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3/25/2010
OBAMACARE: REPEAL, REPLACE, RINSE, REPEAT

My latest column is up at Pajamas Media and in it, I go through the reasons why Obamacare will probably not be repealed, nor declared unconstitutional in its entirety:

A sample:

Considering the fact that Democrats have deluded themselves into believing that ObamaCare is the nirvana all Americans have been pining for, it would be impolite not to join them in their self-deception.

This, the GOP has apparently taken to heart with talk of repealing ObamaCare. While an excellent idea with much merit, the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing this mirage are insurmountable. Consider:

1. In order to make repeal a reality, the GOP would have to win back both houses of Congress with considerable room to spare, capturing 2/3 of the seats in each chamber. This is because unless Barack Obama has a “road to Damascus” moment about liberty, the Constitution, the free market, and first principles, it is more than likely he will veto said repeal legislation just as quickly as they can load the teleprompter with his remarks on how he is saving “the children.”

2. An alternative to repeal, one that would have the same effect, would be to defund the measure by repealing parts of the bill. This path has the virtue of not needing a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, because the tax credits and Medicaid expansion could be dealt with through the reconciliation process. Before getting too excited, you might want to think of the effect of cutting off subsidies to millions of poor people who have insurance only because the government pays for it. Making yourself an easy target for liberal demonizing is not a sound political strategy.

3. I hate bringing up history at a time like this, but no entitlement program once enacted has ever been repealed. “There’s a first time for everything” might be a tempting battle cry to employ, until you realize that the reason history is not on our side is because constituencies rapidly grow up around entitlements, making them as politically indestructible as the pyramids. The yowls of pain from beneficiaries of any entitlement that is under threat of major overhaul or repeal resonate with that significant portion of the electorate who gets all weepy at the thought of any American suffering for any reason. It is a major source of our strength as a nation - and it might be the death of us in the end.

Apropos my comment earlier in the week about the GOP eventually embracing national health insurance (which I shamelessly repeated in this piece), Senator Chuck Grassley has already made noises about fixing Obamacare rather than repealing it. And I think “repeal and replace” a far more intelligent political strategy than simple “repeal.”

But when you can’t move the mountain, isn’t it smarter to figure out ways to deal with it where it is? I would love to see Obamacare repealed but its never happened before and there is absolutely nothing about this situation that would make me think differently. Unless there is a total, unmitigated financial disaster before November, or unemployment skies, or inflation starts to really bite, the GOP will not win back control of the Senate, and taking over the House is also a problematic question.

Thus, with Obama firmly ensconced in the presidency until at least 2012, it seems a fanciful notion to entertain thoughts of repeal until at least 2013 — and that’s assuming Obama loses and the GOP picks up enough senate seats to defeat any filibuster attempt.

It’s not impossible - just not very likely. And saying so doesn’t make me a “defeatist.” It makes me a realist. Wishful thinking in this matter is the sign of a weak mind, easily swayed by emotion rather than logic.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask that the rank emotionalism that characterized this debate be put away and strategy formed by reason, not hysteria. But the GOP leadership, having unleashed and in some ways, encouraged this anger, is now finding it hard to control. How much of this rage is real and how much is exaggerated we’ll never know. But it seems to me that cooler heads must lead the coming fight and that by relying on hyperbolic, exaggerated rhetoric to whip up support for the cause simply isn’t necessary. Just as it wasn’t - isn’t - necessary to lie or exaggerate the worst parts of Obamacare. The bill is bad enough that it should have been defeated on its imprudent, costly, and coercive demerits.

We’ll never know if that approach would have worked. Just like we’ll never know if the Democrats had limited their goals with the bill if any GOP lawmakers would have joined them. Both sides have made their excessively partisan beds and now must lie in them. For the Democrats, everytime someone is in a doctor’s waiting room for more than 2 hours, they will be blamed. Every time a medical outcome goes against a patient, they will be blamed. Every snafu, every bottleneck, everything that could possibly go wrong with an individual’s medical care, the Democrats will be blamed. They bought the health care system lock, stock, and barrel. That’s the price they are going to pay for failing to heed the calls for prudence, and rational reform.

For the GOP, they will have to take care that they don’t appear to favor repeal at the expense of the weakest members of society. This is where “replace” comes in and where the GOP better step up to the plate with a better idea than simply throwing 30 million people into Medicaid. I think they can do it, but they have to get the base to agree that there’s a problem with the health care system to begin with. Once that’s done, the Republicans could move forward aggressively with an alternative to Obamacare; cheaper, more realistic, and one that addresses the real problems that the GOP failed to address during the Bush years.

With an astonishing 55% of Americans wanting to repeal the bill already, it’s not like Republicans will be wandering in the wilderness. With so much of this bill based on coercion, the Democrats may yet discover that when it comes to being told what to do, a majority of American still say to hell with what the Europeans are doing, health care reform is inimical to the first principles of personal responsibility and individual liberty.

By: Rick Moran at 9:02 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

3/24/2010
DON’T CANONIZE OBAMA JUST YET

This post originally appears at Frum Forum.

You have to feel a little sorry for liberals today. It’s been so long since they could claim a world-historical figure as their very own, that their gushing encomiums over President Barack Obama’s triumph in passing national health insurance reform have become just a touch too mawkish.

For example, Matthew Yglesias has placed Mr. Obama into the pantheon of liberal lions exactly one year and two months into his presidency:

Now that it’s done, Barack Obama will go down in history as one of America’s finest presidents. It’s always possible of course that, like LBJ, he’ll get involved in some unrelated fiasco that mars his reputation. But fundamentally, he’s reshaped the policy landscape in a way that no progressive politician has done in decades.

Not to be outdone, The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait makes virtually the same point:

Let me offer a ludicrously premature opinion: Barack Obama has sealed his reputation as a president of great historical import. We don’t know what will follow in his presidency, and it’s quite possible that some future event–a war, a scandal–will define his presidency. But we do know that he has put his imprint on the structure of American government in a way that no Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson has.

So eager are our liberal friends to anoint the president as the inheritor of Franklin Roosevelt’s mantle that Chait goes the extra mile in homage and writes that the bill is not only good — it’s great!

Historians will see this health care bill as a masterfully crafted piece of legislation. Obama and the Democrats managed to bring together most of the stakeholders and every single Senator in their party. The new law untangles the dysfunctionalities of the individual insurance market while fulfilling the political imperative of leaving the employer-provided system in place.

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to you that this cut-and-paste, deal-laden, haphazardly thrown together, mish-mash of an entitlement bill was “masterfully crafted.” Perhaps Chait means it the same way that a Da-Daist painter “masterfully crafts” a surreal portrait — you don’t have a clue who it is or what it means but it’s expensive and nobody really wants one hanging in their living room.

Pre-sanctifying Obama before the president has even started his second season on the golf course is sort of pathetic. It’s like consecrating a baseball rookie as a Hall of Fame candidate in April when he’s hitting over .300. Let’s revisit the rookie’s stats at the All Star break and tell me then if we should send his uniform to Cooperstown.

Similarly, the real damage Obamacare will do won’t kick in until 2014, when the individual mandate forcing everyone to buy insurance kicks in. That’s when those 10,000 extra IRS agents that are being hired will find something to do with their time besides annoying citizens about their taxes. Our IRS overlords will be on the job, making a list and checking it twice for insurance scofflaws. Beyond making sure you have insurance, these 10,000 extra pairs of eyes will also determine whether or not you have the right kind of coverage that have been dictated by the bureaucrats.

I see the potential for a situation comedy in this, as intimidated citizens are forced to argue with the Revenuers that A, B, and C in their policies puts them in compliance with the law while the infallible Treasury Agents don’t quite see it that way. Hilarity ensues when the poor schmuck gets caught in the wheels of IRS administrative justice and is ground to powder — outlasted by the well meaning, but bumbling bureaucrats. Perhaps we could call it 2 ½ Feds.

Then there’s the deficit. A great deal was made by proponents of the bill that the preliminary analysis by the Congressional Budget Office gave the House bill with reconciliation fixes a passing grade when it came to cost versus savings. The $940 billion price tag over the first ten years of the bill was accompanied by $138 billion in deficit reduction. The fact that the total budget deficit over that same span of time is predicted to be $7.12 trillion wasn’t mentioned by supporters of Obamacare for obvious reasons; the $138 billion reduction in that number is an obscene joke and Congress is, after all, a family show.

To be sure, history is not on the side of Obamacare supporters. Every single health care entitlement has far exceeded budgetary expectations. In the case of Medicare, it is particularly telling.

In 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that the hospital insurance program of Medicare — the federal health care program for the elderly and disabled — would cost $9 billion by 1990. The actual cost that year was $67 billion.

In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee said the entire Medicare program would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual cost in 1990 was $98 billion.

In 1987, Congress projected that Medicaid — the joint federal-state health care program for the poor — would make special relief payments to hospitals of less than $1 billion in 1992. Actual cost: $17 billion.

Nick Gillespie at Reason.com, quoting from a study done by the Joint Economic Committee,

It seems there is a kind of Murphy’s Law of health care legislation: “If it can cost more than the highest available official estimate, it probably will.”

All of this begs the question; aren’t liberals being a little premature in granting President Obama mythic hero status among presidents? If Obamacare bankrupts us 10 or 15 years down the road, or sooner, will that take the sheen off of his reputation?

Probably not. They’ll just blame it all on Bush.

By: Rick Moran at 6:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

3/22/2010
NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM DONE

My latest column is up at Pajamas Media and it is my response to the passage of Obamacare.

A sample:

Indeed, in a striking and ironic twist to the entire debate over nationalized health insurance, the president’s call for a bipartisan effort was met not by proponents of the bill, but by its enemies. The 34 Democrats who opposed the measure made the bill the president’s first success in creating a bipartisan coalition, although the fact that it almost derailed the effort to realize his dream of massive federal regulation of the insurance industry probably gives him little cheer.

What hath Congress wrought? The difference between what the president and congressional Democrats say the bill will do, and the likely effect the legislation will have on the lives of American citizens, is a chasm whose depth and girth is unknowable. What we know is that more people will have health insurance, and that those who currently have no insurance due to a pre-existing condition will be able to purchase policies. Beyond that, Democratic claims such as insurance that offers more benefits while costing less and no change in most citizens’ insurance plans are viewed with a jaundiced eye by serious analysts. If we didn’t know any better, we would accuse the Democrats of lying about this, except they wouldn’t lie about something as critically important as health insurance, would they?

It is written that doctors and hospitals will receive less in payments from the government for treating Medicare patients, but nobody believes that. It is written that the government will dutifully find hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare fraud, but no one believes they will find as much as they are saying they will. It is written that state Medicaid programs will be just fine with the sudden influx of 30 million new subscribers, although the balance between federal and state contributions to the program will not change and nobody believes the burden on states won’t skyrocket.

In short, despite the fact that no one believes some of the basic actuarial and fiscal assumptions that under-gird this legislation — no one who isn’t besotted with partisan fervor — it was rammed down the throats of the American people with as much cynicism, trickery, deliberate obfuscation, and budgetary tomfoolery as has ever been seen for a major piece of legislation in the history of the republic.

There will be court challenges to Obamacare but I doubt if they will be entirely successful. I further find it unlikely that the GOP, if they achieve majority status again, will be able to repeal it. Perhaps a combination of the two but that may be the most unlikely scenario at all.

Prediction? In five years, the Republican party will be embracing Obamacare and will be running on a platform that boasts they are the best party to manage it efficiently.

By: Rick Moran at 10:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

3/21/2010
FUN WITH NUMBERS: CBO ESTIMATES FROM WONDERLAND

This is my PJ Media column from Friday that took the Democrats to task for trying to game the CBO numbers.

A sample:

It’s been known for many months that the cost of the health care bill has been phoney baloney budgetary gimmicks. Most of the costs of the bill won’t kick in until 2013, while the bulk of the costs would be picked up in the next six years. A true cost of this bill over the first ten years (2013-2023) is well into the trillions of dollars.

CBO makes no apologies for basing their projections on what they acknowledge is tomfoolery. Nor do they seem to see it as their job to highlight this legislative legerdemain.

I guess that’s why they’re “non-partisan.” They cooperate in hoodwinking the American people with both parties.

[...]

Sleight of hand, double counting, magical thinking — one would think we were talking about a Houdini memorabilia convention and not the most important piece of domestic legislation in more than a generation. But in service to saving Obama’s presidency, anything is allowable.

Besides, does anyone really believe the CBO has a handle on how much this Gargantua is going to cost? Or how much we’re going to save? Or how much it will cut the deficit 20 years from now?

History is an unforgiving vixen. What the past tells us about the future is that never in the history of entitlement spending have estimated costs ever come anywhere near the actual expenditures. And the further out the predictions, the more spectacularly inaccurate they become.

How proponents of Obamacare can justify their support based on this bill saving the US taxpayer money is incredibly disingenuous. Either that, or they, like the Democratic leadership up to and including our president, simply don’t care. I wouldn’t go so far as some on the right and claim that this is a conscious effort to control our lives - even though I believe that will be the ultimate result of the legislation once it becomes obvious that the only way to control costs is to try and control how people live. But I think that Democrats believe they can “fix” what’s massively wrong with the bill at a later date.

There is no case to be made for this bill to reduce health care costs, reduce federal expenditures on health care, help save Medicare, or do anything that makes insurance more affordable. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. What we have here is a case where the Democrats and their allies in the media know all this. The GOP knows it. Anyone who has been paying attention to what’s in this bill knows it. My pet cat Snowball knows it. And yet, one side is pretending that black is white, up is down, and that this bill will do most everything the proponents are claiming it will.

Ladies and gentlemen…the Reality Based Community.

By: Rick Moran at 4:59 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

3/18/2010
THE BIGGEST ISSUE OBAMACARE DOESN’T ADDRESS

We like to think of ourselves as a compassionate people. We also pride ourselves on possessing good old fashioned American common sense.

Those two American traits are on a collision course that, when they collide, will present us with a moral and ethical dilemma that Obamacare is ignoring, and that few of us are thinking about at all.

I’m talking about the stark, and uncomfortable choices we will have to face when our ability to pay for “anything goes” end of life care smashes into our out of control Medicare deficits.

To put it another way, do we bankrupt ourselves, not to save lives but to extend them? Should a 66 year old man suffering from heart disease that will kill him in a year be eligible for a kidney transplant that, if he doesn’t receive the organ, kill him in a matter of weeks?

I addressed some of these issues generally here. The raw data is fairly straightforward. Currently, we are spending $50 billion a year on “end of life” care. A big chunk of that is in hospital stays for dying people who would almost certainly be just as comfortable in a hospice or even at home.

Beyond the question of where a dying American should be treated, there are the painful choices regarding how the patient will exit this world. The problem grows out of the miracles that are routine in American medicine; a drug or a treatment is invented that deals with an underlying symptom of a disease that is killing a patient but has no chance of curing him. The question of whether to grant the dying patient something that will extend life by addressing a health issue that, if not treated, might kill him sooner, while failing to cure his underlying illness is one of those issues that will have to be discussed if we are to both maintain our compassion while trying to solve the fiscal mess that is Medicare.

Obamacare ignores the whole thing - including serious cost containment issues for Medicare of any kind. And it is difficult to see how any serious attempt at “reforming” our medical care system can claim that mantle while allowing these issues to fester.

There are two easy ways out; death panels and giving patients whatever they want. The organization of the proposed Medicare cost effectiveness panel will mandate certain treatments for diseases but will not touch these end of life issues with a ten foot pole. But one could imagine such a scenario occurring in the future if costs continue to spiral upwards.

Obamacare had something of a “fix” for this situation. It gave Medicare the authority to pay for one doctor visit every 5 years where the patients would be informed of their rights regarding what proponents call a “durable power of attorney.” Such a document would specify what kinds of treatments would be acceptable at the end of life, made while the patient was of strong mind and body.

The idea that this would be some kind of effort by the government to force people to euthanize themselves when they get sick is outrageously ignorant. All it does is offer some guidance for your physician those last two month of life. So few of us have these instructions for our physician that right now, the doctor is forced to practice preventive medicine, fearing lawsuits if he doesn’t use the entire panoply of treatments in order to keep a patient going despite the terminal nature of his disease.

Some may wish those extraordinary measures taken. Others wouldn’t. And if we don’t start thinking about it more, we are going to wake up one day where the government is simply going to make those decisions for us.

On my radio show on Tuesday night, we had a hard time coming to grips with the issues involved. I asked Rich Baehr, a health care consultant for 30 years, if one of the problems is that there is the widespread view that health care is a zero sum game, that using resources for those at the end of life takes away from those who need them nearer the beginning. In other words, is there a finite amount of resources available for health care? Even if that is not true, it’s the way that supporters of Obamacare are acting. And if they believe it, then the scenario of government making end of life decisions for us becomes dangerously real down the road.

It needn’t be this way. Part of the solution is almost certainly education - informing Medicare patients of their options regarding end of life treatment and having them plan for that eventuality. Beyond that, it’s a little more complicated; it turns out, that many end of life caregivers believe that nothing short of a revolution in how we view death itself must come about in order for us to avoid both fiscal calamity and decisions at that critical, intimate, and fearful point in life being taken away from us:

Marcia Klish might have lingered for quite some time in the intensive care unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. But Dr. Byock and his team had a number of meetings with her closest friend, Barbara Menchin. She said Klish would not want to be kept alive on machines if there was no meaningful hope of recovery.

It was decided the doctors would not try to resuscitate her if her condition worsened, which it soon did.

“Her heart has just flipped into a rhythm that doesn’t allow it to beat effectively,” Byock told Menchin.

Klish died a few moments later.

“This is a hard time in human life. But it’s just a part of life,” Byock said.

“Collectively, as a culture, we really have to acknowledge that we’re mortal,” he said. “Get over it. And start looking at what a healthy, morally robust way for people to die looks like.”

Dr. Byok is not a ghoul or heartless monster. He is a compassionate man who is put every day into situations where he knows that, if properly explained, he could ease the passage of his patients considerably. But this is a system that is set up so that the patient has no clue what their true options are and those who might want to spend their final days at home or in hospice are instead, treated to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars of care that has nothing to do with curing what ails them.

By law, Medicare cannot reject any treatment based upon cost. It will pay $55,000 for patients with advanced breast cancer to receive the chemotherapy drug Avastin, even though it extends life only an average of a month and a half; it will pay $40,000 for a 93-year-old man with terminal cancer to get a surgically implanted defibrillator if he happens to have heart problems too.

“I think you cannot make these decisions on a case-by-case basis,” Byock said. “It would be much easier for us to say ‘We simply do not put defibrillators into people in this condition.’ Meaning your age, your functional status, the ability to make full benefit of the defibrillator. Now that’s going to outrage a lot of people.”

“But you think that should happen?” Kroft asked.

“I think at some point it has to happen,” Byock said.

“Well, this is a version then of pulling Grandma off the machine?” Kroft asked.

“You know, I have to say, I think that’s offensive. I spend my life in the service of affirming life. I really do. To say we’re gonna pull Grandma off the machine by not offering her liver transplant or her fourth cardiac bypass surgery or something is really just scurrilous. And it’s certainly scurrilous when we have 46 million Americans who are uninsured,” Byock said.

This is a question I asked in my previous post on this subject:

When a society is faced with a crisis that may lead to its dissolution, is it a higher moral choice to abandon individual ethics and morality to save it? Are we really facing this kind of moral conundrum or am I setting up a “false choice” where another solution is available but I am refusing to acknowledge it?

If we can’t face this issue ourselves; if we can’t come to grips with this delicate and personal issue, then someone is going to do it for us. There’s no continuing the way we are going now.

It’s a pity that in a “comprehensive” reform bill, no mention is made of these vital and complex issues.

By: Rick Moran at 11:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

3/15/2010
PUSH IS COMING TO SHOVE FOR DEMOCRATS

They all sound so confident, don’t they? Gibbs says that this time next week, health care reform will be passed. Pelosi says she has the votes now (I call bullsh*t on that - as does Pelosi’s own whip Rep. Clyburn). Axelrod, who must have been drunk yesterday morning, dared the GOP to run in the fall on repealing the bill. Um, yeah. And since the only people who are going to vote next midterm are people who are mad at the Democrats because of the economy and mad at them because of health care reform, Ax better find a nice deserted island to try and hide from the tsunami that is going to hit his party in the fall. If he thinks Americans are going to turn out in droves in November and thank Obama for this monstrosity, he is kidding himself.

But that’s the future and the immediate problem for the Democrats is to find a way to 216. The estimable Nate Silver explains:

It seems to me that there are sort of two equilbiria: either essentially all of the non-Stupak yes votes hold, in which case health care passes very narrowly (perhaps with exactly 216 votes) — or the floodgates open, there are a few key defections about half-way into the roll call, and anybody with a grievance deserts the bill, in which case all of the sudden it might struggle to get 200 votes. (Of course, Pelosi doesn’t have to hold a vote, and would probably want to avoid such an embarrassing outcome — but it’s not out of the question that she could push the measure to the floor not knowing the result, and that things could totally unravel during the roll call.)

Right now, I’d place slightly more weight on the former case: that Pelosi holds together somewhere between 216 and 218 votes. For essentially the first time during the health care battle, all of the key Democratic constituencies are lined up behind the bill: the Congressional leadership, the White House, the unions, the non-Naderite activists. And when one cuts through all the clutter, the vote-counting news has basically been pretty good for the Demorats: (i) the Stupak bloc is toward the smaller end of its prospective range; (ii) some non-retiring no votes, such as Jason Altmire and Scott Murphy, have been openly flirting with a yes; (iii) none of the non-Stupak yes votes have yet flipped.

A lot of members are playing this close to the vest, but I think Nate is correct. After all the leveraging, and maneuvering, and hand wringing by Blue Dogs, Pelosi is probably 5 or 6 votes short at this point. And the full court press for passage that will be initiated this week by Obama-Pelosi is going to be awesome to watch.

This whip count is based on publicly declared positions of members, which is useful to see how some Democrats are playing the game, but not particularly accurate as to what is happening on the Hill. Rich Baehr, my colleague at American Thinker and one of the sharpest political minds you’ll find, has been saying for months that Pelosi probably has 6-10 - maybe a handful more - of Democrats who voted “no” the first time around but who got “permission” to do so from the Speaker because she had the vote wrapped up. In essence, she granted them a stay of execution if - a big if - she could count on them for the final vote.

She is probably going to have to pull several of those Democrats out of her magic hat for passage. That’s because there may be at least six and as many as 10 Democrats who voted “yes” the first time around but have indicated they are going to vote “no” this time. A couple of those who have said they are leaning against voting despite supporting the bill in December are no doubt looking for a little leverage. Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez, for example, has made noises about voting “no” because the issues of illegals being able to purchase insurance is not addressed. But he will almost certainly be a yes vote when push comes to shove.

Dennis Kucinich is another vote that might switch from yes to no but again, I doubt if he will want to be remembered as the liberal who killed national health care. Expect a Road to Damascus conversion from Mr. Potato Head.

That leaves the “Stupak Six That Used to Be 12 But Nobody Believed That Anyway.” I’m afraid that the lobbying efforts to get those holdouts on board will not be pleasant. The combined ability of the Speaker of the House and the President of the United States to make life difficult for a Congressman is awesome. By mid-week, it is going to get awfully lonely for Bart’s boys unless they play ball.

With 25 confirmed “no” Democratic votes, that puts the Republicans at 203 - so close and yet so far. In essence, they need to get 13 of the remaining 37 fence sitters. This sounds doable until you realize that there’s not a thing the GOP can offer these Democrats while Obama-Pelosi can promise the moon or threaten them with hell. There will be some resisters but it is very difficult to see where the Republicans are going to get the votes. It will take uncommon courage to look the president or the Speaker in the eye and turn them down when they are appealing to party, to history, to the viability of Obama’s presidency.

No doubt Rahmbo will be on the phone reminding the holdouts of the president’s ability to not only make them, but break them too. For example, the discretionary authority a president has to release funds earmarked for specific congressional districts will mean the difference between getting funds for that road building project, or old folks recreational center approved before or after the election. That’s real power that a member can’t ignore.

The blandishment of a presidential visit can be effective also. Meanwhile, Pelosi can promise a better committee assignment next January, or banish the member to the post office committee. Co-sponsors for a member’s bill can suddenly dry up. And PAC money from other members may not be forthcoming.

The point is simple; vote against reform and there will be unpleasant consequences. How many of those 37 waverers have the courage to resist the onslaught? In the end, it will be easier to go along and worry about getting re-elected later. Besides, they can always believe the codswallop that by the fall, the American people will absolutely love Obamacare and thank their representative for being such a swell fellow and voting for it.

Can it be stopped? The courage to resist may indeed be found given the stakes. And one should not give up trying to influence the vote (I’ve written three emails to my own Congresswoman, Debbie Halverson, who is a possible no). And perhaps Nate’s scenario of a floor revolt may come to pass, although I don’t think Pelosi will have any kind of a meaningful vote until she’s reasonably sure she has 216.

Situation grave, but not hopeless.

By: Rick Moran at 10:31 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

3/13/2010
WHAT’S THE BEEF? THE SLAUGHTER RULE IS JUST A LITTLE UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Here we go again, conservatives blowing something way, way out of proportion that when smart people think about it, doesn’t deserve all this hand wringing and angst-ridden diatribes on the right. When are conservatives ever going to learn that all this talk about the Constitution is just a distraction? What everyone should be looking at is making sure that everyone has their own set of dentures by passing Obamacare.

I’m talking, of course, about the “Slaughter Rule” where Democrats in the House - in what is really a brilliantly conceived and incredibly ballsy move even though Pelosi is gonadless - won’t even vote on the original health care reform bill passed by the senate and instead, simply “deem” the bill as passed. This will allow the president to sign into law a health care reform bill that will then be amended using reconciliation.

Stick in the mud conservatives are screaming foul. They point to this obscure part of the Constitution to make their case:

U.S Constitution, Article I, Section VII, Clause II.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively…

How quaint. Basing your objections on a 231 year old document is just a little bizarre, don’t you think? How seriously can we take this thing if it doesn’t even mention health care, or global warming, or even amnesty for illegal immigrants?

Oh sure, it’s ok as a sort of guide for government. And there are some really, really neat parts in there, like the First Amendment that says you can’t have any religion anywhere, at any time. And the Fifth Amendment that protects terrorists from incriminating themselves. Those are fine.

But remember, the Constitution is a racist document. It counted slaves as only 3/5 of a person. If that were true, then conservatives would count as about 1/3 of a person. Obviously, if conservatives are going to argue anything based on this document, they are closet Kluxers.

Besides, what’s the big deal about not voting for health care reform? Sure, a lot of people are opposed to it now, but just you wait until all the good stuff that’s in there kicks in. Yeah, it will take a few years but eventually, all you rich people out there - the ones with jobs anyway - will be subsidizing those who, through no fault of their own, didn’t buy insurance when they had the chance. This time, no excuse for you. You will buy insurance or the IRS is going to make sure you pay big time.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why conservatives insist on getting a vote for the original senate bill? This voting thing can be very hard when you’re trying to make history and not enough congressman want to do what our great, great, grandchildren will see as the completion of the welfare state:

A larger question any member of congress reading the op-ed ought to ask himself is “so what?” If reform passes and is signed into law, then immediately Barack Obama’s position in history is secured. When people look back from 2060 on the creation of the American welfare state, they’ll say that FDR, LBJ, and BHO were its main architects, with Roosevelt enshrining the principle of universal social insurance into law and Obama completing the initial promise of the New Deal. Members of congress who helped him do that will have a place in history. Nobody’s going to be very interested in a story like “Mike Ross served a bunch of years in Congress and people were impressed with his ability to win a relatively conservative district; he didn’t achieve very much and one day he wasn’t in Congress anymore.”

Which is just to say that nobody lasts in office forever, no congressional majority lasts forever, and no party controls the White House forever. But the measure of a political coalition isn’t how long it lasted, but what it achieved.

This is very smart stuff from Mr. Ygelsias. “Go for it boys - I’m right behind you! Nothing will happen to me if I cheer you on mindlessly while your political career ends up in the toilet. After all, it’s not ME who will get pummeled in the next election.”

Brave Sir Matt with some sound advice for politicians whose “achievement” may end up sending us into sovereign default, but at least we’ll have stuck it to the rich (and the near rich…and the wannabe rich…and those not rich at all but dream of being rich), while creating a health care paradise where waiting for routine procedures won’t be much longer than a year or so, and old folks will be put in their place and denied treatment better given to a more productive member of society, and thus ushering them off to hospice lickety split where they’ll have a cot and three hots until they croak.

Surely conservatives can see the beauty, the efficiency, the fairness of a system like this. Why muck up the works by throwing up a Constitutional smokescreen when this historical bill will make schoolkids in America forever after repeat the name of Barack Obama in the same hushed, reverent tones they use when uttering the name “Eugene Debs?”

It’s a distraction, I say! A distraction! Concentrate on what’s important - the passage of health care reform that may not do much of anything that Democrats are claiming it will do, but by God, it will be historical.

And that’s what’s important. The libs haven’t had much of a chance to make history lately. They miss the delicious feeling they get when they are immortalized through government action. Of course, they’d never dream of actually, you know, creating something that would immortalize them. That’s so bourgeoisie. Better to be immortalized by ramming government run health care down the throats of the American people so that future generations will, in their minds eye, look back in awe - AWE I tell you — at the lengths to which they went to bring them this…this…achievement!

If we’re lucky, those future school kids won’t even have to worry about a racist, sexist, homophobic, document like the Constitution. It will be long gone and we’ll be well rid of it.

By: Rick Moran at 10:19 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

3/11/2010
THE ‘ANYTHING GOES’ HOUSE

Just when you think you’ve seen just about everything in politics, one party or the other bites you in the ass to let you know that authoritarian tactics fit easily and comfortably over the democratic template laid down by the Founders.

It really is seamless at times. Witness the Tom DeLay move to keep the vote on the Medicare drug benefit open for hours (the rules say 15 minutes) while he and Hastert twisted arms, legs, and probably some more private parts of the bodies of GOP members in order to get the votes necessary for passage.

True, a minor glitch in the democratic process - just a little authoritarianism where rules are broken willy nilly for the sake of the momentary goal. There are other examples from the time the GOP ruled the roost in the House and DeLay was a power unto himself. A junior Mussolini that one, complete with the strutting kind of arrogance so beloved of Il Duce.

But nothing in my more than 30 years of observing politics could prepare me for what the Democrats may end up doing in order to pass health care reform:

The twisted scheme by which Democratic leaders plan to bend the rules to ram President Obama’s massive health care legislation through Congress now has a name: the Slaughter Solution.

The Slaughter Solution is a plan by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Democratic chair of the powerful House Rules Committee and a key ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to get the health care legislation through the House without an actual vote on the Senate-passed health care bill. You see, Democratic leaders currently lack the votes needed to pass the Senate health care bill through the House. Under Slaughter’s scheme, Democratic leaders will overcome this problem by simply “deeming” the Senate bill passed in the House - without an actual vote by members of the House.

So is this just a partisan take on the matter? They can’t really be serious about passing health care reform by waving a magic gavel, could they?

There is a serious lack of reaction to this story on the left. Perhaps their email list hasn’t been able to reach a consensus on how to respond yet. Maybe they’re as taken aback by the breathtaking, undemocratic nature of the ploy as most of the rest of the planet. John Dickerson of Slate - no flaming liberal but hardly a man of the right - matter of factly lays out the scheme, appearing to applaud its utilitarian nature:

One method for accommodating the situation (first reported in CongressDaily) would allow the House to vote on the Bill B and, after doing so, simply consider the Senate health care bill (Bill A) as passed. There would be no actual up-or-down vote on the underlying bill. This would be the legislative equivalent of the economist’s old trick of assuming a can opener.

Actually, it’s an economist’s old joke, John, not a trick - which I suppose is quite revealing of how seriously you take the idea of the Democrats passing a bill that will affect 300 million Americans and fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the government, and not allow members to express their preference in an up or down vote.

But, of course, that’s the point of this little whiff of Politburo politics; it’s to allow Democratic members to lie through their teeth to their constituents:

This approach would serve two purposes. First, Democrats who think the Senate bill doesn’t sufficiently limit abortion rights would never have to be on record as having voted for it. (Because the Senate abortion language can’t be fixed in Bill B for procedural reasons, some Democratic aides say there is talk about a later bill that would handle these issues.) Second, if the Senate didn’t fulfill its end of the bargain by voting on Bill B—remember, it’s already passed Bill A—then House Democrats would be able to say: I never voted for that crummy Bill A. In fact, I only voted for that nifty Bill B to fix it.

I mentioned this is Politburo politics, which is actually an insult to the commies. At least they have a rigged vote. We don’t even get that on Obamacare.

I think it fairly obvious that Nancy Pelosi does not have the votes, and likely will never get the votes, to pass the senate bill as is. Firedoglake has the latest whip count (based on publicly stated positions) at 191-195 meaning Pelosi needs a near miracle. She needs 24 votes of the remaining 40 “persuadables” to win. And they wouldn’t be talking about “deeming” a bill as passed if she thought there was any hope of achieving 216.

The real sticking point, ironically, is that House Democrats don’t trust their colleagues in the senate to follow through and take them off the hook by ramming House Obamacare amendments through via reconciliation. In fact, the GOP is talking about a weird ploy of their own; they may vote with pro-choice Democrats in the senate to kill any change in the abortion language wanted by Stupak and his gang of 12. If they’re serious, that alone might trigger a revolt among House members who don’t think the senate is serious about reconciliation.

I’m actually excited to see the Democrats try this. What are all those good government liberals going to say? How is the White House going to spin this as a victory for the people when the people’s representatives haven’t even been consulted on the final product?

What are the voters going to think? I don’t think much at all. This is far too arcane a topic to interest anyone but process junkies. By November, the Democrats will have dressed this pig up in a nice prom dress, smeared some lipstick on the porker, and presented it to the American people as a triumph. Many will shrug their shoulders, accept what government is giving them, and move on with their lives.

Voters are going to be a lot more upset with Democrats about jobs and the economy than they will ever get upset with them about how they managed to move this monstrosity through Congress and get it signed into law. But those who might take a dimmer view of this tactic will lament the loss of the fundamental fairness to the minority it represents. We now officially have a tyranny of the majority.

I hope the Democrats don’t complain too much when Republicans pull crap like this on them when they’re back in power.

By: Rick Moran at 10:03 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

3/10/2010
8 EXAGGERATIONS AND MYTHS PUSHED BY CONSERVATIVES ABOUT OBAMA

It is difficult to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the exercise of power. For 8 years, it caused hysterical derangement on a very large slice of the left who tried to promote the idea that George Bush was a fascist, or a theocrat intent on establishing an authoritarian “regime” - the word most often used even by “respectable” liberals. America does not have “regimes” - not now, not then, not ever. But you can’t tell that to liberals who, for 8 long, tiresome years, bored us to death with their paranoid fantasies about George Bush. The draft, the Haliburton nonsense, the “lies” about WMD, the “lapdog press,” the “stolen” elections - all this and more, told and retold on the web, and even sometimes in respectable publications (not to mention the halls of Congress); paranoid delusions that only grew wilder and more sensationally idiotic as time went on.

Nor can you convince many conservatives today that entire segments of their overall critique of President Obama are hysterically exaggerated fantasies, nonsensical assumptions and “truths” that bear no resemblance to the facts. The left today has their own delusions; about conservatives, Republicans, and the motives of both. But it is conservatives who, by pushing these ridiculous fallacies about the president, are swallowing the barrel and pulling the trigger on their chances to rally the country behind them and take back the government.

I have been virtually told that I don’t hate Barack Obama enough; that if I don’t parrot these birdbrained “facts” about the president, I am actually a supporter of his or, at best, a simpleminded dupe who just can’t see what kind of evil man he is.

Worse, by highlighting these imbecilic talking points, or going after cotton candy conservatives and others on the right who are shooting conservatism in the foot with their derangement, I am a traitor. Better to lie and march to the beat of the same drum in order to defeat the forces of darkness who besmirch our republic with their loathsome plans.

Sorry. I don’t do lockstep. Nor am I enamored with illogical, unreasonable, and patently false arguments about Obama that serve only to prove that there are many on the right who have lost themselves in overhyped agitation - a delirium tremens that no amount of Chivas can help.

What really flips my gibbet is that this guy Obama is such an easy target for rational, penetrating criticism. He’s a clown sitting above a dunk tank just waiting for an accurate missile to send him to a well deserved soaking. Instead, so many on the right are missing so wildly they end up smacking themselves in the nose with their own throws.

There is an objective reality in which most Americans live. It’s a place where people are human, not cartoon cut-outs of evil. It’s a place where there is a connection between actions and rhetoric. And it is a place where facts are facts, not exaggerated, paranoid flakes of fancy seen through a broken mirror of ideology and fear.

Here then are 8 popular myths and exaggerations about Barack Obama that are routinely pushed by the right. Having been a comment moderator for three conservative sites, I know them by heart and can attest that at the very least, a large number of conservatives believe this nonsense.

1. Obama is sympathetic to Moooooslims and favors them at the expense of America

This has variations from Obama is a closet Muslim, to Obama wants to establish Sharia law, to Obama is actually a terrorist. One or all of these jumbo baloney sandwiches passes for wisdom among many on the right, including a prominent blogger who is worried that the 2 million Muslims in America are sneaking up on the rest of the 299 million of us and wish to make us all into dhimmis.

2. Obama is a socialist/Marxist.

I put this one to rest right before the election here.

Obama is a liberal. He’s a far left, garden variety, 100%, fully inspected La-La Land lefty. Are his policies “socialist?” Sure. I guess. Some of his policies ape programs initiated by socialist governments. National health insurance for one.

But the same could be said for Social Security, Medicare, and a host of Great Society programs still with us today. The social democracies of Europe that so enamor the left are not “socialist” countries - not by a long shot. The means of production are still in the hands of private citizens, even though those governments - and soon, our own - make it difficult for private enterprise to succeed. It makes no sense to call what Obama is doing “socialist” if you wish to adhere to the strictest definition of the word. And if you’re not going to stick with how a word is defined and make up your own definition, why bother with the English language at all?

It is quite simply an exaggeration to say that the president is a socialist.

3. Obama hates America.

Glad that so many of my friends on the right have been given the gift of insight into someone’s heart.

In truth, the president loves America as most liberals love it; in an abstract, intellectualized manner. It would perhaps be more accurate to say the president loves what America could be, rather than what she is now. I happen to believe you can love both Americas but many on the right are steadfast in their belief that America can do no wrong, while probably the same number on the left believe she can do no right. It is a different kind of love, but a love nonetheless, and to posit that the president of the United States hates his own country is, on its face, absurd.

4. Obama wasn’t born here/not a natural born citizen/is hiding the origins of his birth/is the spawn of the devil/is the antichrist.

Debunked too many times, in too many places to waste any time here except to say that about 30% of conservatives have “questions” about Obama’s origins.

A winning issue for 2010.

5. Obama is deliberately trying to destroy America.

This is a favorite of Rush Limbaugh. The “reasoning” goes, Obama wants to destroy America so that everybody becomes dependent on the federal government for their very lives. This will create a permanent Democratic majority because everyone knows that people who are dependent on government vote for Democrats.

I can’t argue against the notion that the president’s policies have the potential to harm America greatly. I have argued such in the past. If that happened, I am sure the president would be as disappointed as the rest of us. No doubt, he would blame it on Bush.

But there is no politician who would ever deliberately destroy the country that just elected him. Where’s the advantage? I daresay that voters would give a good goddamn about dependency and throw the majority party who ruined their lives out into the street.

This is so absurd on its face and yet so prevalent a notion on the right, is it any wonder I question the sanity of conservatives sometimes?

And then there’s a related myth…

6. Obama is deliberately preventing a recovery.

This is a variation on #5 but the “reasoning” is a little different. Obama needs a “crisis” to pass his agenda.

He’s had a crisis, his agenda lies in tatters, and he is proven so incompetent he can’t even take advantage of the worst economic crisis in 80 years to push through a Congress his party owns lock, stock, and barrel anything except an $800 billion stim bill he didn’t write and had little to do with passing.

7. Obama wants to kill your grandma.

We have Sarah Palin to thank for this one. It is the one myth in the health care debate that refuses all applications of reason and logic, and is persistently advanced despite all evidence to the contrary.

The slippery slope argument is even bogus. It is impossible to connect the dots from A to Z, as I explained here. But Saracudda says it’s true so it must be.

8. Obama goes around the world “apologizing” for America’s sins

If you’re not grown up, or well read enough, or have been asleep for the last 50 years, you know that there are several things that America should be apologizing for. But here, we have a gross exaggeration of what the president was doing by highlighting our shortcomings (I don’t believe the words “apology” or “We’re sorry” ever crossed his lips.)

The president acknowledged errors - at least, errors from his perspective - that America committed not only during the Bush administration, but prior to that as well. He also acknowledged them because his audience perceived our actions to be in error - whether we think them right or wrong.

But almost in the same breath, Obama castigated his audiences from London to Cairo for their reflexive, knee jerk anti-Americanism. Tony Blair and John Howard actually said it much better than he did. But our professorial president used a common rhetorician’s gimmick of forcing the audience to listen to him by agreeing with their perceptions about America and then hammering them for their own shortcomings.

It was an effective technique and certainly won him a lot of friends overseas among the common folk. But it is inaccurate to say that he “apologized” for our past. In fact, he frequently went out of his way to say that he had no apologies for our ideals or principles. It appears to me that many on the right heard what they wanted to hear and closed their mind to the rest. Hence, this myth - as widespread as it is - doesn’t stand up to the facts.

The unhinged nature of some of the criticism directed at the president reflects badly on the entire right. When you consider that Obama is a duck in a shooting gallery that a pie eyed prostitute could hit with her eyes closed, it is a mystery why so many seek to misrepresent and exaggerate what this president has done and what he stands for.

Keep your eye on the target and allow logic and reason to guide your criticisms. Leave behind the paranoia, the fear mongering, and the hysteria. That’s the losers argument. Let objective reality animate your commentary and people will actually start to listen rather than turn you off quicker than a Tim Robbins movie.

By: Rick Moran at 11:50 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

3/9/2010
ARE DEMOCRATS FOOLING THEMSELVES ON HEALTH CARE REFORM?

Greg Sargent touting President Obama’s speech in Philly as he tries to “close the sale” on health care reform:

One striking thing about the speech Obama just gave at the big health care rally in Pennsylvania is how many times he stressed that if reform passes, voters will begin enjoying the benefits this year.

Though he didn’t say it directly, it’s an obvious effort to put some spine in wavering Congressional Dems by urging them to understand that they’ll have something to run on this year if they vote for reform. Here’s the key part:

Within the first year of signing health care reform, thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions would suddenly be able to purchase health insurance for the very first time in their lives.

This year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions.

This year, they will be banned from dropping your coverage when you get sick. And they will no longer able to arbitrarily and massively hike your premiums. Those practices will end.

If this reform becomes law, all the new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to customers starting this year. Free checkups so we can catch preventable diseases.

Starting this year, there will be no more lifetime restricive annual limits on the amount of care you can receive from your insurance companies…

It would change fast: Insurance companies would finally be held accountable to the American people

Before examining the reality, let’s look at the rhetoric. Is it true that those with pre-existing conditions will be able to purchase health insurance “for the very first time in their lives?” Only if the condition existed for their entire lives or came upon them in adolescence before they had the ability to buy insurance. In fact, most pre-existing conditions occur after someone enters adulthood which means the idea that they never had the opportunity to purchase insurance is a crock.

And how about that “free” preventive care? And you wonder why we’re running a $1.4 trillion deficit? Of course, there is nothing “free” about nationalizing insurance or ordering insurance companies to offer a specific coverage. The bottom line is that those who don’t use the health care system will be paying for those who do. I predict this crazy idea hitting the auto insurance industry soon, where those with multiple drunk driving convictions demand the same rate of insurance and coverage as a teetotaler.

It would be more accurate to say that the preventive care coverage is mandated as part of the insurance plan that companies must offer. It is hardly “free” since we’re all paying for it. In short, the customer is paying for preventive care whether he wants to or not. We get a lot of this already from state insurance boards who demand insurance companies cover many procedures the overwhelming majority of policy holders will never use.

But what is the reality of all those goodies we are going to get the first year of Obamacare? An interesting development occurs when sick people pay exactly the same amount for insurance as healthy people; “insurance” is no longer insurance and becomes a government entitlement whose management and cost is farmed out to private industry.

For some reason, insurance companies have an aversion to going bankrupt. Don’t ask me why. They must be old fashioned or something to believe that they aren’t in business to get Democrats re-elected but rather to make a little money for their shareholders. Since that won’t be possible even in the first year under Obamacare, look for insurance companies to be screaming for rate increases in everybody’s premiums which will cause enough heart attacks in customers that Obama will be forced to activate the Death Panels 3 years early just to handle drain on health care resources.

This entire debate has taken a topsy-turvy turn. I’ve got history on my side when I say what Matt Welch says here:

The Senate promised more than $300 billion in such cuts. Furthermore, the CBO scores bills in 10-year windows. So the Senate delayed more than 99 percent of the reform package’s spending until 2014, thus allowing the decade of 2010–2019 to clock in under the magic $1 trillion number. Add to all that chicanery the fact that every major health care entitlement expansion in U.S. history has vastly exceeded initial cost projections, and you have ample reasons for why Americans believed, by a margin of more than 3 to 1, that health care reform would exacerbate rather than improve the deficit.

It should be up to the proponents of health care reform to prove that their schemes will not meet the fate of past entitlements - every single one of them - that exceeded spending projections by laughable margins.

And when I say laughable, I mean real loony toons, cross-eyed Mary, monkey wanking, impossibly incorrect margins:

Congress has a long history of dramatically underestimating Medicare costs. “At its start, in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion,” wrote Steven Hayward and Erik Peterson in a 1993 Reason article. “The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost only about $12 billion by 1990 (a figure that included an allowance for inflation). This was supposedly a ‘conservative’ estimate. But in 1990 Medicare actually cost $107 billion.”

Why, I say to reform advocates with as much sincerity and passion as I can muster, should things be different this time? What evidence do you have that history won’t repeat itself and we will be embarking on an insane fiscal course that will lead to the actual ruin of the United States? The burden of proof, as I said is on you. History has taken the measure of other entitlements and shown projections of costs to be ludicrous and silly.

With Democrats poised to prevent their labor allies from paying a tax for their gold plated health care plans, their extraordinary nebulous disingenuousness on “waste and fraud” savings to be found in Medicare, and the non-existent “doc fix” that is supposed to save $500 billion over 10 years - how in God’s name can you stand in front of the American people and make a case that this reform bill won’t add to an already out of sight deficit?

You can’t, which means you are either deluding yourselves or Obama and the Democrats are lying outright.

Welch thinks its the latter:

Obama’s dishonesty, by contrast, seems to spring from a different place. As a man who has spent most of his career wowing people with his words and very little of it converting those words into deeds, he has an activist’s gap between rhetoric and reality and a radio broadcaster’s promiscuous carelessness with cutting rhetorical corners. Sure, it’s not technically true that the administration’s day-one lobbying reforms served “to get rid of the influence of…special interests,” as he claimed in a January radio address (to the contrary: federal lobbying in 2009 set an all-time record), but it’s easy to imagine that the president feels his combination of tighter employment restrictions for ex-lobbyists and stricter disclosure requirements for current ones is, in the context of the Manichean fight between “the people” and “special interests,” good enough for government work. The perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good, and the critics who complain are just opportunistic literalists grasping for any club to beat back the march of progress. No need to give them an inch.

But there’s a less charitable explanation too. During the president’s nonstop gabfests before, during, and after the State of the Union speech, he kept repeating the fiction that the medical industry’s “special interests” were significantly to blame for scotching his health care legislation. In fact, the administration and Congress negotiated with those interests every step of the way, receiving crucial buy-in and millions in campaign contributions. Pro-reform lobbyists outspent anti-reform lobbyists on advertising by a factor of 5 to 1. There’s a three-letter word for blaming the defeat of his bill on health care lobbyists, and it rhymes with pie.

In his speech yesterday, Obama picked a familiar target; insurance companies who he thinks the government should hold accountable to their customers:

President Obama struck a populist tone, setting up the health insurance industry as his main target.

“We can’t have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people,” he said.

Citing big rate increases for buyers of individual insurance policies in some states — 40 percent, 60 percent, even 100 percent — Mr. Obama sought to focus attention on provisions in the legislation that he said would protect consumers from the worst excesses of insurers, give people more choice among insurance policies, insure most people who do not have coverage, and put downward pressure on health care costs.

Boiling down his proposal to a few sentences, Mr. Obama asked, “How many people would like a proposal that holds insurance companies more accountable? How many people would like to give Americans the same insurance choices that members of Congress get? And how many would like a proposal that brings down costs for everyone?

Obama missed his calling. He should have been an insurance company Customer Service Rep.

Holding insurance companies more accountable might make people feel better when Obama sticks it to them but how does it improve the situation if it drives them out of the business of insuring all but the wealthy in 5 years? Also, the idea that Joe Blow will get the same health care coverage as a Member of Congress is snicker-worthy. If that were true, Members of Congress would be opting in, not passing laws to exclude themselves from the plan. And only a real Pollyanna - or the village idiot - believes that this reform package will “bring costs down for everyone.”

I would like to give Democrats the benefit of the doubt and say that they are actually kidding themselves about what reform will actually do when the rubber meets the road and the plan is being enacted. But I can’t. They know there are horrendous, unsolvable problems, with this bill. They know their cost cutting provisions are bullsh*t. They know it will substantially increase the deficit. They know it will mean less health care for most of us. They know it will mean less innovation in the pharma, bio tech, and other industries. They know it won’t put any downward pressure on the costs of health care. And they know that this massive thrust to control an unbelievable 1/6 of the economy - never before seen in peacetime - is beyond a riverboat gamble that it will work and enters the realm of a wing and a prayer.

They can’t actually believe what they are saying about it, can they? Of course not.

By: Rick Moran at 11:25 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)