That Gollum-like Feeling on Health Care

by: Mike Lux

Sat Dec 19, 2009 at 11:00


I find myself gripped in a bitter argument- with myself- about the fate of health care reform. It's sort of like watching the schizophrenic Gollum in the Lord Of The Rings saga fight angrily with himself over how to deal with Frodo: "the master is so nice to me, he takes care of me and wants to help me" vs. "I will strangle him, I will crush his head against the rocks, I will feed him to the giant spider". In my case, the raging fight with myself goes more like "But there are so many nice things in this bill, I really like a lot of it, and I've wanted this bill for such a long time" vs. "those evil insurers are screwing us again, I want to kill this bill, crush it against the rocks".

Okay, now that I've officially admitted that the health care fight has driven me crazy, let me take a step back and look a bit more coolly at this whole dynamic, and how we turn this chickensxxt into chicken salad. Here are some thoughts as we move forward:

  1. I think everyone in this battle needs to be honest with themselves about the negative consequences of all the paths forward. I hate to make this analogy, but this is feeling a little too much like Afghanistan to me right now, in that all of the choices have big downsides, and we each have to pick the choice we think has the smallest. Passing a bill with no public option will demoralize the Democratic base, tick off millions of Americans forced to buy insurance without the choice of that public option so many wanted, make the 2010 elections very problematic, embolden the big business special interests on the next big issues Democrats face, and create little downward pressure on insurance rates which will probably mean rising health care costs for the next several years. Going to reconciliation means serious delays as we wait for bills to be split apart, parliamentary rulings with a great deal of uncertainty to them, more negotiating over how to remake the bills and get the voters, further delaying tactics by the Republicans, more filibusters of the part of the part of the bill that can't go into reconciliation, less time for climate change and jobs and immigration reform, and the likely loss of important parts of the current legislative package. Killing the bill entirely means we lose all the good regulations and expansions of coverage in this legislation, create a devastating political loss for the President and Democrats in general, lose the chance to finally enshrine in America the idea that health care is a right not a privilege, lose momentum for future legislative fights, and quite possibly the blow the last chance in a generation to get anything big done in terms of health care. Whatever people are saying in public as they position themselves for the final days of battle, I hope they aren't fooling themselves that any of these paths is trouble free.

  2. The details still matter enormously. Right now, way too many of the details favor the insurance industry. Assuming this goes to conference committee, we shouldn't just be focusing on the big things that have gotten all the attention, like the public option: progressives in the House should be fighting like tigers for the less visible but incredibly important things like improving the language on community rating, insuring people earlier, and taking more of the burden for paying for Medicaid off of the states. Some of those details may be a lot easier to improve than the high profile items.

  3. One of the things progressives should absolutely extract before they even consider voting for this is a promise from Obama, Pelosi, and Reid that health care is revisited again, through reconciliation and in general, to keep improving the legislation as long as the Dems are in control. This should absolutely not be one of those deals where leadership says, "okay that was hard, we'll never go back to that issue again". Progressives should also demand a firm promise from Obama that the primary person doing the implementation of this bill in HHS should be a strong progressive, because the initial regs on this bill will be hugely important.

  4. One final thought here: two of the progressive leaders I respect most on our current political scene are Howard Dean and Sherrod Brown, and the fact that they have taken diametrically opposite positions on the legislative tactics regarding whether to move the bill forward doesn't bother or surprise me in the least. This is a hugely complicated issue, and I think the good and the bad in this bill make it a close call, as do the specifics on legislative tactics. Progressives should not be attacking each other over the different calls we are all trying to make.

This has all become a mess, both policy wise and even more politically. Progressives have become divided among ourselves over how best to navigate the incredibly rocky shoals in front of us, but we should keep talking with each other and pivoting off each other as we try to improve this bill.

Mike Lux :: That Gollum-like Feeling on Health Care

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If I thought this was realistic (4.00 / 17)
One of the things progressives should absolutely extract before they even consider voting for this is a promise from Obama, Pelosi, and Reid that health care is revisited again, through reconciliation and in general, to keep improving the legislation as long as the Dems are in control.

I would be a lot less worried and angry.  But with all the other things on the plate, and with the hellish battle HCR has been, we all know they are not going to touch this again any time soon.  This is it, Mike.  This is what we get.  And we've been sold out to an extent that even I, a person who doesn't trust politicians at all, never anticipated.  It takes a lot to shock me these days.  And, I'm astounded.

I'm astounded by the corruption, and the arrogance but I think I'm even more astounded by the stupidity and short term thinking.


Agreed, Mike who are you kidding? (4.00 / 5)
joanneleon is right but its more than that -

I really can't figure Mike out - he is an adult and has watched this Administration and the Congress in action and its amazing that he would actually trust any word they said?  They have lied to us over and over again and their promise is worth what?

This is what we get and you can bet that the cowards in the House will do as the insurance companies tell them -

By the by, right now Tom Harkins is on the tube lying to the American People - is there no Dem is Washington that isn't corrupt to the core?



[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 6)
I don't mean this to be glib, I mean it in all sincerity- who thinks we're revisiting this and discretely doing things progressives like?

Lieberman and yes, Obama are fighting particular provisions not because of the policy details but because they are progressive and would constitute a progressive win.  They cannot allow us to win, not ever.

We will not get another chance if we don't extract something like a victory from this situation.  It doesn't have to be total, but it has to be something they didn't want that we wanted.  I hate to be political about it, I'd rather be policy-driven, but we ignore the game they are playing at our peril, and we always have.

Obama, to his credit, set health care as an agenda item.  But as he has failed to define this as an opportunity to confront the powers that all of us here know are the root of the problem (insurance/PhRMA hegemony), it falls to us to do so.

Figuring out how to be a progressive college graduate transplant to Ohio:  http://citizenobie.wordpress.com/


[ Parent ]
This astounds me.... (4.00 / 1)
(From a post up at Cannonfire....)

"One of the most draconian measures is in the Senate bill - and from I've been reading, it was apparently inserted at the behest of the White House. It would set up a permanent, unelected "Fed for Medicare" board to independently institute further Medicare cuts. These cuts could not be blocked - only tinkered with (i.e. reallocating what specific services are targeted for cutting) - by Congress. If a "tinkering" bill is not passed and signed by the President, the cuts mandated by the board go into effect automatically. And after 2020 Congress loses the power to even tinker with the cuts.

See pages 1000-1053 of the bill.

In addition, Senators Lieberman, Whitehouse, Rockefeller, and Bingaman are planning to offer an amendment that would even further "strengthen" the "Fed for Medicare" provisions for future Medicare cuts.



[ Parent ]
I need to know more about this (0.00 / 0)
This sounds like a way of undermining Medicare.  Taking Congress out of the mix?  So essentially, the people would have no voice in dealing with Medicare issues at all.

I hope I hear some kind of up side to this, or some other point of view that explains why it might have merit.  

What the hell else is in this undemocratic manager's amendment?  And why was it hidden until today when there is little time to do a damned thing about it?

I really hope that members of the House are up in arms over this bill.  I really do.


[ Parent ]
THis was an earlier request (0.00 / 0)
Unless something major changed, this was ditched a few weeks ago.    

[ Parent ]
Pass the bill, then hang mandates around Obama's neck until we get Medicare buy-in (4.00 / 1)
I agree with the above comment.  It's clear the Obama WH, demonstrably cheap whores for corporate donors, have got the legislation they promised their industry partners.

It is too late to kill this legislation.  The blowback from the media, and the scapegoating of the left, would play right into Rahm's Plan B.

I say pass this POS legislation, than hang the mandates around the neck of this White House, and start campaigning against any and all who oppose it, including the White House if necessary, for Medicare buy-in via reconcilation.

Rahm's thuggish attitude towards the left, with no obvious reining in by Obama, is fomenting civil war within the Democratic party.

Well unlike Obama, the left will not run away from a fight.

But it will pick its battlefield wisely.


I agree... (4.00 / 1)
I'm not sure if you can pull off reconciliation without the Majority Leader on board.    But maybe also focus on Filibuster reform.   I actually do think you could get some GOP to support Harkin's proposal.

[ Parent ]
This bill needs to die (4.00 / 11)

  If I felt that Obama's presidency were worth salvaging, if Obama, at any point in the past year, had shown ANY inclination to fight for the public interest on ANY issue, instead of begging for approval from conservatives (whose policies were massively rejected by Americans in 2006 and 2008) before he tried anything more controversial than walking his dog, then I would be one of those who held his nose and said sure, let's pass this bombed-out shell of a health-reform bill, just for the politics of it if nothing else.

  But there is NO evidence that rescuing Obama's reputation, such as it remains, is going to yield any benefits for progressives -- indeed, for the general American public -- at any juncture in his remaining three years. He'll just keep on moving ever-rightward, his poll numbers will slip more and more, and at no point will it dawn on him to make the connection. And I'm less than convinced this empty, meaningless excuse for "reform" is going to yield any positive political benefits for Democrats anyway.

  Obama needs Bernie Sanders' vote every bit as much as he needs Ben Nelson's. Nelson gets a foot massage. Sanders gets threats. That's all we need to know about where Barack really stands.

  Kill the bill. The Democrats take their lumps? They're going to ANYWAY, no matter what. And Rahm is humiliated, which is an extremely positive development at every level.

   

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


Well put. (4.00 / 3)
For me, at least, this choice boils down fairly simply: If you know you're going to get a beat-down no matter what you do, would you prefer to receive it for selling out to a corporate extortion racket or would you rather stand tall and receive it for doing the right thing? Only an incompetent coward would choose the former, methinks.

Because while both are unpleasant, at least one has means of defending one's self if one DID THE RIGHT THING. The sellout option only forces people to lie, obfuscate and otherwise make hideous excuses no one will accept. The truth takes but a moment to tell... a lie takes a lifetime.

This is why I think most progs won't get hit as hard as Blue Dogs on this. But time will tell as the polls continue to trickle out over the next few months. Indeed, progressives and liberals should consider running hard AGAINST the administration if that helps their chances. Most people would probably find that refreshing and it might even disarm some of the righties, as they'll see someone who isn't a sycophant sticking up for them. It would certainly help with half of the Indy vote.

The White House has made their bed. That was their choice and they took it as soon as they were elected. This isn't about them. This is about the people of this country.

Anyone who supports this administration when it pushes usurious, predatory policies against the people simply to pump up corporate profits DESERVES TO LOSE.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Reminds me of an old Malcolm X joke (4.00 / 7)

  Q: What do white racists call a black man with a Ph. D.?

  A: "A Ni***r!"

  Q: What will Republicans call a Barack Obama who signs a health-care bill with no public option, that shovels bags of money at insurance companies, that restricts Medicare buy-in, and "regulates" industry in a way that features loopholes the companies can drive an 18-wheeler through?

  A: A socialist.

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


[ Parent ]
Exactly! (4.00 / 1)
One nice thing about the wingtards is they are basically a static object. Being completely predictable, they can be navigated around, even when the winds change and the swell builds. They will still be right where the chart indicates.

Last night, Kuttner kept saying, "The right is on the march," in order to justify vacillation on all these issues. Well, yes, they're on the march alright. They're marching around the suburban strip mall trying to create some zany, Gilligan's Island recreation of the Beer Hall Putsch. So what?

By constantly using all the wrong words to describe... everything, they're actually doing us a favor. But folks like Kuttner will never get that.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
THe problem is... (4.00 / 1)
You are only focusing on the negative and political aspects.   There is some good in this bill that will help a lot of people.   Throwing that away is morally unacceptable as well.

[ Parent ]
If reconciliation doesn't happen... (4.00 / 1)
...and it sure doesn't look that way, then killing the bill may be the better alternative. Come on, honestly, this IS one big bailout for the insurance corporations, with a lot of buraucratic brouhaha added, including loopholes to evade this. Not even the verbot of excluding preexisting conditions holds any water, and this is the only popular part beside the subsidies.

And the subsidies, come on, they are a stereotypical Dem solution, an effort to heal systemic failure by inserting lots of money (and this failed approach will inevitably draw flak from all sides)! Without a sytemic changes, this will run out of hand very shortly. The unavoidable rising of the premiums (same as in Massachusseetts!) will soon make the financial help totally insufficient, and adjustments every other year will soon overwhelm the budget.

So,what political profits can be gained from this heap of garbage? It's unpopular now, it will become even more unpopular after customers have become screwed by the insurers exploiting all the loopholes, and even the citizen with preexisting conditions will soon be pissed off. Wouldn't it be better to burn all the 2000 pages of printed shit and simply pass a much cheaper subsidy for those who have preexisting conditions, and period? If Obama wants to keep his promises, he can call that healthcare reform, if he likes. But that may be the less damaging outcome than giving birth to a monster. I'm not saying I'm totally convinced this is the best solution available, but it should be considered.


[ Parent ]
Once it was floated last week ... (4.00 / 1)
about telling the House to go fuck itself .. we knew that they're going to be forced to eat a shit sandwich again .. especially given Nelson's comments today .. can't Reid move Nelson's office to a basement closet or something?

[ Parent ]
"a promise from Obama, Pelosi, and Reid that health care is revisited again" (4.00 / 8)
Now, what would THAT be worth? A promise by Pelosi, that's maybe a 50% chance to get something. A promise by Obama and Reid is a big fat NOTHING!

Reid > Obama (4.00 / 4)

  Harry Reid might be a spineless wimp, but it does look like he TRIED to get something useful done.

  Obama didn't even get that far.  

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


[ Parent ]
Ok, maybe, I know many said Reid is a good progressive. (0.00 / 0)
But after this debacle he'll be out of office in 2011, so what use is a promise from him?

[ Parent ]
Reid is not a progressive (4.00 / 1)
He's a moderate who will make deals with and concessions to progressives. That's a damn sight better than the WH lately, and we could live with him around. But yeah, his promises aren't going to be worth much now.

[ Parent ]
Progressive my ass.. (4.00 / 1)
What Reid is and has always been is a master of the Senate rules.  Second to that he is a Moderate kept in power by other Moderates. It's the Moderates policies that he rules over, getting concessions from other Dems to meet the Moderates requirements.

Go ahead, name one thing considered a defining 'progressive' win in this bill..??

I'm with Greenwald. Rahm and Obama knew from day one how this would play, and Reid made it happen.

 

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


[ Parent ]
HE's a moderate pragmatist. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Exactly, their promises are worth precisely NOTHING. (4.00 / 3)
At this point, any analysis that isn't coldly realistic will probably be worth nothing as well.

This notion of promises to revisit healthcare from the people who just want the whole issue to go away is fairly absurd at this point. No one believes the WH will even consider more changes during the rest of their two terms in office.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Obama's promise (to us at least) is worse than nothing (4.00 / 5)
What we're getting is exactly the kind of bill he campaigned vigorously AGAINST in the primaries and used to defeat Hillary with ads about the evils of insurance mandates! He also promised to end the hegemony of corporate lobbyists in Washington....

[ Parent ]
a promise ?? You're kidding, right. (4.00 / 8)
Would it be like the promise Pelosi made to not fund the Iraq war?  Or maybe like the promises Obama made during his campaign speeches?  They could pinky swear on their mothers' graves, and I still wouldn't believe them.  This bill needs to die, and Obama needs to face the music that he and Rahm composed.    

Hey, looky here! Obama GUARANTEES something in the bill! (4.00 / 4)
Nelson also secured a promise that his compromises would not be undone. He has been guaranteed "a limited conference between the Senate and the House." That is to say, the bill will not change much when the House gets a crack at it. That's not to say no changes can be made, but no changes can be made that Nelson -- or, for that matter, Lieberman -- doesn't like.

http://voices.washingtonpost.c...

Hey, just you ask! Only prefferred customers need apply, of course.
:-(


[ Parent ]
Anyone know what he did for Nelson on abortion?? (4.00 / 1)
Nelson's ass is saved with Harry's amendment because he pushed the insurance question off to each state's own legislature.
Nelson's state is a "non-partisan" unicameral legislature.  Good luck finding any pro-choice members there.  Nelson and Stupak win =1 state.

13 other states have Republican controlled legislatures. Nelson and Stupak win = 14 states..

10 more states have split legislatures -most are in purple states.  Nelson and Stupak win maybe half = 19 states.

While the other 26 are Blue, in this climate many will never get any pro-choice legislation passed, may lose one-third of these.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_state_legislatures)

Grand total = ~28 states will likely adopt Stupak/Nelson language.  

This is a horrible outcome for womens rights, thanks to 60 despicable, selfish, lobbyist infested Senators and their President.

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


[ Parent ]
Wow... (0.00 / 0)
Way to do the strawman argument.  Just because its a GOP legislature doesn't mean it will pass.   You make assumptions that have little foundation in truth.  

Besides, there is a decent chance this will get fought out in the courts anyway.


[ Parent ]
You're a fool to believe otherwise.. (0.00 / 0)
"Obamacare" demanding 31 million new patients sign up and the Right won't push this language in every state??

The California LGBT community thought they were safe too.

 

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


[ Parent ]
I'd agree if any of this were true: (4.00 / 5)
"Killing the bill entirely means we lose all the good regulations and expansions of coverage in this legislation, create a devastating political loss for the President and Democrats in general, lose the chance to finally enshrine in America the idea that health care is a right not a privilege, lose momentum for future legislative fights, and quite possibly the blow the last chance in a generation to get anything big done in terms of health care."

But killing the bill means none of these things.

- The bill surely doesn't "expand coverage." It FORCES 30 million of us to buy insurance we can not afford, insurance that will do nothing to help us take care of basic health care needs like seeing a dentist or paying for routine physicals and tests, and nothing to pay for treatment of minor injuries and illnesses. By FORCING US TO BUY insurance, in fact, it takes away out-of-pocket money we'd otherwise have available to see a dentist or doctor to try to take care of ourselves.

- There's nothing to guarantee that any of the regulations in this bill will be enforced and from what we've seen of the federal governments ability to enforce anything except sucking the lifeblood out of the middle class, it seems certain that the regulations are worthless.

- The president and Democrats have already devastated themselves and they will surely continue to do so right up until they lose Congress and the White House over the next few years. NOT passing this bill is one thing they could do to try to save their sorry asses.

- And, Mike, you're still in schizo-land if you think this bill says anything that even mildly implies that "health care is a right not a privilege." It says the exact opposite on every page of the bill. It continues America's enslavement to corporations, and in passing the bill, it ensures that it will be a generation or more before Americans get another chance to try to free themselves from corporate tyranny.

The Senate bill is crap, all 800 pages of it. The only way any of those in favor of it are able to sell it at all is by lying about what's in it. And maybe they'll succeed telling those lies through next year and not lose Congress immediately. But with the windfall profits this bill provides to the health industries, those corporations will continue to buy and sell members of Congress and officers in the Executive branch for generations to come.


What is the fine, currently, if we don't (0.00 / 0)
buy the mandated insurance, and is there retroactive coverage once we do buy it?

Those seem like two of the most important details, to me.


[ Parent ]
Last I saw (4.00 / 3)
It was something like 1.2 or 1.7% of gross income. Not huge, but the IRS is the chief enforcer on this, so for some, it could cause a lot of undue pain. Refusal to cough up the dough would make you a tax cheat and that would make you a criminal. That has other implications in terms of housing, employment and so on.

That's why this idea will be horribly unpopular and will push a lot of people to the right-wing fringe. It's terrible politics.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Huh. I heard $750/year, and that (0.00 / 0)
sounded pretty good.

I'm a writer. I made $100,000 two years ago, and $0 this year. I'm gonna be buying my mandated insurance every three years, looks like. Because life isn't complicated enough.


[ Parent ]
It is actually ..a lot less .. at least originally ... (4.00 / 1)
but the penalties do increase pretty quick year after year

[ Parent ]
Uh, isn't it $750/head, with an exception if premiums exceed some% of income? (0.00 / 0)
Sry to make this even more complicated, but that is the ugly complicated reality, if I remember correctly. FDL's Emptywheel just recently ran a story about that.

[ Parent ]
Uh, sure. (4.00 / 1)
Yes, I saw EW's terrific stuff on this. You're probably right. It's actually my latter points that bother me the most, numbers aside. But yes, I have no doubt this is intended to genuinely screw the lower classes.

We're going to make federal tax cheat criminals out of people who can't afford shitty health pseudo-insurance?

I don't care if the penalty is $50. It will offend everyone who doesn't work in the medical extortion racket. The optics of this cannot be overestimated, IMO. Not when people are generally pissed off about pretty much everything already.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Good points! Apropos regulation, won't that be a sellout to insurers, too? (4.00 / 1)
Come on, Obama totally capitulated to the interests of the insurance corporations during the negotiations of the bill. WHY should anyone believe he won't capitulate to them, too, when it comes to executing the few regulations that are still in the bill? Sry, but the only reasonable conclusion is that the reulation won't be worth anything, too. With all the horrible consequences on the premiums, the plans and the customers!

[ Parent ]
Heh. What good are regs when the regulators are all on the pad? (0.00 / 0)
I just love the pseudo-regulatory crap emanating from the WH. That's their way of papering over every major structural problem we have: Finance, Banking, Global Warming (Cap & Scam) and Healthcare.

Finance is a structural problem requiring structural reform before regs can even be considered. Indeed, corruption is a structural problem....

And so it is with every other crisis we face. These are all structural problems.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Do we have a commitment from Lieberman (4.00 / 2)
to vote for this? I'm feeling like Lucy will let me kick the football this time, for sure.

For Mike Lux, hope rings eternal (4.00 / 5)
I can see you are bending over backwards to see "good" things in the bill. As I said before here, this bill is a trojan horse, and the "good things" are a mirage. There re no m iraculously insured uninsured. There are people froced to buy a lousy product at a price they can't afford, for second rate care. Shelling out as much as 20% of income (see emptywheel analysis) for "Health care" is not a bargain - it's a curse and a drain.

Lux takes the bankrupt obama administration view of "looking forward" not "backward". He refuses to see that the past is prologue to the future (which is where the "looking forward" collapses). There will be NO corrective actions from a rahm emanuel administration, not now, not next year, not in conference, not ever. That's the sad truth and the sooner people look at it the better. The question should be not "how will the bill be improved" but 'what if this bill is it - for the next 8 years". If you like what's in it, and think the mandates are anything other than a TAX, that's fine. Support Obama's vietnam or the give-in to the military-industrial complex (the one solid jobs program we have), or the pathetic climate "deal" or the financial 'regulations' that aren't.

I am beginning to see why Rahm doesn't take the progressives seriously. If they can be counted on to ultimately cave in (like sherrod brown, feingold, sanders and the rest of the wimps), why should he? Politics is a power game. And the weaker party (progressives) have one power only - the power to say NO.  


I agree your last point (4.00 / 6)
But I disagree about Lux. While I often (mostly?) disagree with his point of view, Open Left is richer for having someone with his government experience AND a conscience, someone who very much wants to push the party line but also thinks about what that party line entails for real people. In a world full of Tony Coelhos, I suspect Lux's viewpoint is rare. Instead you get the viewpoint of apparatchiks like Rahm, the toadies, and the bomb throwers. Lux is none of those.

This debate is extremely healthy for progressives. This whole experience will make us stronger, make us more likely to not fold in future fights, make us smarter. And we can see clearly the need for change. When we started this fight earlier this year, people did not have a clear view of Obama. Now we do. He can't hide anymore. Obama is a corporate tool. The next question is whether he can be pushed to do the right things or if we have to run against him. The good news is that the public sides with progressive solutions on most issues, they don't agree a corporate takeover of the government is a good thing.


[ Parent ]
I did not mean my post (4.00 / 1)
as a bash Lux comment. And i see perfectly clearly where he is coming from. When losing, one must salvage what one can, including lessons for the future. Isn't that what the coach always says? tomorrow is another day? My difference with his take is that in the eagerness to exact small measures of hope in the for the bill that passes (ie, we can improve it in conference, etc) one can overlook the real problem which is a systemic one.

From the very beginning of this debate, inclusion of the PO (even the compromised version) was understood to be an indication that progressives can actually win small skirmish now and then, if not the battle. If they can't win on a popular measure like the PO, what can they win - so went the argument by mike and Chris. But now, the score is in and we didn't win. Not only that, but we lost by a very wide margin - to continue the game analogy. For all the reasons we know and you cite.

What I want to see is a conversation that concentrates not on salvaging a crumb - then calling it a loaf, but on ways of addressing the systemic issue, which the rahms of this world  embody best. We need to think about why we - as progressives - and our representatives - are not willing to play hardball. at least not when the chips are down, not when the talking is done and the voting begins. is it because of something fundamental in the progressive world view which prevents us from being spoilsports? is it that we feel so compelled to be on the side of angels that we fail to see the devil pulling the wings?

I have many more questions where these came from, but yes, I agree that the conversation has been good because we can no longer pretend that Bush and/or republicans and/or stupid people - were the main problem. It's the system that we are all part of - and our unwillingness to challenge the fundamentals that will trip us every single time. Me thinks it's simply time for some serious idol smashing....


[ Parent ]
Excellent points (4.00 / 1)
What I want to see is a conversation that concentrates not on salvaging a crumb - then calling it a loaf, but on ways of addressing the systemic issue, which the rahms of this world  embody best. We need to think about why we - as progressives - and our representatives - are not willing to play hardball. at least not when the chips are down, not when the talking is done and the voting begins. is it because of something fundamental in the progressive world view which prevents us from being spoilsports? is it that we feel so compelled to be on the side of angels that we fail to see the devil pulling the wings?

What I love most about Open Left is the discussion of precisely these issues. We are, as with other progressive sites, crowd sourcing the problem of how to change our political and economic systems to reflect the values of the majority and the needs of the majority.

For example, while it is true that every person is greedy and selfish, most people recognize that greed and selfishness are very destructive foundations to build an economy and political culture, as we have for the past three decades. In the same way, despite what you hear, not every captain of industry had to be a jerk to succeed, just as every politician who has to play hardball has no soul (only some of them, it seems, Mr. Emmanuel perhaps) and believes the ends always justify the means.

You are correct: crumbs are crumbs, not loaves. But I think this crappy set of crumbs from this health care debate will yield a lot better results in the next 1-5 years. We know who we are up against. We have some experience with what has worked and what has failed over the past 4-6 years. And, thanks to places like Open Left, we are as a community beginning to identify and describe the problems we face as progressives and as Americans.


[ Parent ]
Yes, good points all, but this really isn't about Mike Lux (4.00 / 2)
If anything, Lux is doing us a favor, in that he's really just expressing the thoughts of the liberal apparat to us. Last night I also watched Bob Kuttner do the same thing on Bill Moyer's show. So Mike is only telling us what our "betters" in DC are thinking. So I would hope we can avoid personalizing this discussion too much.

I heartily recommend everyone see the interview with Taibbi and Kuttner on Moyer's show. It illustrates the cleavage extremely well. Taibbi thinks in terms of "what's right" and Kuttner thinks in terms of "I'll say as much as I can without putting my career in jeopardy."

The apparat is dedicated to Obama's "success" for career-related reasons, well aside from politics. They know the optics suck. They know we're all losing patience, yet they still peddle this line that, in Kuttner's case, "Obama is a principled man," and will somehow, by magic it seems, manage to swear off the shackles of corporate neo-liberalism and still manage to do the right thing.

They say this because they don't want to "burn any bridges" and be cast into the wilderness with the rest of us. They'll lose their access and thusly what little influence they think they have... and they'll be treated rather badly by too many people. For people in this position, it's really hard to bite the hand that feeds.

Of course, if they were to do that, they would soon be able to appreciate why we're so pissed off. They'd have real problems with the medical extortion racket, because they'd have to experience it themselves. They'd also get to know, up close and personal, what it's like to have your income slashed 20-30%. They'd also learn very quickly what it's like to be powerless in the face of  a totally corrupt government that simply takes no interest in the suffering of most people... save a relative handful of really good people trying to fight all this.

I think we're passed the point of "being taken seriously" by RahmObama. They're never going to take us seriously. We will always be "the enemy" to them and progressives should act accordingly.

Let's save our own bacon and let the White House worry about it's own bacon. I think killing this bill and making the administration and leadership eat some crow would actually be a healthy thing.

Because after Obama has done his eight years and has reaped his $200 Million or so in corporate tribute, we're all still going to be out here, still fighting off the sado-masochistic bonds of neo-liberalism.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
"It illustrates the cleavage extremely well." Hmm... (0.00 / 0)
...imho "cleavage" is a much too nice word for this ABYSS!
;D

[ Parent ]
Yes, but it's too early in the day to be so morbid (0.00 / 0)
Once I read a few more awful articles, I'll be much more in the mood for "abyss".

;-P

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
I saw the interview (0.00 / 0)
and thought of it when I wrote my comment, in fact. It was like an alternative reality with Kuttner giving every reason to be against the bill, then in the end, saying he'd vote for it (with taibbi seriously disagreeing, naturally). The reasons Kuttner gave were political and had nothing to do with policy. the throw away line was something along  "how can we let the republicans win like this"? in other words, hold your nose and vote for a really really bad bill - one that'll likely doom the democrats - because the alternative is too unbearable. So in the end, Kuttner, for all his perceptiveness, is shown as one all too willing to play politics - it's not about what's right or what we want - it's about staying in power for a little longer; it's about saving face. Like Copenhagen.

So that's why, like you, I side with the gut-level guy, Taibbi on this. Sometimes, when you lose, it's better to call a spade and spade, maybe even get a new coach and bench a few non-performing players, never mind the contracts and the hurt feelings.

What I personally can't bear is to witness the chorus of the yay-sayers who'll work hard to convince us to look at the lipstick and forget the piggy. we got  spinners in droves, but we should realize it's all spin and the substance remains bad.

let's face,it, progressives have to get a lot tougher and be willing enough to take their marbles and go home, when the situation calls for it. And to do that, we have to have faith just like the tea baggers. As a start, and as a test of faith, I removed my Obama bumper sticker today. Waited 11 months to do it. that's plenty of time for hiding the rahm emanuel sticker that must have been underneath all along (in invisible ink). Kind of heart breaking, but also a release.


[ Parent ]
Exactly (4.00 / 1)
I heartily recommend everyone see the interview with Taibbi and Kuttner on Moyer's show. It illustrates the cleavage extremely well. Taibbi thinks in terms of "what's right" and Kuttner thinks in terms of "I'll say as much as I can without putting my career in jeopardy."

It has always been this way, this split between outside and inside. What's needed are more Taibbis and Sirotas and Greenwalds and Hamshers and Deans and others getting major media attention to express their ideas. That, in turn, helps create space for the apparats to change their policies (either because they see the light or they have to do so to get elected or re-elected). The problem, as I see it, is how to get progressive ideas out into the mainstream media which has a right wing bias (for various reasons, not all due to intent on the part of editors and journalists).

This outside/inside split also is a reason I mostly disagree with Lux's postings but value them highly. It is good to know what the apparats are thinking even though, as I noted, I think Lux clearly has a conscience and wrestles with all sides of an issue. Real apparats can't do that in public, for the reasons you note.


[ Parent ]
Apparently, I have an unlimited reservoir of ambivalence . (4.00 / 5)
Likely, you're correct on all counts, Mike.  I've been deeply intrigued by the wonks vs activists discussion bouncing around the net.  As I understand this situation (from reading here, there, and everywhere), the various claims to "goodness" in this health insurance legislation are very thin indeed.  From the Democratic legislator, progressive activist, liberal wonk side, I don't think killing the bill altogether was ever a real option.  The activists might argue for it, the wonks would likely argue against, and those in Congress won't be allowed to take the risk of a FAIL (see: Emmanuel, Rahm).  

Expect me to take issue with any notion that outcomes on climate change and jobs and immigration reform will be any better than those on the mis-named HCR.  The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  As important as health insurance reform was to the Democrats, they have demonstrated once-and-for-all how deeply they will bend.  I expect their capitulation on these other issues to be as significant, if not more, going forward.  I don't expect the Republicans to bend an inch on any of it, any more than they did on "HCR."  If anything, I fear they'll be worse.  That's not cynicism, that's a genuine skepticism given the empirical evidence.

At the end of this round, Obama is still Obama, those advising him are the same, Democratic legislators are still themselves arrayed as they have been from the beginning, the Republicans are still obstructing, the media is still enamored with itself, and the public is still badly informed if not deliberately misinformed.  We need a game changer, and if it didn't happen on "HRC," I don't see it happening on anything else.

Given all that, your muddle forward recommendation is very likely the best we can do.  There could be game changers lurking in the future, but as insulated and dismissive as our leadership is, that change could occur at the ballot box.  And, I think we all have reason to worry about that.

What's not to love about Ben Nelson's price to support?  You're absolutely correct Mike, when you say, It's a mess.


Muddle forward leads to quagmire. (0.00 / 0)
While I mostly agree with your  other points, the notion of muddling forward can only lead to really bad decision-making. Muddle Forward is not a strategy, it's an excuse for not having one.

The only way out of this mess is through it. How we get through it will shape our political environment going forward, for quite some time. This issue is simply too big and too important to too many people.

People will remember what liberals/progressives do on this for a long time.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Sounfs good, but how to get through, without muddling? (0.00 / 0)
Could you pls explain? I don't really see the difference. I mean, we all know by now that the Dem party is unable to walk straight!

[ Parent ]
Muddling suggests to me no decision and no plan for what to do... (4.00 / 2)
... going forward.

So killing the bill and preparing the "battlefield" for what's to come is not muddling through. OTOH, simply going along to get along is muddling, since there's really no discernible point to it that I can see, save having liberals/progressives fall on their political swords just to be nice to a feckless and corrupt White House.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Killing it and preparing the battlefield... (0.00 / 0)
Is a strategic all in with a short stack.   You could win, but your odds are not good and if you lose, your screwed... you have the political weight of a guppy.   Strategically, your better off passing and preparing the battlefield to get changes into place.  Starting over again at the begging sets you back decades.   Starting a little higher up the mountain and removing pieces gets you closer to the goal.  This needs to come internally and from the outside.   Us on the outside need to organize better, protest more and primary the hell out of people.      We need to make it understood that loss of our support puts you in perilous jeopardy.  UNTIL we can do that, we won't win.   It will take time to do so.    The earliest your suggestion would be able to work would be in at least 5 years; my guess is far longer.    

[ Parent ]
As I see it, the only was to get through with something reasonable... (0.00 / 0)
..is reconciöiation! There isn't ANY way to get a reasonable reform out of the diverging interests of 60 Senators. This can only result in a perversity. And the consequences will be horrible, both for the people and for the Dems. So, for heaven's sake, Obama should wake up, see that he created a monster, abort it, and have group sex with 51 Senators. The only way to create something that has hands and feet!

[ Parent ]
Prolly will take nine months, though! (0.00 / 0)
But better a cute baby in September, than an alien nightmare in January.

[ Parent ]
Never will happen... (0.00 / 0)
Thee are politicians.   They aren't going to take on something this contenious in September of an Election year.    Its WAY to risky for them...   they play it safe in Even numbered years.  One of the reasons I think the House should be more than a two year election and we need either term limits for all Federally elected officials or term limits for none.

[ Parent ]
If politicians were driven by fear of voters (0.00 / 0)
than this bill would be way better than it is. Voters support all of the good things that have been stripped out, and oppose most of the worst elements. Maybe doing this closer to when they will have to face the voters would be better.

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 ]
Uh, yitbos, I was joking... (0.00 / 0)
The 9 months come from the baby analogy.

[ Parent ]
Agreed, though I'm not sure reconciliation won't be just as corrupt (4.00 / 1)
After all, that's all done behind closed doors. But it's certainly worth giving it a shot at this point.

And yes, I would prefer something with hands and feet to something with blood-sucking vampire tentacles!

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
What can I say (4.00 / 7)
I remember how Sherrod voted for torture.  He's a progressive, but he caves.

It's no excuse, but (4.00 / 2)
few progressives are going to take strong stands when they don't have a movement of which they are a part - if we can close the Rootsgap, we can address this problem. I doubt getting the right people in these positions will.

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 ]
Sherrod Brown fell in line overnight.. (4.00 / 5)
Brown appeared tough, at first, as did Wiener, Schumer, Harkin, blah, blah blah.
The instant they came out of the WH meeting, it was over. Even Ezra Klein fell in line.
And we see now why.
Inside, they likely had Obama, Axelrod, Bill Clinton and Rahm Emanuel-and maybe even the ghosts of Rove and Cheney - all threatening their very careers and constituents with bankruptcy, death to America and eternal suffering if even a bad bill wasn't passed.

"When you try and fail, the other guys write history," Bill had advised them back in November.

The history Bill Clinton and Rahm Emanuel won't talk about is the damage their ultra pro-business capitulation did to the public's opinion of Congressional Democrats. Republican had control for the next 6 elections.

Apparently our history loving Obama has adopted Bill's election losing/"Just pass the bill even if it's not exactly what you want" strategy, with full knowledge of exactly what this will do to the Democrats as a party.

It's horribly sad and ironic to note that our bold and brave Howard Dean, after breaking the Democrats loosing streak in 2006 by his boldness and bravery and after paving the way for a successful Presidential election win, is now shunned and insulted for his continued boldness by those who benefited the most from it.  

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


The mess began long ago. (4.00 / 3)
When a majority in the Senate was redefined as 60% rather than 51% democracy went downhill.

I would have permitted the Republicans and Joe Lieberman to filibuster and self-destruct in the process.  


Uh, OT here, but could someone pls tell John... (0.00 / 0)
...that this sentence isn't totally accurate: "half the population is by definition stupider than average"? It's possible, but that would be a pure coincidence. The correct statement is "half the population is by definition stupider than the median"! Can't post it there myself, that would only result in another flamewar. Thx!

What it means to favor the insurance industry (0.00 / 0)
Earlier this week Nate Silver made a point that is worth keeping in mind, and it has to do with favoring the insurance industry. Yes, the industry is getting a lot. However, if over the next 10 years $900 billion funnels through its coffers, you can expect that about 3% to 4% of that turns into profit. Health insurance is a low margin business. That means the industry will see about $30 billion to $40 billion in additional profits. Or, about $3 billion to $4 billion per year.

Do liberals seriously want to kill all of the gains in this bill to spite the insurance industry? Over $3B a year.  

Liberals who fail to look at the numbers do themselves a disservice. The fact is, 31 million people will have access to care. That's not just important, it's vital. It's transformative.

We have a lot of work to do still. This bill is part one. We need to cover everyone--including undocumented immigrants. And eventually, we need to blow up the employer-based health care model.

But this bill gives us a very, very important start.  


"about 3% to 4% of that turns into profit" Does this include non profits? (0.00 / 0)
Medicare? Va? I have seen 3.4% in a blog entry I just found with google, but I'd really like to see the source of this number.

"Or, about $3 billion to $4 billion per year."
And how much of an extra to their profits now is this? Let's check. Average healthcare costs for every American are about $6000, let's say half of that is paid through pirvate insurances, that makes about 900 billion bucks for the US. A a profit margin of only 3% this is 30 billion bucks. So an additional 3 billion bucks is an increase of 10%! Nice. And I'm not at all sure that it's not really more of a golden shower for that business.

"The fact is, 31 million people will have access to care."
That's not a fact, that's an unprovn prediction. Nobody knows how high the premiums will be, and how many will be able to afford them, even with the subsidies.


[ Parent ]
No one is suggesting killing the bill (0.00 / 0)
to spite the industry. You are (no doubt unintentionally) caricaturing the arguments of others. (Also, the numbers you are pointing to are the profits they could expect if the population being added was the same as the population already insured - it is not.)

What we have here is a ideological disagreement - if you turn that into a fit of spite, you don't get it.

We have a lot of work to do still. This bill is part one.

This is a gigantic leap. If health care is a once every 20 years issue, then how to do we return to it soon? If conservadems and the industry get everything they want this round, how do we get anything more next round?

There was a coherent argument  (whether you buy it or not) that a public option could expand. But how on earth is this mess (whatever its final form will be - we still don't know) supposed to expand?

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 ]
This bill does (0.00 / 0)
expand the use of medicaid, as I understand it.  

So I guess one answer to your question is to expand medicaid or medicare as time goes on.

There are two questions I have right now:
1.  Will it save lives (see below)
2.  Does it make broader reform more or less likely?

I don't know how to answer the question.  My guess is a partial victory in the end makes additional reform easier, not harder, but there is a good argument the other way.


[ Parent ]
It expands Medicaid at least in the sort term (0.00 / 0)
Whether it is more depends on future Congresses funding it, and state funding as well (or so I would assume - correct me if I am wrong but its a program that includes state funding - which may or may not be forthcoming). There is no reason that I know of to think this will lead to further expansions.

It certainly doesn't expand Medicare. And that is a huge difference - a universal, popular program versus a less popular "welfare" program. This is an ideological issue - I don't consider a dollar spent on the one versus the other the same.

Ultimately, I'm not sure the answers to your questions. I think it's going to happen, so I don't think progressive opposition does any harm, and it might improve their bargaining position or at least make further backsliding less likely.

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 ]
There is only one real argument (0.00 / 0)
for this bill: does it save lives?

Massachusetts has an uninsured rate of 5.4% versus a national average of 15.4% in 2008.  I have seen more recent numbers suggesting that the uninsured in Mass was 2.3%.

We are familiar with this:


The Harvard-based researchers found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.

Lead author Dr. Andrew Wilper, who worked at Harvard Medical School when the study was done and who now teaches at the University of Washington Medical School, said, "The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and baseline health. We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes and heart disease - but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications."

Markos and Nate exchanged lengthy e-mails on this subject but somehow the issue of saving lives didn't make it.

I can an argument that it won't, but I haven't really seen substantive evidence that it won't.

Months ago here I posted a simple question: is it moral to oppose a bill that will save a substantial number of lives.

I never really got an answer to the question. The truth is none of the liberals in the Senate can answer that question in any other way but no, which is why their threats were never taken seriously.


Everybody has to die sometime, fladem! (0.00 / 0)
So, the honest issue is not how many lives will be saved (in the long run, we're all dead), but how many additional years this provides. Now, let's say, a guy receives subsidies of $10000/year for 30 years, and the improved halthcare he gets from this makes him live 3 years longer. Is an additional year worth $100000?

Hmm, perhaps, probably, I don't know. That's an ethical question that nobody can really answer.


[ Parent ]
If you're going to get that picky (0.00 / 0)
then you have to also adjust for all the years of lost income due to major illnesses that would be minor with insurance getting people to the doctor early instead of only when it's unavoidable. Add onto that the lost educational opportunities resulting from illness. And then top it off with all the psychological stress resulting from illness and fighting bill collectors. That will substantially reduce your $100,000/year of prolonged life, which I think is probably based on an extreme example rather than the reality. (i.e., I could also pick the extreme example of the grade schooler dying of tooth decay because of lack of insurance, in which case we end up with insurance adding about 70 years of life. The "average" case is somewhere in between.)

And, if you really believe that your ethical question has no answer, then ethics dictates that the benefit of the doubt goes to prolonging life.

Finally, "in the long run, we're all dead" was originally used as a call for doing something about the present problem rather than use the hypothetical situation 10 years out as an excuse to do nothing. For HCR, "in the long run, we're all dead" means that we should pay the price to insure people and save lives now rather than worry about the cost for people who would get away without insurance for 30 years before finally dying 3 years premature.


[ Parent ]
insurance is not health care (4.00 / 1)
via emptywheel:
According to a March 2009 Urban Institute report, health reform has improved access to health care services for newly insured and previously insured adults. Over ninety percent of adults in Massachusetts have a usual source of care and most reported seeing a doctor in the previous year. However, the affordability of health care remains a barrier to receiving care for some residents. Of the total population, 21 percent went without needed care in the previous year because of cost. People with disabilities and those in fair and poor health experienced the greatest barriers to accessing care.

the real outcomes are far more of a mixed bag than just looking at insurance stats would imply.

and if you want to try to make simplistic moral equations, how many bankruptcies are worth it?

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


[ Parent ]
I am pretty happy with the final bill (0.00 / 0)
It does a lot of good things from what I have seen and nothing really bad.  

The 2010 elections will probably hurt, but I think that is because the whole argument became unhinged from the facts.  Democrats lose when the argument becomes emotional.

Overall I think it would have been smarter to compromise the bill down at first to get things where there is broad agreement passed.  There would have been much broader support for democrats in 2010 then.



http://transgendermom.blogspot....


Well... (0.00 / 0)
Explicitly bad.   No.    But potentially bad.  Yes.   That's the question though.     Are the optimists on Openleft right or are the numerous pessimists who assume the worse will happen right.

[ Parent ]
... (0.00 / 0)
Tough.    I have to personally say go with it, vote for it.   There is little in the bill to make premiums go down, however, I'd like to think that the insurance companies know they barely got away from some of the harder mandates and if the filibuster is reformed, they are screwed in the future.     By that, I would think from a strategic POV that they would at the very least stabalize costs or even slightly lower them with the influx of new business, in an effort to keep this fight from popping up again too quickly.... That's what I would do if I was a CEO... but then I'm not a greedy douchebag either so who knows if they will ignore strategy for short term gains.    

Despite some negatives there are several good things in this bill like the removal of lifetime caps, additional subsidies to help give healthcare to Numerous people who can't afford it and the end to Pre-existing conditions.   All very good things...  Frankly if I had a way to just strip those kind of things out, I would, but that's not happening.

I do think that the house needs to add back in the removal of annualized caps.

I don't know how much good a promise will be to revisit.  I do think you GET the promise from them, BUT then you go after them for it.  In other words, if I am the Progressive Block, I lay low in 2010 and gather as many chits as I can.  I quietly encourage primaries for the Blue Dogs.   And in January of 2011, I become a rabid pitbull and reform or destroy the filibuster... (Frankly I am in favor of Harkin's reform adopted at the start of the session).   I also look at trying to replace Reid regardless of if he wins or loses.  We need a better fighter in there.     Personally, I like Schumer for the position, even if Durbin is technically next in line.    I like Durbin, he's my Senator, but I want some more willing to fight the white house if it comes down to it.  Had Hillary won the POTUS, I'd say I'd rather have Durbin.   Just me personally.

I hope proponents will sit back and develop a short and LONG term strategy.  Given our long term strategy on many legislative items have been failures, developing a strong strategy is essential to improving this mediocre legislation.    The Insurance companies have won or fought to a stalemate (depending on your POV - I say won) this battle, but this is a long war and with the right strategy we can win this.


We don't know what IT is yet (0.00 / 0)
Everyone seems to think the House will roll over and pass the Senate's bill verbatim.

I'm not so sure, and I am not sure there's not some room for substantial improvement (but not the Public Option).  The Senate may have traded the Public Option for nothing but the House hasn't - yet.

The one place the House may be able to make a winning fight is on the question of how this POS (never knew this acronym until just now - Point Of Sale, Point of Service - ah, Piece of S... - LOL) is funded.  The House did it with taxes on the wealthy, the Senate did it with taxes on workers' benefits.

The House version must prevail on this matter!

It has real chances of averting electoral disaster for the Democrats.  There is nothing more obvious to workers than a reduced paycheck.  I really don't see how Obama, Emanuel or the Senate obstructionists like Lieberman or Nelson can object.  Now that their Health Insurance and Pharma buddies have been taken care of, do they really want to make a fuss IN FAVOR OF screwing the average American?  I don't think they would dare filibuster on such grounds.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


improving the details in conference (0.00 / 0)
here's what i don't get:

the Senate has been at this for months now. they have had a long time to be aware of all of the details in the House bill.

if Their Moderatenesses were inclined to allow any changes in the Senate bill as it stands, wouldn't those changes already have been made by now?

or are they saving a few alterations specifically for the conference, to make the House feel all grown-up inside?

seriously. i agree that it would be nice to see some of those changes. fixing the excise tax, for one.

but how can this be anything but kabuki, when all it takes is one lifted Lieberpinky to send the bill to the crapper?

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


Matt Taibbi nailed it on Bill Moyers last night (4.00 / 1)

"The Democrats are in exactly the same position that the Republicans were in once the Iraq War turned bad. All the Republicans have to do now is sit back and watch the Democrats make a disaster out of this health care effort. And they're going to gain political capital whether they're in the right or not. And I think it's a very- it's a terrible thing for the party."

A-to-the-men Matt Taibbi.

Mike, great diary. Thanks for writing this.  


Post On Healthcare Blogger Call! (0.00 / 0)
Mike,

Please, please, please do a post on your health care blogger call with Dr. Dean and Mr. Potter.  I just listened to the call over at Crooks and Liars and this call needs to go viral!

That is the most sane discussion of the current state of HCR I have heard in the last month!

Linked here:

http://crooksandliars.com/john...

But please, get this call out there!


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