed just in the last 10 months. Who would have expected Obama to be president from the vantage point of 2005? It never ceases to amaze me how many people think they know exactly what's going to happen politically years (in some cases decades!) down the road.

    And then I see this comment:
    not because you can actually predict the future with any greater degree of success than anyone else can (let alone with better accuracy than the CBO, which has spelled out in excruciating detail who benefits and loses out financially under the various reform plans that have been under consideration), but because like everyone else, you sincerely believe you can. -- saulgoodman
    Lol Maybe you should take your own advice.
    You sure come across like you're relishing the reality. We've become a useless and ungovernable nation, that's all. -- saulgoodman
    I don't see you out there advocating against the filibuster. If it's "ungovernable" it's not because of liberals complaining on the internet about being sold out to corporate interests.
    Seriously, let's have a thought experiment. Let's assume that everything in this world is the same, except Ralph Nader got elected president instead of Barack Obama. Prove to me how Nader would've gotten single payer or a public option out of the Senate. You can't. -- jonp72
    Well duh, no one can prove a hypothetical. Hey, I know, how about you prove that we wouldn't have universal healthcare if the Chinese had invaded and taken over the country! Obviously a country that would have elected Nader in 2008 would be very different then the one that exists today and there would be tons of liberal congress people and senators.

    Blaming Nader voters for Gore/Lieberman's defeat is weak sauce.
    If you are "progressive" and you opt out of the 2010 election, then you are in fact bringing down the Democratic Party. -- jonp72
    Yeah yeah yeah. The old 'vote for us no matter what we do or you're a bad person" argument. Fuck that.
    There's no great big payout to insurers in this bill, BTW. They're are subsidies to make it easier for people to buy insurance.—saulgoodman
    Other then the millions of new, involuntary, customers paying premiums?
    posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


    jonp72 I'll agree wholeheartedly that Nelson, Lieberman, Landrieu, and Lincoln (and Obama) are the problem.

    I'm sure we can agree that the Senate should either be abolished, or democratized (I favor abolition, you may favor democratization or at least something less drastic than abolishing the institution entirely), and at least that it is the anti-democratic nature of the Senate that has brought us to our current problems. Absent the filibuster, especially in its modern incarnation, Lieberman and the others couldn't have brought us to the current situation.

    But what wonks in either the House or Senate have the DFH's attacked?
    posted by sotonohito at 3:09 PM on December 17, 2009


    Seriously, let's have a thought experiment. Let's assume that everything in this world is the same, except Ralph Nader got elected president instead of Barack Obama. Prove to me how Nader would've gotten single payer or a public option out of the Senate. You can't. -- jonp72

    Well duh, no one can prove a hypothetical. Hey, I know, how about you prove that we wouldn't have universal healthcare if the Chinese had invaded and taken over the country! Obviously a country that would have elected Nader in 2008 would be very different then the one that exists today and there would be tons of liberal congress people and senators.


    Counterfactual arguments are a perfectly legitimate technique. The basic point is that Obama's failure to get the public option or your preferred health care bill is not proof that he's a sellout. Even if you substitute the presumed "non-sellout" Nader for Obama, the result would still the same. It's the structure of the Senate that killed good health care reform, not lack of political "will" from the President.

    And what makes you think that a Nader victory would result in "tons of liberal congress people and Senators"? Are you saying the Green Party would magically sweep in dozens of Congressional and Senate races at the same time that Nader gets elected? I used to be a member of the Green Party; they just don't have that infrastructure in place. Or would Nader's election lead to a solidly Democratic House and Senate? I hardly think that's possible, given how the Greens have played spoiler in getting a lot of Republicans elected.
    posted by jonp72 at 3:41 PM on December 17, 2009


    Shifting the argument about the HCR bill to be about Nader and the Greens may seem natural and logical and relevant to some, but to me it reeks of attempting to change the subject.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]




    jonp72: " The basic point is that Obama's failure to get the public option or your preferred health care bill is not proof that he's a sellout."

    Well, we agree on that much at least. The failure of reform does not prove Obama is a sellout.

    Obama campaigning on a public option and then, after being elected, telling his "progressive friends" that it was only "a means to an end" - all the while letting his henchman Emmanuel strongarm the progressives while protecting the Blue Dogs - that's what makes him a sellout.

    Though, since he never cared about meaningful reform in the first place, it would be more accurate to replace "sellout" with "liar".
    posted by Joe Beese at 4:09 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Obama campaigning on a public option and then, after being elected, telling his "progressive friends" that it was only "a means to an end" - all the while letting his henchman Emmanuel strongarm the progressives while protecting the Blue Dogs - that's what makes him a sellout.

    One FireDogLake plus two Kos diaries does not a strong argument make. And calling the public option "a means to an end" does not make you a sellout or a liar. People can still be on the same side of a political issue and have legitimate disagreements about means vs. ends.
    posted by jonp72 at 4:26 PM on December 17, 2009


    jonp72: "One FireDogLake plus two Kos diaries does not a strong argument make."

    Feel free to dispute anything they're saying if you think you can. And while you're at it, go ahead and point to a single thing Obama has done - other than expressing a vague preference in a few speeches - to actually work for the public option he campaigned on.

    In the meantime, don't expect "Oh, that's just Feingold" or "Oh, that's just Daily Kos" to get you picked as captain of the debating club.
    posted by Joe Beese at 4:42 PM on December 17, 2009


    It's not 1994. It's not even 2000. This country is in seriously bad shape. There are 13,000 comments on HuffPo's headline article right now. People are angry. They're fed up. It's been mounting for a long time. This country can no longer afford more of the same; it can no longer afford half-measures and pleas to be patient. It's not just HCR. It's an entire backlog of frustration. The middle class has been slowly eroded through four administrations. The anger is real. It's not going to go away. You can argue all you want that the anger is misguided or based on a misunderstanding about what was actually promised or what is realistically possible. Those arguments are beside the point. Right now this country is ready to blow a gasket. The pundits will try to brush all that anger under the rug. They will count on people's ignorance and on their fears. And a lot of people are ignorant and fearful. But there will come a day in the not too distant future, mark my words, when the people in this country finally rise up. Whether that uprising comes from what used to be called the left, from the sorely misinformed Teaparty right, or some unholy admixture of the two, ultimately matters less than the fact that it will come. It will catch a lot of people off guard. And it will signal the final indication that business as usual just won't cut it anymore. This is your warning. It's coming. Seriously.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


    In the meantime, don't expect "Oh, that's just Feingold" or "Oh, that's just Daily Kos" to get you picked as captain of the debating club.

    Don't expect that embedding links that don't prove what you think they prove will win you any accolades either.
    posted by jonp72 at 4:57 PM on December 17, 2009


    And while you're at it, go ahead and point to a single thing Obama has done - other than expressing a vague preference in a few speeches - to actually work for the public option he campaigned on.

    Obama was supportive but never dogmatic about the public option. He did, however, oppose mandates in the presidential campaign, when Hillary Clinton and John Edwards supported them. Yet somehow we're supposed to believe that Obama was cackling "Mwa-ha-ha!" the whole time, suppressing his secret desire for insurance mandates?
    posted by jonp72 at 5:27 PM on December 17, 2009


    When the government can't even get its citizens' health needs right, what hope is there of anything else?
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:29 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Counterfactual arguments are a perfectly legitimate technique.
    A perfectly legitimate technique to waste everyone's time. How about imagining a world where people care about stuff that happens in the real world, just pretend we live there.
    posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on December 17, 2009


    Obama was supportive but never dogmatic about the public option. He did, however, oppose mandates in the presidential campaign, when Hillary Clinton and John Edwards supported them. Yet somehow we're supposed to believe that Obama was cackling "Mwa-ha-ha!" the whole time, suppressing his secret desire for insurance mandates?

    He certainly didn't seem to have much of a problem with 'em
    posted by delmoi at 5:43 PM on December 17, 2009


    Reuters: WRAPUP 2-U.S. Democrat rejects health bill compromise
    WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Democratic hopes for passing a broad healthcare overhaul in the U.S. Senate took a hit on Thursday when a crucial party holdout, Ben Nelson, rejected a compromise on abortion funding aimed at winning his vote.

    Senate Democratic leaders, racing the clock to finish work on the bill before leaving for the holidays, struggled to line up the 60 votes they need to overcome Republican procedural hurdles.
    Yeah, what a surprise.
    posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on December 17, 2009


    Weston, I really liked your hippy versus wonk distinction. That's so much more informative, and helpful, for thinking about my own positions than the positional distinctions that imply that moderates are less committed or somehow spiritually proximate to 'the other side.' It's not that I'm half-conservative or not "radical" in my way: I just find some of the knee-jerk hippy rhetoric and policy-advocacy to be uninformed. Sure, it's a bit dismissive, but it's not entirely bad to point out that many political activists think with their hearts and their guts, and that this isn't the best way to hammer out policy details even if it IS a good way to think about what we want our policies to do.

    Anyway, I'm guessing this isn't something you just came up with, but it's the first time I've heard it in this context, and I liked it. Thanks.
    posted by anotherpanacea at 7:05 PM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]




    Senator Byron Dorgan on the White House role in killing the drug importation part of the bill
    Last week, [Dorgan] said he heard rumors that the FDA was going to send a letter objecting to drug importation on safety grounds, which he has said is a bogus reason. He said he called FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who said she knew nothing about such a letter.

    He said his timeline shows that a letter, signed by Hamburg questioning the safety of drug imports, was sent 24 hours later to a few senators who opposed importation. That piece of paper became a rallying cry for other senators who voted down Dorgan's amendment.

    "I think the letter was prompted, probably drafted somewhere else," like "the White House" Dorgan said.
    posted by delmoi at 9:54 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


    He certainly didn't seem to have much of a problem with 'em

    If that's so, why did Krugman see fit to devote so many inches of print space to excoriating President Obama for not making the individual mandate a key component of his health reform platform? Was Krugman just hard up for something to write about?
    posted by saulgoodman at 7:30 AM on December 18, 2009


    Oh, well, delmoi, if some senator says they have a hunch that maybe someone in the White House drafted or prompted a troublesome letter that the alleged author now denies having written, then obviously, there's no room for political chicanery in that equation. Everyone's words and actions can be taken in good faith, except the president and those who've made themselves into the public face of the reform process.

    Obviously, it's those who make themselves appear to have the most to lose from failure or bad policy who are most likely to work behind the scenes to derail their own reform efforts or to put bad policy in place. In fact, its only a given that any politicians who takes on an issue as politically risky as health care reform is probably only doing so in hopes of fucking it up, of course, to make rich people richer. Things are never what they seem, after all.

    And it's not like people in politics ever go around falsifying communications or creating misleading rumors to help further their agendas or to create confusion and mistrust among key political allies. That's just the stuff of sensationalized pulp fiction! No, when some senator says he has a hunch that so-and-so did such-and-such for reason X, and that they did it on direct order from the president himself, it must be airtight.

    What other reason could Hamburg have for denying authorship of the letter than it was ordered by those at the very top? It's not like Hamburg or someone in a position to produce a letter ostensibly on her behalf could possibly have a different personal agenda than the president. It's not like Hamburg's little letter-that-never-was might land someone a cushy health industry job somewhere down the road for its part in contributing to the confusion that helped derail reform. No, Hamburg's entire office is full of lifeless automatons, moving in perfect concert under the remote control of sophisticated laser guidance systems to act out President Obama's sinister program.

    It's not like dirty tricks are the anti-reformers bailiwick, or anything. No, there's no historical track record of conservative politicians, industry lobbyists or other anti-reform interests playing dirty tricks at all. That's why it must all be President Obama's fault.
    posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2009


    Yet there is an alternative to the mandate as it's defined and enforced in the bills before Congress. Remember, the real purpose of the mandate is to prevent people from opportunistically dipping into the insurance funds when they are sick and refusing to contribute when they are healthy. And that can be achieved by allowing people to opt out but not allowing them to opt back in whenever they choose.

    So here's the proposal (which is derived from a similar provision in the German health insurance system). If people didn't want to buy insurance, they could take an opt-out by agreeing that they would not be able to come back into the subsidy system for five years. In other words, instead of paying a fine for failing to insure, they would forgo a potential benefit. For five years they would become ineligible for federal subsidies for health insurance and, if they did buy coverage, no insurer would have to cover a pre-existing condition of theirs.

    Personally, I would urge people against taking the opt-out. But I believe that given the opposition, this is a reasonable concession to make to political reality. Think of it as a safety-valve and as a means to encourage careful thought about the benefits and costs of insuring.
    (link)

    If the mandate is the true sticking point in the hippy vs. wonk fight in this thread, then maybe taking out the mandate is something that the hippy/wonk coalition can agree on? In other words, maybe we can replace "kill the bill" with "kill the mandate, keep the bill."
    posted by jonp72 at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2009


    If that's so, why did Krugman see fit to devote so many inches of print space to excoriating President Obama for not making the individual mandate a key component of his health reform platform? Was Krugman just hard up for something to write about?
    I'm talking about after he was elected, compared to before. It was a pretty big flipflop
    What other reason could Hamburg have for denying authorship of the letter than it was ordered by those at the very top? It's not like Hamburg or someone in a position to produce a letter ostensibly on her behalf could possibly have a different personal agenda than the president. It's not like Hamburg's little letter-that-never-was might land someone a cushy health industry job somewhere down the road for its part in contributing to the confusion that helped derail reform. No, Hamburg's entire office is full of lifeless automatons, moving in perfect concert under the remote control of sophisticated laser guidance systems to act out President Obama's sinister program.
    Well, like the article says, Hamburg was an Obama appointee. Your thesis is that she decided to double cross her boss by making him look like a tool of the pharmaceutical industry (while making herself look inconsistent or incompetent) so that she could get a job with the pharmaceutical industry? I suppose that's possible but the straightforward interpretation is also plausible: That she didn't know about the letter and then someone told her to write it.
    posted by delmoi at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2009


    jonp72 As one of the hippies, I can go with that. I don't like the rest of the bill particularly, but absent the mandate I don't really see any need to fight it.

    Or, alternatively, you could keep the mandates if there were some real mechanism in place to make the mandated insurance cheap/free and actually useful.

    Its the "actually useful" part that really matters to me, and why I remain violently opposed to the mandates.

    We don't need to get everyone health insurance. We need to get people health care. People with health insurance go bankrupt when they get real medical problems, and getting even a minor problem is often a financial hardship for the insured.

    What good, exactly, does it do to get someone making minimum wage health insurance, if they've got a copay or deductible they can't afford?

    From my understanding neither of the bills addresses the issue of insurance being basically worthless due to copays and deductibles. I'm "insured", I've got a $3,500 deductible, and a copay setup that means my "insurance" amounts to around a 10%-30% discount card for health care.

    So I see the mandates as being basically a giveaway to the industry. To a person with a whole $20 surplus every month, the "insurance" the industry offers today amounts to nothing more than a cruel joke.

    Eliminate the mandate and I can support the bill. But I can't support a mandate if there aren't any real reforms attached.
    posted by sotonohito at 8:54 AM on December 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


    ... unless Ben Nelson is bluffing, the only way he will vote for cloture is if abortion is restricted, the subsidies are whacked, the revenue provisions are nuked, and its Medicaid expansion is gutted. Oh, and he doesn't think there's any chance of it happening by Christmas.

    So now that Ben Nelson has named his price (not that he can't move the goalposts again), Democratic leadership must choose one of three scenarios: (a) cave in to Nelson's demands Lieberman-style, thereby eliminating any pretense of this being a good bill; (b) call Nelson's bluff and schedule a cloture vote without satisfying his demands; or (c) abandoning negotiations with Nelson and choosing instead to pursue reconciliation.

    The one thing they can't do is blame kos or Howard Dean or progressives for killing health reform. If health reform dies, it will be at the hands of the Joe Liebermans and Ben Nelsons of the world -- and the people who negotiated with them.


    Let's see the bill's supporters choke down that shit sandwich.
    posted by Joe Beese at 9:04 AM on December 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


    Your thesis is that she decided to double cross her boss by making him look like a tool of the pharmaceutical industry

    No, my thesis is that she denies writing the letter in question and that means there's something fishy going on--whether it was another staffer falsifying a letter in her name, or alternatively, that Hamburg (who, after all, is a longtime member of the medical establishment, so it's not like she's never shaken the hand of a pharmaceutical rep) wrote the letter without clearing it with President Obama first and misrepresented the administration's position. She might have done this in good faith or bad, but the fact that she denies authorship altogether certainly suggests this letter isn't nearly as straightforward a reflection of the administration's official position as you've implied.

    And seriously, tactics like circulating falsified communications and spreading spurious rumors to create mistrust and confusion among members of a political coalition in order to divide and weaken the coalition is not exactly a recent political innovation.
    posted by saulgoodman at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So, if the Senate Democratic leadership does modify the bill in the ways that Nelson wants, would that change the minds of any of you who are currently arguing in support of the bill?
    posted by overglow at 9:33 AM on December 18, 2009


    I think the goal is to get Liberman and Olympia Snowe to vote for it. Snowe is pro choice.
    posted by delmoi at 10:19 AM on December 18, 2009


    OK, so -- Last Week/Earlier this week, it was Lieberman playing bad guy. Now it's Ben Nelson, right? I mean they all play it all along of course, but in terms of taking the lead role.

    It's a game of musical bad guys? Is this what I'm seeing? One takes the heat, backs off, then another steps to the plate?
    posted by symbioid at 10:25 AM on December 18, 2009


    So, if the Senate Democratic leadership does modify the bill in the ways that Nelson wants, would that change the minds of any of you who are currently arguing in support of the bill?

    That's not likely. Nelson's made it clear he's not bargaining in good faith, and that regardless of what compromises the Dems make, he's still planning not to vote for cloture anytime soon, so I don't see any incentive whatsoever for the Dems to give Nelson what he's asking for. They have to find another way.

    More generally, I wish they would pull the mandate for the time being, or replace it with an opt-out mandate as some have recently suggested that would limit benefits to people opting out of the mandate for some set number of years.

    The trouble is, the mandate is really kind of crucial to cost-control.

    Either insurance prices will skyrocket or the insurance industry will collapse totally if companies are forced to accept everybody who gets sick, whether they've previously paid into a plan or not. That's not just supposition that's a fact. I mean, think about it: What idiot would pay for insurance ahead of time if they could just buy it the day after they're seriously injured or diagnosed with a serious illness? There soon wouldn't be any healthy people left in the risk pool, so the companies wouldn't have any money to pay insurance claims.
    posted by saulgoodman at 10:52 AM on December 18, 2009


    saulgoodman: You would still have most employed people in the pool, with employer provided healthcare.

    The other thing, how are people going to deal with Healthcare CEOs making making millions of dollars. After all, look at what happened with wallstreet, people are livid about the employees making so much money off tax dollars. If people are forced to pay, how are they going to be able to accept their money going to exorbitant salaries?

    These health care execs may be signing their own pink slips.
    posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2009


    So, if the Senate Democratic leadership does modify the bill in the ways that Nelson wants, would that change the minds of any of you who are currently arguing in support of the bill?

    It could certainly change my mind. What made the mandates palatable was that (1) the bill would expand insurance coverage to the previously insured and (2) subsidies were included for covering the insurance needs of the poor. If you take out (1) and (2), I'm not sure you have a bill that improves the status quo, and that's my bottom line. The fact that Ben Nelson is checking in with Nebraska anti-abortion groups to see whether he'll support the bill only serves to add insult to injury.
    posted by jonp72 at 11:01 AM on December 18, 2009


    It could certainly change my mind. What made the mandates palatable was that (1) the bill would expand insurance coverage to the previously insured and (2) subsidies were included for covering the insurance needs of the poor. If you take out (1) and (2), I'm not sure you have a bill that improves the status quo, and that's my bottom line.
    I thought his only deal was Abortion?
    posted by delmoi at 11:04 AM on December 18, 2009


    I thought his only deal was Abortion?

    Nope. Nelson has insurance industry connections in Nebraska. You never heard of Mutual of Omaha? A lot of insurance companies do business in that state.
    posted by jonp72 at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    saulgoodman I'm curious about what you think of this analysis by Greenwald and Jake McIntyre. Or, rather McIntyre's analysis and Greenwald's clarification/rewording.

    I read it and I'm thinking "yup, they've crystallized some of the thoughts that have been rattling around in my head". I'll certainly admit that, when they say that I'm concerned that the healthcare bill looks like advancing corporatism I nod my head and think "yup, that's a good part of my objection". I hadn't actually thought of it in those terms before, but now that I do I see it very plainly.

    I'm curious as to whether you think it's a decent analysis or total nonsense.
    posted by sotonohito at 12:39 PM on December 18, 2009


    Here's some more health care reform analysis.

    First, for my part, I was not only vehemently opposed to the Iraq invasion, I protested it, so to me that part of Greenwald/McIntyre's analysis doesn't seem particularly on point.

    Second, what a lot of people don't seem to be getting here is that, from where I sit, there is literally no workable political strategy (short of purging congress of both Blue Dog Dems and all its remaining Republican representatives) that could produce a better bill at this point or in the future. Short of a purge of all Blue Dog Dems, Republicans and outright shills in congress, there's simply not any real-world possibility of getting the vote totals needed to pass more of a bill than this. The numbers just aren't there. Even the oft-touted possibility of using reconciliation to accomplish this has been ruled out; there aren't enough Dems willing to accept the use of that approach to make it happen either.

    And the more support slips among "progressives" who've been rope-a-doped into giving the opposition the poll numbers and anecdotal evidence of declining support for health care reform that they need to make their case, the more this becomes the case, not less. And the conventional wisdom going into this fight again, if we simply bailout now and abandon the effort, will be that the public does not support health care reform and never has, and the 24-hour cable news brainwash cycle will ensure that within a few months, that's how everyone remembers it, making a second push nearly impossible.

    All that most legislators need is plausible deniability--a plausible excuse to vote this down-- and they will, and from day one, we've been given them plenty of opportunities to say support on the pro-reform side is shaky. Dem or Republican--these guys will use any excuse to avoid doing something that might be painful for the business community, every time. That's just a given.

    Can/should the legislation still be improved in key respects, yes, yes, yes. But would it improve the situation for consumers of health care services now in its present form, yes, for many, it would provide meaningful improvements. And as one policy wonk points out:

    Oh, and by the way, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it would reduce the deficit and, according to the Medicare actuary, it would extend the life of the Medicare trust fund.

    Not to mention that once it's been firmly established that reform can be accomplished (despite the prevailing wisdom to the contrary in the Washington establishment), additional fixes to the law should be relatively uncontroversial. And with further changes to the makeup of the congress after the next election season, it's a good bet that more progress could be made before the legislation ever even went into effect.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]




    Well, dammit. We just found out our homeowner's insurance provider is planning to drop us now because we made the mistake of filing a claim related to our recently busted septic tank. It's not directly related to these health insurance industry issues obviously (I've had plenty of bad personal experiences to sour me on the health insurance providers, too), but you can still add this latest insult to the list of reasons there's no love lost between me and the insurance industry in the abstract, if that's any reassurance that I'm not making these arguments with any sympathy or concern whatsoever for the insurance industry. Fuckers.
    posted by saulgoodman at 1:35 PM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    saulgoodman wrote if that's any reassurance that I'm not making these arguments with any sympathy or concern whatsoever for the insurance industry.

    No, and I've never thought you were motivated by any sympathy or concern for the industry, if my sometimes heated rhetoric has lead you to think so I apologize. I recognize that we're on basically the same side here and that our argument is more over specifics than over the ultimate goal.

    That said, I don't know if I agree with your contention that "winning" here will make future reforms any easier. More to the point, if it weren't for both the existence of the filibuster and Harry Reid's insistence on not making the Republicans break out the diapers and phone books we would have the numbers.

    If it takes 70 Democrats (50 real, 10 wavering, and 10 traitors) to win, then we're fucked. We've got 51 votes, we'd have 51 votes for a robust public option and/or medicare buy in that also covered abortions.

    What we don't have is 60 votes for any actual reform. We **might** have 60 votes for a trillion dollar giveaway to the industry, coupled with a groveling display of submission on abortion and a total lack of meaningful reform. Unless, of course, Lieberman decides that he just wants to kick the Democrats one more time and votes against it even after he said he'd vote for it.

    Lieberman, Nelson, etc won't allow anything past now that harms the insurance industry, and for any real reform the insurance industry is going to have to take a hit. If they won't let it happen now, why would they let it happen a year, or two, from now?

    Whether or not this bill passes, in a year, or two, the insurance industry is going to be just as entrenched, the filibuster will still be there, the Republicans will be just as opposed, Nelson will be just as much a bought and paid for agent of the insurance industry, and Lieberman will still be just as eager to hurt the Democrats out of spite.

    I don't see that "success" [1] now will make things any easier in 2010, or 2012. I can agree that "failure" will make it harder to try again, but I don't see "success" as making anything easier.

    I really would like to be able to get behind this bill. It does rub me the wrong way to let the Republicans have even a nominal win, and I do agree that there may be some (very few) benefits to this bill. What I don't see is that this bill is critical, or that it's worth the price.

    Heck, we pass this bill and in 2010 or 2012 I think it may well be harder to pass any real reform, because the industry will have a trillion more dollars (from the subsidies) than they do today with which to bribe politicians, take out nasty ads, etc.

    Take out the mandate and I can eat the rest of the shit in this bill, I'll even degrade myself by abandoning every feminist principal I believe in and accept the inevitable anti-abortion shit.

    In and of themselves the mandate is not a sticking point, I can even agree (very reluctantly) that it might be necessary, but if and only if, the mandate is coupled with some sort of actual price control and guarantee of service. But we don't have any price controls or guarantees of service, and that pushes the mandate into "I can't accept this" territory.

    What will the recipients of the subsidized insurance really be getting? Absent any laws with teeth, they'll be getting a worthless piece of paper that says they're insured, but doesn't actually pay for anything. They'll have deductibles of $5000 or more, copays that render the "insurance" nothing more than a 10% (if that) discount from retail price, etc. In exchange for that crappy deal we're supposed to turn insurance into a government granted fief? I think not.

    [1] Defined in the minimal sense of passing this gawdawful give everything away in exchange for no benefits bill
    posted by sotonohito at 2:20 PM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


    If you are "progressive" and you opt out of the 2010 election, then you are in fact bringing down the Democratic Party.

    I would guess most of us progressives aren't Democrats and do want to "bring down" the Democratic Party. I want a viable political alternative to corporatism. I'm not sure how to get it, but bringing down either of the major parties seems like a good start.

    Anyway, I've never met a (self-defined) progressive who "opted out" of any election. Even if you don't vote Dem/Rep for president/senator/rep, there are always scads of other state and local issues on the ballot...

    If the mandate is the true sticking point in the hippy vs. wonk fight in this thread, then maybe taking out the mandate is something that the hippy/wonk coalition can agree on?

    Yes, I think without the individual mandate, the improvements included in the proposed legislation are OK, if underwhelming. However, without funding (the individual mandate) it doesn't seem like the legislation would have the intended effect on insurance costs, so we'd need to add a tax or something for the subsidies. Good luck there.
    posted by mrgrimm at 3:19 PM on December 18, 2009


    Nope. Nelson has insurance industry connections in Nebraska. You never heard of Mutual of Omaha? A lot of insurance companies do business in that state.

    Yeah, he used to be an Insurance company CEO. And I thought the abortion thing was just an excuse to kill the bill. But, I didn't realize he was making other demands now too. Now I see he is though.

    I hope you see why I think a reconciled bill would be better then this mess!
    posted by delmoi at 6:29 PM on December 18, 2009








    I would guess most of us progressives aren't Democrats and do want to "bring down" the Democratic Party. I want a viable political alternative to corporatism. I'm not sure how to get it, but bringing down either of the major parties seems like a good start.

    Unless you change the electoral rules first, you're stuck with two major parties for the time being. All "bringing down" the Democrats would do is bring forth Republican dominance over all three branches of government.
    posted by jonp72 at 12:38 PM on December 19, 2009


    jonp72 Yup.

    Which is why I favor aggressive and frequent primary challenges.
    posted by sotonohito at 1:09 PM on December 19, 2009


    Which is why I favor aggressive and frequent primary challenges.

    Unfortunately, Joe Lieberman and Bill Nelson aren't up for re-election until 2012. At this time, the best opportunity is a primary challenge against Blanche Lincoln, most likely by the state's Lt. Governor Bill Halter. If you want to change the Blue Dogs and conservaDems, drafting Halter or somebody else to run against Blanche Lincoln is a good place to start.
    posted by jonp72 at 1:37 PM on December 19, 2009


    jonp72 I will donate as much as I can spare to end the political careers of any of the sell out slime who have brought us to this point, not only cash but phone bank work, etc. I want blood, er, politically speaking.
    posted by sotonohito at 6:32 PM on December 19, 2009


    There are some organizations dedicated to trying to unseat these "centrist" douchbags. Blue America PAC is one of them, but I don't know that much about it.
    posted by delmoi at 2:04 AM on December 20, 2009


    I would guess most of us progressives aren't Democrats and do want to "bring down" the Democratic Party. I want a viable political alternative to corporatism. I'm not sure how to get it, but bringing down either of the major parties seems like a good start.

    Jesus, this is the most terrifying thing I have read all day.

    The Republicans are truly dangerous too our country. We simply can not afford to have them be in power again. If this means that progressives have to make concessions to corporate whore "centrists" than so be it. We simply don't have the luxary of being able to tear down the Democratic party even if it would bring about a more progressive party in 5 to 10 years. 5 to 10 years of Republican rule would be far to costly.
    posted by afu at 11:20 PM on December 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


    That may be true, but there are a few Senators I'd like to see go, with Harry Reid topping the list. He did a hell of a job stopping the GOP from getting anything done, but it seems that he's still in that mode, half the team. We need better leadership, and if that means losing a few seats, then so be it. What good is having a 60 seat majority if you can't get 60 votes to stop a fucking filibuster. IMO, I think any Democrat that votes against procedural votes from their own leader oughta be bounced out of the caucus.
    posted by empath at 11:27 PM on December 20, 2009


    Shifting the argument about the HCR bill to be about Nader and the Greens may seem natural and logical and relevant to some, but to me it reeks of attempting to change the subject.

    I see Nadar as relevant, because I am terrified that liberal anger over the health care bill, will turn into republican election victories. I don't think this is out side the realm of possibility.
    posted by afu at 11:30 PM on December 20, 2009


    Jesus fucking christ the right wing has lost their shit.
    posted by empath at 11:43 PM on December 20, 2009


    Huh. I didn't realize that Little Green Footballs now disavows right-wing politics.
    posted by grouse at 11:56 PM on December 20, 2009


    Jesus fucking christ the right wing has lost their shit.

    When did they ever have it?
    posted by delmoi at 2:32 AM on December 21, 2009


    afu I wouldn't be worried about liberal anger as seen here and elsewhere turning into right wing victories, it's the low information voters, the ones who don't hang around on political blogs you should be worried about.. Most of us high information liberal voters will tend to hold our noses and vote Democrat because we know they've got us over a barrel. "Ha ha, you liberal sucker, you've got to voter for us, because you're scared of the possibility of President Palin! We can fuck you over six ways from Sunday and you still have to admit that we're better than the Republicans, up yours hippie!"

    And because we are scared of President Palin, we'll eat the shit the Democrats want us to and vote for them anyway. Though we're organizing primary challenges, and maybe that will scare a few Democrats...

    But the low information first time voters who put Obama in office in '08, I think they just plain won't bother voting in '12 and I'm all but certain they won't vote in '10 if that election isn't marked by a horrifying Republican victory I'll be stunned. They voted for hope and change, and they see nothing but Obama capitulating and screwing up over and over and over. They won't be back.

    "Yes we can" has turned into "screw you hippie" and the growing feeling on the low information left is that Obama just isn't worth the effort of taking a day off work to vote for again.

    You can argue, and I'll agree, that letting the Republicans win is bad for America, but "he's better than Palin" isn't going to get those first time voters back voting a second time.

    Want to avoid electoral losses? Try not fucking over the left quite so damn much. Us long time, political junkie, leftists will take it. We'll bitch about it, but we'll take it and we'll vote Democrat. But the first time voters aren't as cynical as we are, or possibly they're more cynical. The message that Obama has sent them in his first year in office is that he doesn't give a shit about them, that he won't fight for them, and that he will surrender every principal they found appealing about him on the alter of his god "Bi-Partisanship".

    You can't scold them back to the voting booth. You can't terrify them with visions of President Palin. The only way to get them back in 2012 is by showing them that "hope and change", that "yes we can" are more than empty campaign lies. So far Obama couldn't have driven them away better if he'd been trying.
    posted by sotonohito at 4:13 AM on December 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


    sotonohito, I largely agree with you. but there is a bit of a contradiction in your argument.

    If this is true,

    "Most of us high information liberal voters will tend to hold our noses and vote Democrat because we know they've got us over a barrel. "Ha ha, you liberal sucker, you've got to voter for us, because you're scared of the possibility of President Palin! We can fuck you over six ways from Sunday and you still have to admit that we're better than the Republicans, up yours hippie!""

    Then you can't blame Obama for not being progressive enough, the congressional "moderate" democrats have all the power in a situation where we teeter on the brink of rule by crazy people. Obama may pay the price, but he is the best politician I have seen in my lifetime, so I wouldn't bet against him. Though I do agree that 2010 is gonna be nasty.

    In general I would place more of my anger at american political institutions in general rather than blame Obama. Domestically, American presidents are very weak, though the average voter seems to think they are some kind of king. If Obama's health plans had been enacted as they were written when presented to congress, nobody on the left would be criticizing him.
    posted by afu at 7:12 PM on December 21, 2009


    See this article by Drew Westen. Obama has a pattern of staying as far away from controversy as he possibly can.

    The office of the presidency is a fantastic bully pulpit. He could have used it to push for real reform, he didn't. He could be using it to push to end DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, etc, but he isn't.

    Basically Obama is so comitted to his unworkable ideas of bipartisanship, so comitted to staying away from controversy and never making anyone mad, that he's totally ineffective as president.

    No, the President doesn't get a vote in Congress, but he has influence if he chooses to use it. Obama has so far chosen not to his his influence (except to twist arms to get support for his war of choice in Afghanistan). It's making him look weak, and it is costing him the voters who got him into office.

    Like I said, us high information leftist voters will vote Democrat no matter what because we know they've got us over the barrel. I am gaining a new and burning hatred for those who have us over the barrel, but the specter of President Palin is still enough to force me to vote for the evil turds who are screwing me and America for the simple reason that I know the other evil turds would screw me even worse.

    But the low information voters sees "Obama is a weak, ineffective, coward", and they won't be back.

    He may win in 2012, he talks really pretty and that might save his own ass. But I'm increasingly convinced that 2010 is going to be a horrible loss for the Democrats, I can't see them keeping 60 seats in the Senate, and they might even lose the majority in one or the other of the houses.
    posted by sotonohito at 7:02 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Jesus fucking christ the right wing has lost their shit.

    From the linked comment thread:

    For 25 years people have scoffed at me for saying Red Dawn was an accurate picture of the future.

    If anyone's offered a better summation and self-parody of the teabagger movement, I've yet to see it.
    posted by EarBucket at 7:13 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


    No, the President doesn't get a vote in Congress, but he has influence if he chooses to use it. Obama has so far chosen not to his his influence (except to twist arms to get support for his war of choice in Afghanistan). It's making him look weak, and it is costing him the voters who got him into office.


    What specific leverage does he have over Lincoln, Landrieu or Conrad? What leverage does he have over Lieberman? Any one of these people can single handedly kill any of his domestic initiatives. (Afghanistan is a different story since congress has given all modern presidents a blank check to wage war, comparing it to health care reform is comparing apples to oranges.)

    But the low information voters sees "Obama is a weak, ineffective, coward", and they won't be back.

    The low information voters care about the economy not some bullshit hero/coward dichotomy. The economy sucks right now and so do Obama's numbers. When and if the economy get's better he will be looking good. I'd bet money on that.
    posted by afu at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2009


    Want to know what's wrong with the health 'reform' bill currently being pushed through the Senate? Ask a nurse.
    posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2009


    "They've been on this jihad for 70 years...Two-thirds of the country don't want this. And one-third of these jihadists, these health care jihadists do. I guess that's how democracy in the Obama era works."
    -- Mary Matalin on health care reform

    posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 AM on December 22, 2009


    Obama said the public option "has become a source of ideological contention between the left and right." But, he added, "I didn't campaign on the public option."

    In other news: We have always been at war with Eastasia.
    posted by Joe Beese at 2:06 PM on December 22, 2009


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