If You Must, How To Vote BaucusCare Out Of Committee

I hope the public option amendments to Senator Max Baucus' atrocious proposal succeed in the Finance Committee, but I am sanguine about that. Assuming the worst for a moment, How the bill is voted out could be important.

First, it is important that the Democrats on the Finance Committee be put on the spot on the public option amendments. Let's find out who is for it and who is against it. For example, Baucus himself, Kent Conrad, and Blanche Lincoln will be No votes and no more hiding that fact. Let them take the consequences for their opposition. Second, even if, for procedural purposes, certain Dems vote Yes, let it be a Yes/No vote. The Hill describes what I mean:

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

For months, Stabenow has said over and over that the Finance Committee is merely one step in a longer journey toward healthcare reform. That’s because she’s known for just as long that any bill produced by the panel would be too far to the center for her liking. Not that she’s planning to vote against it; she wants the political left to know that a “yes” in committee is not the same as a full-throated endorsement of Baucus’s bill. Stabenow is particularly worried about the ile they vote proposed tax on high-cost insurance pinching constituents who took early-retirement buyouts, including generous health benefits, from their union jobs.

(Emphasis supplied.) The best way for Stabenow, Schumer, Menendez, Cantwell, Kerry, Rockefeller and other Dems on the Finance Committee to make clear that their votes are FOR a public option is to say, WHEN they vote, that a Yes vote on BacusuCare in the Finance Committee is merely a procedural Yes (think of it as a cloture vote) and that they are definite Nos on BaucusCare in a floor vote and that the Senate leadership will need to adopt at least the Senate HELP bill version of the public option (and the other important changes necessary to the bill) or they will vote No on BaucusCare on the floor.

These statements MUST be made during the Finance Committee vote. There can be no ambiguity. Ambiguity from them effectively destroys the public option in the Senate. At that point, then the only hope for real health care reform comes from the brinksmanship abilities of the House Progressive Caucus. With Obama and his team likely exerting all possible pressure on them to drop the public option at that point, I do not think they can hold up.

They need some firmness from a pseudo Senate Progressive Caucus. And that starts in the Senate Finance Committee.

Speaking for me only

< Monday Evening Open Thread | Who Owes Schumer? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Well, there are some real Democratic (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Anne on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:14:29 AM EST
    heroes on this committee, aren't there?  From The Hill article cited (my bold):

    Among all the Finance Committee Democrats who have significant concerns about Baucus's bill and the bipartisan process that birthed it, Kerry has maintained the most diplomatic and optimistic tone. Like other liberals, Kerry supports the public option, thinks the subsidies are too meager and believes employers should be required to provide health insurance. But when he's raised major issues such as these during the markup, he's withdrawn his amendments and spared Baucus the discomfort of voting no.

    Oh, how considerate of Kerry - wouldn't want poor Max to suffer any discomfort, now, would we?  Or is this really about not wanting to embarrass Obama, and make Obama uncomfortable?  Meanwhile, I guess the millions of Americans who are struggling can rest easy knowing that the members of the committee are looking out for each other's feelings.  As my father used to say, Jesus Christ on a crutch.

    And I love the whole idea that Senators from the smallest and poorest states will be instrumental in deciding what comes out of the committee:

    Baucus has solid support from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who helped conceive the bill that emerged from the ultimately fruitless bipartisan "Gang of Six" negotiations. Fellow Gang member Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) also seems to be behind his chairman, while Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Tom Carper (Del.) have made mostly positive noises about the bill.

    I mean, we all know that making sure the committee members have their chairman's back is the best way to guarantee legislation that will best serve the people, right?

    I'd like a lot less "plays well with others." And a lot more wasabi.

    re: Obama exerting pressure (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:22:23 AM EST
    Booman seems to believe Obama will suddenly fight for the public option when it comes down to Senate v. House.

    Keyword: believe.  

    My question:  how much opportunity would Obama have to do that in Conference if the Senate is united behind a bill without the public option, as Reid hinted?  This is assuming Obama even wants to fight.  I think there have been too many signals to Congresscritters that it's okay not to support the public option for him to have much leverage over them...I don't think he'll have a lot of influence if he indeed suddenly reveals "what he was actually thinking all this time" (which is apparently the Booman plan, as far as I can tell).

    Of course he won't (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:25:44 AM EST
    Booman wants that to be true, but I think even he knows it is not.

    The issue is will the CPC stay strong. It is easier for them to do so IF there is a psuedo Senate Progressive Caucus on the public option.


    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:34:38 AM EST
    this is a legislative process, not a religious one.  Too many signs from Obama that he's not going to do sh*t.  He can say something about the public option but his organizing regarding it has been terrible.

    The liberals in the Senate need to say something today - Ben Nelson has drawn his stupid line in the sand.


    Good, let's go with Nelson's (5.00 / 2) (#83)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:11:26 AM EST
    line in the sand of the legislation must receive the votes of 65 Senators. IMO no legislation is better than passing the horrible Baucus legislation.

    No way are 5 Republicans going to vote for health insurance reform.  


    Booman believes what Booman wants (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:36:02 AM EST
    to believe no matter what evidence there is against to the contrary. If Obama really wanted the public option in the final plan, I do not think members of the administration and Dem leadership would be coming out in favor of the Baucus bill and President Snowe's trigger. Statements and actions within the last week or so regarding health insurance debacle.

    White House Budget Director Peter Orszag Orszag praise Baucus's $856 billion proposal and signaling the administration doesn't consider a government-run insurance program essential to the legislation.

    Rahm's statement last week that the Senate has been fairly clear that they cannot pass a healthcare bill including a public option.

    Organizing for America's campaign to put pressure on U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow to abandon her position on the public option.

    Harry Reid: Public option trigger 'pretty doggone good idea.

    Bill Clinton praising triggers Sunday.


    It would be nice if Obama wanted (5.00 / 8) (#62)
    by Anne on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:40:31 AM EST
    a public option as much as he wants the Olympics in Chicago.

    Ohhhh (5.00 / 3) (#79)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:58:32 AM EST
    that was my nightly news disgusted moment, aka the moment when I absolutely have to change the channel.   Hearing that he was considering going to Copenhagen was appalling.  On the other hand, it shows that he's just a do-nothing figurehead, when he can worry about Chicago Olympics when our JOBS economy is horrible, when health care reform is a mess, when the war in Afghanistan is a mess.

    Maybe he should go to Copenhagen and just stay there.


    C'mon Anne (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:13:06 AM EST
    The girls are in school and there's nothing else really going on (although he might be able to watch the new season of TV).  What else does he have to do?  I hear Copenhagen is lovely this time of year, and since Michelle is going also, they can have another "date" in Denmark and maybe the taxpayers won't make such a fuss this time.

    But he owes (none / 0) (#167)
    by KeysDan on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:24:09 PM EST
    Mayor Daley.  Big time.

    I was most struck (5.00 / 3) (#75)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:50:56 AM EST
    by Orszag's distortion that triggers and co-ops and public plans could all work, when it is demonstrably untrue, according to the CBO, that they would.

    And yeah the OfA stuff is very terrible.


    Booman's article: (none / 0) (#161)
    by ChiTownDenny on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:45:34 PM EST
    Pragmatic, assuming he has the facts, which is an assumption all have when reading the blogosphere.

    Lack of leadership (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:32:11 AM EST
    The only person who really has the political clout to mold this bill is more interested in keeping himself above the fray, rather than confront the issue. It seems that his image of being the "wise bipartisan" is more important to him than his election promises. (And evidently the Democrat's future)

    It's no wonder why Democrat's are in panic mode over contributions right now. In only 9 months they've managed to erase the bad taste of the last 8 years from the voting public. That people are even considering voting Republican again, is a testament to their incompetence.

    I disagree that Obama is really keeping (5.00 / 3) (#81)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:04:23 AM EST
    above the fray. He may be  publicly giving the appearance that he is but he is IMO working behind the scenes to put pressure on progressives to accept whatever is offered and sending his surrogates in his administration and Dem leadership out in the media to support ideas like triggers.

    No more WORM (none / 0) (#106)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:43:15 AM EST
    I've given up on the WORM theory! I've decided to follow reality. So far Obama has done nothing to steer HCR in the Democratic direction that was flaunted during the election cycle or convention. I give up on thinking of what his intentions really are.

    It's really not that complicated. All he has to do is to tell Congress what he wants and what he won't accept. H#ll, even GWB could do that, so it can't be that difficult.


    HELP committee should be handling this bill (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Exeter on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:39:37 AM EST
    It is absurd that it was every dropped in this nutty committee in the first place. Reid show some actual leadership and end this hostage situation!

    Look at the House side-- (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Exeter on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:43:20 AM EST
    Pelosi put it in the Commerce and Energy committee for crying out loud!

    Reid thinks triggers (none / 0) (#70)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:47:57 AM EST
    are pretty doggone good idea.

    And, as you mentioned... (none / 0) (#80)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:00:43 AM EST
    ...so does "the Big Dog".

    Now, the one Republican who's come up with a good idea is Senator Snowe. She deserves a lot of credit for saying when we did this Medicare prescription drug bill, instead of giving the government the power to negotiate for lower prices we gave the drug companies a chance to offer them, but we held the power in reserve. And if there was any state in America where there was no competition, you could do it. So let's do that for health care. That's a good idea. That's, that's the kind of debate the country needs, and I hope that the Republicans will come forward with it.

    Mentioned that earlier in the thread. (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:12:33 AM EST
    Hence... (none / 0) (#94)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:22:06 AM EST
    ...the "as you mentioned" in the title of my post.

    Your are right (none / 0) (#98)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:27:51 AM EST
    I was too quick on the "trigger." (pun intended)

    Totally appalling (none / 0) (#90)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:16:41 AM EST
    Can't stand Bill Clinton right now.

    More goodies for insurance industry (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:38:30 AM EST
    in the Baucus plan.

    The National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners currently writes model laws and regulations that individual states are free to accept or discard. Under the bill by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), it would craft a model rule governing "health insurance rating, issuance and marketing requirements" that would become "the new federal minimum standard without any further congressional action." States would be permitted to deviate from the standards only by appealing to the Department of Health and Human Services.

    In effect, the bill would allow the group to write many of the new rules on issuing and marketing insurance to millions of uninsured Americans who would be required to purchase policies.

    "The NAIC is clearly an organization that is dominated by the insurance industry," said California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a former state insurance commissioner. link

    Says the man... (none / 0) (#112)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:03:49 AM EST
    ...who was way more interested in using his office as a stepping stone to higher elected office than assisting the consumers in his State.  

    Just because people have experience in the private sector or leave to take jobs in the private sector does not in anyway make the NAIC or any State DOI "dominated" by industry.  

    Utter hogwash.


    John Garamendi, current Lt. Gov. of CA, (none / 0) (#126)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:41:33 AM EST
    former Insurance Commissioner of CA, is speaking out strongly against BaucusCare.  

    John Garamendi... (none / 0) (#132)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:04:15 PM EST
    ...former Insurance Commissioner with absolutely, positively no freaking experience or expertese in health care or insurance, who additionally was neck deep in the Executive Life Insurance Company fiasco and has an ax to grind with the NAIC?

    Pffft.  Not real convincing.  Lots of folks with exponentially more expertese are speaking out against BaucusCare.  


    Garamendi's counter on NPR's Marketplace (none / 0) (#135)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:10:48 PM EST
    yesterday was CEO of Cigna.  Of course mandates aren't a giveaway to insurance companies!  It is better to be at the table to diffuse what is coming, etc. etc. etc.

    Free airtime? (5.00 / 1) (#139)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:34:29 PM EST
    What's he running for this time--Governor or a nice Senate seat?  Pols will be pols.

    IMO, he's the perfect poster child against having elected officials in charge of consumer protection agencies.  


    Congress. (none / 0) (#147)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:59:00 PM EST
    Something I didn't know about (none / 0) (#119)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:27:32 AM EST
    the Rockefeller amendment:

    Bingaman makes it clear that Rockefeller's amendment is only tied to Medicare for the first two years and after that it would be run similar to Schumer's plan.

    CBO scored Rockefeller's public option as saving $50 billion. It would start off with about 1/3 of the market in the first few years and slowly lose market share until it only has about 1/4 of costumers on the exchange. FDL

    Unbelievable (5.00 / 3) (#110)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:56:28 AM EST
    Before Congress jumps off the bridge and demands mandates, they should read this:

    Household income declined across all groups, but at sharper percentage levels for middle-income and poor Americans. Median income fell last year from $52,163 to $50,303, wiping out a decade's worth of gains to hit the lowest level since 1997.

    How much more pressure can the average family endure? Incomes have fallen, housing value have tanked, while cost of living continues to rise. In spite of all of this, Congress wants to force American's across the country (with the threat of jail) to chose between health care and groceries.

    Congress should be ashamed.

    It's horrific that they're considering a mandate (5.00 / 1) (#141)
    by katiebird on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:38:52 PM EST
    that they KNOW is out of reach for some percent of the population.  And that rather than extending the subsidies or opening an affordable public plan that is capped by some reasonable percent of income - they are going to FINE those people caught between affordablity ranges.

    Thus making it even HARDER for those (uninsured) people to pay for their own health care costs.

    It's a totally insane idea!

    Rockfellers amendment failed (5.00 / 2) (#162)
    by waldenpond on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:55:29 PM EST
    Just failed 8 to 15.

    Disappointing! (none / 0) (#163)
    by ChiTownDenny on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:00:28 PM EST
    Robust vs. incremental.  Not over yet.

    Schumer's up now (none / 0) (#164)
    by waldenpond on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:06:36 PM EST
    He has rational arguments... but hey, can't have that.  'This is not the first word on the public option and this won't be the last..... the more people know the more support the public option.  I just had Senators come to me in support.  I am working with moderates...... Chairman doesn't believe we can get 60 votes... Mr Chairman we will work as hard as we can to get 60 votes.  The public option has become a symbol of how serious we are... not just a symbol... we will keep fighting for a good strong public option that will pass the Senate floor.'

    Schumer's amendment (none / 0) (#165)
    by waldenpond on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:07:45 PM EST
    Nelson states he will vote for Schumer's amendment.... so far 9 to 14.

    Why no mention of Kerry and Wyden (none / 0) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 07:37:38 AM EST
    not to mention Carperand Nelson? Because they are not to be counted on imo.

    Kerry will do precisely what Obama tells him to do.

    Wyden actually does not care about the public option - he thinks his exchanges are the magic bullet (think of him as Ezra Klein in the Senate.)

    Carper may be an outright No vote on the pubic option.

    Nelson can be bought off by giving him what he wants on Medicare. He has no opinion on the public option in my opinion. His concerns are elsewhere.

    Ben Nelson's amendment to close (none / 0) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:19:11 AM EST
    the donut hole in Medicare Part D was voted down by the Finance Committee 10 - 13 with Baucus, Menendez, and Carper voting against the amendment. FDL

    Sen. Nelson also wants to preserve Medicare Advantage as is. The changes to Medicare Advantage account for over $100 billion of the $300 - 400 billion of the so called saves in Medicare.  


    Bill not Ben (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:31:49 AM EST
    People who have their subsidy (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:36:57 AM EST
    want to keep it.

    Closing the donut hole (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:51:40 AM EST
    in Medicare Part D is just a matter of not allowing PhRMA to overcharge for drugs for Medicare/Medicaid dual eligibles and and would provide an additional $50 billion in government savings. It is the fiscally responsible thing to do.

    As for regular Medicare, I do not consider that a subsidy since I paid into that system since its inception over 40 years ago. The government is merely honoring its agreement in giving me what I paid for.


    Substantively I don't disagree (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:59:39 AM EST
    But Nelson does not want to be blasted with ads that he "voted to end Medicare <sm>Advantage</sm>."

    Yup. (none / 0) (#122)
    by ChiTownDenny on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:30:46 AM EST
    From FLORIDA, for crissakes!  

    Whoops (none / 0) (#12)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:42:44 AM EST
    Always get the first names mixed up. From now on I think I would be safer to just mention Sen. Nelson from FL or Sen. Nelson from NE.

    I will be interested to see (none / 0) (#2)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 07:56:31 AM EST
    what Schumer and Rockefeller do.  Schumer in particular will be a driving force if any strong statements are made re: the public option.

    Question (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:15:50 AM EST
    Since the Republicans on the committee tried to (unsuccessfully) strip the individual mandate requirement out of the bill, do you think the fact that opting not to have insurance (thereby "flouting" the mandate) - and the pretty severe penalties associated with that - are a) going to cause a new kind trouble  for Democrats to pass a bill, or b) will even get noticed by the press, and therefore, by the public?

    (For those who aren't aware, Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold testified that a taxpayer who fails to purchase health insurance under the proposed bill would have the IRS come after them for collections [up to the $1900 currently proposed].  He later followed up in a handwritten note to Sen. Ensign (who asked the question in the hearing)and said that violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty.)

    Would love to hear what the "prisons are too crowded now" crowd thinks of this....

    The prisons are criminally crowded now... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:11:01 AM EST
    and I think its a big joke...a year in jail for the "crime" of refusing to get hosed by an insurance company?  Its gotta be a joke...gotta be.  Please tell me its a joke:)



    According to Barthold (none / 0) (#44)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:23:31 AM EST
    Section 7203 of the Tax Code, baby.

    I know its a crime... (none / 0) (#58)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:35:36 AM EST
    to refuse to get hosed by Uncle Sam...definitely don't want Uncle Oxford added to the list, let him keep getting his end via buying our representation as per normal:)

    Now that would get me into the streets (none / 0) (#104)
    by sallywally on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:39:31 AM EST
    along with many thousands of others - even though, thank the Forcce, I will be on everyone's favorite government run health system, Medicare (at the moment Advantage) as of Jan. 1.

    What can people like this be thinking????


    Oops, Force...n/t (none / 0) (#105)
    by sallywally on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:39:52 AM EST
    Thou shalt not take the name of thy (none / 0) (#116)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:17:07 AM EST
    lord god in vain!

    May the force (none / 0) (#128)
    by ChiTownDenny on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:48:50 AM EST
    be with you.

    This has been my concern for a while (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:16:04 AM EST
    If they don't do essentially what you suggest, and Reid puts on the floor a bill w/o a public option, the 11Ders will start talking about how BaucusCare was "good enough for John Kerry."

    Jon Walker at FDL (none / 0) (#9)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:37:50 AM EST
    has a post on Amendments To Watch in the Finance Committee. It lists the Amendment and sponsor ,What it hopes to do:,Background:, and What to look for:. The what to look for comments about who votes for what are particularly interesting. Here are the amendments on his watch list:

    Free Choice Amendment - Wyden C1 :
    Applying Regulation To Large Group and Self-Insured Market - Rockefeller C1 :
    Various Public Option Amendments - Schumer, Cantwell, Rockefeller :
    "Safety Net" Trigger Amendment - Snowe C1 :
    Eliminating The CO-OPS - Rockefeller C11 :

    States fight mandate (none / 0) (#10)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:38:59 AM EST
    ST. PAUL -- In more than a dozen statehouses across the country, a small but growing group of lawmakers is pressing for state constitutional amendments that would outlaw a crucial element of the health care plans under discussion in Washington: the requirement that nearly everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty.

    Federal law is supreme (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:41:57 AM EST
    they're just grandstanding.

    Regardless of the legal issues, (none / 0) (#13)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:51:00 AM EST
    it is clear that there is political traction to be had on the issue of mandates especially without a robust public option included in any reform bill.

    Tell me something I don't know (none / 0) (#18)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:03:28 AM EST
    Well, your comment suggested that (none / 0) (#22)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:09:22 AM EST
    the movement was no big deal.  

    Legally, that's true (none / 0) (#25)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:10:46 AM EST
    And especially (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:07:45 AM EST
    if you face prison time and a hefty fine for not purchasing insurance.  

    The good news is that if you are in (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:10:35 AM EST
    prison you get free healthcare and food too!  There's always a silver lining in every black cloud - lol

    May be free, but if you believe the inmates (none / 0) (#117)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:20:07 AM EST
    and the federal court trustee, in CA the free healthcare is criminally lousy.

    Something's better than nothing? (5.00 / 1) (#134)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:09:08 PM EST

    It is hard not to laugh at the irony of imprisoning someone because they can't afford healthcare because some people think that it would be too expensive to cover everyone through a government program.  I guess they've figured out how to fund the jail system outside of the normal budget like they did with Iraq or something - she said sarcastically.


    Some are arguing (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:07:08 AM EST
    That a federal mandate to buy health insurance might be unconstitional. Do you think, if passed, there could be a succesful challenge mounted?

    No (none / 0) (#23)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:10:22 AM EST
    Not unless Social Security and Medicare suddenly become unconstitutional.

    The basis of the argument is that (none / 0) (#28)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:13:36 AM EST
    the government is forcing people to buy a product from private enterprise which is distinctly different in a number of meaningful ways from a public benefits program like Medicare or Social Security.  Now whether it is unconstitutional or not, I'm not going to be able to say - but there is a significant difference here between the proposed mandates and the existing government programs.

    clever catch 22 (none / 0) (#31)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:15:48 AM EST
    from the right there I would say.

    Good luck with that one (none / 0) (#32)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:16:01 AM EST
    Somewhere along the way they (none / 0) (#36)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:18:15 AM EST
    managed to outlaw indentured servitude.  Could happen again.

    While I consider the issue (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:23:42 AM EST
    not even worthy of comment (in that it is a ridiculous legal argument), I do want to comment on the involuntary servitude part.

    Two words - the draft. Let me know when that was ruled unconstitutional.


    Nothing - you were working for the (none / 0) (#53)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:32:28 AM EST
    government at that time - for the country - not Humana.

    What if they did not pay you? (none / 0) (#89)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:16:29 AM EST

    I doubt it. (5.00 / 2) (#114)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:11:32 AM EST
    The issue is to whom you are conscripted - government okay - private enterprise not so much.

    Baucus intends to force people to send their checks directly to insurance companies.  If he were to do it right, he'd at least launder the money through a government fund of some sort and then give the insurers their windfall.  Of course, on some level his is a more honest and direct approach to our more and more privatized system of government, but at the same time the reality is that there is no accountability for "The People" - voting Baucus out of office won't directly affect their day to day dealings with the private insurers.  Even if you could sue them, the lawsuits would not likely bring about the kind global change that would be required to level the playing field - so in a way it is the most dishonest and egregious approach because Baucus is selling us to the private insurers and there isn't a damn thing that we can do about any of it.  You're born in America and all of a sudden you owe Humana or Aetna or whomever.  That's pretty creepy.  I'm all for owing your country, but Carefirst not so much.


    how do they (none / 0) (#34)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:17:12 AM EST
    explain car insurance?

    Not everybody needs it. (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:19:52 AM EST
    You don't have a choice to own your body - you have a choice of owning a car.

    In the case of Medicare and SS (none / 0) (#35)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:17:40 AM EST
    people are forced to pay the government for services the government will provide them in the future. In the case of the mandates, the federal government will force people to purchase a product from private industry. Has this ever been tested before the SCOTUS?

    Shrug (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:21:15 AM EST
    It's no different from a city taxing residents to pay for privatized garbage collection.  Not even remotely a constitutional issue IMO.

    It is different... (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:30:45 AM EST
    the city is collecting taxes and then spending it on the behalf of citizens to collect garbage...the health insurance mandate proposal is forcing us to give our money directly to a private company...pretty big difference.

    We don't like the tax rate or the services rendered by the state, at least we have the right to vote the bums out of office, we can't vote out a health insurance co ceo if we don't like their rate or services provided.

    If its not a constitutional issue, Uncle Sam could conceivably force us by threat of arrest and/or fine to buy anything from any private outfit, and thats freakin' really scary.


    I assume you also object (none / 0) (#55)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:33:05 AM EST
    to the laws requiring you to feed and clothe your children?

    Bad comparison (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:43:39 AM EST
    The government does not mandate how you feed and clothe your children, and certainly doesn't require you to buy food from a certified supermarket or clothing from a certified department store.

    You could even, and some people have to, feed and clothe your children entirely through private charities-- food banks, church clothing collections, etc.


    No, it's a good comparison (none / 0) (#69)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:46:21 AM EST
    The insurance options available to you vary by region, just as the food and clothing options do.

    Some places you can live off the land. Other places you can't. Either way you can't force your kids to sleep in the mud and eat dirt.


    The only way your comparison (none / 0) (#136)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:14:35 PM EST
    makes sense is if you could grow a doctor and things like x-ray machines on a farm - which you can't.  You can grow tomatoes without license.  You can sew your own clothes.  You can't practice medicine without a license or training.  Healthcare is a comodity that everybody needs, but very few are qualified or skilled to administer.  I can fashion clothing out of numerous found objects, but I can't give myself open hear surgery - or anyone else for that matter.

    A bad comparison (none / 0) (#146)
    by sj on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:57:29 PM EST
    As you say, some places one can live off the land.  You can't get insurance by cultivating a natural resource.

    You are also missing the point (none / 0) (#148)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:01:30 PM EST
    Just because some people can live off the land does not mean that many or even most can. Those who cannot are indisputably being forced to buy food and clothing from private businesses.

    How you don't see that is beyond me.


    There's always the barter system ;) (none / 0) (#149)
    by nycstray on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:05:16 PM EST
    Somebody grows for me, I sew for them, etc.

    I'm not missing the point (none / 0) (#159)
    by sj on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:39:32 PM EST
    I think YOU are.

    So some people are forced to buy food and clothing from private business.  There is not a law on the books that says all citizens will have a minimum of one pair of socks, one pair of underwear, one shirt and one pair of pants which must be purchased at their own expense from a retailer.

    Food and clothing are necessities of life.  It is understood that life cannot continue without them.  There is no law requiring they be purchased.

    I defer to the lawyers on this site re constitutionality but use a valid comparison.  Food, clothing, oxygen, etc. aren't valid comparisons.


    Oh. (none / 0) (#170)
    by sj on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:40:36 PM EST
    And how you don't see that is beyond me.

    I would certainly object... (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:44:10 AM EST
    to a law that forces parents to buy food or clothing...if you can provide adequate care for your kid living off the land, or sh*t even living out of a dumpster, that is your right.

    Not a big difference (none / 0) (#60)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:39:12 AM EST
    Let's assume a city of 100,000 people.  The government can either tax everyone $10 and then pay some company a million bucks to pick up the trash, or it can pass a law that says everyone has to pay the company a $10 garbage collection fee.  Either way, you're out $10 and some company is picking up your garbage.

    Not only is there no difference, there's certainly no difference that the Constitution would recognize.  Find me the part of the Constitution that can arguably be read to suggest that Scenario A is okay but Scenario B is unconstitutional.

    And if you don't like the hypothetical mandate law - and who does? - of course you can vote the bums out and elect new bums to get rid of the mandate law.  If you don't like the company that the government contracts with to pick up your garbage, what recourse do you have, anyway?


    Are you saying... (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:49:02 AM EST
    the constitution gives the feds the right to force us to buy toilet paper, televisions, McDonalds, anything under the sun?

    Maybe this document ain't all its cracked up to be....


    Pretty much (none / 0) (#72)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:49:56 AM EST
    If you don't like it, your option is to elect someone else.

    Got another option... (none / 0) (#78)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:55:14 AM EST
    and I hope we start exercising it in large numbers...civil disobedience.

    In your example, you have the city (5.00 / 6) (#82)
    by Anne on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:11:04 AM EST
    deciding what the companies' prices should be - and I certainly don't see anything like that happening on the health care front.  Unless you want to make the argument that the city is subsidizing the actual cost through additional direct payments to the companies.

    What if the city mandated garbage collection, left it to each resident to obtain and pay for the service at whatever the market would bear, and decreed that fines would be issued for failure to comply?  

    And what if the private collection services set their prices such that they were all pretty much in the same range because they had a captive market and whatever those prices were, you could not afford any of them?  Would you just sneak out of the house in the wee hours and distribute your garbage among the cans of those who can afford it?  

    Or, would you expect the city to at least open a public facility to which you could take your trash for perhaps an income-adjusted fee?

    That's the question that takes the issue away from the actual collection of trash, to making sure that those in the trash collection business are not harmed by the government providing substantially the same service for much less than they do, and requiring the government to make them whole.  In the effort currently underway, there is entirely too much emphasis on preserving the insurance industry's stranglehold on individuals and the economy, and still not nearly enough emphasis on easing access to and affordability of the actual care people need.


    What if the city (none / 0) (#96)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:27:42 AM EST
    didn't bother to negotiate a good price?  What if the city was legally forbidden from negotiating a good price, the way Medicare is forbidden from negotiating drug prices?

    The city can, in fact, mandate that you spend your money to maintain your property in lots of ways that require you to pay a private company.  Homeowners have to keep their sidewalks in good repair, which means they need to pay some company to fix the cracks, at whatever price the market might bear.

    I share everyone's opposition to mandates as a policy matter, but none of these "constitutional arguments" are even coherent.  It is not even possible to imagine a Supreme Court opinion that says "well, mandates are constitutional in all sorts of other circumstances, but we find this one is unconstitutional because the health insurance market just isn't competitive enough."  That would be one heck of a penumbra.


    Again (none / 0) (#171)
    by sj on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:04:10 PM EST
    I am not making a constitutional argument.  I'm not remotely qualified.  And I'm not trying to challenge you any more than I was challenging Sister Mary Imelda when her "take it on faith" statements didn't fit into my head.  

    So, again, I defer to the attorneys on this site as far as constitutionality is concerned.  But so far I haven't seen a valid comparison.  

    The "same as car insurance" argument isn't.

    The "same as buying food and clothing" argument isn't.

    The "sidewalk maintenance" argument isn't.  I have brothers.  We take care of it ourselves and pay nobody.  ALOT of the examples that have been used here as requiring payment to a private business really don't as a matter of requirement.  They do as a matter of convenience or ability, but not the same as a requirement.  

    The closest I've seen is the garbage collection argument which maybe could work but seems to be property-based rather then person-based.  And I don't pretend to know if requirements that are ordinance based should have to scale up to a federal level to be ... whatever.  I don't know.

    So okay, I completely trust you that the arguments for "unconstitutional" are incoherent.  But, at least to this lay person, so far so are the arguments for "constitutional".

    And I'm really trying to understand here.


    Oh (5.00 / 1) (#172)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:09:01 PM EST
    well since YOU have brothers who fix the sidewalk then I guess there's no mandate.  Fortunately, since most people have health insurance through their employer already, there's no mandate there either!

    Unless you think that EVERYONE has an alternative the way you do, then yes, some people are forced to pay a private company to maintain their sidewalks.  The same way that some people will be forced to pay a private company for insurance.

    People, including yourself, are just grasping at any difference they can identify because they simply dislike the mandate idea.  You can choose not to own a car (many people can't)!  You can have a family member fix your sidewalk for free (many people can't)!  You can use the government as an intermediary when it taxes you to pay a private garbage collector, so it's totally not the same!

    Look, I don't like the mandate idea any more than the next guy.  And I am not saying that there is no difference, because obviously picking up the trash and getting health care are two different things.  But I am saying there is no relevant difference in any way that the Constitution will recognize.  There is nothing in the Constitution that can be read to say, "You can't force people to buy a product from a private company... unless some of them have a family member who can provide it for free, in which case it's okay!"

    Most people won't be adversely affected by mandates, no matter how much they suck.  You're concerned, and rightfully so, about a small minority of families who aren't poor enough to get subsidies and aren't well-off enough to afford insurance.  Okay, so maybe most people can fix their own sidewalk, but I'm worried about Granny who doesn't have any family to help her out and has no choice but to pay some price-gouging contractor to fix the cracks in her sidewalk.  There are people like that, and my concern is valid, but that doesn't mean it's unconstitutional to require people to keep their sidewalks in good repair unless there's a "public option" where they can just pay the government instead.


    Stop getting snippy (none / 0) (#173)
    by sj on Wed Sep 30, 2009 at 10:51:58 AM EST
    I'm just trying to understand here.  Even after all I've said you still seem to have no idea what I'm "grasping" at. Ordinarily I'd just ignore your rudeness and move on at this point (or earlier).   But you're one of the commenters that is qualified to have an opinion here so, I repeat, I'm trying to understand.

    First, I understand that you don't like the mandate idea as policy any more than I do.  And you're quite right that I'm very concerned about the "small minority of families who aren't poor enough to get subsidies and aren't well-off enough to afford insurance."  Because some of those are members of my very own extended family.  This is not theoretical to me.  But that's a matter of policy and isn't what I'm not grokking.  Can we get that out of the way?

    I don't like the idea of mandating the purchase of private insurance but I'm not claiming it's unconstitutional.  How many ways do I have to say that?  I'm not qualified to have an opinion on that.

    Just as sincerely as I was trying to make the idea of Original Sin fit into my brain, I'm trying to see why y'all feel that we're not really breaking new ground in forcing all citizens to purchase something from from a private entity, where no life-style choices can make the requirement irrelevent.

    I'm having a hard time parsing this:

    "You can't force people to buy a product from a private company... unless some of them have a family member who can provide it for free, in which case it's okay!"

    What?  never mind.

    Yes, the fact that some people can DIY is relevent.  The requirement is to get the freaking sidewalk fixed.  The requirement is NOT to pay someone to get it fixed.  We're (or at least I am) not talking about a theoretical ordinance that says all property owners (not all residents, by the bye) must keep sidewalks in good repair by contracting with companies on a pre-approved list.  I'm talking about real-life ordinances that say the sidewalk must be kept in good repair according to the such and such safety code.  And even then, if I don't have property, or I don't live in that area, that ordinance doesn't apply to me.  There is a strong element of life-style choice.  

    I am looking for an existing law that says the equivalent of "each resident must purchase [XXX]".  All of the examples in this thread are more like "each resident [who meets some condition] must have [XXX]".

    Up until now, the condition that required XXX was a little more specific than simply being alive.  andgarden compared it to the fact that most people buy food, but as far as I know there isn't a law on the books that requires us to buy food. It still seems to me that we're breaking completely new ground.  Although maybe in a subtle way.


    Economic substantive due process! (none / 0) (#64)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:41:06 AM EST
    Bring back Lochner!

    When citizens are taxed to pay for (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:45:52 AM EST
    privatized garbage collection, who pays the industry? The citizens or the city? I would think the city is paying the contractor. In the case you cited, garbage collection would be much the same as road repair. Also, when the citizens are taxed they get a product (i.e. garbage collection). In this case, citizens are only taxed if they do not purchase the product.

    I'm sure you are correct but somehow this seems different to me. If the government fails to provide a promised service, you at least have some recourse through your elected officials. Private industry, not so much.


    Again (none / 0) (#77)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:54:50 AM EST
    What's the difference if the government taxes you, or simply requires you to pay a fee directly to the garbage collection company?  Same result either way.  Yet no one questions that the government can force you to pay taxes and then turn the money over to a private company.

    This entire discussion is a species of "I don't like it, therefore it must be unconstitutional."


    I keep thinking Kelo dissent. What do (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:27:03 AM EST
    you mean the government can condemn my private property and turn it over to a private developer?  Outrageous.

    Well (none / 0) (#127)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:48:05 AM EST
    as long as it's for a public purpose, sure.  This has always been the law.

    Amendment to my comment: snark. (5.00 / 1) (#131)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:02:28 PM EST
    Exactly, (none / 0) (#97)
    by vicndabx on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:27:45 AM EST
    This entire discussion is a species of "I don't like it, therefore it must be unconstitutional."

    Think of the tax as your contribution to the health and well-being of your fellow citizens.  While you may not like the option, you do at least have an option.  Spun some other way, I doubt people would have an issue.  Here's a scenario: say the money goes toward Medicare for all.  That would mean the money goes to a private insurer to process Medicare claims, just like they do today!  Why is that any different from what we're talking about here?  


    Personally (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:13:14 AM EST
    I think it's the magnitude of the expenditure that might tip things over the line.

    Garbage:  $20/month
    Car insurance: $70/month (for the required liability coverage).

    Insurance:  $400-700/month per adult individual (less for children).

    Can we constitutionally require that people go without food to pay their health insurance?

    This is make or break money for many people.  If it isn't now unconstitutional, it might still be enough that they put the degree of pressure on their politicians to enact a federal constitutional amendment, or stop the process in some other way.

    And both garbage and car insurance actually have opt out provisions.  You can move your residence to get out of paying either of them.  (e.g. move closer to work and get rid of the car, or move to an area (like mine) that doesn't mandate garbage service).

    Neither example is analogous to mandated health insurance.  There is no analogy.


    Well golly (5.00 / 2) (#92)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:20:13 AM EST
    do you think it might be expensive for people to move closer to work and get rid of their car?  Owning a car is not a matter of "choice" for most Americans and I am tired of people pretending that it is.

    These comments are simply reinforcing my point that there is no coherent legal argument that a mandate is unconstitutional.  There is nothing in the Constitution that can be remotely read to say anything like, "You can be required to pay up to $100/month to a private company for services, but anything more than that is unconstitutional."  There is nothing that bears the slightest resemblance to "as long as you can avoid a mandate by selling your house and moving, it's not unconstitutional."  

    I understand why people feel like this is different.  I have no problem with anyone's feelings.  But none of this has anything to do with the Constitution.


    LOL (5.00 / 3) (#102)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:37:47 AM EST
    It is ultimately a choice.  It may be an expensive choice for some people but it is a choice.

    Many, many people take the bus every day.    Many people live in my huge county (King County), where unless you live in Seattle proper, you aren't required to get garbage pickup.

    Mandated health insurance absolutely does not provide any feasible opt out provision.  $3800 tax per family is NOT an opt out provision.  

    Your insistence that there is no difference between mandating health insurance and mandating the other things where you ultimately DO have a choice, or at minimum probably wouldn't go broke paying the cost, is getting ridiculous.


    There is absolutely no difference (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:47:34 AM EST
    from a Constitutional perspective.  I'm still waiting for someone to point me to the clause of the constitution that says "this sort of law is okay as long as people have the option to move to Seattle."  Heck, living in America is a choice if we're going to be that way about it.

    Substantive due process? Oh wait. (none / 0) (#121)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:29:19 AM EST
    Equal protection, rational relationship?  Oh, that doesn't work either.  

    Wow! how threatening it must be (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by hookfan on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:45:24 AM EST
    I wonder which of your essential bodily functions will cease to exist if you don't own a car?  Respiration? Cardiac? Naw must be the brain functions. . . Ahhh, it's a dystopian disaster, if you're not attached to four rolling wheels!!

    A lot of people (none / 0) (#109)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:49:01 AM EST
    would have their bodily functions cease without the ability to get to work and earn a living, without the ability to get to the grocery store, and so forth.  Some people have the option to go without a car, but it takes a remarkable amount of tunnel vision to contend that every single car owner in America is simply enjoying an optional luxury.

    It takes an exorbitant amount (none / 0) (#113)
    by hookfan on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:10:10 AM EST
    of hysteria to believe if one doesn't own a car one can't work or live, especially since multiple thousands are doing it right now. Heck, today, even if one does own a car, one is in jeopardy of not obtaining work (far fewer jobs than peeps applying for them), or obtaining food. The expense of the gas guzzler can just as likely be a contributer to one's economic distress as a possible solution out of it. can't afford a car is not equivalent to can't live.

    Most people (none / 0) (#115)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:14:05 AM EST
    do not have a choice about whether to own a car.  It's a fallacy to suggest that because some people get by without owning a car, no one has to own one.

    Actually, they do (5.00 / 3) (#120)
    by nycstray on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:28:19 AM EST
    as one who has never driven, you make choices based on that fact. Same as you do if you are a pet owner, have children, etc. A lot more people can live without cars than those that can't.

    You're right (none / 0) (#129)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:48:58 AM EST
    Your personal example proves that everyone in America, including people who live in far different situations than you do, has the choice to go without a car.  I stand corrected.

    I didn't say everyone (5.00 / 1) (#130)
    by nycstray on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:56:12 AM EST
    but far more people could not drive if they made the choice. Before you move, take jobs etc, you weigh your choices and factor in transportation etc even if you do drive. When I move next, yes, I will need a car at least once a week. There is no public transportation on the mountain :) But when I move on from there, who knows if I will continue to need to drive.

    The problem with the "right" as opposed (none / 0) (#123)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:31:31 AM EST
    to "privilege" argument re car ownership is do we really want everyone to have a "right" to a driver license?  Not that people seem to care whether they have a license when they drive.

    Apparently (none / 0) (#137)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:24:44 PM EST
    We should all cram into the handful of big cities that have adequate public transportation so we don't need cars.  The heck with living in the other 99% of the country!

    You don't have to live in a big city (5.00 / 2) (#142)
    by nycstray on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:40:59 PM EST
    to be a non-driver. Kinda interesting how folks can't see past their love of cars to see the other options. It's really no different than moving to a certain school district so your kids can attend those schools. Or being a renter and a pet owner. Or choosing how far you are willing to commute (by car or otherwise) everyday.

    Another thing to consider is how many people are giving up driving for cheaper and/or greener options these days. Driving is a convenience for many, not a must when it comes down to it.


    No, really (none / 0) (#150)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:06:37 PM EST
    So people who grow up in small towns - and make  choice to continue to live in a small town - should not be allowed to have a job in a nearby bigger city because they might have to drive a car to work (because obviously there aren't going to be city buses and subways)?  We should let all the land in the middle 3/4 of the country go empty so we can all live on top of one another in coastal cities?

    The city is great - to work in, to occasionally go out in - but give me the suburbs to live in (and for some, a small town to live in).

    I challenge anyone here who thinks we could all live without cars to move somewhere in the Midwest (Chicago excluded) and see if they could make it.


    Where did I say that? (none / 0) (#155)
    by nycstray on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:23:25 PM EST
    and I have been very careful NOT to say everyone. But if we give up the false need for cars, we would have more PT. Supply and demand. Heck, I was actually wrong when I said there is no PT on the mountain I'm moving to, there actually is now for commuters.

    I haven't always lived in cities. And I don't live in them because I don't drive. I have lived in or near them because that's where my profession is (or was more so pre-computers) Now I can live anywhere, as many more people can. When looking where to live, I take things into the same consideration as everyone else does, I just choose to add in the extra of PT. Others don't, but it doesn't mean they can't.


    honestly (none / 0) (#138)
    by CST on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:31:52 PM EST
    we probably should.  It would be significantly better for the planet if we did.

    50% of the population (or something like that) already does.

    Obviously you need a few people outside the city to farm and what-not.  But from a sustainabililty standpoint, the fewer the better.  And the suburbs are useless.


    Suburbs aren't useless, imo (none / 0) (#144)
    by nycstray on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:48:50 PM EST
    I can think of areas where the outlying areas are connected to each other and to the city. Transportation systems grow out of need. If everyone drives, they add more lanes. If more people take PT, they expand PT. It also opens up opportunities for small businesses to service areas.

    Not a realistic option (none / 0) (#140)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:36:14 PM EST
    Real estate values, taxes and rental rates are too high to live in the city anymore!

    not true (none / 0) (#145)
    by CST on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:48:55 PM EST
    for all cities.

    FWIW, I lived in Pittsburgh with no car.  Had a job, in a different part of the city than where I was living, and managed just fine on the bus.  Commute was long, but it worked.  Rent in Pittsburgh can be as cheap as $300/mo easily, probably cheaper.  Houses are also very cheap.

    Also, a lot of big cities have cheap neighborhoods.  People just aren't as willing to live there.

    Too many people think city = Manhattan.  That's really not the case.


    CST (none / 0) (#151)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:08:48 PM EST
    Why didn't you live up RTE 28 in Kittaning then and work in Pittsbirgh?  Cheaper rent and all that?

    Why would I? (none / 0) (#152)
    by CST on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:19:51 PM EST
    I didn't have a car and rent was cheap enough in Pittsburgh.  The difference in rent would not have covered the cost of a car.

    The real answer though is I didn't want to.  I am a city person through and through.  So yes, I realize I am not asking myself to give up anything here.

    Here's the thing, I do agree that as a country there are people who absolutely need to have a car as they currently live.  But your hypothetical about everyone moving into the city is where we should head in order to keep up with population growth and not destroy this nice rock we call earth.


    Possible solution (none / 0) (#157)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:30:22 PM EST
    Why not have a law that requires a public rail system to be built in conjunction to hwy system. We keep adding lanes for increased traffic but they rarely include a rail system to run along the existing route that would help alleviate the congestion problem in the first place?

    If we need a twelve lane hwy, it seems to me that there's a definite need for a rail system.


    preaching to the choir (none / 0) (#160)
    by CST on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:41:17 PM EST
    The problem with rail, is that it's just not that efficient for long distance travel without a large enough customer base.  It works great in subway form, when you have large volumes of people using it on a fairly constant basis.  The infrastructure for it is just incredibly expensive and it is cheaper in the short run to just add a highway lane.  Of course if you keep adding highway lanes, more people will drive, and you will need to add even more lanes.  Planning in this country has been very short-sighted.

    The real solution though is not about building rail lines where there are currently highways.  What we should be doing is living in denser areas to begin with.

    A funding law sounds great.  Unfortunately in practice, even when they try to tie rail improvements to highway improvements, the rail ends up getting the short end of the stick.  I'm thinking specifically about the big dig.


    CST #2 (none / 0) (#166)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:13:43 PM EST
    I disagree - it would be a terrible idea for a mjority of people to live in cities in overpriced, small, cramped quarters. More congestion in a smaller space using more resources per person, more stress on people, etc.

    No thanks.


    Disagree all you want (none / 0) (#168)
    by CST on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:31:56 PM EST
    on personal preference.

    but this is flatly not true, especially when compared to life in the suburbs:
    "using more resources per person".  People who live in cities generally use fewer resources per person.

    As for more stress, it depends on the person.  My blood pressure goes way up every time I sit in rush hour traffic.

    Considering your affinity for open space, you'd think you'd want the majority of people to live in the cities.  Then you'd have the rest of the space to yourself.


    Chicago (none / 0) (#153)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:20:04 PM EST
    Isn't Pittsburgh then! As far as cheap neighborhoods go, sure there are a few, but then you better hope HCR kicks in quick, because you definitely will need it! The violent crime rate keeps everyone but the desparate out of the area.

    Sloppy math. (none / 0) (#143)
    by ChiTownDenny on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:44:02 PM EST
    Not that all of us haven't been sloppy on the blogosphere at one point or another.  But think CA, urban sprawl, and then think your comment.

    For the record, I was not making (5.00 / 3) (#111)
    by Anne on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:02:13 AM EST
    an argument on the constitutionality of mandates, just picking at your garbage-collection example.

    I happen to think that mandates probably are not unconstitutional, but if they are going to be imposed, there needs to be some kind of balance to prevent them from being draconian and punitive to large segments of the population.

    A mandate without significant and stringent regulation of the insurance industry is an invitation to deepen the crisis in care, not alleviate it, and as long as there is this fantasy that insurance = care, that is exactly where we are headed.

    Anyone want to bet that "no one could have anticipated" that result?



    If Democrats impose such (5.00 / 3) (#125)
    by oldpro on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:36:26 AM EST
    policies on the population, balance will be delivered through many elections to come...by the Gingrich Republicans, all of whom would have voted "no!"

    The Harry and Louise ads are writing themselves even as I type...

    This is the dumbest idea since shock and awe/Iraq.


    I'm tired of people thinking that it isn't (none / 0) (#154)
    by sj on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:20:09 PM EST
    Owning a car is most certainly a matter of choice.

    Not having a car a car in some locations may make your life miserable (or that of the drivers known to you), but it's still optional.  It's a crummy option and might mean a 3 hour walk to work each day -- or even worse conditions -- but it's still optional.  Every community has non-driving citizens.  They may be a burden, but they're there.  

    I know.  I was one of them for a while.  And my (thankfully temporary) phobia was a burden on my family and neighbors.  But I went to work and all that.  Eventually I made the choice to move to community that had public transporation.  Less of a burden.  And ultimately dealt with the phobia and now I'm less of a burden, but far more of a consumer.

    I'm not a lawyer of any stripe, much less a constitutional lawyer so I read these arguments with angst.  Fine.  But it IS different than mandated car insurance.  Owning a car is still a choice.  I understand why you might not feel it's a choice, but it is a choice.


    I chose not to drive (none / 0) (#156)
    by nycstray on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:29:13 PM EST
    for financial reasons in the beginning. I could live a bit better starting out without the financial burden of a car. Now it's just second nature not to :)

    Right-o (none / 0) (#158)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:38:52 PM EST
    If your idea of a "choice" is that you could, instead, choose to walk 3 hours to work, then fine, it's a choice.  Living in America is also a choice by that definition.

    And I repeat that nowhere in this thread has anyone even attempted to make a legal argument as to why a mandate would be unconstitutional.


    The 19th century wants its legal theories back. . (none / 0) (#45)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:23:39 AM EST
    Constitution overrides federal law (none / 0) (#27)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:13:13 AM EST
    Has the federal government ever forced people to purchase a product from private industry or suffer a financial penalty for not being in compliance?

    State Constitutions do not override federal law (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:15:22 AM EST
    And the way the mandate is structured, as I understand it, is that the government isn't so much forcing you buy private insurance as taxing you a certain amount if you don't.

    Nullification arguments (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by Coral on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:28:59 AM EST
    of some right wingers recently vs. proposed health reform bills echo this sentiment. Hope we aren't headed to second Civil War.

    I think there is no way mandates will be unconstitutional, but politically reforms would be more palatable with very low-cost public alternatives to private insurers, and, as BTD suggests, automatic enrollment rather than fines for non-compliance.


    It has never happened, but the states (none / 0) (#38)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:20:52 AM EST
    can move for a constitutional convention.  

    Pie, meet sky (none / 0) (#42)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:22:45 AM EST
    Hmmm. (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:30:11 AM EST
    You think?  I think this kind of burden - with ZERO return for those who are forced to pay penalties - has the makings for a real showdown between Washington and "The People".  It will be interesting.  I say "will" because I based on what I've seen and heard, the Senate villagers are intent on keeping their mandate and killin the public option - and the White House is fine with that plan because all those Obama people know that none of this will affect their political lives as these bills are slated to kick in in 2013 - after they are out of the line of voters' fire.

    Could the mandate be repealed? Yes. (none / 0) (#51)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:31:33 AM EST
    But it won't happen through Constitutional amendment.

    I was referring to federal constitution (none / 0) (#43)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:22:57 AM EST
    not state.

    the government isn't so much forcing you buy private insurance as taxing you a certain amount if you don't.

    I guess that is a fine line that only lawyers would understand. As a private citizen, If I have to pay the government a "tax" if I don't purchase a product from a private industry, I am being forced to purchase the product.


    Does the government give you a free pen (none / 0) (#47)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:25:19 AM EST
    to use when you fill out your tax returns?

    I e-file. (none / 0) (#54)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:33:02 AM EST
    OH, so they pay for your (4.00 / 2) (#56)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:33:40 AM EST
    internet connection? What about the electricity your computer uses?

    Sure (none / 0) (#63)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:40:47 AM EST
    whatever - I'll go along because this is a completely silly argument.

    And hey - I always get money back from the government (which, of course as you know, people won't get back from the health insurance companies), so I can pony up for a pen or the internet connection or whatever.


    And as you know (none / 0) (#73)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:50:53 AM EST
    You don't need to pay for a pen or internet connection or electricity or anything else to file a tax return -there's a thing called a library (or other services for poor people to file their taxes).

    Not one cent out of pocket to you, if hypothetically, you were indigent but still had to file a tax return.


    Will the government give you a free ride (none / 0) (#76)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:53:06 AM EST
    to the library? Pay for the time you have to take off work to get there?

    You see where this goes. The government can compel you to spend money on private services. Full stop.


    I hate to be doom and gloom, (none / 0) (#15)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:54:03 AM EST
    but I think that the public option is likely DOA at this point.

    In about ten years, we'll all be discussing the breath taking number of people who pay the penalty for not having healthcare because the private insurance options are far too expensive for most Americans.  Maybe by then we'll have enough people in Congress who are both clever enough and wise enough to craft reform that actually helps people rather than private enterprise.  Or maybe not.

    If we are going to go all doom and gloom, (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:09:14 AM EST
    I might point out that the insurance industry, PhRMA etc., due to the current give away program, will be even more wealthy and powerful. Even more money available to buy members of Congress and run adds against any reform.

    Our only hope is that their greed will cause them to self-destruct with more any more employers and more and more individuals being unable and unwilling to purchase their products. Unfortunately, there will be a whole lot of people who could suffer because of the actions of this Congress before this is all over.



    As far as I am concerned, (none / 0) (#30)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:15:35 AM EST
    the clock has been running since late January.  The healthcare issue should have been solved by mid-February - but that would have been all hopey changey and that was just a campaign slogan - as usual.

    I (none / 0) (#33)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:16:36 AM EST
    disagree.  I think it still lives.

    Good. (none / 0) (#40)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:21:24 AM EST
    I like hope.  I wish I shared it in this case.

    ah firmness (none / 0) (#16)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 08:58:05 AM EST
    so desirable.  so illusive.  

    firmness in senate democrats.  thats a rare commodity.

    Bill Nelson looks like a Yes (none / 0) (#74)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:50:54 AM EST
    on the Schumer public option, which is the weaker version.

    see this? (none / 0) (#88)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:16:26 AM EST
    if it was not so destructive it would be funny:

    An Exercise in Ego Gratification
    By Robert Samuelson

    "My colleagues, this is our opportunity to make history," implored Chairman Max Baucus as the Senate Finance Committee last week opened consideration of his bill. Politicians, in their most self-important moments, see themselves as instruments of national destiny. They yearn to be remembered as the architects and agents of great social and economic transformations. They want to be at the signing ceremony; they want a pen.

    Sen. Rockefeller has a few things to say (5.00 / 3) (#95)
    by MO Blue on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:26:05 AM EST
    about the Baucus plan.

    10:37 - Rockefeller is putting the private health insurance industry on trial. He is going through all the different ways private insurance companies screw over their custumers and deny claims.

    10:33 - Rockefeller pointed out that while the private insurance companies will receive a half trillion dollars in federal money, there is no requirement in the Mark for the private insurance companies to spend that money on care. The House bills has an minimum 85% medical loss ratio. Baucus's bill has no minimum medical loss ratio

    10:24 - Rockefeller quoted in his defense of the public option former Cigna excutive Wendell Potter who called Baucus's bill the, "the Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act." FDL

    Guess I'll polish up my resume (none / 0) (#99)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:28:05 AM EST
    and sell my soul so I can go work for an insurance company - looks like they might be hiring soon.

    I do know if it just me (none / 0) (#87)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:15:30 AM EST
    But these Senators are the least articulate group of people I have ever seen.

    My gawd, I would put Grassley on all the time. I am pretty sure he would get us a lot of undecideds due to his sheer incoherency.

    frighteningly (none / 0) (#91)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:17:40 AM EST
    I think its his incoherency that appeals to his fans.

    Judging by his tweets... (none / 0) (#93)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:21:15 AM EST
    ...I'd say you are correct.  

    Incoherence (none / 0) (#101)
    by Coral on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 10:31:58 AM EST
    Palin got pretty far with that. It appeals to some...especially when the facts are opposite to the argument you are attempting to make.

    Yeah ,but Palin (5.00 / 1) (#133)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 12:08:37 PM EST
    is at charismatic.  What's Grassley got?

    Wow, Insurance Companies are paying (none / 0) (#124)
    by vicndabx on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:34:22 AM EST
    for too many services per Chuck Schumer.  We need a public option to cut down on that.  I never thought I'd hear it.

    BREAKING NEWS on CNN (none / 0) (#169)
    by jbindc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 02:36:52 PM EST
    "Senate Finance Committee rejects publich option"

    (no link yet)