Sunday, November 8, 2009


Sully: Quote For The Day
"Maddie knows if this bill passes, she knows her mom’s health care will go away and won’t be around for five years. If the bill passes, then no more health care for her mom, because it has to change," - moronic John Shadegg, holding up a baby, fanning unsubstantiated fears and engaging in ideological abstractions.
Cousin Kaylyn:
"I watched the 'debate' for a while this afternoon. What a total charade. The Republicans tell lies. The democrats counter with what is actually in the bill. The Republicans tell the same lies. Its not like this is surprising, we've been reading about it for months. But to actually watch it and see the extraordinary disconnect between our elected congress people is just mind boggling."
Josh Marshall says it's a Done Deal

House passes Dem health care bill by a vote of 220 to 215.

One Republican voted for the Democratic bill: Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-LA). See this post from earlier this evening on the background to his vote. Here's Cao's statement on his vote.

Late Update: Here's the roll call on the final vote. And for those keeping score at home here's the roll call on the Stupak abortion amendment.

McJoan (DK): History Made, 220-215
This is the first time a chamber of Congress has passed healthcare reform since Medicare was enacted. There's a lot of work left to do on this, and a lot of ugly to be undone, but we made it this far against long odds. Now the really hard work: the Senate.
Think Progress: House Passes Historic, Bipartisan Health Reform Legislation

Moments ago, the House of Representatives passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act by a vote of 220-215, with one Republican — Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) — voting for the measure. Once the bill reached the needed threshold of 218 votes, the chamber erupted in applause. Members excitedly counted down the last few seconds of the vote. Watch it:

At the “House Call” tea party protest on Capitol Hill this week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) pledged to the right-wing activists: “Be assured not one Republican will vote for this bill.” Cao’s vote must have surprised Cantor.

Cao has previously been touted by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) once as “the future” of the GOP. The White House had reportedly “been in constant contact” with him prior to the vote. “Rahm is going all in to get him,” one aide told Roll Call, referring to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The House also approved, by a vote of 240-194, an amendment introduced by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), which imposed tighter restrictions on abortion coverage. A GOP substitute failed in a vote of 178-258, with a single Republican, Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) voting against the legislation.

Update During debate of the health care bill, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) noted that after 12 years of controlling the House and 8 years in control of the White House at the same time, Republicans "left behind 37 million Americans without health insurance." He continued, "And now they come forward with a plan for the future, and over the next decade, they're going to leave behind 50 million Americans! Wanna buy it? Wanna try it? Wanna sell it? Come on America, buy this one. You're guaranteed to be left behind if you're left behind today." Watch it:
Update Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) said the Republican's "do nothing" alternative means that the GOP now "stands for Grandstand, Oppose, and Pretend."
Yglesias: The Senate’s the Thing

It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the fact that in a unicameral United States of America, we would now have passed both a comprehensive health care reform bill and also the most important piece of environmental legislation in the history of the world. Now that’s not the world we live in. Instead we live in a world where neither of those things have passed and where their prospects aren’t clear. But think back on this point the next time you hear someone say Obama is struggling with his agenda because he’s not centrist enough, or else that Obama is struggling with his agenda because he’s not left-wing enough.

The reality is that he’s struggling with his agenda because of the way our political institutions are structured.

Sharma (TPM): President Obama Reacts To House Passage: 'I Am Absolutely Confident' Senate Will Follow Suit

President Obama released the following statement Saturday night following the passage of the House Democrats' health care reform bill. Read full coverage of the bill's passage here.

Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act is a piece of legislation that will provide stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality affordable options for those who don't; and bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the government while strengthening the financial health of Medicare. And it is legislation that is fully paid for and will reduce our long-term federal deficit.

Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America. Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.

Atrios: Let It Be So
Stupak (n) - The sepsis commonly experienced after unsafe back alley abortions
MeteorBlades (DK): 64 Democrats on the Wrong Side of Stupak-Pitts

For future reference, here is the list of Democrats who voted "Aye" on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.

AL-2 Bright, Bobby; AL- 5 Griffith, Parker; AL-7 Davis, Artur; AR-1 Berry, Robert; AR-2 Snyder, Victor; AR-4 AR-4 Ross, Mike; CA-18 Cardoza, Dennis; CA-20 Costa, Jim; CA-43 Baca, Joe; CO-3 Salazar, John.

GA-2 Bishop, Sanford; GA-8 Marshall, James; GA-12 Barrow, John; KY-6 Chandler, Ben; IL-3 Lipinski, Daniel; IL-12 Costello, Jerry; IN-2 Donnelly, Joe; IN-8 Ellsworth, Brad; IN-9 Hill, Baron; LA-3 Melancon, Charles; ME-2 Michaud, Michael.

MA-2 Neal, Richard; MA-9 Lynch, Stephen; MI-5 Kildee, Dale; MI-1 Stupak, Bart; MN-7 Peterson, Collin; MN-8 Oberstar, James; MS-1 Childers, Travis; MS-4 Taylor, Gene; MO-4 Skelton, Ike; NM-2 Teague, Harry

NC-2 Etheridge, Bob; NC-7 McIntyre, Mike; NC-11 Shuler, Heath; ND Pomeroy, Earl; OH-1 Driehaus, Steve; OH-6 Wilson, Charles; OH-9 Kaptur, Marcy; OH-16 Boccieri, John; OH-17 Ryan, Timothy; OH-18 Space, Zachary.

OK-2 Boren, Dan; PA-3 Dahlkemper, Kathleen; PA-4 Altmire, Jason; PA-10 Carney, Christopher; PA-11 Kanjorski, Paul; PA-12 Murtha, John; PA-14 Doyle, Michael; PA-17 Holden, Tim; RI-2 Langevin, James

SC-5 Spratt, John; TN-4 Davis, Lincoln; TN-5 Cooper, Jim; TN-6 Gordon, Barton; TN-8 Tanner, John; TX-16 Reyes, Silvestre; TX-23 Rodriguez, Ciro; TX-27 Ortiz, Solomon; TX-28 Cuellar, Henry.

UT-2 Matheson, Jim; VA-5 Perriello, Thomas; WV-1 Mollohan, Alan; WV-3 Rahall, Nick; WI-7 Obey, David.

Here is the list of 26 Democrats who voted "Aye" on Stupak but "Nay" on the final bill:

Altmire, Barrow, Boccieri, Boren, Bright, Chandler, Childers, Davis (AL), Davis (TN), Gordon (TN), Griffith, Holden, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Melancon, Peterson, Ross, Shuler, Skelton, Tanner, Taylor, Teague

Back in July, the House Republican caucus put together a chart that was supposed to characterize the proposed reforms to the health care system as overwhelmingly complex. As mini-stunts go, it failed rather spectacularly -- it only offered reform advocates a chance to point out how complex the status quo is. For that matter, the underlying argument was fundamentally lazy -- to hear Boehner & Co. tell it, we can't reform the system because the solution doesn't fit nicely on a chart. But that's not an argument. It's barely even a chart.


But House Republicans are back with another chart, this one incorporating the old one and adding a bunch of additional boxes. "This is the blueprint for a taxpayer-funded mega-bureaucracy," House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

But it's really not. This new chart simply identifies the names of various offices and efforts that will be part of an improved system. For example, there's a box for "Outreach program to increase awareness of diabetes screening benefits." Is that a bad thing? Probably not, but it's a "government program," which necessarily makes it part of a "mega-bureaucracy." There's also a box pointing to a grant program to "assist veterans who wish to become emergency medical technicians upon discharge." Are Republicans against this? Why?

The closer one looks at the chart, and reads the descriptions in the little boxes, the more worthwhile the larger initiative seems. As Ezra Klein explained when the first chart came out, "[I]t's not very scary. In fact, it's reminiscent of nothing so much as a Magic Eye picture: Stare at the whole thing and it's a bit bewildering. But focus in, and order reveals itself. And that order actually looks kind of good. Which leaves this chart in a bit of a weird position: Those who don't read it won't be able to understand it. And those who do read it won't be scared by it."


For its part, the White House released a competing chart this afternoon, which explains the health care reform effort in a more straightforward, less deliberately confusing way.

Health care policy can get pretty complicated, but this makes the policy framework pretty easy to understand. If you're happy with what you have, you keep it. The only changes are more stable costs and more consumer protections. If you don't have coverage, you get to pick from an exchange. If you can't afford a plan, the government will give you a hand.

This probably isn't what the GOP staffers had in mind, but I think both boxes seem pretty compelling.

The House health care reform bill is a solid piece of legislation. It has flaws, and provisions I'd change if it were up to me, but this is, on the whole, a very good bill that would bring vast improvements to a fundamentally flawed system. If this bill were to become law, it'd be reform Americans could be proud of and benefit from.

But listening to the debate on the House floor, it's striking how misguided opponents' arguments really are. Instead of pointing to the bill's actual flaws, and highlighting the legislation's real shortcomings, the vast majority of the complaints deal with imaginary failings that seem to have been crafted by pollsters and campaign strategists, not policy experts or wonks (or really anyone who understands the policy at the most basic level).

The political world has been at this for most of 2009, and people who should have some clue as to what they're talking about continue to make patently ridiculous claims. The two most common phrases from the lips of conservative lawmakers today are "government takeover" and "socialism."

Neither makes a lick of sense. Anyone who repeats them is, without exception, either a charlatan or a fool.

The claim that the House bill would amount to "government-run health care" suffered a blow last week, when the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the so-called "public plan" in the revised bill wouldn't offer much in the way of competition to private insurers. But that hasn't stopped Republicans from repeating the claim.

For several months, we've been debunking assertions that Democratic health care bills call for a Canadian or British-type system in which everyone is insured, or insured and cared for, through the government. None of the bills being debated in Congress call for such a single-payer system. Conservative groups have also claimed that a federal health insurance plan would be the death knell for private insurance, offering a much cheaper alternative and eventually leading to "a government-run system." As we've written, how competitive the "public plan" would be depends greatly on how it's structured. And the latest iteration in the revised House bill isn't expected to have much of an impact on private insurers, according to the nonpartisan CBO and an independent analysis of this scenario.

But Republicans are still recycling "government-run" claims and old analyses that don't pertain to the bill. House Minority Leader John Boehner was saying back in June that the House bill "is a complete government takeover of our health care system," and again last week, Boehner told Fox News that the revised House bill is "nothing short of a complete government takeover of our health care system." Boehner partly blamed the federal insurance plan for the takeover, saying, "you' re going to drive every private health insurance company out of business."

We're hearing the same arguments, ad nauseum, today.

It's sad, for lack of a better word, that in the midst of the biggest, most significant, most consequential domestic policy debate in recent memory, an entire political party has committed itself to repeating talking points with no basis in reality. Claims have been routinely presented, debunked, and shamelessly repeated anyway. Arguments ranging from "fascism" to "death panels" to "socialized medicine" have become eerily common, despite having no connection to reality.

We're watching one of the rare instances in which a bill's actual flaws are ignored, while confused politicians debate the merit of ideas that aren't being proposed. What a waste.

I've long believed there's a greatness to American politics -- it's why I do what I do. It's genuinely embarrassing to the system and our traditions to see it go missing from a major political party during a debate of such importance.

Marshall: Just Ugly

Scenes from today's debate that you really just have to see. Video after the jump.

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