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Health Care Hogwash

"This is what change looks like," Barack Obama said following House passage of the health care bill on Sunday.

On what planet?

"Here is the ultimate paradox of the Great Health Care Showdown: Congress will divide along partisan lines to pass a Republican version of health care reform, and Republicans will vote against it," E.J. Dionne wrote over the weekend.

"Yes, Democrats have rallied behind a bill that Republicans - or at least large numbers of them - should love. It is built on a series of principles that Republicans espoused for years."

Much of Dionne's column is disingenuous - slamming Mitt Romney for seemingly flip-flopping on mandates while ignoring his distinction between state and federal requirements while letting Obama off the hook for a far more drastic 180 - but in trying to make the case for why Republicans should have supported this bill, isn't he making the case for why Democrats shouldn't have?

After all, this bill passed along party lines; the Democrats could have passed anything they wanted. Single-payer. Public option. Whatever else might have been in their hearts. The only compromising they did was with themselves.

Likewise, CNN's health guru Sanjay Gupta said on Sunday: "It's starting to sound more and more like a Republican health care plan."

Gupta also said that the bill represented health insurance reform, but not health care reform.

Spinning History
"Contrary to memes circulating among the Democrats, Medicare was popular when it was enacted - according to Gallup, and some other pollsters, Medicare always enjoyed a plurality of support," the Atlantic's Megan McArdle noted in an online Washington Post chat. "By contrast, the current gap between favorables and unfavorables is about 10% - meaning that more people are against passage than for it. Perhaps it will get more popular over time. But the public has not, to my knowledge, ever rewarded a political party for defying its will.

"If the question is, will this bill be hard to repeal, I think the answer is yes. The parts that are unpopular are also the parts needed to make it work, like the individual mandate. Indeed, the big danger is that those parts will be repealed, and the resulting program will spiral completely out of control, bringing on some form of fiscal crisis.

"But that won't help the Democrats. By the time it's popular, it will be too late to take credit. When was the last time you heard someone say, 'I'm voting for the Democratic candidate because Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare?'"

Also from McArdle:

"Economist Bryan Caplan describes a marvelous syllogism that animates a lot of political discourse:

"1) Something must be done
"2) This is something
"3) Therefore, this must be done."


FYI: Dionne once wrote a book called Why Americans Hate Politics whose central thesis was that "on point after point, liberals and conservatives are framing issues as a series of 'false choices,' making it impossible for politicians to solve problems, and alienating voters in the process."

Dividing Not Uniting
"Democratic leaders in Congress got what they wanted Sunday night: House passage of a massive health bill the Senate approved on Christmas Eve," the Tribune editorial page writes.

"Muscling this bill to President Barack Obama sets up the Democrats for affirmation - or condemnation - when citizens get their vote, on Nov. 2. This legislation has cleaved America, and whatever happens next, the Democrats own it.

"No major entitlement program has become law in such partisan fashion. In 1935, more than half of the minority Republicans in Congress joined Democrats to create Social Security. And in 1965, nearly half of minority Republicans joined Democrats to launch Medicare. Both parties had skin in each game."

Head Fake
Was deem-and-pass a false threat designed to make everyone forget about the slightly less controversial method of reconciliation being used to pass this bill? When you have a knife, people freak out. When you then pull out a gun, people freak out even more. When you put away the gun, people are relieved you only have a knife.

"We proved that this government - a government of the people and by the people - still works for the people."

The people - who weren't let into the backroom of Congress though health insurance industry lobbyists were - have been consistently against this plan.

And how elitist and offensive is it for the president to pat us on the head and say we'll all appreciate this plan once we, you know, understand it and start receiving its benefits?

I mean, I know the president has explained it to us many times, but we just don't get it yet!

Digging Holes
"[I]t is not health care reform in any sense of the word," Michael Moore says. "It's like health care caulk. Health care fixer-upper

"You know, plugging some holes and doing a couple little good things, that's not universal health care. And that's what we elected Barack Obama and the Congress to do. To get us, you know, universal health care.

"So that's what they wanted. The majority said they wanted that. So that's pretty much how I feel about it.

"I think that - I don't like the bill. I think the more we settle, and the lower and lower we settle, the farther away we get from where we need to be. I'm not a politician. I'm not elected to public office. And people like me need to be stating exactly what we do need.

"We need a single-payer system that removes profit motive from health care. Pure and simple. And if we had strong leadership who could explain that to the American public, I know the people would go for it. But it's never been explained to them. No one really understands it. If you show people evidence they'll have more money in their bank."

Moore is wrong about one thing in this interview; the insurance companies are ecstatic. This is their bill. Right now they have teams of lawyers and accountants and executives sussing out all the angles; their job is to be as profitable as possible and that's just what they'll find ways to do. And you know what that means for us.

What Change Really Looks Like
David Axelrod defending the bill's sweetheart deals: "That's the way it has been. That's the way it will always be."

Bedtime Stories
The president reportedly rallied his flagging health care legislation by returning to the story of cancer-stricken Natoma Canfield.

But when the president has gotten personal in the past, he's plain gotten it wrong.

See also AP's fact-checking of Obama's health care anecdotes.


Oh, and about Canfield: Oops!

Magic Act
"Mr. Obama's idea for a health care meeting at the end of February flabbergasted Democrats on Capitol Hill," the New York Times reported on Sunday. "He felt that such an event could be an antidote to some of the cynicism about Washington expressed by voters."

According to sources close to the president speaking to the New York Times, which apparently never asked if Obama's closed-door deals and reneging on transparency pledges contributed to that cynicism.

And then this, just a few paragraphs later:

"The meeting also gave the Democratic leadership the gift of time. While the spotlight shifted to Mr. Obama, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid immersed themselves in figuring out their parliamentary options and, in Ms. Pelosi's case especially, soothing her members' jangled nerves.

"'The main thing was Pelosi sticking with it and doing the quiet work of bringing people back to saying, We're doing this,' said John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. 'It was almost illusionist, drawing your attention to something that isn't important, so that you're not watching what's happening, which really is important.'"

And that, my friends, says it all.


Comments welcome.


See also:
* Meet ObamaCare
* The [Health Care Vote] Papers


Posted on March 22, 2010

MUSIC - Britney's IUD.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - Locked Out And Loaded.

BOOKS - Foxconned.


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