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Tilting at Windmills

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June 21, 2009

LINDSEY GRAHAM MAKES HIS CASE.... There are a small handful of political figures whose families never see them on Sunday mornings, because they practically live on the morning talk shows. John McCain and Newt Gingrich immediately come to mind, though Sen. Lindsey Graham is on nearly as much. (When Calvin Trillin came up with the phrase "Sabbath Day Gasbags," I suspect he had these three in mind.)

This morning, Graham explained why a public option in health care reform -- with the broad, bipartisan support of the nation -- cannot become law.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told me that the U.S. Senate will not "go down the government-run health care road" despite a new poll showing 72 percent of Americans want a government role in health care -- and are willing to pay higher taxes for it.

"The reason you're not going to have a government run health care pass the Senate is because it would be devastating for this country," Graham said Sunday in an exclusive "This Week" interview.

"The last thing in the world I think Democrats and Republicans are going to do at the end of the day is create a government run health care system where you've got a bureaucrat standing in between the patient and the doctor. We've tried this model...."

Actually, that's true, we have tried this kind of system. It's why I'll take Graham's opinion on this far more seriously just as soon as he explains why he'd like to see Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration hospitals eliminated because of their "devastating" effects for the country.

And while he's at it, maybe he can unveil a proposal to prevent unaccountable insurance company bureaucrats from standing in between patients and doctors. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Graham added, however, that while he's dead set against the idea endorsed by 72% of the country, he's open to Kent Conrad's proposal for state-based co-ops. If only that were good enough.

Steve Benen 11:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

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Because, god knows, it's a constitutional right to have a profit-making, private insurance bureaucrat standing between the patient and the doctor.

I guess when you have the Senate health care plan, and all your friends are rich, and you're showered with money from drug and insurance companies, the status quo looks pretty damn good.

What an alternative universe our decision makers live in.

Posted by: jrw on June 21, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Public healthcare will never happen in the US. If you want that, you need to move to another country.

In fact I would guess that SS, Medicare, and the VA are all more likely to be privatized in the next 50 years than anything remotely like a public health insurance option being enacted.

Posted by: Rock on June 21, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Dismaying degree of douchebaggery. Or does douche-baggery need a hyphen?

Posted by: American in Exile on June 21, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I assume Rock is hoping his fantasy comes true, but I doubt it. It may very take a complete collapse of health care as we know it, and trillions of extra dollars to fix, but I believe the direction we are heading in is a public system of some sort. Despite the power of big pharma and insurance, it will happen.

Posted by: jrw on June 21, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Just stop paying the insurance companies. Bankrupt them.

Posted by: Jennifer on June 21, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

One problem with the Senate is there are no Democratic members who consider themselves backbenchers who are willing to do silly things. If I was in the Senate I'd introduce the 'Lindsey Graham wants to eliminate Medicare and the VA bill' using his own words and then let the SOB defend his bogus talking points.

Posted by: joejoejoe on June 21, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

we alrady have not one, but many bureaucrats in between doctors and patients. I'd rather have one.

Posted by: Chris on June 21, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Rock is right, there'll be no real reform. He's not rooting for that state of affairs, he's stating a fact.

We think we have an economy, but what we really want, and have, is a morality play. It's burnt into the pseudo-Calvininst American mythos.

If people are presented with a choice bewteen a satisfying narrative arc, in which the good guys win and the bad guys get punished, and an actual, functioning social provision, they'll take the coherent story over the boring social provision.

In addition, the salient fact in American politics is that there are always enough people who would volunteer to live with their family in a cardboard box under a railroad bridge, and toast sparrows on an old curtain rod over an open fire, if you would only guarantee them that the people in the next box over -- black, gay, foreign, liberal, different -- don't even get the sparrow.

It took the depths of the Depression to make Social Security possible, and that only came to pass because the original legislation excluded agricultural workers and domestic help (i.e. colored people).

Add in the true-believer market-worshipers, and there's a coalition big enough to keep anything from happening, ever.

Since the elderly in this country vote in disproportionately large numbers, and their care-delivery system is already set up, there is no disincentive for them to not vote their prejudices, or their theories about capitalism, or their memories of how medical care was delivered when Eisenhower was in the White House. They can message-send to their hearts' content and their ox won't be gored.

At that point, the venality of the the average Congresscritter, while remarkable, and reliable, isn't even necessary.

The health-care status quo will outlive the Republic.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Since Graham and his GOP buddies are so sold on the notion that healthcare has to be a private market, let's show them what happens in a private market when you offer shit: just stop paying them for doing such a shitty job.

We're looking to someone else - certain someones who are owned by the insurance industry - to fix something we can quickly and easily fix ourselves. Just stop paying them.

Posted by: Jennifer on June 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Has Lindsey Graham ever had an original thought in his life? He's up there every week shilling some corporatist talking point, when he's not pretending to be some sort of moral conscious of the country.

I'll take a government employee over some insurance company hack ANY DAY.

Hey Lindsey, Fuck off.

Posted by: Steve on June 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans aren't going away until they have somewhere to go.

Let's give them a few of the stupider states.

What could we lose?

Posted by: alan on June 21, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

As a grateful consumer of V.A. health care, I'm with the 72% who endorse a public plan. The V.A. has a wonderful system, with capable and (dare I say) empathetic doctors and a records-keeping setup that would be hard to beat. Let's hope that for once the congress listens to the people instead of the lobbyists.

Posted by: Judy in Ohio on June 21, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nitpicking Alert. Goober doesn't have a family. This could be why he's so eager to show up at the TeeVee studios on Sunday mornings. Of course, having a family may also explain a desire of some to be anywhere but home on Sunday morning.

Posted by: rege on June 21, 2009 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Graham and those of his ilk will continue to be blind to what 72% of the popultion want until the gasbags who interview them hold them accountable for their gasbagishness.

The gasbags who ask the question need to hold these dorks accountable and until that happens clear thinker don't have a chance.

I didn't see any of the sunday shows as they make me nauseous. Did any of the interviewers point out the pool umbers and ask good ol boy Lindsey why he felt those 72% were so out of touch with the health care lobbyists?

Posted by: Stevio on June 21, 2009 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

So, Davis X. Machina, time to just give up and feel superior to the sparrow-toasters? That seems too easy and cynical. If you, at the start, concede all powers to your opponents, you never stand a chance.

Posted by: jrw on June 21, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

as soon as he explains why he'd like to see Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration hospitals eliminated because of their "devastating" effects for the country.

And while he's at it, maybe he can unveil a proposal to prevent unaccountable insurance company bureaucrats from standing in between patients and doctors.

yea, and who is going to ask Graham to explain himself.

This is unfounded wishful thinking.

Posted by: pluege on June 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

jrw, expect a battle as long as that against not just slavery, but slavery-and-its consequences. A century, or more.

The phenomena against which the health-care-provision battle must be fought are that deeply entrenched, that central to the national psyche, and will take that long to shift.

Truman was sixty years ago. Since then, what? Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP -- a little ameliorative progress, at the margins, vulnerable to roll-back. The shibboleths are still in place, the fundamental mythos unchallenged.

Things absolutely had to change fifteen years ago, when Harris Wofford rode the issue into the Senate in a special election.

Progress will be glacial.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 21, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Although the healthcare debate has never been all that clear to me, and success rates of government systems in various countries are difficult to quantify owing to degrees of interpretation (as I learned when I had my ass handed to me by someone better-informed after I quoted figures that came through the door on, yes, a political leaflet), it seems much clearer what kind of system Graham endorses.

If you're ill and you can pay for health care, regardless what the cost might be, you get it. If you can't, you don't, and your family tries to make you as comfortable as possible while you waste away, if it's that nature of illness.

Republics (intentional shortening of "Republicans") only fear big government when they're not the government. I didn't notice the government getting any smaller under George Bush, and the degree to which it was permitted to invade the private lives of Americans expanded greatly.

Posted by: Mark on June 21, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Davis X. Machina...I don't disagree with your assessment of the mythos. However, as opposed to virtually any other policy area, everybody has a stake in health care; we can all get sick, get injured, get old. These are not things that happen to "other people". And I know it's only a snapshot, but 72% of Americans support a government option of some sort. I think the earth is shifting on this issue, and by the way, if it took a great depression to usher in Social Security, we're working on that, too!

Posted by: jrw on June 21, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sabbath Day Gasbags

Great Band Name.

Posted by: Husker Blue on June 21, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it true that the private-sector version of the "bureaucrat"--often called the "bean counter" or "regional manager of health benefits" or some such title--very often dictates what doctors do and the options available to patients? Such people are asked to cut back or recover costs for the insurance companies that pay their salaries and there is no accountability for the consumer. I think I'd rather have a government-paid bureaucrat stand between me and my doctor.

Posted by: Danton on June 21, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I am, also, a happy consumer of the VA system. However, even the VA needs more money for rural areas. Surprised the right has not attemped to capitalize on the recent hepatitis scare from poorly administrated colonoscophies in the Southeastern states. We receive excellent care in the PNW, with the colonoscophy section at Portland being supervised by one of the leaders in the medical field. However, even with this care, there is not enough money to provide up to date quality care in the rural areas of Oregon. I have read other reports about the lack of care outside of major cities. However, is this any different from the lack of quality care in the private sector for rural America? Kathleen Sebelius is a huge supporter for placing more health providers in those areas.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 21, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Sabbath Day Gas Bags" by Calvin Trillin

Yes, Blue Girl, there has been some intelligence flowing from Kansas City, eh?

Posted by: berttheclock on June 21, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

...the Calvininst... God, I miss Calvin. Oh, and Hobbes as well.
That's who you meant because that's who you described.
Lindsey Graham is a pusillanimous prevaricator who needs a few constituents to write letters to the editor of South Carolina newspapers asking why he wants to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid and the VA system.
Over 40% of health care dollars spent are government run. Of course, George, being the good host refuses to call the plump pussy on his misstatements.

Posted by: TJM on June 21, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Would Graham be willing to give up his socialized coverage as a member of Congress?
No answer needed.

Posted by: majii on June 21, 2009 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I would also like to know what sort of health insurance the Sunday gas bags have

Posted by: jamie on June 21, 2009 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Actually the program with a bureaucrat between a patient and his/her doctor isn't the VA or Medicare: it's an HMO. And I bet that that HMO is paying big-time to each and every GOP PAC.

Posted by: xtalguy on June 21, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone know when Lindsay Graham is up for re-election?

Posted by: JS on June 21, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Good old boy Kent Conrad has proved he is never to be trusted again as his proposal is unworkable but more importantly is just a distraction from real health care reform. He knows this because it's obvious and his authoritarian attitude toward the public reveal he thinks she knows what's best for them...because he knows what is best for his campaign pocketbook.

Kent Conrad...another bought and bribed democratic conservative schmuck elitist who knows what is best for us inspite of what we think.

No wonder Graham supports him...it's a sneaky way to kill health care ins. reform.

I'd get the same care and better coverage if I have Medicare as if I had Blue Cross. Let's open up Medicare to everyone not just the elderly and disabled...then it would quit running a deficit.

Posted by: bjobotts on June 21, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

"...Progress will be glacial."
Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 21, 2009 at 12:34 PM

Sorry...but the internet changed all that....What used to take 15 yrs now will take 2. We have hit a boiling point and it is easily seen that corporate greed is all that stands in the way of what the people so desperately need and demand.
Senators keep trying to find ways to avoid HC ins. reform and can't do it...they are trying everything but the people aren't backing off and they're are more people than there is money to stop them.

This issue will not go away...no matter how they try to make it "glacial" we've seen what is beyond private HC ins. and there is no turning back now. Necessity finds a way.

Posted by: bjobotts on June 21, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Jeebus buddy, your extremely cynical view is exactly what fires up the wealthiest 2% of Americans...and those conservatives with the biggest mouths. Truth is, most of the country has been unconcerned but after the last 8yrs and dealing with the results of the past 30 yrs while most of the country slept, there is more involvement today than ever and it will continue to increase out of necessity from witnessing the destruction of our democracy by the very people you think control us.

What used to work isn't working anymore as the RNC and GOP are quickly learning but ignoring...hell even FOX's rampage with the 20%ers is laughable. The people have had enough of manipulation (Tea Baggers aside), and they are becoming more informed and involved than ever. Your vision of America doesn't match any of what is visible to me and god would I be depressed if it did. You're vision is hopeless and certainly doesn't account for those times when the universe steps in with unforeseen changes. Maybe you should move to a less cynical world...I did.

Posted by: I am life on June 21, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

During the roundtable this morning on THIS WEEK, Stephanopoulos said:

"I know a lot of Democrats are bankin' on this, but I'm just not sure it's possible. They say ... we don't really need the Republicans. We can alter these budget rules and put it through on this so-called reconciliation measure, that would allow you to get a majority vote... the more you look at that the less viable that plan actually is, both for political reasons because it's not going to have political durability, but also a lot of the experts say 'You put the plan through that process and it's gonna be full of holes'."

What the HELL is he talking about ?

A) The "budget rules" are already in there.

B) Why do I suspect that the so-called "experts" he has been talking to are REPUBLICANS ?

C) So it's OK to use the reconciliation process to enact MASSIVE tax cuts for the Rich & Corporate that resulted in TRILLIONS of dollars of federal debt, but to us it to enact universal healthcare for all Americans will bring down the republic ?

What is WRONG with these people ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on June 21, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Calvin Trillin came up with the phrase 'Sabbath Day Gasbags' "

No, Steve Benen came up with the phrase "Sabbath Day Gasbags." Calvin Trillin came up with the phrase "Sabbath Gasbags."

Posted by: Ross Best on June 21, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Trillin unveiled the phrsae "Sabbath Gasbags" in March 1998. As best I can tell (Nexis), Graham had been on only one Sunday show at that time.

Thanks to electronic data bases, it's possible to "look things up" now. Granted, it's more enjoyable not to.

Posted by: bob somerby on June 21, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told me that the U.S. Senate will not "go down the government-run health care road" despite a new poll showing 72 percent of Americans want a government role in health care -- and are willing to pay higher taxes for it.
==========================
So much for US electing OUR representatives.

Can we start using these stats for the mid-term elections?

Posted by: Moxo on June 21, 2009 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

What would happen if terminally ill, uninsured people decided to go to Capitol Hill and die there, on the steps of government?

Posted by: mlm on June 21, 2009 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

somerby: Thanks to electronic data bases, it's possible to "look things up" now. Granted, it's more enjoyable not to.

Try looking up "painfully literalist" and see what comes up.

Posted by: Susan Johnson on June 21, 2009 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

American in Exile 11:51 AM

this is very clever, with ref. L. Graham, you got in a double douchebag in one line, which he is very deserving

Posted by: Ted76 on June 21, 2009 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: "There are a small handful of political figures whose families never see them on Sunday mornings..."

Speaking of families, well, Lindsay Graham is over 50 and never married, and there is talk among some (gays) that he seems awfully gay. Not that I care, but hypocrisy and the Republican Party seem to be one and the same.

Also, my staunch Republican mom can't stand Sen. Graham.

Idea: how about the people, the 72%, start a nationwide petition to state our objection to the healthcare plan for elected officials, paid for with OUR tax dollars, if they continue this "no public plan" nonsense. Maybe we could convince a sympathetic member of each body to write up a bill and introduce it onto each floor. Wouldn't that be fun?

Posted by: Hmmm on June 22, 2009 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Don't most of these Sunday gasbags claim to be born-again Christians?

Is this their way of "keeping the Sabbath holy"?

Once while reading the Old Testament I came across a story of a man who was caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath. He was stoned to death, with the apparent approval of Jehovah.

Too bad God seems to be dead these days. We could use a little judiciously-applied stoning--of hypocrites.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on June 22, 2009 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Republicans aren't going away until they have somewhere to go.

Let's give them a few of the stupider states."-Posted by: alan
===============================================

Oh, we did already.
Ain't working.

Posted by: Can O Whoopass on June 22, 2009 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

wpXFHA

Posted by: Fewccywi on July 15, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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