Joe Lieberman's Healthcare Bill Is Worse Than Nothing. Kill It.

by: Darcy Burner

Tue Dec 15, 2009 at 00:26

The first rule of medicine is, "Do no harm." The post-Joe Lieberman version of the Senate healthcare bill fails that basic criterion.  Unless Democratic leadership steps up to fix this misguided proposal, our only recourse will be to kill it.

The fundamental failing of the newest Senate proposal is that it requires individuals to purchase health insurance, but does nothing to rein in what insurance companies charge.  There is nothing to stop spiraling health costs from eating up an ever-increasing percentage of our national productivity.

Darcy Burner :: Joe Lieberman's Healthcare Bill Is Worse Than Nothing. Kill It.
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.

We all know America's current healthcare system is failing -- and it's failing everyone, not just the uninsured. It is far too expensive: Americans spend 16% of GDP on healthcare and get worse results than countries that spend half that. Literally.

We need health reform that expands access to quality healthcare, abolishes unjust practices of insurers, improves value to the country, and puts us on a trajectory to continue to improve our healthcare system over time.

But the Senate has systematically stripped out nearly everything I liked about what was proposed in the early, heady days of healthcare reform. They have done so in order to please a handful of so-called centrists who care more about protecting corporate profits than protecting the people they claim to represent.

How do we judge whatever the Senate finally passes?  How do we tell whether what's left of the bill is enough to support it?

There are four key questions we can use to evaluate the proposed reforms:

  1. Affordable coverage for everyone: How close are we to the ideal that every American will have access to high-quality healthcare that they can afford?
  2. Value: How much have we improved the value Americans get for our healthcare dollars -- so that we are healthier and get more for our money?
  3. Fixing insurance company injustices: Have we reduced or eliminated the injustices caused by insurance companies when they destroy the lives of people who get sick by refusing to pay for care, or retroactively cancelling their insurance?
  4. Trajectory: Are we on a path towards continued improvements in all of those areas?

If we look at the current Senate proposal, the scorecard is not promising:

Affordable coverage for everyone: FAIL.
The latest CBO estimates for the Senate bill say that a family of four with a household income of $54,000/year should expect to pay 17% of their gross income on healthcare - about $9,000/year. (And that was when there was a public option to hold down costs!) That's more than they'll spend on federal taxes. That's more than they'll spend on food. I'm guessing if you took a poll, very few Americans would consider that affordable. And because of the way they've approached this, there's no effective cost cap on premiums and nothing providing downward pressure, so this is a problem that would get worse rather than better over time.

Value: FAIL.
In January 2007, the McKinsey Global Institute released a study showing that the United States spends twice as much on healthcare as the rest of the industrialized world. It costs our economy a extra $480 billion per year -- roughly $1,600 for every man, woman and child in the country. It's not because we get more effective care: we have lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality. Our results are worse, even though we're spending twice as much.

We pay more because we've set up the system so that the incentives to insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, and patients are all messed up. We've set it up so that expensive ways to treat things are preferred to inexpensive ones, even when the inexpensive ones are better. We're not getting better care, just more expensive care. Insurance companies won't pay to let a diabetic see a podiatrist to keep their feet healthy, instead waiting to cover amputations. Why? Because maybe by the time an amputation is necessary, somebody else -- another insurance company or better yet Medicare -- will have to foot the bill. Voila! More expensive, worse care.

Unless we address the messed-up incentives that are at the heart of our system being so expensive relative to the value being delivered, we aren't really fixing the problem. A public option might have been in a position to begin to fix those problems, but nothing in the current Senate bill does.

Fixing insurance company injustices: PASS.
The biggest areas of insurance company abuse -- denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, cancelling policies retroactively after people get sick, discriminating in rates on the basis of gender - appear to be addressed by the bill. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here.

Trajectory: FAIL.
Finally, the question is not only whether the bill improves each of the three areas in the short term, but whether they will improve in five years or ten years or twenty years. What the Senate is currently discussing will make healthcare more expensive for individuals, families, and businesses, with no check on the insurance companies and none of the systemic reforms that might fix the incentive problems. They're on track to make the problems worse over time rather than better.

That's the best the Senate can do? Thanks to Joe Lieberman, it's worse than nothing.

We should fight for the House bill, which does a better job on all fronts. With some minor tweaks to ensure that women can get the reproductive care they and their doctors think they need, it's a decent bill on the right trajectory.

But if it's Joe Lieberman's bill or nothing? Kill it.

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Agree wholeheartedly! n/t (4.00 / 10)

Thank you! (4.00 / 12)
Please contact your Senators and your House member to let them know how you feel.

[ Parent ]
What next? (4.00 / 3)
If nothing passes, what is our next step? Here's a suggestion:

Get behind a serious campaign finance and lobbying reform bill. Get congress critters on the record on whether they will pledge to support it. Target those who refuse with ads connecting the dots between corporate money, killing meaningful HCR and refusal to fix the corrupt system.

If we want to get anything done on HCR or any issue, we have to fix the broken system. These ads would do double duty, punishing the assholes who fucked us on HCR and making examples of them and also pressuring for meaningful reform of the system so the odds won't be stacked against us so severely when we go at it again.

[ Parent ]
no (0.00 / 0)
have fun playing tee-ball with the Honorable John Roberts.

[ Parent ]
Is this a reference to some actual event? (4.00 / 1)
[ Parent ]
It's probably a reference to Buckley v Valeo (4.00 / 3)
In which the U.S. Supreme Court equated political $ with political speech protected by the First Amendment.  This was the beginning of the end of the "noble experiment" which we call "democracy."  Every attempt at campaign finance reform since then has been struck down by the US Supreme Court.  John Roberts' court will never overrule or modify that case, and thus for the near future at least, campaign finance reform is DOA.

[ Parent ]
Except public funding of campaigns... (4.00 / 2)
Which have been challenged at the state level and failed in the courts because they are VOLUNTARY! If politicians can elect to take private cash versus public funding, THIS reform passes constitutional muster.

Ask you congressman to support:

Jack Lohman  

Jack Lohman

[ Parent ]
I love you Darcy, but... (4.00 / 6)
My Senators are DiFi and Boxer.

DiFi loves this bill.  She was willing to sell out the PO from the start, long before the power plays were being made.  She's happy to let Lieb & Ben & Blanche & Mary do her work on this.  Reform in lip service only.  I've wasted enough contact with that office already on issues like this.

Boxer would vote for the most Progressive bill that got offered.  She also would vote for any bill that got offered.  I have concerns that she'd even take a stand against the Stupak amendment.  She doesn't remotely offend me as much as DiFi does.  But she never, ever in her career will pull a power play like Liberman and Ben have, and will continue to do.

What's next?

We give up on the Democratic Party.  The stim was larded up with tax cuts to draw GOP votes.  It didn't, and the country suffers for it.  The healthcare bill is burned to the ground to hold Democratic votes, and the country will suffer for it.  Climate Control is already on a path to fail worse than this, not just by how Congress will kill it but by the disgusting secret negotions we saw swirling around Copenhangen.

If the Democratic Party wants to govern like the GOP, which is clearly what Rahm and Leadership want, they can do it without my support.  I'd just as soon get fucked by the enemies I know that by those I support.  :/

Sorry.  Your heart is in the right place, Darcy.  But your party is failing you, the rest of us and our country.  It doesn't warrant out support in the slightest.


[ Parent ]
Agreed. (0.00 / 0)
We need to start the laborious process of developing a third party, on a state-by-state basis.  Hell, look at how popular the Teabagger Party became in just a short few months--polling indicating that they're more popular than the Repubs, even though there is no such Party!

I suggest as a model the Democratic Socialists of Vermont.

I know, I know, this has about as much chance of succeeding as campaign finance reform surviving John Roberts' SCOTUS.

[ Parent ]
Illogical, it you want to optimize the progressive vote (4.00 / 2)
At least, illogical in the form that you have sketched out.

It would make more sense to build up a progressive voting bloc, which will then force the issue in Democratic primaries, OR, failing to install somebody progressive in said primary, vote for your third party candidate during the general election (or just stay home if no third party candidate is on the ballot).

(I don't know the laws about membership in multiple parties. If you can't be a member, in any way, shape, or form, of both the third party and the Democratic party, then you will have to strategically shift back and forth, to show that a) on the one hand, your third party really does have a substantial membership and b) on the other hand, your voting bloc will 'exist' in their properly registered Democratic Party form when it's time to vote in the Democratic primaries.)

One way to think of this is as an informal fusion voting. Fusion voting wasn't made illegal in all but about 8 states, for nothing. The D's and R's want the electorate all to themselves.

If you go this route, I suggest that you have a "no forgiveness" policy. I.e., if a candidate that your bloc supports clearly violates any pledges made to your bloc after they get elected, and no extenuating circumstances can justify it, then this incumbent is black-listed, and your bloc will never again vote for them, either in a primary, or a general election. Because politics amongst elected officials is largely horse-trading, it also makes sense (to me) to only insist on a few policy positions in any given election cycle. Like it or not, elected officials have to "rob Peter to pay Paul". (This is another reason that I have suggested to jeffroby to have a shorter list of "absolutely must support" policy positions. See the next sentence.)

Building up such a 3rd-party friendly voting bloc would go together nicely with jeffroby's 'Full Court Press' plan to run 435 Democratic primary candidates.

Probably the most empowering thing that a single individual, with sufficient wherewithal (either connections or investment $$) could do, in the immediate future, to empower progressive voting blocs and what I'll call virtual fusion voting, is to either prevail upon ActBlue to get them to create the facility to allow instant runoff 'elections' of progressive candidate RESOURCES (campaign $$ and volunteer hours), or else get somebody else to create such a funding portal, from scratch. ( I suppose it's best to have one funding portal for Senate candidates, and one funding portal for HR candidates.) When you're starting from zero, you don't want to fritter away elections cycles by not concentrating your bloc's resources on at least a few candidates. E.g., if your progressive voting bloc constituted only 5 percent of the Democratic Party 'faithful', spread across the country, by concentrating their donations on a single Senate contest, they would exceed the funding that that direct contributions by non-voting bloc Democrats would be contributing to the incumbent Democrat.

You can search for my other posts where I describe this idea more fully.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Excellent! (0.00 / 0)
Well-thought-out, and far better than my knee-jerk reaction borne out of decades of frustration.  I really like the "Full Court Press" concept to which you linked; and I intend to do my small part to help.  Imagine what Raul Grijalva could accomplish with a legitimate Progressive Bloc within the House.  And I see that the way to get there may be to form progressive voting blocs of our own.

[ Parent ]
I agree. I did. But why? (3.43 / 7)
They ignored me on single payer, strong public option, bankruptcy bill, trade, Afghanistan, legalizing pot... What makes you think they'll pay any attention to kill this bill?  

Until we get a really big stick, they will continue to flip us off.   We need to take them out of office, even if that means the Republican wins.  The way conservatives handle Republicans ought to teach us something.  Republicans never stop looking behind their backs.  Democrats don't look, don't care, and know what a toothless tiger progressives are.  We want what we want, but we aren't willing to fight for it lest someone get bloodied.  

I am not willing to go out onto the streets to be a target for the police (Chicago Democratic Convention and Kent State); but nobody can make me vote for anybody I don't want to.  Imo, it is time for a new strategy.  

[ Parent ]
Thank Goodness you (4.00 / 9)
are speaking Darcy.  Please get our Progressive Caucus in the House to stop this POS in it's tracks.  How can the Dems be this stupid - to force a 'mandate' on everyone with no relief in sight or options.  

We have to stand our ground or we lose our collective asses in 2010 and 2012.

The CPC is standing ground (4.00 / 11)
Rep. Grijalva and Rep. Woolsey, the CPC co-chairs, just demanded a meeting with President Obama.

I have a very hard time imagining that there are 218 votes in the House for something this awful. But just to be sure, please feel free to call your members of Congress...

[ Parent ]
We do need to contact our members (4.00 / 2)
(if we have them) but they need to contact us too. It's great to have you here, but we need progressives in Congress to do a better job of reaching out.

We need to work to close the Rootsgap, as Chris mentioned earlier tonight.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
I don't believe a word the CPC says (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
me neither (4.00 / 2)
All previous behavior suggests that they will fold again.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]
Forget the meeting (4.00 / 2)
Solidly say no and force changes.

The deal has been cancelled,  Let's get a better deal or get out (aka kill the bill).

[ Parent ]
Pls do something to kill the bill! Support Senator Burris. (4.00 / 5)
He's showing the right spirit: "Let's not pass something just to pass something" (see QH)

Pls conatc his bureau and show your support! Urge him to make a stand for the people, and aginst insurance-friendly Liebercare.

[ Parent ]
Hear, hear! (4.00 / 6)
unfortunately we all know that this will not happen and a strong climate treaty will not happen.  Financial reform will also be hijacked and the war in Afghanistan will escalate. I see no reason to believe otherwise.


While this year has been a disappointment... (4.00 / 9)
...I continue to take the attitude that the challenges we're facing are far too important to give up on. I'm disappointed, I'm frustrated, I'm angry -- and I'm going to get up every day and try to figure out something I can do that might make a difference.

[ Parent ]
Darcy (4.00 / 1)
To that end, I would like to talk with you about 'Education'. I have a doctorate in education and have focused my research energy on secondary math and science, student dropouts, teacher attrition and the multiple viable solutions to enrich the secondary environment.  

Please let me know the best way to contact you - also I have provided my email:

Thanks so much for all you do.  

[ Parent ]
First they were going to get this done in October... (4.00 / 1)
then it was for sure in it's December, and they're promising to get something to the President by Christmas.

I think we've been p'wned, and there is no "timetable" at all! I wonder if Harry will send this back to Committee for another go-'round of some kind. I wonder if he doesn't really care if nothing else gets done all year long this year year.

There are no expiration dates on proposals for change. Reconciliation was the only way real reform was ever going to pass - R's played that card in spades, and Dick Armey himself would lead the charge.

As hard as R's have fought, Democrats now have a challenge that may well put this over the top, and it will principally be because of such ardent, florid and formless opposition. And I have all the time in the world to get this right. So does Harry Reid.

They only call it class war when we fight back.

[ Parent ]
The timetable (4.00 / 4)
might have been to delay it long enough until there could be few credible primary challenges.

[ Parent ]
Oh I'm not condoning giving up... (4.00 / 2)
I just don't see the point in using establishment political channels anymore when we get the SAME result on every single piece of legislation. A status quo that gets more entrenched but more justified. If anything, I hope the newly  politically attentive are being radicalized by this and find themselves searching for alternative ways to exert power.  


[ Parent ]
Change in tactics maybe? (4.00 / 1)
Petition our government is a waste of time.  I wish I had a better suggestion than "vote for the crook Republican, it's important".  

[ Parent ]
I won't vote republican (4.00 / 4)
that will just give the centrist another excuse to move right.  I am voting third party, or writing in Dorothy Medicare for All!

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Uh, Dameocrat, pls check your recent ratings (0.00 / 0)
Prolly only an accident:
I don't see anything Tr worthy in this...

As for your point above, that sure makes more sense than spreading a totally wrong message by voting republican, I agree.  

[ Parent ]
I probably hit (4.00 / 1)
the up button on the keyboard again.  I corrected it.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Rating Police? (0.00 / 0)
I see no reason to get into a pissing match over ratings.  Each person has a different idea of what violates ToU.  I was half tempted to TR a number of comments, mostly the ones from Obamamama, because I felt they were wholly unproductive -- but I am incapable as I do not have that privilege.

[ Parent ]
ToU? And there is a consensus about the TR issue here. (4.00 / 2)
Most importantly, you shouldn't use it to simply vote opinions you don't like down. This isn't DKos here, we don't tolerate that. Comments have to be really trollish, hatespeech, or personal insults to be TRed. Comments that include commercial links will also be TRed, every now and then we have some spammers who try to place their ads here. Otherwise, we're quite liberal - to a certain degree, side blows, ridiculing, and obscenities are allowed. But there is no clear line in the sand, so better stay on the safe side.

Ok, that's how this is handled here. A lot of leeway, but it isn't like each person can simply have a different idea about TRing. There have been some commenters banned because of TR abuse. It doesn't happen often, but it happens.

[ Parent ]
I'm a refugee from Kos. (0.00 / 0)
So I know what ratings abuse looks like when I see it.  I have witnessed way too many comments hidden and people banned in retaliation because someone didn't think a comment that got a TR deserved one -- even when it did.

[ Parent ]
Same here (4.00 / 1)
Well stated. Hate it when a newbie starts writing here and offers so little. Although Obamamama may have posted before?

[ Parent ]
darcy please repost on dkos (4.00 / 5)
hey darcy- please post your wors on dailykos. its times like these we need to hear from our progressive leaders. im beyond furious.

ITA - we need her guidance (4.00 / 1)
through this process.  Because I assume many are like me with some of their feelings and the thoughts are not nice - so we need to focus our 'energy' to a better progressive future.

[ Parent ]
Markos will write it. He has announced that the Bill must be Killed (0.00 / 0)
Insurance companies win. Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Damnit, Darcy! (4.00 / 5)
Now you showed them what they'll have to "fix"!  :-)

Seriously, I agree - kill this bill.  It doesn't move the ball forward.  It gives up ground that will take many years to get back.

Agree! (0.00 / 0)
Now how do we do it?  Watch tomorrow - you can bet that every one of the Dems will go before the camera and say how wonderful this bill is or how it can be saved or how we have to pass it or how .....

Tomorrow you can be sure that the charm offensive will be in full gear trying to assure us we haven't just been fucked.

Yeah but my ass hurts now (0.00 / 0)
so all the smooth talking in the world isn't going to smooth out the soreness.  

[ Parent ]
Be thorough! (4.00 / 2)
After you've killed it, cut off its head, stuff it with garlic and burn the body.

And it hasn't even gone back to the House where it'll be re-Stupaked.

Full Court Press!

po and cost control? (4.00 / 2)
The House bill has two major cost-control mechanisms: the public option and the 85% medical-loss ratio requirement.

i'm pretty sure that the public option in the house bill was not a major cost control mechanism. wasn't it suppose to save something like $25 billion over ten years? that's less than 1% of total national health expenditures.

or am i misremembering?

Honest question... (4.00 / 1)
So, once the Senate votes on this, it will supposedly go to conference, right?  And then both chambers will have to vote on it again, right?

Yeah, I'm pretty pissed off about this right now, but if there is indeed ANOTHER vote coming after conference, I'd like to see what comes of that.

Yeah, probably not much... but I feel like killing it now would be basically cutting off all possible "outs" currently on the table.  Maybe the House can negotiate something, I dunno... Again, I'm not optimistic, and someone correct me if I'm mistaken, but I wouldn't mind advancing it to the last possible moment before killing/delaying it if it means we get one more shot at the bill.

Maybe... (4.00 / 2)
More likely, there will be intense pressure from the White House to House Democrats to "ping-pong" the Senate bill and rubber-stamp it without question.  And I doubt the President will fail to get what he wants...even if what he wants now is exactly the opposite of what he wanted during the election ("make health care affordable...then maybe think about making it mandatory").

[ Parent ]
OFA better not call me... (4.00 / 9)
...and ask me to call my reps to pass HCR. Or ask for money.

They're dead to me right now. Just sayin'...

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

Baucus is thrilled (4.00 / 1)
"This is exciting. I hope you feel as excited as I do. This is a big deal."

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

We should listen to Baucus! (4.00 / 2)
Cause he's really the anti-Oracle. Consistantly wrong since decades. Listen closely to what he says - and then do the exact opposite!

[ Parent ]
Baucus (4.00 / 1)
Hang him in effigy.  Trail him around DC and Montana and make the bum sweat.  The root of this nonsense is Baucus.  He rammed a lousy bill through a stacked committee and even then most of the Democrats didn't want his crap.  Why out of 5 bills is his the base document?  Maybe because Versailles says it is.  Lieberman and Conrad and Blanche Wal-Mart are just sinking the root that Baucus planted deeper.

Take his chairmanship away.  He does a lot more harm than Lieberman.  Take Conrad's chair away.  Also worse than Lieberman.

HJarry Reid is listening to Obama and Rahm's siren song.  He's losing his seat because of it, just like Dodd will lose his.  What in God's name is wrong with some of these people?

[ Parent ]
Totally out of context (0.00 / 0)
Baucus said that to a nominee for a US Att'y position, I believe.

[ Parent ]
yeah, well (4.00 / 3)
The biggest areas of insurance company abuse -- denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, cancelling policies retroactively after people get sick, discriminating in rates on the basis of gender - appear to be addressed by the bill. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here.

Those features alone would improve my life more than any other bill passed by congress in my lifetime.

If you want to try to strip out the mandate in conference, then fine, but I don't see the point in torpedoing the good stuff with the bad. And this is really important stuff - it will make a difference in the lives of millions of people.

The problem with half assed 'reform' like this is exemplified directly here. (0.00 / 0)
We lose the need, the deep need for reform, felt by some, the upper middle class who have insurance, but hate the insurance comapnies. When they are "happy" they are no longer allies for reform, the drive for reform after this bill is passed, will be defeated, there will no longer be a 70% level of support for real deep reform.

The "I got mine" peel off of support for real change.

Kill the Bill.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
when do you think we're going to get a perfect bill? (0.00 / 0)
We have an institutional structure right now where the 40th most conservative Senator pretty much gets to dictate legislation. Right now that's Lieberman or Nelson. And that 40th most conservative senator is not likely to be any more liberal than that any time soon.

Pass this bill, take the good that it does, and then work on changing the Senate and the filibuster rule so that we don't need to heroically build supermajorities against all odds just to achieve incremental change.

Or would the thousands of lives saved not be worth it?

[ Parent ]
We need reform for everyone. (0.00 / 0)
I fear, know, that once some sector, especially if it is a powerful sector, gets the reform they most desperately need, they have no need to continue the pressure, and hiold fast with their companions in struggle.

It is a bit like a strike of several work forces, the entire hospital, or the entire University, where one section, the faculty for example, votes to sign a contract and returns to work. The faculty needs a real contract, needs their wages to begin again, needs to begin research again.

But folding, even for a signing bonus, hurts everyone else, and will eventually hurt even the faculty, when solidarity is watered down, belittled and destroyed.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Merely THREATENING to kill it could improve it (4.00 / 10)
Because it would force Obama & Dems to choose between the political disaster that would ensue if it was killed, and the far smaller inconvenience of making it a better bill in order to win the support of progressives.

Seriously, this is how politics is done. It's a game of chicken, ultimately. Whoever can hold out the longest wins. Whoever flinches loses.

Even if this POS bill was still better than nothing, it's so bad at this point that progressives have far less to lose by threatening to kill it, than would Obama and centrists Dems by allowing it to be killed. The former will suffer some consequences, the latter massive ones.

So I don't see what they've got to lose. It's worth the risk. In fact, politically, for progressives it seems to me to be almost a necessary risk, if they're to be taken seriously and feared from here on. And think of the good that it could do, if it leads to even a marginally better bill.

Lieberman, Nelson, Landieu et al might be past the point of giving a shit whether a bill passes or not. But Obama, Reid, Durbin, Dodd--you better believe they want a bill to pass. And if the only way to pass one is to make concessions to progressives and piss off the health care industry and ConservaDems, so be it. Their political futures are riding on it.

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

Yes, "It's a game of chicken". So,it has to be a plausible thread. (4.00 / 4)
And I'm afraid progressives will spoil it again. Once it looks like there will be some progressive achievements in the bill, some progressives will start to praise that compromise again, showing they would have settled for less. Lieberman and co will react on this by increasing their demands, and the whole kabuki theatre goes into the next act.

No, really, to really bring some success home, progressives have to be unified. And that means unified in their opposition, their demands, their fight, and also their messaging. And the messaging part is the most problematic side of this. Not that I really like the ridiculous right wing concert of everyone singing the same talking points, but it sure has more impact than the progressive cacophony.

[ Parent ]
"they want a bill to pass" - Probably true, and this can be exploited. (4.00 / 5)
Seems to be obvious that Rahm incrased the pressure because the WH wants to pass something healthcare, no matter what, this year. I don't really understand why keeping this promise is so important to them, after they broke so many others, but this seems to be gnuine. And this, of course, gives progressives, who are not under such pressure, a chance to gain the upper hand. Even if the votes to block it may not be there, delay the passage in every way possible! If Lieberman was able to factually overturn the whole compromise, just because time is running out, progressives should be able to do the same. Let's play hardball, and nobody should care if Obama gets some bruises in this match!

[ Parent ]
If killing a bill "hurts" Obama... (4.00 / 4)

 ...then maybe Obama should have campaigned for real reform a little harder.

 He's proven to be such a right-winger that I'm not convinced that a "hobbled" Obama would such be a bad thing anyway.

 And sinking Emanuel should be priority #1 of all progressives. The man is a complete ass.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 7)
I'm sick of the emotional blackmail issued by commenters and commentators, particularly over at Daily Kos.  If Obama is hurt by a healthcare failure its his own damn fault.  If Dems lose big in 2010 and 2012, it's there own damn fault.  

[ Parent ]
Damn it, Darcy... (4.00 / 1)
...why couldn't our district have picked you last year?  That way, there still would have been one Democrat I'd be willing to vote for.

Ther are lots of good democrats. We need lots more agreed. (0.00 / 0)
Darcy works for them. Darcy will be passing this message along to her "employers" --

She works for the policy foundation associated with the House Progress caucus.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Get back, Joe-Joe! (0.00 / 0)

It's time to break up the band, DSCC.

Please, please, please kill this bill. (4.00 / 5)
Even the House bill violates the "first, do no harm" principle.

I swear, why do so few liberals have the guts to walk away from the negotiating table?  Obama NEEDS this bill.  President "solid B" will become President "D-" if this fails.  Once Rahm stuck Obama's neck out there was absolutely no reason to bend one iota from a truly robust PO.   We need to stop blaming our opponents for being opponents and start blaming our own side for always bringing a knife to a gunfight.

BTW, if liberals are serious about killing this bill they better be ready to spin WHY:  No cost-controls.  If the Progressive Caucus sinks the bill and lets the media and Blue Dogs spin the story as "liberals were unwilling to compromise with fiscal moderates" then they might as well all go drown themselves in the Potomac.

Good points, BUT (4.00 / 4)
what's this stuff about "Rahm stuck Obama's neck out"...

I am so sick of this meme - OBAMA stuck his neck out and rahm is just the hired-hand!

Please, let's not let obama get away with having folks like rahm, LIE-berman, etc... do his dirty work while he pretends to be on the "high road".  

[ Parent ]
Trust me (4.00 / 2)
I don't give Obama a pass on Rahm's behavior.  There is no daylight between the two in my view.  I just said Rahm because he specifically made comments about having to pass "something".

[ Parent ]
Senator Burris still can keep this from passing. Pls give him support. (4.00 / 1)
After the Lieberman blackmail, Burris said: "Let's not pass something just to pass something" (see QH)
That's the right attitude, and a Senator who says this now is a Senator progressives dsperately need on thir side. After all, if Lieberman managed to singlehandedly managed to derail the compromise, why shouldn't Burris be able to do the same to the bad Joeke of a bill? After all, the junior Senator from Illinois has nothing to lose!

This afternoon today there will be an important meeting of all Dem Senators at the WH. Pls show lots of support and enouragement for Burris, and urge him to make a stand for the people, and against the interests of the insurance business!

[ Parent ]
DISAGREE wholeheartedly (4.00 / 1)
the EXTREME left is actually HURTING the process rather than helping. Republicans want nothing to pass, when you have people on the left agreeing with RIGHTWING republicans you have to ask yourself WHAT?!?!?!?  EVERYTHING was set with a Medicare BUY-IN deal and Howard Dean and Anthony Weiner went on National TV proclaiming how much better this was than the public option and how it would lead to single payer healthcare and the next thing you know Sen. Nelson and Lieberman are using their rhetoric to OPPOSE the exact bill they supported a few days earlier.  The best thing progessive democrats can do is keep your mouth SHUT until the bill is passed, there are things in it that WILL improve the lives of millions of people.

Passing nothing and allow 33 million people to SUFFER with no healthcare is inexcusable.  Everyone has to make compromises in order to get something done.  

You're right about this. (4.00 / 5)
Everyone has to make compromises in order to get something done.  

   So what compromises are conservatives expected to make?

   Plus, the "good" parts of this bill are riddled with loopholes. The bill is worthless, at EVERY level. It exists only for Obama to save face -- and that's not in the best interests of progressives anymore. Too many knives in our backs.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Conservatives DONT WANT REFORM that is the point!!!!!!! (0.00 / 0)
The fact that Lieberman, Nelson are willing to vote for the bill is quite an accomplishment

[ Parent ]
This bill is not reform either. (4.00 / 6)

 It's WORSE than nothing.

 The ONLY reason we even HAVE something we can call a "bill" is for Obama's PR purposes. And Obama's reputation, such as it remains, is irrelevant to progressives.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
You have stomped for Obama time and again. (4.00 / 3)
Do you expect us to take your blind defense of every Obama decision for serious? "quite an accomplishment" what nonsense! Capitulating isn't hard, and it isn't an accomplishment.

[ Parent ]
So, if conservatives want no bill to pass (4.00 / 3)
then, from your perspective, the "compromise" from the right is that ANY bill gets passed, right?

If that is true, then why continue to "negotiate" with folks like Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln and Landrieu when they will only be satisfied with no bill passing? They cannot be negotiating in good faith - and their actions indicate that such is the truth.

If the conservatives have already compromised (by accepting ANY bill) and the conservatives that have "D" attached to ther names are not negotiating in good faith - why not return to the left and put together as strong a bill as possible? Who's votes will you lose moving to the left? By your analyses NONE because they are already gone.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Yep, all-caps is the way to go. (4.00 / 1)
A bill that's worse than nothing is not better than nothing.  It won't save lives, and will probably cost us a lot more -- especially since we'll have to wait until 2013 or 2014 for the sh** sandwich to kick in.

[ Parent ]
This is what "progressives" do, apparently... (4.00 / 2)
they do exactly what Conservative Dems and Republicans WANT them to do.

It's just stupid.

[ Parent ]
So all the people who would benefit from this bill... (0.00 / 0)
we should just tell them they're screwed and they get nothing?

That is shortsighted and just plain stupid.

You want someone to fight for the House bill, fine - show me the 60 votes that will pass the House bill in the Senate. Until you can do that, you'd better come to the conclusion that the rest of the "progressives" have come to - which is that THIS bill is better than nothing. This bill makes PROGRESS, and being a progressive is about realizing that you're not going to get every single thing you wanted and that you keep fighting to get it next time around. Ted Kennedy was a progressive. He voted for bills that were imperfect all the time and he called them a success because they were. And then he got up next session and worked to improve them.

We should pass the bill in the Senate with Lieberman's 60th vote breaking the filibuster. And then the Democrats in the Senate should introduce a separate bill with all the elements they stripped to get Joe's vote (and the other conservedems) and they should push that through reconciliation.

I've listened to emotional arguments from those spouting to be more "progressive" than everyone else for the last several years. These people USED people who were sick, dying, having to file bankruptcy, etc. to make an argument for health care reform. Now that you've used them your plan is to leave them behind and stand for the status quo?!? I can't think of anything more ignorant than that - not to mention politically stupid.

People are dying...let's get some health care reform passed and fix SOME of the problems. And then let's keep working to make more changes in the future by electing more better Democrats.

The status quo isn't what we voted for.  

No (4.00 / 6)
No, this bill is not better than nothing.  It is worse than nothing. It should fail.

[ Parent ]
I believe you are not even a democrat (2.00 / 2)
The only people that want this bill to fail are REPUBLICANS

[ Parent ]
Well, space sure is a good liberal. I'm not so sure about you. (4.00 / 3)
Since you always only take the side of Obama, it's possible you don't have any political stances of your own. Take your spin and troll elsewhere, pls.

[ Parent ]
Are those the only labels available? (4.00 / 2)
Democrat or Republican?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
According to the DLC and its bootlickers, yes. (4.00 / 2)
But why make distinctions or even coherent arguments when it's so much more fun to label?  Why engage in honest discussion when it's so much more fun to bully others?

[ Parent ]
I'm a Democrat now (0.00 / 0)
But if the Democratic Party stands for forcing me, upon pain of fine, to purchase private health insurance without any cost can bet your ass I won't be Democrat for long.

[ Parent ]
Please stop troll rating. (0.00 / 0)
I am getting close to recommending the loss of TR for all commenters. I think maybe its time to send it to the trash heap. Ask the admins to bann and delete looks like the way to go.



The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Please stop trying to weed out those commentors (0.00 / 0)
with whom you do not agree. Why does anyone need to pass your litmus test?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Its so odd, your comment could be attached to the end of my comment. (0.00 / 0)
What is hiding a comment but just:

trying to weed out those commentors with whom you do not agree. Why does anyone need to pass your litmus test?

This is the oddest comment ever.

Troll rating IS === "trying to weed out those commentors with whom you do not agree."

TR'ing is NOT commenting.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
"Weeding out" = (0.00 / 0)
Ask the admins to bann and delete looks like the way to go.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Once someone has demonstrated that they have no interest in anything except (0.00 / 0)
disrupting the discussion, and I might point out, I have never thought that of your posts, which I have disagreed with often, then there is no point to keep them around.

The people who run this site, want discussions that lead to solutions, discussions that lead to policy, lead to organizing actions, lead to actually doing something. Thiose are some of the reason I think this among the best political sites on the internet. I trust their combined and individual judgement.

I dont trust or want readers to use the power of hiding posts to be used to stifle debate, hide opinions becaus ethey are not yours. The owners have said, rightly, the troll rate ability is for obvious attempts to sideline, distract or spam the site. And not just for disagreement.

I agree with that too.

I can have an opinion, which as I have said before, seems to carry little weight with the site admins, about who is being disruptive, who is trying to sideline the debate. I like the site, I will continue to try and protect it. It is my opinion. Opinions don't censor. Despite what Palin so famously says.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Hmm, Elise, you haven't commented here since February. Why now? (4.00 / 5)
And, sry, but your appeasing stance, advocating for eeating the shit sandwich only because there's a cherry on top isn't popular here. We have been through all up and downs of this effing reform in the discussions here in the last weeks. So, excuse me pls, but the tolerance for people jumping in now and telling us we're all wrong isn't really high now.

[ Parent ]
Uh, no misundersatanding, I don't want to drive occiasional commenters away (4.00 / 2)
It's just that everybody's nerves are strained, and that it isn't helpful now to blame those who want to achieve more for the people of not being supportive of the effing Lieberman "compromise". That argument doesn't make much sense. Everything progressives want is Liebercare+X, X being meaningful progressive ammendments. Why should anybody be criticized for trying to deliver a better product?

[ Parent ]
well, i'm totally unsurprised (4.00 / 3)
of course the bill was going to suck. that was guaranteed the minute the honest people, also known as single payer advocates, were tossed off of the negotiation table. i suppose saying that is insulting to some people, and i apologize if so, but really- how can anyone be genuinely "surprised" by how badly this bill sucks?

the administration and the senate dems have made it perfectly clear all along that whatever they passed would first help big industry. secret meetings, closed door sessions- in every way possible the administration and the dem leadership made it perfectly clear who was going to write this bill. if the CPC were worth anything, it would've embarked on a single, shrill strategy from the get go. "they're selling us out to the very industries who are making things so fucked up in the first place!" and stuck with that. as others have noted, if lieberman can tank the whole thing all by himself, surely one or two progressive senators can do the same? should've been doing the same, at every step, at every proposed "compromise."

i thank darcy for her fine efforts. i'm glad she's in the fight. but for a long time now, i have believed that these democrats are mostly worthless, and heartbreakers to progressives as well.

primary challenges. that's really all we have left, if we're going to continue to believe we have a functioning democracy, which i don't think we do.  

Progressive democrat CANNOT win in Nebraska, Arkansas, La (0.00 / 0)
all these threats about primary challanges are USELESS.  LIEBERMAN LOST in the primary but still won the election because PROGRESSIVES CANT WIN EVERYWHERE

[ Parent ]
Stop shouting. We're not deaf. (4.00 / 5)
And you really should troll elsewhere. You're increasingly becoming a nusissance.

[ Parent ]
How do you know? Have you tried? (4.00 / 2)
Your skill in the use of the caps-lock button is duly noted.  We bow before your worthiness.

[ Parent ]
We need an end to the filibuster. (0.00 / 0)
There would be excellent reform if it needed 51% to pass.

Or, possibly more correctly, no one in the Senate could use the "need" (which is completely artificial) to bow before Lieberman, to cover their own conservatism. We would then have a real, more real, idea of just where the various players stand.

We must remove the filibuster, and we must make it aa condition of support.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Expectations play a big part in politics. (4.00 / 2)
The expectations were pretty high for health care reform - affordability and access were mentioned quite frequently by pro-reform politicians.  And that will be the measuring stick or standard that pro-reform politicians will be held to by voting public.  If a final bill doesn't accomplish those two aspect then those politicians who continue to support health care reform jeopardize the re-election prospects or the future re-election prospects of the national party.

BTW, why is it considered "conservative" to want a bill that "bends the cost curve" (via poblano)?  Health care costs are something that we are all burdened with in some form under our current system and maintaining the status quo or doing nothing to control costs is not a "conservative" or "progressive" issue.  It's an issue of sustainability and overall economic well being of our country.  So, to dismiss this idea as something only a "conservative" would be concerned with is incredibly short sighted.

To call this bill an "absolute monumental achievement" is hyperbole at best.  Mandates, weak subsidies and no cost controls is a recipe a disaster far greater than Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage.  Yeah, Massachusetts had success with their mandate but they are suffering tremendously because a lack of cost control on the national level - imagine this magnified 100% with still no cost controls.

As for subsidies and family cost structures, it is always interesting how policy makers and analysts say well they could deduct this or that or they get a tax credit or rebate and TOTALLY ignore the fact that insurance premiums are paid monthly - along with mortgage/rent, car payment, food and possibly education expenses.  For families that are struggling - it's because of a lack of monthly cash flow.  Anything to do with taxes such as tax deduction, rebates and tax credits are great only one time of the year (and maybe a couple of weeks after assuming they don't have huge outstanding bills that have to be paid).  

RebelCapitalist - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

Unpersuasive (4.00 / 2)
on first read.  

Let's take arguement each in turn:
"1.  Affordable coverage for everyone: How close are we to the ideal that every American will have access to high-quality healthcare that they can afford? "

You are arguing for no bill.  This is artfully phrased, but also irrelevent.  This bill is crap - but it is the only one that will get out of the Senate.

So the issue is whether it expands access to those who do not currently have insurance.  Everything I read (CBO) says that it will reduce the number of uninsured by more than half.  According to the Harvard Medical School Study, over 45,000 people a year die from lack of health care which is a consequence of not having health insurance.

I, and many others, are sickened by this bill.  But until someone addresses the logic that passing this bill will save thousands of lives a year the arguments against the bill will remain unconvincing.  It is, in fact this very reason why we are where we are. No one really believes that progressives will vote against the bill because progressives cannot articulate why it is better to have no bill than one that at least partially addresses the problem of the uninsured.  To date this argument has not been made effectively, and it is why this bill has moved right: the threats from the left have appeared to be bluffs.

"2. Value: How much have we improved the value Americans get for our healthcare dollars -- so that we are healthier and get more for our money?"

Again, the question is whether the bill is WORSE than the stand quo since the option here is either to vote for it or kill hcr entirely.  You make no argument that the bill will make this issue worse than the status quo, you only argue that it does not include more effective reforms.  

"3.Fixing insurance company injustices: Have we reduced or eliminated the injustices caused by insurance companies when they destroy the lives of people who get sick by refusing to pay for care, or retroactively cancelling their insurance?"

You concede this bill will at least at some level represent an improvement.

"4. Trajectory: Are we on a path towards continued improvements in all of those areas?"

This is, in fact the only real argument against passage.  If the subsidies are too low, then it may be that a backlash develops against this bill, and as a result the entire argument for increased goverment intervention into the health care market will collapse.   Moverover, the bill's scope will enable conservatives to blame all of the increased costs in health insurance on the bill.

This is primarily a political argument.  The experience in Massachusetts casts doubt on it, but it is not without merit and suggests significant political risks accompany the bills passage.

The problem is that until someone shows me that this bill will not signficantly reduce the number of uninsured, it's not enough to overcome the need to save lives.

On "saving lives" (4.00 / 3)
A very emotional argument. What is your timeline for this calculation? One year? Two? 20? How long will we compare this aspect of proposed HCR bills?

For me, the true comparison is the end product. Many folks on the left would like to believe that the bill that is passed this time around will provide a trajectory toward single payer system. Fine with me.

Now, how long will it take to tweak this bill (or any other) to fit that goal? 10 yrs? 20? How many lives will not be saved by enacting this incremental approach? (relative to enacting a single payer system ASAP)

Others, like Rep. Burner, suggest that it might be possible to kill this attempt at incrementalism and push harder for much more substantive reform at a later date. But the long-term goal remains the same: national single payer (or a reasonable facsimile). How long will this approach take? I don't know, but IF it is THE issue in 2010 and is pushed from the left, it may not be all that long.

If we want to compare the "lives saved" on a consistent basis, we need to compare the possible routes on a equivalent time line - how long to single payer?

At the moment, we are told that this bill is better than status quo. Although that is debatable, let's accept it. Now, is passing half-measure bills better than renewing our efforts and pushing for a better bill in the next session?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
This is the real question (4.00 / 1)
and the only real argument for killing the bill.

I asked this earlier this week: does a partial success make final victory more or less likely? Additionally is final victory at this point even foreseeble?

We are almost certainly going to lose seats in 2010 so I can't see how we get Single Payer anytime before 2013.   Moreover, Obama isn't for it so I am not sure it will ever be passed while he is President, which means we are talking 2015 (if progressives were to take a real majority in the House and Senate) but more likely 2017.

That makes it seem final victory is unlikely but you can argue that with each passing year the status quo become less and less sustainable so that the political will be found somehow, even if we can't see how exactly.

All of this is to speculative for me to oppose this bill given the number of lives I think it will save.  

[ Parent ]
trajectory (4.00 / 1)
Mostly agree. However, the unaddressed increases in insurance cost will allow the continuing theft of capital by insuracce companies. This has been the primary inputs for the reform effort, and with this bill, will continus to be.

I believe the continuing raises in rates will force this issue back to the front burner again and again in successive shorter time frames between efforts, until it is successfully corrected.

As someone above pointed out, this is really not a partisan issue. Insurance companies are equal opportunity exploiters, and the public is allready fed up with it, but their level of greed is insatiable.

Therefor the trajectory is self fullfilling.

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
but the House 85% is just temporary (0.00 / 0)
until the exchanges kick in. Or am I wrong?

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Private Insurance Mandate = Premptive War Doctrine (4.00 / 1)
The emerging Senate health care compromise is a bomb lobbed at the social safety net in this country. It is the domestic equivalent of the Iraq War. The only difference is that all the victims will be Americans. Any Democrat that votes for, or signs this bill (i.e the President) is committing political suicide.

Kill the Bill. (4.00 / 3)
It is no longer worth the paper it is written on.

A mandate to pay insurance companies, forced by the government to give f---g g----m thieves money, with no hope of cost reductions, service improvements and this might be the kicker, it drives a wedge between (the shrinking) middle class insurance covered people who have had problems with insurance, pre-existing conditions and the like, from others who are demanding change, namely the working and non-working poor.

Those who have had their wages lowered through the last three decades will get nothing, and they will lose the allies they have right now for reform, as the reform helps the higher middle class.

Kill the Bill.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

Rather than a big bill (4.00 / 1)
Just focus on passing smaller, simpler bills - ones that expand SCHIP, ones that expand the 55-65 coverage, anything else basic.

K.I.S.S. Small is beautiful when it's about keeping the attacks down and the corporate compromises small.


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