Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the Senate Budget Committee chairman and a member of the unsuccessful Gang of Six effort, raised a few eyebrows this week with a message for his "progressive friends."What a fucking loser. Total reading comprehension fail, not to mention total awareness-of-how-other-countries-actually-run-their-health-care-systems fail. When this putz comes up for election, he's gotta go. This is Bush-level stupidity, and it's unbecoming in an ostensible Democrat.
Conrad, a consistent opponent of the public option, wanted liberals to know "government-run programs" aren't necessary to lower costs and expand access. He explained that he'd finished reading T.R. Reid's "The Healing of America" over the weekend, and learned Germany, Japan, Switzerland, France, and Belgium are doing just fine. "[A]ll of them contain costs, have universal coverage, have very high quality care and yet are not government-run systems," Conrad said.
It was an odd thing to say, and reflects some important confusion about these international systems. As Ezra Klein explained, "In France, for instance, the government provides all basic insurance coverage directly. In Germany, insurers aren't permitted to make a profit. In Japan, health insurance is publicly provided, and private insurance is available only to ease co-payments or cover services that the government leaves out."
PWN o' the Day goes to Sen. Jay Rockefeller:
It's hard to forgive Rockefeller's FISA fuckery, but after this, I shall never again call him "Jello Jay." Snap!
Discussing one of Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) amendments, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, "If there's anything which is clear, it's that the insurance industry is not running this markup, but it is running certain people in this markup."
He went on to say that Cornyn's amendment -- one that would add caveats to an employer mandate -- "is about giving subsidies to insurance companies... instead of giving it, helping people. This is the grandfather of all grandfathers."
"With all due respect, Senator, I don't know what amendment you're referring to --," Cornyn said.
"I'm referring to yours," Rockefeller said.
"You're certainly not referring to my amendment --," Cornyn said.
"I am," Rockefeller said.
Speaking of insurance companies, I'm sure none of you fell for AHIP's "We Luv Reform!" schtick (or if you did, it was a mere stumble), but just in case, it's always good to remember that while the insurance industry's lobby blabbers happy bullshit about how they'll change their ways, the insurance companies themselves have absolutely no interest in doing so. Color me shocked.
And I'm sure you never fall for this either, but when Cons try to tell you how they're the party of small business and/or the working man, they're lying, delusional, or both. If they were really a party with the best interests of small businesses/workers at heart, they'd pass reform: health care costs are crushing small businesses, and keeping employees locked into corporate jobs rather than opening businesses of their own.
You may notice Dems getting feisty on health care reform (those not completely in thrall to the insurance industry and slavishly devoted to the notion of negotiating a bipartisan deal with an opposition party that has absolutely no interest in negotiating, anyway). There's a reason for that. Meet Democratic Senator #60.
That's right, bitches.
And while the Cons in Massachusetts are doing their level-best to stop Sen. Kirk's appointment through the courts, they've not gotten very far just yet.
Why, yes. Yes, it was a blatant political move Massachusetts Dems just made, revoking their previous law requiring a special election in order to get one more Dem butt into the Senate, but you know what? I'm proud of the fuckers. They pulled a classic Con move on the Cons, dealt a bit o' quid for the quo, and administered a dose of the medicine they've been forced to take for years now. Good for them.
Don't make it a habit.
Now all Dems need to do is impress upon Sen. Nelson that being a Democrat means not supporting Con filibusters, nor even flirting with such an idea, and all shall be well. If you're one of Ben Nelson's unfortunate constituents, you may want to give him a ring and advise him how you feel about his contrary streak.
Despite Nelson's noise, Chuck Schumer and Jay Rockefeller are "very confident" health care reform will include "a good, strong, robust public option." Nancy Pelosi's condemned triggers in language that leaves me no doubt she won't put up with one in the final bill. She's got House liberals standing strong on the public option, and Blue Dogs who seem to be weakening in their opposition. Oh, some are still yipping, but it looks like a lot of bark with little bite behind it - if you visit that last link, you'll see how full of shit they are on their supposed "principles." And if they have even a hint of self-awareness, they understand just how bad it looks for them to blather about controlling costs while they're acting as accomplices in helping insurance companies price competitors out of rural markets.
Upshot: what we'll end up with won't be single payer, but at this point, it's starting to look like it won't suck, and might even accomplish some good.
No thanks to the health industry, Cons, and the few dumb-as-shit Dems who've been enabling them.