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Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2009

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE ON HEALTH CARE SCARE TACTICS.... Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee and a guy rumored to take policy matters seriously, has a lengthy item in the American Spectator today, arguing that reforming the health care system is, believe it or not, un-American. At a minimum, he says, reform contradicts the "American character."

In fact, Ryan makes the case that Comparative Effectiveness Research -- knowing which medical treatments work, and sharing that information with providers -- would bring the U.S. system in line with the British health care system. And because Britain has "a rationing bureaucracy" in place, reforming the U.S. system would mean government control over the length of Americans' lives.

The idea that the government should make decisions about how long people should live is deeply offensive to everything America stands for. It is no answer to say that health care resources are limited and will be rationed one way or another.

Under systems of market freedom, the limited amount of all services and goods, including health care, are rationed by individuals and their personal caregivers as they allocate their own resources among many competing producers. But should government do this, based on financial spreadsheets and political pressure groups? I believe this is morally and politically abhorrent to all Americans because it denies our most basic personal rights.

Yep, if we reform the broken system that's bankrupting the government, businesses, and families, government may "make decisions about how long people should live." Ryan finds that idea "offensive." I would too if this was in any way grounded in reality.

If you're thinking this nonsense is starting to sound like the foolishness we heard from conservative activists decades ago when Medicare was being formed, then we're on the same page.

Indeed, it's worth noting that as Republican desperation has become more palpable, there's a preoccupation with the "reform = literal death" meme. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) thinks reform will "end up killing more people than it saves." Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) thinks reform will tell senior citizens to "drop dead." Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) argued that a public option "is gonna kill people." A variety of right-wing House Republicans have given floor speeches saying Americans may "die" if the Democratic proposals become law.

It's almost a cartoonish kind of demagoguery. To parody the most shameless of scare tactics would be to characterize opponents as saying, "You're all going to die!" Given reality, the line between Republican tactics and exaggerated satire is practically non-existent.

Steve Benen 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Under systems of market freedom, the limited amount of all services and goods, including health care, are rationed by individuals and their personal caregivers as they allocate their own resources among many competing producers.

Notice he didn't mention insurance companies...

Posted by: TonyB on July 23, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Everybody has their griefs. But the griefs we can fix... shouldn't we go about fixing them."

Elizabeth Edwards, speaking about health care on Rachel Maddow's show yesterday. Though the sentiment could be applied to other topics.

Posted by: Hannah on July 23, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

ObamaCare will end up being the American Holocaust. Mark my words. The people who die first will be the lucky ones because they won't have to watch as government bureaucrats murder their loved ones.

I'm not saying Obama is Hitler. I'm saying he is Jim Jones, and all of you saps are being led to your own deaths.

Posted by: skeptic on July 23, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I guess this might work if people had never dealt with hospitals or insurance companies. However, it only takes one multi-hundred or thousand dollar bill landing square on your shoulders (after being caught between a hospital's fairy-tale billing and an insurer's refusal to cover legitimate claims) to realize that the system as it stands has a better chance of killing us.

Nice try though, Paul Ryan.

Posted by: Jamobey on July 23, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. The American Holocaust. Skeptic, are you retarded?

Posted by: Jamobey on July 23, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Under systems of market freedom, the limited amount of all services and goods, including health care, are rationed by individuals and their personal caregivers as they allocate their own resources among many competing producers."

Wasn't that Act 3 of "The Little Foxes"? Regina decided to allocate Horace's resources to herself.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

LOL! I hope skeptic is a parody troll. I just had an argument with someone like that. The problem is, they know buzzwords but not facts. They don't realize how many government subsidies are already in place for health care. We have badly socialized medicine already. We pay more and get less than any nation on earth. I would like to create super VA hospitals with salaried workers and fixed budgets that could treat all Americans. In the future, we will need to find things to occupy our workers. Providing care to one another is something that is always a growth industry. I would rather subsidize a legion of nurse's aides than Aetna. Or China.

Posted by: Sparko on July 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

ObamaCare will end up being the American Holocaust. Mark my words. The people who die first will be the lucky ones because they won't have to watch as government bureaucrats murder their loved ones.

"American holocaust'? Hyperbole much?

Poor skeptic. If we get healthcare reform, he can get the anti-psychotics he so obviously desperately needs.

Posted by: Realist on July 23, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

From Country Joe & The Fish...

For its 1... 2... 3... 4...
What are you fighting for...
Don't tell me...
I don't give a damn...
Next stop is Viet Nam...

For its 5... 6... 7... 8...
Tell Saint Peter to...
Open up the Pearly Gates...
Don't tell me...
I don't give a damn...
Next stop is Viet Nam...

Whoopee, we're all gonna die!

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on July 23, 2009 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, I refer you to the Democracy Now(www.democracynow.org) interview with Obama's personal physician of 22 years, yesterday. He lays it bare: the Insurance Companies and Trial Lawyers are already in the room with every exam he conducts, so "The Government" is not any more of a threat than is already present, and probably less.

Posted by: st john on July 23, 2009 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

I guess this might work if people had never dealt with hospitals or insurance companies.

Which is why crap like this can only come out the mouths of Congressmen and Senators. I guarantee you that they have NEVER had to deal with their insurance company saying "we're not paying for that" or getting stuck in a fight between hospital billing and insurance payout departments.

And not because they spend a lot of money on it either. Because they're FUCKING US POLITICIANS and any businessman worth his goddamn salt knows that the fastest way to get to Universal Health Care in this country would be to dick around with a US Senator or Congressman's family's health payouts. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the insurance companies and hospitals have special people on hand just to deal with the politicians' insurance issues and make things go way. Paul Ryan has probably never had to deal with a low-paid worker at the other end of the phone telling you that the "billing code" that the hospital used means that you now owe another $500 on your bill (while the hospital refuses to re-bill it because they used the right code and it's the insurance companies fault). And that's only the minor kind of issue that has people chewing their arms off when they're stuck in bureaucratic hell - having a piss-ant bean counter tell you that the cancer your doctor just discovered is a "pre-existing condition" because they found a record that you had a mole removed back in '92 that you'd forgotten about is something completely different.

Posted by: NonyNony on July 23, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh those silly Republicans!! What will they think of next??


I'm assuming that if Limpballs told the Republicans how long they could live and where to send their extra Oxycontin before they died, it would be alright?

Posted by: GreyGuy on July 23, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans are still operating under the "ownership society" meme (ie you're on your own) which has been rejected by a majority of Americans as goes health care.

What IS un-American is that the current system of health care means that far too many people get little or substandard care, that people are dying or suffering unnecessarily, while others (industry execs, etc.) are getting rich. (It's also un-Christian, but for now I'll leave religion aside.)

Paul Ryan and others who do not want health care reform represent those who think the USA not as a civilized society, but as a place where you get ahead by stepping on others, by being cut-throat, who cares if anyone gets hurt. Is that the face of our country? I don't think so.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Preamble to the Constitution

Insuring domestic tranquility? Promote the general welfare? Doesn't affordable and available health care fit that description?

Posted by: Hannah on July 23, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

These people made "liberal" a bad word, so why not "reform?"

Posted by: Winkandanod on July 23, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Skeptic, if you comb your hair and take of the red shirt, you might be able to reason properly.

Posted by: Trollkiller on July 23, 2009 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

As someone with a pre-existing condition and too young for that evil government-provided Medicare, if I were to lose my mostly-employer provided insurance, I guess Ryan & friends would tell me to "drop dead".

Posted by: qwerty on July 23, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Tech Nation with Moira Gunn (public radio program) had an interview with the head of the British system today and he explained, quite rationally, how their single payer system works. I won't try to relay what I heard on the radio, but it sounds like a really sensible system that gets the most 'bang for the buck (or pound) while treating EVERY patient that shows up in a health care facility for free. Some of the newest treatments are cost effective and so are recommended, while others are not and are not used. It's not based on a 'spread sheet' but on the advice and experience of health care providers. What works (and how much does it cost) vs. what doesn't work.

Unfortunately for the interested, the programs on her website are about two weeks behind.

Posted by: anonymous on July 23, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ryan's argument is false anyway, since a floor for minimum coverage would not keep you from seeking other, additional coverage or outlets.

Posted by: N e i l B on July 23, 2009 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

i'd like to think that sheist-koffs like this ryan-boy will git theirs at the mid-term elections.

i'd like to think that as the republicans continue their "no no no" talk, their socio-pathological bullshit, and they keep heaping on the piles of hate and fear and craziness, that they are committing political suicide, and will leave hardly a remnant in the houses of congress in november 2010.

unfortunately, their opponents...

Posted by: neill on July 23, 2009 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Me thinks Republicans and Red State Democrats speak with forked tongue, Kimosabe.

Posted by: anonymous on July 23, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Repubicans next week (with apologies to William Jennings Bryan): My Friends, you shall not press this crown of thorns upon the brow of ordinary Americans, and you SHALL NOT crucify senior citizens on a cross of government run health care.

Posted by: Kurt on July 23, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Where on earth do these douchebags come up with this shit. Oh that's right they pull it right out of their ass.
There is no indication whatsoever of any of the malarkey that Ryan talks about ever taking place. By the way the countries with socialized health care systems have a longer life expectancy than americans do.

Posted by: Gandalf on July 23, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

"It's almost a cartoonish kind of demagoguery."

And it's working. Because we need better Democrats.

It's time to challenge a vulnerable Blue Dog or two in next election. We don't need to win, or even elect a different Democrat. We need to show Blue Dogs that it won't be a free ride, that we'll run them out of their jobs for supporting corporations over their constituients needs.

At least if a Republican got elected, we'd be getting someone honest about where they stand on progressive legislation.

Posted by: zak822 on July 23, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

No matter what Congress comes up with, 100% of Americans are going to die. Bank on it.

Posted by: Mike from Detroit on July 23, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

"they allocate their own resources among many competing producers"

Sure, they can choose to "allocate" their house and life savings to health care, or they (or their loved ones) can drop dead. That's some choice, you betcha.

Anyone remember how much grief Kerry received during the 2004 campaign over his plan to have national catastrophic health insurance ?

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2004/06/health_insuranc_1.html

It sure looks pretty good right about now.

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on July 23, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Where's the Canadian Holocaust?

Posted by: pbg on July 23, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK
Under systems of market freedom, the limited amount of all services and goods, including health care, are rationed by individuals and their personal caregivers as they allocate their own resources among many competing producers.

Uhhhhh ... what about the individuals who lack personal resources--not to mention "personal caregivers"--whatever they are supposed to be?

Posted by: Public Takeover on July 23, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, if you look at the FACTS (which I know Republicans have eschewed as a matter of principle and religion) you see that people ROUTINELY die from "too much" health care. Primarily from infections from unnecessary surgery, caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria endemic in the hospitals in our "best medical care in the world" system.

But also from complications from unneeded invasive tests, from too much radiation exposure, from reactions to unneeded drugs, from infections that COULD have be stopped by antibiotics if the patient hadn't taken too many unnecessary antibiotics in the past, etc.

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 23, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Scare tactics, hmmm!!!

This is taking out of the 'Mafia's playbook.'

You get more respect if people fear you, less respect if people love you.

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Jamobey, quit insulting retarded people by comparing them to skeptic. Many retarded people are very empathic and kind, and it's obvious that skeptic is neither.

Posted by: Impeach Jay Bybee on July 23, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Skeptic, you are definitely a idiot!

How the hell can you use Pres. Obama's healthcare plan as argument by using the Holocaust & Jim Jones as a point?

Sounds to me you are an extremist on meth. Jim Jones was a minister, used Kool-Aide to poison his followers.

Hitler was a control freak/fascist which is what we're seeing from the Gay or Perverts (GOP), all you have to do is listen to the hate speech they promote on television everyday.

Pres. Obama doesn't use religion as a focal point, I seriously think you are confused.

It was Mark Sanford, John Ensign...publicly saying they ask 'God' (which I think they are referring to their GodFather Doug Coe)for forgiveness.

Dude, get a clue!

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Skeptic, I guess if the GOP was your friend, they would pay for your much needed psychiatric-drug problems.

You are the type of people that scare the hell out of me!!!! You are the type of person that sounds like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, or for the voices (right) you hear tell you to do something.

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans love stories about American loggers who, after breaking a thumb in an accident, amputate it themselves with a jackknife and then go back to work. The notion that Americans are nearly indestructible is dear to Republican hearts, and they don't approve (as, indeed, many fundamentalists of all persuasions do not) of "running to the doctor for every little thing".

Of course, that doesn't take into account the millions who are chronically ill to some degree, or those who are critically injured in an unforseen accident who will never completely recover.

Slathered on top of this dream-image of indestructible Americans are a dislike of weakness (personified by sick people) and a sense that if all's well with them, it must be well with everyone.

Shorter message - forget about an expensive health-care bill, and buy yourself a good jackknife.

Posted by: Mark on July 23, 2009 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Did you know in Britain that pregnant women have a 9 month waiting period before they can give birth !

Posted by: H-Bob on July 23, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"...To parody the most shameless of scare tactics..." Steve Benen
Worked for 9/11, didn't it?

Posted by: Doug on July 23, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

I guess the $15,000 or so people who die every year from lack of care don't count. They're dead and can no longer vote or scream "rationing"...

It's ironic that Republicans are scaring people with the rationing argument, when they are all for it when it increases the dividends on the health insurance stocks that many of them own.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on July 23, 2009 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I had a satire fail. I thought surely throwing out "holocaust" and "Hitler" and "Jim Jones" would sound like a parody of the right-wing scare tactics, but I guess it sounded all too real.

Sad that the debate has come to this, but I guess that was Steve's whole point in this post.

Posted by: skeptic on July 23, 2009 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well, in semi-socialised medicined Australia, average life expectancy at birth is 81.63 years (yay, we beat Canada!). You USAians have an ALEB of 78.11 years (yay, you beat Albania and Cuba). Aus= 6th place, US=50th but you guys pay a hell of a lot more (by GDP etc) than we do to get 3.5 years less lifespan.

And those figures are from the CIA Factbook so should be reasonably unbiased.

And we have our equivalent of the Comparative Effectiveness Research organisation, used particularly before medicines are added to the public health benefit scheme. And yes, some Australians go to the US to get treatments not available here (your population is 15x ours) but the traffic actually goes both ways, as we have our own medical research industry (spelt Gardasil, for starters).

Personally, I'd have thought that it would be un-American to allow a system that patently doesn't work as well as others around the world to continue.

Posted by: Brett Coster on July 23, 2009 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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