Fireworks on MSNBC: Wyden vs. Industry Lobbyist

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

This morning, before he voted for the public option, Senator Ron Wyden appeared on MSNBC's Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan to talk about his "Free Choice" amendment - a measure that would allow every American to choose to opt out of their employer health plan and into the health exchange (where the public option would be, if there is one).

Senator Wyden went head-to-head with a lobbyist from the American Benefits Council - a group that represents big employers (like Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Shell Oil, etc.) and health insurance and pharmaceutical companies (like Blue Cross, KP, Merck, Pfizer, etc.) The lobbyist, James Klein, argued against allowing Americans to take their employer's health care contribution into the health exchange.

Watch the video, as Wyden and Ratigan take apart the silly arguments promulgated by the industry lobbyist. (And be sure to watch all the way through - the last two minutes are rocketing around the blogosphere.)

Here's a brief quote from Arianna Huffington, who came into the conversation midway:

There's no way we can contain costs without bringing an element of choice and competition into the system. So, I'm very grateful to Senator Wyden for taking the leadership on this, because otherwise there's no point having so-called "reform" that will actually reform nothing. And, in fact, then Republicans will say, 'You see, another government reform effort that didn't work.'

She's exactly right. While we continue to fight for a public option, it's critical that it's a good public option - "full and robust" to use the parlance du jour. And that means making it available to everyone, not just as a fallback option for the poor, sick, unemployed, and uninsurable. As I wrote back in July:

I think it's critical that the public option doesn't get a brand image as ghettoized health care for poor people -- which is a serious risk if the only people who can choose it are those who are presently unemployed or who have employers who don't provide health care.

If that happens, Republicans will be able to brand the public option as just another welfare program - and we'll fight over it for decades to come. If, instead, it's perceived as an option for middle-income and high-income Americans, then it'll be seen as American-as-apple-pie and as politically unassailable as Social Security.

A public option that's built to last is a public option that's available to everyone.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Full disclosure: My firm built Ron Wyden's campaign website, but I speak only for myself.

  • onofrey (unverified)
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    The head insurance lobbyist is on television fighting with Sen. Wyden over his healthcare proposal while any number of commenters here have accused Wyden (and his proposal) of being in the pocket of the insurance companies. I think it is pretty obvious now that he is still the good guy we elected.

  • (Show?)

    Great post, Kari! Wyden's great on this important issue. Without Wyden's Free Choice amendment the reformed health care system would be like a car without oil. It just won't run efficiently, and will burn out.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Play the video again, pay attention to the comments about non-competition in the insurance cartel, and think about it.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Without Wyden's Free Choice amendment the reformed health care system would be like a car without oil. It just won't run efficiently, and will burn out."

    And what took him so long to get around to putting oil in that clunker?

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Tom Harkin guarantees Health Care with Public Option, either with cloture, or with budget reconciliation. http://www.dailykostv.com/w/002203/

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Here's my question. Currently there are absolutely NO COMPANIES that give away their benefit dollars to employees opting out of company plans. I doubt if ERISA is even set up to handle this.

    1. Employees opting out of large company plans will lead to negative selection and adverse usage figures in the company plan.

    2. The money "given" to the employee's opting out will be treated as income according to current IRS regulations and subject to with holding.

    3. Current IRS guidelines allow employers to deduct the amount that they pay towards an employee's benefits. An employee purchasing the same benefits on their own does not have that tax deductability.

    I'm not saying that this isn't a good idea to discuss, just pointing out some very practical obstacles within the system to rapid implementation.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Kudos to Kylan Ratigan

  • scottr (unverified)
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    Kurt,

    Wyden's ammendment addresses the tax issue by providing individuals a deducution up to the amount of the cash received from the employer if they use that cash to buy insurance. If they buy cheaper insurance they pocket the difference - and pay tax only on that DIFFERENCE. So the net tax impact is zero difference than the current system.

  • Eric Zimmerman (unverified)
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    This was well worth the wait!
    I'm sitting in Iraq and it took me an hour to download the whole clip but thanks for posting it Kari.

  • Greg D. (unverified)
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    I was taught at an early age that money talks and bullshit walks.

    So, as of now, what laws have been adopted?

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    One of those rare occasions where the network host actually forces the lobbyist to come clean and exposes the flimflam. I have to appreciate that.

  • (Show?)

    Glad to see Wyden on board for a public option. I never doubted that he would eventually cave in (but of course the devil is in the details of his amendment and I'd bet it contains the main elements of his unworkable original Wyden-Bennet bill).

    What I can't understand is how Baucus gets the notion that his job is to get a bill that would get 60 votes in a final Senate vote. Sounds like a typical hypocritical dodge to me.

  • (Show?)

    Considering the CBO considers a public option to greatly increase coverage and save billions--while their reckoning of the Free Choice Amendment is apparently that it would save a single billion over ten years and not measurably increase coverage, I don't see how the former is of little use without the latter.

    It's a premature and distracting argument Wyden is making: he's not willing to fight to get free ice cream established as a principle, but he's moving right on to guaranteeing free ice cream for everyone--before anyone's even bought the cream or packed the churn with ice. A public option passed this year without Free Choice will still revolutionize health care delivery. Passing Free Choice without a public option will be a disaster for everyone but Humana, and will potentially destroy the Democratic Party. I know which one is worth the time and effort right now, and it's not the one the senior Senator is pushing.

  • Not Fooled (unverified)
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    Kari, just what is the matter with you? This is pure political theater by a Wyden who never has genuinely opposed the industry, and who absolutely continues to support a mandate we be forced to give our money to that industry in the absence of a publicly-owned option. And it's not coincidence that none other than sleazly Grassley in today's debate on the Schumer and Rockefeller amendments was using the "choice" of private plans just like Wyden really is talking about as an argument against a publicly-owned option.

    So let's be absolutely clear that Wyden was brought on MSNBC in this clip to discuss his bogus "choice" amendment, not because he is fighting for the only true choice of a publicly-owned plan. And let's also be clear Huffington only complemented him for how he articulated an obvious statement about the choice issue, not his position on the publicly-owned option and certainly not for his actual bill which coupled with his position on a mandate without a publicly-owned option amounts to the charade of choice without a true choice.

    Precisely because he is so deceitful in this way, Wyden continues to be even more disgusting and dishonorable than Baucus or Conrad who have been out front about their position in support of the industry and why. We saw a more complete, truer, picture of Wyden when his position on the public option was the issue tonight on Olbermann. In the wake of the votes in the Finance Committee he sits on that defeated the Schumer and Rockefeller amendments, the host pressed him on his position, the host successfully made him demonstrate he is not really that interested in providing us a true choice in the form of a publicly-owned option, but that he absolutely supports a mandate.

    I repeat: Back tonight on MSNBC on Olbermann's show, he was successfully exposed as still being committed to forcing us to give our money to the corrupt private insurance companies. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that. So we can see how this interview was just empty political theater.

    What makes you such a morally offensive person Kari is what you are doing here. You are really just using this forum to flack for your paid gig with his campaign. The fact you think a disclaimer makes it all right is precisely the demonstration of your moral bankruptcy: You continue to do wrong even as you issue false apologies.

    And by the way, the host in this video is flat wrong in his assertion about risk pooling and the Exchange. The Exchange is not a risk-pooling mechanism. Nor is it designed to be, it is managed competition system which is not at all about direct risk pooling. And he knows it, because he then BS'ed about how it can be made to mathematically do that. It is simply not true that the operational dimensions of the Exchange based purely on private insurance can be orchestrated such that the economics work out to accomplish risk pooling sufficient to make health care affordable. Only a publicly-owned option with a completely different role in the market can accomplish that.

  • (Show?)

    Well, I'm not sure that TJ will consider me a credible participant in this discussion, so I won't weigh in on his substance.

    However, I will note that the list of prominent liberals supporting Wyden's proposal includes: Matthew Yglesias, Jon Cohn, Anthony Wiener, Matt Taibbi, Ezra Klein, Ed Schultz, and Arianna Huffington.

    Opposing: Torrid Joe.

  • (Show?)

    What makes you such a morally offensive person Kari is what you are doing here.

    Well, if I'm so corrupt and evil, why do you bother reading? Save yourself a little time and little heartburn and go read something else. Or go play Tetris. Whatever. Bye.

  • (Show?)

    Here's the answer, and it was provided the the commenter on this clip: suspend all talks on the health care debate and put up a bill on both houses of Congress to pull the exemption for the health care industry of the Sherman Act.

    Simply put, either they come to the table or their exemption is toast.

  • Teacher110 (unverified)
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    Your second response to TJ, Kari, sounds like something one of my 6th grade students might say.

  • Not Fooled (unverified)
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    However, I will note that the list of prominent liberals supporting Wyden's proposal includes: Matthew Yglesias, Jon Cohn, Anthony Wiener, Matt Taibbi, Ezra Klein, Ed Schultz, and Arianna Huffington.

    Kari is intentionally misrepresenting what I have read and heard Taibbi, Klein, Shultz, and Huffington have said about Wyden's proposal: They support the proposal in the abstract, but also oppose Wyden's position in the concrete because he is not actually working to offer true choice in the form of a public option. They oppose the position he has repeatedly affirmed he will vote for a mandate even if there is no public option. Kari, do you have news to break here that Wyden has changed that concrete position? Or are you just providing further proof of your dishonesty?

    I read TJ as clearly opposing the reality of Wyden's position, not the principle in the abstract. It's sad that Kari is exactly like the people who showed up at the town hall meetings: He can only make a point by spinning, lying, and denying the truth.

  • (Show?)

    Here's the answer, and it was provided the the commenter on this clip: suspend all talks on the health care debate and put up a bill on both houses of Congress to pull the exemption for the health care industry of the Sherman Act.

    Where does this nonsense come from? The antitrust act exemption is part of the McCarran Ferguson Act passed in 1945 which provided (1) that state are authorized to regulate insurance companies, and (2) IF states choose to do that, the insurance companies they regulate will be exempt from the Sherman Antitrust act (except for provisions relating to boycott, coercion, and intimidation).

    As it turned out, every state chose to regulate insurance companies and therefore the antitrust act basically exempts them from most antitrust liability, primarily for sharing information that is used in establishing atuarial risks, coverage and rates.

    Simply eliminating the antitrust exemption would NOT necessarily open up states like Alabama, among others, to more competition among insurance companies, particularly as long as those state continue to regulate insurance companies as they do. Oregon, by the way, has not shortage of competition among insurance companies.

    Replacing state-by-state regulation with a national regulation of insurance companies, allowing companies to sell across state lines but also subjecting them to federal antitrust laws, would probably be an improvement, but even then you might need a public or quasi-public entity collecting data to assist in actuarial computations and sharing other important information for regulatory purposes.

    Simply repealing the antitrust exemption has political appeal (for example, Trent Lott co-sponsored Pat Leahy's senate bill to do that in 2007) but the real issue, as usual, is more complicated than that.

  • bird (unverified)
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    What a load of manure. It is really quite sad to see debates that include so many liars. Let us go with a couple of truths. 1. there is no employer based system that functions for the employee except the VA. 2. there is no health care that involves insurance. If we could get past these lies, perhaps we might start having a real debate. Wyden isn't dull enough not to know that our country can never be competitive unless we have a free public health care plan paid for by taxes. To continue to argue for something else is ludicrous. To know, and then to go against that same knowledge is fine for a debating team member. But it is totally unacceptable to human beings living with non theoretical problems.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Jack Roberts - Oregon, by the way, has not shortage of competition among insurance companies.

    Kurt Chapman - Jack, I've got to call foul on this statement. Perhaps you are referring to the I-5 corridor between Eugene and Portland. There, one has the choice of Regence, Pacific Source, Kaiser, Providence Health and several other plans that include PPO's, HMO's and standard deductible/oop plans. Throughout the rest of the state it is basically a struggle among the Titans; Regence and Pacific Source.

    Jack are you aware that there are no HMO's available outside the Eugene - Portland corridor? They vaporized around 2001. There are some smaller companies competing, but the plans that they offer, and their approved networks are severely lacking. Out in the rural areas there really are no insurance companies actually competing in service, price or affordability. Perhaps the only area that comes close is central Oregon and the services offered through St. Charles Medical Center, but then if one starys to far away, they too become non-competitive.

  • Not Fooled (unverified)
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    Wyden's Position For Dummies As defended by his paid, shameless prevaricator Kari who refuses to call out his boss Wyden to publicly, unambiguously draw the line:

    NO PUBLICLY-OWNED OPTION?? THEN NO MANDATE!!!.

    By the way Kari, why don't you actually come clean and detail for us any indirect benefit your business receives from any political campaign support the unholy trinity of the private insurance industry, the hospital-industry, and the pharma industry gives to your politician clients including Wyden. Are you paid out of campaign funds that includes the pooled contributions from those industries and people who work in them?

    With due credit to the famous yellow book series:

    Alternative I: True Amoral Choice (When Obama was a candidate posing as a Democrat)

    You HAVE the choice to: 1) Not buy insurance. 2) Buy mediocre insurance at a high price from the private insurance industry - who stands between you and your doctor so you have to fight with them over denied treatment approved and declined claims. 3) Buy into a publicly-owned plan equivalent to Medicare at a fairer, lower price - get your claims paid with minimal hassle because they don't get between you and your doctor.

    Alternative 2: Morally and Socially Harmonious Choice (Because people do want medical care and a good deal)

    You MAY choose to: 1) Not buy insurance (why would you be so irresponsible to your family, friends and neightbors?) 2) Buy insurance from the private insurance industry - with all the hassles when you are sick of dealing with a company who just wants your money. 3) Buy into a publicly-owned plan - that over time we work to make even better than Medicare.

    Alternative 3: Morally-defensible Mandated Choice (Because we all have to pay for the uninsured)

    You MUST choose one, or you MAY have to pay a fine in the form of a tax penalty: 2) Buy insurance from the private insurance industry. 3) Buy into a publicly-owned plan equivalent to Medicare.

    Alternative 4: Wyden's Immoral Mandated Choice (One-half trillion dollars of corporate welfare to the industry as Wyden's proposal actually plays out in the absence of a publicly-owned option. What Baucus, Conrad and the other anti-true-choice Democrats are really after.)

    You MUST choose one, or you WILL pay a hefty fine: 2) Buy insurance from private insurance industry company A 2) Buy insurance from private insurance industry company B 2) Buy insurance from private insurance industry company C 2) Buy insurance from private insurance industry company D ... All of whom are just want your money and know you don't have any choice except to give it to them because of Ron Wyden.

    Unfortunately now that Obama is no longer a candidate, we have learned he too is no longer pretending to really be a Democrat when it comes to health care reform. He also is on-board with the essence of Wyden's Immoral Mandate Choice proposal

  • Not Fooled (unverified)
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    Where does this nonsense come from? The antitrust act exemption is part of the McCarran Ferguson Act passed in 1945 which provided (1) that state are authorized to regulate insurance companies, and (2) IF states choose to do that, the insurance companies they regulate will be exempt from the Sherman Antitrust act (except for provisions relating to boycott, coercion, and intimidation).

    Jack, when lay people talk about pulling the anti-trust exemption, in this sound-bite culture they are using that as short hand for dismantling the morally bankrupt regulatory framework that insurance companies have corrupted to their own advantage. That includes the lax state-by-state regulation provisions they can more easily corrupt for less money than federal regulatory systems, and they have worked to hamstring through restrictions put in ERISA. You make an argument that doesn't bring any credit to yourself.

    I have some questions for you:

    Do you oppose the choice of a publicly-owned plan?

    Do you support a mandate?

    What is your stand on:

    NO PUBLICLY-OWNED CHOICE?? NO MANDATE!!!

    That's where the real moral battle lies in this reform fight. Lawyerly dissection of language is nothing but obfuscation and diversion.

  • Not Fooled (unverified)
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    What makes you such a morally offensive person Kari is what you are doing here. Well, if I'm so corrupt and evil, why do you bother reading? Save yourself a little time and little heartburn and go read something else. Or go play Tetris. Whatever. Bye.

    Because you really are trying to be an opinion leader and you work for Wyden. Refuting the misleading spin people like you put out in their quest to be an opinion leader is what political debate is about in a representative democracy.

  • tepidjoe (unverified)
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    "Kari is intentionally misrepresenting what I have read and heard Taibbi, Klein, Shultz, and Huffington have said about Wyden's proposal: They support the proposal in the abstract, but also oppose Wyden's position in the concrete because he is not actually working to offer true choice in the form of a public option."

    After reading this my eyes began to tear up because I realized that I had found my soul mate, someone who can listen or read actual words spoken or written and hear their true meaning which only I and Not Fooled have been blessed by God with special hearing and glasses to understand. Yes, yesNot Fooled, despite having devoted hours and hours of their lives to go out of their way to write and discuss why they favor the Wyden proposal, only you and I know the true meaning of their words. They go on and on about being for the Wyden choice proposal but they are speaking in code urging us to oppose Wyden's position in concrete. The fools. Why can no one else hear or see this but us?

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    So nice to see someone in the media actually do their job and not sit with their thumbs up their butts while these hacks lie. Good job Dylan and thank you Kari for the video.

  • (Show?)

    Well, I'm not going to go find all the quotes from the people I cited.

    But, here's one. Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone:

    The handful of legislators — the Weiners, Kuciniches, Wydens and Sanderses — who are fighting for something real should be doing so with armies at their back. Instead, all the noise is being made on the other side.
  • LT (unverified)
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    Great quote, Kari.

    Suppose the "we must have a public option" proposal is passed in a version more watered down than the weaker of the 2 voted on in Finance Committee, and with no fixing of the Medicare reimbursement rates ---- Oregon is currently disadvantaged with relation to states like NY.

    Suppose what Wyden supports is real change, rather than a watered down "we must have a public option, nothing else matters" version.

    So why would Wyden not be a hero?

    My concern is what takes effect before the 2010 election (ending pre-existing condition, for instance), what takes effect before the 2012 election, and what doesn't take effect until 2013.

    But by all means if that is not of concern to you, just keep saying "we must have a public option" and punishing anyone who wants more details.

  • (Show?)

    Kari, just what is the matter with you? This is pure political theater by a Wyden who never has genuinely opposed the industry, and who absolutely continues to support a mandate we be forced to

    True, true...especially if you don't bother to pay attention TO HOW WYDEN IS ACTUALLY VOTING.

    I think there's a lot of agreement that Wyden could be more aggressive on his talk about the public option. But this continual effort to beat the shit out of him when his actions in the voting arena on this have actually been correct belie an agenda that's not about health care..but some sort of personal thing with Wyden.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    @ LT " So why would Wyden not be a hero?"

    <hr/>

    Wyden will come out a huge hero in this if his Free Amendment is combined with some credible form of a public option. A public option where all the public, the individual, really has an option to choose, not the employer, will be popular and will have strong political attraction.

    Kaiser Family Foundation's polling shows support for Health Care Reform is rebounding upward after the summer screamer onslaught. http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/posr092909nr.cfm

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Correction: Wyden's "Free Choice" Amendment.

  • (Show?)

    Jack, when lay people talk about pulling the anti-trust exemption, in this sound-bite culture they are using that as short hand for dismantling the morally bankrupt regulatory framework that insurance companies have corrupted to their own advantage.

    But that's not short hand; that's a specific legislative proposal that will not accomplish what is intended. Pretending it means something else is misleading and potentially damaging to informed debate.

    And for Kurt Chapman--the fact that less populated areas don't have a lot of choices has nothing to do with the anti-trust exemption; in fact, it is a problem less populated areas have with a lot of services. No change in the anti-trust laws will make companies engage in unprofitable competition in small markets.

    Do you oppose the choice of a publicly-owned plan?

    No, I don't oppose it but, like President Obama, I don't believe it is the end-all and be-all of health care reform.

    Do you support a mandate?

    I support a mandate in association with the removal of prior health exclusions and other discriminatory practices and in conjunction with preventing insurance companies from dropping high-cost or high-risk people from coverage.

    What is your stand on:

    NO PUBLICLY-OWNED CHOICE?? NO MANDATE!!!

    I don't agree. I am actually much more supportive of Wyden's Free Choice proposal than I am concerned whether or not their is a public option (members of Congress, for example, don't have a public option). I personally think the obsession with the public option for health insurance is as misguided as the obsession with public power was in the 1930s and 1940s (although here in Eugene I get my water and power from a municipal utility, EWEB, and I like it).

    For the most part, I think too many people are hung up on ideology in this debate and not enough of them are looking at the practical results. Fortunately, Senator Wyden is the rare exception, which I suppose is why so many ideological zealots who post here are so unhappy with him.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Jack, although I agree with the first half of your comment, it is obvious that you would have taken the Willkie view (his background was with a private power company) than McNary's view (helped FDR pass public power, which is why a dam is named after him) had you lived back then.

    "I personally think the obsession with the public option for health insurance is as misguided as the obsession with public power was in the 1930s and 1940s (although here in Eugene I get my water and power from a municipal utility, EWEB, and I like it)."

    How would rural Oregonians have gotten electricity without public power? Or would it have been OK if they didn't have electricity when WW II broke out because private power has all the answers?

    We need a number of things to happen in health care reform in the period of the next year or 2--eliminating the pre-existing condition and lifetime cap nonsense, for instance. Maybe a Swiss model (private doctors and insurance, but heavily regulated) would make more sense than the public option.

    But please don't try to sell the idea that the private marketplace has the answer to everything.

  • (Show?)

    LT, it is not true that I would have taken the Wilkie view on public vs. private power during the 1930s and 1940s. In fact, my view is that zealots on both sides created a false dichotomy on this issue (and I wrote this several weeks ago in the Oregonian, in a column praising Wyden for not making the same mistake on health care).

    My whole point is that the idea that the private sector does everything best or that the private sector can't do anything right is just as crazy as the idea that the public sector does everything better or that the public sector screws everything up.

    I believe that simplistic ideological answers tend to be both too simplistic and too ideological. I don't know how to makes myself any clearer than that.

    (I also remember, by the way, that Charles McNary was Wendell Wilkie's running mate in 1940, despite--or more accurately, because of--their differences on the power issue.)

  • rw (unverified)
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    TJ, Fooled: stay focused on the points you are bringing and adjure ad homs on Kari. I was totally with you and hungry for completed thoughts and internal logic. You were poised there, and then switched. To personal stuff.

    THIS is the discussion we need right now - probing into the schematics of the terminology and theoretical constructs as well as the language about them.

    THANKS everyone for contributing -

  • LT (unverified)
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    OK, Jack, I will forgive you for your remarks. I happen to have read a lot about McNary due to having gotten 3 term papers at one time or another out of Willkie, McNary, and the 1940 election. (Much more intelligent Republican convention and platform that year than in recent years, and that 6 ballots or whatever was something that wouldn't happen with TV. )

    For one term project, I did an Excel chart showing how all the different ballots went at the convention. Willkie kept getting more votes each ballot, the more famous candidates kept losing votes to him.

    Apparently McNary was chosen because they wanted someone experienced on the ticket with a newcomer.

    One of the term papers required the use of original sources. I spent lots of time with microfilm machines reading Salem's Oregon Statesman and Capitol Journal--which of course had front page stories about the VP nominee.

    McNary wasn't all that excited about being the nominee, as one headline was REGARDS IT AS A PARTY CHORE. One of his claims to fame was keeping the GOP Sen. caucus from giving up hope after the FDR landslide.

    If Oregon Republicans could find someone as serious, common sense, and well-mannered as McNary, they might win more elections. What I mean by well-mannered is someone with "gentleman of the old school" manners like Sen. Frank Morse, or just the kind of every day common courtesy and friendliness which makes so many people admire Max Williams.

    What I objected to in your comment was "as misguided as the obsession with public power was in the 1930s and 1940s ". It sounded like just more boilerplate anti-government rhetoric.

    I agree with this: "I believe that simplistic ideological answers tend to be both too simplistic and too ideological. I don't know how to makes myself any clearer than that."

    Rep. Dennis Richardson's most recent email newsletter contained this,

    "In addition to Oregon, many individuals and families are as vulnerable as were the St. Augustine seagulls. Too many people are dependent on government benefits and pay checks".

    He then goes on to talk about the "all funds budget" as if that is the answer to everything.

    Jack, just as I would oppose those who say we must all support a "public option" and if Ron Wyden doesn't do so to their satisfaction he deserves a primary challenge, I oppose those who want us to believe that talking about the "all funds budget" is the answer to everything.

    Not only co-chairs of Ways and Means, but also experts from LFO and LRO have poked holes in that idea.

    I don't believe that all Republicans believe in the whole "all funds budget" theory of the Back to Basics approach. But if no one publicly disputes those who say we should all just shut up and support their idea of a fund sweep, that becomes the voice of the Oregon GOP.

    I live in Salem and it was reported recently that the WESD Supt. got fired partly for unauthorized moving of funds from one fund to another. But it is OK for the legislature as long as those like Richardson support it?

    I believe someone trying to use funds meant for one specific purpose on something else would get into the same kind of trouble as the WESD Supt.

    I speak out against those who think the public option is so important that everyone should be ideologically pure and not think for themselves. I believe a poorly constructed public option with an effective date after the next presidential election is no answer at all.

    But here is my question:

    McNary had a strong moral backbone. He was an incumbent Senator when the KKK took over the Oregon legislature (whether that was before the amendment allowing direct election of senators rather than appointment by the state legislature or just afterwards, I don't recall). The KKK demanded that he come back to Oregon and campaign if he wanted another term so they could confront him . He declined and said something to the effect that if Oregonians did not give him another term, he would stay in Washington because he wouldn't want to live in Oregon or in any other state controlled by the KKK.

    Where is that spirit among Oregon Republicans now? Can they not see that voters don't like their anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric? If those views were popular, how could Democrats win a supermajority? If we are subjected to the same kind of "vote our way and magic will happen, no tax increases or budget cuts will be needed" nonsense we saw during the Measure 28 and 30 campaigns, how will that help Republicans win candidate elections? Do they really believe no one remembers the budget cuts after the M. 28 and 30 elections?

    Republicans have a decision to make. If the tax measures qualify for the ballot, I will expect each legislator to make their position on the measures public. Do they support the work of the legislature or the work of the petitioners? If the petitioners, what do they believe should be cut to make up the hole left if the tax increases are overturned?

    Vic Atiyeh said he didn't change his politics while governor, but he was regarded as a conservative when he was elected and a moderate when he left office. He didn't tell us that people working in private businesses like the family carpet company were better people than those working in government jobs. He didn't badmouth public employees. As I recall, he even raised taxes to balance a budget during the recession. He was the last Oregon Republican elected Gov. in the 20th century. Maybe voters were sending a message?

    Just like Democrats who support Wyden are not going to support a primary challenger just because some people don't like his thinking for himself on health care legislation, Republicans who respect the work of people on the public payroll (emergency workers, state workers of all sorts, teachers, city and county employees, etc.) should stand up and say so.

    Or else they are the ideologically pure party which doesn't seem to believe public employees spend money at local businesses.

    You could be a leader if you spoke out on this. What could the anti-taxers do to you if you did--call you RINO?

    Republicans lost their best chance to win statewide office when Ben Westlund became an independent and then a Democrat. Did calling him RINO really benefit the Republicans, or just cost them a viable candidate?

  • manifestmoney (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think there's a lot of agreement that Wyden could be more aggressive on his talk about the public option. But this continual effort to beat the shit out of him when his actions in the voting arena on this have actually been correct belie an agenda that's not about health care..but some sort of personal thing with Wyden.

  • manifestmoney (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think there's a lot of agreement that Wyden could be more aggressive on his talk about the public option. But this continual effort to beat the shit out of him when his actions in the voting arena on this have actually been correct belie an agenda that's not about health care..but some sort of personal thing with Wyden.

  • manifestmoney (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think there's a lot of agreement that Wyden could be more aggressive on his talk about the public option. But this continual effort to beat the shit out of him when his actions in the voting arena on this have actually been correct belie an agenda that's not about health care..but some sort of personal thing with Wyden.

  • manifestmoney (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think there's a lot of agreement that Wyden could be more aggressive on his talk about the public option. But this continual effort to beat the shit out of him when his actions in the voting arena on this have actually been correct belie an agenda that's not about health care..but some sort of personal thing with Wyden.

  • manifestmoney (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think there's a lot of agreement that Wyden could be more aggressive on his talk about the public option. But this continual effort to beat the shit out of him when his actions in the voting arena on this have actually been correct belie an agenda that's not about health care..but some sort of personal thing with Wyden.

  • bird (unverified)
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    I must agree, with Kari in charge of this site, it is now meaningless. No wonder the other progressive sites do not link to it. The lies you tell about Wyden make you a liar. If we should expect lies from you, it is an unpleasant read to attempt to unravel the knot you tie.

    Goodbye BO. You have proven to be less than democratic, certainly less than progressive. But the lies about the matter are just too much.

  • Emmit Goldman (unverified)
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    Kari is misleading again about Matt Taibbi. Emblematic of DP elitist culture. From the Taibbi article (http://pnhp.org/blog/2009/09/07/sick-and-wrong-by-matt-taibbi/) that Kari keeps citing but no one here ever actually reads:

    All that’s left of health care reform is a collection of piece-of-shit, weakling proposals that are preposterously expensive and contain almost nothing meaningful — and that set of proposals, meanwhile, is being negotiated down even further by the endlessly negating Group of Six. It is a fight to the finish now between Really Bad and Even Worse. And it’s virtually guaranteed to sour the public on reform efforts for years to come...

    Heading into the health care debate, there was only ever one genuinely dangerous idea out there, and that was a single-payer system...

    In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense.

  • Fireslayer (unverified)
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    Well I happen to think the insurance companies are right.

    A robust, non-profit public option is the slippery slope to single payer.

    And that is competition at work. Monopolistic insurance is scared stiff of competition from a public system. It would give us the true data on why no other country in the world has anything like our ridiculous mess in health care, and I won't call it a system. We have no system.

    Just a bunch of greedy corporations antagonistic to health care delivery playing a shell game with the health care dollar in a manner that guarantees they always get the pea.

  • Fireslayer (unverified)
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    Oh, and my hat is off to Sen. Wyden. He called out the insurance industry. They and their lobbyists as he pointed out are the true enemies of insurance reform.

    But I would state it a bit stronger than Ron.

    This criminal obstructionism has been the case for 60 years. They got their tax breaks that launched employer insurance lock-in. They fought Medicare and Medicaid with lies, bribery and fear tactics. Thus, for the past 40 years the insurance lobby is directly responsible for tens of thousands of deaths a year due to lack of medical care.

    Insurance company blockading of health care reform kills more people than drunk drivers, drug overdoses and handguns combined.

    Why do we tolerate a homicidal system run by the greed is good guys?

  • Willard F (unverified)
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    So Wyden votes for the public option when it is obvious that it will fail after doing NOTHING prior to this vote.

    BFD. I'm sick of voting for politicians who don't have my interests at heart.

    Wyden's stupid bill had no chance of passing and he still takes a lot of $$ from the industry.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Hey Bird, tho I've been around for maybe four years now, Lurker and now Ranter, I'd not noticed that this site was under anyone else' control.

    Could you tell who ran it before Kari? Was it different before Kari/Mandate took over? DID they take over?

    Thanks for clearing that up. I thought this was always Kari's brain child.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
    (Show?)

    'Nuff said?

    <h2>“Sen. Wyden is a new champion for freedom around here,” said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. “I like the idea of individual choice.”</h2>

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