23 December, 2009

Your Daily Dose of Health Care Reform Stupidity

It's actually a little boring now that it's clear the Cons have met their Waterloo.  It will all be over at 8am Christmas Eve, as long as Joe Lieberman doesn't stampede.

This seems to have prompted Sarah Palin to whip out the ol' death panel argument again:
Just one day after her deranged "death panel" nonsense was named the "Lie of the Year," Palin decided to raise the specter of her insane accusation all over again.
"NOW w/the Prez "threatening" &Congress "rushing" is when we MUST pay more attention than ever 2what this HealthCare Takeover is all about," Palin wrote in one tweet. "[M]erged bill may b unrecognizable from what assumed was a done deal:R death panels back in?"
To translate this into English, the former half-term governor believes President Obama is "threatening" someone -- she wasn't clear on who -- while lawmakers are "rushing." Given that the health care reform debate lasted nearly as long as Palin's entire tenure as governor, it's hard to believe the process really has been "rushed."

Nevertheless, she believes it's important that "we" carefully scrutinize what the "takeover is all about." Who, exactly, is taking over what is, alas, still unclear.

She goes on to suggest the conference report may be "unrecognizable" from the legislation, and "death panels" -- which never existed in our reality -- may be "back in" after the White House's intervention.

As Alex Koppelman put it, "[B]ecause Democrats are just dying to sneak in a provision that would allow them to kill your loved ones."

These idiots are so fucking pathetic.

Other Cons are wailing and moaning because the bill includes some perks:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters yesterday that it took quite a lot of effort to shape a health care bill that could generate as broad a base of support as this one.

"There are 100 senators here, and I don't know that there's a senator that doesn't have something in this bill that isn't important to them," Reid said. "If they don't have something in it important to them, then it doesn't speak well of them."

That last part seems to have made an angry group of Republicans that much more furious. The accusation, of course, is that the bill is now loaded with "pork," as the Wall Street Journal put it, as senators were "bought off."

As Eric Boehlert explained, the complaints sound a little silly.
For anybody who's spent more than three weeks inside the Beltway, the allegations of legislative arm-twisting certainly sound naive, since that's how the D.C. game has been played for going on two centuries now. But nonetheless, conservatives insist Democrats have stooped to some kind of historic low.
But I can't help wondering what Nick Smith thinks about those claims. Because back in late 2003, when was serving as a Republican member of Congress from Michigan, Smith opposed the Bush White House's attempt to revamp Medicare when the issue came up for a vote in November. Republican leaders quickly realized that night that they didn't have the votes and started leaning on their own members.
At the time, House GOP leaders literally promised to deliver $100,000 in campaign contributions to Smith in exchange for his vote. The attempted bribery of lawmakers on the House floor was so obscene, it prompted yet another Ethics Committee investigation into Tom DeLay's antics.

By comparison, Democratic "sweeteners" on health care are about as common as the sunrise. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) was in a position of leverage before the motion to proceed, so she secured some funding for her state. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) was a long-time holdout, so he sought some extra Medicaid money for Nebraska. All kinds of senators received all kinds of inducements, prompting Republican apoplexy, as if this were some kind of unprecedented abuse.
To which Ben Nelson said, fine.  If that's the way it's gonna be, if they're really that upset, he'll just have Reid take out Nebraska's incidental extras.  And then, no doubt, have immense amounts of fun explaining to the good folks of his state that, if Cons hadn't thrown a tantrum, they'd have a lot more funding to play with.  Oopsies.

This is quite possibly the first time I've felt a little bit of admiration for that rat bastard.

And here's another bit of unexpected admiration: I actually think Max Baucus did a brilliant job of bawling out Cons:
In an uncharacteristically impassioned and frank speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) challenged “courageous” Republicans to “break from their leadership” and “work together to pass health care reform.” Baucus argued that the Republican party was more interested in winning seats during the 2010 election than offering sensible alternatives to the health care crisis. He also accused the Republican leadership of pressuring members of ‘Gang of Six’ to abandon bipartisan negotiations.

Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) “wanted to pass health care reform,” Baucus insisted. “They asked very good questions,” but “one by one by one they started to drift away. They wanted to pass health care reform, they wanted to act in a bipartisan basis but they were pressured, pressured from their political party not to do it.”


“I just want the public to know that we worked very hard to get a bipartisan bill that side of the aisle started working with us but gradually they began to bleed politically,” Baucus said. They realized “that they would do a better chance in the 2010 elections by just not working with us, but just attack attack attack attack attack and try to score political points to defeat any honest effort to get health care reform.”

I never thought I'd ever say this, but... "You go, Max!  Woot!"

So, soon, we'll be on to conference.  There's already some talk of what we might expect.  There won't be miracles - far from them - but it looks like earlier benefits are very much on the tableRep. Grijalva, a progressive champion, will certainly be pushing for them.  We'll see what else ends up on the table.

And Dems are already setting Cons up for a fall.  If we get early implementation of some of those benefits, it just might work.

If you've got some time on your hands, and want to learn more about what improvements should be made, Ezra Klein's got a "Letters to Health Care Santa" series going that's definitely worth a look.  So far, we've heard from George Halvorson, Diane Archer, Alain Enthoven, David Cutler, Austin Frakt, and Jacob Hacker.  It's fun, creative, and full of good ideas.  Go enjoy.

Barring any extraordinary stupidity, this is probably the last dose we'll have for a while.  If you stumble across anything that's too stupid to ignore, or too thought-provoking not to share, please do drop it in comments.

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