Monday, November 2, 2009



A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilisation. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

Asshole of the Day, Joe Lieberman:
"I'd say to the people who are all of a sudden making the public option -- a government health insurance company -- the litmus test here, they're stopping us from getting something done."
Sudbay: Boehner's latest lie: "We accept moderates in our party" 
This doesn't pass the straight-face test:
"Clearly [Scozzofava] would be on the left side of our party," said Boehner, who had financially supported the campaign of the New York assemblywoman. "...We accept moderates in our party and we want moderates in our party."
Who is "we"? It's certainly not the base of the GOP. The teabaggers don't accept or want anyone who doesn't adhere strictly to their hard-core, extreme right-wing philosophy. As I wrote yesterday:
There is no room for different ideas in the modern day GOP. The teabaggers rule their world.

Sam Stein 
David Axelrod, Obama's chief communications strategist, told CBS' "Face The Nation" that the news from upstate New York "sends a clear message to moderates in that party that there's no room at the inn for them."
Longtime strategist James Carville may have summarized the talking point most succinctly when he told CNN's "State of the Union" that "Ronald Reagan's big tent just collapsed in upstate New York."
In a telling scene captured by The Washington Post, one local NY-23 voter told the Conservative Party's Hoffman that she was drawn to his candidacy by none other than Joe the Plumber -- the symbolic everyman voter who turned out to be a clumsy and decidedly conservative media figure.
"You know why I got involved? Joe the Plumber!" the voter said. "I met him at CPAC in Washington. He said, 'You've got to get involved.' And now I'm a City Council member in Saratoga Springs."
For his part, Limbaugh seemed to revel in Scozzafava's departure, telling Fox News that the GOP had finally found the path towards electoral viability.

Aravosis: AP: Future of GOP and moderate Republicans uncertain 
What's most interesting about this article is that it's being written at all. If AP is saying that the future of moderates in the GOP is uncertain, then that theme has struck a chord in the media, and will only make them more likely to write such stories in the future.
Yglesias: The Discipline Mismatch 
It’s always hard to know how much difference endorsements can make in a race, but it’s very unusual to see the Republican candidate in a race drop out to endorse the Democratic nominee, and Dede Scozzafava endorsing Bill Owens certainly does make Rick Santorum’s remarks from Saturday look idiotic:
When Assemblywomen Dede Scozzafava suspended her campaign because it appeared that her Conservative-party opponent, a Republican, stood a better chance to win on Tuesday she noted that she was a proud Republican….Her announcement today is a lesson to all of us — that even those in our party who may not agree with us on many of our core principles and positions not only still want to be on our team, but want us to win.
Both parties at this point seem to me to have a need to reconsider their approaches to party discipline. The common sense way to behave is to try to insist on orthodoxy in places where orthodox candidates can clearly win, but to be more flexible elsewhere. Instead Democrats are dealing with a rogue senator from Connecticut, while the GOP drove Arlen Specter out of the party for being an occasional deviationist in a state that’s consistently backed Democratic presidential candidates for 20 years.
from the comments:
  1. theAmericanist Says:
    It’s not complicated — somebody is a Democrat or a Republican if that’s how they choose to register, as a voter or a candidate. As a member of the party seeking nomination for office, they get to try to get registered partisan votes in primaries. If they get the nomination, the party supports ‘em for the general.
    An EXECUTIVE — a mayor or governor — gets a lot of latitude. They’re not, and shouldn’t be controlled by their party’s partisan apparatus.
    But in LEGISLATIVE office, in order to get benefits from the party’s caucus (like committee assignments, seniority, etc.), the legislator has to support the caucus on procedural votes. An individual legislator is free to vote for or against any piece of legislation they choose, or say anything they please. But even if they are going to vote against the bill, in order to get any benefits from the party’s caucus they have to vote with the caucus majority on procedural matters:you can vote against the party on the bill, but you have to vote FOR (or against) the Rule, a motion to recommit, cloture, and so on.
    If you vote against the caucus on procedural matters, you should lose caucus-provided benefits.
    MattY’s point hits home — BOTH parties should re-think their approach to discipline. The Republican position is internally consistent, and that may be the source of real strength in the long run. (I’m not kidding.)
    The Democratic attitude is that there are no consequences for a Nelson or a Lieberman, AS IF that is going to lead to greater strength in the short run. That seems unlikely.
    Democrats got elected to govern: Nelson and Lieberman can vote against the bill if they want, but if they won’t let the Senate majority (representing nearly 80% of the POPULATION) vote on the bill, Senate Democrats should present ‘em with an increasing list of things that their caucus provides ‘em with, which will be suspended or eliminated: starting with committee assignments and staff, seniority, and proceeding to appopriations that are provided to their states because they are in the majority.
    The goal shouldn’t be to drive ‘em out, particularly Nelson. (The good people of Connecticut ALREADY essentially expelled Lieberman from the Democratic party.) The goal should be to show ‘em they — and their states — will benefit from procedural discipline, and suffer without it.
    Republicans want to expel moderates. We want to attract ‘em in a constructive way.

Andy Borowitz: Lou Dobbs Leaves CNN for Cartoon Network
Joins Tom, Jerry, Scooby-Doo

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) - Controversial TV host Lou Dobbs announced today that he was leaving CNN and would soon be joining the primetime lineup of The Cartoon Network.
Mr. Dobbs will be joining a schedule that includes such programs as Tom and Jerry and What's New, Scooby-Doo?
While a press release from The Cartoon Network called Mr. Dobbs' show "a perfect fit," Davis Logsdon, the chairman of the media studies department at the University of Minnesota, took a dimmer view.
"I think the addition of Lou Dobbs will be a tremendous blow to The Cartoon Network's credibility," he said.
In other broadcast news, on Sunday the Fox News Channel reported that an American won the New York marathon and a Kenyan won the U.S. presidency.
Earlier on Sunday, Fox marked Daylight Savings Time by setting its clocks back 400 years.
Anonymous Liberal: Why the GOP has no health care plan 
The Hill reports that there is currently a debate within the GOP caucus as to whether they should offer an alternative health care reform bill.
Some House Republicans are growing frustrated that their leaders have not yet introduced a health care reform alternative.

For months, the message from House GOP leaders on a healthcare bill has been similar to ads for yet-to-be-released movies: Coming soon.

According to several GOP lawmakers, the leadership is split over how to proceed in terms of unveiling an alternative to the final Democratic bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) intends to unveil as soon as this week.

Rep. Tom Price (Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), revealed the schism within his party late last week.

“There’s a difference of opinion over what ought to be the strategy from a political standpoint on this issue. I happen to believe we ought to have a bill. There are others who believe, as strongly, that the principles that would be outlined and would be adhered to in the Republican bill are what need to be discussed because everybody can embrace those principles,” Price said last week.
The problem the GOP faces is a very simple one: it is impossible to translate their "principles" into a functional plan. This is why they never lifted a finger to address the issue of health care reform during the entire time they controlled the White House and Congress. Indeed, the one health care related bill they passed (the Medicare prescription drug bill) was a massive new--and completely unfunded--government entitlement, something that would seemingly violate any possible list of GOP principles in profound ways.

In the current debate, if you ask a GOP politician what he/she would do to reform health care, you're likely to hear a lot of buzzwords, things like "portability" and "competition across state lines." This all sounds well and good. Competition is generally a good thing and most of us would prefer it if our health insurance wasn't tied to our employment. But when you try to reduce these ideas to policy, the result is a disaster.

There are two fundamental problems we face with our health care system. The first is the fact that tens of millions of people in this country are either uninsured or under-insured. The second is the fact that health care costs are rising rapidly. Any proposal to reform our health care system must address these problems.

The one idea that Republicans have offered to address these problems is relatively easy to understand. They want to allow private health insurers to sell policies across state lines. Thus, as long as an insurer complies with the regulations of its home state, it could sell insurance outside of the state. This would increase the amount of competition and thereby reduce premiums. The problem with this idea, of course, is that it would create an instant "race to the bottom." The insurance industry would lobby the states to relax their regulations and then would all set up shop in the state that was most willing to comply with their demands. The result would de facto deregulation of the industry. But, from the GOP perspective, this is a feature, not a bug. Without laws mandating what they have to cover, insurance companies would gravitate toward high-deductible, low-benefit policies that could be offered for reduced premiums. Businesses would start offering these kind of policies to their employees in order to cut costs and many individuals would choose such policies in order to save money on premiums. While this might reduce average premium prices (at least in the short term) and allow some people who currently can't afford insurance on the individual market to purchase it, the result would be a system in which just about everyone is under-insured.

But this is exactly what conservatives want. They believe (or at least claim to believe) that the reason health care costs are out of control is because people don't have enough personal stake in health care spending. The believe that if people have to pay a greater percentage of costs out-of-pocket, they will have an incentive not to "purchase" unnecessary care.

As anyone who has studied health care policy for more than ten seconds knows, however, treating health care like grocery shopping is a recipe for disaster. First, when it comes to health care, "consumers" simply don't have the expertise to be intelligent "shoppers." We're not doctors. We generally don't know what diagnostic test or procedure we need or when we need it. We don't know which doctor or hospital is the best "deal." We don't know which drug offers the most "bang for our buck." Most of us never will, either. That's why we have doctors. Moreover, when you make people pay for routine and preventative medical care out-of-pocket (as high deductible policies do), the inevitable result is that people don't get enough routine and preventative care. That results not only in worse health outcomes, but it drives up costs. It is much easier and cheaper to treat conditions if they are detected early.

On some level, I'm pretty sure that most Republican politicians know all of this. They know that their "principles" don't translate well into actual policies. They know that if they were to produce an actual bill, nearly every health care policy expert in the country would immediately point out its myriad flaws. And on some level they also know that the only way to effectively deal with the problem of the uninsured or to control costs is through greater (not lesser) government involvement in the health care system. Indeed, one of the final quotes in the article is very revealing on this score:
One House Republican who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “The fact is, [GOP leaders] are very concerned with doing anything that the base would interpret as ‘Democrat-lite’ or ‘socialized-lite’ … which is forcing a little of paralysis.”
That paralysis is a consequence of the fact that, absent greater government involvement, there really is no way to deal with the uninsured or to reduce systemic costs. If the GOP were to produce a bill and submit it to CBO-like analysis, the results would undoubtedly show that it does almost nothing to address either problem. Indeed, it could very well be shown to make both problems worse. That's why there is no GOP health care plan.

No comments:

Post a Comment