The remaining conference committee fights

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 17:00

After the Senate passes its health care bill on Thursday the 24th, the conference committee will begin, at least informally, on Monday, the 28th of December.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) promised Tuesday that President Barack Obama would receive a healthcare reform bill by the time of his State of the Union address in January.

Senate Democratic leaders plan to cut their holiday recess short and begin talks with their House counterparts immediately after Christmas in the hope of producing a final bill by mid-January.

With the public option fight all but over, here is a partial list of the issues they will be working on reconciling:

  • Reproductive rights. The Stupak language in the House bill bars all insurance plans in the exchange from being covering abortion and abortion related medical procedures.  The Nelson language gives individual states the choice of adopting that language or not.  Either way, it is a setback for reproductive rights, but the Nelson language would be better.  Reproductive rights advocates will likely, and rightly, be pushing for better than the Nelson language.

  • Taxing high-end insurance plans:  The House does not tax high end insurance plans, but the Senate bill does.  Most of the people who have these high-end plans are union members, not wealthy people.  Personally, I don't think we should be weakening the health care coverage of union members in this bill, and the House funding mechanism of a surtax on the wealthy is fine.  Others argue that this is one of the best cost-containment aspects of the bill.  A compromise mixing the two approaches is expected.

  • Employer mandate.  The House wants their stronger employer mandate language in return for the defeat of the public option:

    Another demand is for the Senate to accept the employer mandate contained in the House bill, which would impose a broad requirement on businesses to provide healthcare benefits to employees.

    Shifting the mandate burden more to employers also seems like the politically smart move.

  • Subsidies: 574 billion versus 338 billion: Through 2019, the House bill provides $574 billion in subsidies (pdf, page 5) to help people purchase health care, while the Senate bill provides only $338 billion.  That is a pretty big difference, and the final number needs to be closer to the House bill.

  • Medicaid at 150% or 133%?  The House bill expands Medicaid eligibility to 150%, while the Senate bill only expands it to 133%.  This is a public option discrepancy where the House bill is better (unsurprisingly).

  • National vs. State exchanges.  The House bill has a national exchange, while the Senate bill only has state by state exchanges.  Unless I am mistaken, the issue here is creating more competition (national exchange) versus not gutting state regulations (state level exchanges).  If I am mistaken about the main issue at play here, please correct me in the comments.

  • Anti-trust exemption.  The House bill repeals the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies, while the Senate compromise does not (thanks, Ben Nelson).
On top of all this, perhaps the most important fight in the conference committee will be to make sure that there is no junk insurance in the exchange (which is part of what the public option fight was about all along).  This bill is going to pass, so if millions of people are forced to buy a shitty product, than this entire exercise will have been a huge waste.

Please post corrections to my analysis, and other health care fights that will take place in the conference committee, in the comments.

Chris Bowers :: The remaining conference committee fights

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State versus National exchanges (0.00 / 0)
I'm worried that the better language on abortion in the Senate bill is based on the exchanges being state-based, since national exchanges are better in general.  (Though see below.)  (The Senate bill does allow states to link up with each other, so it might not really be state-based once implemented.)

I'm not sure how state regulations come into play.  I know the exchanges have lots of their own regulations.  For example, government regulators must approve of every plan and must approve any price hike, etc.  So state regulations don't matter as much, but I assume they still apply.

There is also the strange fact that worse competition among insurers might be better for less populated states.  That sounds counterintuitive, but makes sense once you realize the monopoly hospitals have in those regions.  If there is only one hospital within driving distance then your insurance must work there or the insurance is useless.  More competition among insurers mean the hospitals can play them against each other, hiking up the costs.

I think the Senate bill still has that really bad tax that makes hiring poor people more expensive then hiring those with larger family incomes.  That needs to go.

State Plans (4.00 / 4)
I knew there was one more thing...

The Senate bill has language inserted by Wyden that allows any state to opt out of the whole plan to replace it with their own plan (with approval by ... someone?), using the same federal money.  Single payer, for example, is available to states with the Senate bill.  Hopefully, that stays in.

Will you still support the passage if the Stupak amendment (4.00 / 3)
is in the final bill?

Unfortunately, yes... (0.00 / 0)
I hate to do it, but I would support it and then try to strip out the Stupak language all next year with Amendments on must pass bill.     I think Nelson will satisfy most of the house Stupak supporters and will be what is int he final bill.

[ Parent ]
I agree (0.00 / 0)
That is very unfortunate.  But the "you" she was referring to was Chris Bowers.  Are you speaking for him?

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
other things at issue too (4.00 / 2)
1- implementation date
2- commun. health care ctrs (house has 4B more)

Is there a single memeber of the Progressive Caucus (4.00 / 4)
that plans to stick to the pledge not to vote for a bill without a robust public option?

Is it fair to call the caucus a sad, pathetic joke at this point?

Answer to #1 - I think not (4.00 / 1)
at least not enough of them for any that do to have an impact.

Answer #2 YES, totally unworthy of any support from progressive/liberals

Is is just SICK that a bill that sells us out and even postphones what it proclaims to do for 5 years is being given to us as "take it or leave it".

There certainly IS time to kill this bill and work to elect politicians that will support REAL change BEFORE 2014.

Unfortunately, everyone that advocates for this bills passage wants us to believe that we have no other options - an obvious lie.

It must terrorize obama/rahm, dems, and repugs to even think that they could be held accountable in 2010.

[ Parent ]
undermining state insurance regulations (4.00 / 3)
if this is still in the bills, i hope someone is fighting about it. here's a bit from the dec 15 letter to pelosi and reid:

The interstate compact provisions in both H.R. 3962 and the Senate proposal, as currently written, will lead to a race to the bottom in insurance regulation and severely threaten the important and often lifesaving protections the residents of our states enjoy. In the Senate bill, insurers are permitted to sell policies in our states while only being subject to the regulations of the state in which the policy is written or issued. H.R. 3962 permits states to decide among themselves which regulations will govern, which could make the regulations in the consumer- friendly state irrelevant. Practically speaking, insurers will domicile their plans in states with less stringent regulations and market to the population in more protective states like ours, just like nationally chartered banks have done.

Just wait... they will have 5 years to (0.00 / 0)
exploit and manipulate this POS bill before anyone even knows it.  If this passes, we will see even larger travesties of justice.

[ Parent ]
tick tick tick (0.00 / 0)
Either way, it is a setback for reproductive rights, but the Nelson language would be better.

Being hanged would arguably be better than being burned at the stake.

So what's the bottom line here?  If Stupak is in, you would advocate killing the bill, but if it's only Stupak in some states, that would be okay?

Perhaps I assume too much, but by posing Nelson as better than Stupak, one might (perhaps unfairly) infer that you would support passing a bill with the Nelson language.  After all, Nelson has said he would rescind his support if the Senate bill (meaning his language, I gather) were altered.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Full Court Press!

What I don't understand is this: (4.00 / 2)
Seems to me that progressives finally are in a position of negotiating power. Because once the bill is reconciled, it goes one last time to the Senate for cloture, right?

I mean, the Senate is the 'final mover,' yes?

So if progressives push the bill beyond what Lieberman/Nelson want, that leaves them out in the cold. At that point, they undermine the whole process and filibuster the bill, or make some compromises. At that point, there will be some serious pressure on them--because at that point the progressives can't compromise, it's already outta their hands. Right?

This is also why this debate about why the people saying 'kill the bill' are wrong is making me crazy. It's not about 'wrong,' it's about giving progressives permission to kill the bill, or at least believably threaten to, so they can push hard as possible in conference.

You assume obama/rahm and dems want a real bill (0.00 / 0)
The pressure in the final round, just like we have seen to date will be on progressives to continue to capitulate.

And remember - the biggest compromise was to give up single payer - we got nothing back for this and each week have been brow-beat for more.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but my point is that progressives (4.00 / 3)
are finally in a v. strong position if they resist that pressure. Because if they do, that leaves the White House no choice but to bring all possible pressure to bear on the straying Senators, if they want a bill.

If I understand how this process plays out from here.

[ Parent ]
obama/rahm are undermining the process as we talk (0.00 / 0)
Even though senate and house are co-equal branches of government and are suppose to work together to compromise, obama has proclaimed he wants the senate version.

He stood on the sidelines and watched the entire process be undermined by snowe, LIE-berman, and a variety of other players and now he is interjecting himself.  

Time to call BS on rhis lying liar.

[ Parent ]
That's not undermining the process. (4.00 / 2)
That is the process. Obama supports the bill. He'll encourage representatives to support the bill. But they still are a co-equal branch--they can vote how they choose. What I'm wondering is, if they do push for a stronger bill, stronger than Nelson/Lieberman can stand, will N/L be able to stand up to the inevitable pressure from White House when their turn comes?

Because isn't theirs the last turn? If so, that removes their leverage. It's just yes or no.

[ Parent ]
There is no single BILL - that is the point (0.00 / 0)
He didn't do this with the HOUSE bill, he is proclaiming he wants the SENATE bill.

And he didn't indicate any support for any bill when LIE-berman was going off half-cocked.

If you read the article, you will see he is not promoting a compromise BETWEEN or any aspects of the house bill that were taken out of the senate bill.  He wants the crap from the Senate and the house is expected to capitulate.

No, that is not the way the process is suppose to work, especially when you sat back and let others do the dirty work up until now.

[ Parent ]
Obama's not pushing for my preferred outcome (4.00 / 2)
but I'm a little confused about what you're saying. That because Obama is throwing his weight around in a crappy way, that means that representatives somehow can't vote however they choose?  

[ Parent ]
obama has out-right lied and directly circumvented the process (0.00 / 0)
It's not about whether he has "pushed" for what I or anyone else wants.

Read this diary at kos for more details including direct links for each concern expressed:

You might find many interesting perspectives and links in the 280+ comment thread too.

[ Parent ]
Nope. Still don't see your point! (4.00 / 1)
I'm not sure how Obama's lying prevents House progressives from pushing for a stronger bill in conference--so strong that Nelson then needs to decide if he's gonna scuttle the whole thing.

[ Parent ]
obama has made it clear what side (0.00 / 0)
he and the party apparatus he largely controls is on.  You don't think they hear his message in the house?

This is what obama/rahm are doing in front of us (and cameras that document the lies) - we all know that even more persuasion is going on behind the scene, right?

Even if some in house had strong resolve, obama and the dem party are undermining them.

[ Parent ]
Are we disagreeing? (4.00 / 1)
You're saying that Obama is pushing for the Senate bill, and this pressure disinclines House progressives from working in conference for a better bill.

I'm saying that Obama is pushing for the Senate bill, and while this pressure may disincline House progressives from working in conference for a better bill, they still absolutely can. And absolutely should.

They're a co-equal branch. If they're putting this all on Obama, they're abdicating their responsibility.

[ Parent ]
abdictating to whom?!?!?!?! (4.00 / 1)
yes - there is enough corruption to go around, but the undermining of public option was on obama.

He ran on it and even in july proclaimed it was essential.  He has quietly worked with leadership in house and senate to undermine it.

And now he is working to undermine the house.

He ran on "change" and "yes we can" and has worked since elected to ensure we don't see the ideas he advocated in the campaign (and even last summer)

[ Parent ]
That's not corruption. (0.00 / 0)
That's someone who's more conservative than I.

[ Parent ]
They're all spent, fatigue has set in (4.00 / 1)
I agree entirely with your premise that the House and the progressive caucus has some real leverage if they choose to use it. They could go so far as to demand a second bill via reconciliation in return for acting on the first bill -- meaning no conference and no more role for Lieberman/Nelson et al.

But the bottom line is they're all spent and they just want this to be over. They want this cleared through by the State of the Union -- yes, even the progressives too. In hindsight, the protracted slow-walk by Baucus/Finance were critical lost months. Had we reached this point in September there would still be energy for a fight. Come January of an election year, they just want to turn the page and move on...

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

[ Parent ]
Great diary at kos with extensive links documenting all points (0.00 / 0)
Obama defends Senate bill, distances himself from public option

On the question of whether he campaigned on the public option, President Obama's statement is inaccurate , although like many policy details, it didn't find its way into his stump speech. As President, he's gone as far as saying the argument against it defies logic and that it must be included in the final reform bill.

Check it out yourself (last link with video) - obama is not man of his words and does not stand for the change he promised in 2008.

[ Parent ]
Compromise (0.00 / 0)
While I understand the anger and the desperate feelings that this is all unfair...  the whole compromise angle is complete and total crap.  The people we are "compromising" with don't care if the status quo stays the same!  Their only "compromise" is to vote yes.

Why is this so hard to understand?  

You can't promote change by threatening to veto that change except under very specific situations.  If we have 50 votes in the Senate that would rather use reconciliation or eliminate the filibuster than not get a health care bill, then we can credibly threaten our own veto.  If we have 60 senators who really need to pass a health care bill, then we can credibly threaten our own veto.

But you can't really compromise with people who are willing to walk away from the table.  As unfair as that may be, it is reality.

[ Parent ]
I think that's the cause of much of the anger (4.00 / 1)
at Obama. The (somewhat amorphous) sense that the White house could've made some threats to force compromise, but didn't.

[ Parent ]
Sure (0.00 / 0)
But the threats have to be outside the healthcare debate itself to be useful.  Perhaps a chairmanship for Lieberman should be held ransom.  Nelson did get some goodies outside of the normal healthcare debate for his state, so that kind of counts.

I get the anger.  I even think it is necessary to get the best possible bill out.  I just wish we could do it without the stupidity.

But you know, I think we all reserve the most anger for those we think are betraying us.  In this kind of debate that cuts both ways.  Some think Obama and the Democrats are betraying us with this bill.  Those that are now fighting to defeat the bill from the left seem like betrayers to me.

What's really bad is I'm under the impression this was Lieberman's goal.  He wanted to split the left.  His ultimate dream, I believe, is to have the left defeat the bill so he can blame it all on them.

[ Parent ]
But obama had his back (4.00 / 2)
pressuring ried to accept what he had to say.  Credible sources say obama killed the public option.

Maybe LIE-berman wanted to split the left - but he did so with obama/rahm taking his back.

[ Parent ]
I'm actually pretty ambivalent on 'the stupid.' (4.00 / 3)
Did you read Nate Silver saying that arguing with some of the people who want to kill the bill is like arguing with global warming denialists?

I thought that was pretty telling. And not because the 'bill-killers' aren't nearly in the same situation as denialists. But because the denialists have achieved some pretty impressive victories without any rational grounding. They're all emotion and volume, and they're able to push back against science and rationality and common sense ... and win.

But if a group of people on the left start turning the volume and emotion to 10, most of the left starts tut-tutting. I'm much farther to the center than many in the leftnet--I'm somewhere on the Kevin Drum/Josh Marshal axis--but this whole kerfuffle about the 'bill killers' makes me crazy. We need those people, a lot more than we need more low-volume mumblers like myself.

[ Parent ]
Pro Emotion (4.00 / 2)
I'm actually pro-emotion on this debate.  We need more emotion and more morality.  I just wish the logic didn't need to be tossed overboard at the same time.  I can't speak for others, but I'm not tut-tutting the emotion at all.  (Well, except for myself.  I don't want to get overemotional against my allies, which I sometimes do in these situations.)

[ Parent ]
Again - your comment relies on the lie (4.00 / 1)
a bill that does not take effect until 2014 (if it ever actually does at all) is the only choice and that we cannot force the issues in 2010 and 2012, working towards a better bill that kicks in BEFORE 2014.


1.  Does anyone believe any "good" parts of the senate bill will actually be allowed to take effect 5 years from now when the entire process to create this bill was one of misdirection and dishonesty (remember, there are credible reports that obama/rahm killed the public option).

2.  Do people misrepresent a bill taking effect in 5 years as the only choice?  The public supports a public option and this could be the rallying cry in 2010.  It could even be the basis of a primary challenge to obama in 2012.  This could result in a bill BEFORE 2014.

[ Parent ]
One has apparently been resolved (4.00 / 1)
One of the harsh immigration provisions, the five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to access public programs like Medicaid or exchange subsidies, will reportedly be removed.

Insert shameless blog promotion here.

re: waiting period (4.00 / 1)
During the Senate negotiations, Robert Menendez-the only Hispanic lawmaker in the Senate-pushed for an amendment that would eliminate the five-year waiting period that is imposed on legal, newly naturalized immigrants before they are allowed to be eligible for Medicaid benefits. The Medicaid waiting period was created in 1996 during the conservative anti-immigration crackdown, and immigration advocates have long fought to remove the provision, arguing that tax-paying legal immigrants shouldn't be denied basic government services.

this is madness. a five-year waiting period for NATURALIZED immigrants? total madness. glad it will be history, but it should never have been there in the first place

also, 1996?

clinton signed this atrocity?


[ Parent ]
Agreed... (0.00 / 0)
What a shitty shitty thing?  I mean if they are legal and paying taxes they should have all the rights of tax payers.

[ Parent ]
Sorry... (0.00 / 0)
Should be What a shitty shitty thing!

[ Parent ]
Agreed... (0.00 / 0)
What a shitty shitty thing?  I mean if they are legal and paying taxes they should have all the rights of tax payers.

[ Parent ]
Do you have a cite for.... (0.00 / 0)
Most of the people who have these high-end plans are union members, not wealthy people.


Nate Silver cited

in response to this point.

And if it stays in the bill, it seems likely that most of those potentially affected would change that when their next contract comes up.

It is a real progressive tax (aside from the union part) and from that perspective would be a good thing to have.

Perhaps one thing that should get put in is an excemption for collectively bargained plans for the first 5 years as the CBPP suggests?

Who's the CBPP? (0.00 / 0)
That sounds like a reasonable approach.

But "changing that when the next contract comes up" translates real world to having their health benefits slashed.

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

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure why you assume that (0.00 / 0)
Previously, they traded wages for health benefits. Now they can trade health benefits for wages. Yes they may lose some benefits, but whether or not it's a meaningful cut isn't clear (I should note I don't know the details here). For example, if they go from a no-copayment plan to a copayment plan and they get more in wages then they lose in copayments.

[ Parent ]
... (0.00 / 0)
I think the issue may be more a political land mine than anything else.    I say put in a permanent exemption for collective bargaining plans.... if you have to tie it to a set time, then try to make that permanent ASAP.

[ Parent ]
taxing high-end plans (0.00 / 0)
The House does not tax high end insurance plans, but the Senate bill does.  Most of the people who have these high-end plans are union members, not wealthy people.  Personally, I don't think we should be weakening the health care coverage of union members in this bill, and the House funding mechanism of a surtax on the wealthy is fine.  Others argue that this is one of the best cost-containment aspects of the bill.  A compromise mixing the two approaches is expected.

The fact that health benefits aren't taxed amounts to one of the most regressive aspects of our tax system. Why shouldn't we tax the plush benefits for the brokers at Goldman Sachs? For that matter, if union members are getting such plush benefits, why shouldn't that be taxed? Should we not tax union members' incomes either, just because they're fortunate enough to benefit from being in a union? Most of the poor and working class people in this country aren't in unions and don't have high-end health benefits packages. Why should they continue to bear an unfair tax burden?

Plus, yes, cost-containment is a good thing.

Geez (4.00 / 5)
"Cost-containment" on the backs of workers and you're FOR it?  Get real.  Sure, let's piss off the AFL-CIO, we don't need THEIR smelly proletarian votes.  Plush benefits.  They've traded wage increases for years to get those plush benefits.  All this anger at Obama (for good reason) but HERE you want to give him a pass?

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

[ Parent ]
Benefits (0.00 / 0)
The argument hes/shes making is valid. Benefits not being taxed is a problem because wage increases are taxed. You can even liken it to tax evasion because they are shifting income that is taxable to income that is not taxable. How awesome would it be if you could use your pretax dollars on rent, food, or car insurance? Why should healthcare be any different? Income is income whether it be money or benefits, it should all be taxed equally.

[ Parent ]
The government creates a policy that (4.00 / 3)
does not tax employee provided health benefits in order to encourage employers to provide that benefits - unions press employees to provide these benefits (which was the point of the policy) and employers do so (again, in line with the policy). How is that in any way like tax evasion?

Taxing all benefits as income is an interesting proposal, but that isn't what this is about - this is about taxing some people's benefits.

Also, why should health care be taxed as income but more speculative non-wage based income is not?  

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 agree... (0.00 / 0)
Either tax them all or don't tax them at all.      

[ Parent ]
Main point (0.00 / 0)
I didn't say that speculative nonwage based income should not be taxed. I think it should along with all income. This isn't about taxing some people's benefits, most Americans have health insurance tax free from work. Everyone should be taxed, not just cadillac plans. The people who aren't taxed are people who don't have insurance. People who buy insurance individually are already taxed since they pay post income tax. How is this fair?

They get screwed over because companies are willing to pay more for insurance because they get a 10-30% discount from the government for covering their workers. Individuals simply cannot afford bid on the market against that.

Lets leave unions out of this, unions aren't the only poeple who get health insurance through work.

[ Parent ]
Fair enough but (0.00 / 0)
neither taxing all income nor taxing all benefits is being serious discussed as policy. Taxing some people's benefits is being discussed.

A better way to address the fairness issue (aside from the more fundamental changes you are suggesting) would be to extend the tax break to individuals who buy their own insurance.  That would prevent the unfairness coming from unions who traded wages for benefits having the rug pulled out from under them while still addressing the concerns of those who buy insurance individually. That would make more sense, if the point is to be fair and encourage people to become insured.

Since we were talking about the so called "Cadillac plans" tax, unions are pretty central to it - but if we move to discussing benefits in general, you are certainly right.

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 ]
What are you talking about? (4.00 / 2)
The most regressive parts of the tax system are that income is taxed more heavily than more speculative wealth.  That is what should be fixed to address Goldman Sachs.  The reason why union members shouldn't be taxed on their health plans is that no one is, unlike their income.  The idea that poor people are getting screwed by this (as opposed to all the many ways that government shifts wealth upward) is simply fantastic.

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 reinforces STiVo's comment above (4.00 / 3)
that union members have given salary concessions for years based on retaining their health benefits. They believed it was worth the money and PAID IT.

[ Parent ]
Predicted Compromise (0.00 / 0)
The House will accept most aspects of the Senate bill, but in return, the Senate will agree to adopt the House language on abortion.

Doubt it. (0.00 / 0)
More likely the House will accept Nelson in exchange for 150% medicaid, etc.

[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 1)
Stupak is out. Nelson's complicated solution - requiring women/families to pay separately for abortion coverage - a need that may never arise, will become an add-on.

Here's a good, complete, source on the issue:

It might be just a small amount of money, like an additional few dollars to a premium, but they would have to pay with a separate check and there are other longer term possible consequences.

From the above link:

Now, however, the combination of onerous requirements and separate checks, the number of anti-choice legislatures at the state level, the removal of the public option (which would have driven down costs overall), and the removal of requirements that at least one plan in each exchange provide abortion coverage imply that millions fewer women will have coverage for abortion care than do now. And...women's rights will increasingly be decided on a state-by-state basis. The mounting economic pressure on the system to drop what will now be burdensome requirements for abortion care will increase as the trend away from employer-paid health plans increases and as individuals will now be mandated to purchase insurance coverage.

[ Parent ]
In case you don't go to the link on abortion a la Nelson (0.00 / 0)
you might miss this:
There's a reason why 87 percent of private plans offer abortion coverage. It makes little sense to deny this coverage to women who want to terminate a pregnancy -- after all, the costs of prenatal care and childbirth are far higher in almost every case. [But under the Nelson language], insurers can only take into account costs but not savings, which means that the fee for the rider will be artificially high [and] of course the insurance companies will keep the windfall.

Here's the link again, if you're interested:

[ Parent ]
Interesting... (0.00 / 0)
So theoretically then we could see the insurance industry lobbying to keep states from opting out.    

My feeling is there won't be a lot of states that would actually opt out of it.    Honestly, I'm guessing about 5.    

[ Parent ]
Maybe a judo move on Reproductive Rights. (0.00 / 0)
Fake like we're going to go frontal on the Stupak ammendment, then duck out of the way.

Next year, offer a straight up bill permitting abortion coverage, and making the decision between the patient and the doctor. Force the Blue Dogs to vote up or down on it.

It would be really cool if the courts stripped out the Stupak amendment. I mean, it doesn't seem constitutional to me to prohibit a legal procedure, or worse, to discriminate against some women because they are subsidized, while non-subsidized insurance plans offer reimbursement.

not w/ this court (0.00 / 0)
I wouldn't take my chances.  We would be living with stupak-pitts forever.  Or, to use "the other side of the aisle's" approach- women would be dying with stupak-pitts forever.  

both nelson and stupak-pitts are unacceptable as written. we know they must conference about this, so we can only hope that leadership cleans up this mess.

otherwise it is another reason to kill the bill.  

[ Parent ]
Bill won't pass without at least Nelson... (0.00 / 0)
The house and senate progressives have already shown they will at least accept a Nelson level compromise.

My opinion, keep Nelson in the bill (since you have to in order to pass the Senate) and then work on getting it out of there as soon as possible.

[ Parent ]
Buffett's Boy Ben Bluffs for Buffett Benefits for Berkshire (0.00 / 0)
Buffett's Boy Ben Bluffs for Buffett Benefits for Berkshire

Bridge anyone?

To the crowd that wants to compare this to auto insurance mandates (4.00 / 1)
1.  all states regulate auto insurance more than health insurance, which is essentially "anything goes"

2.  auto contracts across the nation are largely standardized, each company writes their own health insurance contracts often interpreting the same language differently

3.  states that mandate health insurance have a form of public option for when the market won't provide coverage

4.  auto insurance companies are routinely overruled by judges that demand they pay denied claims up to the limits of policies (and sometimes beyond) - no such oversite exists in bogus 2014 reforms of either house/senate

5.  no large area of the country is essentially controled by one company, most people in America live in areas where health insurance and providers are essentially monopolies (but I acknowledge point earlier in thread - exemptions from anti-trust laws allow all insurance rates to be set in collusion)

OT - but speaking of obama sell-outs, CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS! (4.00 / 1)
Former Bush adviser named Obama 'cyber czar'  

Nearly a year after taking office, US President Barack Obama named Howard Schmidt, a former Bush administration adviser and Microsoft executive, as his cybsersecurity coordinator on Tuesday.

"Howard will have the important responsibility of orchestrating the many important cybersecurity activities across the government," said John Brennan, Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism.

This administration is just another con - in fact, a con run by many of the same players as the previous white house cons.   This is another major-league sell out.

... (0.00 / 0)
So is the only issue you have with Schmidt was that he advised Bush?      He's actually a fairly intelligent person in the field of Cyber security.   Do you actually know anything about the field or are you talking out of your ass?

[ Parent ]
Yes I do know who he is and a great deal about issue (4.00 / 1)
So just what is his huge accomplishment under dur chimpfurher that you are so delighted about?

Or are you talking out your ass?

[ Parent ]
Arnie... (0.00 / 0)
I've forgotten more about Cyber Security than you will ever know, you arrogant jack ass.  Quit talking out of your ass, you have no fucking clue on the issue and this is hardly a sellout.    Schmidt is not a bad choice and any one who knows the field will you tell you that.    Yes, there are other more progressive choices that can do an equally good job, but Schmidt has done nothing wrong to warrant his expulsion from the position either.

[ Parent ]
talk big you fool - its cheap (4.00 / 2)
I know a lot too - and I follow politics close enough to know that there were other good candidates that didn't even carry the baggage of being corporate whores.

That may not matter to you and it obviously does not matter to corporate shill obama, but it is just another sell out of his bass.

Of course, obama is the guy that lied about filibustering FISA during primaries, isn't he.

So no reason to think he would actually build a governing team that represented his core constituents, is there.

You know little or nothing about security issues, less about net neutrality, and nothing about creating a governing team that reflects the will of the people that got you elected.

[ Parent ]
First off... (2.00 / 2)
It's BASE, not BASS.  

Please oh Cyber security expert ( a field I work in mind you and have spent MANY long hours studying), please tell us the better choices.    

Schmidt is far from a corporate whore... in fact he has spent way more time in Government than in corporate.   31 years worth... but of course that SCREAMS corporate whore.  But of course if you had bothered to actually do a minute's worth of research you wouldn't embarrass yourself with the stupidity you wrote.

And for that matter...  WTF do you know about Schmidt's politics?  I spent 15 minutes googling and couldn't find anything on whether he was a Dem or GOP supporter.   Whatever he is, he isn't vocal about it.  He's in various departments under two Dems and one Republican.    You know, sometimes people are appointed because they are actually skilled.   Gee, a reason Bush might have picked him in the first place... well he was CSO for Microsoft and which company does the government use for most of it's computers... MICROSOFT!!!

You seriously have no idea what you are talking about.   Your grasp on politics and cyber security is absolutely terrible.

[ Parent ]
Diid yu kno thaat speling iz nott reely importnt (0.00 / 0)
 whn creeatng a reedible mssge.  In fct, sistums of "spead righting' r oftn bassed on ohmitting intermeediat vwls.  Mny r amzed to c tht thy cn actualee cnstrct meenng from grssly mssplled wrds.  Amzng, izn't it!

[ Parent ]
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht (0.00 / 0)
I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

[ Parent ]
Nice "big-boy" talk though, mama must be proud of her little man (2.00 / 2)
To bad you can't add any details or even the slightest notion that you have a clue what you are talking about.

But why should this post be different from your other ones?

[ Parent ]
Ah... (2.00 / 2)
Has pointing out what an ignorant troll you are hurt ickle arnie's feelings?

[ Parent ]
.... (0.00 / 0)
I'm going to do a little bit here then go down and point out the ignorance of your post below.  


You would not hear about him much unless he royally screwed up.   He's the Chief IT Security guy.  He's also one of the most well respected names in IT Security.

Good article about him and also points to his 2010 predictions.

[ Parent ]
So you found a blogger for a corporate magazine (2.00 / 2)
that proclaims it is irrelevant - BIG DEAL - MEANS NOTHING.

If the post is so trivial, why were you boasting his qualifications earlier.  Really, beyond pathetic.

[ Parent ]
Oh I tear your ignorant ass apart below... (2.00 / 2)
And you are still too stupid to grasp the point... HIS POSITION IS ABOUT CYBER SECURITY.   HE IS ONE OF THE TOP PEOPLE IN THE FIELD.  

Nothing in the magazine says it was irrelevant... I actually linked it to show his predictions for 2010... maybe actually READ the article.

It's not a trivial post.    I never said it was.  It's a very important post that means you want someone with the necessary skill set.  He has it... he's one of the best in the industry... and he also worked in several government offices under Clinton as well, just FTR.

Please take your trolling ignorant self somewhere else.   You've been shown to be completely talking out of your ass and that you have no concept of the position whatsoever.

[ Parent ]
What a little mind (0.00 / 0)
You haven't addressed any issues at all while an ongoing pattern of appointing bush people is problematic.

There are other folks with at least a great credibility.  And computer world magazine loves a Microsoft executuve?  Gee what a surprise - doesn't make them a credible source though.

[ Parent ]
arnie (0.00 / 0)
He's not worth it.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
Are computer-savvy Democrats are too liberal (0.00 / 0)
for the Rahm Administration. Some are rumored to be . . . progressive!

[ Parent ]
Of course... (0.00 / 0)
Hiring the best people for the job regardless of political affiliation is a bad thing.

[ Parent ]
Best for corpocracy (0.00 / 0)
That obama answers for, not so good for "change", "yes we can" or people that actually believed what obama said in 2008, donated money they could barely afford to give away, and worked their butts off.

But, evidently, if it is good for microsoft and corporate America, it is also good enough for you and obama/rahm.

[ Parent ]
there's another fight remaining (0.00 / 0)
Biggest sellout. The Senate seems to have won that race with Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman gutting the public option and its replacement, the medicare buy-in. But, the House isn't out of the running with Bart Stupak and his coat-hanger amendment. A late entrance to the race is the White House and President Obama. Their fight and advocacy on behalf of both the public option and reproductive rights can't go unnoticed. Who will win the sellout stakes? Stay tuned for the exciting...I mean sad conclusion.

The sell out continues (0.00 / 0)
Mr. Schmidt will start the campaign of we MUST pay for access to the Internet, which will be the beginning of the end of net neutrality.

Who would have thunk... bush's third term and NO Leadership from the White House, just more Right Wing appointees to better serve the corpocracy/military-industrial-media complex that both parties pucker up for.

Remember "Yes We Can" sell you out for the advancement of the Corporate Interests, but unlike dur chimpfurher, progressives and liberals are expected to look at the sorry state of affairs and proclaim, "AND IT IS GOOD!"

[ Parent ]
Dude... (4.00 / 4)
You have NO IDEA what you are talking about and are embarrassing yourself.

First of Net Neutrality is an FCC issue.    Schmidt is the CYBER SECURITY COORDINATOR for the White House.   That essentially means he is the Chief Security officer for the Government.   HE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH INTERNET OR NET NEUTRALITY POLICY.   His job is the IT security of the Governement and security recommendations for the national infrastructure.   Firewalls, Honeypots, Virus control, malware, prevention policy... THIS is the stuff Schmidt deals with.   Essentially anything in the CISSP BOK is what he will be handling.

In most enterprise level IT departments, you compartmentalize.   Schmidt is security and would have had nothing to do with anything beyond that.

Schmidt is generally considered one of the top Americans in Cyber Security.  He is extremely well respected.  There is nothing right or left wing about the Cyber Security Coordinator... its simply appointing someone competent to the position to help protect the Government's networks from being penetrated.  

You should seriously be embarrassed for both this and claiming you know WTH you are talking about above.   You have no clue or concept on the position or the man.  Here's his wiki page to show his credentials.

Also, a simple google search of his name and Net Neutrality will also show nothing association with him pro or con.  Not that that matters because the position doesn't deal with it and it is completely irrelevant.

Seriously, educate yourself on the issue before speaking.   This is plain silly and the ONLY reason you are attacking his is because he happened to also work for Bush as well.   Of course I see you fail to mention that he worked for several government offices during the CLinton years before going to Microsoft and Ebay.    


[ Parent ]
You are so daft - really lame buddy, and ignorent too (0.00 / 1)
"Hey guys, Obama needs a new department head."

"Great, lets find the biggest corporate insider we can who was a CEO of some related company once"

Yup - change we can believe in, because, "yes we can!"

Glad your ego is so inflated that you think you are an "expert" here even though you prove you don't have a clue to anyone that actually looks at the situation.

[ Parent ]
Obama is now LYING that there is virtually no difference (0.00 / 0)
between the house and senate options.  Damn - this guy really thinks we are dumb and wants to finish the sell out so he can put a big turd in our christmas stockings.

And just like chimpy, he will proclaim this crap "one heck of a job!"  Must read post by McJoan at kos:

That would have saved us all a lot of headaches if we'd heard it from the beginning, instead of this from June, or in September, or back during the presidential campaign. I guess that settles once and for all whether he'll push for a public option in the House-Senate conference. Ah, well. And another not so minor quibble--it's less an "option" the American people are getting to buy private health insurance as a mandate, albeit with assistance for many, to do so.

This is already a given (0.00 / 0)
This bill is going to pass, so if millions of people are forced to buy a shitty product, than this entire exercise will have been a huge waste.

than this entire exercise will have been a huge waste. (0.00 / 0)
Why the fuck weren't progressives yelling this from day one?

Jesus tits, kill this deformed piece of crap insurance industry bailout already.

[ Parent ]
Too much invested in electing this corporate shill (0.00 / 0)
for one reason, blind loyalty and the "honeymoon" period I guess.

Ummmmm... I guess the son of our Lord did have breasts and there's no reason to be ashamed of them, but gee...  

Is it blasphemous to use parts of his body this way ;)

[ Parent ]
The thing was morphing on a daily basis (0.00 / 0)
for the last six months but especially during the last two weeks.

And, in case you've forgotten, we didn't even know what was in Reid's manager's amendment until Saturday morning.  The Reid amendment wiped out the public option that was in the bill, somehow.  And it also wiped out the Medicare opt-in that was dangled in front of us for awhile.

And besides all of that -- we were yelling about this from day one.

[ Parent ]
I discuss the differences in the high-risk pool (0.00 / 0)
conference discussion (0.00 / 0)
The Senate language (Nelson's really) on abortion is better than Stupak. It does a good job of keeping our current situation intact.

The employer mandate isn't something to crow about. First, many unions claim their insurance as an advantage, so that pushing everyone into it dilutes union power. Second, tying people to their employer decreases economic flexibility and ability of individuals to choose different plans to force more competition among insurers.

The other issues mentioned seem to favor the House bill. Larger subsidies, more Medicaid coverage, national exchange (better for competition).

Anti-trust isn't likely to survive because of Nelson.

Still, the argument that the House should just accept the Senate bill is clearly not appealing to many of us. I just hope the Senators of most resistance can accept that a conference committee might make some changes they would be expected to vote for.


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