Posted by: distributorcap | March 21, 2010

Bamboo Shoots Under the Fingernails

Full disclosure – I hate this Health Bill. It is a multi-billion dollar give away to the insurance companies, it does not do anything to control costs, many provisions do not take affect for 4 years out, we all know that it will not lower the deficit (nothing lowers it), it does not cover all the uninsured, I do not believe in mandating insurance, it does not fully eliminate the practice of using pre-existing conditions as an excuse not to cover or pay out, it does not open the insurance industry to real competition, and there is still no oversight to insurance abuses.

In other words it does not go far enough to really cure what ails this country.

But I hope it passes. Why? Because the alternative – no passage by Congress – is worse. This is just another example of the perpetual state of American governance and politics – the choice between the lesser of two evils. In today’s episode of As The Stomach Turns we have either a really crappy piece of legislation or an empowered Republican minority that will act even more like the majority they already think they are.

I vote for the bill. Sure I can justify my choice by saying it is a start and that Congress can continually work on fixing the shortcomings (good luck with that!). But the thought of the Republicans gloating for the next 2 1/2 years and the fact (not opinion) that it will empower the right and teabaggers makes passage of this bill practically a requirement. And if the Republicans take control of either part of Congress (which failure to pass will help), well then all bets are off as to the rancor that will ensue.

From elections to laws – it always seems that the voters end up with a choice between bamboo shoots under the fingernails or being locked in a room with the sound of a dripping faucet. Meanwhile Congress and insurance companies are doing just fine.

As I said the legislation does not go far enough. Total health care spending is estimated to be $2.3 trillion and climbing fast. If it was up to me I would slash the Pentagon budget in half and take that $550 billion (while the official Defense budget is $680 billion, there is the $300-$360 billion in monies from other departments that actually is defense related, the un-budgeted supplemental bills that pay for things like Iraq, and the “black budget” of secret projects) and offer universal, single payer socialist health care to all citizens. It would not be free, but it would not be contributing to profits of insurance companies and multi-million dollar salaries of its executives.

It amazes me that the teabaggers just don’t realize, rather care, that our health system ranks #1 in cost and #37 in care. All they care about is no government – no matter the cost, no matter the outcome, no matter the insurance company profits. Their stupidity is astounding.

And what short term memories the Republicans, punditorium and media has.

Back in 2003 under the teabag idol Bush – the $500 billion (unfunded) Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (HR 1 [108th] – “Medicare Part D”) passed the Republican majority House 216-215 in the initial vote and then 220-214 after the House/Senate conference. Of the 220 “aye” votes – 204 were from Republicans and 16 were from Democrats. (25 Republicans and 189 Democrats voted “nay”). Somehow those 204 (of which a big majority are still in Congress) found unfunded health care reform ok from Bush, but not from the Kenyan-born socialist.

Also interestingly – of the 16 Democrats who vote “aye” for Medicare Part D -HR 1 [108th]:

  • 5 are not in Congress anymore (Cramer-AL, Dooley-CA, John-LA, Carson-OK, Stenholm-TX)
  • 3 also voted yes for the House bill from November – HR 3962 (Scott-GA, Pomeroy-ND, Wu-OR)

but amazingly 8 Democratic reps who voted for Medicare D actually voted against HR 3962 “The Affordable Health Care for America Act” back in November (Boyd-FL, Marshall-GA, Alexander-LA, Peterson-MN, Davis-TN, Hall-TX, Matheson-UT, Boucher-VA). How can Pelosi and Hoyer allow those 8 – who voted for the Bush bill not for the Obama bill? How is that explained away? Let’s see how the gang of 8 vote today.

Again given the choice between bad legislation and GOP gloating/governing –



  1. CappyYeah it's a hold your nose vote. Obama started with a mistake. He should have had single payer as the starting point. He gave away the store. As you said I'm for this bill cause it's a start.Later

  2. DCap, I agree completely. I know the bill is flawed but can only hope that it will be improved over time as has been done with previous legislation of this type (e.g., Medicare, etc.). The political cost of not passing it after all this effort would be disastrous for President Obama and the Democratic Party. You sum up the choices very well.

  3. It's always important to remember that no country was able to vote in a universal tax-supported healthcare system overnight. It took Canada almost 20 years from the trials in Saskatchewan to a national plan. South Korea did it in 12 and that was considered fast.I don't fault Obama here. A single payer system would have died on the vine. The entrenched corporate interests are far too strong and Americans are generally too distrustful of government (something I don't as a Canadian fully understand, but there it is). Even this extremely flawed bill that doesn't go far enough is barely passing.I say, start here and start taking steps forward. Let's next have the Dems put forward a bill for a public option, or to open up Medicare. They need to take it one step at a time.

  4. It's fucking depressing no matter what. If it doesn't pass then Obama looks like shit (although his backing of so many of Bush's prior policies already makes him look like shit to me–just saying), and if it passes then STILL my son and daughter will not get affordable health insurance for another FOUR years, IF then!!!

  5. "the teabaggers just don't realize, rather care, that our health system ranks #1 in cost and #37 in care"A lie. Don't you know that America has the Best Health Care In The World? Mitch McConnell and John Boehner say so, so it must be true.I'm with you on the quality of the bill and the need to pass it. Where I differ is that I've come to think that this probably the best we could have gotten: The R's weren't going to vote for anything no matter what, and the D caucus was split on what it wanted. Unfortunately, the Max Baucuses of the House and Senate always held the whip hand.I actually think that there's real reason to hope that this legislation will be improved on down the road. For one thing, there will finally be an actual national policy in place, which gives reformers a foothold that they've never had. And, it's not going anywhere once it's in place: As with privatizing Social Security, future R's will talk big, but in practice they won't be enthusiastic about taking away health insurance from millions of people. In short, the dynamic will finally be in place for incremental improvement. The chances of things getting better will be a lot greater than they are now.

  6. I'm not certain where you're getting your information from but, as I understanding the healthcare reform bill, beginning this year, insurers would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and from cancelling policies because someone gets sick.Parents would be able to keep older kids on their coverage up to age 26 instead of the current age of 21.A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion goes into full tilt. Major consumer safeguards would also take effect in 2014.Insurers would be prohibited from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more. Insurers could not charge women more.Whether you agree with passage of the healthcare reform measure or not, what should be clear to everyone — regardless if you are a Republican or Democrat is, we cannot continue on the current path and allow 50+ million Americans to uninsured. It's immoral and unsustainable to this nation. If we can spend 50% of our GDP on the military and paying the interest on the debt, we can spend one sixth of our GDP to provide healthcare for 50 million Americans.

  7. tim – so many things were done wrong in crafting this bill – but the real stinker was Baucus and when he formed this gang of 6. As bad as the Rs on everything, many of the Dems are just one step behindMaui – yes flawed, but like others have said (and i should have) – it does have a number of good thingstoujour – i agree, bedtter than nothing and a step forward – it is fucking amazing how bad our govt is – in some way, i can actually understand where the teabaggers come from – but their hate and evil is misdirected and comes from their own inner hate and evil. why are we so distrustful – ask Nixon and Reagan – those 2 assholes between Nixon's corruption and Reagan's coldness and idiocy ("im from the govt and i am hear to help, trees cause pollution, ignoring AIDS, welfare queens in cadillacs etc) made people hate and distrust govt.Lib – 4 years! i knowK – Mitch McChins can kiss Boehner's Boner (and he probably would) – both of them are just out and out LIARS, especially Mr Suntan. If this is the \best we could have gotten, then we really have a rotten system of govt. (well i knew that already). i agree – it gives a foothold and the republicans will never be able to take it away without getting slaughtered – teabaggers or not. oh they are enthusiastic about taking it away, but more enthusiastic about winning elections. the reasons the Rs dont want this is becasuse of the 31,000,000 new and maybe D voters.christopher – you bring up a lot of good points. there are many good things about this bill. one of the few people i still trust to speak with some honesty is Howard Dean – and he says the same things. the lifting of limits, kids on parent policies, cancellation. but where did i read that the pre-existing thing only is not for the elderly – i thought i read that (gotta find it). and we CANNOT continue down this road – tho the teabaggers and many Republicans are just fine with millions uninsured – they are just they 21st centur version of welfare queens. and i wish we spent 2% of military and thank you George Bush for running up the US Visa card to a ridiculous level. frankly i think the whole house of cards cant be sustained much longer.

  8. I agree. It isn't what it should be…. but sometimes it is better to buy a used car and fix it up….. that not have a car at all.We just have to have MOTION… to be against the bill (while we piss away untold trillions on war) is tantamount to saying everything is OK. It ain't. We must make some movement! (and end those fucking wars!)

  9. If the Dems win — and it sure looks like they will — I will freaking dance in the streets!And in awe that Democrats can actually get something big done at this juncture. Yes!!!!!

  10. The tea baggers prove how successful the right wing has been in this country. They have pretty successfully destroyed government from within. They turned public service into a career for losers instead of a noble profession that demands a great deal of personal sacrifice. (How many times have you heard someone tell a politician or bureaucrat to get a "real" job, as if they don't have the same difficult tasks the rest of us have and often get paid less?) They have underfunded departments and programmes – which led to environmental disasters like the levees breaking in New Orleans to financial disasters like the Great Recession of 2008-09. And they put a ticking timebomb in place that will bring down social security and Medicare at about the time I am eligible for both. They are extremely afraid that people will see an activist government as a good thing and therefore want to make government as incompetent as possible to avoid a trustful public. And they are succeeding. I only hope that people one day wake up and realize that an incompetent, underfunded government leads to LESS freedom, not more freedom for its citizenry. The strong take advantage of the weak. The poor become disenfranchised. The middle class fades away. And crime and civil disorder become more common as the "have-nots" lose hope.

  11. The Teabaggers and the hard Right Repugs who call this (yes, this!) bill too much of a move toward socialism and the gov't "taking over" Health Care only reveal the extent of either ignorance or outright lying for political expedience. I am with you in wishing for something more like socialized medicine — and sadly admit that that is not going to happen in this country in my lifetime (if ever).More annoying to me are the moderate Repugs who concede that HC reform is necessary at some point but think it is too costly to do right now. That particular meme irritates because (a) it ignores the exorbitant cost of the status quo and (b) if not now, when? As you so clearly point out, where was this fear of cost during the debates about Bush's unfunded mandate of Medicare D? Oh right, that was back when the Bush admin was burning through the budget surplus and everyone thought a housing bubble could never burst. You know, the good old days of bliss and (or is that "as"?) ignorance.Anyway I, like Kucinich, see that there is some value to this sausage of a bill, but even more that a lose here will severely handicap financial reform, immigration reform, education reform, etc. Not that any of those aren't already off to a hobbled start, but still…

  12. If LBJ had let the Congress tell the American people what Medicare was going to cost, we would have never had it at all and it stunk when it passed. Go back and read the original bill…lots stuff has changed.Korea is the best example. Remember what Moinyhan famouisly said: "We can argue about what is wrong with it after it gets signed into law." He waas talking about Nixon's Welfare reform, which didn't become real until Clinton. You don't pass this, it will be longer than that.Best, Reamus

  13. ok — yep those wars – what a bargain! but the republicans cant wait to fund thosetoujour – what i can figure out – if public service and the US govt is SO BAD – why do people like MIchele Bachmann go into iterik – its done – they sort of caved to stupak – which was wrong – but this is gonna drive the wingnuts nutsbungy – watch them take credit in the next few months. i so enjoy watching these asshole GOP reps squirm. they know they are the wrong side of historyreamus – good point. i so hope they will try to make fixes and additions

  14. i can't wait for the bill to pass tonight! the rethugs are being very entertaining. i've been switching back and forth from cspan to msnbc. is the bill perfect? hell, no! is it better than nothing? hell, yes! as christopher pointed out, there's a lot of good in this bill, so it's better than 'just better than nothing.'

  15. There's some good stuff, but not a lot. But if–big if–this signals that the democrats are going to legislate without trying to placate the republicans, then it is a good thing. If. Now let's see if they pass real financial reform. Funny, no one seems to have mentioned reenacting Glass-Steagall, have they? Sigh.

  16. Glass-Steagall works for 60 years, gets dumped, and things go to hell in a handbasket in less than ten years. Seems obvious to me — but then I'm just Communist-Socialist-Nazi-Fascist liberal who doesn't give a damn about the Constitution — that the obvious thing to do is update Glass-Steagall and reinstate it. But Christopher Dodd seems intent on putting his own stamp on something mediocre before leaving Congress.Chris wrote:"Whether you agree with passage of the healthcare reform measure or not, what should be clear to everyone — regardless if you are a Republican or Democrat is, we cannot continue on the current path and allow 50+ million Americans to uninsured."Pathetically, this isn't clear to the R's at all. The argument that we suddenly can't afford health care is reform is especially galling, since in essence it means that the millions of uninsured and underinsured will shoulder the burden of the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war.

  17. Right now, I'll take what we can get. Especially if that means Limbaugh leaves the country like he promised.

  18. Got to get a foot in the door for HCR- the last attempt was 16 years ago, and frankly the GOP needs to know they are NOT the majority & shut down their gloom & doom "loss of freedom" propaganda.

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