Friday, June 19, 2009

This & That

Aravosis: Key Senate Dems sell out on health care reform
Joe and I called it. They're caving folks. Total freaking mess. Interesting that the lead bad guy is Democratic Senator Max Baucus, whose former chief of staff is now the deputy chief of staff for who? President Barack Obama.

Kiss real health care reform goodbye.

This is what happens when you have a Democratic president and Congress who fear angering the right, who put "bipartisanship" - read: appeasing Republicans - above substantive policy. They cave on everything of importance that might cause "controversy." But hey, passing crap still lets you claim a victory, provided nobody reads the fine print (or in this case, gets sick).

Get ready for the health care version of the gay "benefits" bill. Less filling, tastes great. Coming to an Oval Office near you.

Now do you get why I made such a freaking huge deal about gay rights this past week on this blog. As Joe has been saying for a while now, we are the canary in the coal mine. Now it's another key Democratic constituency's turn to get screwed on the altar of political expediency.

UPDATE: Surprise! Guess who's plan is almost identical to Baucus'? The insurance industry!
  • Ezra Klein: Health Care Reform in Danger

    Health reform is, I think it fair to say, in danger right now. The news out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee was bad. The Congressional Budget Office had scored a partial bill and the result was a total fiasco. But the news out of the Finance Committee is much, much worse.

    Put simply, the Finance Committee wanted its bill to cost $1 trillion over 10 years. The CBO returned an early estimate to the panel on Tuesday night: $1.6 trillion over 10 years. The specifics of the estimate have not been made public. But the final number changed everything. Max Baucus, the chairman of the committee, pushed markup back behind the July 4th recess. He has promised to get the bill below $1 trillion over 10 years.

    That's very dangerous.

    It is, for one thing, an arbitrary target. Why $1 trillion? Why not $1.3 trillion or, for that matter, $700 billion? And it's an arbitrary financing target. It's not $1 trillion with coverage expanded to 40 million people. Just $1 trillion.

    There are two ways to make a $1.6 trillion bill a $1 trillion bill. The first is to do less reform. The second is to do more reform. That sounds confusing. But it shouldn't be: In health care, the less you change, the more it costs.

    Right now, I'm told Finance is going down the road of less reform. They're cutting the subsidies, cutting the generosity of the basic benefit package and cutting the number of people who will ultimately be insured by their proposal. This reflects a simple reality: If you're going to try to leave the central features of the health-care system untouched, you can't get to universal coverage, or even anywhere near it, on $100 billion a year.

    But there's another path. This CBO estimate could be the first step towards making health reform better rather than worse. Rather than capping the employer tax exclusion, the Finance Committee could end it entirely and convert it, as Ron Wyden does, to a progressive standard deduction. Wyden's plan, incidentally, was scored by CBO as being revenue neutral in two years and revenue positive in four. Rather than protecting the private insurance system, the Finance Committee could include a public plan with the ability to bargain to Medicare rates, thus saving, according to the Commonwealth Fund, 20 percent to 30 percent against traditional private insurance. Ezekiel Emmanuel, brother to Rahm and health-care adviser to Peter Orszag, has a proposal for a universal voucher system funded by a value-added tax. All these ideas would make health reform better, cheaper, and more sustainable. None of them, so far as I know, are under serious consideration.

    But health reform has just gotten harder. The hope that we could expand the current system while holding costs down appears to have been just that: a hope. And CBO doesn't score hopes. It only scores plans. The question now becomes whether we want health-care reform that achieves less of what we say the system needs, or more. Doing less would be cruel to those who have laid their hopes upon health reform. But doing more will be very, very hard.

via TPM Daily Show's Jason Jones Goes To Iran To Discover "Evil"
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jason Jones: Behind the Veil - Minarets of Menace
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

Sully: The Unserious Right, Ctd.

Larison is tired of the GOP leadership's howling over Iran:

All of this comes back to the problem of Republican denial about why they lost power. They are supremely confident about their views on national security and foreign policy, and they cannot conceive that a majority of the country would reject them because of the policies they advocated and enacted. Worse still, they remain wedded to the hectoring, moralistic and aggressive approach of the last administration, in which sanctions and condemnation are the only “soft” tools they understand.
They are so wedded to this approach that that they think this is not only the best kind of foreign policy, but that anything other than this is fecklessness and surrender. To a disturbingly great extent, replacing the current leadership may not have much of an effect on shoddy foreign policy thinking on the right, because the rot is so deep and widespread, but it is particularly important that Republicans in positions of responsibility at least attempt to play the role of credible, informed opposition, which may sometimes mean acknowledging that the President has handled an issue correctly. It will also mean building up the credibility and knowledge to challenge and resist the President if he embarks on misguided or irresponsible courses in the years to come. Cantor and Pence have shown this week that they do not have either one.
Iran on the brink June 18: Reza Aslan, columnist for The Daily Beast and author of "How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror," talks with Rachel Maddow about the latests protests in Iran and what the next few days could hold.

Attaturk has A few Friday thoughts
Cruising through the blogosphere left me with the following thoughts.

Like most all of you, I'm really disappointed to see the Washington Post terminate Dan Froomkin. But in the Post's defense, they need to save money to land Liz Cheney as a columnist.

Amazing how wealthy guys with good health insurance hate the possibility of non-rich people having health insurance that's anywhere near as good as theirs. Next thing you know, those filthy non-rich are going to want political power by voting rather than obtaining it the old fashioned way, from their parents.

Dear Obama Administration, I would advise not treating gay rights advocates the way the Republicans treat anti-abortion reactionaries. First of all, they actually are discriminated against and have a legitimate issue; second, they are generally wealthier and much better educated; third, they aren't nuts. I hated Bill Clinton's triangulating so stop doing it yourself.

The Roberts Court finding a way to overturn precedent and help employers in discrimination suits, it's not judicial activism if you're a Republican, INJAIYAR.

Is there nothing Krauthammer could not make worse if given the chance? Why, no. But, like Robert Kagan, he still gets paid by the Washington Post, so there.

Aravosis: Andrew Sullivan declares war on the DNC
Regardless of your opinion of Andrew, he's a player in both liberal and conservative politics. He was the White House's favorite blogger, and putatively their favorite gay. He's now out for blood. Taken in conjunction with the top gay Democratic organization pulling out of the DNC gay fundraiser and excoriating the party, it's not clear who the DNC and the White House have left in the community.

And lest the Democrats take solace in the few public or private gay apologists they have left, their apologists aren't running the show. The people are. The dogs aren't going to be called off, ever, until the party convinces the White House and the Congress that this has to stop, and ultimately, they give us what we want.

Let me quote Andrew's post (and I apologize, I'm just going to quote the entire thing, it's difficult to excerpt and do it justice), then a bit more analysis from me:

One way to get the Obama administration's attention on civil rights is for gay people to stop funding the Democrats. That's all these people care about anyway when it comes to gays: our money. If the Democrats refuse to support us, refuse to support them. This is a start. But we need to get more creative. We need actions to highlight the administration's betrayals, postponements and boilerplate. We need to start confronting the president at his events. We need civil disobedience. We need to tell him we do not want another fricking speech where he tells us he is a fierce advocate for our rights, when that is quite plainly at this point not true. We will not tolerate another Clinton. No invites to these people for dinners or fundraisers. No cheering him at events while he does nothing to follow up on his explicit promises. Of course these things can be done. If anyone high up in the Obama administration or the Pelosi-Reid Congress gave a damn, much would have been done.

We need to swamp Pelosi with phone-calls.

We need to target Reid for his inaction. We have to pressure Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin not to excuse the disdain that the Obama administration is showing toward gay equality, and their cynical use of our votes, money and passion to enforce real and potent discrimination against us and our families. And we have to refuse to attend White House signing ceremonies like yesterday's farce. Really: until they are serious, we should not be coopted and placated with pathetic sops. I am not a Clintonite. I worked my ass off to get this man to power. On many issues, I support him and will continue to do so.

But I am a proud, self-respecting gay man with HIV. And I am not going to take this crap for much longer on civil rights. Fight back. Act Up.

Now, sure, it's possible the White House is loving the headlines - the gays hate us, they might be saying, this brands us as true centrists! Perhaps. Or perhaps it brands the President as so young, naive and malleable that his advisers lead him, and he dutifully follows. If and when that happens, the Sista Souljah will be ours.

I don't look forward to this happening. But I see it happening on the present course the White House and the Democratic party have chosen.

No comments:

Post a Comment