Here & There on US Health Care

From Hillbilly Report:

After months of healthcare debate a bill has been passed in the Senate. A bill that stripped basically all that was good for working Americans out, and has become very unpopular among a majority of Americans. A bill that mandates millions of Americans at the mercy of the insurance industry, and allows them to continue to discriminate against folks with pre-existing conditions. Quite simply, a bill that was written for Corporate Welfare complete with backroom bribes to get it passed. And for many Progressives, the fact that we had not a champion in the Democratic caucus to stand up for us and vote against these junk reforms was painful enough, Harry Reid added insult to injury.  [more]

Wendell Potter at Huffington:

Although the effort to achieve health care reform has been arduous and ugly, progressives can’t merely brush off their hands, move on to other issues and hope the stars will align again for “real” reform. When you stop and think about the bottomless pot of money that health insurance companies constantly replenish by diverting part of our premium dollars away from paying for medical care, it is in some ways remarkable that we have accomplished as much as we have with this legislation.  [more]

David Sirota, also at Huff:

For those caught up in the obsequiously triumphalist bullshit coming from the DC elite – you know the crap about the Senate allegedly passing the most important piece of progressive legislation in American history today (an analysis I completely reject) – it’s important for us all to remember that the health care battle isn’t over – and specifically, the battle over the public option isn’t over.  [more, of course]

Ronald Brownstein at The National Journal:

The new Internet-based left, because it is so heavily reliant on college-educated whites generally less exposed to the economy’s storms, also has a blind spot on kitchen table issues. According to the Census Bureau, just 6 percent of college-educated whites lack health insurance, for instance, compared to 19 percent of African-Americans and 31 percent of Hispanics. But the idea that Democrats should just press restart after the grueling struggle to reach this point carries an air of fatal abstraction: If health reform fails now, the next chance for big change probably wouldn’t come for years, if not decades. “The universal rule of health care — there are no exceptions — is you get what you can,” says Brown University political scientist James Morone, co-author of The Heart of Power, a recent history of health care politics.  [more]

Letter to David Sirota at Open Left:

This is an excellent example of the “satisfying purity of indignation.” Millions will benefit from a compromise plan. Zero would do so from a more ambitious but unachieveable plan. I’ve no patience for this kind of impractical and bloodless stance. Please take me off your list.

Sent from my iPhone
Stephen Davis
Executive Director
Millstein Center
Yale School of Management

Sirota’s response

From Dan Sweeney, Huff again:

What the past several months have revealed, far more than the power of lobbyists (which we already knew) or the ability of senators to toss their ideology out the window for fun and profit (ditto), is the complete and total inability of the government to govern. Whatever your opinion of this health-care bill, whatever your opinion of Democrats or Republicans, put that aside for a moment and consider this: A charismatic president with a supposedly filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a large majority in the House is completely incapable of enacting massively popular reform.  [he goes on]

Michael J. W. Stickings, the Huff goes on:

reality is reality, and politics are politics, and, given the Senate’s ridiculous rules and procedures that effectively require a supermajority of 60 to pass legislation, the votes just aren’t there even for a Medicare buy-in, let alone for a public option, let alone for a robust one, let alone for anything even more substantial.Like it or not, that’s just the way it is, and while I wish there had been a stronger push by progressives and liberals for concessions from right-leaning reform-skeptic Democrats like Nelson, Lieberman, and Baucus, specifically regarding subsidies for those who simply will not be able to afford the insurance they would be required to buy, and while I wish Obama, and the White House generally, had pushed for more substantial and transformative legislation (it’s still not clear to me what Obama is actually for, if he is for anything other than the Senate bill as is, which he may not be), we are left with a stark choice: pass the bill or kill the bill.

I think the choice is clear: PASS THE BILL.  [a bit more]

From Reed Abelson at the good ole Globe and Mail:

For many people, the result of the long, angry health care debate in Washington may be little more than more of the same.As President Obama once promised, “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.”

That may be true even if you don’t like your health plan. And no one seems to agree on whether the legislation will do much to reduce workers’ continually rising out-of-pocket costs.  [more]

Paul Krugman:

Now, in a hostage situation there are times when you have to just say no — when giving in, by encouraging future hostage-takers, would be worse than letting the hostages perish. So the question has to be, is this one of those times? I don’t think so, given the history: as Kevin Drum points out, health reform has come back weaker after each defeat. I’d also point out that highly imperfect insurance reforms, like Social Security and Medicare in their initial incarnations, have gotten more comprehensive over time. This suggests that the priority is to get something passed.

But what’s happening, I think, goes beyond health care; what we’re seeing is disillusionment with Obama among some of the people who were his most enthusiastic supporters. A lot of people seem shocked to find that he’s not the transformative figure of their imaginations. Can I say I told you so? If you paid attention to what he said, not how he said it, it was obvious from the beginning — and I’m talking about 2007 — that he was going to be much less aggressive about change than one could have hoped. And this has done a lot of damage: I believe he could have taken a tougher line on economic policy and the banks, and was tearing my hair out over his caution early this year. I also believe that if he had been tougher on those issues, he’d be better able to weather disappointment over his health care compromises.

So there’s a lot of bitterness out there. But please, keep your priorities straight.  [more]

Jon Walker at FireDogLake:

Today’s vote in the Senate to pass their health care reform bill was a big win for many people. It was a big win for the drug companies, the biologics industry, the hospital companies, and the for-profit health insurance corporations. They will all get billions of government dollars piled on to their ledgers, and and millions of Americans now forced to buy their products. The vote was also a huge win for the lobbyists who just saw their profits jump thanks to this great opportunity to show their clients just how powerful their hold on Washington really is.

This vote was also a political win. It was a big deal for politicians–like Barack Obama, Max Baucus, Rahm Emanuel, and Harry Reid–who cared more about putting up a “W” on the scoreboard than about the policy. It was also a big day for senators like Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, and Joe Lieberman. The incredibly broken rules of the Senate gave them an absurd amount of anti-constitutional power that allowed them to hold reform hostage for pork and industry favors.

It was loss for the country. Our broken health care system will remain broken and costs will continue to rise at an alarming rate. Things like drug re-importation and a robust public option, which would have helped bring down prices for millions of Americans, were stripped from the bill at the request of powerful industry lobbyists.

It was also a big loss for the progressive movement. We were out-gunned by industry lobbyists, and many of our movement “allies” failed us. A woman’s right to choose was thrown under the bus just to get something passed. The supposed “progressives” in the Senate refused to go all-out and use every tool to achieve the most progressive reform. Lawrence O’Donnell is right, most importantly, this bill will give liberalism a very bad name.

This is not progressive reform. This is a perverse Democratic version of Reagan style trickle down economics. Hundreds of billions will be given to poorly regulated private health insurance companies in the hope that they spend roughly 80% of that money on actually providing people with health care. It forces millions of people to buy very expensive insurance that they cannot afford to get actual health care, so that Democrats can proudly say millions more people are “covered.” Private health insurance companies are what have ruined our current system and are dramatically less efficient than public insurance programs, yet Democrats will use them almost exclusively. It is a massive reward for a history of terrible performance. Instead of reining in the insurance companies, it only enriches, empowers, and entrenches them further. The only “check” on the industry will be new regulations, but with extremely weak to practically non-existent enforcement, it is basically no check at all.

[there’s lots more over there]

So much to think about.  Likely I’m on the side of the lefty abstractionist naysayers.  Overall I’m just sad.  Though I was never a believer in the hopey-changey President.  I’m frustrated with those lefty abstractionists who were.  In any case, the American system of government and its flaws has been exposed in all its vain-glorious ingloriousness.  That’s what people should be paying attention to, whatever they think about health care “reform”.  Perhaps the problem is with the notion of reform itself.  Now there’s a revolutionary idea.

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