Defeating the Coalition to Kill Health Care Reform

by: Mike Lux

Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 13:30


For those of us continuing to fight for the President's proposals on health care- including covering everyone at a price they can afford, strong regulations on insurers, tough cost containment measures, and a public option to keep insurers honest- it can get discouraging sometimes. I continue to be concerned by the number of progressive friends I have who have become convinced that we cannot win this fight, and are on the verge of giving up. I believe that we are very much in this fight, that there is a clear path to victory, and that it would be a tragedy for those of you who have been fighting for this moment for so long to give up now.

It is easy to get discouraged. The array of forces in outright opposition- insurance companies, somewhere between 98% and 100% of Republicans in Congress, the massive right-wing attack machines- is huge and very loud. Traditional media is so relentlessly negative and cynical that it frequently seems as if they have just joined the coalition mentioned in the previous sentence- I guess they prefer covering a train wreck to seeing something substantive done. And the conventional wisdom/establishment-oriented Democrats who are all too ready to give up the fight for really comprehensive reform and just take the easier path of not really taking on the powerful insurance industry are perhaps the most discouraging of all- they have probably done more to undermine enthusiasm for the President's goals than anyone.

But for those of us fighting this battle in the trenches every day, it is clear that there is a path to victory. It's far from a lock, it will require work and backbone by progressives, but the path is in front of us. And my sense is that more and more people are seeing it as a real possibility- David Sirota had a column today on it, Chris Bowers has been writing about it, Digby and many others as well. And progressive groups and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are doing meetings every day, continuing to work the strategy.

So how do we win this fight?

Mike Lux :: Defeating the Coalition to Kill Health Care Reform
  • Hold the progressives in the House to only vote for a public option. So far, so good. They've signed multiple letters, taken multiple pledges, sent a very clear message about their determination. They need to stay strong.

  • Get the Democrats in the Senate to accept that this will have to be a Democrats-only bill. This seems to be moving in the right direction. Schumer sent exactly the right message over the weekend, and it's clear things are beginning to head that way.

  • Split the bill into two parts in the Senate, with the public option and the financing going through the reconciliation process. Democats are sending signals that they are moving in that direction as well.

  • Get enough Senators on board for the public option. The whip count DFA and we at OpenLeft have been running shows us at 45. We need five more, and there are several Democrats I think are prime possibilities to come along if this is the path we go down.

  • Above all, don't panic. There will be some rough days ahead. Certain Senators will keep saying we can't get this done, and pundits will continue to shed the worst possible light on each day's events. But we just need to hang tough, hold strong, and keep working.

We are within range of a truly historic victory. Right now is exactly the wrong time for conventional wisdom Dems, or progressive activists, to throw in the towel.

When I was in the Clinton White House, our biggest victory was the 1993 budget fight. At a dozen points along the way, the media pronounced us dead, and some staffers in the White House had pretty much given up as well. But we kept fighting, and we ended up with the most progressive budget bill in the 43 years between 1965 and today. We raised taxes on the wealthy, cut them on the poor, and gave much-needed money to job training, education, environment, low-income folks, and other important domestic priorities. And we did it without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate.

We are now on the verge of a much greater achievement, but only if we don't lose our will and lose our nerve. If we keep fighting until the fight is done, we can make history.


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you know what would make this (4.00 / 8)
a whole lot easier?

If Obama stated clearly that he will not sign any bill containing an individual mandate but lacking a robust public option (and that doesn't include co-ops).

That would greatly strengthen the Progressives' negotiating position in the House.

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or to put it another way (4.00 / 5)
How can we be expected to successfully fight for "the president's proposals" if the president isn't fighting for them?

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
seriously (4.00 / 1)
these aren't "the President's proposals" at all. he has kept his hands off the process and refused to commit so that he can define the final result as "victory" no matter what it may be. which, fine, clever clever, but that also means that he can't take credit for what does or doesn't get passed.

that opening line sort of lets the air out of everything that follows.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


[ Parent ]
proposals (4.00 / 2)
They are his proposals. Part of our job is to make him keep owning them.

[ Parent ]
Exactly Right (4.00 / 1)
As of now, he seems to think this can get solved via 'reasonable debate' around the seminar table.

Not going to happen, as Edwards pointed out during the campaign - 'These people are not going to sit down and negotiate away their wealth and power '.

Time for the President to realize that power politics is required.


[ Parent ]
Morally Linking Mandate to Option (4.00 / 6)
I'm not in favor of coming up with things Obama could do since we have no control there.  The question is: what can we do?

I think morally linking the personal mandate to the public option is a very good idea.  In my mind the overriding reason for the public option is moral.  Even if we can successfully regulate the Murder By Spreadsheet insurance corporations we cannot justify rewarding them.  Why should I be required to give money to those crooks?  

If you require I buy insurance I require the choice of bypassing the insurance corporations.


[ Parent ]
Yup, the moral case should be made and spread. It's a strong point. (4.00 / 1)
After all, would it be ethical if the government FORCES everybody to sign up with insurance comapanies who already have shown to pursuit only their profit interests, not the interests of the customer? Thee's lots of evidence that there's good reason not to trust those insurers. Dems really should prepare a graph shwoing how many people died while being in dispute with their insurers about payments. This would be a strong ethical point!

Nobody should be forced to sgn up with these crooks. And imho that's an argument many Americans will support.


[ Parent ]
That should be the key point (4.00 / 2)

If you require I buy insurance I require the choice of bypassing the insurance corporations.

That is really it, in a nutshell.

Mandates without a public option are political suicide.  It is just another Democratic bailout for big corporate donors.  It is a gift to Republicans in 2010 and 2012 elections.

Forget the moral argument.

Every Democrat in DC should be hearing this, morning, noon and night.  

It should be obvious, but dreams of health industry dollars can make people do stupid things.


[ Parent ]
Public Option: Devil is in the details!!! (0.00 / 0)
The public option bill in the Senate makes governemtn insurance available only to those who do not now have insurance through their employer.  So if your employer has crappy expensive insurance (think Walmart), you are SOL. This is not a public option that will keep the insurers honest nor does it give the public option a very large pool to work with.  

I am afraid we are headed for a bill with a fig leaf public option that will not really solve the problem.  So we need to be very clear what sort of public option we are asking for.


[ Parent ]
Truebut (0.00 / 0)
The public option isn't available through large corporations, even those forced to purchase insurance via this plan, I believe that is true.  However, it is available to any individual forced to buy it on his or her own dime.

Given that forcing Walmart to cover its employees with health insurance is a good think all in its own right, I think the morality holds up.

From the practical stand point, we really want the public option to be large enough to get a good start.  Once it gets enough people to become popular (and has some time to get the kinks out) others will begin to wonder why they can't purchase it.  While I'd prefer growth to be in this bill, it isn't necessary.  We can grow it over time.

But no public option means we have nothing to grow.


[ Parent ]
That would make things easier (4.00 / 1)
But I don't know if easier is better.  If the progressive caucus wins based on their own strength then they will have a much better bargaining position in every future vote.  

I think the best thing right now would be some polling in the senator's districts.

I am writing an application that will do the poor woman's version of that.  It probably wont be ready in time on this, but I think it will be helpful in the future.


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[ Parent ]
Good post, Mike. (4.00 / 3)
I hope Obama supports us after his vacation.  It's time.  

I hate to sound out to lunch, but (4.00 / 1)
Since 50% of Republican citizens want healthcare reform, and even more independents, are there any states that have Republican Senators who are vulnerable in either their next primary or else their next general election, that can be flipped? It seems to me that that, if healthcare with a public option is important enough, progressives should at least consider helping a more, well, progressive Republican get elected next time around, or at least threaten to.

Where are the RINO's when you need them? :-)

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[ Parent ]
Oops - this question was for Mike Lux (4.00 / 1)
Of course, you can answer it, too.  :-)

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[ Parent ]
Republican base (4.00 / 2)
Republican primary voters are overwhelmingly out of the hard core base, so we aren't likely to beat them in a primary. I think in general, we can beat Repubs using this issue in a general election, but there are too many dis-incentives for them to vote with us on this issue.

[ Parent ]
Add Feingold to the Fax list... (4.00 / 1)
http://www.lakelandtimes.com/m...

The good news is that some republicans are caving a bit...  Steele said the GOP would work with the Dem leadership to get something done and Thune said that there would be some support from their side for "moderate" reforms or whatever...  Still, it's a significant shift from the party of No...  They have to be worried about a dem-only bill...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Not worried enough. (0.00 / 0)
I think any rhetoric that sounds more moderate will quickly disappear as the GOP base beats the hell out of them.

[ Parent ]
Fight the weasel words (4.00 / 2)
I.e. those Luntzian sound bite messages that are intended to kill true health care reform. Not the crazyass stuff like it'll kill grandma, but saner-sounding messages intended to influence low-information centrists and indies, like:

Luntzian Message: It's too expensive and we need to scale this back.

Correct Reponse: The current system is already way too expensive, which is why rates are sky-high and rising at 3 times the rate of inflation, and as rates go up and employers drop group coverage, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford health insurance and get decent health care. Even if you have decent insurance now, there's a good chance that you won't tomorrow. The only way to get costs down and cover everyone is a comprehensive solution, which will cost a lot up front, but save much more down the line.

Luntzian Message: It's going to lead to the rationing of health care.

Correct Reponse: That's already happening. People without health insurance have their health care "rationed". People with poor health insurance have their health care "rationed". And even people with good health insurance are having their health care "rationed". Every time you can't afford, or are denied, needed health care, it's being rationed.

Luntzian Message: Health care is a privilege, not a right.

Correct Reponse: So if you're deprived of this privilege, through no fault of your own, because you've lost your job, or your employer dropped your health insurance, or you can no longer afford your individual insurance, you'll be ok with that? And if someone loses their life or suffers unnecessarily because they don't have access to health care, you're ok with that?

Really, you are?

These are just some quick ideas of mine. I'm sure that people much better at this can come up with much better ones. But we have to fight these weasel words that keep coming from the right like an endless stream of far-right verbal jihadis.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


Agree that language is crucial (0.00 / 0)
Learn how to present a double-bind message to them. A they can't win and B they lose.

These by Kovie are good.

So it's OK with you that these people die?


Someone needs to run a cost analysis of different medical procedures (4.00 / 2)
root canals
hip replacement surgery
new knees
infant intensive care

And run the cost analysis comparing and contrasting different countries and how Americans can get medical care there.

nyceve did one on root canals and crowns in NYC by going to a Chinatown dentist. Even with dental insurance and co pay she saved money.

I have some Mexican dentists that operate just over the border in El Paso and San Antonio that are excellent (friends have used them) and much much cheaper. Americans line their waiting rooms to get their dental work done and are repeat customers.

I'm looking into Indian dentists in Springfield MO as I know Indians are very clever and meticulous with their hands and smart. Now I go to a Chinese dentist from Canada who is used to single payer and runs his clinic on that model. He is much better than all the rest of them.


Chelation therapy instead of heart operation bypasses (0.00 / 0)
I have had preventive chelation done and it is excellent. You sit in a room with a bunch of people and share stories about the medical profession while the fluid drips into your vein. You munch oranges to counteract hunger as it strips everything from your bloodstream and cleans your arteries. Highly recommended for Recluse spider bites and lead poisoning is the only time insurance will pay for it.

But diabetics go to keep their feet and heart patients to avoid bypasses. They sit there and tell you the stories. I listened to an 85 year old woman telling me she first had it done when diagnosed with macular degeneration. the doctor said he didn't know if it would help but they could try. she did 10 treatments and then her opthalmologist told her everything was fine when she went back.I have heard the same from people scheduled for quadruple bypasses. But Letterman and Clinton seem to never have heard of it. For good reason.

I wanted to write up my doctor in the early 90's about it and he said he didn't want any publicity. It seems a chelation clinic had opened in Kansas City and the Wall Street Journal had written it up. The next day the feds closed it down. The heart surgeons don't want any competition or any invasion of their territory. They get big bucks here in MO where heart disease is rampant.

But it like auto insurance. they won't pay for small collisions so you have to invent personal injuries to get it. And personal injury suits are really expensive. They fight them which runs the lawyer costs up. But it still pays to refuse the small claims because there are so many more of them that just go away. The larger ones will never add up to more than all those millions of small claims. So it's the bottom line in operation.

If millions have chelation that will cost more than surgeries. And before surgeries many die so that relieves social security payments and medicare. So they don't want to keep you alive and healthy as an older person as it is too expensive. Thus they belittle the chelation and manufacture outright lies about its efficacy. And they will do the same if we get single payer.

The answer of course is a chelation clinic in a mall where drop ins are encouraged. It can be very cheap to deliver instead of the exorbitant 100-150 per treatment. But doctors are going to have to be forced to stop their profit gouging until a new generation of socially conscious doctors come on the scene, as they are now in the UK and Canada and France and Germany. Becoming a doctor is not the road to great wealth in those countries.


Gary Null has read the bill, and said that it does nothing for holistic medicine (0.00 / 0)
Chelation therapy, while not actually 'natural', is basically non-toxic and has had amazing results. Years ago, I talked to a father/son pair of doctors, who complained about chelation therapy being "expensive". Back then, 10 treatments were about $2,000, IIRC, and a heart bypass was maybe $30,000. I just couldn't understand their sense of economics, though it may have been relevant that the son performed bypasses.

As bypasses nowadays are much more expensive, I have to question your claim that "If millions have chelation that will cost more than surgeries.". If you include treatments for spider veins, I suppose, but how can that be true for reducing plaque in major arteries?

(BTW, an Israeli study showed that pomegranate juice reduced some measure of stenotic artery wall thickness by 30%. Please don't tell the FDA, though. We don't want them seizing pomegranates.)

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[ Parent ]
I bet it could be done in Mexico for far less (0.00 / 0)
But you would have to stay there 10 weeks or so.

Or a doctor could set up a clinic to do just that and have a phlebotomist be there so that could be cheap. The chemical they put in the bag is not expensive.


[ Parent ]
Obama's Failed Repeatedly (0.00 / 0)
That's why I'm so discouraged. It really feels at this point that it doesn't matter what I do. I thought I'd helped to elect a Democratic President that would represent the democratic wing of the the Democratic Party. Turns out I was wrong. On just about everything that mattered to me, Obama was either lying, or he's incompetent; probably both. He's made it clear he prefers working the backrooms to transparency with the public. He's made it clear he values bipartisanship over the vast majority of the American public. He's made it clear he has no qualms about stabbing in the back his constituents that actually voted for him.

I've made calls. I've written messages to Senators and my Representative. What good are they if Obama's words don't back up mine? What if, as it appears, he himself is the reason Baucus' Finance Committee hasn't reported a bill yet? I mean, come on, who am I trying to kid? My faxes to a few Senators are going to beat the president of the country acting behind my back to squelch whatever good it could otherwise do?

I'm tired of this. I'm tired of Obama. I'm tired of being lied to by Democrats. Sick and tired of it. I'm done with it. If Obama really wants this, if he cares, if he needs it all he's gotta do is get out there and call the bastards in the Senate on the carpet publicly, lay the blame at their feet that Americans are dying because they are failing to act. He can shame them in to acting. They have so much to be ashamed of.


Somewhat tangential, but why doesn't Obama challenge Repub Senators to a debate? (4.00 / 1)
The Obama Admin is punching back :
Obama Admin Fires Back At Right Wing With Detailed Rebuttal Of "Death Book" Claim

(I have trouble not gagging when I write that, since even the healthcare bills with a public option are likely to be an insult to the American taxpayer.

I don't think, though, that such a booklet will get much attention. What would get attention is a very public challenge, by President Obama, to debate any Republican Senator on the health care bills in progress. He should particularly call attention to "death panels" in his challenge, and insist on including that as a topic of debate.

If he does this, I fully expect each and every Republican Senator to slink away. Obama should repeat the challenge, and milk it for all it's worth.

The only downside that I can see comes from the fact that the the bills are so large. So, a Senator could claim that the bill says "such and such", and Obama wouldn't know how to answer (I doubt he's read every page of the bills, but maybe I'm wrong.)

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Push back on bogus point regarding a public option (4.00 / 2)
We need to push back harder on the response to a public option that it will inevitably lead to employers changing, or dropping, their health plans and forcing employees to lesser, or government sponsored health care plans they might not like as much.  

Well, guess what, employers through their insurance company partners, can change just about any plan at any time right now!  My ex-firm changed the plans in some meaningful way just about every year.  Many companies have already moved to increase rates, decrease coverage, or eliminate various options.  

So, let's not let the spin machine get away with this BS that allowing a public option somehow unfreezes plans that have been frozen from change in the past.  Nothing is really further from the truth.


I saw we fight dirty.... (0.00 / 0)
Make republicans vote on abolishing medicare 'cos it is socialized medicine...  Attack them on that front day in and day out...  turn everything they say as an attack on medicare...

Democrats need to learn how to fight dirty...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Yep they do (0.00 / 0)
Same theme as Inglorious Basterds. A great idea in that movie.

Saul Alinsky was a zen master in this kind of thing but his followers are as gray as dishwater.


[ Parent ]
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