Archive for the ‘hrc’ Tag

More LBJ Then FDR

Like ThinkProgress guest blogger Jamelle Bouie I don’t understand the basis for Paul Rosenberg‘s claim that,

Barack Obama has manically embraced “discredited conservative ideas” and “helped enormously in extended the hegemonic continuity of [the] Nixon-Reagan Era

That said, the alternative proposition expressed by NY times columnist David Leonhardt that the Obama achievements “rivals any other since the New Deal in scope or ambition”, isn’t really the that powerful a rejoinder. Here’s the full first paragraph of Leonhardt column:

With the Senate’s passage of financial regulation, Congress and the White House have completed 16 months of activity that rival any other since the New Deal in scope or ambition. Like the Reagan Revolution or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the new progressive period has the makings of a generational shift in how Washington operates.

Which is to say that the Obama administration achievements are comparable to the domestic achievements of Reagan or LBJ. Not that they exceed them or are on par with FDR’s achievements. Nixon actually had a pretty robust domestic policy legacy, although it’s a bit of orphan because of it’s mixed ideological direction and Nixon’s personal legacy.

Obviously the important thing will be if the bills make the world a better place. The early results for stimulus bill are lacking. The economy needed more and it just didn’t happen. In size and scope the health care and financial reform bills are historically large. So what, will they work? For health care it’s pretty clear the expansion of coverage will last and improve lives of millions of Americans. But I wouldn’t pretend to know if financial reform will look like an achievement in ten or twenty years. It’s size and scope could just as easily be measures of failure as success.



Frum Fired

So the thing I don’t get about David Frum getting canned is that there’s an unequivocal sense in which the health care strategy of the GOP failed. And matter what flavor of the hour predictions Chris Matthews was making it always looked they’d pass something through. Even after Scott Brown, they had a bill through the Senate and a huge majority to work with in the House.

The viability of pretty any political strategy depends on an assessment of if you’ll or lose. Since they had 60 votes, or 59 and a passed bill it’s just clear why the GOP thought they would defeat the bill. There were never any unconditional no votes on the Senate side, just conditional yes votes. Maybe they didn’t they could win, but thought their opposition would lead the broader public drop their support for Obama. It hasn’t happened.

You get a similar calculus on financial reform, climate change or immigration. If it’s going to become law then maybe you don’t want to be on the losing side or you’ll take a tough vote to break the tie, but the same politicians being asked to be the 52nd vote for something that’s going down might not be so interested. Just thinking for myself I’d lose my seat for climate legislation, but not to make environmentalists feel better because they lost by a smaller amount.

So you can’t do strategy without having the discussion Frum wants to have, but apparently it’s beyond the pale for the modern GOP to even try to talk openly.


Zero-sum Fun

I would have thought that if a poll resulted in contradictory results, like the NBC-Wall Street poll on health care which says that voting for or against the health care reform will both make voters less likely to vote for their Congress person you might question the validity of poll results. But not if you’re Chuck Todd to whom such a finding indicates “polarization” of the issue.


Health Reform Legislative Strategy

So why do you need a decoder ring (and where can I get one) to read the Washington Post’s analysis of Obama’s legislative strategy on health care reform:

Increasingly, the White House appears to favor having the House pass a version of the measure that cleared the Senate with 60 votes in December. The Senate would then pass changes to the bill to satisfy some demands of House Democrats. That Senate vote would take place under a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation, which requires 51 votes rather than 60.

It remains unclear whether Democrats have enough votes within their ranks for this strategy to work. At the same time, it is only “one option” the president is considering, a senior White House official said Sunday

Do they appear in favor of the House, then Senate Rec strategy or is it the only option they’re pushing? It’s like one paragraph was written with an on the record quote and the other on background for two different stories and then put together.


The Filibuster

From Carrots and Sticks buddy and advisor David Waldman:

In case you missed it — and very few of you did, from the looks of things — Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) has issued a call for reform of Senate cloture rules both on the floor of the Senate, and in a diary right here at Daily Kos.

You can review the Senator’s diary for a run-down on the logic behind what Republicans called the “constitutional option” when they were threatening to invoke it in 2005, during a fight over President George W. Bush’s stalled judicial nominations. The facts and the history are correct, and will give you a good general background on where Udall is coming from. And in case you were wondering, one difference between what we knew as the “nuclear option” and Republicans called the “constitutional option” was that the scholarly writing (PDF) which gave Republicans their preferred name for this maneuver was very, very clear about the conditions under which the option was justified under the precedents: at the beginning of a new Congress. Republicans, of course, wanted to ignore most of the “constitutional” part, but keep the “option” anyway.

What I always say, and what I told David the other day, is that sooner or later the Republicans will be in charge and they’ll pull the trigger and end the filibuster. They took a run at doing that a few years ago despite the timing being illegitimate and the issue only being of moderate importance. If an important party goal was at stake and reconciliation couldn’t be used they won’t hesitate to weather a few rounds of media condemnations.

Beyond speculation on the future the Republicans have already end-rounded the filibuster via reconciliation to explode the deficit, so unwillingness by the Democrats to use the reconciliation process on deficit reducing bill like health care creates a substantial disequilibrium in the system.


Shaddeg and the Public Option

Mike Stark interviewing retiring GOP Rep. John Shadegg

SHADDEG: Well, you could better defend a public option than you could defend compelling me to buy a product from the people that have created the problem. America’s health insurance industry has wanted this bill and the individual mandate from the get go. That’s their idea. Their idea is “look, our product is so lousy, that lots of people don’t buy it. So we need the government to force people to buy our product. And stunningly, that’s what the Congress appears to be going along with. Why would they do that?

P.S. There really is no “this bill” for health insurance companies to have always wanted and it’s misleading to say so. Some versions of the bill help them much more then others. Even now that the Senate has passed a version of health care reform the final product could change in ways that really change how happy the health insurance industry is with the bill.

Common Sense about Health Care

Let’s state some facts:

The US is the only industrialized country that doesn’t provide universal health care.

According to the WHO World Health Report for 2000 the US health care system is ranked 37th which is the lowest of all the western countries (except for New Zealand)

In the US, we spend twice as much on health care per person in comparison with other OECD countries.

From these facts, we can see that there is a correlation between providing universal health care and overall health care system performance. One could even argue that it’s the reason why other industrialized countries have a better health care system because of the ability of the government to compete with private insurers and because of the lowered administrative costs. But let’s not get into too much of the details here, let’s just talk about some common sense.

Does anyone think being ranked 37th is a good thing? Probably not.
Does anyone think paying twice as much for health care is a good thing? Probably not.

Ok good, so we’ve come this far. Now how do opponents of universal health care propose that we improve our system? Instead of crying out “socialism” as your criticism of single payer, why don’t you give an example of a country that has the system that you desire? Where does the World Health Organization rank that country?

My suggestion is to look at what country has the best health care system (France), analyze why their system is so good and adopt similar policies. In other words, we should learn from the best. Who disagrees with learning from the best? Of course you can present your own criteria to show that some other system is better, but then my question would be, “What data would you be using?” I’m using the data from the World Health Organization and you?

So for those of you who oppose the idea of learning from France, give some other model that we should follow and then explain why it’s better, instead of crying out “socialism” which is just empty rhetoric.


Enough About The System

I was recently listening to the October 18th This American Life on health insurance and it hit on quite a few poorly thought out, but nonetheless widely held ideas.

In one section they go over the conflict between insurance companies trying to keep prices down vs. drug companies trying to promote their most profitable drugs. The basic dynamics were presented accurately: drug companies want expensive drugs covered that aren’t always necessary while health insurance companies fight against unnecessarily costly drugs they also do so in a manner that sometimes causes people to not get the drugs they need. And then we’re told it’s “the system” and they’re just following incentives.

All well and good until you think about that fact both political parties have been tweaking “the system” fairly regularly and doing so with significant input from insurance and drug companies. Neither industry is overly interested in proposing any sort of compromise on this particular issue, so people get hurt.

We’re treated to lots of talk about how health insurance are driven by systematic factors though out the whole show. Insurance companies are made up of good people, systematically forced to do bad things. The whole train of thought holds up only as long as you ignore their own input to their own situation. Health insurance lobbyists have torpedoed reform efforts for years and done so in a ethically horrendous and dishonest manner. If the good people of the health insurance companies wanted to avoid rescission or denying coverage based on preexisting conditions you’d have no way of knowing it because they’ve spent decades pushing against the reforms that would make them unnecessary.

You hear the system excuse for denying coverage, drugs and procedures all the time. And once they find a new loophole to exploit you’ll hear it again to defend that practice. We need more discussion of the manipulation of the system instead of more excuses about how we’re all pawns.