Re: Thank you sir, may I have another?

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It's about money, and to a lesser extent the ability to provide campaign volunteers. When progressives start cutting multiple $2000 checks they'll get a seat at the table. The other stakeholders in the process can deliver money right now and credible promises of more later. They also won't suddenly stop paying out when the representative votes for or against some unrelated measure.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:09 AM
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It's about money, and to a lesser extent the ability to provide campaign volunteers.

You think progressives didn't donate tons of time and money to the Obama campaign?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:13 AM
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Except, you know, Ben Smith is completely wrong, and Obama ignored Rahm's advice. (Or more likely, Pelosi and Reid ignored his advice.) Rahm suggested dropping health care, and going with Clintonian small ball. The only thing Rahm is right about is that if he claims that some positive outcome is all his doing, then the gullible rubes in the press will repeat it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:13 AM
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I pretty much agree with this. I do think Pelosi is actively trying to make the best deal she can for progressive democrats though.

Obama just isn't a progressive; he is a centrist and centrist democrats always sell progressives down the river.



Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:15 AM
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I mean, seriously, Politico? Couldn't Greenwald find something from the National Review talking about how progressives were losers?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:15 AM
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When progressives start cutting multiple $2000 checks they'll get a seat at the table.

We can't, never could, and never will be able to compete with Capital on a monetary basis.

Numbers, organization, determination, persistance commitment, intransigence informed by correct Theory are the weapons of the left.

And always the threat of social disorder.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:16 AM
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Except progressives established healthcare as a nonnegotiable component of the agenda in the first place... This desire to circular-firing-squad when we are inches from passing the largest expansion of the welfare state in 40 years is tiring...


Posted by: salacious | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:20 AM
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The other thing is that progressives didn't get nothing. Covering a whole bunch of uninsured people, or to put it another way subsidizing insurance for a whole bunch of lower income people, is a huge progressive win, even if nothing structural were fixed at all. So is guaranteed issue. This whole bill is a progressive win. It's just a much smaller progressive win than it should have been.

But looking at it and saying 'Progressives got nothing' is incomprehensible to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:22 AM
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the largest expansion of the welfare state

Only the expansion of Medicaid counts as expanding the welfare state, salacious. The rest is just regulation and assisting the expansion of the private insurance industry.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:22 AM
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Subsidies to low income people buying insurance aren't the welfare state?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:25 AM
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I hate to agree with bob on this point (since it's so depressing), but it's true: over the years the threat of social disorder is the only credible threat the Left has ever had.

I looked at Greenwald's analysis more closely, and it makes no sense. Progressives are running to embrace the bill because the political environment has worsened markedly.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:26 AM
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2: Sure they did, but the issue is congress, and those guys regularly take money from all stakeholders. The one who gets listened to is the one who not only delivers big checks, but also wields a credible threat of stopping the flow of money or even switching sides. Single issue lobbyists start with an advantage and it only gets bigger when they have real money. Obviously there are other important factors but unless you can turn out lots of voters, as well as credibly threaten to suppress turnout, it comes down to money.

Small donations from lots of people is great for winning elections, but lousy for influencing specific pieces of legislation.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:29 AM
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To broaden my point, , we don't need to resort to grand diagnoses of weak-kneed political idiocy among progressives to explain why this bill isn't closer to singlepayer utopia. If there wasn't a filibuster in the senate, this bill would be a hell of a lot more progressive. Same with if stupak wasn't able to wield a disproportionate amount of power within the house.

For me, at least, it makes sense to focus on the concrete institutional factors that actually shaped the bill rather than, you know, eating our own young...


Posted by: salacious | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:33 AM
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There's this moment in about half of the superhero comics ever written where the arch-villain realizes that he can hobble the superhero by flinging random flotsam like steel girders or chunks of concrete at innocent bystanders. Or in spy movies when the bad guy holds a weapon to the ingenue's head to get the hero to drop his gun.

The villain's logic is unassailable: Concern for the innocent weakens the hero, who would be in a stronger position if he would just say, "Go ahead and shoot her." Superman would be tougher to defeat if he were willing to let that bus collide with the bystanders in Times Square.

But in the end, we're glad that Superman stops the bus, and we're glad that Kucinich puts the needs of the uninsured ahead of the entirely reasonable desire to rub Joe Lieberman's face in the dirt.

We can, like Hamsher, admire Lieberman's strength and wish to emulate it, or we can try to get something done despite him.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:35 AM
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We're not eating our our own young. That would be sick. We're eating each others' young. I call dibs on Newt.

Sincere question: Is the bill actually a bigger expansion of the welfare state than Medicare Part D?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:35 AM
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You're missing the forest for the trees, Walt.

Subsidies to low income people buying insurance aren't the welfare state?

That's one way of describing it. Looks to me more like subsidies to the insurance industry for accepting customers, but tomato tomahto. If expanding the welfare state is your goal, then have the government insure people directly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:37 AM
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And again, the wisdom or folly of this bill isn't the point.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:39 AM
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16: How? If progressives kill the bill and Democrats lose control of Congress, they kill health care reform forever. Democrats lose control of Congress twice because of health care reform, why would they ever, ever bring it up again?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:39 AM
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That's one way of describing it.

That's the only way to describe it. I've never heard anyone try to argue that food stamps aren't part of the welfare state.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:42 AM
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7: Agree with salacious (and in 13 as well). Boo fucking hoo. This is Greenwald at his alarmo-sanctimonius worst. If "progressives" choose to frame getting everything they want into an already risky proposition like HCR *their* Waterloo, then they will have made a very foolish choice. The corporatist framework is embedded in is certainly disappointing as hell. But are you going to try to break corporatism in one big fell swoop with a bill like this?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:42 AM
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Really, the whole arguments makes no sense. Who holds out on a bill that moves in the direction that they like, in hopes of getting a better bill later? Does anyone do that? Has that ever happened in American legislative history? And did it work?

Politicians fuck up when they vote for a bill that moves things in the wrong direction because they think that'll buy them something later. Example: Democratic support for the Iraq War. Example: Republican support for Medicare Part D.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:43 AM
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17: But it is.

That's the only reason I can see for Kucinich folding -- he's perfectly willing to be quixotic rather than going along with the majority in general, and I don't know of any credible threats to his political future if he didn't go along. He folded because he weighed the alternatives, and decided that passage of the bill was a more progressive outcome than blocking it. On this bill, specifically, progressives lacked leverage because they really do, IMO correctly, think that a half-ass reform bill like this one is a much better outcome than no reform at all, whereas Republican opponents are unconflictedly rooting for no reform at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:44 AM
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I've never heard anyone try to argue that food stamps aren't part of the welfare state.

Right, despite the fact that they're also an outrageous subsidy for Big Ag.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:46 AM
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How?

Because as I've said several times now, I'm not talking about the health care bill. I'm talking about power relations within the Democratic Party.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:46 AM
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We're knee deep on the far side of the Big Muddy and the damn fools say go back.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:47 AM
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Democrats lose control of Congress twice because of health care reform, why would they ever, ever bring it up again?

Yes, and it's even worse than that. This could be literally the last chance to get (almost) universal coverage in the USA through Congress. Why? Because healthcare inflation is rapidly making it too expensive to extend coverage. If the health care delivery model is not reformed -- and this bill will do a lot to reform it -- will will see a continuation of the trend more uninsured (as employers drop coverage) and higher cost to insure the uninsured at public expense.

What's more, pace apostropher, the real risk to Social Security and Medicare is not that HCR succeeds, but that it fails. Entitlements are a fiscal problem only to the extent that the rising cost of health care delivery is a problem. "Bend the curve" on health care inflation, and our entitlement programs are solvent. Fail to bend the curve, and they're on the chopping block.

Finally, this isn't settling for half a loaf. It's the camel's nose under the tent. Why are Congressional Republicans fighting HCR to the last breath? Because the public is going to like it! And the public is going to demand more of it! And they're going to know that it was Big Government and the Obamasocialists who delivered it to them!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:51 AM
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Then I don't understand your argument. Progressives have even less power because politics have moved in an anti-progressive direction. Obama has been an ineffective leader, and the Democrats are headed towards big losses in November. Progressives are making the tactically wise move. Are you arguing that they should make a tactically stupid move to get people to take them seriously?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:54 AM
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There are issues where it's better to get something than nothing. This bill is one of them. So yeah, centrists have a strategic advantage on this one, because progressives are still go to vote for something rather than nothing.

Bob's right that if we could pull off a few general strikes we could get single-payer and ponies.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:55 AM
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Shorter 14: Evil will always win because good is dumb.
As far as the demonizing liberals who stick to their guns- I don't consider teaming up with Grover fucking Norquist on a disinformation campaign to be sticking to progressive guns.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:56 AM
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Frame it as a progressive victory. The "Rahm wants to scale it back/start over" story may have been BS, but not that long ago someone like Grayson was in fact being mocked in the mainstream for even suggesting reconciliation. Pass this sucker and then keep pushing the Overton (which is of course badly skewed at the moment) with things like Grayson's HR4789 Medicare extension bill. It will not pass this Congress, but it is now within the universe of discourse.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:57 AM
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I'm talking about power relations within the Democratic Party.

Power relations within the Democratic Party will tilt toward progressives when the Democrats start winning elections on the strength of passing progressive legislation. Not despite it, but because of it. And this is the biggest opportunity in a generation to do that.

Thirty million people, a good chunk of them eligible voters in marginal constituencies, will get health care out of this legislation. Three hundred million more will get protection against insurance company abuses.

Is it the bill I would have written? Of course not. But it's a bill that shifts the boundaries of the game considerably in a progressive direction. From here on out, the battle is going to be fought on considerably more favorable terrain.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:58 AM
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24: But if we're right that this bill is a progressive win (disappointingly small, but a win), then you can't draw the conclusion you're drawing. Progressives didn't fail to block this because they're weak, they failed to block it because they didn't want to give up a bird in the hand for two in the bush.

You can't tell they're weak until they fail to block something that they genuinely don't like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:58 AM
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You can't tell they're weak until they fail to block something that they genuinely don't like.
I'm not even going to bother listing examples. Or are we only talking about this session of Congress?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:00 AM
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Oh, I'm not saying progressives aren't weak and marginalized. Just that this bill isn't an example of how their weakness has led to failure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:02 AM
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...a bill that moves things in the wrong direction because they think that'll buy them something later.

We are getting (supposedly) more and better insurance rather than more, better, and cheaper healthcare. This is like getting more and better (regulated) finance (credit) in order to increase output, which is pretty much what Obama and crew did in the bank bailout.

This is a principled political philosophy, called liberalism or neo-liberalism. which believes that the mediating institutions are what matters, that maintenance of the interfaces between conflicting interests are the subject of governance. This also applies to those who want to tweak the structure, like ending filibusters.

A change of interface, or a concentration on goals over process, is abhorred as revolution or anarchy. Certainly illiberal.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:04 AM
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A change of interface, or a concentration on goals over process

Wouldn't a "concentration on goals over process" in this case be...passing the fucking thing already?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:08 AM
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35: Can you give me an example in US history of where a political party refused to support a reform because they were holding out for something better, and this led them getting it?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:10 AM
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Oh, bullshit. Obama is constrained by the political reality that he's constrained by. And progressives, such as they are, are in a better position now than they've been at any time in my lifetime, which doesn't mean that they're actually in power, because they aren't and can't be (because they're not a dominant constituency). The three major domestic issues facing the administration are:

1) Health care reform
2) Financial reform
3) Greenhouse gas cap and trade

If the current administration gets 1/3 done, even in a "weakened" form like the Senate health care bill, this will clearly be the most progressive administration in 40 years. I think 2/3 gets him into the top ten Presidents of all time list, and 3/3 into the top five. Moreover, IMO, a victory in any one of these three areas is a far more significant "progressive" victory than any "conservative" domestic policy victory the Republicans won under Reagan, Bush I, or Bush II (unless, maybe, you count obstructing health care reform or delaying global warming policy a victory).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:15 AM
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37: In the 1990s, the GOP refused to support Clinton's health care reform, and now they are about to get Bob Dole's plan instead. And while maintaining the ability to run against it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:16 AM
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Shorter 14: Evil will always win because good is dumb.

Well, my point of that was to deny this - but also to affirm that folks like you who disagree with me think this is true.

In fact, the good guys are on the verge of winning one here. It's true that many of the concessions the bad guys got, they got because the good guys wanted to protect the uninsured. But, speaking for myself, I don't admire Lex Lieberman and I want the good guys to be concerned about outcomes for the uninsured.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:17 AM
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39: But that's not what he asked for. The GOP's first best outcome was no reform at all, and they're not going to get that. They won a battle against one kind of reform, and lost the next one against a lesser reform. They're better off than if they'd folded the first time around, but they haven't gotten a change to the status quo in a direction they want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:18 AM
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the most progressive administration in 40 years

When your only competition is Clinton and Carter, that's not really a high bar to clear.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:19 AM
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21.1: I believe that Edward Kennedy did this with Nixon's health care bill, though that example is somewhat tainted by the fact that Nixon was backing off already when Kennedy pulled the plug.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:19 AM
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In the 1990s, the GOP refused to support Clinton's health care reform, and now they are about to get Bob Dole's plan instead.

And you think that they wanted Dole's program? Why didn't they enact it when they controlled the presidency and both Houses? Why didn't they even try?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:21 AM
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42 -- well, right, but Clinton and Carter are the kinds of Democrats America elects because that's the kind of politics America has had. Getting major progressive legislation done is hard. There are only a very, very few examples of it happening in American history, and defeat is much more common than failure. Which is all the more reason to be grateful when it happens and to take the victories you can get (and which is not at all to say that people shouldn't keep fighting for more and better change, or that it's not important to have folks to the left of the mainstream Democratic party -- it is).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:24 AM
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43: And the point is that what we're getting now, forty years later, isn't as good as Nixon's bill.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:25 AM
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The GOP's first best outcome was no reform at all, and they're not going to get that.

We disagree on this. The GOP's first best outcome is getting the Dole/Romney/Heritage Foundation reform model enacted for them while still being able to run against it.

But. As I've said before, I've stopped caring whether this bill passes or not.

more significant "progressive" victory than any "conservative" domestic policy victory the Republicans won under Reagan

We disagree on this. This pales next to Reagan's re-write of the tax code or entrenchment of the military budget.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:25 AM
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Aggh. Defeat is more common than victory. Defeat, failure, victory, you know, they all run together, with enough perspective.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:26 AM
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Can you give me an example in US history of where a political party refused to support a reform because they were holding out for something better, and this led them getting it?

Or counterfactually, which half-loaf reforms should have been rejected by progressives and weren't. Was Martin Luther King wrong to get behind the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (emasculated as it was by the time it passed the Senate)?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:34 AM
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We disagree on this. x2

Mmm. You could be right, but it really does come down to whether this bill is or isn't motion in the right direction; none of the meta points stand up without the underlying assumption that this bill is worse than nothing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:35 AM
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which half-loaf reforms should have been rejected by progressives and weren't

The bank bailout.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:36 AM
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51: Explain? Do you say that not believing that inaction would have led to depression, or believing it and not caring?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:39 AM
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it really does come down to whether this bill is or isn't motion in the right direction

I would argue there is more than one axis to this equation.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:40 AM
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Why didn't they enact it when they controlled the presidency and both Houses? Why didn't they even try?

Even better to get it while pretending not to want it?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:41 AM
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We disagree on this. This pales next to Reagan's re-write of the tax code or entrenchment of the military budget.

Yep, we do. The actual Reagan changes to the tax code weren't actually that bad or un-progressive, since the rich had largely been able to shelter their income in ever more ridiculous tax shelters. Reagan's rhetoric on taxes was more damaging, since it led to "no new taxes" becoming a religious mantra for all wings of the GOP. But in terms of actually effective "conservative" legislation, not so much.

Military spending is a similar story -- not that impressive a legislative achievement. Carter, not Reagan, had begun to ramp it up, and Clinton took it down within a range. Plus, managing spending in the Pentagon is one area where the Obama administration actually appears to be making a fair amount of progress.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:41 AM
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52: I'm saying there were other ways to deal with the problem and the one chosen was possibly the least efficient and has still failed to address the underlying problem.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:42 AM
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...the underlying assumption that this bill is worse than nothing. Which is justified if you think killing the bill will open the way for more comprehensive reform, while passing it will discharge the accumulated pressure and lead to no further action for a long time. That assumption is wrong, but it's held widely enough that it needs to be taken seriously. I think we can pass a bill better than this one, but right now it's yea or nay on the existing bill, and I have to vote yea.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:43 AM
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57: Oh, I'm not certain apo's wrong to think this is worse than nothing. I think he's wrong, but I know I'm in over my head -- I can just follow the arguments that this is a big win much better than the arguments that its a mistake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:45 AM
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The actual Reagan changes to the tax code weren't actually that bad or un-progressive

Glad someone pointed that out. If it had stopped at Kemp-Roth, the story would have been different. But the 1986 tax reform package was good policy and on balance a victory for progressives.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:47 AM
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apo's wrong to think this is worse than nothing

Time will tell, but as I said, "I'm not interested in discussing the merits or faults of the bill as it stands now." Eventually, progressives are going to have to deal a Democratic administration a defeat on something that it really wants if they want a seat at the table.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:52 AM
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while passing it will discharge the accumulated pressure and lead to no further action for a long time.

No further action? I think all the Republican majorities to come will not repeal, but "adjust" this bill, using the basic framework, over the next decade.

Most people under 30 can just forget about ever buying a house. They will be working for Wellpoint, whether they know it or not. Meanwhiile, the Wellpoint profits will be going to the likes of Birch Bayh and Ben Nelson.

To be honest, I don't know what the future holds. This is just the first step in the wrong direction. See the last sentence of the OP.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:58 AM
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OMFG: Scott Brown phobia strikes again.

Any of his constituents here? His staff needs to hear screaming.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 11:59 AM
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Eventually, progressives are going to have to deal a Democratic administration a defeat on something that it really wants if they want a seat at the table.

This isn't a rhetorical question -- there may be a perfectly good answer I don't remember. Have hard-right conservatives ever screwed over a Republican administration like that? GHW Bush would be the administration I'd expect it to have happened in, but I'm not coming up with specifics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:00 PM
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Massachusetts really does seem to be doing its best to confirm my 1980s Laker fan stereotype that they are a bunch of white racist assholes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:00 PM
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63: Immigration. Although that is far from a strictly party-line issue.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:03 PM
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63 -- Right wing nuts killed the Bush II administration's immigration reform plans because the proposal wasn't mean enough to Mexicans. That's an example that comes to mind. Whether the right wing nuts gained anything as a result is a different question.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:03 PM
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56: And the other similarity is this:
1. If we don't invade Iraq now, there will be a mushroom cloud over an American city.
2. If we don't give the banks a bazillion dollars without oversight, the economy will collapse.
3. If we don't guarantee Big Insurance's monopoly, health care reform will be impossible forever.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:03 PM
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Damn you!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:04 PM
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Eventually, progressives are going to have to deal a Democratic administration a defeat on something that it really wants if they want a seat at the table.

I've yet to see any evidence for this adduced beyond Greenwald's bald assertion and the apo/mcmanus* amen corner.

What battles did conservatives win by voting down their party's signature initiative for being insufficiently conservative? When did progressives ever win a great second-round victory by doing the same?

*McManus I get. He wants to heighten the contradictions (and hopefully pick up a few cartons of smokes when the looting breaks out). Whether a few tens of thousand people die every year who might have been saved by HCR is immaterial next to him getting his revolutionary jollies.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:05 PM
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the war-supporting, Lieberman-loving, Left-bashing Jonathan Chait

As opposed to the Norquist-loving, teabagger-allying, union-bashing Jane Hamsher?

Eventually, progressives are going to have to deal a Democratic administration a defeat on something that it really wants if they want a seat at the table.

In theory a good idea, maybe, in practice, I just don't think there is a large enough bloc of progressives--defined as politicians to the left of Obama--to make those kind of take-it-or-leave-it deals.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:06 PM
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Yeah, I suppose I never understood what anyone was concretely proposing in terms of immigration reform. As rhetoric, I got it, but was there ever a bill that didn't get passed that anyone actually favored?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:06 PM
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Here is more Hamsher

63:They did the ultimate, and limited Bush to one term. History calls most such Presidents abject failures, and rightly so.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:06 PM
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Have hard-right conservatives ever screwed over a Republican administration like that?

They don't have to, do they? Every Republican president claims to be the avatar of conservativism. No Democratic president ever publicly self-identifies as a liberal.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:11 PM
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No Democratic president ever publicly self-identifies as a liberal.

...and the mechanism whereby killing HCR from the left is going to remedy that is what, exactly?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:13 PM
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73: Well, sure, that's reasonable. But if you've never seen anything similar work for anyone, either progressives on the left or conservatives on the right, what convinces you that it's the necessary route to success for progressives within the Democratic party?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:13 PM
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71 -- Yeah, there was an actual bill that the Bush II administration proposed that was voted down. IIRC it called for a guest worker program, a path to legalization for people who had been here for a while, and stricter penalties for employers who were breaking the rules. The notion of "amnesty!!!" for illegals was too much for the anti-immigration folks to take, so it never passed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:14 PM
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73: And I'm sorry to be piling on. I'm picking at you because you usually make sense to me, and I usually agree with you, and here you sound very certain but I can't quite follow your arguments. So I'm picking in the hopes that you'll either convince me or I'll convince myself that you're just wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:15 PM
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69:You could read Hamsher, Walker and Dayen at FDL to start.

You don't get me at all, and I think you don't get yourself. All I want is a healthcare system comparable to the one in France or Canada.

The question is what it will take in America to get sucxh a system, and I am more willing than many to consider alternate paths to that outcome.

I have to presume that the supporters of this bill neither want a good healthcare system nor are willing to do what it takes to get one.

And I care about the living and healthy as much as the sick or dying. Compassion and justice, as opposed to bourgeois sentimentality, demands universality.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:16 PM
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The GOP's first best outcome is getting the Dole/Romney/Heritage Foundation reform model enacted for them while still being able to run against it.

This is just wrong. They don't want this bill to pass now. They didn't even want it to pass in 1994, and if there bluff had been called would have found an excuse to vote against it. They just had to have a health plan that wasn't Bill Clinton's. I also assume that the growing list of GOP candidates planning to run on a platform of repeal is just some kind of exercise in reverse psychology (as is the health insurance industry's massive spend on opposition to the bill)?

Even apart from the fact that (i) it's what their backers want and (ii) it will prevent millions of people from directly experiencing a positive result of government action, which, hey, maybe makes them more predisposed to future government interventions, the failure of the bill is clearly in the immediate (November) interest of the GOP. That's because all the relevant Democrats have already voted for it. In the absence of passage, GOP candidates can tell whatever crazy stories they want about what the horrible effects would have been and say their opponent voted for those effects, and there won't be anyone to stand up in opposition and say, "My son has health insurance for the first time in his life." In the absence of those kinds of specific stories, no one in the media would counter even the wildest Republican claims.

Finally, I believe that if we don't take serious and expensive action in the very near future, large-scale irreversible global warming will result. Which apparently means I think we were right to invade Iraq.

Pwned, I'm sure.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:20 PM
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Have progressives actually have been acting so as to squander their power? With all the hooha over the public option etcetera, it often feels like it; but very possibly the amount of progressivism in the emerging final bill closely reflects progressives' raw, numerical power in both houses (i.e., not that much).

I know it's being put forward by people like Klein greatly invested in any victory, but I still think the story of Social Security, from horribly watered-down inception to modern-day pillar of our commitment to equity, is pretty instructive.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:22 PM
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60: Eventually, progressives are going to have to deal a Democratic administration a defeat on something that it really wants if they want a seat at the table.

Word is that the Seattle WTO demonstrations back when actually succeeded in stalling the WTO to the point that it's a shadow of its former self. That was good work, and the beginning of something, and put us on the map.

Togolosh in 1 and bob in 6 get at the crux of the biscuit: you influence politicians through either money or, per bob, Numbers, organization, determination, persistance commitment, intransigence.

There aren't actually a hell of lot of progressives, but we're getting louder, at least. Money will be hard to come by in the shorter term until we establish stable opinion-making institutions (and keep them going, yes I'm looking at you, Air America), think-tanks and whatnot. My sense is that we've begun, but these things are still so nascent in the scheme of things as to be negligible.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:23 PM
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whereby killing HCR from the left

Jesus, KR. The point is not to kill HCR, or anything else. It's to have some influence over it.

I'm sorry to be piling on.

I can handle it. Nobody needs to apologize.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:25 PM
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If there is a phrase in bob's discourse which sums why the forces he favours have been out of power is (and my) lifetime, and will not gain it in the foreeseeable, it's this one: "informed by correct theory"

That pernicious idealist grail makes for tinier and tiner sectlets, hating their nearest indistinguishable neighbour far more bitterly than the actual (or better say, supposed) enemy.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:25 PM
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"is" s/b "in his"


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:26 PM
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The point is not to kill HCR, or anything else. It's to have some influence over it.

But the mechanism would be kill this HCR bill now, and get a better one next year, or a couple of years down the road.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:27 PM
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All I want is a healthcare system comparable to the one in France or Canada.

...both of which sprung forth fully formed and unblemished, because the French and Canadian Left stormed the barricades rather than to stoop to any lazy compromises with the bourgeoisie, right? It's all right there in the history books!

I have to presume that the supporters of this bill neither want a good healthcare system nor are willing to do what it takes to get one.

Fuck. You.



Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:29 PM
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63: re GHWB You may be thinking of the 1990 budget round. About 100 republican reps, led by Gingrich, joined a bunch of progressive democrats to vote down the budget agreement that had been reached between the Bush administration and the congressional leadership. The upshot of that was that, in the final agreement, a bunch of excise taxes that would have hit the poor were replaced by a surtax on top rate income tax payers. It is not clear to me how this was a gain for conservatives. The experience was of course shattering for the Bush presidency (Bob in 72 is correct there) but given that the next Republican presidential candidate was Bob Dole, it's not clear to me that that was some enormous victory for conservatism either.


Posted by: Abelard | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:29 PM
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Look, the point is that after this bill, there really is no plausible liberal path, to say, the Swiss system.

When I say "Wellpoint" I understand very well that their stock and bonds and reserves will become embedded in every pension plan, in every municipal bonded project, in every finance institution and moving them to non-profit status will be impossible, because doing so would destroy the economy.

This always was the plan, not to make single-payer possible further on, but to permanently lock out the possibility.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:30 PM
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82.2: Yeah, not suggesting that your feelings were getting hurt, just that it's difficult when you've got one or two people arguing one side of an issue, and a whole bunch on the other.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:31 PM
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progressives' raw, numerical power in both houses (i.e., not that much)

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has 82 members. The Blue Dog Coalition has 54. The latter gets bones thrown their way and the former gets used as a public punching dummy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:31 PM
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one or two people arguing one side of an issue, and a whole bunch on the other

Well, I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm a godless commie raised in the South. I'm pretty accustomed to it already.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:34 PM
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90: But the Blue Dogs have the Republicans to vote with, while the Progressives don't have any allies out further to their left. That's just mechanics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:35 PM
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Double OT in the BYU Florida game. Doubtless Bave is on pins and needles.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:38 PM
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No Justice, No Keys!


Posted by: THE JUST MECHANICS | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:38 PM
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The Congressional Progressive Caucus has 82 members. The Blue Dog Coalition has 54.

I don't follow that argument. The rest of the Congress goes rightward from the blue dogs. The most influential player is the one at the median. Twas ever thus.

Put half the progressive caucus in a "my way or I walk" stance, and you get either an even more grotesquely blue-doggish HCR bill, or more likely none at all (since most of blue dogs and 100% of republicans see no HCR as superior to a highly progressive version of it). It's really not that complicated.

As another commenter pointed out above, the fact that the progressive wing of the party has gotten the blue dog wing to make HCR the top legislative priority is a huge victory for progressives all by itself. If it passes, the ratchet is in place. It only gets more progressive from here.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:39 PM
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The point is not to kill HCR, or anything else. It's to have some influence over it.

Even the most general sketch of how and to what end this influence might occur would be appreciated. I wish the bill were far more progressive than it is, but given the actual composition of the current Congress, it's not clear to me that different strategy or tactics would have led to a bill that was radically different from the one we wound up with. Better? Sure, but still overwhelmingly reliant on (and subsidizing of) the private health insurance sector. More important, now that we're here, with a bill that is likely to pass if it does by a 1 or 2 vote margin, and a goal of not killing HCR, what important progressive changes are possible that wouldn't peel off votes on the right flank? Alternatively, how does the bill not passing not kill HCR? Is there some sort of roadmap for how and when a better bill gets through the Senate?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:39 PM
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LB, I'd hate you if I didn't love you.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:40 PM
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It would be much more useful to have primary defeats for conservative dems.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:44 PM
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Apo, can you explain to me, chapter and verse, how the strategy you propose will work? Not how it will work in theory, mind you, but how it will actually work in this country, a country in which the overwhelming majority of people would rather punch a hippie than contemplate for even a moment how their economic interests align with the far left's policy position rather than with the sensible center's? I ask, because like LB, the health care debate, and now this post, are among the only times I've ever disagreed with you on questions of domestic policy. And I'm trying to figure out if I'm just missing part of the equation, or if my suspicion -- motivated by anger at the bank bailout and the ongoing corporatism of the Democratic Party as you are, you're perhaps more likely to be wrong than I, with my amazingly cool head and dashing good looks, am -- is correct. Again, I just don't see how what you suggest leads to a good result: either better policy or an increase in power for the left.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:45 PM
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Or what Mr. Blandings said in 98. And by the way, is Mr. Blandings new? Or someone old going by a new name?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:46 PM
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This always was the plan, not to make single-payer possible further on, but to permanently lock out the possibility.

It's always a mistake to engage bob on the substance of any issue, so I'm not going to do that. But bob, in his fact-insulated, conspiracy-warmed wrongheadedness, did remind me of another point I wanted to make.

What's are the major preconditions for a workable public option? Well, there's a progressive majority in Congress, for sure. And probably an end to the filibuster. But there are also policy preconditions: you need the private insurance market to be banned from cherry picking. Otherwise the public option becomes lemon socialism (see TennCare). Specifically, you need to tether private insurers with guaranteed issue and community rating. And to deal with the moral hazard problem, you need some kind of mandate (unless you're going to fund it entirely out of general taxation, in which case I'd like my pony to be light purple).

What does Obamacare give us? Exactly the policy preconditions we need to make a public option viable in a marketplace where private insurance is still legally allowed (which it presumably will be in the foreseeable future).

So yeah, I see a plausible path to something approaching single payer (it runs via a public option and/or Medicare buy-in). And Obamacare clears the major obstacles from that path.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:47 PM
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98: But not so much if the more liberal dems end up losing to the Republican.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:49 PM
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It only gets more progressive from here.

I hope you're right, but I do not share your optimism.

different strategy or tactics would have led to a bill that was radically different from the one we wound up with

I don't buy this either. The bill we got is the one Obama wanted, not the best he could do under the circumstances. Arms only got twisted on one end of the spectrum, and I do think Greenwald's rotating villain theory is likely correct.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:51 PM
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Ari, Blandings is new, and I approve of his taste in wine, and, thus, l'homme meme.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:53 PM
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But not so much if the more liberal dems end up losing to the Republican.

Here's a case where I will side with the idealists and say it doesn't matter. Or, at least, we should accept substantially greater than a zero risk of it happening. Obviously it does no good to fall on our sword every time and leave the GOP in the majority forever, but there is a sound pragmatic case to be made for primary challenges, definitely in blue majority districts, and occasionally even in marginal districts, pour encourager les autres. If the tactic misfires and occasionally elects a Republican, that's a risk worth taking for the overall net effect of exerting progressive influence.

Note that there is a plausible mechanism at work here! One that has been shown to work in both theory and practice. Game theory talks a lot about games of chicken and actors being "prisoners of rationality". Under certain, very limited circumstances, it is metarational to be occasionally irrational and inflict harm on yourself. The criterion is whether the expected utility is higher. Primary challenges (not in every case, but in egregious cases) are one of those cases.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:56 PM
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104: Between the arrival of Mr. Blandings, the other new person that I recently thought might have been an old person using a new name but who turned out definitely to be a new person after all, and someone I'm forgetting entirely, I think reports of unfogged's demise might be greatly exaggerated. Or these are the death throes and the new people are angels of mercy sent here to put us out of our misery. It's always hard to say in cases like this.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:57 PM
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Oh good, I wanted to write 105 but now I don't have to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:58 PM
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Word is that the Seattle WTO demonstrations back when actually succeeded in stalling the WTO to the point that it's a shadow of its former self. That was good work, and the beginning of something, and put us on the map.

Pretty sure the discussion will leave this behind by the time I post, but put who on the map? The WTO demonstrations were a deeply weird blend of environmentalists, unions, and a bunch of other leftish groups with distinct, specific aims of their own- the only connection was that they were all in Seattle, and that they disliked the WTO more than each other for maybe a week.

But "organized labor" is getting concessions on healthcare separately from the "progressives," (to the point where Jane Hamsher is complaining about "union thuggery") and it's starting to feel like the same story every time- Left group "X" that is, theoretically, part of the progressive coalition gets their concerns heard, but "progressives" are angry. Could we let the Republicans do the divide and conquer, rather than doing it for them on our own?


Posted by: Moleman | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:59 PM
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rather punch a hippie than contemplate for even a moment how their economic interests align with the far left's policy position

The far left barely exists in this country, Ari, and not at all in the government. We're not talking about hippie positions; we're talking about what would properly be labeled a center-right/far-right debate in practically every other first-world country on earth.

But certainly, if Democrats pre-emptively adopt the far right's framing of these debates (as they almost always do), then you're probably right that no path to victory exists.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 12:59 PM
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It seems to me that there are differing conceptions of what it means to be progressive in play here. Some feel that the HCR bill on the table is itself progressive; others feel that it's far from that, and is (merely?) liberal at best.

That difference in conception may be driving a large amount of the divergence in opinion over Greenwald's piece. Would that he'd made explicit himself what counts as being progressive, with respect to HCR or anything else. One assumes that supporting single-payer, or even just the weak public option, is part of it -- that is, fighting corporatism is part of it. Given that many self-identified progressives actually don't have much of a problem with corporatism, we have a problem within, yeah, the Democratic party, or course, but more significantly among progressives.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:00 PM
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Were/are there 60 votes in the Senate for single payer? Hell, there aren't 60 for public option. Can proponents of either get 60 seats in the next 3 election cycles? Not without a revolution. Who can name 4 Dem senators significantly to the right of their constituents on a big enough range of issues that their replacement leftward is a reliable play?

Are there 51 votes to do away with the filibuster? No. There may be 51 votes for some theater though, so we'll have that.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:00 PM
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Jane Hamsher is complaining about "union thuggery"

Is she really? Feh.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:04 PM
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Jane Hamsher is complaining about "union thuggery"

I don't read Hamsher, so have no interest in defending her. I was using unions as a positive example, not one to be resented.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:04 PM
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Is she really?

I'm pretty sure she denies having said this. But I don't read her any more, so I can't say for sure.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:05 PM
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you need the private insurance market to be banned from cherry picking....

you need to tether private insurers with guaranteed issue

National Insurance Rate Authority killed for reconciliation

They will cherry-pick and avoid guaranteed issue by raising rates, co-pays, and out-of-pocket. "Sure, we will insure anybody, including those with pre-existing conditions, for only 100k a year."

What is there in this bill that will keep Wellpoint from raising premiums, or skyrocketing premiums for the next five years, and then getting grandfathered.

Lemon socialism is exactly what we will get with this bill. It may eventually collapse, but in the meantime trillions will be transferred upwards.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:05 PM
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||

Oudemia, speaking of taste in wine, have you come across the gimmicky vin de pays d'Oc called 'La Cuvée Mythique' - I shit you not. The label is designed to look like the cover of an Édition Budé, which is completely mad, but quite fun. Haven't drunk it yet, gets quite good notices though.

|>


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:08 PM
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Are there 51 votes to do away with the filibuster? No.

Oh, man do I hope this is wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:08 PM
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I'm with Lizardbreath and others upthread. This bill is big progressive win, and that means Greenwald's data contradicts his broader case.

Of course, nobody respects Raul Grijalva's ultimatums, but that's no way to measure things. Nancy Pelosi can push legislation through that covers 32 million more people. Henry Waxman will spend the rest of his life, and may it be long, methodically attaching more good stuff to this legislation.

Greenwald is looking at one way we fail to exercise power. He's right that we can't hold our threats. But if you think this bill is a big win, you can see a bunch of ways in which we successfully exercised power to make things so good.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:09 PM
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what would properly be labeled a center-right/far-right debate in practically every other first-world country on earth

But we don't live in other countries, apo. We live here, where hippie-punching is an important part of the political process. That was precisely my point. Again, I'm totally uninterested in arguments that assume facts that aren't in evidence, including presupposing a US Senate that has more than a tiny handful of members who occupy positions to the left of Eisenhower on most matters of domestic policy. In other words, absent some sense of how your idea actually would work, I just don't see the point other than as a way of venting steam.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:09 PM
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98:Is there some sort of roadmap for how and when a better bill gets through the Senate?

Sure. All sorts of ideas on smaller, more incremental reforms, lowering age for Medicare eligibility, increasing Medicaid, drug re-importation.

Supposedy, this was Rahm's position after Massachusetts.

It was the idea of universal coverage (not this bill) in a for-profit insurance model that does not increase the deficit or raise taxes (this one does, on the middleclass), and with very little in the way of cost-control that was insane and impossible.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:14 PM
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116: Wow! God, I love the Budé editions. Have you seen The Scholium Project? The wines are made by a former tutor of mine, and are, well, odd, really. Someone also markets a wine called Nepenthe, which (of course OFE knows this) means more-or-less "No grief" in Greek, and is the name of the stuff everyone drinks all day in Menelaus and Helen's house after the war, so that they don't, you know, just kill themselves.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:14 PM
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Upon re-reading, that came out about 30% more dickish than I intended it to. We agree on goals, apo. It's just that I don't see how your strategy gets us closer to those goals given the current political realities. Anyway, I don't have any better ideas, so it's not like I'm any use.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:15 PM
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Is she really?

Weigel's source retracted that later, so I suppose she deserves the benefit of the doubt. But it wouldn't surprise me. Hamsher's written sillier things lately.

Despite the Lieberman-loving Chait's love of war and left-bashing, his characterization of people who expect this kind of stuff to be taken seriously as "freaks" is otm.

"I don't know what Lynn Woolsey is really thinking, but the leadership of the House progressive caucus should not be helping the entire party walk the bloody plank towards a fascist form of health insurance without a care in the world."

I'm all up in Bernie Sanders grill, actually, so I'm sorry to sound like such a DFH-hater, but over the last year, whole swaths of left blogostan (especially the FDL/CorrenteWire community) has become dominated by hysterical, attention-seeking yahoos on the HCR issue. It's no wonder they think the Teabaggers are their friends. If progressives--as distinct from liberals--are going to establish stable opinion-making institutions, they need to do better than this.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:19 PM
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I just don't see the point other than as a way of venting steam

Given the number of votes I get to cast in the Senate, anything I post is just venting steam. I know nearly everybody here believe this will be a big progressive win if it passes. Looks ass backwards to me (similar to the notion that occupying Iraq was a big win for democracy because, hey, a dictator got hanged and multiple elections have been held), but we'll see how it plays out over the next decade.

But always falling into line regardless of how many times you get punched and accepting that as the natural state of affairs because, hey, it's been that way as long as we can remember is a damn poor strategy for achieving anything.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:20 PM
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The GOP's first best outcome is getting the Dole/Romney/Heritage Foundation reform model enacted for them while still being able to run against it.

I never thought I'd say this, but I think you may actually give the GOP more credit than I do. I don't think they actually care enough about the positive changes even the Dole/Romney/Heritage Foundation reform model would make to the system to consider it any kind of a good outcome.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:22 PM
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Speaking of labor, HR 413 supposedly comes out to the House floor for a vote next week. Basically only cops and firefighters, but baby steps I guess. Allows for public safety employees to organize and get collective bargaining regardless of state laws.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-413&tab=summary


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:22 PM
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The Scholium Project

Abe Sc/hoener is also now making wines for the Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn, using grapes from the North Fork of Long Island. I tasted a chardonnay and a rose of merlot last week, both of which I found delicious, though not enough to pay what they ask for them. Most of the people I was with found them as odd as I'm sure you would, but I like the oxidative style you find in the Jura and in Italian "orange" wines.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:23 PM
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124.2: Yeah, see 105. I'm wildly in favor of primarying useless Democrats from the left -- they should be afraid of us.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:24 PM
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The GOP's first best outcome is getting the Dole/Romney/Heritage Foundation reform model enacted for them while still being able to run against it.

You see this kind of fantasy behind a lot of the incomprehensible anti-HCR stuff.

Am I really supposed to believe that the Republicans and health insurers, etc., decided to forgo passing a favorable healthcare program - which they could have done at any point - because they knew that the Democrats would soon take over and pass something they'd like over their unanimous objection?

Seriously?

Well, as a supporter of HCR, I guess I can take some comfort from this, because this means that if some Democrats defect, then a few Republicans will step in to make sure it passes. Right?

Right?

No, of course not. Your theory makes no demands on reality whatsoever. Absolutely every action and every outcome can be attributed to a Republican plot - and progressives are completely absolved of blame if they side with the Republicans and health insurers. It's nuts.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:26 PM
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"But we don't live in other countries, apo. We live here, where hippie-punching is an important part of the political process. "

Furthermore, one of the ways you start to change this is with these big legislative accomplishments. You may think America's center is way to the right compared to other countries, but America now is a socialist paradise compared to how it was back in the day. The New Deal and the Great Society both occasioned substantial realignments of the american political consensus significantly to the left of where it was ex ante. Even the conservative counter-revolt since the 70's hasn't really been able to roll back these changes.

Even if we ignore the policy implications of the bill, I don't see how scuttling it advances the broader liberal cause. People like winners. If this thing is passed everyone will be talking about how obama is a genius and the progressives are on a roll. If it goes down, republicans are going to look like they are the ones cracking the whip. It's not a hard call to say which augers better for future progressive political achievements...


Posted by: salacious | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:27 PM
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127: We know each other! I once annoyed him so badly in class that he got up and left! (It was almost over.) I haven't made my mind up about the wines at all -- except that, yeah, the pricing is goofy.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:29 PM
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I rather suspect Bob would be opposed to the NHS because it would involve paying a lot of money to doctors and drug manufacturers.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:32 PM
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If progressives--as distinct from liberals--are going to establish stable opinion-making institutions, they need to do better than this.

FDL is not a candidate and never was; I don't object to their being out there, and don't object to Kucinich's position either (given that he's now changed his prospective vote): I don't really want to see a bunch of progressives browbeaten into silence.

But I'm thinking more of the Center for American Progress and such. Greenwald's not bad himself, despite occasional hysteria (that's just his style, you know), but he's just one man.

CAP isn't exactly radical, but that's okay. It's about moving the Overton window and all that. That's how the neocons changed the nature of public debate, and it's how we have to do it as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:32 PM
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Even if we ignore the policy implications of the bill, I don't see how scuttling it advances the broader liberal cause. People like winners. If this thing is passed everyone will be talking about how obama is a genius and the progressives are on a roll. If it goes down, republicans are going to look like they are the ones cracking the whip. It's not a hard call to say which augers better for future progressive political achievements...

Just imagine the 'bagger victory parade.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:34 PM
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And the other similarity is this:
1. If we don't invade Iraq now, there will be a mushroom cloud over an American city.
2. If we don't give the banks a bazillion dollars without oversight, the economy will collapse.
3. If we don't guarantee Big Insurance's monopoly, health care reform will be impossible forever.

And the Republicans and warmongers were unanimously opposed to this?

Look, if we're looking for a metaphor, it's pretty easy, and it's Nader - whose actions, by the way, also lent support to war in Iraq.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:39 PM
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"98: But not so much if the more liberal dems end up losing to the Republican.
"

I don't think voting records have much of anything to do with electoral prospects. especially if the other side will just make up stuff anyway, like calling the finreg bill a 'bailout'. if the loss is because voters don't actually like the progressive legislation, well, i don't know there is a fix for that.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:40 PM
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130, 134: Well, right. Passing this bill may be bad progressive policy. I'm not 100% sure either way. But I'm sure it's good progressive politics -- it's a giant 'socialist' bill that Democrats passed despite every last clawing kicking screaming fit the Republicans can throw. To the sort of voter that doesn't draw fine distinctions within the Democratic party, which is most of them, if we pass the bill the Democrats look strong and the Republicans look weak.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:40 PM
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obama is a genius and the progressives are on a roll

They will be talking about how the Democrats are on a roll. That's a different group than "progressives". The main impetus behind the post was really not about the politics of this insurance bill, but more what it portends for the coming entitlement commission.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:42 PM
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I rather suspect Bob would be opposed to the NHS because it would involve paying a lot of money to doctors and drug manufacturers.

You would be very wrong. And compared to the US, NHS would not involve paying a "lot of money", but paying much less than American doctors currently earn. It would also involve gov't payment for medical education.

But slashing profits for the provider system is absolutely essential, and this bill does next to nothing in that direction. It does cut some funding to providers, but that is not the same, and we have yet to see how that will work out, although we are gaining evidence currently in the budget-constrained states and cities?

How is California looking?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:45 PM
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135: The common thread there is "one and only one way exists to achieve X and if that one and only one way is not implemented immediately, then disaster will fall and it will be the fault of anybody who deviated from the One True Path."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:50 PM
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Nader - whose actions, by the way, also lent support to war in Iraq

The AUMF passed the House 420-1 and the Senate 98-0. If we're apportioning blame, Nader comes in well behind every single Democratic member of the 2001-2 Congress except Barbara Lee.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:54 PM
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140: But the "ONE TRUE WAY" isn't what most current HCR supporters are saying. They're saying that now we're in it, we have to pass something or HCR is screwed in the future, and this is the best we can get passed now. But there are very few HCR supporters who don't talk wistfully about single payer as unambiguously preferable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:59 PM
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140: Bingo. The problem is, you characterize that as being my position, when I think it's yours.

By my reckoning, any number of paths could have been followed to improve the provision of health services to the uninsured - even the Obama approach accomplishes that.

But what we learned from Nader is that if you withhold your support from people seeking modest improvements and instead insist on the One True Path, the best outcome is that you get nothing. If you're not lucky, you get results that are considerably worse than nothing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 1:59 PM
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FDL is not a candidate and never was

No, Hamsher has about the same amount of influence as Chait. Fortunately, neither is running for office.

(On the topic of alcohol, Midas Touch isn't available locally, but it's on my list to try.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:01 PM
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Richard Estes on Kucinich, or, what apo said in the OP

Obama and the congressional Democrats know that the bill is unpopular. They understand that many people will be forever outraged over the mandate they purchase insurance, the excise tax and the lack of any cost containment. Or, to put it more bluntly, they will remain angry about being forced to buy insurance provided on terms designed to preserve the maximum profitability of health insurance companies, health care providers and pharmaceutical companies. In such a situation, it is essential to not only get the bill passed, but eliminate any credible liberal opponents around whom people could coalesce. Hence, the hardball tactics used by the White House to coerce the AFL-CIO, MoveON and specific Democratic representatives into supporting the bill in the most embarrassing way that exposes their powerlessness. Now, the way is open for Obama, consistent with his Chicago School of Economics perspective, to even more aggressively restructure the US economy for the benefit of capital.

(my emphases)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:02 PM
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you characterize that as being my position

I haven't assigned you any position at all, pf. After the Brown victory, people began insisting that the House had to just pass the Senate bill and pass it right then. The folks saying "slow down and figure out how to improve it through reconciliation" got ridiculed, because if the House didn't just eat the shit sandwich and pass the Senate bill as it was, we would never get health insurance reform in our lifetimes.

That, of course, turned out to be completely false.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:05 PM
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The AUMF passed the House 420-1 and the Senate 98-0. If we're apportioning blame, Nader comes in well behind every single Democratic member of the 2001-2 Congress except Barbara Lee.

Yet I'll bet you every one of those Dems supported Gore over Bush. And Gore didn't support the war, and that war would have never happened with a president who opposed it.

But look, I'm not trying to say Hamsher is worse than the Republicans. I'm saying that to the extent that Hamsher succeeds in this particular batle she is as bad as the Republicans on this particular matter. Since her position is to support theirs, this shouldn't be controversial.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:06 PM
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That, of course, turned out to be completely false.

And it's a misreading of the position at the time, which actually was: If it comes down to a choice between the Senate bill and nothing, take the Senate bill.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:07 PM
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Why freight your fanciful assertions with mere fact when you can put them in boldface? It's even MORE PERSUASIVE than all-caps!

Boldface type. The hallmark of a sound argument.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:08 PM
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They're saying that now we're in it, we have to pass something or HCR is screwed in the future, and this is the best we can get passed now.

This was not something that "just happened", but was pretty much orchestrated from the beginning by Obama. In the fall of 08, Ben Nelson was firmly committed to a public option. Obama has always worked against it, in part by insisting on "bi-partisanship" after six months in that pit of a Finance Committee, the Overton Window had been moved to the right.

And yes, I trust Obama so very little, that going into 2011, with a much more conservative Congress, I would rather have him weakened by a defeat on HCR.

This is of course not the only reason I oppose this bill.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:08 PM
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You know how there's an analogy ban around here? Can we have a Nader analogy ban? That would be cool.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:10 PM
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Why freight your fanciful assertions with mere

blockquoted or indented text usually means a quotation around here, so they weren't my assertions, but as I said at the end, my emphasis.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:10 PM
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Boldface type. The hallmark of a sound argument.

Until you can refute my p o w e r f u l   o b j e c t i o n s, I think we'll have to hold off on the assessment of the argument as sound.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:11 PM
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147 -- This is totally tangential to the main discussion, but Apo has confused the immediate post 9/11 AUMF, which received overwhelming support, with the 2002 Iraq-specific AUMF, which a majority of House Democrats opposed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:12 PM
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148: Yeah, I think that may have been a conversation where the two sides misunderstood each other. I was on the 'pass the Senate bill' side, but I thought the other side was 'We won't under any circumstances pass the Senate bill -- something we like better makes it through the Senate with 60 votes, or we limit HCR to only what can be done with reconciliation."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:12 PM
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I trust Obama so very little, that going into 2011, with a much more conservative Congress, I would rather have him weakened by a defeat on HCR.

May we interest you in our newsletter?


Posted by: John Boehner | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:13 PM
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153: I refute you thus!


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:14 PM
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154: Crap. You are correct. Nonetheless, plenty of Democrats in line before you can get to Nader, who was only one of eight third-party candidates who got more votes than the margin of Bush's "victory." As much as I've bashed Nader in the past (aplenty), I've gotten very squeamish about blaming him for Bush.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:21 PM
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Your insistence on using only normal forms of emphasis demonstrate how your commitment to procedural liberalism makes you an unwitting pawn of Capital. A true progressive would not shy from using whatever size font necessary to win the day.


Posted by: salacious | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:23 PM
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I definitely agree with 158 -- Gore's extremely crappy campaign obviously should take a greater share of the blame, for getting the election into a position where it was that close (and yes, I believe in the foundational liberal blog principle that Gore got screwed by the media, but he's a professional politician and he needed to do what professional politicians do, which is to play the game to win).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:26 PM
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Can we have a Nader analogy ban?

There are certain Godwin-type qualities to any mention of Nader, but I honestly think the analogy applies. The whole Hamsher/apo position is based on the idea that we ought not be afraid of letting the Republicans win one, because it'll show that liberals must be reckoned with. Whom does that sound like to you?

Anyway, apo started it by bringing up "liberal" support for the Iraq War. So neener neener.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:31 PM
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Your insistence on using only normal forms of emphasis demonstrate how your commitment to procedural liberalism makes you an unwitting pawn of Capital.

I believe there are situations where underlining, highlighting and even unconventional typefaces are morally permissible. But as long as our constitutional form of government stands and the rights of the individual are protected, I abjure them.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:32 PM
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How is California looking?

Sunny, with the wind blowing blossom petals and dust around. But I don't see why that relates.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:34 PM
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apo started it by bringing up "liberal" support for the Iraq War

I didn't mention liberals. I was talking about the way the government (across administrations from each party) sell their particular policies. Namely, X is an emergency that must be dealt with today to avert the apocalypse, and Y is the only way to deal with it because there's no time to consider alternatives.

This approach has proven effective all up and down the American political spectrum.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:36 PM
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162: Keep up your counter-revolutionary activities, KR, and I'll enable the fucking <blink> tag.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:38 PM
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161:

I blame John Kerry for the invasion of Iraq, of course.

I'm not sure it's wise, appropriate, correct or otherwise serious to describe the Apostropher this way:

The whole Hamsher/apo position is based on the idea that we ought not be afraid of letting the Republicans win one, because it'll show that liberals must be reckoned with

Seriously, there's no progress to be made in conflating the positions of McManus or Hamsher, or Kucinich, and Apo. That's just glib.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:39 PM
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165: "First they came for the blink tag, and I did not protest, because I was not a user of the blink tag..."


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:40 PM
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The second paragraph in this exchange is completely wrong:


Nader - whose actions, by the way, also lent support to war in Iraq

The AUMF passed the House 420-1 and the Senate 98-0. If we're apportioning blame, Nader comes in well behind every single Democratic member of the 2001-2 Congress except Barbara Lee.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:42 PM
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168 see 154, 158.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:42 PM
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If you take Bob's predictions and scale them down by a factor of 20, then they're a pretty reliable indicator. For example, Bob has predicted that Obama has an elaborate conspiracy to abolish Social Security and Medicare. That * 0.05 = an entitlement commission introduced by executive order.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:45 PM
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Shit, I was pwned by everybody.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:47 PM
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And now my admission of pwnership was pwned. You fuckers.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:47 PM
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170: That algorithm neglects to correct for the sign error.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:49 PM
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Bob has predicted that Obama has an elaborate conspiracy to abolish Social Security and Medicare.

That is a very unfair misrepresentation that is now permanently in the blog archives. Thanks, Walt.

I would refer you to apo's last sentence in the OP, and ask you to take it up with him. But that isn't the point, really, is it?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:51 PM
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Dude, I'm defending you.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 2:52 PM
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174: Well, your denial is also now in the blog archives for all of eternity.

And, I'm sure historians of the future will know not to take anything Walt says seriously.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:02 PM
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If I've read this thread correctly, Apo wants to discuss the merits of the health care bill?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:04 PM
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Abolish is too strong a word, but Obama absolutely intends to hack away at Social Security and Medicare. Otherwise, he wouldn't have made Alan Simpson co-chair of the commission.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:06 PM
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178: That's my point, and I hope at least future historians will understand me. The most optimistic outcome is that it's a meaningless publicity stunt.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:09 PM
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178, 179:

I hear too much Republican framing in Obama's rhetoric not to distrust it, and a meaningless publicity stunt is probably the best we can hope for, but I think it's literally impossible that any actual, passable compromise is going to come out of it and in theory it could offer an opportunity to define our problems better. If at the end of it the media were to realize it needs to talk about (1) Social Security and (2) Medicare, rather than SocialSecurityandMedicare, I'd feel a lot better about Social Security's chances going forward.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:19 PM
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177: He wants to discuss the merits of healthcare.com.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:22 PM
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181: The site loads quickly and the people in the banner image have lovely teeth.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:28 PM
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The site loads quickly

Is that what they're calling it these days?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:35 PM
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I would totally do the chick with the headset.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:35 PM
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I like how with each additional day she spends here, parsimon makes more and dirtier jokes. It makes me feel like progress can indeed be made.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:38 PM
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I know this has been said a dozen times, but the Republicans throw more bones to the right than the Democrats throw to the left because the right is far better organized (mainly through the combination of churches/religious organizations and the various right wing media) and so are able to far more effectively threaten and carry through on targeted pressure on representatives, including primary challenges. The difference is that simple. (It shouldn't be any mystery why both sides are generally oriented towards the middle, with only occassional bones thrown to their flanks.)

The fact that the "middle" is so far to the right in the US is of course a problem, but it's a separate issue.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:42 PM
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186 to the OP, in case that's not clear.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:47 PM
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185: I do? Was this a problem in the past? Oh no, I have a reputation as a prude? Or as a feminist? What does it all mean?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:50 PM
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To step back a bit, my problem with the role of the progressive faction in the Dem coalition is that it wears unreliability as a badge of honor. Why should anyone pander or cater, when it's likely to be lost at any minute on some issue. The Al Gore couldn't get the Green vote tells a lot, and a lot of what it tells (but not all) isn't about Al Gore.

Looking over at the other side, the pro-life faction is an important part of the Rep coalition. They're able to get a huge rally on the Mall every January. They have clout far outside their numbers, and while people say that Reagan (for example) didn't do anything for them, I think that's a huge misconception: Hyde Amd is a big deal, and so is Scalia. Roe isn't gone yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if, on the next turn of the wheel, it gets weakened further.

Does the pro-life movement boycott, or threaten boycott? Not very often. Instead, they go for the show of force. Not as a threat to pro-choice, or pro-life but inattentive Republicans, but to take it to the opposition.

If progressives want to be taken seriously, they have to take down the Cornyns. Taking down Obama (in favor of what, Palin?) doesn't convince anyone of anything.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:51 PM
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188: It means you used to make fewer and less dirty jokes.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:52 PM
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188: Feminists do actually make dirty jokes.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:57 PM
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How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 3:59 PM
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How many?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:00 PM
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192: That's not funny.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:02 PM
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A U-Haul.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:02 PM
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192: "I can do it myself, thank you very much."


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:04 PM
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192: I started to type that very thing!
Also, 195 is hilarious.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:04 PM
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I don't get 195. (On a hotdog!)

[commentary on the term "feminist" deleted due to boringness]


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:15 PM
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192: one to change the bulb, and one to point out how the darkness suffers from threatened privilege hysteria.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:15 PM
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Germaine Greer: [Last lines of the article]You get your best results from women when you take the pressure off. Men do the inspired lunacy; women do droll.

This thread merge brought to you by a guy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:16 PM
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198: I believe it is a reference to a lesbian joke.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:17 PM
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I'm only about halfway through reading this thread, but damn, KR, you're really knocking them out of the park today.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:20 PM
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201: Second date?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:49 PM
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I didn't get Apo's joke at first, because I kept assuming it was dirtier than it really was. You've let me down.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 4:51 PM
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Oh, lord. I now see comments on Facebook like THE HOUSE ISNT HAVINF A VOTE ON HEALTHCARE! VOTE NO! VOTE NO! BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT HAVING A VOTE!!1! HITLER!!! (This is on the page of the congressman from the district I grew up in.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 5:13 PM
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205: I enjoyed SEK's take on that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 5:15 PM
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206: "Anyone who claims otherwise believes that if they shout loud enough, people will mistake them for tall."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 5:27 PM
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Oh man. And one of the comments is from an idiot with whom I went to high school and worked. We were life guards together at a very swish beach club, along with a bunch of other folks we went to school with, and we were all on the swim team together as well. All of us were friends, except we each of us hated this dude. Once I was guarding the pool with him (we had a pool and a pond ocean) and this couple came and sat down with a cooler. This was not done. No one brought food, and everything was "paid for" via account number. So these folks were certainly not members, but I did not give a shit*. This douche did care, and so he went over to talk to them. I could see him smiling and apologizing, so apparently they had some kind of answer. Huh! He comes back and sits down and I ask him, "What did they say?" "Oh! They say they're guests of the Underhills." I almost fell off the (high) chair laughing, while he demanded to know what was so funny. I wouldn't tell him.

In any event, I wanted to comment after him, "Jesus, dude, no wonder we didn't tell you when we all called in sick and went to Action Park."

*I got in trouble for writing ridiculous anarchist graffiti with a burnt stick on the hull of a boat that had washed up on our beach and so was a big white surface facing the club for a couple days. I asked how they knew it was me. Answer: No one else here knows who Sacco and Vanzetti are, oudemia.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 5:29 PM
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208: Pretty much the most fascinating comment, ever.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 5:29 PM
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My amazing boringness has broken the blog! I'm gonna open some prosecco and just keep commenting. Maybe I will tell you about this time when I was 5 and . . .


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 5:49 PM
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Well, Lemieux called me out by name, wrote a post defending incrementalism, and I responded.

Fumble Pile! We kids used to say.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 5:57 PM
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Incidentally, let me share my understanding.

1) Joe Biden, sitting in the chair can declare a bill passed. How do you think voice votes and acclamation work? And this may not even be necessary.

If Reid, Pelosi , and Obama sign the bill, it becomes the law of the land.

How many votes do we need? Three.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 6:15 PM
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||

Sort of depressed that I was at a meeting of Human Services professionals making policy recommendations and maybe half of them seemed to think that the Republican candidate would be better this fall, since he actually knows state government well, unlike our current governor.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 6:39 PM
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62: I'm still pissed that I can't even e-mail Brown himself. Not one of Lynch's constituents though.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 6:42 PM
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Sorry to butt in at after 200 posts with an inane comment like this, but I can't believe nobody else picked this up.

Numbers, organization, determination, persistance commitment, intransigence informed by correct Theory are the weapons of the left.

And always the threat of social disorder.

Nobody expects the Leftist inquisition!


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 6:53 PM
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Damn tags...


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 6:53 PM
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I can't believe nobody else picked this up.

Actually someone did, up at comment 83.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 7:04 PM
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How many votes do we need? Three.

First of all, how I think voice votes work is the way they actually work, which is that 20 percent of the members can insist on a roll call vote.

Second, I love that your reaction upon "learning" that, say, Bill Frist, Dennis Hastert, and George W. Bush could just decide to write any legislation they want is that this would be good news.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 7:07 PM
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Can I just say how fucking depressing this entire health care reform process has been? Yes, I can.

Breaking news!! here, and no doubt in a million other places.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 7:14 PM
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Actually someone did, up at comment 83.

Well, 83 didn't pick up on the Pythonesque nature of Bob's comment, unless the "idealist grail" bit was a veiled reference.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 7:27 PM
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Of course, I could just be being dim, and Bob meant to reference that sketch.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 7:28 PM
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Answer: No one else here knows who Sacco and Vanzetti are, oudemia.

HA.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 7:36 PM
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I normally like Greenwald, but this is crap. Let's cut the temper tantrums. This bill transfers hundreds of billions of dollars from the rich to the poor and middle class and will save thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of lives.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:06 PM
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Probably this has already been said, but the excerpt looks to me like Greenwald is, without realizing it, talking more about who counts as progressive than about what progressives have been doing.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:09 PM
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223: Greenwald isn't talking about the bill, as he states explicitly.

Again, whether progressives are doing the right thing by changing their minds and supporting the health care bill is a separate question from the one I'm discussing here. I never argued for this bill's defeat, so that's not my issue; I think that's a reasonable debate to have. As I said, it perfectly reasonable to oppose something all along and then -- one the process is over -- decide [you'll] accept what you previously said you wouldn't.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:15 PM
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But you'd rather discuss the bill, right?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:24 PM
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But you'd rather discuss the bill, right?

A duck walks into a pharmacy and says, "I need some Zovirax cream."
The clerk says, "You don't have any health insurance. How are you going to pay for that?"
"Oh, just put it on my bill."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:38 PM
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225: And sorry, he is trying to use this bill as an example, and to that end he must establish that his narrative of possible alternative bills is plausible; he can't just assume it . So ... he is talking about the bill.

Take this quote from Anthony Weiner in one of Greenwald's updates:

If the Congressional left can't pass even something as modest as a watered down public option, then frankly I don't think anyone is going to take the left very seriously later on in this Congress.

Something as modest as a watered down public option is simply a judgment that Weiner is making--in the context of American politics there is nothing "modest" about it. And yes that last is a judgment that *I* am making, which is why Glenn and I and a lot of other people are talking about the bill.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:39 PM
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Name something a duck can do, that a doctor won't...

Stick his bill up his ass.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:47 PM
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What's the difference between a duck and a well-insured person?

They both have bills except for the well-insured person.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:51 PM
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How many feminists does it take to change a duck's bill?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:53 PM
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With all love and respect to Apo... You're listening to Glenn fricking Greenwald on domestic policy stuff?! He is not an ally on domestic issues, or anything unrelated to foreign policy or civil liberties. This is a guy who showed no interest whatsoever in domestic issues until 2009; who not only played fanboy to Ron Paul, but viciously attacked liberal bloggers who wrote about Paul as the extreme right wing and racist POS that he is. Greenwald is a Peretz in reverse except with the reverse views on foreign policy and civil liberties plus the intelligence to be capable of writing interesting stuff on what he cares about. (As opposed to Chait who cares about both foreign and domestic policy, and on the latter is a genuine liberal and unlike his boss, is a very capable journapundit) Greenwald's recent crusade on the health care issue is just an excuse to attack Obama and the Dems for their (genuinely anger worthy) failures to keep their promises on foreign policy and detainee affairs.

On the substantive point he's being disingenuous. The same people who he's attacking right now consistently argued that the liberals have very little leverage on health care, since unlike the Blue Dogs and Repubs, they actually give a shit about the uninsured, and if they're not helped now you won't get anything significant passed for quite some time.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:54 PM
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That's not f -- did somebody just step on a duck?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 8:57 PM
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There are plenty of places I disagree with Glenn Greenwald, tkm. The argument he's making here isn't one of them. I don't know from "recent crusade," but I only see three posts in the last month, all of which are more about the power politics in the party than about the bill itself.

Which, again, is what the post is about. Perhaps we can have this conversation more productively in a few months when the next big legislative battle happens. I'm confident the dynamics will be similar.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:10 PM
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next big legislative battle happens

Am I the only one who thinks this is probably it for 2010? People keep talking about financial reform, but I think that was sold out quite a while ago. Hopefully, I'm wrong about that.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:20 PM
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And don't worry apo, I think your still viewed as better than Pol Pot.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:22 PM
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I'm certainly less effective than Pol Pot.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:23 PM
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The post is obviously about the health care bill. He is clearly suggesting that this is a place that the progressives should plausibly be playing out these power politics and "health care" or "health insurance" appear 16 times in the piece. He explicitly avoids taking a position on whether the bill should pass on its merits, claims there is a solid case to be made against it as a matter of policy, and generally implies that passing it is bad politics.

The thing is, though, progressives can't both be effective advocates for their causes and credibly threaten to withhold their votes on issues they care strongly about and centrists don't. To the extent that they prove such threats are credible, it's by cutting off their noses to spite their faces. I agree they need to stiffen their spines and pick some fights, but the place to withhold votes is on those issues that are important to centrists, but that progressives can take or leave. Making the health care bill the hook for this column suggests that Greenwald doesn't understand this fundamental reality.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:23 PM
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And don't worry apo, I think your still viewed as better than Pol Pot.

I would have to put my money on Apo's still.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:25 PM
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PolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPotPolPot


Posted by: OPINIONATED JELLO BIAFRA | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:28 PM
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Until Obama outlaws alcohol.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:29 PM
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241: That's right. Sharia is next. Believe it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:36 PM
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Probably guns next. Sharia is more of a re-election year rollout.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:39 PM
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An example of where the progressives could have taken a stand was to force a delay in confirming Bernanke until x was also passed, with x having to be sufficiently close in votes that swaying a half dozen or so folks in the Senate would be enough. Another possbility, albeit a politically damaging one for Dems as a whole and needing a fair amount of de facto Repub cooperation, would be to hold Defense appropriations hostage to something.
But on this issue their only leverage was to the extent that the leadership could twist the arms of the Ben Nelsons and Bart Stupaks. I'm definitely getting the impression that there's plenty of that going on right now in the House just to get this bill passed. The idea that a threat to block the bill is in any shape or form leverage against the most conservative Dems is a joke because it amounts to progressives saying: "If you don't vote for a public option we'll give you what you really want".


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 9:41 PM
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OT but still a-list lib blogger bashing, Kevin Drum writes:

The thing is, you can't be 90% walkable. You have to be 100% walkable, and for a development of any size you have to jam people together to get enough density to truly make that happen. You will never get this outside a central business core where the price of land is so high that you have no choice.

When I moved to Geneva, virtually everyone in the metro area lived in walkable areas. The exceptions were those who were affluent, but not filthy rich, and who were willing to pay a hefty premium in time for the suburban life. If you were not in the top ten percent, this was not an option. Most did not live in the central business district, but even outlying satellite towns were walkable apartment house dominated areas with public transport. This has changed over the past twenty five years, partly due to a relaxing of the rules on commuting from France minus any willingness to provide public transport, and partly due to steadily increasing land use regs limiting high density development. But as long as the government allowed it and provided plenty of buses with dedicated lanes, that's what the market delivered.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:13 PM
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Drum is missing the point Atrios makes at least once per day, it seems, which is that zoning laws make even existing walkable neighborhoods - not just CBD, but residential urban - illegal.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:19 PM
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WIth NYC as the exception. In Manhattan residential developers are only allowed to build parking amounting to one fifth of the number of housing units in their development. And while this doesn't apply to the outer boroughs, in the inner parts of Brooklyn the current admin has used the permitting process to discourage parking spots.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-18-10 10:39 PM
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Further to 105: More like this, please! (H/T Steve Benen)

Senior Obama campaign official Steve Hildebrand is eyeing a Democratic primary challenge to South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a decision he said hinges largely on whether she votes against health care reform later this week.... "I want to see how she votes on health care," Hildebrand said. "If the vote is very, very close and we lose it or come close to losing it, I will take a serious look at challenging her."

Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 1:42 AM
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I wish Greenwald had acknowledged that Scott Brown's election changed the negotiating position of liberals regarding healthcare.

Greenwald is rightly concerned with power politics, and he wants to put that issue in the forefront of the discussion of healthcare, but in the end, if you can't acknowledge the need to win elections, you're going to reach some crazy, Hamsher-like conclusions.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:43 AM
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248: I went out to South Dakota with the DCCC to work for her campaign, but I'd love to see her replaced.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 5:07 AM
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I wish Greenwald had acknowledged that Scott Brown's election changed the negotiating position of liberals regarding healthcare.

Did it really change all that much, though? They had to go with reconciliation instead of a conference, but they're still bargaining with conservative Democrats--including the administration--over the same things the Blue Dog contingent opposed previously. What changed was more process than substance.

To me, the significance of Greenwald's article is that this is a pattern to be expected on pretty much everything under this administration. If they pass a bill as I suspect they will in the end, I'll be glad for the political win for the Democrats, but I'm ever less convinced that national politics offers anything for progressives and that local and state government are the places where a difference can still be made.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:20 AM
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that local and state government are the places where a difference can still be made

True as a general principle, but health care is a notable exception. As is financial regulation. And climate change. So this whirly-eyed Dem thinks the Great Leader has put the right things at the top of the legislative agenda, even as I have been disappointed in a lot of the specifics.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:40 AM
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What changed was more process than substance.

But the process change was not inconsequential. It took any aspect of the House bill off the table that could not be confidently shoehorned into the reconciliation framework, and that includes a lot of substantive items.

A House-Senate conference committee might conceivably have negotiated a compromise bill that included a public option, and 50 Dems plus Biden might well have passed it if they did. But you need 60 votes to bring a conference report to a vote. Under the reconciliation framework, such a compromise was outside the realm of possibility*. So we're left with tweaking things like subsidy levels and fincancing.

*there is a colorable argument to the contrary that involves Medicare buy-in, but I don't really buy it.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:48 AM
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Did it really change all that much, though?

It really undercut Pelosi's influence - a fact that is only slightly mitigated by the corresponding cut in Stupak's influence. Brown's victory put the Senate in the driver's seat. If the Senate sucked somewhat less, this wouldn't matter. Alas, it appears the Senate sucks too much to put together 50 votes for a public option.

What changed was more process than substance.

Process is substance. Emmanuel certainly felt emboldened to propose that even less should be done. And the initial reaction among many in Congress was that the debate was more-or-less over; that the Republicans had won.

To me, the significance of Greenwald's article is that this is a pattern to be expected on pretty much everything under this administration.

Greenwald's case only makes sense if you accept - as you do - that nothing significant changed with the election of Brown.

When liberals win elections, they do better. Sen. Ned Lamont would have had a significantly positive influence on the debate - the center would have moved a bit. And if we swapped Ben Nelson for whatever Republican would likely have his seat, things would have gone even worse for the same reason.

Several folks above want an explanation for how a defeat of HCR leads to something better. Hamsher has an explanation that goes something like this:

1. Defeat of HCR leads to defeats for Democrats who supported it.
2. ????
3. Profit!

The only other available theory is that the HCR bill is worse than the status quo. I find neither explanation even remotely persuasive.

(I'm also not impressed with the proponents who say that the bill will be improved by future Congresses. Seems to me it could be weakened, too. The question is: Is this bill a win for the good guys?)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:54 AM
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Brown's victory put the Senate in the driver's seat.

The Senate was already in the driver's seat, because a conference report can be filibustered. Maybe I'm missing something, but seems like no longer needing Joe Lieberman's and Ben Nelson's vote any more should have freed the Democrats' hands to an extent.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:10 AM
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teraz kurwa my, are you still in Geneva? That's my dream city.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:20 AM
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Several folks above want an explanation for how a defeat of HCR leads to something better

I don't know how it leads to anything better; I'm not advocating for its defeat. I'm saying that it doesn't fix the real problem, but instead slaps an extremely expensive Band-Aid on it while punting any real reckoning a few years down the road when the crisis re-appears (much like the bank bailout). Which is infinite facepalm.

I can buy that this bill will make things better for the currently uninsured (though not nearly so much as is being claimed, especially now that the National Rate Authority has been killed) and won't make much of a difference for people who are currently insured. But it does it in such a Rube Goldberg fashion that I'm skeptical it's going to be a long-term win for the Democrats or for efficient delivery of healthcare.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:25 AM
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The Senate was already in the driver's seat, because a conference report can be filibustered.

True but incomplete. A Lieberman or Nelson might have threatened to join a GOP filibuster of a conference report that contained a public option, and they might even have followed through (though more likely Reid would have preemptively caved). But at least the Dems stood a chance, in principle, of passing a good conference bill on a party line vote. With 59 in the caucus, they stand no chance whatsoever of passing any conference report whatsoever. With reconciliation the only viable option, much tighter constraints came into effect on what could be altered in the Senate bill. And by and large, the House had made good use of the hand they were dealt (the subsidies are more generous in the reconciliation package than before), even as some good progressive stuff went by the wayside.

The bottom line is: to argue that Scott Brown's election didn't change the political calculus, or that it changed it in favor of progressives, you have to ignore a lot of relevant facts.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:30 AM
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The election of Brown changed everything. People here were pissed off when beforeforehand I predicted that if Brown won progressives were fucked. And then Brown won, and lo! we're fucked.

If Coakley had won, I thought there was something to the idea that progressives should spike the bill to stick it to the Nelsons of the world. But that's because the negotiation would be ongoing, so they could plausibly hold out for something better. Now they can't.

As for the public option, I think we were being bullshitted all along, and that the White House and 20 Democratic Senators were always implacably opposed.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:33 AM
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Apo, seriously, I understand and sympathize with your objection to what amounts to an unwarranted enrichment of the insurance companies. But doesn't bringing a huge chunk of their income stream under direct govt control provide a huge opening for progressives to push for single payer? As a deficit reduction strategy? You only get to pass major expansions of the New Deal (or whatever -- major programatic legislation, of the kind that sucks a huge amount of the oxygen) once in a presidency but you have to pass the damn budget every single year, and every single year, there are going to be segments of the health care expenditure that could be moved to single payer with large, identifiable, costs savings. Example, once we're subsidizing low income people, how much would we save if we moved those people getting the subsidy who are over 50 into Medicare? It'll be a real number, and one that shouts of "Socialism!!" are not going to obscure. And then the next year, we look at people 18-24. Won't save as much money, but it'll save some. And so on.

Yes, insurance companies will have a bunch of money to fight it. They'll also be big fat targets.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:34 AM
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and won't make much of a difference for people who are currently insured

Tell that to someone with an expensive illness who had his policy rescinded, or to anyone who ran up against an annual or lifetime payout limit. Because those things are going away. Immediately.

Also (and this is politically the more important group), families with children between the ages of 18 and 26 will now be able to keep their children on their policies up to age 26 whether or not they are full time students. That's big, and it's a gift-wrapped present to Harry and Louise.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:35 AM
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That's big, and it's a gift-wrapped present to Harry and Louise.

Not to mention their deadbeat slacker son, Joey.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:41 AM
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The Senate was already in the driver's seat, because a conference report can be filibustered.

The House conferees would have had the opportunity to put Lieberman's back to the wall. But yeah, they probably wouldn't/shouldn't have taken that opportunity.

But Greenwald's point is that we are in the position we're in because the liberals failed to fight. In fact, we are in the position we're in because the liberals did fight. Had they failed to fight, Emmanuel would have gotten his way and a comprehensive bill would have been shelved. Or the Republicans and health insurers would have gotten their way and nothing at all would have been done.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:41 AM
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Because those things are going away. Immediately.

I was wondering about this. So recission and lifetime caps end immediately? What about denial based on preexisting conditions - does that kick in upon passage?

Also, when does the mandate kick in?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:42 AM
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moved those people getting the subsidy who are over 50 into Medicare

That's the best-case scenario I can identify under the current bill, yes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:42 AM
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What about denial based on preexisting conditions - does that kick in upon passage?

My understanding is that it's phased in. Applies to children right out of the gate. But someone more knowledgeable should answer that to be sure.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:47 AM
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From the House Rules site:

Extends the prohibition of lifetime limits, prohibition on rescissions, limitations on excessive waiting periods, and a requirement to provide coverage for non-dependent children up to age 26 to all existing health insurance plans starting six months after enactment. For group health plans, prohibits pre-existing condition exclusions in 2014, restricts annual limits beginning six months after enactment, and prohibits them starting in 2014. For coverage of non-dependent children prior to 2014, the requirement on group health plans is limited to those adult children without an employer offer of coverage.

I'm not sure about individual plans -- I'll go look at the Senate bill.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:55 AM
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Here's the Thomas.loc.gov summary of the Senate Bill:

Requires health plans in a state to: (1) accept every employer and individual in the state that applies for coverage; and (2) renew or continue coverage at the option of the plan sponsor or the individual, as applicable.

Prohibits a health plan from establishing individual eligibility rules based on health status-related factors, including medical condition, claims experience, receipt of health care, medical history, genetic information, and evidence of insurability.

But it doesn't say anything about the phase-in process.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:01 AM
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Had they failed to fight, Emmanuel would have gotten his way and a comprehensive bill would have been shelved.

That's the thing -- the second-most-likely scenario to me* is to expand SCHIP to cover people up to 25 and call it a day. Contra Apo, arguing about the political merits of the progressive caucus caving on this bill seems inextricably tied to the policy merits of getting this bill in place (and likely future additions) versus that, not a better world where we get this plus a Schumer-style public option or Swiss-style reform.

I wish people spent more time thinking about how to pressure Obama to appoint strongly growth-oriented members to the Federal Reserve Board, but nobody except Yves Smith and corporate sell-out Matthew Yglesias seems to care about it, with partial credit for Krugman. That seems like a much better place to hold the administration's feet to the fire, as opposed to civil liberties, where clearly neither Obama nor large swaths of Congressional Democrats care enough to overcome their ground-level cowardice, or this bill, where the majority of progressive voices feel that it's better than the status quo. Although given the whip effort on the Bernanke confirmation, I suspect that the outcome is a given.

* And the one I think HRC would have followed, good or ill.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:02 AM
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Greenwald writes: "After all, aside from contempt for the establishment media, the single greatest fuel for the rise of the liberal blogosphere was contempt for the Democratic Party's corporatism..."

that's not at all how it looked to me. the 2000 election, 9/11, and Bush's wars were what the lefty blogs grew up on. "Democratic corporatism" is a constant complaint, but not a primary one and certainly not the "single greatest". no, to me, it looked like opposition to Bush was what created the lefty blogosphere. the charge of "corporatism" is just one of many things partisans of all stripes (including libertarians like Greenwald) like to complain about, but it's far from the biggest.


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:05 AM
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I think contempt for the fecklessness of the Democrats, which is at least partially due to their corporate sympathies, was a major factor.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:14 AM
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Can anyone point me to a good left-wing criticism of this bill as worse-than-nothing? (Or even as potentially worse-than-nothing--like 257, but with expanded analysis.) Either in the archives of this blog, or elsewhere. "A depressingly long way from ideal" I get, and "woefully inadequate" I get, but "worse than nothing" I don't get, and I'd love to better understand the argument.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:14 AM
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The two things I understand are: fining people for not buying insurance if they don't think it's a good deal for them is wrong, and will be a substantial injury to people in tight money straits, and health insurance as it currently exists is a bad product, and forcing people to buy it will keep it from ever improving. That's a caricature, because I don't agree with either statement, but that's what I've heard. I don't have anything to link to, though, because I've seen it in sentences here and there in blog comments, more than in fully written out pieces.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:18 AM
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That's the best-case scenario I can identify under the current bill, yes.

What do you see as being the best-case scenario if we maintain the status quo?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:25 AM
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fining people for not buying insurance if they don't think it's a good deal for them is wrong, and will be a substantial injury to people in tight money straits, and health insurance as it currently exists is a bad product, and forcing people to buy it will keep it from ever improving.

Well, I don't agree with the first statement (which sounds more libertarian than left, to me), but I could tweak it slightly to be "forcing people to buy insurance without providing adequate subsidies to ensure people with lower incomes can afford it is wrong", and then I'd agree with it. And I do have major concerns about this bill along those lines.

And I think with some color added to the second statement, I might be very sympathetic to it as well. But I've never seen a fleshed-out presentation of it, whereas I've seen lots of analysis of this bill being the (small) first step towards the end of insurance as we know it. So I'd love to see the other side of the argument presented in more detail.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:27 AM
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275: I'm not too far away from you, which is why I keep picking at Apo, as the opponent-from-the-left (sort of, kind of) who I know best to get answers from. The arguments I've identified seem as if they might be reasonable ones, but I haven't seen them made in the detail I'd need to be convinced.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:33 AM
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Can anyone point me to a good left-wing criticism of this bill as worse-than-nothing? (Or even as potentially worse-than-nothing--like 257, but with expanded analysis.)

I understand the argument this way:

Looking at this bill in isolation is an error. The process of its passage has been corrupt in ways that will, in the long run, damage the real goals of progressives for two reasons:

-It's a cave. It shows that people who favor progressive goals can be pushed around with impunity.
-It has the effect of empowering health insurers, who will be more able to obstruct real, constructive change.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:41 AM
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275: There's a cynical (in my view) argument that goes something like this.

The health insurers are rushing headlong toward doom. Their business model relies on an unsustainable combination of
- ever more sophisticated methods for excluding sick people or people likely to get sick
- passing on costs to employers, who in turn pass them on to employees
- negotiating reimbursements to providers down to loss-making levels (and then deducting a little extra at payment time)

The consequences of this business strategy, which all insurers must adopt on pain of loss of market share and bankruptcy, is that ever fewer people will be able to obtain insurance through either the individual and group markets, while the cost health care delivery spirals out of control, especially for those not paying negotiated rates.

Eventually, the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured will grow so large, and the financial pressures on premium payers will grow so great, that the Chamber of Commerce will join with progressives in demanding single payer.

The Obamacare plan saves insurers from themselves by prohibiting the specific kind of competition that is driving them into a death spiral. At the same time, it gives them new sustenance in the form of millions of additional premium-payers, many of them subsidized by tax dollars. To the extent that the cost-control measures in Obamacare work, the benefits will accrue largely to the insurers in the form of lower loss ratios. But if they don't work, there's no downside for the insurers because they can just continue to raise rates at will, except this time, individuals and large employers won't be able to drop out.

So just when the whole private health insurance model was close to imploding, Obamacare comes in makes them fit for decades more profiteering.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:47 AM
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I actually see the argument that this is a political loser much more clearly than the argument that it's substantively bad policy ("bad" in a worse-than-nothing sense, not in a far-from-ideal sense). If there aren't strong cost controls (which, as far as I understand, there aren't), and if subsidies aren't extraordinarily generous (which they're not), the individual mandate seems like it could easily become very unpopular, especially a few years down the line--when we're spending more money than had been projected on the subsidies ("Democrat health plan is a budget buster, just as we warned!"), and middle-class people are feeling pinched by premiums. I think at that point we have to follow up with additional reforms (which I'm not at all optomistic we'll be able to do), or the bill will become a real political albatross for the Democrats.

But again, that's all politics--I'd love to read a criticism based on substance.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:47 AM
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a good left-wing criticism of this bill as worse-than-nothing

I don't think this a particularly *good* one (in terms of in the weeds detail), but it's recent. http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/dr-marcia-angell-tells-bill-moyers-ob


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:49 AM
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I think there is some concern that forcing people to buy a lousy product will do more to discredit future attempts at reform than failing to pass it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:50 AM
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278 is helpful, thanks. It's an interesting analysis because the question of whether this is "worse-than-nothing" seems to turn not on an interpretation of what the bill does, but an interpretation of what the status quo looks like [5? 10? 20?] years from now. Color me highly skeptical that, in the absence of this bill, the most likely medium term outcome is "that the Chamber of Commerce will join with progressives in demanding single payer".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:53 AM
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Color me highly skeptical that, in the absence of this bill, the most likely medium term outcome is "that the Chamber of Commerce will join with progressives in demanding single payer".

Yeah, that was deliberately snarky. When I first started caring about this issue, there were around 20 million uninsured, and typical large group coverage was generally thought to be better than Medicare. Today, we have 40 million+ uninsured and climbing, typical group policies are substantially worse than Medicare in almost every dimension, and we're no closer to the single-payer utopia than we were then.

I see no reason to believe our electorate wouldn't tolerate 80M uninsured, nor any reason to believe that Big Business would prefer single payer to simply eliminating employer-sponsored health benefits for most employees.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:10 AM
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280 is also helpful. It also, I think, may have crystallized for me the extent to which possibly every single defense of the bill that I've read has emphasized this only being a first step, with the assumption that additional reforms will follow in coming years. I've never been hugely optimistic about that prospect--and I can see how things could, if fact, get worse rather than better if those additional reforms don't follow. (Here's Ezra Klein making essentially that point a few years ago, regarding the Massachusetts reforms (which are, of course, awfully similar to the federal reforms now on the table).)

It's for that reason that, throughout this process, it's struck as extraordinarily unfortunate that this bill is being sold as a comprehensive reform that will fix our broken system. If everyone knows that's not the case, that's a damn dangerous selling point. It's very plausible that people might not want to buy additional reforms from the same shysters who sold them a defective reform a few years back.

But again, I'd paint that as a political criticism, not a criticism of policy. From a substantive perspective, it still seems this bill makes additional reforms easier, not harder, since it opens a lot of plausible avenues for incremental improvements. Although, perhaps I'm clinging to an artificial divide--the operative question is whether things will in fact be better 10 years from now, not whether they will or won't be better because of "politics" or "policy". And I would certainly agree that this bill leaves that question wide open.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:19 AM
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Sorry--I know Apo didn't actually want to discuss the merits of the healthcare bill in this thread.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:22 AM
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Something that I'm puzzled about -- my belief, from what I've read about the bill, is that the exchanges will include regulation of what insurance companies are allowed to charge. Opponents seem to either believe that this isn't true at all, or that it won't work somehow. and I'm not sure of what the argument is there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:26 AM
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(284 cont.)

On the other hand...


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:28 AM
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it's struck as extraordinarily unfortunate that this bill is being sold as a comprehensive reform that will fix our broken system. If everyone knows that's not the case, that's a damn dangerous selling point. It's very plausible that people might not want to buy additional reforms from the same shysters who sold them a defective reform a few years back.

And the Iraq War was going to be a cakewalk. But once we were in, the opponents didn't have the guts to get us out. Bush and Rumsfeld understood that sometimes overselling the product to get the foot in the door is not dangerous, but opportunistic.

The other advantage of overselling HCR as a comprehensive fix at this stage is that it allows proponents to pretend that it isn't a stalking horse for even more radical interventions in the free market in the future. The GOP scare stories about this being the first step down a slippery slope to socialized medicine are probably overblown, but they're right to fear it.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:33 AM
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286: right, that seems to be a key piece of the puzzle, and I wish I knew more about it. My understanding (fuzzy) is that the proposed reconciliation package will, if passed, give the federal government the ability to block "excessive" rate increases by insurance companies, but this isn't in the existing Senate bill. (Nor was it in the original House bill.) But I don't know much more detail about the proposal, or how well it would or wouldn't be likely to work.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:37 AM
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And the Iraq War was going to be a cakewalk. But once we were in, the opponents didn't have the guts to get us out.

Point taken, but I'm not sure this analogy is apt.



Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:40 AM
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And I thought it was in the House and the Senate bills as part of the definition of "Exchange" -- any policy offered on an exchange would have its prices regulated by the gov't. (I also thought the Senate had better exchanges than the House -- that the House had state exchanges only, while the Senate exchanges were either federal or somehow more federally controlled. But I may be confused here, probably am.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:41 AM
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291: my understanding comes mostly from articles like this (I could link to a dozen similar articles, but nothing with meaningfully greater detail). If you've got better information, I'd be very interested in seeing it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:49 AM
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If you look up to my link to the Thomas summary of the Senate bill in 268, it says that the exchanges can regulate rate increases. The difference between that and what you link to might be that the exchanges aren't the whole insurance market, just the individual market.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:54 AM
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The thing is, insurers don't have to be making obscene profit margins for this to become potentially very problematic. With guaranteed issue and community rating, and very few/very weak cost controls on what providers charge for treatment, insurance plans could quite quickly become very expensive. Anthem isn't (as far I know) lying when they claim their recent 40% premium hike was driven by costs. So the question is--does a regulator look at that and say "okay, it's a huge increase, but costs went up, so it's legitimate" (which is a recipe for the very bad scenario outlined in 280), or does the regulator say "sorry your costs went up so much, but that rate hike is excessive, so now you've got to operate at a loss". The latter seems very implausible.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:58 AM
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256 Nope, I'm in NYC, but my parents still live there so I visit. I'm curious, why is it your dream city? Its location is beautiful - I'm always stunned on the clear beautiful days when the full Massif Mont Blanc is right there in all its detailed snowy, rocky glory and reflected in the lake. Plus Geneva is centrally located for travel in Europe and perfect for mountain sports. But the city itself is rather boring, small, and expensive.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:59 AM
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Sorry, this is what I intended to link in 292.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:01 AM
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does the regulator say "sorry your costs went up so much, but that rate hike is excessive, so now you've got to operate at a loss". The latter seems very implausible.

Well, not 'very implausible'. "Sorry your costs went up so much, but that rate hike is excessive, so cut your costs to forgo the rate hike without losing money". The regulator has to actually do that, and hoping it will happen is a leap of faith (of the kind we take with every single law that has to be carried out through regulation, but still a leap of faith). But it's a plausible mechanism for cutting costs -- tell the insurers that they need to figure out how to do, or go out of business, their option.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:02 AM
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I'm suspicious of pro-HCR arguments that posit some suite of future improvements that will make this deal palatable.

But I do think that this bill changes the terms of the argument. Reducing the number of insured people - as the status quo contemplates - will pretty much come off the table as an issue. People who object to the mandate may bring political pressure to bear, but it won't be to end their insurance.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:04 AM
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Well, shit, that's really odd. I swear, I'm staring at an open tab in my browser, with the same url as the link in 292 and 296 (I'm positive it's exactly the same--I copied and pasted it), and the tab in my browser is a different NYT article. I have no idea how that's technologically possible.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:05 AM
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294 I think that that would create pressure for further cost control. It did in Switzerland which operated for many, many years under this sort of system, i.e. mandatory insurance purchases with private for-profit insurance companies, insufficient public subsidies, and the sort of regulatory control that this bill has (mandatory issue, community rating). Eventually, the Swiss got sick of paying what were by far the highest costs in Europe and made it illegal for the insurance companies to earn a profit on the basic policy while forcing uniform, government set payment schedules for the providers. And in case anybody has any illusions about Switzerland, wealthy corporate interests have at least as much power as they do here.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:08 AM
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But it's a plausible mechanism for cutting costs -- tell the insurers that they need to figure out how to do, or go out of business, their option

You really consider this plausible?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:08 AM
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300: well, right, that's, as far as I can tell, more or less the whole hope behind the bill. (Other than ending discrimination by insurers against the sick, and insuring millions of the currently uninsured, of course, neither of which should be dismissed lightly.) The open question is whether the further cost control materializes. I understand the arguments that, eventually, it has to, because the current trajectory is unsustainable. But there's a lot of bad things that could happen between here and there.


Posted by: Borck Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:12 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:13 AM
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And to be clear, I'm a big supporter of passing the bill. I'm just trying to better gauge the likelihood of my feeling like a chump in five years, and to identify in advance what the most likely reasons for that will be.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:21 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:21 AM
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303 was not me. (Obviously, I hope.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:21 AM
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very few/very weak cost controls

The cost control measures in the bill are numerous and innovative. They haven't been the focus of the sales pitch, for obvious reasons, but liberal health economists mostly seem impressed.

Anthem isn't (as far I know) lying when they claim their recent 40% premium hike was driven by costs.

You have to unpack two effects here, Brock. Yes, medical inflation is way too high, and needs to be reined in by a more rational health financing system before it bankrupts us all. But price inflation isn't 40% in aggregate. It sometimes can be that high in specific groups, though. And that's no accident.

When an insurer in the individual market wants to rid itself of an unprofitable or insufficiently profitable group of policyholders, it deliberately contrives to put the plan into a death spiral. The insurer stops writing new policies under the plan, so that the average age and health of the group deteriorates. As the medical losses climb, the insurer can justify higher rates to the state regulator. The higher rates in turn motivate more relatively healthy patients to leave the plan and seek alternatives, until the premiums become unaffordable for the last customers.


Posted by: kwithanr | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:22 AM
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According to the Wiki(Fr), serious attempts to get reforms through started in the late sixties and only got passed at the end of 1994. The most recent attempt to create a standard type single payer system financed by a payroll tax rather than premiums failed with a 71% no vote in 2007. That's in spite of average costs to a family of four of over $10k a year in mandatory premiums (or 8% of family income if that's less), plus supplementary insurance, plus deductibles, plus co-pays. So still flawed from a liberal perspective, and getting even to this point took a long time with many failed efforts. But it did happen, and not in one single burst. Again, we're talking a conservative country with very powerful corporate lobbying - i.e. something quite similar to the US in some ways. The big difference for this purpose is the referendum process, but the various lobbying groups can flood the process with money and take advantage of the double majority requirement (national majority plus a majority of the individual cantons).


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:29 AM
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More like this, motherfuckers.

New York's Working Families Party, which has outsized influence in state politics and its own ballot line, is actively recruiting a candidate to run against Upstate Rep. Mike Arcuri, who says he'll vote against health care legislation. The party prides itself on not playing the spoiler, but "this is a fault-line moment," Cantor said. "This is the most important vote he will cast in his career in Congress."

Think this over real carefully, Stephen Lynch.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:35 AM
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309: I just resisted trolling his page on Facebook where he is getting trashed by his constituents and fellated by people from MO, FL, CA, etc.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:44 AM
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that it won't work somehow. and I'm not sure of what the argument is there.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/3/17/847262/-National-Insurance-Rate-Authority-Wont-Be-in-Reconciliation-Package


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:50 AM
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309: Arcuri is toast -- he barely won (admittedly, in part because he dispatched volunteers to elsewhere in New York) against an underfunded opponent in 2008; unlike McMahon in Long Island, I see no path to him winning without either the Working Families line or a strong union turnout push. And he voted on the House bill already, so it's not like he's going to dodge a single attack ad. This is like Al Wynn backing the awful bankruptcy reform bill and getting primaried by Donna Edwards, only more so, because it's obvious that the SEIU and WFP are willing to jettison the seat to make a point.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:50 AM
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309: As a rule, I'm opposed to spoiler candidacies, but there is a real, tangible value in acting pour encourager les autres as you note in 105.

Plus, I've got no objection whatsoever to a well-timed bluff. I was vexed with Kucinich because I didn't think he was bluffing (which, of course, is the best kind of bluff.) Now that he's shown his hand, I think his behavior throughout was laudable.

Linked in your article is the SEIU, also making a credible-seeming threat.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:53 AM
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311: Right, but the NRIA was never solidly part of anything, it was always a possibility. The rate controls in the exchanges seem as if they might work, and it's not clear to me why they obviously won't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:53 AM
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Go nuns!

. . . in a rare public disagreement that will reverberate among the nation's 70 million Catholics, leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 nuns sent lawmakers a letter urging lawmakers to pass the Senate health care bill. Expected to come before the House by this weekend, the measure contains abortion funding restrictions that the bishops say don't go far enough.
"Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions," said the letter signed by 60 leaders of women's religious orders. "It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments ... in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:14 AM
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I have a practical question about how to do something in a way that won't be obvious to someone. But the person who I'm dodging is at least an occasional reader here, and I can't figure out how to phrase the question in a way that wouldn't make it clear what was going on if they saw it. I don't think there is any way to ask this here, and I can't think of anyplace else as useful for this kind of advice.

This comment is therefore completely pointless. But now at least I'm not the only one frustrated about it.


Posted by: James Polk | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:14 AM
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312: I'm so fucking pissed at Arcuri. Not only did he win because of WFP and union support, he specifically had the support of his sister, who's a union activist. I don't know her well enough to ask what's up, but it's hard to imagine she's on the wrong side of this. I wouldn't want to be at that Thanksgiving family dinner.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:21 AM
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316: It worked. I am frustrated, you tease!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:27 AM
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316. All the lurkers now assume that some commenter has it in for them personally. They tell me so in email.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:29 AM
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316:It's ok, I can take it. Thick-skinned.

FDL has "18 myths" up about the health insurance bill. What, you only read people who favor the bill? Whatever, each myth has a link, sometimes to an FDL post, but those posts are usually documented.

I can't find it, did Brock ask if he was being taked?

Scarecrow goes thru the paralels between HCR and the Enron in California story.

I personally think it is a much longer con, more like the Greenspab SS Trust Fund.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:31 AM
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Now that this thread's gone off-topic: where's the motherfucking basketball thread?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:32 AM
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316: Congressman Arcuri, you can unfriend me. It's cool.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:32 AM
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316: Act all excited and point and say, "Look! Over there! It's Spongebob!" and then while the person is looking for Spongebob, you do the secret deed. This always works for me.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:32 AM
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Need to proofread better, I think.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:33 AM
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316: Yahoo Answers!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:39 AM
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323: I grew up with "Look! A fish!" But of course Spongebob wasn't around yet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:40 AM
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326: Yes, that was a simpler time.

Another alternative -- "Look! Over there! It's the disaffected masses! They're rising up!"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:46 AM
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The concealment is entirely good willed, closer to a surprise party than to anything unpleasant. Not much at all like a surprise party, though. And not a regular commenter, just someone who I think may be a regular lurker.


Posted by: James Polk | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:59 AM
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Holy shit, Cornell up by 18!!!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 12:04 PM
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320: FDL's list was interesting, and I found the third point rather surprising, so I decided to track down the footnote.

Well, the footnote was wrong, but that document did have a pointer to the place with the correct information, which was the letter to Bayh from the CBO. Here's what it says about the estimates used by FDL, with the emphasis mine:

That difference in unsubsidized premiums is the net effect of three changes:
• Average premiums would be 27 percent to 30 percent higher because a greater amount of coverage would be obtained. In particular, the average insurance policy in this market would cover a substantially larger share of enrollees' costs for health care (on average) and a slightly wider range of benefits. Those expansions would reflect both the minimum level of coverage (and related requirements) specified in the proposal and people's decisions to purchase more extensive coverage in response to the structure of subsidies.
• Average premiums would be 7 percent to 10 percent lower because of a net reduction in costs that insurers incurred to deliver the same amount of insurance coverage to the same group of enrollees. Most of that net reduction would stem from the changes in the rules governing the nongroup market.
• Average premiums would be 7 percent to 10 percent lower because of a shift in the types of people obtaining coverage. Most of that change would stem from an influx of enrollees with below-average spending for health care, who would purchase coverage because of the new subsidies to be provided and the individual mandate to be imposed.

So: People would buy more coverage, thus increasing their premiums; savings by insurers would be passed along to customers; people who needed less expensive insurance would join the pool.

But the big factor is the first one: People would choose to buy more insurance because of the favorable price. FDL may not like it, but they should at least represent it accurately.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 12:09 PM
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Not much at all like a surprise party, though.

Perhaps like the anti-party that I defined with some friends as a teen. The guests are isolated each in a brightly lit cube, where they are offered rhubarb and soda water as refreshment and played some 60s chart pop you will fortunately never have heard of. If bored, they have the opportunity to browse through a library of second string German philosophy in the original.

Meanwhile the hosts go to the pub.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 12:14 PM
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I'm pretty sure no one else cares about this, but wow. I never thought I'd see Cornell win a tournament game in my lifetime.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 12:31 PM
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320: Myths 12-14 do target areas of enforcement that I always felt could definitely have been improved in this bill without losing Democratic Senate votes, and that's one of the many areas where this bill pisses me off.

But the cost of insurance stuff doesn't seem to count the subsidies.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 12:32 PM
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333 seems to assume that increased industry opposition could have been incurred without losing Democratic Senate votes, which strikes me as questionable.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 12:47 PM
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But the cost of insurance stuff doesn't seem to count the subsidies.

pwned in boldface, no less. But I guess I could have been clearer.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 12:48 PM
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334: I believe that in those regulatory areas it could have been done. I think one reason it was left weak in the Senate was the belief that some of the much tougher House enforcement stuff could be added in conference without the need to use reconciliation.

335: I'm just too damn lazy to read other peoples' comments, what can I say.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 1:11 PM
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316: Point and scream "The peasants are revolting!" That works equally well for righties and lefties.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 1:18 PM
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I can't believe the whole thread went without anyone asking why the democrats started off the debate by ceding most of their ground. Why not start out demanding single payer and compromise from there?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 1:35 PM
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330: My take on the FDL list is as follows

1-2 and 4-7 are just as tendentious as 3.

8, 9, and 12 knock down strawmen -- disproving something no one is claiming

10 is a non sequitur

11 is so grossly misleading as to make the inference of bad faith unavoidable

13 and 16 do not disprove the "myths" they purport to refute

17 is a difference of opinion.

The best I can say about 14-15 is that they don't appear to be false on their face. Though I believe as a practical matter 15 is just as mistaken as the rest.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 1:40 PM
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339: I wish they had footnoted 4 - certainly there is going to a group that is hit worse than others by the mandate. I'd like to see the details on that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 2:02 PM
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Are these premiums going to be community rated or experience rated? I ask, because it would suck to be above the subsidy level, sick and having your premiums go up because of your own claims.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 2:38 PM
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Yglesias

Arizona on Thursday became the first state to eliminate its Children's Health Insurance Program when Gov. Jan Brewer signed an austere budget that will leave nearly 47,000 low-income children without coverage.

The Arizona budget is a vivid reflection of how the fiscal crisis afflicting state governments is cutting deeply into health care. The state also will roll back Medicaid coverage for childless adults in a move that is expected to eventually drop 310,000 people from the rolls.

(link to source at MY's)

There are some comments, but I am not exactly sure what Obamacare would do about this, or when, if anything.

One huge problem will be the terrible straits millions of people will be in over the next few years, long before Obamacare starts to help. Romer et al are predicting 7.9% unemployment for the 2012 election.

Obamacare as is simply may not survive the economy and resulting politics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 3:04 PM
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Arizona on Thursday became the first state to eliminate its Children's Health Insurance Program when Gov. Jan Brewer signed an austere budget that will leave nearly 47,000 low-income children without coverage.

Damn, that really makes me wish we had followed Jane Hamsher's plan to kill HCR and rely on expanding SCHIP.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 3:23 PM
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Knecht, your entire purpose appears to be wittily biting, and I haven't seen you provide very much that is even useful for debate. You have no idea if Jane Hamsher had a plan, or what it might have been. Or you might know that she has been fighting for the public option, a national healthcare alternative that would not be subject to the whims of state governance.

What we are getting is national subsidies for private insurance, rates to be controlled on a state level. SCHIP and Medicaid will remain controlled by the states, as do the exchanges.

God help Arizona under Obamacare.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 3:46 PM
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My rep, who's been on-the-fence and who's in a very reddish purple district, finally said this afternoon he'll vote Yea.

Also, the mere mention above of my former (and my parents' current) rep, Eric Cantor, still manages to make my eyeballs steam. What a cad.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 3:51 PM
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Over at the Reality Based Community, Jonathan Zasloff poses a question of ethics:

I have this friend who lives in Los Angeles, in a deep Blue district. He doesn't need to call his Congressmember about health care reform, because the Congressmember is already committed to voting yes. So now he has a searing ethical dilemma: should he call the offices of fence-sitting Congressmembers, say that he is from their districts, give them a fake zip code, and tell them to vote yes? What would Kant say? And what would LBJ do to him once he said it?

Me, I have an odd variant of the same dilemma. My homestate Congresscritter from Deep Redstatia, for whom I dutifully held my nose and voted every two years through six election cycles, is one of the last remaining Dem holdouts. He faces no conceivable risk of losing a reelection bid (even though his district was carried by the Republican presidential candidate in the last two elections). AFAICT he isn't even making a pretense of standing on principle. He just isn't willing to take any political risk for a bill that would help a disproportionate number of the citizens he represents.

My problem is, I have completely lost my Redstatian accent, and I'm not sure I could fake it convincingly enough to convince the intern answering the phone that I'm a constituent. Also, my vocabulary is suspiciously large.

Do I try it anyway?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:04 PM
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346: I have carte blanche to call my mother's congress peeps as her. Can you call "on behalf of" a brother or a cousin or an uncle, etc?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:07 PM
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Y'know, umpty-zillion years ago, I seem to remember posting in these comments about how any health care bill with an individual mandate was going to seriously fuck over the poor and the middle class, especially once future Republican Congresses got around to hacking away at the (already meager) subsidies offered to the poor. Everybody keeps saying this bill is going to be the awesomest thing since sex and Medicare because Americans are just going to love it, but I see no reason to believe that there is a broad constituency for being compelled by one's government to pay thousands of dollars a year for increasingly stingy, increasingly overpriced corporate health insurance.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:08 PM
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You have no idea if Jane Hamsher had a plan, or what it might have been.

Bob, do you even read the shit you link to?

While details are limited, there is apparently a "Plan B" alternative that the White House was considering, which would evidently expand existing programs -- Medicaid and SCHIP. It would cover half the people at a quarter of the price, but it would not force an unbearable financial burden to those who are already struggling to get by. Because it creates no new infrastructure for the purpose of funneling money to private insurance companies, there is no need for Bart Stupak's or Ben Nelson's language dealing with abortion ... But perhaps most profoundly, the bill does not mandate that people pay 8% of their annual income to private insurance companies or face a penalty of up to 2% -- which the IRS would collect.

Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:09 PM
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345:Oh, you'll get the votes. You can have your party Sunday night, and I won't troll it.

I was away thinking about knecht's bon mots, and essear as grundling cheering section, and liberalism as the fetishization of verbal politics. Modern liberalism was almost invented so as to make direct action impossible. I am always seeing blog posts "Yglesias really destroyed Goldberg today"
"That was a great speech by Obama."

Win, win, win, play the spread, 11 points in 7 minutes. Society ruled by high school debate teams.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:10 PM
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Ending years of lurking just to say thank you, apostropher. Thanks especially for 67: something similar has been rolling around my head for weeks now like some horrible earworm. Stampede stampede, suppress the alternatives and cherry-pick the results; socialize the costs and privatize the profits. The smell here is really familiar already.

I don't think we'll know for a long time whether this bill is better than nothing -- it depends on whether the insurers in fact obey the law, how high premiums and costs go, what further reforms or rollbacks follow, if any, and so on. But it is clear that the progressives got rolled, again. And that nice mister Obama is the roller-in-chief.


Posted by: minnie bannister | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:12 PM
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Can you call "on behalf of" a brother or a cousin or an uncle, etc?

I don't have any ethical compunction about misrepresenting myself, oud. The problem is that no one will believe I'm a real Redstatian.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:12 PM
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344 One huge problem will be the terrible straits millions of people will be in over the next few years, long before Obamacare starts to help.

Yup.

God help Arizona under Obamacare.
Once it kicks in the max cost as percentage of income will help those same millions, so nope.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:13 PM
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zombie comment

Relevant Archive Link


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:16 PM
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349:Better than existing Senate bill != original policy preference

One of the reasons I stay nominally in opposition to everything is that any lukewarm acquiescence to a policy option is set in stone as do-or-die endorsement and commitment.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:16 PM
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I'm suspicious of pro-HCR arguments that posit some suite of future improvements that will make this deal palatable.

NAFTA and welfare reform were both supposed to be fixed by later, more progressive legislation, too.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:22 PM
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Better than existing Senate bill != original policy preference

As if my original policy preference is Obamacare? Or the preference of 2/3 of Obamacare supporters? If we're talking original policy preferences, there's probably not an inch of daylight between me and FDL, or me and apo.

Hamsher thinks relying on SCHIP expansion would be preferable to Obamacare. For which I rightly mocked her (and, by implication, you).


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:25 PM
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One of the reasons I stay nominally in opposition to everything is that any lukewarm acquiescence to a policy option is set in stone as do-or-die endorsement and commitment.

High school debate teams indeed, Bob.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:26 PM
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Oooh, ooh, pull that across your flow!


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:29 PM
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Knecht: are you currently uninsured? If so, how much money does your family make?


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:33 PM
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||

Jon Stewart doing Glenn Beck again is pretty good.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:40 PM
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361: See, I watch that and just think how much better Colbert is at that sort of performance.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:42 PM
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362: I haven't seen this one yet - there's no sound on this computer - but Stewart's original Beck act was really the kind of thing Colbert can't pull off. Colbert's anger is always a charming, jokey anger - Stewart, on the other hand, had that Beck's bulging-eyes-and-flopsweat act down cold.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:47 PM
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363: I agree. Stewart's Beck is this sort of awkward-on-purpose that Colbert's a bit too smooth-sailing to do. Like, with Stewart it's always just about to come off the rails but never does.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:54 PM
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welfare reform [was] supposed to be fixed by later, more progressive legislation, too.

This is a good point. The counter-argument is, I suppose, that there will be a much larger constituency for re-visiting health care.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 4:59 PM
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352: Really? You can't just watch Harlan County, USA for 15 minutes and get back in the swing? Heck, *I* could and I grew up in NJ. (Weirdly, the NJ accent is the only accent I cannot for the life of me "do," and I am a spot-on accent mimic. When I try to do the Tony Soprano/My Dad accent it quickly turns into Elderly Brooklyn Jewish Man, which isn't at all the same.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 5:00 PM
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I don't think we'll know for a long time whether this bill is better than nothing

I can respect that argument. As much as I try to be informed, I'm compelled to admit that I am unable to personally acquire the knowledge to authoritatively say that the current proposal will work out well.

As with climate change, I'm compelled in the end to rely on appeals to authority. Fortunately, the authorities are close to unanimous - even more than they are with climate change. Republicans, corporate lobbyists, unions, Congressional moderates, Congressional liberals and very liberal members of Congress are united on this: This is a bill worthy of support by people whose priorities are liberal. I mean, seriously, in that group I'd like you to show me one dissenter.

Also: this bill is a poke in the eye to pro-choicers. Even if we lacked independent knowledge, we would know this because pretty much everybody who really cares about those issues agrees that it's so.

There are lots of other matters that are less unanimous, but still seem likely to me to be correct: this bill is too generous to healthcare providers; Obama could have gotten a better deal; an individual mandate was a necessary feature of any real reform, etc.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 5:40 PM
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Fortunately, the authorities are close to unanimous - even more than they are with climate change

Huh? There's clearly an active debate among liberal/leftist/progressive authorities about whether this healthcare bill is a good thing. I don't see any such debate about climate change.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:17 PM
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366: I don't think I can imitate the accents of my parents, although if I spend a few weeks with them I slip into it a bit. But I can way overcorrect and do accents that sound ludicrous to me but that get pretty close to a random hick inhabitant of my home state. I suspect KR can do the same. Just because it sounds comical to you doesn't mean it wouldn't be convincing to others.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:20 PM
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Trying to merge threads doesn't work so well when people aren't around.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:31 PM
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Hi, essear!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 6:34 PM
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368: I'm not sure which of two possible objections you are raising. The first - my claim that there is more unanimity about healthcare than climate change - I'm prepared to defend, but it's a trivial argument. There's a hell of a lot of unanimity about both.

More seriously, you contend that there are leftist authorities who argue against the current HCR proposal. I was probably a bit too lawyerly here - if you look at my language, I was really only talking about Congressional liberals, who show every evidence of having looked very hard at this issue.

If you stake out a position that agrees with every single Republican in two houses of Congress, and then try to defend that position as being leftist because you're further to the left than Dennis Kucinich, it's hard for me to take you seriously. (Except bob. Truly, I take bob seriously, but I don't consider him an authority.)

As has been seen through bob's link, we already know that Hamsher and her crew are full of shit on a level that's basic enough that I can detect it. Who else is out there?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:00 PM
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371: Hi!

372: Well, that's fair. I guess I was just construing "authorities" more broadly than you are; there are, obviously, vocal people in the lefty blogosphere who are opposed to the health care reform bill. I don't think you find similar people opposed to action on global warming (although maybe the analogous issue is more about how to distribute the costs of action).

I haven't been following any political blogs much for the last couple of months, but it's amusing to contrast Joe Romm on climate change with the leftist anti-HCR people. He's about as vituperative, fanatical, and focused on one issue as any blogger anywhere, but he really plays up even small steps in the right direction, rather than taking the "either do the right thing all at once, or do nothing" approach. I'm not a fan of his writing style, but he's an interesting case study in how to be both zealous and practical-minded about doing what's politically realistic.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 7:47 PM
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Taylor Marsh at Huffington.
I get around a lot, I was actually looking for the kill bill post I read there I know that name, Taylor Marsh. Anyway, TM:

"Presidents either earn the respect of people through merit or they wrangle support through sympathy. In the health care debate, it's the latter not the former for Pres. Obama." ...the pityfuck President. Bush was never pitiable. I hated Bush. I despise Obama.

"But even a bad health care bill offered up by Congress, if passed into law and signed by Pres. Obama, will make history, because it's never been done before."

That's kinda funny. The first bad healthcare bill. History. Was Medicare-D as bad as this? No.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:05 PM
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Well, there was the catastrophic insurance law. May this suffer the fate of that one. I think know it will, when the people start finding out how it is gonna work.

And then the vulnerable will really suffer, because you and you and you and they have betrayed their trust for pathetic pitiable Obama.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:10 PM
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Yes, bob, you know that name because Taylor Marsh was one of the ones who went batshit anti-Obama when Clinton lost the primary.

She'd oppose anything that came out of his mouth.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:17 PM
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376:And she was right.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:22 PM
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For what it's worth, the way it's going to work in the first instance is that a bunch of people are going to pay the fine for declining to sign up for health insurance. I believe the fine has been reduced now -- a few hundred bucks annually? not sure what it is now, but not much more than that -- and if you're cash-strapped or merely disinclined to provide yourself with health insurance, that will be much more attractive for many people than grappling with multi-thousand dollar annual premiums.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:43 PM
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My guy Altmire spewing zombie BS in announcing his opposition to the bill. He was one of the loathsome 23 who voted "no" in the fall, yet "yes" on Stupak.

It has become clear that the vast majority of my constituents want me to oppose this bill. Particularly hard hit would be western Pennsylvania's Medicare beneficiaries, which many experts believe would experience dramatic premium increases with enactment of this bill.
This district will go Republican in the fall.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:48 PM
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HUGE NEWS ...Stupak is back.

I have been watching this all day, and there have been multiple posts, including one with angry Congresswomen leaving Pelosi's office. Even with all the liberals, every one Pelosi did not have the votes. She needed the Stupak block. Stupak, as opposed to wussy progs, held out for a huge concession.

I do not know how this will work out.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:55 PM
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Pro-choice members of the House, however, are demanding that the vote on the Concurrent Resolution happen before the House confirms the Senate bill. If in fact it passes, they plan to vote against confirming the Senate bill. They want Rep. Diana Degette to release the names of the 41 cosigners to her letter who pledged to vote against any bill that restricts a woman's right to choose, and they are angry that the White House has been whipping to push through the Stupak deal.

"It is outrageous that a Democratic Speaker, a Democratic Majority Leader and a Democratic President should support rolling back women's reproductive rights," says one member of the group.

ROTFL til the tears flow down my cheeks. Like the pro-choice caucus will kill Obamacare. These women will learn their place in Obama's world.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 8:59 PM
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377: Jeez bob, why don't you just go all in? Lots of fun to be had at Larry Johnson's No Quarter, will we be saddled with this homage to Obama's ego at any cost? Maybe they can find a tape out there of Michelle revealing the seekrit coastal elite long strategy of "Keeping the Rednecks Down".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 9:04 PM
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I don't understand how Stupak could pass in reconciliation.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:02 PM
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383:Enrollment Corrections ...DKos

Justified is on my watch list. All dark and nasty and country and really funny, and Olyphant is a charming and scarey and hott.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:16 PM
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Dayen at FDL on Enrollment Corrections


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:24 PM
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I asked Sarah Binder, a parliamentary expert and a professor at George Washington University, about all this. She doesn't quite think it's possible. Specifically, she says that "any enrollment corrections resolution considered to be more than a technical correction...

Note the qualifier "more than a technical correction"

Considered by who?

My impression is that an EC is usually a matter of "change section C of Part 5 of article 8 to include a comma where previously had been a semicolon blah blah" If the PTB decide to "consider" Stupak a mere technical correction? Parliamentarians are apparently not as smart as lawyers.

Can they do it? Sneak this thru? Stupak will get guarantees, not mere promises.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:36 PM
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I also think but am not certain, that an enrollment correction, as something usually used to fix a typo, can be attached to the Senate Bill (without being "considered" a substantive change to the bill) rather than reconciliation sidecar, which is the certainty that Stupak would need.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:40 PM
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Dear God, this process has more plot twists in one week than an entire season of Lost. Starring Bart Stupak as the Smoke Monster!


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:50 PM
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And finally, since this is kinda fun, I am pretty sure this has come up in the last couple days, if not this thread.

There was a case in the last decade where a drudge corrected a typo in a bill after it had passed, and Pelosi took it to SCOTUS saying the house had not voted on that correction, and SCOTUS said that a bill only requires the signature of the Speaker, Majority Leader, and President to become law.

So Pelosi knows, she can add Stupak to the Senate bill at any time, and it does not have to go back to the Senate for debate as long as Reid, Pelosi, and Obama sign the bill.

She could also add a public option.

This could cost Pelosi her job, but HCR will pass.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 10:55 PM
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Back on the OP, the more I have thought about the Greenwald column, the more pissed I've become. There may well be a discussion to be had on his points. But 1) don't pretend it is not about the bill (as many noted in the thread), and 2) why try to have it right in the throes of the thing actually being passed, right as a most of the reps whom people like Greenwald denigrate as spineless (and are generally right about) are in danger of actually showing a little spine? "Hey bullied kid, you may be almost possibly maybe going to win a small victory here, but just remember that you are still a pusillanimous piece of shit and if you weren't it wouldn't have come to this, but don't mind me--do carry on." Kindly go fuck yourself in the ass with a double meathook, Glenn baby.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:09 PM
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Can they do it? Sneak this thru?

No. calm down. there are two thousand other pages in the bill for you to freak out about.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-19-10 11:25 PM
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391:Just words, mere words, like all laws. This is politics as action.

Well, now that Spartacus has ended I can return to baseless and uninformed speculation.

1) The pro-choice caucus is demanding that Stupak be voted on before the Senate Bill. The problem with that is the Senate Parlimentarian apparently is claiming that the Senate Bill must be signed by the President before reconciliation can be considered. Biden can overrule the SP of course.

2) Dayen at FDL is confused because he does not understand how Stupak, attached to reconciliation, could get past the Senate. Senators are not sheeple like Democratic pro-choice Congresswomen, so Dayen is right. There are not the votes. I see no promise possible that would assure Stupak for his vote on the Senate Bill.

So 3) The thermonuclear option, based on Pelosi's solemn word to Stupak, which would also have the advantage of letting Congress avoid a public vote on Stupak.

The House will pass the Senate Bill, without Stupak. Pelosi, after passage, will then add Stupak as an Enrollment correction. Pelosi signs, Reid signs, Obama signs and we have an HCR Law. This is why the choice caucus is so angry, we will not even have a vote.

Then the caucuses can decide if they want new leadership, which is why this option would be so rarely used.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 12:09 AM
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Spartacus keeps growing on me. Kotsko also likes it. It has not the class of HBO's Rome in some ways, it is very close to sex and violence porn. sleazy and lurid.

But unlike HBO's Rome, which remained at least half about the power players like Antony and Octavian, S is about a ludus, owners, and slaves. They are not field or mine or galley slaves, but relatively well-cared for house and service slaves, but it is still the best depiction of Roman slavery I ever remember seeing.

AFAICR, Rome barely touched on slavery.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 12:18 AM
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||

Speaking of the law in its majesty, Canadian SF writer Peter Watts was convicted of a felony today.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 12:23 AM
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The counter-argument is, I suppose, that there will be a much larger constituency for re-visiting health care.

There's also going to be a much more powerful insurance lobby opposing any such re-visiting. How exactly are we going to add a public option down the line, or a Medicare buy-in, or anything else we didn't get this time, once we're pouring billions of public dollars into the coffers of health insurance lobbyists?

The Stupak stuff is depressing but expected at this point. There was a time when I thought liberals might be useless when it came to sticking up for the poor, but usually stuck to their guns when it came to cultural issues. That feels like a long, long time ago now.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:45 AM
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zc: So then your argument is that this is it. If HCR goes down, the Democrats will never, ever revisit it. If it passes, then the insurance lobby will prevent it from being improved. So this is what we're going to get: either the status quo, or this bill.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 4:50 AM
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There's also going to be a much more powerful insurance lobby opposing any such re-visiting. How exactly are we going to add a public option down the line, or a Medicare buy-in, or anything else we didn't get this time, once we're pouring billions of public dollars into the coffers of health insurance lobbyists?

That point is debatable on the merits, but I will give the long-suffering dead horse a break and take issue with the premise instead.

To-wit: who cares? We got within spitting distance of universal coverage (much closer to universality than the original Social Security Act, in which Black folk played the same role as illegal immigrants in HCR), and we did it at the cost of a few lousy billion per year to the insurance companies, paid for out of progressive taxation to boot? What's not to like?

And now we've split the unholy alliance of HCR opponents in a way that makes it possible to make common cause in the next round against Big Pharma on drug reimportation and patent protection? Yipee!

Seriously, if the price of universal coverage were that anyone currently employed as an insurance company executive gets a lifetime supply top shelf hookers and uncut Peruvian blow at Treasury expense, I'd take that deal too. It just isn't that much money in the grand scheme of things to erase a national disgrace.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 4:54 AM
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||

Hmmm

In a Peter Watts (see 394) thread at Making Light Charlie Stross pretty much goes off-topic in a quite attractive manner. I like that in a person.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 6:56 AM
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So then your argument is that this is it. If HCR goes down, the Democrats will never, ever revisit it.

Says who?

So this is what we're going to get: either the status quo, or this bill.

This bill is worse than the status quo, and the status quo itself is untenable. I'd rather hold out for a bill that won't leave me and millions of others even more fucked by the insurance industry.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 8:33 AM
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What's not to like?

Again, Knecht: are you uninsured? And if so, how much do you make? I've been uninsured since 2002; I've got a medical condition that would make obtaining insurance on the individual market - my only option, since my job doesn't offer benefits - prohibitively expensive. At the moment, I'm "fortunate" enough to be poor enough to qualify for the subsidies included in this bill - and again, that's assuming that future Republican Congresses will never ever cut those subsidies, as they've cut welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, home heating assistance, and every other program for the poor - but if I ever marry my partner, our combined income would make us too "rich" to qualify for insurance subsidies and too poor to actually afford our now-mandatory health care.

Right now I'm actually better off uninsured with a chronic medical condition I have to pay out of pocket for than I would be with the health insurance mandated by this bill. And that's fucking insane.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 8:42 AM
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So then your argument is that this is it. If HCR goes down, the Democrats will never, ever revisit it.

Says who?

Says historical precedent and common sense? It took almost 20 years to revisit it this time.

I don't really get 400, to be honest. You say you qualify for the subsidies; why would you really want to continue paying out of pocket for your current condition, and gambling that nothing unaffordable happens to you?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 8:56 AM
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It's the kind of unintended consequence you get when you base a system primarily on industry protection and only secondarily on delivery of health care.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 8:57 AM
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I still don't get how the current system is better for this person.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:01 AM
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The current system is complete shit for me. What I'm saying is that a system that forces me to buy shitty insurance which I cannot afford will be even worse.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:16 AM
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But you said you qualify for subsidies.

Granted, you said you'd disqualify if you married your partner, which is a super shitty position to be in. But is it worse than flat-out being unable to afford insurance?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:22 AM
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Also, out of curiousity, can you put a dollar amount to what you'd consider affordable insurance, and what you'd consider unaffordable insurance?

Actually, this is open to anyone. Of course it's tied closely to one's income. Perhaps supply both an individual number, and a number for a family of 4 on $75K/year living in a small city.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:25 AM
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Look: the only reason liberals got excited about a mandate in the first place was because it was supposed to be tied to a public option - a real public option, based on Medicare, available to anyone who wanted it. And that, at least, made a little bit of sense: if you're not going to do the simple, sane thing and do single-payer, you can at least provide people with the option of buying a cheaper, more effective government insurance plan once you've forced them to buy insurance.

But now there's no public option, only the mandate. Which means that the health care fight isn't about giving people better health care, or cheaper health care, but about forcing them to buy overpriced plans from the for-profit insurance industry. Little by little, everything liberals supposedly cared about has been stripped from this bill, and the only thing left is shit, and every step of the way we've been told to cheer it on regardless.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:26 AM
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Yes, I think it's shitty that the public option got thrown out. Also I'm optimistic that it will incrementally creep in over the next decade. Passing this bill is not the end of health-care reform, but not passing it would be the end.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:29 AM
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But you said you qualify for subsidies. Granted, you said you'd disqualify if you married your partner, which is a super shitty position to be in

I'm also be disqualified if I ever stopped being completely fucking dirt poor, which is something I'd like to do. What this bill does is punish me for trying to get too far above the poverty line.

I'm genuinely embarrassed about my financial situation; the only thing I'll say specifically about it right now is that the last time I looked into getting insurance from the individual market, the price I was given was nearly half what I make in a year.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:30 AM
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That is a shitty situation to be in. It is completely shitty that the path the Democrats have chosen throws poor people under the bus on the way.

It feels a little hollow for me to keep arguing that longterm policy could straighten itself out, when you'll be dealing with the repercussions of the shitty shortterm policy immediately.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:34 AM
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Yes, I think it's shitty that the public option got thrown out. Also I'm optimistic that it will incrementally creep in over the next decade.

How is that going to happen? The insurance industry would fight anything like this tooth and nail, and they'll be much, much stronger once they're being funded by public money.

Passing this bill is not the end of health-care reform, but not passing it would be the end.

Again, says who? Health care didn't disappear from the national agenda simply because Bill Clinton's health care bill was killed; it disappeared because the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress for a decade and a half. Losing this vote won't kill health care reform; passing a really shitty bill will. Liberals are betting the future of health care on the popularity of individual mandates and the Stupak amendment, and that's a really stupid bet.


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:37 AM
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How is that going to happen? The insurance industry would fight anything like this tooth and nail, and they'll be much, much stronger once they're being funded by public money.

Things like shifting the Medicare eligibility down by five years, increasing the threshhold for qualifying for Medicaid.

Again, says who?

If this bill fails, the narrative will be that Socialized Medicine was defeated. The Republican talking points will take hold. The next bill, should one come around, would take as it's premise that the 2010 bill was too socialist to be acceptable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:43 AM
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The Dems are betting the future of health care reform not on mandates, but on community rating, guaranteed issue, and an end to the pre-existing condition stuff. If you want that package, you have to have a mandate. I find the attacks on the mandate from the left more than a little bizarre, given that the centerpiece of the left wing critique of Obama's plan vis a vis Clinton's back during the primaries was the lack of a mandate.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:50 AM
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I also fail to see how the industry is going to be made any stronger politically by this. For big industries and Fortune 100 companies, the kind of money that gets spent on politics is petty change.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:53 AM
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I find the attacks on the mandate from the left more than a little bizarre

I don't think many people are attacking the mandate itself from the left. What is getting attacked is the combination of the mandate and no option to not buy from private companies. If the public option had made it in I don't think you would see nearly as much furor coming from the left.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:57 AM
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I'm also be disqualified if I ever stopped being completely fucking dirt poor

What I'm missing is how you're better off under the current system.

But certainly such people exist. People who want to bet on not getting sick are screwed under this deal. The current system allows people to make that gamble - and guarantees that a certain number will be thrown off the cliff into bankruptcy when they lose.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:59 AM
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My former congresswoman:

And Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a leading pro-choice progressive, said they're moving ahead without him. "There's not going to be any deal made with Mr. Stupak...there's been no deal whatsoever. He's been told that his language is not going to be added to the legislation," she told me this morning.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 10:32 AM
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The House will pass the Senate Bill, without Stupak. Pelosi, after passage, will then add Stupak as an Enrollment correction. Pelosi signs, Reid signs, Obama signs and we have an HCR Law. This is why the choice caucus is so angry, we will not even have a vote.

no, that is absurdlly unconstitutional. There is no procedure by which only majority leaders and President sign anything they want and it becomes law.

This is entire debate has been stunning for the way obscure little procedural things have been blown up into massive, demonic, dictatorial power grabs. I thought it was already going overboard with reconciliation, then we get nonsense about the totally symbolic "deem and pass" provision, and now the left is apparently one-upping the right with hysteria about the even more obscure and trivial "enrollment correction", which is basically a method for correcting grammatical errors and missing commas.

This says a lot about the deep level of distrust in government on both sides. It goes beyond thinking that representatives are venal or whatever, there is some kind of feeling that the entire process of majority vote is just some kind of hoax. The paranoid style in American politics, it's clinical.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 10:44 AM
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Zombie comment: every single issue you mention is fixed by this legislation. In fact, the major point of the legislation is to set up a system that addresses your kind of situation.

--the individual market as we know it will cease to exist once this bill goes into effect in 2014. Policies sold in the exchange cannot price discriminate on the basis of health conditions.

--you can get out of the mandate in this bill if there is no affordable insurance available to you.

--subsidies are available up to $44,000 for an individual, $60,0000 for a two-person household, $88,000 for a family of four. (2010 numbers -- these thresholds will be updated as the poverty line increases). The subsidies ensure you will never pay over 9.5 percent of your income for insurance. This is also around the affordability line.

--there are also decent protections for out-of-pocket expenses after you get insurance, although these are more complex and I think the fight about this will go on in the future.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 10:56 AM
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418:Jack Balkin

Marshall Field v Clark, 1892

...holds that once a bill is signed by the Speaker of the House and the presiding officer of the Senate, and sent on to the President for his signature, courts will not inquire as to whether the enrolled bill has any differences from the individual versions passed by the House and Senate.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 12:46 PM
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Apparently the presiding Senate Officer is the pro tem, Robert Byrd.

I may have given an extreme test example, but according to well-established precedent. Pelosi, Byrd, and Obama could add Stupak or the public option to the bill at their pleasure and face only political, not legal or constitutional challenges.

But that's old news now, Pelosi has apparently turned Stupak away.

Maybe that's old news, I have been away for hours.

Is PGD actually considered some sort of more authoritative, reputable interlocutor? It's ok, I get this all the time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 12:55 PM
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'baggers are now roaming the halls of Congress, screaming "faggot" at Barney Frank. If this were Code Pink they'd be teeth-first into the floor.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 12:58 PM
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417 makes my heart sing.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 1:13 PM
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zc: I don't think I understand your situation. Let's say you and your partner got married, so that you are ineligible for the subsidies. Are you saying that insurance would be too expensive for you to buy because of your pre-existing condition, or it would be too expensive for you to buy even if you were perfectly healthy? Because under the bill you won't be charged more for having a pre-existing condition.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 1:45 PM
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zc might also be implying that unsubsidized private insurance under the bill would be too expensive but unsubsidized insurance under a public option wouldn't have been, but I don't think any politically-plausible public option would have resulted in that substantial a difference between the two. Completely overhauling that public option later to include things such as Medicare-like bargaining powers or a direct Medicare buy-in would make a huge difference, but a world where you can do that in the future is a world where you can add a public option to this bill in the future. I hope it's the world we'll be living in, but even based on its current content, this bill is clearly better than twenty more years of the status quo.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 2:43 PM
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And now, according to TPM, the teabaggers are yelling the n word at John Lewis.

These are lovely allies, I am sure. Have fun with that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:22 PM
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Geez, oudemia, it's populist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:34 PM
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And spitting on black congressmen! Hail fellows all!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:38 PM
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But the teabaggers will all be singing choruses of praise after HCR fails and the magical pony fairy bestows single payer on a grateful nation.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:41 PM
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Have the "these are Daily Kos/ACORN impostors trying to discredit our movement" blog posts started yet?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:41 PM
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Have the "these are Daily Kos/ACORN impostors trying to discredit our movement" blog posts started yet?

I think we're still in the "Bullshit, I was there, and the MSM is flat out lying" phase, which isn't scheduled to end until the first cell phone video appears on YouTube.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:45 PM
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430: Hey, that's not a bad idea. I should impersonate a Acorn employee impersonating a teabagger to vindicate their paranoia.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:47 PM
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I like how the Tea Party sets out to confirm my lazy half-assed view of their motivations. So rarely has armchair theorizing been so immediately rewarded.

Calling John Lewis the n word has a special historical resonance all of its own.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:47 PM
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42); Bob, the Balkin link is about "deem and pass", correctly pointing out that there is nothing problematic about it.

As for "enrollment corrections", see here for a good explanation of this minor Congressional procedure, which could definitely not be used to pass something like Stupak without explicitly voting for it in both Houses.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:50 PM
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433 - Is Jim Zwerg still alive? He's of an appropriate age and melanin content to infiltrate the teabaggers.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:51 PM
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whoops, meant 420, not 42(.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 3:51 PM
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223

... This bill transfers hundreds of billions of dollars from the rich to the poor and middle class ...

Actually it doesn't. If the poor were given more money they wouldn't (for the most part) use it to buy health insurance, an expensive goldplated luxury product.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 4:21 PM
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At least, not until their needs for gruel and ashes to sleep in were fully met.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 4:34 PM
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an expensive goldplated luxury product.

For the healthy, sure. When they get sick or in an accident it is the single most important product. Health insurance is something which gives you nothing when you don't need it. Us libs would be perfectly happy with a program which did away with health insurance altogether and replaced with healthcare paid straight out of taxes like K-12 education, except done on a federal level.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 4:53 PM
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What this bill does is punish me for trying to get too far above the poverty line.

The subsidies ensure you will never pay over 9.5 percent of your income for insurance.

So, this makes me curious. A topic that gets revisited from time to time is the way in which the phasing out of benefits for people at or a round the poverty line effectively acts as a high marginal tax rate -- each extra dollar of income adds significantly less than a dollar of spending power because of the benefits which are withdrawn.

If I'm reading the second comment correctly the "marginal rate" for the HC subsidies will be 9.5% (as you earn more, if insurance costs are capped at 9.5% of income, $0.095 of each dollar will go to increased HC spending).

That's actually a pretty significant increase in "marginal rate" for someone in that income territory. I don't know what the alternative is, but am I wrong to think that's a pretty serious issue?

(And, I realize, the hope is that there will be an immediate improvement in standard of living for people covered by the subsidies because their spending on health insurance will go down, but there's still an issue of discouraging people from seeking additional income if the befits from income increases are too attenuated.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 5:08 PM
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434:Jeez, what a narrow and bad faith reading. Try to understand what a 120 year old standing precedent means.

Read Balkin more carefully and read the Harlan language. Internal Congressional procedures are not justiciable. Period, in (almost) all cases.

If the Senate decides a bill passes with two votes or 99 votes, this is none of the business of the courts, as long as it has those three signature.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 5:15 PM
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I'll pick this one up:

406: Also, out of curiousity, can you put a dollar amount to what you'd consider affordable insurance, and what you'd consider unaffordable insurance?

Actually, this is open to anyone. Of course it's tied closely to one's income. Perhaps supply both an individual number, and a number for a family of 4 on $75K/year living in a small city.

I currently pay about $5,500/year, as a single person, for health insurance premiums (40% increase over last year) -- add another $1,200 for the deductible which I fully expect to be paying. I consider that to be too much.

That doesn't really answer the question. One can't put a figure on a fair cost for health insurance, depending as much as it does on income. I'm curious in turn about how much those with employer-provided health insurance plans pay annually out-of-pocket.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 6:46 PM
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I'm curious in turn about how much those with employer-provided health insurance plans pay annually out-of-pocket.

~$40/month in premiums, IIRC. ~$150/month for prescriptions ($100 of that is for a single med, and I have an FSA to pay for that, so it works out to a bit less because of the tax break). Probably another $500/year in copays/deductible.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:00 PM
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443: So just over $2,500 annually, I take it. Thanks. That would be completely dealable.

There is a gigantic discrepancy between those of us who are self-employed and those with employer-provided health insurance coverage. I think we all know this. It makes me pretty sad. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I raised the question, in any case, because I sometimes wonder whether those with employer-provided insurance realize what the costs are when your employer isn't paying roughly half your insurance.

I can't tell you how much pressure there is to abandon self-employment.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:22 PM
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I sometimes wonder whether those with employer-provided insurance realize what the costs are when your employer isn't paying roughly half your insurance.

Probably not, or not unless/until they lose their jobs, or start to think about changing jobs and realize they can't afford to for reasons of health insurance. I think it's terrible to link health insurance to employment, or self-employment, or lack of employment, as the case may be. Talk about creating a docile workforce!

I definitely agree you're paying too much, Parsimon.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:28 PM
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There is a hidden cost to the employer-provided insurance. The money the employer pays is money we don't get. That isn't to say that they'd pay us this money anyway. But, I have seen repeatedly that these costs are counted as labor costs and used (against labor) in discussions about pay.

(I don't know how much the tax deduction eases things for the employer.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:30 PM
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Heck, my employer is explicit about counting the employer's FICA tax as part of my "compensation".


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:32 PM
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I raised the question, in any case, because I sometimes wonder whether those with employer-provided insurance realize what the costs are when your employer isn't paying roughly half your insurance.

Anyone who's ever gone onto COBRA has gotten a rude awakening in that regard. I remember the last time I did a COBRA conversion (about 9 years ago), my premiums were ~$330/month. I looked at buying individual coverage back then, but I was excluded both for pre-existing conditions and because my BMI at the time was outside the range the insurance company would underwrite.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:41 PM
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but I was excluded both for pre-existing conditions and because my BMI at the time was outside the range the insurance company would underwrite.

Couch to... health insurance!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:51 PM
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445: Talk about creating a docile workforce!

Exactly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 7:51 PM
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442-444: huh--that seems very low...

Granted, it's a family plan, not an individual plan, but the premium I pay for my employer-provided plan is $600 a month, and the plan has a $6000 deductible before it pays a penny (so, it's really just catastrophic insurance). I believe my employer is paying another $400 a month or so (plus is throwing some money into an HSA for me every month).

(My monthly premium at my last job was similar, but that was much better insurance (no deductible, many fewer exclusions, etc.). The difference there being that my employer paid something like 75% of the total tab.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:06 PM
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To clarify, 443 seems low, not so much 442...


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:08 PM
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426/428:

Is it just me, or is this a fairly disturbing paragraph from the article:

After that incident, Capitol police threatened to expel the protesters from the building, but were outnumbered and quickly overwhelmed. Tea party protesters equipped with high-end video cameras were summoned to film the encounter and the officers ultimately relented.

What exactly does it mean to say that Capitol police were outnumbered and "quickly overwhelmed"? Is there no backup law enforcement available to respond to a call from the capitol??


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:19 PM
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1500/mo, 2k fam deduct, 70/30 up to the stoploss, every damn bill requires an argument of some kind.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 9:30 PM
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every damn bill requires an argument of some kind.

Oh, this drives me nuts.

[You know, one thing about this American health insurance debate that I find interesting (though it's admittedly not really relevant to the American situation) is its influence on Canadian perceptions of the single payer system. Well, Canadians love to complain, and of course the Canadian system is far from perfect. But also: for years now, Canadian right-winger free-marketeers have been arguing for a two-tiered system (they object to the egalitarian implications of a system which places everyone on the same level, though they don't quite put it so starkly) and citing the US model as some sort of exemplar toward which to strive...and I think that such arguments, if repeated often enough and loudly enough, do gain some traction. But it's my (admittedly impressionistic) impression that the US debate has had an impact...I've recently encountered a couple of people who seem to have changed course on this issue, who now assert that, for all the flaws of the Can. system, they wouldn't trade it for the US model for anything.]

Anyway, I can't help thinking that Parsimon (and many others like her, I have to assume) are paying too much. Will this bill offer some relief? I hope that it will at least put an end to the refusal due to pre-existing conditions problem?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 10:16 PM
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I can't tell you how much pressure there is to abandon self-employment.

I think this bill will give the self-employed a substantial tax credit to help with insurance costs starting right away, this year. I know the credit is there for small businesses, I believe it includes the self-employed as well.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 10:33 PM
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442

... I'm curious in turn about how much those with employer-provided health insurance plans pay annually out-of-pocket.

Previous employer, nothing for insurance (employer cost about $4000/year) and about $1000/year cost sharing. Current employer $1500/year (25% of cost to employer) for insurance plus cost sharing. This doesn't include dental or vision coverage in either case.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-10 11:41 PM
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Again, says who? Health care didn't disappear from the national agenda simply because Bill Clinton's health care bill was killed; it disappeared because the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress for a decade and a half.

This isn't an argument for not passing the bill...


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-21-10 4:17 AM
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443: I actually went on my boyfriend's fairly generous plan. The actuarial value of that is $7400. So it's $50 per month plus the tax on that, since we're not married. It's still much cheaper than the HMO offered through my job where they pay 60% of the cost, and we take out $52 per week. The copays on that are a lot higher, and right now I can get my regular prescriptions in 3 month supplies for 1/3 the cost.

They don't offer FSAs. It's like $44/ week for either the $1,000 or $2,000 deductible plan. (Those deductibles are slightly misleading, since you get 1st dollar coverage for physicals and certain PCP visits, plus mental health is carved out separately.)

Remember though, that only D.C. has higher medical costs than Boston. New York is next--partly because the big hospitals have strong negotiating power with the insurers.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-21-10 7:50 AM
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Shearer, you're employed! That's great.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-21-10 7:56 AM
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455: Anyway, I can't help thinking that Parsimon (and many others like her, I have to assume) are paying too much. Will this bill offer some relief? I hope that it will at least put an end to the refusal due to pre-existing conditions problem?

This bill will offer some relief if I make, as a single person, under $44,000/year; and if PGD is right that it also offers a tax credit for the self-employed as well as small businesses, so much the better. But I thought the tax credit applied only if a small business took on a new hire. Perhaps PGD is talking about a different tax credit.

It will end the refusal to cover those with pre-existing conditions (aka guaranteed issue) almost immediately* -- I've been unable to shop around for alternative, less expensive, plans because any others will deny coverage due to my pre-existing condition. However, I believe there's no bar to their charging a higher rate based on pre-existing conditions for a while yet. I'm not sure when that aspect of things -- so-called community rating -- kicks in. It may go hand in hand with establishment of the health insurance exchanges, in 2014.

That's my understanding, anyway, of how things stand with the bill being voted on today.

*Actually, the ban on refusal due to pre-existing conditions may only go into effect immediately for children.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-21-10 12:17 PM
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Liveblogging thread please. Louise Slaughter kicked some ass.

Can someone please tell me what voiding personalities means? Jesse Jackson just said that it was okay to address the Senate if it didn't void personalities. Then Rep. Slaughter said that she did not address the Senate when she referred to "the Senate Bill."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-21-10 1:33 PM
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