The health care sell out, a work in progress

Keeping charts like this rising are more important than your health care

Keeping charts like this rising are more important than your health care

There’s a truism about investing – you should only do it when you are confident that you will profit from the outcome. If I pour $1,000 of my own money into Company X, I am confident enough that when I need that money back, I’ll get my $1,000 – and probably more. It’s why I would invest – the risk/reward looks good. Such a thought process works well beyond wall street, and in far more complex things than just the stock market.  Give me enough money and I can do damned near anything I want, in the name of me, my company, or my industry.

Enter the health care industry, and their billions that they’ve earned off of denying people the services they signed up for.  Enter a hopeful campaign that dared to dream that such a system might actually be attacked head on, and perhaps even defeated – for the good of the rest of us.

That dream slipped away.

Enter the next best thing: We will have a public option.  The public will get to choose if they want to stay in their current insurance or join a new government-backed one, one given the same bargaining power as Medicare.  The increased competition will cause premium rates to fall across the board, and we’ll all still benefit.

That dream slipped away.

Moving down the list: We will have a public option just as previously released, but it will not have the same bargaining power as Medicare – it will have to fend for itself in the free market world.  Some out there have to be wondering what the point even is at this point, but maybe just getting a bill passed with some sort of shot taken at the health care industry will be enough to get the ball rolling for some more serious change down the line.

That dream slipped away.  This whole dream is dying.

More important than your health

More important than your health

It was part of the plan, anyways.  Without having a good solid counter argument to Congress and the President when it came to the need for reform and exactly where to take that reform, the conservative opposition in this country has taken to a tact that involves saying the most immature, inconceivable things possible to confuse the public mind and ruin the public debate – turning the people off to reform and if not making them think that the current system is good enough then at least making people so frustrated by the stalling reform process that they’ll stop caring and head back to watching television.

It’s hard to sell that message without some shock value.  To that end, we now have concepts that have entered the political lexicon starting with “Obamacare” and ending with “Obama and the evil liberals in Congress are embarking on a mission that will force people to abort babies and kill old people under a red, white, and blue swastika – and all that they need to turn this country into the Fourth Reich is the passage of this one single, solitary bill!”

…and yet… it’s working

The latest evidence to point toward the success of outright lying was evident on Sunday’s “State of the Union” on CNN. Senator Durbin, supposedly one of the most progressive members of Congress, indicated that the Obama administration is ready to cave to a loud, well funded lobby with barely a shred of truth or logic to back up any of their outlandish claims:

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the chamber’s foremost progressives, said that while he supported a government-run option for insurance, he was “open” to alternatives.

“Just understand that, after we pass this bill — and I hope we do — in the Senate, it will go to conference committee,” said Durbin. “We’ll have a chance to work out all of our differences.”

“So we’ll see how this ends, but I don’t want the process to be filibustered to failure, which unfortunately, many senators are trying to do,” Durbin added. “I want to make sure that we do something positive for the American people.”

The fear of a filibuster is enough to kill legislation. I suppose the next time there is a book burning we would be well served to gather up all of our civics textbooks and toss them into the pile, as everything we thought was about the way government worked is turning up to be anything from the truth. We are in some sort of strange bazzaro land where having a majority doesn’t actually make you a majority. I missed the part where 40 was in fact greater than 60. I missed the part where when you were in the mathematical minority you were actually in the legislative majority. This information would have come in quite handy during any time of the Democrats status as the minority party between the years 1994 and 2006. So much more could have gotten done in those years before the Republican minority swept to power in 2006 and strengthened its hold on the country in 2008 by subtracting the number of seats it had.

What is the point of electing a party that does not know how to use the majority it has to actually get anything done that a majority of people elected them to do?  If it were 51 – 49 nothing would get done because the 49 would cry for bipartisanship and the 51 would go along with it.  At 60 – 40 there is fear that if one of the 60 joins the 40 they could theoretically filibuster anything they wanted which would be apparently so embarrassing for the remaining 59 that it would be better for everyone involved that the legislation just never makes it to the floor.  With this logic in mind, an amendment-to-the-Constitution-proof majority of 67 – 33 wouldn’t work because if such power were ever used, the 33 might complain that the 67 have taken over the country and planned to enslave us all.  If it were 99 – 1, that wouldn’t work either since if the wishes of the 1 were not being respected, there must be something terribly wrong with the entire process.  Why don’t we just reinstall President Bush as a President For Life and cancel the rest of democracy?  It seems to be how the Democrats want to play this game, if they want to bother to play it at all.

If it were only as simple as ineptitude that great.  No, sadly, instead it is money – and lots of it.  Another sign that the fix is in and we are all going to get screwed comes from the recent announcement that the drug industry is going to spend $150 million on advertising supporting the President’s drive to overhaul health care – apparently overhauling it in a way that pleases that same drug industry.  What is good for their bottom lines is not good for ours…

The unusually large scale of the industry’s commitment to the cause helps explain some of a contentious back-and-forth playing out in recent days between the odd-couple allies over a deal that the White House struck with the industry in June to secure its support. The terms of the deal were not fully disclosed. Both sides had announced that the drug industry would contribute $80 billion over 10 years to the cost of the health care overhaul without spelling out the details.

With House Democrats moving to extract more than that just as the drug makers finalized their advertising plans, the industry lobbyists pressed the Obama administration for public reassurances that it had agreed to cap the industry’s additional costs at $80 billion. The White House, meanwhile, has struggled to mollify its most pivotal health industry ally without alienating Congressional Democrats who want to demand far more of the drug makers. White House officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Now only to drive the point home. Why be on the hook for $80 billion when you can be on the hook for billions more in pure profitSend in the dogs!

A town-hall discussion about health care is a dangerous place to be these days. The tone at these events has turned ugly and, at times, vicious; Thursday night, two boiled over into actual fighting–at one event in Florida, and at another in Missouri.

Democratic lawmakers are getting shouted down, and discussions about reform are being disrupted by angry conservatives who yell, scream, or chant over speakers. There has been a death threat and an effigy. Supporters of Demcoratic reform have deemed these people “angry mobs,” shipped in by conservative Astroturfing organizations based in DC–dangerous, disrespectful, and manufactured.

The lines between public debate, erratic shouting, and sports fandom are all becoming too blurred to discern one from the next:

“This is kind of an explosive, combustible situation. The Obama supporterss are very passionate and very excited about their guy, and our folks are very passionate about what we believe in. When you get two people who are very passionate in the same room, it’s gonna get hot. I’m a Cleveland Browns fan, and when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town, that gets hot,” Brandon said.

I would put my hands in my head and sigh, but it is quite possible that either action could deny me future coverage for a life saving surgery if either were ever found out.

I know where you can put your fucking hope...

I know where you can put your fucking hope…

So where is the resistance?  Where is the hope?  Apparently the word from on high is that our hope can get fucked:

The Politico’s Jonathan Martin reported this morning that Rahm Emanuel warned leaders of liberal groups in a private meeting this week that it was time to stop running ads attacking Blue Dog and “centrist” Dems on health care.

I’m told, however, that Emanuel went quite a bit further than this.

Sources at the meeting tell me that Emanuel really teed off on the Dem-versus-Dem attacks, calling them “f–king stupid.” This was a direct attack on some of the attendees in the room, who are running ads against Dems right now.

As much as I absolutely hate and despise to buy into conspiracy theories of any sort, it would appear that the fix is in and that fix is against us. Oh we’ll get a bill alright, but it won’t be a bill that actually improves anything. In a worst case scenario that we seem destined for at the moment it appears we will wind up with a health care mandate – an order by the government that everyone needs to sign up for private health care of some sort or face the consequences. It’s a win for all sides except the public: the health care industry is mandated to get tens of millions of new customers to fill their coffers with and they don’t have to lower their premium costs by as much as a cent, the government gets bucketloads of cash for their midterm campaigns in 2010 and beyond, and the public is left out in the cold, poorer than before – forced to pay for health care that can just as easily deny them any sort of coverage when it comes time that such coverage is needed. Yes, I did say this would be the worst case scenario. Forced to choose between that and the status quo, I’d throw my hands up and say we’re screwed. At least with the status quo it won’t be a crime of some sort to not have insurance – a judicial crime, it’s already a moral crime that rests at the feet of who we are as a country but those who run said country don’t seem to let that keep them up at night.

Remember, it’s a game.  It’s all a game…

“He started out with, `We’re 13 and 0 going into health care,’” one source at the meeting said, meaning that Rahm was touting the White House’s string of pre-health care legislative victories.

“This momentum is necessary to do all these other things. We have a lot of momentum right now, and any loss spoils that momentum that we’ve built up,” was how the source described the gist of what Rahm said. A Rahm spokesperson didn’t return an email for comment.

What are we talking about here? Legislation, the inner workings of government, or a goddamned football season? At least the football players get health care…

  1. It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people. And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait, Medicare and Medicaid and our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

    How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a lynch mob advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.