The [Thursday] Papers
1. AP Fact Check: Obama is lying about health care. (Remember when Obama told Lamar Alexander at the health care summit that he was sure he was right about his claim that premiums would go down for everyone? Guess again!)
It's also not true that everyone will be able to keep their current plan if they want to. I'm not particularly bothered by that, but I'm bothered by the false claim. There are incentives in the plan for some employers to drop coverage and send their workers into the exchanges that would be created. You may have to find your own plan. Which, again, is fine by me. But another false claim by a self-righteous president isn't.
2. Eric Zorn is "still waiting for someone to calmly explain why using 'deem and pass' offends the ideals of democracy or good government."
In other words, Zorn is still trying to figure out why it's offensive to use a parliamentary maneuver for a purpose it wasn't designed for in order to pass controversial and far-reaching legislation that doesn't have enough votes to pass if actually voted on.
Hell, why even have Congress vote at all? Let's just "deem and pass" everything!
Obama, well-practiced in voting "present" while an Illinois state senator, said on Wednesday that "it's an ugly process" - but that he had no problem with that.
Wasn't that part of his campaign slogan - Hope, Change and Ugliness?
Justifying political chicanery on the grounds that the other side does it too is twice as hypocritical as the other side complaining when their opponents adopt their tactics. "He hit me first!" As Dr. Phil says, somebody's gotta be a hero in this dysfunctional relationship. A lot of folks thought it would be Obama. That's why they elected him.
Passing health care reform this way will only further poison our politics. The argument will never end; states are already moving to challenge mandatory health care and Republicans are already talking about repeal.
This is not the way to unite the country. Obama has apparently never stopped to consider that maybe he's going about this the wrong way.
3. Is the status quo really the only alternative to this bill, as the president claims? Hardly.
As I've pointed out many times, many of the bill's provisions could pass today - and could have passed on Obama's first day in office - if acted on separately. Those are the provisions, by the way, that Obama keeps talking about: prohibiting denial of health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, removing caps on lifetime benefits, etc. etc.
4. Will Americans come to love this bill once they start to see the benefits? Who knows. That's just a Democratic talking point lazy editorial boards and pundits like to repeat. Besides, the most significant benefits wouldn't kick in for years. (The last version of the legislation I was able to track implemented the pre-existing condition provision immediately for children, but for adults it wouldn't kick until something like 2015. Gotta give the insurance companies time to, you know, prepare.)
It might be even worse than that. Nobody even knows what's in this thing anymore - including the president.
BAIER: Deem and passed, Senate reconciliation and we don't know exactly what's in the fix bill. Do you still think -
OBAMA: No, we will - by the time the vote has taken place, not only I will know what's in it, you'll know what's in it because it's going to be posted and everybody's going to be able to able to evaluate it on the merits.
But here's the thing, Bret, I mean, the reason that I think this conversation ends up being a little frustrating is because the focus entirely is on Washington process. And yes, I have said that is an ugly process. It was ugly when Republicans were in charge, it was ugly were in Democrats were in charge.
BAIER: This is one-sixth of the U.S. economy, though, sir. One-sixth.
OBAMA: And, Bret, let me tell you something, the fact of the matter is that for the vast majority of people, their health care is not going to change because right now they're getting a better deal. The only thing that is going to change for them is is that they're going to have more security under their insurance and they're going to have a better situation when it comes to if they lose their job, heaven forbid, or somebody gets sick with a preexisting condition, they'll have more security. But, so - so -
BAIER: So how can you -
OBAMA: - the notion that -
BAIER: - guarantee that they're not going to -
OBAMA: - so but -
BAIER: - they're going to be able to keep their doctor -
OBAMA: Bret, you've got to let me finish my answers -
BAIER: Sir, I know you don't like to filibuster, but -
OBAMA: Well, I'm trying to answer your question and you keep on interrupting. So let me be clear.
Now, you keep on repeating the notion that it's one-sixth of the economy. Yes, it's one-sixth of the economy, but we're not transforming one-sixth of the economy all in one fell swoop. What we're saying is is that for the vast majority of people who have health care, they're going to be able to keep it. But what we are saying is that we should have some basic protections from insurance company abuses and that in order for us to do that, we are going to have to make some changes in the status quo that we've been debating for a year.
This notion that this has been not transparent, that people don't know what's in the bill, everybody knows what's in the bill. I sat for seven hours with -
BAIER: Mr. President, you couldn't tell me what the special deals are that are in or not today.
OBAMA: I just told you what was in and what was not in.
BAIER: Is Connecticut in?
OBAMA: Connecticut - what are you specifically referring to?
BAIER: The $100 million for the hospital? Is Montana in for the asbestos program? Is - you know, listen, there are people - this is real money, people are worried about this stuff.
OBAMA: And as I said before, this - the final provisions are going to be posted for many days before this thing passes, but -
Until then, I guess we don't even know what we're arguing about.
BAIER: You said a few times as Senator Obama that if a president has to eke out a victory of 50 plus one, that on something as important as health care, 'you can't govern.' But now you're embracing a 50 plus one reconciliation process in the Senate, so do you feel like you can govern after this?
OBAMA: Well, Bret, the - I think what we've seen during the course of this year is that we have come up with a bill that basically tracks the recommendations of Tom Daschle, former Democratic senator and leader, but also Bob Dole, former Republican leader, Howard Baker, former Republican leader.
RHODES: Bob Dole and Howard Baker? Who's your health secretary, Doc Brown?
6. Even you, Dennis Kucinich? You raised money on your opposition to this bill.
7. Look, I'm passionate about health care reform. I prefer single-payer, as I've written here several times, but I think there are plenty of other options that never got discussed that could have achieved bipartisan consensus. I believe there were other approaches as well to a congressional boondoggle. That's not what Obama was elected to do. I also speak as someone who buys his own, bare-bones plan from Blue Cross/Blue Shield just in case I get hit by a bus. And guess what? I can't afford the latest premium hike and I'm about to become uninsured. But that doesn't mean I want a horrendous bill with tremendously awful long-range implications to pass.
8. "Most Americans agree that health care reform is needed. You can't have insurance companies kicking people off the rolls when they get sick, and you can't have Americans not able to see a doctor because they don't have enough money. There have to be safety nets in a civilized society."
Guess who said that? Bill O'Reilly this week. It was hardly the first time. It's a party line vote in Congress, but in America support for health care reform but disgust with the legislation before us is indeed bipartisan.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Antipartisan.
Posted on March 18, 2010
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