The Wimpy "Angry Left"

Pass the POS. Don't pass the POS. But don't tell me we're all moving forward together through a historic moment. Y'all sound like idiots. -- Charles Pierce

The title of this post is a reference to myself (which is silly of course, while I am angry, I am hardly Left) and people like me. People who agree with the critiques made against the bill, who disagree with the the "regulatory reform" framework that bill elevates, who believe in the public insurance reform framework that would be undermined by the bill - but do not oppose the bill. How can I support passage of the bill? Well, I'm not there yet, but I can tell you why I do not oppose the bill - the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. Having the wealthy pay for public insurance for the less well off is an important good. I just can not bring myself to oppose the bill because of that.

The debate between the proponents of the bill and the opponents of the bill is, at this point, an empty exercise. Lines have been drawn. Insults have been hurled. Credibility has been sacrificed. I mean, at this point, is there a credible actor in the discussion? No. For me there is nothing left to say that I have not already said. I leave you with this - Charles Pierce speaks for me:

My new favorite futile argument for passing the current POS is that, in our politics, simply by passing the aforementioned POS, we forever will have established, banners aloft, the notion that healthcare is a right or, at least, an affirmative obligation of the national government. As a result, we will be freer to move forward as the years go by. This is a fine argument, provided that you were cryogenically frozen in 1958. Let me explain to everyone holding this particular view what is going to happen. The POS is going to pass. The Republicans are going to oppose it and run against it. The Democrats are going to look ridiculous for a year defending it, and the Democrats who most opposed it are going to look the most ridiculous, because it is going to be politically impossible for a Democrat to run against this bill. The prevailing media narrative will prevent it. Millions more American will have health insurance, but millions of Americans will be forced by law to fork over their money, during a grisly recession, to the greediest and least popular industry the country has seen since the railroads were running amok in the 1890's. These people will go broke a little more slowly, depending on how sick they get. The industry will jack up its rates until we all have to put in new attics. The subsidies will fail to keep up. And then the industry will lie about doing any of it, and the White House will send out a sternly worded letter. The industry will be stopped by the new "consumer protections" approximately as effectively as a butterfly stops a freight train. By the end of 2009, these "reforms" will be thoroughly despised by a healthy portion of the electorate. The Republicans will then use the weaknesses of the reforms to assume control of the Congress, whereupon they will leave the mandates in place, gut the regulations, and laugh their way to the bank doing it. And that is what's going to happen.

[. . .] Bob Cesca is a smart guy, but if he thinks we're going to add a public option before 2013, I wish he'd tell me where he buys his mushrooms. (So we "mobilize around" the idea. Who's even going to listen, let alone act on it? The White House? The Democrats? Please.) Ezra Klein has forgotten more about this debate than I'll ever know, but if he and Paul Starr believe this FANTASY, then they need to get out more.

How can anyone seriously look at the past 30 years of how we've governed ourselves and believe that anything will succeed simply because it has established a new entitlement? [. . .] [H]ow firmly is [Obama] going to stand behind [this], no matter how "historic" he can convince himself it is? I have no faith at all at this point. The president is going to sign the POS because this is what he's wanted to do all along.

[. . .] Pass the POS. Don't pass the POS. But don't tell me we're all moving forward together through a historic moment. Y'all sound like idiots.

Speaking for me only

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    A done deal (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:17:20 AM EST
    Face it, the bill is going to pass and it isn't going to be anything we hoped for (or that the Democrats campaigned for), but it will be the law.

    Unless Obama and the Democrats can do a considerably better job of defending the bill than they did in writing it, we'll probably lose the House in 2010 and the WH in 2012.

    Stuffing the coffers of the insurance industry isn't going to endear them with many voters. The only thing they could have done to make it worse would have been to have the banks handle the premiums.

    The Fix Was In (none / 0) (#82)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:48:16 PM EST
    Until progressives face the fact that this is everything Obama wanted they'll still be out in the wilderness being called "the wimpy left".

    Our leadership Team Obama fixed this plan back in July,August. When the WH logs are public [which WH won't release] it'll be ovbious that Bill Tauzin, chief lobbyist for BigPharma, Andy Stern of SEIU union [business ins plans for union members] and other corporate monopoly lobbyists
    were there on a daily basis. For goodies which they got.

    Obama faked out and made this nefarious secret deal with BigPharma excluding us from having cheaper drugs delivered by the government, and extending patent rights to deny generic and afordable drugs. Compromised to insure no opposition in ad campaigns against him. He's easy to sleep with.

    The rest is pure sellout which obviously began with Baucus and Snowe.  Snowe finally pussywhipped Obama which any idiot knew would happen. The Senate Circus has been pathetic to watch.

    If by now anyone has any illusions about Obama;s feeble attempts at keeping his promises, or for that matter behaving in a connected manner I have to assume that they are totally Obamaotic and incurable.

    But from Wall St sellout, Olympic hubris and stupidity, Afghanistan, Copenhagen [which Obama has the nerve to tout as a success] we are see just some of Obama's monumental sellout, conceit and incompetent amateurism.

    There's lots more if we're capable of reading, but the deal is that the spine isn't in the sellout Democratic Party either. They've acceeded to the bullying of Stupak,Nelson,Baucus,Landrieu,Leiberman, and finally the White House Hit Team of Axelrod and Rham threatening no support or party funds.

    Even the Dorgan/McCain amendment to allow drug importation from Canada or Europe was quashed by Reid and Team Obama.

    Now that Dean has been marginalized as head of the Party and as ardent proponent of the public option and cheaper drugs, the WH Team has able to whip the Senate to oblivion.

    The most important for us is pushback in the blogs plus organization and protest, and most certainly at voting against these faux progressives and Blue Dog Conservatives in Democratic clothing.

    Obama's detachment and lack of engagement is no accident. He's a cold eyed paragmatist who will do anything or anyone to satisfy his goals which are basically conservative.
    This is backed up by his ties to Wall St and his other heavyweight conservative corporate donors.
    His silence has been calculated and it's been deafening.

    So now that all the HC Insurance stocks are soaring, just imagine all the extra jobs in this monopoly to come?

    Imagine, then we'll work for them and pay them back in premiums so they can screw us totally.


    I'm with Pierce on that (5.00 / 4) (#30)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:06:40 AM EST
    People who think this is a good bill have every right to get out there and push for it, but don't try to pretend it is some historic achievement before we even see how it turns out.

    Important group comes out in (5.00 / 5) (#71)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:34:21 PM EST
    opposition of the bill.

    National Nurses United, the nation's largest registered nurses union and professional organization, declared on Tuesday that the Senate health care bill gives away too much to insurance companies and "fails to meet the test of true health care reform."

    "It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the health care crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry," said co-president Karen Higgins in a statement.

    "Sadly, we have ended up with legislation that fails to meet the test of true health care reform, guaranteeing high quality, cost effective care for all Americans, and instead are further locking into place a system that entrenches the chokehold of the profit-making insurance giants on our health. If this bill passes, the industry will become more powerful and could be beyond the reach of reform for generations," she added. link

    Good for (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:47:44 PM EST
    the National Nurses United.  

    National Nurses United (5.00 / 2) (#87)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:02:06 PM EST
    They know we've been betrayed and ae not at all happy with this.

    We haven't begun to hear the pushback regarding the draconian limits on women's right to equal protectiom and freedom of choice.

    Both Stupak and Nelson know full well that the Hyde amendment has not allowed federally funded abortions for years.  These new restrictions make it easy for many Insurance Co's to stop carrying this as a separate item,as it will be charged
    and paid for separately from regaular premiums.
    Not enough profit. And many States will not allow it.

    It took the Democratic Party to severly limit the possibility of safe and legal abortions to this
    atrocious bill which poor or even many middle class women cannot afford. So many will die from illegal abortions and perilous pregnancies. And many children will be born to live in poverty, as their mothers had no control over their bodies.  

    The nurses know what this bill really contains and its consequences.  Forget the costs which are a fairy tale with its mandates.  There will be blood.


    Obama should borrow Bush's (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:14:56 AM EST
    "Mission Accomplished" banner once this bill passes and display it proudly behind him at the SOTU.

    I'm pretty much resigned to (5.00 / 4) (#48)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:22:09 PM EST
    some POS bill passing and Obama signing it into law.

    I'm also resigned to the chances for "improving" it or "building onto the foundation," being somewhere between slim and none.  Once Obama stops preening over his historic accomplishment, he will kill any attempt to do so using the argument that we have too many other things we need to do.

    Besides, if you have to immediately start working to improve something, how good - and how historic - could it have been in the first place?

    And if you want to talk about building on this effort, then your message is pretty much distilled into "this was the best we could do, for now."

    Where have I heard that before?  Oh, yeah: FISA/telecom immunity.  Military commissions.  Patriot Act.

    Not a great track record, I don't think.

    There's a lot that needs much more explanation, in particular, why so many of the reforms that will kick in soon after a bill is signed appear to apply only to "new plans."  What about old plans, existing plans - are they not subject to reform?

    Seriously, if this health care legislation was a pre-nup, not only would I not sign it, but I wouldn't marry the SOB whose lawyers drafted it if he were the last man on earth.

    Preening and Faking (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:04:05 PM EST
    Thanks for your fine post.

    I'm glad that you write so well (none / 0) (#50)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:38:10 PM EST
    since you often state my position much better than I could ever do.

    Resigned, yes. Support, no. Not that my lack of support will make much difference now. Sadly, this POS bill pass and become law.


    Ditto! (none / 0) (#96)
    by suzieg on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 04:43:00 PM EST
    Excellent comment, Anne (none / 0) (#84)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:51:41 PM EST
    You took the words right out of my keyboard.  This is definitely "plus ça change" we can't believe in.

    It's a POS (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:44:47 PM EST
    I suspect what the Republicans will do with it, don't know for sure though.  I know that just making certain that someone has health insurance of some kind....any kind....does not mean they will have access to healthcare......two entirely different things.

    No doubt the POS is a democratic disaster (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by pluege on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:17:37 PM EST
    from a political perspective.

    The only thing that would have avoided disaster would have been real HCR that gave the medical industrial complex a real kick in the teeth - something that would make them feel that they're not constantly losing ground. That is what people wanted and expected when they elected democrats. That they elected democrats and got the same old crap give away to corporations that they could have gotten with republicans, and worse - they're forced to pay for it is going to make them awfully, awfully angry. 2010 is a massacre; 2012 can only be saved if republicans nominate one of their batsh*t crazy loons to represent them.

    obama is the very best thing that ever could have happened to republicans.

    Republican's Gift= Obama (none / 0) (#89)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:05:49 PM EST
    Thanks for this post.

    Here's where I am now (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 09:57:54 AM EST
    There is going to be a healthcare bill on the President's desk soon. Just this morning, the Senate voted three times to move forward.

    So the Senate bill is the crappy baseline. And the Hamshers of the world, bless them, are providing pressure to improve the final bill from the left.

    No changes (none / 0) (#44)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:00:05 PM EST
    I believe this is the POS that will pass.  Nelson declared there will be no changes in conference or he won't vote for it.  Maxine Waters gave indication she will vote for it with O'Donnell last night.

    That's what they want you to think (none / 0) (#49)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:30:17 PM EST
    Mark my words that there will be small but meaningful changes.

    Ah...the optimism of youth (none / 0) (#52)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:47:06 PM EST
    May you never lose it.

    No, this is realism (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:01:14 PM EST
    The House Dems will give in, but not for nothing, especially if they're feeling pressure from the left--which they are.

    But remember (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:06:06 PM EST
    "change" doesn't always mean "good"

    But Maxine Waters is keeping up the fight


    She understands how this works (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:06:49 PM EST
    She also listens to her constituency (none / 0) (#75)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:51:58 PM EST
    Yes (none / 0) (#54)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:49:06 PM EST
    If we are going to get this shoved down our throats this is the time that we need to fight, we need pressure.  I'm still reminded that Howard Dean got regulatory panels in by saying Kill It!  He isn't even in office right now for God's sake.  Once this is done, it's too late to hope for more and we have zero reason to believe that this will ever get any better.  That's just pony believing B.S.

    Bless Hamsher (none / 0) (#90)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:08:06 PM EST
    She's been right on this all along and she keeps fighting.

    Jane is a pleasure to behold an honest and articulate progressive. A reaal one.


    A real progressive that (none / 0) (#101)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 05:44:29 PM EST
    goes bipartisan with anyone who agrees with her on the issues?  I call her a raw fighter at this point.  I've been at the Hamshmear diaries all day.  With what my son lives with, puts up with...people are not entitled to their own facts on what has gone done and what is going down in my presence.  What a mess, what a liar, what a POS bill.  I cried yesterday. I cried last night.  I'm done crying.  I'm coming for you now.

    I agree with you (none / 0) (#2)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:12:25 AM EST
    its not all we wanted but I never really expected it to be.  to be honest it may be more than I expected.
    as Harkin said its a foundation on which to build.  no major social legislation was ever passed in the form it ended up from social security on down.
    the republicans are apoplectic because the know they lose.  they know that once there is a bill it will be pretty easy to show people what is good about it.  and there is a lot of good in this bill.

    I completely disagree with those who say kill the bill.  that IMO would be a disaster at this point.  it would be another generation before it was discussed again.  I agree with Kos when he says we need to keep pushing to make it better.  and I think it will be made better over the next few days and weeks.

    one thing happened yesterday that potentially makes it a lot better.  Obama said it should include the right to get cheaper drugs from canada.
    so, after spending 199,000,000 dollars this year, suck on that big Pharma.

    No way the bill will include parallel importation (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:14:15 AM EST
    The White House is simply being dishonest about that.

    Otherwise, I'm in substantial agreement with you.


    They're lying (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:21:37 AM EST
    "Dishonesty" sounds too nice.

    Well, that's what I mean (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:22:25 AM EST
    I almost said that.

    well (none / 0) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:35:46 AM EST
    according to reuters its not actually in the health care bill bu the budget.

    I was surprised too particularly after all the money big pharma has spent.

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's budget backs a plan to allow people to buy cheaper medicines from other countries, which typically offer lower prices than the United States.

    "The Budget supports the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) new efforts to allow Americans to buy safe and effective drugs from other countries," said the plan, released on Thursday.


    what? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:45:42 AM EST
    no one is going to disagree that is what reuters says?
    Im surprised.

    Who says it will actually be passed? (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:49:07 AM EST
    It's not in the bill (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:49:42 AM EST
    because it was defeated.

    A highlight of some goodies:


    SEN. BEN NELSON, D-NEB., who provided the critical 60th vote that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needed, received numerous benefits for Nebraska, along with tighter curbs on abortion. Among the Nebraska-specific provisions:

    _The federal government will pick up the full cost of a proposed expansion of Medicaid, at an estimated cost of $100 million over 10 years.

    _Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska will be exempted from an annual fee on insurers; the exemption could also apply to nonprofit insurers in other states, possibly including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

    _Supplemental "Medigap" policies such as those sold by Mutual of Omaha are exempted from the annual fee on insurers, something that would help other companies selling such policies.

    _A physician-owned hospital being built in Bellevue, Neb., could get referrals from doctors who own it, avoiding a new ban in the Senate bill that will apply to hospitals built in the future. Without mentioning Nebraska or other states by name, the Senate bill pushes back some legal deadlines by several months, in effect making a few hospitals near completion eligible to continue receiving referrals from the doctors who own them.

    SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D-MONT., chairman of the Finance Committee and a key architect of the legislation, put in a provision to help the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., many of whom have asbestos-related illnesses from a now-defunct mineral mine. Under Baucus' provision, which never mentions Libby by name, sickened residents could sign up for Medicare benefits.

    SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, D-CONN., who is facing a difficult re-election next year, added an item making $100 million available for construction of a hospital at a public university. The measure leaves it up to the Health and Human Services Department to decide where to spend the money. Dodd says more than a dozen sites could be eligible, but he hopes the University of Connecticut will be the beneficiary.

    SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, D-VT., negotiated $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits for his state over 10 years. He said Vermont is due the additional benefits because the state already has acted to expand Medicaid eligibility to the levels now contemplated by the federal government. Vermont would be unfairly penalized if other states are now being helped with that expansion, he said. Massachusetts is getting $500 million in Medicaid help for similar reasons.

    SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D-LA., a key moderate, withheld her support from the legislation until she was able to procure Medicaid help worth at least $100 million in 2011 from the federal government.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT., who was angered after a new government-run health plan was dropped from the legislation to win over moderates like Nelson and Landrieu, held out on backing the bill until Reid, D-Nev., agreed to a $10 billion increase in support for community health centers.

    SEN. BILL NELSON, D-FLA., pushed a provision he said will let about 800,000 Florida seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans keep their extra benefits. It also helps seniors in a handful of other states. Elsewhere, Medicare Advantage patients risk losing benefits because the private plans are a major target of planned cuts to Medicare.


    _Doctors and hospitals in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming will get paid more than providers in other states under formulas in the bill designed to help the so-called Frontier States.


    _Longshoremen were added to the list of high-risk professions shielded from the full impact of a new tax on high-value health insurance plans. Electrical linemen were already shielded, along with policemen, firefighters, emergency first responders and workers in construction, mining, forestry, fishing and certain agriculture jobs. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., took the lead in pushing for the longshoremen carve-out.

    _Merkley also pushed for language that will exclude all but the very smallest construction industry companies from the bill's small business exemption. In general, the exemption says that companies with fewer than 50 workers aren't subject to penalties if they don't ensure their employees. In the construction business, under Merkley's change, only firms with fewer than five workers and a payroll under $250,000 would be exempt. Merkley's spokeswoman said the change was needed to ensure that construction contractors, which are overwhelmingly small businesses, provide insurance for their workers.

    _Gun rights lobbyists pushed for language to ban collection of data on gun ownership in the bill.

    _The American Medical Association announced its coveted endorsement Monday after Reid made a series of change to please doctors, including eliminating a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery procedures, replacing it with a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services; eliminating payment cuts to specialty and other physicians that were to be used to pay for bonuses to primary care physicians and general surgeons in underserved areas (the bonuses remain); and dropping a proposed $300 fee (to be used to fight fraud) on physicians who participate in Medicare.

    _Makers of brand-name biotech drugs -- expensive pharmaceuticals made from living cells -- won 12 years of protection against would-be generic competitors.

    _Drugmakers fended off proposals to allow importation of cheaper drugs from Canada and other countries, and to let the government negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients.

    This is one of the worse give aways from (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:10:52 AM EST
    both a medical and a fiscal policy standpoint.

    _Makers of brand-name biotech drugs -- expensive pharmaceuticals made from living cells -- won 12 years of protection against would-be generic competitors.

    Makes it cost prohibited for some people who need these drugs and adds 100 millions in cost to the Medicare system, the group that uses these drugs the most.


    mostly women with advanced breast cancer... (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by suzieg on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 04:55:41 PM EST
    the process (none / 0) (#36)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:17:06 AM EST
    in not complete.
    I would suggest waiting until there is at least a senate bill.

    This is also in the House bill (none / 0) (#38)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:25:10 AM EST
    so you think they (none / 0) (#23)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:52:05 AM EST
    they will defeat the budget?

    (I think I already said its not the HCR bill)


    Congress passes the budget (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:52:48 AM EST
    one more thing (none / 0) (#25)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:53:19 AM EST
    I love the fact the every right winger and right wing blog is trumpeting the "deals"


    Im shocked SHOCKED that deals are made.  how infantile are we that we do not know that this is how its done?


    The idea that (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:36:01 AM EST
    if this fails, it will be "another generation before this is discussed again" has become conventional wisdom on the "wimpy angry left," but it's a crock.  Where we are now with the health insurance mess isn't at all comparable to Clinton's time.  The system is killing everybody, from business to individuals even to the GD insurance companies.  That was not the case back in the early '90s.

    If this fails (which I agree it probably won't, unless Stupak has more kamikaze adherents than I think he does in the House), they absolutely will have to come right back at it and try again.

    Doesn't mean we'd end up with a better bill, just that they're not going to shrug and walk away from the whole subject for "another generation."  Not a chance.


    I honestly cant imagine (none / 0) (#16)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:42:22 AM EST
    what you think could happen that would be worse than what is happening now that would "force them to revisit it"

    if it goes down now republicans take back congress and insurance companies take back our health care systems.

    I dont buy the giveaway to the insurance companies.  I have a relative who works for Aetna.  he says they are terrified about the no pre-existing condition stuff and the limits on how they spend their money.  (85% on delivery of health care)



    Profit margin (none / 0) (#46)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:11:01 PM EST
    Aetna stated they wanted to increase their profit margin from 4% to 7% and this was to be done by forcing 650,000 off their rolls by increases in premiums.  Are they doing layoffs also?  I'm getting stuck with Aetna this year.  Less coverage, only 3 dentists in-service (2 of our 3 doctors are in-service), and higher premiums.

    I guess this bill (none / 0) (#53)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:48:59 PM EST
    even as it exists would prevent them from doing that, no?

    No it won't (none / 0) (#57)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:59:57 PM EST
    Simple finance 101..... If a corp makes 1 billion one year and wants to make 2 billion the next year, they will just double premiums. If the corp heads have 15% to play with and want their profit margin up, they must cut overhead costs (employees) to stuff more money in their own pockets (and stockholders).  Aetna employees should be worried about their jobs.

    and they are. as my relative said (none / 0) (#66)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:17:33 PM EST
    but in any case they will not be able to dump 650,000 people from their rolls.

    How not? (none / 0) (#73)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:39:27 PM EST
    I don't see how this bill is going to stop the 2010 premium increases.  I don't see this bill stopping any premium increases.  If you are forced out of one insurance you can't afford, you will shop for one you can afford even if it's crap.

    Mine is going up almost 20% for 2010, (none / 0) (#74)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:48:35 PM EST
    and I think this is about setting the stage for being able to claim in four years that premiums under the new plans have to come in at the same level the existing plans will be by then (I'm guessing I will not be getting 20% annual increases in my compensation, though, so I - like millions of others - will just keep losing financial ground).

    This is not just going to be the case with private plans, like mine, but group plans, as well.  Heck, by the time we get to the exchanges, a lot of employers will have continued to lower the coverage under their group plans, just to be able to hold the line on costs, so people will be much more acclimated to crappy coverage.

    Still trying to figure out how people win under this reform effort.


    80/20 (none / 0) (#77)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:58:43 PM EST
    I expect 80/20 to be gone and 70/30 to move to 60/40 (Aetna is 60/40 in some circumstances).  UHC went up $1000 each year for the last two years.  We know Aetna is higher, we just can't get info on what.  I wrote before.... many are going to hit the 'cadillac' level and get taxed.

    IMO the excise tax on good (none / 0) (#78)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:04:48 PM EST
    coverage and the exchange plans in the Senate's bill having 70/30, 60/40 as well as catastrophic plans will help make your prediction a reality in the very near future. They may become the norm for even Medicare.

    Yes (none / 0) (#86)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:00:22 PM EST
    they will with a passive agressive approach. They'll just raise the premiums so high on the people that they want to drop that those insured's will no longer be able to afford the insurance. The fact that this bill has zero cost control measures makes any subjecting policy dumping easy.

    Ii've already had two 8.% increases just this (none / 0) (#99)
    by suzieg on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 04:57:39 PM EST
    year and another 3% at the end of January.

    What a laugh (none / 0) (#76)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:55:18 PM EST
    The Republicans are going to take back Congress anyway.

    Shattered (none / 0) (#14)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:39:37 AM EST
    A politician would lie, and at this time of year. Next you'll be telling me there's no Santa Claus.

    see above (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by jeffhas on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:32:40 AM EST
    The Republicans will then use the weaknesses of the reforms to assume control of the Congress, whereupon they will leave the mandates in place, gut the regulations, and laugh their way to the bank doing it. And that is what's going to happen.

    The horror of it all.


    jeffhas, perfect catch (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by shoephone on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:05:48 PM EST
    You have highlighted the most important paragraph in the entire piece. What Pierce predicts will happen, will happen. And therein lies the royal screwing of Americans by their corrupt leaders.

    And the apologists will continue to "tut-tut" that little reality. Count on it.


    And they won't be whining (5.00 / 1) (#105)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 07:44:11 PM EST
    about the need for 60 senate votes to get what they want.

    that may not be so easy (none / 0) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:37:36 AM EST
    A ridiculous post (none / 0) (#15)
    by Steve M on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:40:30 AM EST
    I sure hope you don't trust a word that guy writes.  Did you like the part where he goes on to urge a revolution?

    he quotes the language in the bill (none / 0) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:43:15 AM EST
    do you disagree that is what it says?

    Should I write about this? (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:49:25 AM EST
    Actually, the language is ridiculous and uneforceable.

    One Congress can not bind a future Congress.

    The REAL enforcement of this is the filibuster, which I do not think Erick Erickson is against these days.

    Steve is right. It is an idiotic post.


    whatever (none / 0) (#26)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:54:41 AM EST
    if they are upset about I like it.

    and there must be a reason the language was put in there, no?
    I doubt it was just to piss off the right.


    It was to satisfy Conrad (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:35:03 AM EST
    and other "entitlement hawks."

    It's silly stuff.


    It was reported on CNN also (none / 0) (#97)
    by suzieg on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 04:48:10 PM EST
    Yes post about (none / 0) (#102)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 07:29:15 PM EST
    it; if for no other reason, to show up the ignorance of those who wrote the provision. Call them on it; realclearpolitics will link.

    only one section of the bill (none / 0) (#22)
    by jeffhas on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:51:32 AM EST
    it won't matter, it will be gutted, and willingly by all the corporatist Senators on both sides of the aisle...

    Do you not see the 'We are totally screwed' signposts up ahead?

    I'm trying to visualize what the universal/no language sign will look like - can't help but see some stick-figure bent over being violated by another suit-wearing stick figure holding a briefcase overfilled with money.



    It's (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:57:09 AM EST
    not going to be made better and when are people going to get this into their heads!!!! Every "change" has done nothing but make it worse.

    No bill is better than this bill. No bill can be overcome. This bill is going to resurrect a dying GOP. We are going to be paying dearly for this the next two elections.


    see (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:00:49 AM EST
    I think THIS is conventional wisdom.  and I dont think its going to happen.  the fact is there are many good things about this bill.  things that will be easy to sell once its actually a bill.

    I read yesterday that the dems are already having meeting about how to sell the bill once its passed.
    self interest is a great motivator.

    one thing I think they learned from Clinton and his budget that lost him the congress and turned the country around and gave us the booming 90s.
    they will sell the hell out of this.


    Good (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:11:31 AM EST
    things that once it's actually a bill? Sorry, but if it's so good then why haven't they expended energy towards this? Overall it's a horrible bill and it would be much better to put the few things in a bill alone and pass that. They are doing this ass backwards. They should have been doing this before the majority of americans turned against the bill.

    sorry (none / 0) (#37)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:18:56 AM EST
    but "the majority of americans" are morons who believe the last thing they heard.
    this has been nearly impossible to defend and easy to attack while the process was ongoing.  that is going to change.  and so will public opinion.

    Many of them (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:34:31 AM EST
    also vote.

    And guess what, they're right this time.

    The commonality in people who like this bill is that they've never bought insurance on the individual market.....they do not see the huge problems with the loss of cost controls, and the no practical subsidies.  If your income is 400% or below the poverty line, you pay 8% of your income toward premiums, and then (based on the bronze package that you can buy and get subsidies) more than 8% toward your deductible before you see a single dime from the insurance company.  Hopefully people can afford to pay for their own healthcare after they pay the premium. Because unless they face catastrophic illness, that's what they'll be doing.  And gawd forbid they aren't eligible for subsidies.

    Does anyone realize what that will do the the economy, when people are forced to direct their disposable (and sometimes not-so-disposable) income into insurance and nothing else?

    Bad bill.  BAAAAD bill.  A disaster for the Democrats.  If it passes, I hope they implode and you like watching it.  Because they deserve to implode and they will.  And I'm starting to think it's by design.


    This is a good point (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:06:22 PM EST
    seems to me. "Does anyone realize what that will do the the economy, when people are forced to direct their disposable (and sometimes not-so-disposable) income into insurance and nothing else?"

    Of course (none / 0) (#39)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:33:46 AM EST
    it's been impossible to defend. There hasn't been an iota of leadership on the issue.

    And if your first sentence is true then they really are wasting their time with this new "initiative" to defend it. I don't know if they can change public opinion. There's too many goodies for the opposition.


    The one-leader-to-provide (none / 0) (#70)
    by jondee on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:31:44 PM EST
    "leadership" to "us" -- the passive, lost sheep in need of guidance, is the unexamined, un-democratic meme responsible for 99% of the idiocy you're talking about.

    When will a real leader step up? Be one. Or let someone else do your thinking for you.


    Do not appreciate put downs of (none / 0) (#103)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 07:34:35 PM EST
    the public, especially when they've understood exactly what is going on with the healthcare bill.  Why else are more opposed to the current bill than to none at all?  Why else do over 50% disapprove of Obama's performance on healthcare?
    I could go on.

    You can put down the public as much as you want, but it doesn't mean it's true. And, it is amazing to me that the public sees through a lot of the pro-health"care" bill hype despite the ardent attempts to proclaim the bill as beneficial and historic.  

    Recall that the public did not approve of the Lewinsky affair, but nevertheless opposed impeachment and gave the Prez high % approval ratings.


    I think you're right (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:03:19 AM EST
    Yes they will (none / 0) (#33)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:12:13 AM EST
    As you said - they will be fighting for their political lives.  While there may be some ethereal good things in this bill, all voters will really know is that they are going to be forced to pay for insurance premiums that they may not be able to afford.  And if the economy is still bad come next year (and there's no indication it will be, at least for people on Main Street), you can be sure voters aren't going to be focused on the fact that UConn is getting $100 million for a hospital.

    Keep some perspective (none / 0) (#65)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:12:26 PM EST
    The number of people who are going to be newly forced to pay for insurance is actually quite low.  The majority of people in this country already have and are paying for insurance.  Also, the demographic of the currently uninsured is one of the lowest in terms of actual voting percentage.

    The mandate isn't the political problem for the Dems., it's the increased state taxes to pay for extra Medicaid, for one, and the fact that premiums are going to keep on rising for the already insured.

    Beyond that, it's the scare stories full of crapola the GOP will continue to tell, and probably intensify.


    What worries me is that those of (5.00 / 3) (#72)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:35:20 PM EST
    us with private plans are going to be treated like cash cows between now and 2014, and that a lot of effort is going to be made on the part of insurance companies to design new plans for mandated subscribers that will gain them the most money for the least coverage they can get away with - a familiar pattern, no?  But with a twist - maybe you don't get the reform if you don't get a new plan, but if you get a new plan, maybe it has a much lower overall quality.  Now, there's some great choice, huh?

    You would think that after almost a year of working on this, we really should know a lot more about how it will work, but I don't think we know nearly enough.  Sure, they've been tinkering with it a lot, but still - wouldn't you like to know, shouldn't we all understand - what it means when reforms are summarized as applying to new plans, and fail to tell us what that means for existing plans?  I sure would.

    I don't think the people responsible for bringing us the legislation really understand it all that well themselves, which is just crazy.  Problem is that enough understand exactly what they are doing - including the president - and that keeps bringing to mind this word: "bamboozled."

    Not a good way to feel about anything one's government is doing, and certainly not on something that is going to affect every single American.


    Yeah, I get no sense (none / 0) (#95)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:54:00 PM EST
    that they really have any idea.  What chills my bones is that we can be sure the insurance companies know exactly what's going to happen, and it ain't going to be for our benefit, only theirs.

    It doesn't matter (none / 0) (#67)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:19:01 PM EST
    If people see their premiums rise and their taxes rise (and they will), it isn't going to matter what caused it.  Add to that a bad economy, and voters will not be happy.

    It's all about perception.


    and reality (none / 0) (#104)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 07:37:02 PM EST
    Obama is saying maybe on drugs? (none / 0) (#91)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:16:06 PM EST
    After a concerted attack from his White House team
    the Dorgan/McCain bill was introduced as an add on to effect the ability of citizens to import drugs from Canada or Europe. Rham and Reid twisted arms for other in the Senate to kill it which they did, and McCain made a speech about his disappointment and the corruption.

    The drug fix was in this summer  sealed by Team Obama in backroom secret deal with BigPharma that screwed us all. Wake up.

    If you believe Obama's "might" stories you are living in Wonderland.


    well it seems as though (none / 0) (#4)
    by lilburro on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:14:40 AM EST
    the clusterf*ck of regulatory arguments has already begun (perhaps a feature, not a bug).  Ezra's blog unsurprisingly features more posts this morning about how the exchanges are going to work according to the Exchange disiciples:

    I would say that there ought to be a serious attempt to introduce competition of delivery systems to serve cost conscious consumers -- something that works well at a small scale for State employees in CA and WI -- extending the concept to all individuals and also employees of groups up to 100 employees. The exchanges through which these consumers would choose need to be large enough to have market impact, and also a strong design to prevent adverse selection against the exchanges. One way would be to require all insurers to practice community rating (same price for everyone buying the same coverage) for the whole market from individuals up to groups of 100. That would make the market work the way it did when it was dominated by nonprofit Blue Cross and plans like Kaiser and Group Health Cooperative. Within rules, let consumer choice drive the important tradeoffs in system design.

    And this dude thinks what is on the table now will fail!!

    We've lost this debate to regulatory idealists who are blind to political realities or plain and simple reality, and to amoral market players very aware of political realities.

    However, this post of Ezra's did make me think this bill is not a bad thing.  Not entirely sure how I feel about it though.

    And also Pierce asks a good question:

    H]ow firmly is [Obama] going to stand behind [this], no matter how "historic" he can convince himself it is?

    On that account we certainly do have a hell of a lot to worry about.  Police Officer in Chief Obama has not exactly been in regards to banks, for ex.

    Whaaa? As a state employe (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Cream City on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    in one of those states, I can tell you that Ezra is relying on some press release and not talking to, gasp, people in the plans.  Health insurance costs have soared for some of us -- because the state allowed those in areas without such poverty, areas like the state capital where most state employees work, to split off.  That left a lot of us bearing huge increases in health insurance.

    If this is Ezra's evidence for how a federal plan will work, worry and work against it.


    Obama Does Not Stand Firm On Anything (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:24:52 PM EST
    You expect who,where,why and how to build exchanges which can work, stay honest and/or profitable enough to survive?  Dream on.

    Mandating people is forcing them into private and extremely greedy hands or fines and punishes those who cannot or will not buy this crapola is Democracy?

    The ability to enforce or invest in exchanges that can support themselves and administer insurance is not a simple thing, and this bill is very vague about it.  VERY.

    You know, vague like our president. So far he hasn't stood firm on ANYTHING.


    BTD - you said among the things in the bill (none / 0) (#34)
    by DFLer on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:14:39 AM EST
    that does not engender your opposition is:

    Having the wealthy pay for public insurance for the less well off is an important good. I just can not bring myself to oppose the bill because of that.

    My understanding is that while the House version pays for things by taxing the wealthy, thE Senate bill pays for it by taxing (middle class/union) health care plans.

    Do I misunderstand 1) your point and/or 2) the bill itself?

    I oppose the excise tax (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:34:09 AM EST
    and believe it will not survive as a tax on the middle class.

    The unions will get it out.


    I agree with you (none / 0) (#43)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:41:51 AM EST
    thats one thing that would be impossible to sell

    Agree as well. But will the Senate accept that (none / 0) (#45)
    by DFLer on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:03:35 PM EST

    Nelson and others are saying (none / 0) (#47)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:18:01 PM EST
    any changes to the Senate bill will lose their vote.

    they have said a lot of things (none / 0) (#55)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:53:02 PM EST
    you think Nelson from FL or Nelson from NB (not sure which one you mean since they both made out like bandits) is going to walk away from all the goodies he has told his people he is bringing home?

    I do not.

    there will be changes.


    Nelson from Nebraska (none / 0) (#56)
    by MO Blue on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 12:57:12 PM EST
    oh, well (none / 0) (#60)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:01:37 PM EST
    lets talk about FL:

    to grandfather in all enrollees in the Medicare Advantage programs -- Nelson and a number of Democrats successfully negotiated grandfather clauses for seniors in their states in exchange for supporting the bill.

    and you know what (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:09:49 PM EST
    really rubs my rhubarb about that?
    its not like the voters of his state are going to kick him out for what he did.
    he "delivered".  they got theirs.  screw everyone else.
    welcome to representative democracy.  the worst system of government in the world.
    except for all the others.

    You know what really rubs me? (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:27:50 PM EST
    Nelson could be bought.  So if Obama had really wanted a PO, what would we have had to pay Nelson for that?  Obama and company paid off to get the bill they wanted. And it's a POS and the only thing that can be done at this late date is to immediately embarrass them all so bad for their blatant treacheries that they might attempt to buy someone else off for a few better additions.

    I dont have a problem with that at all (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 01:30:02 PM EST
    Unions just got an exemption for their (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by suzieg on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 05:00:08 PM EST
    cadillac plans.

    Senate And White House Screwed Us All (none / 0) (#93)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:28:28 PM EST
    The already stressed out middle class is soon to be poor will be heavily taxed proportionally and unjustly.

    This entire bill sucks.


    Charles Pierce is wrong (none / 0) (#83)
    by kempis on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:49:19 PM EST
    Bob Cesca is not a smart guy; he's a true believer in the awesomeness of Obama. He's a huge pusher of the Obama-as-chess-master line.

    But other than that, I agree with Pierce--unfortunately.

    I wish the Obamafans were right, but I fear they aren't.

    FTR (none / 0) (#85)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:53:58 PM EST
    I am no Obama fan.  in fact as BTD has repeatedly pointed out Obama has had almost nothing to do with this.
    the assumptions I make are purely about the self interest of the democrats.

    I understand there are some who genuinely (none / 0) (#107)
    by kempis on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 07:33:08 AM EST
    think this bill is the correct thing to do, regarding policy and/or politics.

    But some fans, like Cesca, have bent their principles into pretzels while following Obama's lead through this process. For those people, Obama matter the most. The same goes for those who hate him. It's awfully easy to let our personal feelings for a politician color our perception of his/her policies--which is also what BTD constantly warns against. Not saying that ALL people do that, however.


    Obama Has Checkmated Democratic Voters (none / 0) (#94)
    by norris morris on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 03:32:14 PM EST

    You called the ham handed thuggery and deception a Chess Game? Obama plays Chess like a patzer[bad wimpy player]. Bare untalented beginner's Chess.

    The only Chess played has been so bad that it has Checkmated the Democratic party for years at the polls.


    read again :) (none / 0) (#106)
    by kempis on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 07:29:32 AM EST
    You misread my post.