Will any of us recognize reform when we see it?

Pat Ryan

As a self-aware curmudgeon I yield to no one in my enjoyment of our own Blue Temper Tantrums. I've been an instigator on more than one occasion, and really, is there anything more satisfying than sticking it to our fellow travelers, you know, the ones we elect to turn our fuzzy and malformed Utopian Ideals into actual progressive legislation?

Those of us with IQs above that of Navel Lint, know for a fact that we can't and won't get to perfection in one go, regardless of how many national legislators have Ds following their names. So what we argue about is how much progress is made based on our respective assessments of the end product of theAstronaut food famous Sausage Factory. The central fact that divides the sheep from the goats here is that in a US Senate that requires 60 votes for anything at all, we have to conclude that the people that are credibly willing to destroy the entire bill if they don't get what they want are the ones that set the standards for the final bill. It's like the gangster/war movie scenario where the guy with the unpinned grenade has all kinds of leverage over everyone else in the room, even the guys with machine guns.

Of course we can't punish these blackmailers like Nelson, Landrieu, et.al. and especially irritating, we can't get at the smug and narcissistic Mr. Lieberman who really really enjoys sticking it to each and every one of us that sent money to Ned Lamont last year.  We are tired of Rahm Emanuel's successes at always cutting the baby in half even though I recall that months and months ago he told us all that there would be "A bill".

Obama's the ultimate pragmatist and even those of us that recognize the need for the tude are constantly wondering if he could get more somehow. Is he being influenced too much by Summers & Bernanke, (and the corollary: Did these guys learn anything from Alan Greenspan's repudiation of Friedman's theories?) or will Orszag, Goolsbee and the rest of the academic wing of the Propellerheads drive the conversation toward more useful financial regulation? Will our foreign policy in Oil-World be more of the 90s Clinton style attempts at simultaneous appeasement of Likudniks and the Saudi Royals, or will we steer toward the Queen Noor approach?

One thing's for sure. If we try to punish Joe and his buddies anywhere other than the ballot box, we will get a less useful Jobs Bill, a less useful Energy Bill, a less useful Financial Regulation Bill, and so on. It's the Red Pill again, and believe me, I'd rather imagine that I'm eating steak than deal with the reality of Gourmet Astronaut Food, but unfortunately, that's the reality. 

We have to keep fighting these guys of course, and I'll be sending a couple of bucks to some of the races targeted by Jane Hamsher, Move-On, and other actual Progressives and will continue to boycott the candidates put forward by the New Dem crowd even if Obama thinks I should support them. I will not be screaming to remove senate perks and committee assignments from these bastids, because as satisfying as it would be in the moment, the progressive movement and the people that it tries to help will be the first victims of my hissy fit.  So when my lovely wife and Howard Dean and Keith and Rachel and my Blue Oregon buddies are all generating serious feedback in my hearing aids, I just have to grit my teeth and choose my own targets in light of the realities on the ground.

We know that Obama's crew has been up to something-or-other behind the scenes on the healthcare debate, and it's worth sticking my neck out here to say that now that we are at the Conference Committee stage of the process, I fully expect to see the Whitehouse publicly engaged in the effort to stick some sort of Marischino Cherry on top of the whole steaming pile in hopes of convincing disillusioned progressives that they're looking at a Sundae.

It may even be yet another Bold marginally utilitarian improvement on drug purchasing or something like that.

It almost totally sucks, but this seems to be about as much Change as I Can Believe In. 

Hava Happy New Year    

Comments

  • (Show?)

    i imagine the millions of people who will be able to get health insurance at last won't be too displeased.

    this is not the end of the process. when Obama signs the bill, that will be the beginning. we've never gotten off the starting line before, and now we will have the right to health care for all enshrined in law -- try and undo that sucker. that's why it has been fought so fracking hard. once it's done, it can't be undone.

    then we improve the steaming pile. of course i'd prefer a strong public-option beginning next June (i'd prefer single payer, actually), but i'm glad we'll have something to build on. a total failure would have been a disaster, and this is not a total failure. it's a start, a foundation. lots of lefties don't like compromise; it offends their moral purity. fuck that. i prefer making progress. Joe Lieberman & Nelson and the 100s of millions spent by the industry have failed to stop this legislation; that polluted it, but they did not kill it. hot damn. it's an ugly win, as one writer put it, but it's a win.

    and a start. given the nature of the Congress, anyone really think we could have done better? that there was a way to make Joe think of anyone but Joe, or to overcome the bribes Nelson takes from the health insurance industry that has been his whole career? Jane Hamsher can kiss my uninsured ass; this is a start and something we can improve. like we've done with most major social changes (the Civil Rights Act had to be followed-up with the Voting Rights Act, for example).

    happy christmas, dudes. we beat their asses. not a great win, but that's how it goes into the scorebook.

  • James M Earle III (unverified)
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    Will any of us recognize reform when we see it?

    Of course not. We'll wait for someone to sell us on the fact that we've got it now.

    Great job.

  • Aaron Cady (unverified)
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    Your sensitivity to everyone that posted, deeply disappointed in the Democratic Party of America, truly gives credit to the Holiday, t.a.!

    fuck that.

    Merry xmas to you too!

  • Brig. Peri Brown, Purity Troll Brigade (unverified)
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    you know, the ones we elect to turn our fuzzy and malformed Utopian Ideals into actual progressive legislation?

    Those of us with IQs above that of Navel Lint, know for a fact

    I'll leave this thread to those that qualify.

    Oh, if you could please, sir, instruct us ignoramuses in a particular detail. Being ignoramuses, many of us are not required to file a tax return. How will the penalty be assessed and collected for not purchasing a product that I don't care to own and believe to be morally objectionable? Have I missed the point that it is no longer an option to live without and die whenever, in the United States?

    Please drool on me, salivary glands of knowledge!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    I would ask the same question I did when Kari asked if the glass was half empty or half full...

    Posted by: Zarathustra | Dec 25, 2009 3:29:08 AM

    Fully identifying with leftist teabagger, I have to admit that if you take Kari's question at literal face value, and ask it, that one must consider this a keeper.

    Where I think most part company is when he flatly asserts not to compare it to what could have been. Fine. We're not the stupid idealists that we're too often made out as. But we need a "why". Why were things like single payer taken off the table from the start and why were the big compromises within the Party? I think if we could satisfy ourselves on that point, then we could consider the merits of the bill, over nothing. But when we're left to fill in the blank, it just isn't going to be pretty, and the bill gets the reverse halo effect.

    Hope everybody that was reading about FDR's first 90 days last year at this time enjoyed the history lesson, because this approach is about as anti-FDR as you can get. He would probably have projectile vomited at the thought of incrementalism.

    Great article. Sincere flattery.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Interesting thoughts. But what if the whole house of cards collapes under Constitutional scrutiny?

    I'm not certain that I follow and agree with the conservative talking points regarding the constitutionality issue, but what if mandated coverage IS found unconstitutional?

  • (Show?)

    Why were things like single payer taken off the table from the start

    Single Payer was the only sane option in a world where we could choose among many. In the actual world (you know, the one where people are happy to believe in miracles(89%), the devil (68%), hell (69%), ghosts (51%), astrology (31%) and reincarnation (27%), rationality was a cruel and unattainable dream.

    In the past few months, this same pool has simultaneously had 72% supporting and 62% opposing single payer as defined by......

    Like Rumsfeld sez, you go to war with the army you've got.....

    and why were the big compromises within the Party?

    Because as far as I can tell, the Republicans were never for anything at all beyond the status quo, so we're back to my hand grenade analogy. The Natural Born Killers (D) in the room trump all of those for whom survival if the bill matters in some way.

  • Greg D. (unverified)
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    Adding 30 million people to Medicaid is a good thing. But they could have done that without raising (and then crushing) the hopes of the rest of the country that real systemic health care reform was coming. The Dems have energized the Repigs and angered the independents who will get sucked into the individual mandate / penalty scenario. Meanwhile, those employees and employers who have always participated in the employer insurance system but who are suffering from price increases and cost shifting continue to get screwed by 15% per year premium increases, increased deductibles, coverage reductions, etc.

    Bad policy and worse politics.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    OK. I won't say it, but good, logical answers, imho.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    The problem with "pragmatism" and calls about "not making perfection the enemy of the good" is that Democrats signaled to their representatives and senators in Congress that they were ready to settle for much less than perfection from the outset. It appears the recipients of this message in Congress interpreted it as a willingness to accept crumbs - and crumbs are what the people are getting. They didn't even bother looking up the recipe for single-payer.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    in the spirit of ... well whatever ... I'll just wish all Happy Holidays (or fill in as you please).

  • Garrett in SE (unverified)
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    I have to agree with T.A. We never even got off the starting line before.

    I never thought we'd end up with a single payer system right off the bat. I'm as progressive as the next guy but I'm smart enough to recognize that with Republicans in charge we would have never got anything other than the middle finger with the aggressive thumb extended from them if we even wanted to talk about health care reform.

    It's sort of the problem with the whole thing. Either we accept the big tent philosophy, deal with the Blue Dog caucus, and accept that change will come incrementally or go back to being in the minority with the right wing evangelicals shoving the dark ages back down our throats.

    I guess you could piss and moan about the fact we didn't get the most progressive health care reform ever, but at least we got something and the Republicans can't take it away. The only thing that can happen from here on out is to improve on what we have. Call me an optimist, but I'll sit here on progressive ass and be happy about it rather than want to crucify Democrats for making something happen even if it wasn't everything I wanted. As a very wise person said...we have a two party system. Pick one and try to affect change from within the party. If you want to bail you'll get what the other side wants entirely. Personally I'd rather not go back to how it was when the Republicans ran things.

    Baby steps ya'll.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    Frankly Pat, I'd believe you if you hadn't actually just repeated the tired stereotypes of what happened, and then gone one step beyond to the idiotic bit about grenades at a gunfight. The analogy in this case would be more of a a bunch a Democrats wetting their pants because someone raised their voice at them. But unlike T.A. idiotic, deranged ravings that are just more proof the big tent stinks of animal crap and it's time to clean it out or leave, I'm willing to take you at face value just for the moment.

    So here's the question whether determines whether you're just another lame-ass Oregon bull-shitter or for real: Do you call for punishing the real weasels in the Democratic Party like Wyden, the guys who take the base for granted because they don't think we have the guts to punish them? This bill is embodies the all of the core principles Wyden wanted most and built his Healthy Americans Act on. That includes a system based solely on private health insurance and a mandate to make sure the industry is bailed out and built up, and from which he never actually wavered. Based on his record of action, rather than his easy words about the public option that he never backed with any action but instead just cynically used as tactic in his "(no real) choice" sideshow, this result delivers the heart of what Wyden advocates.

    You won't find Hamsher or anybody else who knows what's going on talking up Wyden as one of the good guys in this. So Pat: Are you for real, or just a pathetic jerk like T.A.?

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    Oh and by the "Greg D", and "Garrett in SE", you pathetic typical Oregon pants-wetters, two things just two make you a little more anxious:

    1) The number who will be become eligible to join the Medicaid roles is unknown, 30 million is an estimate but it could be much less because all of the actual tangible benefits will depend on various Executive branch departments, which are subject to political pressure, writing the actual program rules. So about all we know is what the bounds will be of the funding and political fights are going forward, not what this bill will actually accomplish, and this bill by design guarantees those fights will be even worse.

    More importantly, if Wyden had gotten his way as he proposed in the Healthy Americans Act, there would be no 30 million people added to the Medicaid roles. His bill would have phased out all national public plans except Medicaid and Tri-Care. (kind of like the wet dream of the Republicans he was solely courting to support the bill) His plan was to give everybody eligible for those programs vouchers and to tell them to have fun shopping for private health insurance. So truth be told, we're dman lucky some of those "centrist" Democrats did their part to stop us from getting the Wyden plan.

  • galen (unverified)
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    I am not sure what to recognize, but I wonder if this is reform?: Senate rejects plan to import low-cost drugs - Business Breaking News - MiamiHerald.com How many people could this have helped if they opened the market? Makes you wonder if this is really about helping people.

  • (Show?)

    Do you call for punishing the real weasels in the Democratic Party like Wyden, the guys who take the base for granted because they don't think we have the guts to punish them?

    I do (and did) call for the punishment of the "real weasels", but since your seem to see yourself in the driver's seat regarding weasel definition, I will remain just another lame-ass Oregon bull-shitter in your book.

    I've got enough "weasels" on my list already, without needing to go to your anonymous expertise for additional enemies, and also, as a matter of practicality, there are a couple of legislators (and Wyden ain't one of 'em) at national that I'd love to see heading down the road.

    I ain't gonna spend a thin dime against them though because they are in safe "liberal" seats, and there aren't enough years left in my life to convince Portland's liberal Midwestern immigrant population that a bowtie and a bicycle or a graduate degree from Stanford is all you need in a "progressive" rep.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Single Payer was the only sane option in a world where we could choose among many."

    Then why did the "progressives" in the Democratic Party surrender so quickly?

    To repeat a point I've made before, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the civil rights movement believed that civil rights, equal rights, an end to segregation and other sins inflicted on black Americans was the ideal to strive for - and for many "the only sane option." As anyone who knows this history can tell, they stuck to this position despite many people telling them about the "real world," that they demanded too much and that they should settle for a seat in the middle of the bus. And despite the brutal tactics of Bull Connor and his ilk.

    It looks like the difference between those civil rights leaders and the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party (then and now) is one of character - and maybe IQ level of navel lint.

  • toilet half-full (unverified)
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    Re: "...but at least we got something and the Republicans can't take it away."

    Now you can eat it.

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    It looks like the difference between those civil rights leaders and the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party (then and now) is one of character...

    Well, not arguing your main point, but there is one other difference between elected Democrats and the rest of us.

    They have to get elected. Then they have to actually pass legislation.

    Which was kinda my whole point. I get you on the telegraphing weakness, and that is a very real problem for the activist vs. elected situation. It's just that "we" can't credibly threaten our allies unless they know we can succeed in destroying their careers in the next election cycle.

    If we can't hurt or help someone enough to change the outcome of an election, and they know it, we just reinforce their derision of us and our POV, when we call'em names and pitch pebbles at them.

    I note the contempt for "the base" in recent statements from both Emanuel and (to a lesser degree) Axlerod about the healthcare bill, and just a bit more of that crap from those guys might wind up tipping a lot more people away from them. They should already be terrified that we'll sit on our collective hands in 2010 and allow a major shift to the Right through our inaction both on the ground and around the checkbook area.

    So I do "get it" Bill. We're just disagreeing on appropriate reaction to the disrespect.

  • (Show?)

    I guess you could piss and moan about the fact we didn't get the most progressive health care reform ever, but at least we got something and the Republicans can't take it away.

    Since when did "beating the Republicans" become a valid reason to support a trillion dollar piece of legislation?

    Frankly, I have never had any expectations that the legislature would pass "the most progressive reform ever". What I expected to see is a bill that will expand consumer protections and reduce costs and the rate of inflation for health care. My impression of the bill is that they've accomplished something on the consumer protection front, but I have heard from people I trust that this bill does very little to address the rate of inflation in the health care industry and may make things worse.

    So here's the question I am left with for people who support this bill...

    Aside from the promise of government subsidies that will be put on the nation's credit card (and paid off by our kids, grandkids, and our grandkids grandkids), how will this bill actually reduce costs for consumers and lower the rate of inflation for health care?

  • al m (unverified)
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    i imagine the millions of people who will be able to get health insurance at last won't be too displeased.< ~~~>I wonder just how pleased they will be when they find out that they have to pay out of pocket for it! ````````````````

    and this is not a total failure. It’s a start, a foundation. < ~~~>This is nothing; it’s a complete giveaway to the insurance industry. Have you noticed that insurance stocks have soared? Well, that doesn’t happen unless there is money to be racked in! It’s just like the bank bailouts. Vote this bill down the tubes, it’s worse than nothing. ```````````````````

    And those of you that think that there is actually a difference between the Republicans and Democrats just aren’t paying attention.

    It is the same party with two separate factions, they answer to the same gods, MONEY.

    BILL MAHER has got it right with his analysis.

  • galen (unverified)
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    I tend to agree with the idea this might be an insurance bailout. I mean what authority does the government have to compel a person to insure their life? Living is not a privilege. Why did they vote down affordable medicine at no cost to tax payers? We need to ask real questions, not just fall into the phony paradigm of Red vs Blue. We also need to stop looking at this like beating Republicans is the objective. That is really not an intelligent way to operate. We must look at the facts from an objective stand point. Sometimes this means taking our head out of the box society has placed it in and simply asking questions.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    Moving health care forward incrementally would mean weakening (incrementally) the stranglehold that the for profit insurance and pharmaceutical industries have over health care and health care legislation.

    Since this iteration of health care "reform" moved in precisely the opposite direction, strengthening the role of the for profit industry, our new situation is worse than our last.

  • (Show?)

    I have heard from people I trust that this bill does very little to address the rate of inflation in the health care industry and may make things worse....So... how will this bill actually reduce costs for consumers and lower the rate of inflation for health care?

    I think that's the one for activists to focus on for the conference committee.

    It'sa two parter with the insurance industry and the care providers about whom we've heard nothing but crickets for the past year, with the assumption being that you can't fight the whole world at once. But it needs to be fought.

    Leaving aside the WasteFraudandAbuse, there are huge savings to be realized in searching out Best Results and implementing them broadly. As the Kidz say, and I agree, we should refocus on outcome based medicine in testing and treatment. Amy Klobuchar was on about this the other night on MSNBC. A lot of the info is already there and can be implemented RFN.

    There are some parts of the bill (like the much maligned "exchanges", or the much ignored out-of-state purchasing ability), that could be beefed up to encourage competition. I still wish they'd break up the monopoly by bringing insurance companies back under the same anti-trust regs that everyone else has to follow.

    These seem to me to be areas where yelling might still do some good on the margins........

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    I've got enough "weasels" on my list already, without needing to go to your anonymous expertise for additional enemies, and also, as a matter of practicality, there are a couple of legislators (and Wyden ain't one of 'em) at national that I'd love to see heading down the road.

    So Pat: Do you challenge the facts about Wyden? Or is it just because he's your weasel that he's not on your list? Makes all the difference in whether your post really is anything but just whining. While I can fully agree with you about PDX losers, from where I sit, there's not a bit of difference between them and you in any way that matters if Wyden isn't on your list because he's your weasel.

  • Brig. Peri Brown, Purity Troll Brigade (unverified)
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    Weasels smell different depending on where you are when you sniff them. I detested Willy Brown as a Mayor, but would dearly love to see him in the Senate.

  • pacnwjay (unverified)
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    Joe, you are right on... this bill is worse than nothing. And not only from a reform standpoint. On the politics side, it gives aid and comfort to the Republicans running in 10/12 to bash Dems on spending money they don't have.

    This bill is nothing more than a transfer of wealth from the lower and middle class to the wealthiest amongst us. It does not have any consumer protections (the details are actually horrendous).

    If significant changes are not made during conference, this bill deserves to die.

    That said, we should not leave the issue. Start over with a reconciliation bill that just addresses a public option. And another bill that just deals with insurance reform: drug reimportation, no annual caps, no preexisting conditions.

    The senate bill is not the foundation we want to build healthcare reform on.

  • Eussell Sadler (unverified)
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    Wisdom, Brother Ryan. Painful. But wisdom.

  • al m (unverified)
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    If you look at this MAP (click on it) what you will see is that America is in the same league as Africa, India, Bangladesh,Eastern Europe and other third world countries in having no national health insurance for its citizens at all!

    We live in the richest country in the world and yet have the same sort of health care philosophy as all of the third world countries! It's disgraceful!

  • galen (unverified)
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    "If you look at this MAP (click on it) what you will see is that America is in the same league as Africa, India, Bangladesh,Eastern Europe and other third world countries in having no national health insurance for its citizens at all!"

    This does not make us like a third world country simply because they do not have something and we do not have it. National health care over a 100 year period has a 100% failure rate. In fact I challenge you to find one country that was involved in a socialist revolutions in 1848 that has not done one of or all of the following: had a monetary collapse, turned on its on people, or had political collapse or civil war. The longest existing government is the American free market system. This is changing and history shows, we too will collapse. Argue what you want the facts of history are on the side of freedom not central planning. You must find another way than government to achieve social objectives of monetary equality. That or fail. These are the only choices we have if we wish to use logic and reason.

    I know the textbook response to his is the sweatshops, and women's suffrage and such things that are a stain our nations history at the turn of the century and prior to that slavery. America was not perfect years ago, but the point is that central planning does not work. It has a 100% failure rate. Freedom is not perfect, there are problems, but once we abandon freedom, there is no turning back. Once we loose our medical freedoms we cannot regain them. Freedom is not perfect, but central planning has a 100% failure rate.

  • (Show?)

    it's rather precious being insulted viciously by people who won't even identify themselves. you know who i am; i don't separate myself from my opinions. the cowards who refuse to stand by their own words ... pathetic.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    it's rather precious being insulted viciously by people who won't even identify themselves. you know who i am; i don't separate myself from my opinions. the cowards who refuse to stand by their own words ... pathetic.

    A little anonymity might be a good thing in your case, T.A.

  • galen (unverified)
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    Sal, Those may be your friends but they are not mine. You offer no evidence to counter my evidence. I use logic and reason. I think another term some people might find useful is insanity. The idea that someone can try the same things (in this case socialism) over and over again and get a different result. Do step forward with your grand evidence to counter my observation. You do believe, despite the evidence to the contrary, that central planning works better than freedom when it comes to the lives of individuals? Do you believe rights come from the State? and government can make better decisions regarding the life of individuals than those individuals themselves can? Keep in mind national health-care an only manifest if we believe and allow rights to come from the State. If you do not understand this, and I am thinking you do not, I will explain it later. Please present your evidence to support your position. It is easy to to attack my words in they way you have. You have presented nothing accept accusations regarding my position. I will log on in the morning to see what awaits. If you are correct in your position I will study it further and question my own belief. Are you willing to do the same if I can present reasonable evidence of my position?

  • al m (unverified)
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    National health care over a 100 year period has a 100% failure rate.<

    ~~~>You are entitled to your point of view sir. However, I don't buy your argument and there is no possibility of anyone convincing me that having a profit motive involving sickness is ethical.

    Ethics is the entire point of being alive, without ethics you fail in your task of being alive.

    There are no ethics in our system, it might not be as bad as third world countries since they have NO MEDICAL CARE, but ours is bankrupt morally.

    IMO

  • (Show?)

    That thing with Lieberman and Lamont wasn't last year, it was nearly four years ago, when Lieberman was up for re-election in 2006.

  • (Show?)

    Pat, thanks for the thoughtful response.

    Here's my $0.02...

    There are things about the framework that I like (assuming that what I have read is accurate):

    • It will bar insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
    • It will bar insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on coverage.
    • It will mandate that 80-85 percent of premiums go to medical services.
    • It allows dependent coverage through 26 or 27.

    What I REALLY DON'T LIKE about the bill is this:

    The CBO estimates that by 2016, the cost of individual insurance plans will be 17 percent higher and group plans will be between 1 percent higher to a 3 percent lower relative to costs projected under the current law.

    In other words, the ONLY significant cost savings for consumers as a result of this bill will be due to Federal subsidies for health insurance that will be paid for through new taxes.

    I am not necessarily opposed to such subsidies or some of the proposed funding mechanisms, but not without a credible cost containment mechanism, and the CBO is essentially saying that no such mechanism exists.

    Given the failure to address costs I find it troubling that the final bill is certain to mandate that nearly every American must purchase health insurance under penalty of law, even if the cost of purchasing such insurance is fully or partially subsidized by the Federal Government.

    Essentially, the President and/or Congressional negotiators basically horse-traded increased profit for the health insurance industry for increased regulation, and they didn't cut a very good deal.

    The CBO analysis tends to confirm my assessment. We will see 30 million more subscribers and a slight increase in per capita costs relative to the current law by 2016.

    Where does that leave me regarding the bill?

    Disappointed. Pessimistic. Unsurprised. Leaning "no".

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    Sal, Those may be your friends but they are not mine.

    Obviously.

    You are not relying on logic and reason so much as you are relying on misplaced concretion, false dichotomies, and petitio principii.

  • James M Earle III (unverified)
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    Great post.

    Posted by: Sal Peralta | Dec 26, 2009 1:32:00 AM

    Pat, thanks for the thoughtful response.

    Yes, thank you. Keeps this blog as it "used to be". The "post and run" clique is getting to be downright insulting. At least Pat realizes that this isn't exactly the moment to show unbridled contempt at those that "care too much".

    Oh, here's one now.

    Posted by: t.a. barnhart | Dec 25, 2009 11:03:21 PM

    it's rather precious being insulted viciously by people who won't even identify themselves. you know who i am; i don't separate myself from my opinions. the cowards who refuse to stand by their own words ... pathetic.

    Besides being off topic and condescending, I guess t.a. can't get the fact that Blue Oregon's policy of not using validated IDs, not editing personal attacks, outs, link spammers and slander require some legitimate posters to use pseudonyms! And you're a liar. You and other clique members are friends with a number of posters that use pseudonyms for EXACTLY that reason, so you respond to that regularly. Just like some toxic high school clique.

    I have an idea. Everybody use your name- just like it appears on your SS card- and when the aforementioned makes your life hell, sue Mandate Media. BTW, genius, "t.a." isn't a name. Todd .

    Meanwhile Kari is too busy with his day job to do shit about shit. Bet my last thin dime that this attitude started when Kari quantified his "just ignore the trolls" principle, and wrote some names down. The clique took that as license to ill. FWIW, many I know see Karol's hand in all this, and, given the cronyism on the City Council, those folks take her as an example of "Veratics".

    And those of you that think that there is actually a difference between the Republicans and Democrats just aren’t paying attention.

    And those of you that "care too much" are just whining !

  • (Show?)

    "Eyes Open..."

    You're a fine little pot-shotter from your anonymous perch, aren't you?

  • Steve Marx (unverified)
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    "Adding 30 million people to Medicaid is a good thing."

    That's precious. Medicaid is on the brink now and this will really help it out.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Sal, why is this point you made a positive at all?

    Sal - It will mandate that 80-85 percent of premiums go to medical services.

    Kurt - The majority of coverage as it exists currently is in employer based plans. They ALREADY run at an experience ratio of 80% - 95%. Larger plans are able to squeeze down administrative costs levied back to the plans because of competition. Did this legislation just codify a 15% - 20% profit margin for insurers of large plans?

  • (Show?)

    Kurt - I'm not sure if you have the numbers right regarding administrative costs and profits.

    My feeling is that establishing a floor that guarantees that a certain percentage of premiums go directly to medical expenses is a good thing if it is true that these insurers are leveraging their monopolies to engage in excessive profit-taking.

    However, if you are correct about the costs, then you are probably also correct that what I am thinking of as a floor is more of a ceiling, which would make me wrong about the efficacy of such a provision.

    Better alternatives (or additional steps) would be to simply repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act and/or allow a public option to be offered as part of these insurance exchanges, but we've already seen that the Obama administration and Senate leadership lack the leverage and the stomach for such a fight.

  • James M Earle III (unverified)
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    Posted by: Carla Axtman | Dec 26, 2009 7:28:07 AM

    "Eyes Open..."

    You're a fine little pot-shotter from your anonymous perch, aren't you?

    Obviously, you can't read. I'll bold it for you.

    Besides being off topic and condescending, I guess t.a. can't get the fact that Blue Oregon's policy of not using validated IDs, not editing personal attacks, outs, link spammers and slander require some legitimate posters to use pseudonyms! And you're a liar. You and other clique members are friends with a number of posters that use pseudonyms for EXACTLY that reason, so you respond to that regularly. Just like some toxic high school clique.

    So, instead of wasting bandwidth to support your clique buddy, could you explain how you manage to have such contempt for the people that pay for your internship?

    De quelle couleur est cette snarque? C'est tout. C'est domage!

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    "Eyes Open..." You're a fine little pot-shotter from your anonymous perch, aren't you

    A LOT of anonymity might be a good thing in your case, Carla.

    I'm just still wondering if Pat, with his creative cinematic macho "re-casting" of a bunch of wimpy pants-wetters, doesn't have Wyden on his list because he challenges the facts about Wyden, or because Wyden is his weasel?

    Pat, the air of tired wisdom thing just doesn't work so well when you have to keep reminding people you're a cranky old guy. It's in the acting dude, not the narration.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "What I REALLY DON'T LIKE about the bill is this:

    The CBO estimates that by 2016, the cost of individual insurance plans will be 17 percent higher and group plans will be between 1 percent higher to a 3 percent lower relative to costs projected under the current law."

    What I REALLY DON'T LIKE about the bill is this:

    The health care "reform" we are looking at here in the United States looks like it is going to cost the people as much or more than what Europeans pay but Americans will still get less. One element of this disparity is that Europeans plans include complete dental (in addition to medical) coverage; whereas, the majority, if not all, of American plans have limited, if any, dental coverage, requiring most people to purchase separate dental plans - that is, pay ever more.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Sal, thanks for your reply. I've done Employer Health plans for over 20 years in 5-7 states in different regions. My numbers are based on what I have seen historically and have been told by industry leaders.

    Lets say I'm off by 2%-3% either way. The point is that by creating a number (80%-85%) that 'must' be spent on care many uninformed citizens will respond, "Great, force those insurers to cut back on profit and executive salaries". In fact their expenses for claims coverage alone are generally higher than the aforementioned 80%-85%. Thus are we legislating a new, higher guaranteed floor of profit?

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)
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    Posted by: Carla Axtman | Dec 26, 2009 7:28:07 AM

    "Eyes Open..."

    You're a fine little pot-shotter from your anonymous perch, aren't you?

    It's not about "anonymous". Since Carla knows me pretty well (and t.a.), I'll have to assume that I don't take potshots! I'll refer trolls to you for references next time. Hell, my FB page is an alias of an alias!

    Never get off the boat! Stick together or hang separately. Even Senate Dems debating HC understand that.

  • galen (unverified)
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    Obviously.

    You are not relying on logic and reason so much as you are relying on misplaced concretion, false dichotomies, and petitio principii.

    Sal once again that is not an answer but an attack. Lets keep it real please. Give me some data. You need to provide evidence that over the long haul your position will work. You are clever, but really this would not qualify as any form of debate in any forum.

    You are entitled to your point of view sir. However, I don't buy your argument and there is no possibility of anyone convincing me that having a profit motive involving sickness is ethical.

    Ethics is the entire point of being alive, without ethics you fail in your task of being alive.

    There are no ethics in our system, it might not be as bad as third world countries since they have NO MEDICAL CARE, but ours is bankrupt morally.

    IMO

    The facts are terrible, but they are true. We are all entitled to our points of view. We do not need permission for this in America yet (this is changing). Keep in mind, this is not just my point of view. It is the reality we face as far as I can see. I am not attached to this information. I would be just as happy if it were not true. So I beg you to disprove ii. It is based strictly on the facts. That said, I think our current medical situation is horrible. It is true that the profit motive puts us in a bad place.It can be scary going to the doctor because one does not know if we can trust the very person the profits from the procedure or drug being recommended. Its a real issue you have brought before us, but the problem is, if there is no profit in medicine how to we get enough (the key being enough) people to pay The massive costs associated with medical school and then enter the field? Also the other part of the medical issue is lawsuits. How do we fairly control that cost? Key word being fairly. National Health care will fail, especially in America. Look at all of our other social programs. We have a morally bankrupt legislative body both red and blue. Social security would have lasted longer, but Congress plundered it. There is no way National Health Care will do any different. Look at histyr. If you can show me a country that was socialist in 1848 and has not experienced one of the following: Revolution, bloodshed, torture, economic collapse, monetary collapse, or political collapse. I will look at their model and respond with concret answers.

  • (Show?)

    Pat,

    Great post and follow on comments. You have a wonderful way with words.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    Kurt

    Did this legislation just codify a 15% - 20% profit margin for insurers of large plans?

    In a word: YES, (or at least very high overheads that do support an inflated bottom line). Oh, and don't forget that doesn't mean 85% goes to what as average folks think of medical care, as supporters would like us to believe: As you can read for yourself in this article from The Life and Health Insurance News

    “The medical loss ratio requirements during the transition period to 2014 will shrink the carrier market before we even get to the exchange, thereby limiting choice in the exchange,” he says. “Not all costs under MLR are bad. Disease management, wellness programs, claim adjudication and fraud and abuse detection are among the expenses under MLR.

    In other words, business expenses that actually contribute to fattening the insurance industry companies bottom lines count towards the 85% (and "bad" above includes paying out for actual medical care, fancy that.)

    That's one of the numerous reasons, and Bill Bodden has given several other very good reasons, this bill is a fraud and what we are seeing is PR spin in the presentations of it rather than defenses on the merits.

    Jane Hamsher is ahead of the curve on what is coming. And why weasel Democrats like Wyden who have been successful in point fingers away from their underhanded role in this, but who actually have been working for full privatization and mandates all along, are going to be the ones who find their political lives much more difficult as public awareness builds. Over at FDL, PaulaT reports on what is really the majority feeling in the country right now:

    I just had Christmas dinner with my right wing family members and Jane has some new fans. ... My dad is the farthest right and most vocal of the group. He’s also the one who has given me every book Glenn Beck has ever written.

    He was really angry about the health care bill, which I expected. What I didn’t see coming was that he hates this bill without a public option more than he hated the idea of a foothold for socialized medicine. He thinks that we ended up with the worst of all options because it was done by special corporate interests and special senatorial interests and nobody cared about regular people. ... He was very impressed by Jane going after a fellow Democrat and to hear that a big block of the progressive community puts principle over party. He’s looking at bailing on the Republicans because he thinks they are corrupt, too. AND THIS IS A GUY WHO STILL LIKES CHENEY!!!!!

    Reporting just what I am finding, the large majority in my social circle in Oregon are by far not Republicans, or right wingers. To a person and across the spectrum, they agree with PaulaT's dad about this bill. They understand exactly how Wyden is one of those to blame for it. They find his position and role in this are fundamentally offensive to what they stand for, and therefore they are resolved to not vote for him REGARDLESS of whether that means Democrats won't hold his Senate seat. They won't vote Republican, and they hope the DPO will get on the ball before we have a disaster in the fall, or that at least they can cast a protest vote for a non-major party candidate, but they absolutely are not going to cast a vote for Wyden if the final law looks essentially like the Senate bill and has no public option.

  • Paul Cox (unverified)
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    As I keep saying, the godly run this country. Socialized medicine is a sin against the Holy Spirit. If Americans would cultivate deep faith, they would need no medicine!

    Already, influential Christian leaders are promoting this kind of health care.

    Four people, including two young children, died while attending healing evangelist Benny Hinn’s crusade in Nairobi, Kenya, last May. The report from the Reuters news service said police told a local newspaper, the Kenya Times, that “the four had been released from a hospital to be cured at Benny Hinn’s ‘Miracle Crusade.’”

    In addition to the four deaths, it was reported that “Ten other people suffered serious injuries including broken jaws after falling from trees they climbed to get a view of the American preacher.”

    An earlier news article, which appeared in the Daily Nation, identified one of the deceased as Clondin Adhiambo, “an ailing four-month-old baby.” The infant was taken to Hinn’s meeting by her mother. The newspaper reported that according to police, “the baby’s condition worsened at the prayer venue and she was taken to MP Shah Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.”

    The Reuters story noted that faith healing in Kenya has become a well-received enterprise. “Preachers promising miracle cures from ailments ranging from AIDS to blindness have become increasingly popular in recent years in Kenya, a country where health care is out of the reach of many ordinary people and living standards have been gradually falling for years,” the report stated.

    No, that's nothing like the US!

    Also, the Catholic Bishops' Conference were consulted on this bill at every turn. Read the nurses take on it. Give you an idea where the power lies? The bill wasn't about "health", it was about insurance products. If I offer to give you a government subsidized car, is that about what you're using it for, or is that about giving you a car?

    Health Plans cannot get one dime more from employers. The Senate has had the good sense to not add to their burden, but to tax you and let that feed insurance companies balance projections.

    Got it?

  • (Show?)

    Kurt - re. medical loss ratios: I believe the Senate bill set different rates for large groups (85%)versus individual and small group plans (80%).

    I don't have info. re. large group/company averages, but last year Families USA did a survey of how/whether states regulate small group and individual plans. The chart shows that not many states had such requirements, and those that did set ratios generally in the 60s and 70s (lower in the individual market, higher in the small group market).

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    Galen, pointing out logical fallacies in your reasoning is not an attack.

    Since you appear to want some deeper explanation, I'll give you one example: Setting up a choice between "Freedom" and "socialism", as if they were the only two choices out of the universe of alternatives is known as a false dilemma.

    This false dilemma is compounded by the fact that you are treating your concept of freedom as though it described some state of affairs that actually exists in the world, as opposed to it merely being an ill-defined term that you have chosen to use to represent your (similarly ill-defined) concept of the United States and its economic system.

    Your argument is also circular in that your conclusion is assumed in your premise.

    I have no problem debating the merits of your position, but I will not pretend that the arguments you have put forward to this point are, in any accurate sense, logical.

  • galen (unverified)
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    Sal,

    I think we have different understandings so lets start here. We are speaking in abstracts based on experience and learning. Freedom I understand is a subjective reality so I guess we must agree on what that is to move forward.

    Would agree that freedom is self ownership?

    Do you believe rights belong to individuals and not the State?

  • galen (unverified)
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    Also since I pointed out that socialism has a 100% failure rate so we should also should agree what is failure.

    Any of the following I consider a failure, This means if any one of the following occur the system has failed.

    1. Being marched into a death shower alive such as happened under German National Socialism.
    2. Being exterminated by a firesquad for your polical view as happend under Soviet International Socialism.
    3. Loosing the right to free speech or any other right under the Bill of Rights.
    4. Monetary collapse where your life savings is wiped out overnight or your assets become worthless.
    5. Political collapse where the elected officals make rules they do not follow and legally exempt themselves from the rule of law and the Constitution is ignored. Thus the political system as founded no longer works as it did.
    6. The power of rights being vested in the State where you simply become a subject to the desires of the majority.
  • galen (unverified)
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    I was asking what one believes. Rights in America were fought for on the battlefield against a tyrannical government. Those rights are vested in those who won and passed down. I do consider our Country to be on the brink of failure because of what you point out. That though legally rights are supposed to be vested in individauals, they are now vested in the State. The Bill of Rights has been upheld to some extent in courts as individual rights, but not all. If rights are vested in the State they are in fact no longer rights put State powers. Once the State is in that position you have what we do now, no voice or power and little representation.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Also since I pointed out that socialism has a 100% failure rate so we should also should agree what is failure."

    Some socialist governments have failed, but the preceding statement is contradicted by several nations with strong socialist components that have elevated standards of living for many of their citizens. Many uninformed people write off national health care systems as socialist. The first in the industrialized world was promoted by one of Europe's most conservative leaders - Otto von Bismarck - who had the intelligence to recognize that if Germany was to be strong economically and militarily, then a system of taking care of the people's health was essential. (If only Congress and more Americans had that much sense.)

    The British followed Germany's lead and a national health care plan was promoted by the Socialist/Labour party with the support of another of Europe's more prominent conservatives - Winston Churchill - for much the same reasons as Bismarck. The British socialist/labour party was also instrumental in expanding the availability of education to the masses from going beyond an original elementary public education to eventually university level.

    The Scandinavians and the French have national health care systems and some of the highest standards of living in the world.

    "Any of the following I consider a failure, This means if any one of the following occur the system has failed.

    1. Being marched into a death shower alive such as happened under German National Socialism. "

    Confusing the German National Socialist party with socialism proves the contributor of this nonsense doesn't know what he is talking about. Hitler's National Socialist Party (Nazis) was socialist in name only. Before he and his thugs got around to persecuting the Jews, gypsies and others they beat up on, imprisoned, tortured and murdered communists and real socialists. Hitler was a dictator who used whatever political system served his purposes and tossed it aside when it was no longer of use to him.

  • (Not) Rob Kremer (unverified)
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    Posted by: galen | Dec 26, 2009 1:06:47 PM

    I was asking what one believes. Rights in America were fought for on the battlefield against a tyrannical government.

    Bull. The UK has better now, and the only thing that would be different in the 21st century if Hitler had won would be that we we wouldn't have neo nazis. By now he would be discredited and no one would want that shit. Even Europe would look no different, if they had been replaced by 1980.

    On the plus side, you would likely have a decent education, a skill that society could actually use, excellent plumbing, and trains everywhere, that run on time. Oh, and no middle east wars. Yeah, I'm glad we busted ass winning that one!

    You've always got to have your fix right now, which is why you're never positioned for tomorrow. The long game is the smart game.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    As long as we see this legislation for what it is, health insurance reform, its acceptable. The problem is if voters assume this is health care reform, which it isn't, and the costs of care continue to rise, and we still have significant numbers of Americans with little or no access to comprehensive health care.

    On passage, Obama could admit that he prefers single payer, that he doesn't believe the private insurance industry can effectively deliver the coverage America deserves, but at the urging of the Insurance Industry Senators, we're giving the private health care industry a last chance to work. And if the insurance companies, MD's, Drug companies and hospitals can't contain or reduce the cost of care and get universal coverage, then we'd actually move on to health care reform involving single payer.

  • galen (unverified)
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    Dear Bill Bodden you wrote:

    "Confusing the German National Socialist party with socialism proves the contributor of this nonsense doesn't know what he is talking about...."

    I beg to differ. Hitler brought National Health Care to Austria. Be careful on your assetions about my knowledge level. The Nazis were a socialist movement in the highest>

    Here is a little info for you:

    Printer Friendly PDF Format Subscribe to FFF Email Update Subscribe to Freedom Daily DONATE TO FFF Why Germans Supported Hitler, Part 1 by Jacob G. Hornberger, Posted July 16, 2007

    Part 1 | Part 2

    It has long intrigued me why the German people supported Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. After all, every schoolchild in America is taught that Hitler and his Nazi cohorts were the very epitome of evil. How could ordinary German citizens support people who were so obviously monstrous in nature?

    Standing against the Nazi tide was a remarkable group of young people known as the White Rose. Led by Hans and Sophie Scholl, a German brother and sister who were students at the University of Munich, the White Rose consisted of college students and a college professor who risked their lives to circulate anti-government pamphlets in the midst of World War II. Their arrest and trial was depicted in the German movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which was recently released on DVD in the United States.

    Of all the essays on liberty I have written in the past 20 years, my favorite is “The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent”, which I am pleased to say was later reprinted in Voices of the Holocaust, an anthology on the Holocaust for high-school students. The story of the White Rose is the most remarkable case of courage I have ever come across. It even inspired me to visit the University of Munich a few years ago, where portions of the White Rose pamphlets have been permanently enshrined on bricks laid into a plaza at the entrance to the school.

    A contrast to the Scholl movie is another recent German movie, Downfall, which details Hitler’s final days in the bunker, where he committed suicide near the end of the war. Among the people around Hitler was 22-year-old Traudl Junge, who became his secretary in 1942 and who faithfully served him in that capacity until the end. For me, the most stunning part of the film occurred at the end, when the real Traudl Junge (that is, not the actress who portrays her in the film) says,

    All these horrors I’ve heard of ... I assured myself with the thought of not being personally guilty. And that I didn’t know anything about the enormous scale of it. But one day I walked by a memorial plate of Sophie Scholl in the Franz-Joseph-Strasse.... And at that moment I actually realized ... that it might have been possible to get to know things.
    

    So here were two separate roads taken by German citizens. Most Germans took the road that Traudl Junge took — supporting their government in time of deep crisis. A few Germans took the road that Hans and Sophie Scholl took — opposing their government despite the deep crisis facing their nation.

    Why the difference? Why did some Germans support the Hitler regime while others opposed it?

    Each American should first ask himself what he would have done if he had been a German citizen during the Hitler regime. Would you have supported your government or would you have opposed it, not only during the 1930s but also after the outbreak of World War II?

    After all, it’s one thing to look at Nazi Germany retrospectively and from the vantage point of an outside citizen who has heard since childhood about the death camps and of Hitler’s monstrous nature. We look at those grainy films of Hitler delivering his bombastic speeches and our automatic reaction is that we would have never supported the man and his political party. But it’s quite another thing to place one’s self in the shoes of an ordinary German citizen and ask, “What would I have done?”

    What we often forget is that many Germans did not support Hitler and the Nazis at the start of the 1930s. Keep in mind that in the 1932 presidential election, Hitler received only 30.1 percent of the national vote. In the subsequent run-off election, he received only 36.8 percent of the vote. It wasn’t until President Hindenburg appointed him as chancellor in 1933 that Hitler began consolidating power.

    Among the major factors that motivated Germans to support Hitler during the 1930s was the tremendous economic crisis known as the Great Depression, which had struck Germany as hard as it had the United States and other parts of the world. What did many Germans do in response to the Great Depression? They did the same thing that many Americans did — they looked for a strong leader to get them out of the economic crisis.

    Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt

    In fact, there is a remarkable similarity between the economic policies that Hitler implemented and those that Franklin Roosevelt enacted. Keep in mind, first of all, that the German National Socialists were strong believers in Social Security, which Roosevelt introduced to the United States as part of his New Deal. Keep in mind also that the Nazis were strong believers in such other socialist schemes as public (i.e., government) schooling and national health care. In fact, my hunch is that very few Americans realize that Social Security, public schooling, Medicare, and Medicaid have their ideological roots in German socialism.

    Hitler and Roosevelt also shared a common commitment to such programs as government-business partnerships. In fact, until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which cartelized American industry, along with his “Blue Eagle” propaganda campaign, was the type of economic fascism that Hitler himself was embracing in Germany (as fascist ruler Benito Mussolini was also doing in Italy).

    Source:http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0703a.as

    All of the European systems you are quoting are less than a century old. Some of them have collapsed once or twice in the last century. The Swedish system is miserable these days, but the most sucessful but also the most difficult to copy for America. Do you need a link for the proof that Sweden is doing horribly? I used to live next door in Norway. I know a thing or two about this as well.

  • galen (unverified)
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    Rob the UK is quite the police state. I am not sure how their current situation bears any impact on the nature of rights in relation to our Revolutionary War?

    Also the long term game is to insure rights are recognized as belonging to individuals not groups. Groups always vote the rights of others away. This is shown all throughout history.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Also since I pointed out that socialism has a 100% failure rate so we should also should agree what is failure."

    The United States has been anti-socialist for over a century during which there were long periods of obscene disparities in the distribution of wealth so much so that some people could spend enormous fortunes on birthday and wedding parties while others, including children, lived in dire poverty. The same is repeated today with people living in poverty despite working two or three jobs and dying because they lack health care.

    "All of the European systems you are quoting (Scandinavia) are less than a century old. Some of them have collapsed once or twice in the last century. The Swedish system is miserable these days, but the most sucessful but also the most difficult to copy for America. Do you need a link for the proof that Sweden is doing horribly? I used to live next door in Norway. I know a thing or two about this as well."

    Galen: Despite the elevated sense of your own wisdom, I hope you will pardon me if I take Stanford University's evaluation on the Quality of Life for nations around the world: No. 1 - Norway; No. 2 - Sweden. Presumably, your profound range of knowledge will cause you to be aware that Stanford University is anything but a hotbed of left-wing radicals.

  • galen (unverified)
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    Hi There Bill,

    Thanks for the link. First the link is just a story based on a UN study. Here is the criteria: The Human Development Index ranks 177 countries through a composite measurement of life expectancy, education, adult literacy rates, school enrollments, GDP and per capita income

    We have a lower life expanctancy for several factors. Some being we allow poison into our food system, Big Pharma and insurance companies run our legislation, and for literacy rates, this is not the objective of our public schools. The people who control our policy are far more corrupt than those in Scandinavia.

    There are other factors too. For example Norway (my teenage home) has a per capita income of $36,000 to 40,000 depending on the index this moves it high up in the rankings. The United States is around $40,000 However in Norway higher pay does not equal higher living standard. When I was 15 a beer in the pub was almost $10 here is $3 or $4 still today. The point being it does not buy as much, in fact it does not buy half as much. So the GDP rating on this aspect does not translate well.

    Norway and Sweden do have much less corrupt government than the US and this has helped. In the US all leaglized plunder goes to help the wealthy and a little trickles down to the poor. So you ask, why am I saying they are miserable in Sweden?

    Read this Link it will show you problems the UN studies do not consider and the real situation on the ground in Sweden.

    I am impressed Bill that you would continue the dialog. Most people would just start calling names or fall off or do my favorite and attack my grammer.

    I love the idea of medical fairness and I think the insurance companies are commiting fraud. I am all for stopping fraud, but not for centralized control. I believe or objectives are very similar, I just see the path of using the State to achieve these objectives is a road to totalitarianism.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Galen, given this, I wonder where you stand on abortion:

    "Freedom I understand is a subjective reality so I guess we must agree on what that is to move forward.

    Would agree that freedom is self ownership?

    Do you believe rights belong to individuals and not the State?"

    It was on the news this morning that the Conference of Catholic Bishops disagrees with a Catholic hospitals group and a group of nuns over the Nelzon/Senate abortion language. It was Barry Goldwater who said "Do you mean to tell me that we fought communism just so we could tell women they have no right to make their own medical decisions?

    "Self ownership" sounds a lot like "if you fall on economic hard times, just hope you can qualify for a discount card from a local nonprofit clinic because for the government to give you any help with medical or dental bills would be socialism".

    Check out the definition for Social Darwinism of a century ago. Basically it said that if someone worked 10 hour days in a factory, got sick, lost their job, that was just tough luck because the strong survive and the rest don't matter.

    Of course those were the days when women could not vote or own property, when many finished 8th grade and then worked on the family farm, in factories, or became apprentices. There was no regulation of food or drugs until the Pure Food and Drug Act, and if some rich guys tried to "corner the market" and in the process ordinary folks lost their life savings, tough luck.

    That is why the Progressive Era started with Teddy Roosevelt, with the Northern Securities case (insider trading) and the Muller v. Oregon decision (Oregon could pass "maximum hour" laws which eventually led to the 8 hour day), the other laws to restrict such things as business practices and try to deal with income disparity.

    If you have no problem with income disparity because hard working people never lose their jobs (from management downwards) then say so.

  • toilet half-full (unverified)
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    Re: "It will mandate that 80-85 percent of premiums go to medical services"

    Since the insurance corporations' revenues are limited to a percentage based on how much is spent on health care, to increase their own net revenues they are highly incentivized to dramatically increase spending on health care! The more dollars they throw at health care, the more their net revenues grow since they receive a fixed percentage of all dollars spent.

    "Just imagine entrepreneurial innovation at work. They will encourage every imaginable program that they can label as patient care because they will receive a fixed percentage of the spending on those programs. Think of it: more expensive electronic medical records and information technology systems, more home health services with a motorized scooter for each level in the home, more costly high-tech services regardless of demonstrated value, higher-priced brand drugs instead of generics, six-figure biologics and cancer drugs, rewarding increased frequency and intensity of services, and, the clincher, blinders to the massive fraud that would be rewarded under this system!" (Dr. Don McCanne, The wisdom of a legislated medical loss ratio, http://two.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/quote-of-the-day)

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    "galen" should be a cautionary example to a lot of people here of the populist, right-leaning libertarian backlash that is fast building to the corporate welfare nation our elected officials from both parties are aggressively working to build. He is quite representative of folks I know, and of a viewpoint a lot of other folks I know are giving a sympathetic hearing.

    It is only through the accident of the last two elections that put arrogant, tone-deaf Democratic majorities and their relatively poorly informed supporters we see here in control, so that this health insurance reform with mandated tribute to the private insurance companies and no alternative, is the latest concrete action against the people in that program. And it is because that is the latest concrete action that we see the next step in the backlash that Jane Hamsher and other thoughtful individuals are now building with considerable more knowledge, skill, and in the hope of shaping it positively.

    We ignore or oppose the honorable efforts of her and others who are building necessary momentum against the corrupt reform model of the Senate bill at considerable risk.

  • (Show?)

    According to the Families USA study, insurance companies have actually been forced to return millions of dollars in premiums to consumers when they're failed to meet their obligations:

    In Maine in 2008 insurers had to return $7.6 million in premiums. In New Jersey between 1993 and 2006, insurers refunded $11.6 million. *In New York one company will have to refund $50 million to 37,000 small businesses because they failed to meet the ratio requirements in 2006

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    Given your challenge to Galen then LT, do you oppose both the Senate and the House bill which mandates we have no choice except to do business with the private health insurance industry? And do you oppose Ron Wyden for his position that this is THE key thing to be accomplished with this reform, even if it meant using the public option as a bargaining chip?

    As a uncompromising pro-choice advocate who supports a reform that allows and makes it attractive for all to buy into the Medicare system, I see both the Wyden/Baucus/Reid Senate bill, with the incorporated Nelson language and a mandate without public option as unacceptable as the House bill with the incorporated Stupak language and the mandate with a public option that is designed to fail.

    Or is your position only that so long as the restrictions on our choice match what you and the politicians you fawn over agree with, it's OK?

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    According to the Families USA study, insurance companies have actually been forced to return millions of dollars in premiums to consumers when they're failed to meet their obligations:

    Dan, and your point with this, other than to prove you really are out there wandering around in your own head somewhere, would be what?

  • (Show?)

    I thought the point was clear: measured against the ideal of a universal single-payer system, every individual measure that's actually under debate in Congress will fail miserably, and in each post you try making the point over and over and over. But to what end?

    I’m assuming that you weren’t actually under the illusion that the current fight really has been about fundamental, transformational change in our health care system. That balloon should have been burst if not earlier, at least in July, when President Obama talked about "health insurance reform" instead of "health care reform." But I suspect most readers here know the difference between health insurance and health care, and have never seen the recent debate in the terms you’re trying to foist on them.

    So – why keep arguing as if this debate is about transformational change? It’s not. It’s devolved into a far more limited fight over some modest and some much more than modest, incremental changes. But these changes do have actual, real world benefits, from providing coverage to tens of millions of people to raising the bar substantially in mandated medical loss ratios which, in states that have followed this path already, have taken tens of millions of dollars out of the insurance companies' pockets and returned them to consumers.

    These are what you derisively call “crumbs.” Whatever. You can continue your attacks, but you're arguing with phantoms. Others will fight to wring the best they can out of the reconciliation.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "I am impressed Bill that you would continue the dialog. Most people would just start calling names or fall off or do my favorite and attack my grammer."

    Galen: I refuse to engage in a debate with anyone who indulges in name calling unless I respond with a put-down that doesn't resort to that tactic. I recommend you do the same. As for your (English) grammar, I suspect it is much better than the Norwegian or other grammar (including English) of some of the people who might resort to personal attacks.

  • (Show?)

    Norwegian

    Say what? Bill, have there been some choice Norwegian epithets tossed around here that the rest of us might have missed? :-0

  • galen (unverified)
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    LT,

    The question is simple. I think you are overeading it a bit. Do you believe in self-ownership? I will expound a tad.

    Generaly speaking if we do not believe in self-ownership then we believe others have authority over you from birth. You have no choice in the matter. There is nothing you can do about it. Labor is one aspect of self ownership. Jefferson one of my favorites:

    "A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. " -Jefferson

    Now he is not arguing against all taxation, but taxing labor itself. It is criminal act IMO

    Do rights come from the State?

    IF they do than you are subject to whatever the State or population wishes for you as was the case in Nazi Germany which was a Nation State ruled by popular values of the time not individual liberty. However if you retain your personal rights, there are limits to what power the have over you in the ballot box. The former almost always leads to tyranny when the ignorant masses vote your rights away or use the force of law to plunder you.

    Oh and who ever is calling me a right winger, I consider that name calling. Conservative = law and order fascist in my book, please do not put me in that boat. I believe in social and economic freedoms. That is the classical definition of a liberal not to be confused with a Statist who believes that State can solve all problems and is a social equalizer.

    Regarding the issue of Abortion. This is a greatly stratifiying issue. If the child is a human being then it has its own rigths, if it is not, then the rights belong to the mother. The debate is over when life begins really. Classical liberals fall into both boats in this issue due to the debate not being over your right to live, but rather when are you actually living.

  • (Show?)

    Would agree that freedom is self ownership?

    I'm not sure what "self-ownership" means. I would define freedom the same way that Merriam-Webster does. It is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.

    However, if you are suggesting that freedom implies an absolute degree of self-determination then your previous argument, which implied that freedom is some form of economic system endemic to the United States that stands in contradiction to socialism, makes even less sense than it did before.

    I would also point out that capitalist systems do not necessarily entail human freedom, and that several policies that some might consider "socialist programs" are central to the American economy. Some examples include..

    • public roads
    • public schools
    • public waste collection
    • publicly-funded emergency response (police, firefighters, etc.)
    • social safety nets
    • a central US bank
    • waste collection and treatment
    • public ports, including airports
    • etc. ad infinitum

    What we have in the United States is not "freedom" as you were using the term earlier, nor is it capitalism. What we have is a mixed economy that incorporates elements of socialism, elements of capitalism, and programs that do not fit neatly into either system.

    Also, to answer your question about human rights... I believe that there are certain "inalienable rights" but that they are meaningless unless people generally agree what they are (i.e., they are a social construct) and unless a state recognizes, promotes, and defends them.

  • (Show?)

    wring the best they can out of the reconciliation

    ooops - that should have been "conference" not "reconciliation."

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    Dan, Kurt has made the assertion that medical loss ratios are substantially lower in practice than 80-85 percent. Do you have any estimates on what these ratios actually are in practise (that is, regardless of the level mandated by any particular state).

    I was under the impression that the actual medical loss ratio is much higher than the 5-10 percent that Kurt quoted, but have no real knowledge about that one way or the other.

    Also, what is your take on my concern, which is that the CBO is saying that this bill, despite making coverage more widely available, will actually increase health care costs for consumers?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    sal, I wasn't clear and I apologize. I meant to state clearly that medical cost experience ratios are even HIGHER than 80% in most employer based plans. My questions was, if the Senate mandate is that 80% - 85% must be spent on health claims, are the Senate democrats then GUARANTEEING a 15%-20% profit margin for the insurance companies?

    I apologize for the confusion.

  • (Show?)

    Sal and Kurt -

    I posted above what I have on this, which was the Families USA survey of states. That referred to the individual and small group markets. Kurt's question, though, referred to large group markets, and I don't have the comparable data. I'd also add that if the MLR is, say, 80%, while the companies will certainly try to account for as many costs as they can under that 80%, the remaining 20% is not all profit, and has to cover administrative costs (including salaries), commissions, etc.

    Sal, I definitely share concerns re. rising costs for consumers, especially those who will not be heavily subsidized. At the same time, I have also seen what appear to be credible comparisons showing very substantial reductions in cost for low and moderate income families - this chart, for example, from a report by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

    So - it looks to me like it all depends on what income level you're at and what kind of existing coverage you have. And that's one of the key political problems with the current bill, right? I.e., middle income workers and families may incur additional costs, especially if the Senate (excise tax) versus the House ("millionaire's tax") funding mechanism prevails; if they put a cap on deductible FSA contributions; etc. – unless, of course, premium costs are driven down significantly.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    But these changes do have actual, real world benefits, from providing coverage to tens of millions of people to raising the bar substantially in mandated medical loss ratios which, in states that have followed this path already, have taken tens of millions of dollars out of the insurance companies' pockets and returned them to consumers.

    Dan "Whatever" Petegorsky, I think your point has left a few dots, well actually most of them, unconnected. That is, if you really even have a serious point to make, since it sure seems you are just throwing out random "stuff" to see what might fool the unaware.

    The discussion was about the fact that an outrageously low 80%-85% MLR is welfare for the insurance industry. And that even that 80%-85% figure is a misleading deceit on what it requires insurance companies to actually spend on what are considered to be medical care, because a very significant amount of expenses can now be claimed as a medical expense that at least customarily weren't in the past. This was noted to point out just one example of how this bill is corporate welfare and supposedly progressive "reforms" are anything but.

    So you cite a study by a health care advocacy group that defines the safe liberal mainstream, that only voiced politically correct support for a public plan, that has refused to support a national health insurance plan, and who refuses to disclose who funds them, that a report which only discloses that several states enforce an MLR is a big win? (I presume you are citing this report, in which you'll find NO advocacy that the data there is presented as an argument for the Senate bill.)

    For those who don't know Families USA and Ron Pollack, they are the quintessential example of a group that works hard to be the group that mainstream media looks to for the "official" liberal position on health care reform. Pollack showed his true colors back in August 2009 (follow the link in this quote in the actual story for more details):

    For me, though, the most tell-tale sign of the public plan’s demise came from Families USA executive director Ron Pollack, the cheerleader-in-chief for health reform. After his consumer advocacy group climbed into bed with Big PhRMA, Pollack said that while a public plan is “important,” the “key ingredients in making health coverage affordable are addressed through what we’re talking about.” Among Pollack’s key ingredients: expanding Medicaid, giving families subsidies to buy insurance in the private market, insurance market reforms and limiting out of pocket expenses.

    As it turns out, for those states in the Families USA report the 80%-85% MLRs in the Senate bill may even be a financial win for the insurance companies. Where the report text mentions state laws at all, the MLRs only include claims experience, ie. only medical services, count towards the MLR, not the other expenses that the Senate bill allows companies to count towards MLRs. Does anybody think the industry lobbyists weren't on top of that twist?

    These are what you derisively call “crumbs.” Whatever. You can continue your attacks, but you're arguing with phantoms. Others will fight to wring the best they can out of the reconciliation.

    Dan, just what is it that you and your fellow establishment "progressives" and lazy professional "activists" doing to wring the best you can out of reconciliation? Making a few bored phone calls? The reality is that the grassroots is building a consensus that defies standard political divisions, and a political backlash is building that will change everything if the establishment Democrats in the Senate like Wyden persist on the path they are headed. You can tut-tut with that superior attitude all you want. Sounds a lot more to me like fearfully whistling past the graveyard in elitist arrogance.

  • jaybeat (unverified)
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    At the risk of beating a dead horse, here goes:

    Galen sez:

    You do believe, despite the evidence to the contrary, that central planning works better than freedom when it comes to the lives of individuals?

    Corporations plan quite nicely, in their own interests. Given that the largest are trans-national, they, in effect, make economic and in fact social policy (employee rights, benefits, working conditions, etc.) in a far more centralized fashion than nation-states could possibly achieve.

    Problem is, the objective of said policies is nothing like "provid[ing] for the common welfare," etc. Their objective is only to maximize profit in order to maximize shareholder value. "Freedom," my good man, is not even on the radar.

    So, given the choice between planning that is not even remotely supposed to be for my benefit, and planning that just might, possibly, be a little bit in the interest of We the People, I'll take the later, every time. 'Course if we could get the money from the first out of the second, it would be working for us WAY more of the time than it is now.

    Do you believe rights come from the State? and government can make better decisions regarding the life of individuals than those individuals themselves can?

    Rights unprotected don't really exist, now do they. Government can protect me from corporate predators a heck of a lot better than any individual can protect themselves ("provide for the common defense" takes on a whole new but not entirely unintended meaning). And I do think there are a whole host of "decisions" that We the People are better off keeping the stupider of us from making. Want to buy a care without seat belts, air bags, or crumple zones? 40 years ago you could. And you'd be a lot more likely to die in a car crash, too. I for one am glad that no one is allowed to make that kind of decision. You can add drinking polluted water and eating poison food to those. If only...

    Keep in mind national health-care an only manifest if we believe and allow rights to come from the State.

    Now you're just being silly. In a state-free society the individual, so the story goes, has ALL rights, no? Like the right to buy affordable health insurance coverage, even if they've been sick before? Oh, OK, not that one. Like the right to continue to have health insurance at a previously-paid rate, even after employment (under which health insurance was secured) terminates? No, not that, either. How about the right, under a private, state-free health insurance policy, to be covered, when sick, because you paid all the premiums as required? No, not that, either.

    The State is there, simply put, to level an inherently un-level playing field, based on the fact that those with more resources will always have an advantage over those with less. Unless you like always being the weakling younger sibling always getting beaten up and taken advantage of by the stronger older one, you'd better look to band together with your fellow weaker, younger siblings and, through your collective strength (you knew I was a commie all along, didn't ya!) fight back and maybe, just maybe, keep yourselves from being given a continuous wedgie.

    Now, granted, our system today is a far cry from that, because (pushing the metaphor, I grant you), the older kid has bribed enough of the younger ones with candy that they are willing to sell themselves out. Leaving the rest of us in almost-continuous wedgie-land.

    But, I for one am sure that we're being given the heave ho enough less than we would without banding together that it is worth continuing. A chance of getting what we need beats the certainty of never having that chance every time.

  • (Show?)

    "That said, we should not leave the issue. Start over with a reconciliation bill that just addresses a public option. And another bill that just deals with insurance reform: drug reimportation, no annual caps, no preexisting conditions. "

    Exactly so.

  • galen (unverified)
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    Thanks for the response Sal,

    This is a very meaningful and valid path you have chosen for your response. Your quote: "I'm not sure what "self-ownership" means. I would define freedom the same way that Merriam-Webster does. It is the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action."

    This is pretty much on the spot. I would define it further by saying the less coercion and fraud we have the more freedom we have.

    I do agree that the United States is not free, but a certain point it was more free than the rest of the world. This is however not the case at this time.

    My point is where rights are vested in the State or the majority there is less freedom. This type of state power is unacceptable in Free Market Capitalism, but mandatory for socialism or fascism.

    Free market capitalism does translate to freedom because it requires freedom in both social and financial endeavors. Unions for example are part of freedom of association and not contrary to free market capitalism. The abusive Wal Mart Corp is not really free market because it requires subsidies from local and state governments. In socialism one is responsible for the bad choices of another and under the perceived contract with society this person does not own their own labor, but owe it to "society" which is perceived by socialist to be the government even though it is not.

    Ok so I will work on your list of "Socialist" projects.

    <h1>Public roads</h1>

    While a collective and legal power in America it does not have to fall under Socialism because they pay for themselves through road taxes and driving is a privilege not a right. Nor are the taxes redistribution of wealth.

    <h1>Public schools</h1>

    It is a grey area because the government decides what is taught and the money is collected through coercion. That is threat of death or imprisonment or loss of property if not paid for. Attending public schools is mandatory and the curriculum is not controlled by the people, but instead lobbyists. The positive aspect is at least most of the taxes are local and done through ballot measure. However since public schools have an element of government sanctioned monetary equality it is a grey area. I have never rallied against schools and in fact have supported public schools as did Jefferson. We in Oregon have the unfortunate reality of having a legislature that does not like to fund public schools and instead funds other projects leaving schools out of the loop. Thus measure 66 and 67 are on the ballot now because they know we are all pro school even though they had the funds for it. Do not let them show us as idiots.

    <h1>Public waste collection</h1>

    If you pay for use per person it is not socialist, it could be provided for by the private sector as well. No one is ever imprisoned for not paying for waste collection at least where I live. It does not redistribute wealth.

    <h1>publicly-funded emergency response (police, firefighters, etc.)</h1>

    This is part of what is considered legitimate government. We create governments to protect our lives liberty and property so tax dollars used for this purpose is considered acceptable though it is a collective power. How the taxes are collected for this power is important for its definition as well, but since it is not trying to create monetary equality by force it is not socialism. There is no plunder involved.

    <h1>social safety nets</h1>

    If these social saftey net is paid for with tax dollars that are mandatory. That is collected under threat of violence, it is socialism, because this would be a government attempt to create monetary equality by taking money from one group by coercion and giving it to another. Salvation Army for example is not socialism but is a social safety net.

    <h1>a central US bank</h1>

    This would be fascism because it allows a private bank (The Federal Reserve) to print money out of thin air. It can print as much as it wants without oversight and the taxpayers are on the hook for its actions. If the taxpayers do not pay for the mistakes of this private company they are imprisoned. This system does not try to create monetary equality but superiority of one class over another.

    <h1>waste collection and treatment</h1>

    That is as above for collection.

    <h1>public ports, including airports</h1>

    See Roads

    Socialism since it is a collective power requires government violence or coercion in order to work so it is by nature contrary to freedom which requires minimal coercion. The most important aspect of socialism I spoke about earlier. It is government attempt to create monetary equality. This is another essential element of socialism

    Your quote; “Also, to answer your question about human rights... I believe that there are certain "inalienable rights" but that they are meaningless unless people generally agree what they are (i.e., they are a social construct) and unless a state recognizes, promotes, and defends them.” If people must generally agree in order for them to be rights, they are not inalienable rights. They are popular values. We do not need a government to enforce popular values. We need a government at times to defend us from them. When the government no longer defends rights because they are not popular, as we have today, that government is no longer legitimate but a tool of the majority.

  • Brig. Peri Brown, Purity Troll Brigade (unverified)
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    Dan asks the right question about the constant over and over on the failures. Many want an outright admission that the DP, as an institution, has failed. Many others will not consider that. Hence, the circular talk.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Many want an outright admission that the DP, as an institution, has failed. Many others will not consider that. Hence, the circular talk."

    It is not only the Democratic Party (DP) that has failed but also the White House and all but very few members of Congress (Democrats and Republicans) who could not rise to the occasion because of a lack of moral courage, integrity, knowledge and intelligence to do the right thing. Add to them an ill-informed citizenry. This does appear to be the modus operandum. The march of folly continues.

  • galen (unverified)
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    jaybeat you are new on the debate totem pole with me, I just saw your comment. I welcome your presence. I will get to most of your points when I have more time. Regarding corporations and their obligations to the common good, I would suggest you watch the following film I do think you will like it, this is not a joke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8LPNRI_6T8 This clearly outlines the role of corporations as intended in early American law and expounds upon the problems we face today. Watch the whole film please. Keep in mind personal businesses and Corporations under individual liberty are not the same. Corporations are not supposed to have rights and individuals are. Today they are often treated the same. After watching the film, read some Jefferson quotes at this point you will have some better context as to what was intended for America. I have some great Federalist paper quotes for you too if you still are in disagreement. Now regarding the right to low cost insurance and such. Rights are negative in nature not positive. If they are positive, others must be enslaved or coerced to insure that right which makes it contrary to the very definition of freedom. I am not sure if you understand what I am saying. I will touch on it more later. Thanks for your input and motive.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    There's been lot's of dodgy lege this session, but this one is really uniting true progressives. Most important social lege of the last 40 years? Definitely is the most important for creating a unified, third, progressive party.

    I think this may be demonstrating what I've thought about an essential difference between solid progressives and party animals. Namely, that progressives put facts ahead of personality and cronyism and party animals the reverse. This bill is unifying progressives because it highlights that difference so clearly.

    Pat can best answer the point. Having moved back towards the Dem fold, would you have come down to the same bottom line before that move?

    The debate is about ideology, more than the bill, not that that's particularly bad.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    Please, please, please, please, please don't feed the right wing trolls. Here. Please?

  • PumaJ (unverified)
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    I'm all for single payor, universal coverage health insurance, myself. Whether by expansion of Medicare or Medicaid, or both by combining them into one program. However, given the extraordinarily negative partisanship and ego games we currently have going on in Congress (esp. in the Senate), I'm amazed that any type of health insurance reform bills have come forth at all. In any case, the deed is not yet complete as the Senate & House bills need to be reconciled. I'm hoping that we get something a bit more tolerable when the two are joined. In the meantime......

    The media, including the "progressive" commentators of MSNBC, are busy hyperventilating whilst they busily spew out erroneous facts. As for Ms. Hamsher, I wouldn't jump on her bandwagon either. Ezra Klein does a nice deconstruction of her negative spin & fact mis-statements in his article Jane Hamsher's 10 reasons to kill the bill

    Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight also has some thoughtful fact filled commentary in two of his recent posts, Another Left-Right Convergence and Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill

    I'm thinking we will have to accept what we get for now, and then continue to work for improvement just as we did with Medicare, Medicaid & the Civil Rights bills.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    Dan asks the right question about the constant over and over on the failures. Many want an outright admission that the DP, as an institution, has failed. Many others will not consider that. Hence, the circular talk.

    Brig. Purity, You describe the debate here nicely. Events unfold of their own logic in the real world, however, as I am guessing you might agree.

    Right now, the Democrats in Congress know they are on track to pass a bill that is a big mistake. But because of hubris and a widespread absence of true leadership ability, they have created a situation in which they have no choice except to plunge ahead because they really don't know what else to do.

    The Democrats are going to pass a bad bill and there is going to be a populist backlash that will not be good for the country, and certainly not for working and poor people. It doesn't matter what anybody convinces anyone else of here.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    I guess I don't understand what part of "Americans do not want to sign over more of their lives to large corporations" is unclear.

    That is what this bill is going to do . . . in effect it makes our physical selves indefinitely indentured servants to the for profit corporate system that is, at its core, dedicated to offloading the cost of expensive people and maximizing the payments that people make.

    Now just about every person in the USA knows at some level, conscious or unconscious, that this is batshit crazy.

    Moreover, as the past year has dramatically demonstrated, those same corporations can and do regularly buy members of Congress in both political parties, and they stay bought. (Don't they Ron Wyden?)

    So, yes, we are going to be insuring a lot of new people, and yes, it will be expensive, and yes, there will be some unforeseen unintended consequences and we'll have to work on those but, really people-who-post-on-a-board-that-calls-itself-"progressive," WTF part of this is either opaque or trivial? Because I swear to Zeus I don't get it?

    Any chance we have of getting free of the maw of the corporate beast that is the actual problem (and the entire rest of the planet knows this - check their plans and check their results) are now officially circling the toilet and that flushing sound you hear is YOU saying, David Broder-like, "Well, it's not everything we wanted, but we'll fix it in the mix."

    Seriously. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

  • (Show?)

    If folks haven't seen it, Peter Dreier has a (long but) good piece on next steps, recognizing the flaws in the current bill. For those firmly in the "kill the bill" camp, skip the first part.

  • Bradley (unverified)
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    I am in general agreement with Pat, but President Obama desperately needs to step up and improve the bill in conference. I would suggest far stronger insurance regulation (for all the hilarious blaming of Wyden that Eyes Open engages in, Obama would actually do well to examine the far more exacting insurance regulation from Wyden's actual proposal). If we reduce the profit potential of these insurance companies and maximize the amount of money being spent on wellness and health, it would be an enormous improvement on the status quo.

    I'm with Nate Silver who prefers Wyden or single payer to the faux public option or the bills that actually emerged. Single Payer and the actual Wyden proposal are real reform and, whether it is government or a fully emasculated insurance industry administering the benefits, either would be fantastic compared to the situation today.

  • jaybeat (unverified)
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    Joe, "Any chance we have of getting free of the maw of the corporate beast that is the actual problem..."

    Whatever made you think there was EVER such a chance?

    I think, unwittingly, perhaps, you've hit upon why this disappointment of a bill is such a HUGE deal to so many. It seems to have become a primary indicator, a key test of whether this government was going to overthrow the corporate hegemony.

    But, seriously? To have thought there was a snowball's chance in hell of that ACTUALLY happening?? Well, as I've said before, you'd be smokin' some serious s**t!!

    Our government, D and R, is bought and paid for by Corporate Power USA (Global, actually). There was NEVER ANY CHANCE that a health care bill, or any other bill, would do serious damage to those interests. Get freakin' real!

    Now, on the other hand, to say that a D government gives the corporate thieves just as much as an R government? Well that's equally bat-shit-crazy. From environmental protections to foreign policy, the Ds are charting a very different course than the Rs did, and thank goodness for it. And to suggest that because the Ds didn't throw their corporate masters out of the House (and Senate) of the People that they are just as bad, well, that's not only stupid, it's dangerous--VERY dangerous.

    Reality Check--8 years of BushCo just about killed us; ALL. A GOP Congress in 2010 and/or in the WH in 2012, and there won't BE a next time.

    Now, I'm all for making the Dems better, holding their feet to the fire, etc. Shit, get rid of the 60 vote BS rule (or get rid of the 10 worst Senatecritters who caucus with the Ds) and you'd see the Corporatecritters quaking in their boots!!

    But you don't get there by saying, "These Dems didn't give us what we need (nevermind they never said they would) so we're going to throw them out--who cares if the Repukes win." When you do that, you get Bush in 2000, brought to you not only by the USSC and James Baker's legal attack dogs but by Ralph Nader, anti-corporate hero.

    So, come on, people. Stop beating your chests over the fact that this bill isn't something IT WAS NEVER GOING TO BE. Yes, Obama said he wanted a public option, and if he had fought harder for it, we might have it. (Heck, in Conference, we might still get it.) But it was NEVER going to be single payer, it was NEVER going to be get the profit out of healthcare, it was NEVER going to be ANY of the things the Kill It crowd are pissed off that it is not.

    The dreaded evil mandate? Get real. Hillary saw the writing on the wall on this one, didn't promise us a pony and lost because of it. The price of pseudo-universal coverage is that healthy people have to buy in in order to pay for covering the sick. That's how it works. Who else is going to pay for it--the insurance companies? Rich taxpayers? Bwahahaha! That would be nice, but so would watching Joe Lieberman swallow himself whole, but it ain't gonna happen.

    Really, we should stop thinking of our political system as two-party and instead think of it as more of a coalition system: We've got the anti-corporate left, the pro-corporate Dems, the way-more-pro-corporate Repukes, and the tea-bag theocrats. Now, given the amount of corporate cash fueling the tea-bag-crazies, we have a situation where they will almost always join forces with the GOP. So if we (the anti-corporate left) don't join forces with the pro-corporate Dems, WE WILL ALWAYS LOSE.

    Now, you can argue that, by supporting the pro-corporate Dems, we in fact lose, anyway, so who gives a rip. But things aren't that black and white. We don't lose as much. We don't lose as badly. If we didn't hold our nose and vote D, we would have had a second term of Bush I, and be living under McLame today. No difference you say? I disagree. Want climate change deniers in charge of climate change policy? Want religious fanatics making the law of the land? (You thought Stupak was bad? Ha!) Want absolutely NO CHANGE in the health care situation? Well, maybe you do, but I don't.

  • Brig. Peri Brown, Purity Troll Brigade (unverified)
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    Joe, a number of progressives have gone through extended bouts of hair pulling, name calling, logic, cajoling, begging, pleading...you name it, due to "that word" on the masthead.

    If you're as deep in the purity nebula as I am, it takes a long time to parse their usage. My take is that it is what regular old left-of-center Dems started calling themselves about the time Karl Rove convinced them that "liberal" was a bad word. So they started saying "progressive".

    That's all. Those of us that see it as a paradigm shift from party politics as Amerusual, are using it very differently. Maybe I can get the sentiment across to mainstream Dems with the following analogy. How pleased would you be, if the Progressive Party started calling itself the Democrat Party? Same deal. Taking bogus sentiment spewed by right wing talk radio, dignifying it with a place in the political debate, then apprehending a label that will only confuse folks about what it is that the Democratic Party of America is all about, is an exact parallel to the situation I describe.

    I have no doubt that they wouldn't be best pleased, either. You will notice that quite a few PP'ers have developed pretty thick callouses. A few have only been more sensitized. On BO, the former are seen as rude, and the latter as whiney. I have an inkling now how plains natives must have felt, after being displaced from their lands, dieing of poverty, when they came around settlers' cabins to beg, borrow or steal, they were held up as examples of the immorality inherent in native savages clearly inferior to that which motivated the settlers' godly march.

    Agreed, "Eyes". Joe, this thread is a model discussion, by local standards. If you think some are feeding trolls- actually I don't know who you think is a right wing troll (Galen?)- then you haven't suffered the real thing on here. There are a goodly five that would make Rush blush.

    FWIW, I'm kinda hooked on the WWII phonetic alphabet. "William Tare Fox" makes a dandy pseudonym, if any are shopping around!

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    jaybeat, Pumaj, Dan, and the rest of you denier types here's what backlash looks like:

    States With Expanded Health Coverage Fight Bill

    Four (NJ, NY, WI, CA) of the five state mentioned there are "blue" states, as measured by have two D Senators, including one each who is identified to be on the "liberal" side of the Democratic Party, and a Democratic majority in their House delegations Only the fifth, AZ, is a "red" state.

    What's the reason the leaders in these states are not advocating that it's just a start, and let's think happy positive thoughts about improving it around the edges in conference?

    The reason is that these states were in the lead doing the kind of coverage expansions that people like Dan argue is the reason elitists who fly above it all like him should support the bill. They had done this, largely already in the costly way of funneling public funds to private health insurance entities, and mainly HMOs whose very principle is to remove medical decision making choice from patients. This bill penalizes them for having been in the lead to shift funds their taxpayers pay into states --- many of them red states --- where their taxpayers oppose the bill for other reasons. On top of that, at lot of their "blue" voters, middle and upper-middle class folks, the kind who actually support single-payer and public options for reasons of political values, will be hit with higher insurance premiums and the mandate they oppose on philosophical reasons.

    About that HMO and taking away patient choice thing. A lot of those other "blue" voters, the middle and upper middle class folks. They are the kinds of people who have an expectation of being able to make choices about their health care. While the supporters of this bill flippantly argue "if you like your insurance you can keep it", the reality is, not if you no longer can afford, or your boss can no longer afford it, or you lose your job. What a lot of them will experience is an unwilling loss of their insurance and, in enough cases to matter, being forced to change their doctors.

    And Dan, citing ivory tower types whose selectively quote, and who devote most of the of their column inches to pipe dreams of what we should do next that doesn't even have anything to do with what this bill will do on the ground to people in the next several years, is elitism on parade.

    And incidentally, the Professor --- of politics, by the way --- provides an fine example of how ivory tower types frequently don't do their homework AND frequently depend are some of the least intellectually honest arguers you can find. All to often, they tend to use their skill with language to propagandize to win, rather then to make honest, valid arguments that they profess is their ethic. Egos are ENORMOUS in academia, so winning is even more important, frequently, than intellectual honesty.

    In this case Drier quotes Hacker, another political scientist and not an actual expert in health care systems as an expert who should be listened to, and therefore why he (Drier) should be listened to. This, even though academics tend to be the one to claim that only experts in a field should be deferred to for information about the field. The problem is the only evidence of Hacker's expertise Drier cites, except that Hacker sits at the top of the ivory tower at Yale, of course, is the meme out there Hacker is "credited" with "devising the public option". Drier doesn't do any scholarly work to prove that, as an academic is supposed to do before asserting we should therefore listen to Hacker and therefore to Drier. The fact is he'd find himself bogged down in playing word games about Hacker's priority claim on the whole idea of a public option, because Hacker just proposed his particular version of the idea, and it's not really what's in the House bill anyway.

    Drier has one other big problem, in that by doing this, he's made an ass of himself because Hacker made an ass of himself with the very column Drier quotes. And believe me, it's widely known out there. At this point Hacker is a laughingstock, in part as a typical disconnected ivory tower elitist who just says whatever he thinks he can get away with that will keep him in a favorable light amongst his caste peers like Dan. Just two weeks earlier in the same New Republic magazine Hacker said this when he thought that's what it took to keep his cred:

    This includes President Obama. He made the public plan part of his promise of change in 2008. Now he needs to put his weight and influence behind the public plan and its essential goals, rather than allow them to be gutted. This is in our nation’s interest. It is also in his and his party’s political interest. A bill that forces people to take private insurance but doesn’t create competition or a public benchmark is a prescription for unaffordable coverage, runaway costs, and political backlash. The “middle ground” is nowhere to stand if it’s going to crumble beneath you.

    So Dan, keep citing your information from the out-of-touch theorizers who are flying at the 50,000 foot level telling us how we should just listen to them and you. It does wonders to make your case.

  • that woman you just don't get (unverified)
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    Posted by: t.a. barnhart | Dec 25, 2009 11:03:21 PM

    it's rather precious being insulted viciously by people who won't even identify themselves. you know who i am; i don't separate myself from my opinions. the cowards who refuse to stand by their own words ... pathetic.

    What's pathetic is someone that would post on a controversial topic like Wal-Mart, then not read the responses because they offend your sensibilities or aren't signed right, or whatever. Meanwhile a goddamned con artist out-and-out posts a link to his little fraud operation, ripping off the unemployed. All righteous sentiment about livability, how about not fouling your own virtual nest?

    Do you really not know how these scams work? I'm being charitable calling you lazy and elitist. The cops would call this suborning a felony.

    Posted by: Charles brooks | Dec 27, 2009 2:24:26 AM

    I want to work online .. There are some thin if the legitimate work as a line there. Most are sites and marketing study for the site owner rich, not you. The only thing is true legitimacy Ebay, selling things you already own

    part time work (link)

  • that woman t.a. just doesn't git (unverified)
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    Posted by: Carla Axtman | Dec 27, 2009 9:38:40 AM

    Again--there's no reason to give a crap about anything you say here.

    Because s(he) makes your internship possible, doesn't qualify?

    Silly me. Seen any good "fu" movies lately? I've heard a lot about "Enter the Snark", staring Carla Lee Axtman.

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    Re. the NYTimes article:

    What's happening now is pure politics, as the article itself explains: "[G]overnors in the states that have done more to broaden coverage are now lobbying their Congressional delegations to eliminate the discrepancies as the two chambers reconcile the bills."

    Nelson score big bucks for Medicaid coverage in Nebraska, and now other states want a piece of the pie. They're lobbying to get as much from the bill as they can. Period.

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    ugh--close italics tag, I hope.

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    Because s(he) makes your internship possible, doesn't qualify?

    Silly me. Seen any good "fu" movies lately? I've heard a lot about "Enter the Snark", staring Carla Lee Axtman.

    Really? That's it?

    Gawd.

    Not only do you have no idea what you're talking about--you can't even articulate it intelligibly.

    You're not arguing merits..you're bloviating and hurling insults. It's a waste of everybody's time. If it gets you through the day to call push back on your BS "snark", by all means...color me snarky.

    Better that than wasting more time wading through the toilet bowl you're creating in comments here.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    So you don't like Pat, either. And you're not especially interested in actually debating merits. Why? Either you're incapable of doing so or doing so would reveal something you don't want others to know.

    Carla, do you know what the word "debating" or "merits" actually means? I suspect you have a rough idea, but you just are one of those people who isn't the brightest bulb on the tree, and but whose ego is so unbalanced that you can't stand to be ignored, so you just say anything to get attention. Even if it's negative attention in which people realize you're not the brightest bulb on the tree. This comment alone is a prime example of why a LOT of anonymity in your case would be a VERY, VERY good idea.

    I'm with Nate Silver who prefers Wyden or single payer to the faux public option or the bills that actually emerged. Single Payer and the actual Wyden proposal are real reform and, whether it is government or a fully emasculated insurance industry administering the benefits, either would be fantastic compared to the situation today.

    And Bradley, Wyden's proposal, the Healthy American's Act whose key concepts this bill came to embody, does the opposite of emasculating the insurance industry. You'r e listening too much to the talking points of a guy who people started to wonder just how stupid he thought they were whenever he got on the media and started to spout his talking points like an automaton, no matter what question he was asked.

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    Carla, do you know what the word "debating" or "merits" actually means? I suspect you have a rough idea, but you just are one of those people who isn't the brightest bulb on the tree, and but whose ego is so unbalanced that you can't stand to be ignored, so you just say anything to get attention. Even if it's negative attention in which people realize you're not the brightest bulb on the tree. This comment alone is a prime example of why a LOT of anonymity in your case would be a VERY, VERY good idea.

    Yes...I'm simply stupid.

    Thanks for proving my point.

  • jaybeat (unverified)
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    Those italics (among other things) were giving me a headache.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    Re. the NYTimes article: What's happening now is pure politics, as the article itself explains: "[G]overnors in the states that have done more to broaden coverage are now lobbying their Congressional delegations to eliminate the discrepancies as the two chambers reconcile the bills." Nelson score big bucks for Medicaid coverage in Nebraska, and now other states want a piece of the pie. They're lobbying to get as much from the bill as they can. Period.

    Here's Dan "Period" Petegorsky once again spouting about a bunch of rhetoric he thinks sounds like it means something that backs whatever point he's trying to make. Of course, the only point he's really trying to make is that we should just listen to what folks of a higher caste like him know what's best for the rest of us and should do it, even if it's irrational and nonsensical.

    Dan, ALL of this debate is about politics, and politicians doing what they can for who they actually represent. Corporate Democrats in the Senate, like Wyden, Murray, and Cantwell, are out to deliver corporate welfare, and get some political capital with a credulous base in the deal, and "blue" governors in those states are out to get the most health care benefits they can for their people. (And it's become increasingly clear who the ivory tower types like you are really out for first) So to dismiss this as "politics" is typically, for you, nonsensical on it's face.

    Now, you're point about Nelson, the way you make it, also betrays your maudlin, fraudulent claims who you really care about. It is wrong on the details in a way that you obviously intend to be misleading, if you actually knew the details, but you'll have to enlighten us whether you are ignorant to the details or intentionally being misleading. For the rest of you, here are the details, that explain why Dan's haughtily, elitist dismissal is extremely misleading:

    What those governors are talking about isn't Nelson's deal per se. They are talking about the provisions in a table on the bottom of page pg. 400 of the Senate bill. That table spells out an amendment to the Social Security Act that establishes Federal reimbursement rates after 2017 (but only until 2018) to the states for people who are newly eligible for Federally -funded programs including Medicaid. It's tricky here, but until 2017, the reimbursement rate for newly eligible people will be 100% of the reimbursement spelled out in the SSA for currently eligible people. To make the bogus budget predictions, this amendment specifies that for 2017 and 2018 the reimbursement rate drops.

    The problem is that it drops more for so-called "expansion" states like the five mentioned who already are doing the right thing at the time the bill is made law, then for "non-expansion" states who aren't. The "expansion" states who are already going the extra mile to raise tax revenues to get Federal matching funds will get less, even though they still have unmet health care needs, and some of the Federal tax revenues raised in those "blue" states will go to those "red" states who haven't.

    Furthermore, what happens after 2018 is a question mark at this point because the bill is silent on that point. We know the fiscal games that are being played to sell, so a "trust us" from the kind of Democrats and their supporters like Dan who are trying to sell this corporate welfare bill and their supporters is quite enough, thank you. Particularly after the smart-ass attitude they and people like Dan display even as they are telling us to trust them. That's what actually has the governors of those "blue" states, three of four (NY, NJ, WI) who are Democrats, by the way, is that this bill not only screws them, it leaves them hanging after 2018.

    Nelson's deal on page 98 of the Reid's Manager's Amendment just adds further insult to injury to these states. He, along with Wyden and the Democratic majority in the Senate out to deliver corporate welfare to the private insurance industry, not only screwed them and a number of other states with what has just been described (apparently including Oregon by the wa if Measure 66 and 67 passes so that the expansion of OHP passed by the 2009 Democratic majorities in the Oregon legislature goes into effect). No, he, with the support of Wyden and the rest who voted for the bill, got an additional special deal: Not only is non-expansion state Nebraska not subject to the inequitable reduction in 2017-2018 but instead gets 100% for those years, Nebraska gets 100% in perpetuity while the rest of the states have no idea what the future holds if this bill becomes law unless and until the law is changed subsequently.

    Yea, for smug establishment "progressives" and professional "grassroots activists" like Dan who flippantly throw out tripe like What's happening now is pure politics. ... Period. that's all it is. For the rest of us, it's real life. And we know that people like Dan, T.A., Carla, bradley, Wyden, and the rest who claim they are on our side, but really are mainly on their own side, are as much a part of the problem as those they try to finger point at to mislead us

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    maudlin??

    Hmmm - that's a seven letter word, isn't it? This means war!

  • toilet half-full (unverified)
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    Re: "to say that a D government gives the corporate thieves just as much as an R government? Well that's equally bat-shit-crazy. From environmental protections to foreign policy, the Ds are charting a very different course than the Rs did, and thank goodness for it"

    This is one more example of the toilet half-full philosophy. YOU are bat-shit crazy if you view Obama's foreign policy as significantly different from McCain's or even Bush's. Obama is presently attacking several nations who have never attacked us, contrary to U.S. and international law. He is spending more on militarism than Bush. He loves land mines, he threatens Iran with nuclear destruction, and he supports any U.S.-Israeli crime that you can think of.

    As for "environmental protections", I don't know whether to laugh or scream. It's because of you toilet half-full wingnuts that we balance precariously on the verge of self-destruction. Don't you understand what happened at Copenhagen?

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    Just think Dan...you might be able to get it up to EIGHT letters soon...do we break out the nukes then..?

    LOL

  • rw (unverified)
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    Daniel P - I saw a nasty, blessedly-short, piece of editorial comment tripe originating in Nevada today - proving your point viz this being another pointless greed-fest now.

  • Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS (unverified)
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    Daniel P - I saw a nasty, blessedly-short, piece of editorial comment tripe originating in Nevada today - proving your point viz this being another pointless greed-fest now.

    rw - would you be willing to hare a link or the content of what you are referring to here? Thanks.

  • Ed Harris (unverified)
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    Reform? What's that? Certainly not the political favor for vote bill that we are now looking at. Chicago politics at its best!

    And to think that HSAs will be phased out under the new Senate bill? Absurd!

    Affordable Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange

  • LT (unverified)
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    It amused me to hear Newt Gingrich talk about closed-door power politics now as if none happened when he was Speaker/when the Republicans controlled Congress.

    To the best of my knowledge, no vote this year was held open for hours in order to arm twist, and no Congressman was told "vote our way or your son's campaign will be hurt" as happened with Medicare Part D.

    And which was written as actually paid for--Part D or this year's health care plan?

  • Snark Hunting for Fun and Profit (unverified)
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    Sanity check: Kari on health care reform, six months ago .

    Maybe it's the Dem leadership that should be in the Smithsonian (stuffed).

    Another reason to go to FB correlated or someother validated IDs (besides your being the only blog on the planet that can't deal with spam), is that I've found it is handy to check which posters are friends of Nancy Pelosi. Not much to debate beyond that difference.

  • PumaJ (unverified)
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    Well, "Eyes Open, Sniffing for BS", I'm thinking either your eyes weren't too open when you read my post or you were so hot on your own trail & enamored of your own point of view, that you missed my point entirely. Why else would you resort to name calling as in terming me and others as "deniers"? Hm?

    A reasoned approach to this "health reform" problem does not a denier make. Even of the reasoned approach does not mesh with your view of the situation.

    I surely do remember all of the conniption fits folks had when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Heck, I remember the hissy fits, violence & riots that happened over desegregation, before the Act was passed. Many weren't too happy with Medicare at first either. But, you know what, we worked hard to get things improved, despite the Dark Ages of Reagan and onward through G.W. Bush.

    So, from my point of view, this pending legislation on health insurance/care reform is a huge step in the right direction imperfect as it is. It is a start and more than we've had goin' on thus far. For sure there are important tweaks & changes to make, but over time we'll get them done.

  • Del (unverified)
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    <h2>I imagine not. Reform is a realative term and what I am seeing certainly does not line up with my definition.</h2>

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