Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page
So I’m taking a summer class called “Congressional Commitees”, which as you can imagine is pretty useful and relevant to our work at Carrots & Sticks. My first assignment, due tomorrow evening, is to figure out which House commitees will be handling the aspect of health reform that deals with covering the uninsured. I did a little internet sleuthing and asked some legislative folks at work, and here’s what I found:
- Obama, Pelosi, Hoyer and the 3 committee chairs with jurisiction (Rangel, Waxman and Miller) met a couple weeks ago and announced that they expect to have a full bill through the House by the end of July.
- So far, it seems like the 3 committees (Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce and, to a lesser extent, Education & Labor) will work together and mark up the same bill at roughly the same time.
- The timetable for rolling out a concrete proposal is uncertain, but should happen within the next week or two.
- The proposal will include a strong public option.
- Ways & Means will have to work on both the Energy/Climate bill and the Health bill during the summer, but Rangel has stated Health will come first.
- It’s unclear whether any subcommittees will be marking up the bill before the full committees get a look. The most likely bet, if any, is the Health Subcommittee of Energy & Commerce under Frank Pallone (D-NJ). Pallone should be a solid ally, but that doesn’t mean leadership wants to deal with any more veto points than necessary.
- The Blue Dogs are already hemming and hawing about the early process not letting them gum up the works before a concrete proposal even emerges.
- The Senate is still too early to read. Although Kennedy’s HELP committee will mark up a bill pretty soon, the power is all in Baucus’ hands at the moment, and that ain’t necessarily a good thing. He may just wait for the House to finish, which also ain’t necessarily a good thing.
The scene appears to be at a convention – a nicer hotel or conference center environment, full of people who are there to do business. Suits, pantsuits, nicer dress generally, lots of the same muted tones. They look like Washington people. The sound is mainly the growing din of conversation. Everything gets slowly louder and more frenzied. Maybe the establishing shot is a wide frame of the multitude, and it slowly zooms in over the course of the spot.
Snippets of conversation, almost yelled out to be heard over the noise, are audible:
“…pre-existing conditions? Nobody knows yet…”
“…of course the system isn’t ready for this. But I don’t see how you can slow it down…”
“…yeah, a lot like Medicare…”
Other background phrases include:
What about lines?
As the camera searches the room, or continues to narrow the frame after beginning at a wide focus, an older Hispanic woman comes into view. She’s standing quietly in the middle of the action, as if she found herself at the wrong party, and doesn’t know a soul. The background noise is dialed down significantly, enough to hear her say to no one in particular: “Will somebody just tell me whether my Al will still be able to see Dr. Ferguson if we go through with this government plan?”
Although nobody stops to notice her, or even stops talking, the question is met with silence. She maintains a concerned look, waiting.
Final caption:The plans for health care reform being discussed in Washington will have very real consequences for all of us. Let’s make sure we know what we’re getting into. To learn more about what current plans for government-run health care mean to you and your family, you’ve come to the right place.
Of course, the goal of the private insurance industry, in this case Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, is to torpedo the public option. They are saying it will limit choice, lead to longer waits, rationing, etc etc… but they really have no ground to stand on here. Nobody in the current debate is advocating a move to an entirely government run health care system. It’s a public OPTION, meaning if the for-profit industry can provide better coverage then they will continue to survive and thrive.
Yglesias, as usual, nails it:
If the public option offered rationing and low-quality care, why would anyone sign up for it? Nobody would. That kind of low-quality public option would give private insurance nothing to fear. But what they really fear isn’t that a public option would be bad, it’s that it would be good—putting effective cost-controls in place without compromising patient care, thus threatening private industry’s business model.
That, however, is one of the best ways at our disposal to make health reform really work. A public option that strives to achieve public goals—quality care at an affordable price—will challenge private industry to do a better job. Then competition between plans will drive improvements in quality and efficiency. Without a public option, the risk is that private plans will compete by trying to screen out sick patients. That’s a viable root to private sector profits, but it does nothing to improve quality or control costs.
On a related note, my favorite argument by some public option opponents: “it will place private health insurance companies at an unfair disadvantage.” Um, that’s the point. Supporters of the public option are confident that the government can deliver quality health care for cheaper than the private market, like it does in virtually every other advanced nation. If private companies are openly admitting an inherent market disadvantage vis-a-vis the public sector, then why should they exist? Really, this industry/GOP talking point is just silly on its face.
There is a NOAA administer that has been referencing this passage in her speeches about climate change.
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”
Words from Dr. Martin Luther King.
But let me take some time out to express outrage about one aspect of the change that doesn’t really have a huge environmental impact, the decision to give away the carbon permits to utilities. The conservative bloc on climate/energy issues has a clear position. They think emissions should go up and up and the earth should get hotter and hotter and we’ll just kind of cross our fingers. The moderate bloc, by contrast, has portrayed itself as concerned with the climate crisis but worried about the tradeoffs with short-term economic growth. But the concession they’ve forced here doesn’t do anything to boost short-term growth. Instead, whereas auctioning the permits would have made rich people bear most of the cost of reducing emissions, by giving the permits away you make poor people bear most of the cost.
The environmental impact of the two methods is similar, and the overall costs are similar. But the moderates acted swiftly and decisively to reallocate a portion of the costs onto the backs of the poor. And they’ve done so specifically under guise of looking out for the interests of the working class. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.
This is absolutely correct. It’s why we’re working on this issue.
Emitting carbon into the atmosphere has a lot of negative consequences, but not everybody will feel those consequences and certainly not right away. Every argument about climate change is all about which groups will pay. The core argument about climate change, whether to limit carbon dioxide emission at all, is really between people that benefit from the continued expansion of dirty energy sources and future generations that will have fewer resources as a result of climate change.
Indeed, all of the sub issues within climate change have a similar trade-off. Lower the carbon emissions reductions for 2020? Then you’re favoring people living in 2009-2020 at the expense of people living in 2021-2030 and beyond. What’s the trade-off for carbon auctions? Exempting polluting companies from carbon auctions helps only those companies and it does so on the backs of consumers.
Why should polluting companies pay to pollute, and consumers get relief? Because polluting companies have already benefited from creating pollution for their entire existence. They pursued a business model and political lobbying strategy that has brought us to the brink of global calamity and now they think it’s more important that they can continue profiting at high rates, than that millions of Americans get relief when their heating, groceries, and gas bills go up.
It’s a despicable position, and yet it’s the position of “moderation” as documented by Bronwyn. It’s a position that will cost the poorest Americans a substantial share of their income and potentially undermine the viability of the Democratic party because it negatively affects so many lives.
We’re working on developing allies in this fight, but we always need more friends. Join us.
HR2187 – 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act
Amendment No. 7 – Add a requirement for green roofs and renewable energy projects’ recipients to post an educational display for students to learn about the benefits of the projects.
Amendment No. 10 – Add a requirement for the Education Department to set-aside 5% of grant for community educational agencies that serve economically distress areas or areas that are recovering from natural disasters.
Amendment No. 11 – Add a requirement that will allow states to set-aside 1% of grant to minimize the affects of respiratory problems in children and minimize airborne particles to humans.