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The Senate Bill, only for those who don’t like the status quo

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

No one who has examined our current healthcare delivery and finance system believes it is worth preserving. Jonathan Rauch, in National Journal magazine, makes the case for passing the Senate Bill, which despite its flaws, is much better than nothing.

Moreover, after reform is enacted, the taboo on taxing employer-provided health benefits will be shattered once and for all. From then on the question will be how much to tax, not whether. A door that had been welded shut will have been pried open. The country will be able to have a new kind of discussion, one in which the tying of health insurance to employment — which is insane, when you think about it — is no longer sacrosanct.

[…]

As health costs rise, more employer-provided health plans become taxable, giving employers an incentive to find cheaper plans. As employer-provided plans grow less generous, more employees have an incentive to take a tax credit and shop around, and, as premiums rise, more qualify to do so. Little by little, insurance coverage shifts toward an individual-based, consumer-driven market. And the faster health insurance costs rise, the faster the transition happens. The disease triggers its own antibodies.

Again, no guarantees. The transition would be very gradual, and political blowback could easily disrupt it. But the point is that the reform contains a pathway to sanity. No one can say that about the status quo.

I’m hoping President Obama makes the case for passing reform during tonight’s State of the Union Address. The principle for all Americans having access to health insurance will be set. Improvements can be made later; if this fails now we’re stuck with nothing for a very. long. time.

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Facebook Throwdown, part 6

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment


Bill I can’t disagree with you. On many levels the Republicans under 8 years of George Bush let the people of America down-and of course this was why they were voted out. I get it. The problem is, a vote for Democrats wasn’t a vote for liberalism, it was a vote against George Bush. The hope and change that Obama inspired in all of us was founded on the basic desire that government should be fiscally responsible, transparent, and accountable (all true conservative values). Obama, like all liberals, need to run on these conservative principles because they would never win if they ran on their true ideology. And honestly, Obama seems to me to have his heart in the right place, and he truly won the trust of the American people in that he would uphold these principles. Unfortunately he is beholden to special interest groups, surrounded himself with Clintonites and Wall St. cronies, and has a majority of Democrats in congress who, I believe, sincerley think that their election was an ideological mandate and have not upheld the virtues of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility. This is why its all backfiring on them and this is why the Republican party is rightly not supporting the Democratic agenda and alligning themselve in any bipartisan manner.

Now, I’ll give you this, the Republicans should not be fooled into thinking that the backlash on the Democrats is a mandate for a return to Bush policy either. This backlash and the Tea Party agenda which you wrongly paint, is founded on the same principles that voted the Republicans out!! What I see in this swing in public opinion back and forth between one party and another is a cry from the people (and the majority being Independents) for good government! It is not a cry in supprt for one party over another. Both are to blame. Rather this cry insists that both parties begin to transcend politics and begin doing what is good for the country. Not good for elections, not good for special interest, not good for ideology, but what is good for the country. Surly to agree on what is good for the country is difficult to agree upon, but common sense and majority voting by like minded people can prevail.

Now this is where you and I come in. We mustn’t fall into this divide and conquer trap and we mustn’t fall prey to the perpetuation of caustic politics. So I must apologize for inflaming you, but my intent, honestly, is not to be an apologist for the Republican party, but rather to help provide some insight. Besides, debate is important and I love to argue. However, if I didn’t respect what you are saying, I wouldn’t be wasting my time. So let me end by saying thank you. You have provided me with much insight that I will fairly carry forward with me. We might agree to disagree on some issues. I truly believe that liberalism is killing this country, but there are components of the far right that greatly disturb me, particularly the religious right and their stand on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Pat Robertson’s recent remarks about Haiti made me puke my coffee out my nose. Liberalism and Religiosity-two great evils that are not only dividing and conquering our country, but are diminishing the individualism that makes America great….but that’s a whole other topic I won’t belabor anyone with. Maybe on some level we can agree on some of this.


Dan I’m glad you’re letting some of that water drain out that you were carrying for the Republicans. If you’re conservative stick to your principles not some cynical party that only wants power back for power’s sake – not for the ideals of a truly conservative movement. I hope you see where I’m coming from on Scott Brown. He’s signaled so far that he’s just another unprincipled Republican unwilling to put country before party. I hope now that he’s elected he helps govern responsibly and doesn’t act as he led many of us to believe.

I’m glad you’ve given Obama the benefit of the doubt for where his heart is, I hope you will consider giving him a little more time and slack. It’s hard to know whether he’s only governed the way he has because of the seriousness of the recession coupled with it being his first year in office. He faces incredibly tough decisions and considering the stakes he, to me, seems like he’s done a decent job and at least hasn’t made any huge errors (which is saying a lot). He’s challenged the left wing in his party more than you may realize and I predict you’ll start seeing a more moderate president now that the recession is starting to temper.

We’ll have to agree to disagree, as you said, on the tea parties; any group that looks up to Sarah Palin as a serious leader doesn’t deserve much regard. But to end this on some notes of agreement. I too love to argue and enjoy its benefits to help sharpen and clarify my thinking. I certainly respect what you are saying. Most especially, I think we agree on the dangers of the Christianists in this nation that seek to limit the freedoms of other citizens. Also, I’m no leftist and have battled them myself.

Finally, to me, healthcare expansion isn’t a leftist idea, it’s one based on economic security, moral responsibility, and economic mobility. A political philosopher once wrote on healthcare, “Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision…. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong… Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make the provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.” That’s Friedrich von Hayek in “The Road to Serform” an anti-socialist classic.

Thanks for your time. We’ll do this again sometime when you’re feeling a little foolhardy. And Tony, did you make a decision on how you feel now yet? haha

Categories: Facebook Throwdown

Facebook Throwdown, part 5

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Bill Your kidding, right? Inheriting a potential depression and unimaginable deficits from unpaid entitlement expansion from Republicans??? Now listen, certainly George Bush was no fiscal conservative, certainly the wars in Iraq and now Afgan. are costing way more than CBO predicted, certainly the Medicare drug supplement was an entitlement (but remember what I said about incrementalism), and certainly the housing bust occured under his nose, but do understand that it was the Democrats, particularly Chris Dodd and Barney Frank on the Senate Housing Committee who are truly just as deserving of blame. The Democrats snubbed their noses to Alan Greenspan and the Bush Administration who repeatedly warned them (on Congressional record) that Fannie and Freddie needed to be reigned in. But NOOOO, everyone has to own a house(ideology again) and the kickbacks to Frank and Chris (and many other Dems including Hil and Barry) were too sweet to let go of–so lo and behold, easy money for the stupid and the greedy, under liberal pretenses(going way back to Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act), caused one of the worst financial crisis hopefully in our lifetime. But that’s besides the point, the bottom line is, Democrats were as much to blame as Republicans.

Now enter Obama. All would agree that fiscal stimulus was in order. Spending is the only way to break the cycle of job loss-housing forclosure-ect., but there is responsible spending and there is irresponsible spending. Both may achieve a degree of the same effect, but not to the same extent. So its easy for you to claim success, but to what extent is conveniently ignored. So what does Pres O. do? He spends irresponsibly ( P.O.R.K.). Wall St. (thanks to Timmy G.and his cronies) are protected while Main St. continues to languish- deficits are cranked to the limit (which will be paid on the taxpayers back) and unemployment rises despite promises that it would not. O. does his world Apology Tour and leaves healthcare to a bunch of partisan ideologues. The Townhall “events” should have been crystal ball for all the liberal munchkins to see that all wasn’t well with Auntie Emm in Kansas.

Meanwhile, back at the State level, the Wicked Witch of the West, California,( being a primo example) faces alarming fiscal issues while their flying monkey liberal politicians want to keep spending, spending spending…pulling the straw out of the taxpayers and stifling economic growth. Multiply this times 52 and you have the perfect storm.

So the tornado finally hits… and the Wicked Witch of the East gets crushed…go figure.

The Wizard of O. needs to step back a little now. The curtain has been pulled. No longer can he hide behind his rhetoric (as you attempt to do). He has to face Dorothy-but she’s pretty pissed and has a big broom that she wants to clean house with.


Dan You do realize that the Republicans just had 12 years straight in power and could have done something then. You’re blaming Carter and the current Democrats, and just happen to pass over all the Republicans; this must be genetic. The unstable housing and financial boom started before the dems took control. And it’s not like Bush and the Republicans were screaming to fix fannie and freddie after the Democrats took control of the legislature – I remember distinctly them saying the economy was solid. None in Either party predicted this mess. Regardless, although Fannie and freddie played some part in the crisis it isn’t nearly as big as you suggest – mostly it was poor monetary policy (see: John Taylor) mixed with some complex financial alchemy. ALL I’m saying is the Democrats can’t be blamed outright for the recession and that Obama did, in fact, inherit it (no matter whose fault it was; it certainly wasn’t his). This is where your needless partisanship shows most clearly.

Sure you give lip service to Bush not being a “fiscal conservative” which is true (and a tad late) but neither was basically the entire republican party which blew more money than LBJ. Of course, the dems aren’t fiscally conservative but don’t pretend the minority party is any different. Anyone reading this back-and-forth can’t help but notice that besides a quick throw-a-way that you really let the republicans off the hook. If you don’t, why would you think they deserve to be back in power? And just tangentially, why does it seem to me that you’re blaming the CBO more than the executive (including the pentagon and defense department) for the monetary cost of the wars? Such an odd direction of your ire.

“All would agree that fiscal stimulus was in order” I love that you can write this while blaming the democrats and excusing the republicans. Let me quote a writer I read somewhere, “Your kidding, right?” Feel free to confirm with me that ZERO republicans in the House and only 3 in the Senate voted for the stimulus package. I already said that it was poorly designed but the important thing was to break any potential spiraling liquidity cycle and get money into the economy – they could have buried money into a hole and paid companies to dig it up (not my original or recommended idea) and it would have been a help to the crisis we faced.

Town hall events, really? I suppose you’re also referring to the tea partys. All of a sudden these constitutionalist patriots (ha!) find their fiscal responsibility when Obama takes office in the middle of a recession. They’re an overly emotional populist frenzied farce. Where were they during your “incremental” unfunded prescription drug benefit entitlement? How incremental is TRILLIONS of dollars in a medicare expansion before the baby boomers retire (see: Bruce Bartlett, advisor to Reagan) by the Republicans in 2003? How is turning a huge surplus that could have been used to reform entitlements into a hemorrhaging debt not something that should be protested against, but passing a stimulus and saving our financial institutions during a recession and trying to reform (not replace or radically alter) the healthcare system to give Americans a sense of economic and medical security is? So Frank Baum, if you had the Republicans pulling back “the curtain,” might they just see a mirror?

Categories: Facebook Throwdown

Facebook Throwdown, part 4

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Bill I’m not ignorant of the shortcomings of the Republican party. I want to make it better and am very involved at a local level in trying to doing that. If it makes you feel better, I could, quite easily, go against my “genetic predispositions’ and enter a tirade about the Iraq war and how Bush/Cheney/CBO manipulated the cost to sell it to the people, but you probably already know that. Listen, I think the problem I am having with this debate is that you have set the wrong premise. While I think healthcare is an issue, its not as crushing as the Dems have tried to tell us/sell us it is. Fear is a huge motivator (again, back to the Iraq war for example). Pres. Obama insists that recovery cannot happen without healthcare reform. Who is he kidding? And if it does, why does his/Demcare plan, according to CMS, save us any money? If it doesn’t really save us money, then I this huge entitlement expansion, in the face of a terrible economy and the already tenuous position of Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security, seems to me nothing more than ideologically motivated. I think that Pres. Obama and the democrats should have tackled financial reform first (this is something we can all probably agree needs to occur) and maybe put into place a vestigial plan (incrementalism is always best) to begin reigning in Medicare/Medicaid costs, controlling illegal immigration (which is draining our healthcare and educational systems), tort reform, a catastrophic healthcare option, and allowing insurance companies to cross state lines (increases competetition)….gee, this sounds just like the GOP plan…and it only costs $62 Billion per the CBO! I think the public would have bought into this. Lastly, I am sure that much of your criticism of Brown is correct and he needs to be taken to task for it, however that’s not as important has tipping the Dem apple cart. Its what I love about America, when one party starts getting too hubristic, the voters get rid of them. It happened to the Republicans and now to the Democrats if they don’t watch it. This is as it should be. Balance, incrementalism, common sense.



Dan Look, I don’t really even disagree with a lot of your points. But Obama has signaled he plans to tackle financial reform and the budget deficit after he passes healthcare. I don’t think it is unreasonable to attempt solving the healthcare first. Immigration reform was obstructed by the republicans before he was even in office. He’s done so much for the economy whether you agree with specifics or not it is ridiculous to think that he has somehow ignored economic concerns.

In only a year, on just economic issues with the political reality Obama faces he passed a good-faith (however poorly targeted) stimulus package which included many tax cuts (1/3) without Republican help and stabilized an economy in free-fall, invested in our crumbling infrastructure, extended unemployment benefits, saved the financial and banking system from utter collapse with money that is ALREADY being repaid despite Republican criticism (without nationalizing the banks like many of the left said was necessary), and he injected plenty of cash into the American car industry saving that for the time being and saving a lot of important economic confidence which would have resulted from a failure of that industry (full-disclosure: I disagreed with this policy, yet it still has helped in the short term economy). He is now is on the verge of passing a modest healthcare bill which still provides access for every American to have health insurance, allows consumers to shop around for the best policy at regulated exchanges, bars insurers from excluding people with pre-existing conditions, has no single payer, no public option, tries to control costs, and provides actual cuts in entitlement spending to attempt to be fiscally responsible all with NO republican help and a supermajority of his own party (many of which that wanted to go much further to the left).

After inheriting a potential depression and unimaginable deficits (much from a huge unpaid entitlement expansion by republicans), along with two huge wars, he saves the economy from economic disaster and is about to provide near universal health insurance coverage to America when people worry everyday about losing their jobs and health coverage while staying in the current framework of private insurance that most people say they want, and he’s all of a sudden a leftist ideologue without enough economic focus? He campaigned and won on a less conservative healthcare plan and pisses off the far left everyday. He’s done this and more in only a year yet balance needs to be restored? What has the Republican party done to deserve a second chance so soon? They have no specific healthcare plan (you named things YOU want), failed at immigration reform, tried to obstruct an economic and financial recovery plan that has unarguably helped for all its flaws, have no credibility on deficit reduction or entitlement reform, blew a huge surplus, and left office with a broken economy and rising debt (not to mention all the other obvious failings of the current GOP). I’m glad you’re trying to help at a local level, maybe there they are more respectable, but at a national level they haven’t earned a thing after they blew their chance. Obama at least deserves some time and support given the difficult reality and politics of it all.



Categories: Facebook Throwdown

Facebook Throwdown, part 3

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Bill

Uh. Yeah. Tony was talking about healthcare reform and I made the connection between Martha Coakley’s loss and public opinion on Demcare. I see the two as related, but maybe I’m wrong. All those seniors coming out for Brown couldn’t have been pissed off because HR3590 cuts Medicare by $483 billion while increasing Medicaid and CHIP spending, could they? U were right about CBO though. It was the CMS (Centers for Medicare/Medicaid) study that came out last month that found the health bill would increase spending by $234 Billion over the 2010-2019 period-contrary to CBO-which if you pay attention to CBO over the last 50 years they have been virtually wrong about everything from Medicare rate of increase and the Iraq wars. Also, I was impressed that the CBO gives themselves a little wiggle room- a protection clause that states the nebulousness government spending (duh). But they did mention that HR 3590 does increase subsidy spending by $871 billion (does this make it an entitlement program or is subsidy just another Demwellian term to make us feel better?). No subsidies for the elderly who worked their whole life and paid taxes. No siree. An nothin for hospitals either. In fact HR 3590 wants to decrease medicare/medicaid reimbursement by another $43 billion. Ask anyone who works in a hospital what they think about that and if thats a good thing. But heck, why ask anybody what they think? Let Pelosi-Reid-Emmanual figure it all out for us since they are so much smarter. Oh and here’s a little secret…don’t let the Republicans in or ask them what they think either…this way we can pretend that they have no plan and no solutions.


Dan It’s obvious that you spend the time to read and research these things, I just wish you’d free yourself of the partisan affinity you have for the Republican party. It is far too common for everything to be wrong on the other side (side note: that might be partly genetic ) . Feel free to reread my rejoinder to your first comments… it is littered with criticisms and acknowledgments of failings of the Democrats and their policies. Despite the Democrats’ lack of transparency (yup, bad dems, bad) I wasn’t aware this also physically stifled the Republicans from offering meaningful and serious plans of their own for a variety of issues. What’s the “republican” plan for fixing healthcare? Don’t tell me “more free markets” or something like that – it is way too vague and politically painless. How do they propose controlling healthcare costs? Just tort reform… sorry, valid, but not NEARLY enough. What about fixing entitlements? The Deficit? What does senator-elect Brown propose? Tax cuts?

That’s nice the elderly paid taxes. No one is cutting their benefits. But eventually the system isn’t going to have enough money to pay for Future benefits which means enough didn’t taxes weren’t paid by somebody. Sorry. Entitlements need reform so benefits need to be cut and taxes probably have to be raised. The republicans could offer more efficient ways to raise taxes but that would go against their faith-based belief that tax cuts are the only way to solve every problem. What spending do the Republicans suggest be cut? Earmarks? I’ll try not to laugh too hard. If they think taxes don’t have to be raised (and i don’t mean right now during the anemic recovery) what MORE spending do they suggest be cut? To balance the budget, spending needs to be reduced, taxes need to be raised, or both (almost certainly both). They criticize the Democrats for increasing the deficit despite them getting us in this mess and even hammer the dems when they actually offer spending cuts! It’s a typical pain free unserious minority party tactic.

Sure many seniors and others voted for Brown because of the unpopularity of the healthcare bill but Brown has no credibility as an alternative. I’m still waiting for any response to any of my criticisms of him. It is easy to find fault with the party actually putting out a proposal. So I’ll stop “pretending” the republicans have no plan when they (and Scott Brown) tell me a specific healthcare reform proposal that will help control costs while offering more security during a time of economic hardship and tell me how they’d fix the deficit (with specifics). Brown held a press conference and said he supports a basic healthcare plan for everyone but doesn’t support massive spending and tax hikes. Well coverage costs money. I’m not sure what he meant by such a plan. Maybe he and the Democrats can work something out. It would certainly be a change from the current republican party. I’m willing to give him a chance but it doesn’t mean I’m optimistic.



Categories: Facebook Throwdown

Facebook Throwdown, part 2

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Anthony Nice. Thanks for the input. Its like a political death match: Dan the Democrat in one corner and Bill the Republican in the other corner.
Healthcare reform is certainly a euphamism for taking more of my money.
I think patients need to be accountable for how thier healthcare dollars are spent. A little market competition is needed.
Folks think insurance is a bottomless pit resource. Health insurance should be treated like a nonrenewable resource and triaged appropriately.
Unfortunately, healthcare operating costs are far from transparent.
It’s a tough solution.
Government provided single payer systems, like Canada and Great Britain, are flawed too.
I’d be in support of a national healthcare program if I still didn’t have to pay High prices for my personal health insurance too.


Dan Well we weren’t talking about the merits of healthcare we were talking about coakley vs brown. Brown SUPPORTS mass healthcare so you can take up your criticisms of that program with him. I’m in total agreement on the insolvency of the current entitlement programs which is why Brown’s refusal to cut medicare spending is so cynical and irresponsible(while complaining of massive deficits).

I’d rather not be unqualifiedly categorized as “the Democrat” I have no solid affinity for that gutless party. Furthermore, I totally agree that a free market healthcare system would be WAY better than our current system or even Obamacare as long as it included some universal catastrophic coverage. But that’s politically impossible (unless some DRASTIC political and cultural changes occurred: don’t hold your breath). But just to challenge your characterization of obamacare…

It’s not a government run entitlement program. It doesn’t have a public option and it is even MORE CONSERVATIVE than the healthcare plan that Nixon tried to pass. I agree with most of your criticisms of Obamacare but even as vastly flawed as it is it remains an important step in improving our current terrible and unsustainable mess of a healthcare regime. Despite the undeniable costs of this bill it gives all Americans an opportunity to access affordable health insurance. It should have a mandate but I guess politics got in the way as usual. It does try some cost cutting experiments that the Mass plan doesn’t have; I’m not convinced they will work yet they are certainly worth a try. Given the need for a dynamic economy and given the economic uncertainty our society faces, access to affordable healthcare is essential. So if only just for that the bill is worth passing. Meanwhile Brown has no credibility on opposing the plan since he supports the Mass plan (and not just on federalist grounds, he’s not that principled). btw the CBO you cite finds that it will slightly decrease premiums (just for the record).

The Republicans could be helping control costs and Democratic excesses and shape a more responsible and better constructed bill; instead they obstruct at every opportunity and complain about “his failure to live up to his campaign promises.” He openly campaigned (ad nauseum) on this healthcare plan which (before he and the democrats bungled the politics) the majority of Americans supported – he was elected with a mandate to pass a plan like this but hasn’t, in part, because the Republicans refuse to take part and now it’s his fault he hasn’t lived up to this promise.

Facebook Throwdown

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

On my friend Tony’s facebook page he posted a comment about being unsure what to think about the election of Scott Brown. I commented along with some others and all of a sudden Tony’s friend and I began political back-and-forth on topics such as Scott Brown, healthcare, and Obama. These weren’t highly considered posts but I think each put enough time and thought into our comments that they are worth sharing. It was really long so I’ll separate some of it by blog entries and cut out some of the random clutter of other commentators. I drew a lot of my inspiration from Andrew Sullivan. He has influenced a lot of my thinking on the current political climate. I won’t use my opponent’s full name since I never asked him if I could post this. I assume it is fine to post the content since it was on a public facebook wall.

Anthony Craig I’m not sure how to feel about our election results? Good/bad/indifferent?

Daniel Braganca Coakley certainly ran a TERRIBLE campaign. She deserved to lose… BUT he did not deserve to win. This is a bad result; it validates the current national Republican nihilism where they oppose Obama just to oppose him. He supports universal healthcare for MA but not for the US, he complains of the deficit and debt yet wants to cut taxes and criticizes ANY entitlement spending cuts. It’s completely unserious.
Bill Warning: Mini Rant about to take place.

Obamacare is not healthcare reform. It is simply expanding entitlement and taxing (and raising premiums)on the rest of us to provide it. Take a look at Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security….how do you think these gov. run programs are doing?– I see lots of fraud, rampant and out of control deficits, inefficiency, and out of controll spending every.day. I. am. at. work. The Dems have not been transparent, they have not acted in a bipartisan fashion, have igniored tort reform, ignored HMO regulatory refrom, made many closed door deals, and their final plan doesn’t(per the CBO) decrease healthcare spending….and for what? To spend a trillion bucks we don’t have so the DEMS can brag that they insured 93% of the population instead of the current 87%. Most of the people that are uninsured cho0se not to, are illegal aliens, or are eligible for Cobra(which has rightly been expanded) Take a look at Mass Health…hasn’t saved the state a penny, people are still going to ER’s, and many are still chosing not to buy into it. In fact Boston Med is suing the feds because they can’t afford to keep providing care for free. See, liberals just don’t get it…nothing is for free. Someone has to pay for it.

Bill Hey Dan. Stop blaming Coakley. Sure she was a joke, but this was a referendum on Obama and his failure to live up to his campaign promises.

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