Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 15, 2009

WEEKLY ADDRESS.... When we look back at some of the conservative arguments from previous generations, they look pretty silly. One wonders what contemporary conservative arguments against health care reform will look like with the benefit of hindsight.

It was a point President Obama referenced in his weekly address today. "[W]hen folks with a stake in the status quo keep inventing these boogeymen in an effort to scare people, it's disappointing, but it's not surprising," the president said. "We've seen it before. When President Roosevelt was working to create Social Security, opponents warned it would open the door to 'federal snooping' and force Americans to wear dog tags. When President Kennedy and President Johnson were working to create Medicare, opponents warned of 'socialized medicine.' Sound familiar? Not only were those fears never realized, but more importantly, those programs have saved the lives of tens of millions of seniors, the disabled, and the disadvantaged."

Obama also took another crack at the right-wing argument du jour: "[L]et's look at one of the scarier-sounding and more ridiculous rumors out there -- that so-called 'death panels' would decide whether senior citizens get to live or die. That rumor began with the distortion of one idea in a congressional bill that would allow Medicare to cover voluntary visits with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life care -- if and only if you decide to have those visits. It had nothing to do with putting government in control of your decisions; in fact, it would give you all the information you need -- if you want it -- to put you in control of your decisions. When a conservative Republican Senator who has long-fought for even more far-reaching proposals found out how folks were twisting the idea, he called their misrepresentation, and I quote, 'nuts.'"

It also seems like there's finally a clear elevator pitch in place: "For all the chatter and the noise out there, what every American needs to know is this: If you don't have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will deliver this in a fiscally responsible way." Three sentences, 53 words. Not bad.

For what it's worth, the weekly address did not include any references to a timeline for legislation, nor did the president mention the public option. That's not necessarily evidence of abandoning the policy -- Obama did explain why a public plan is a good idea during yesterday's town-hall event in Montana -- but I thought I'd mention the omission anyway.

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (12)

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Three sentences, 53 words. Not bad.

Could be better. Try:

"You get it. You keep it. It's paid for."

That's the benefit of Obama's plan. Seven words.

You don't got insurance? You get it.

Insurance hacks wanna take it away? You keep it.

Bankrupting the government? Nope - it's paid for.

What about when they start shrieking "They'll kill my grandmother!" or "Not my Americaaa!"?

Turn your head and cough.

Posted by: brevityczar on August 15, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Good, but why does Obama keep acting as if he and his people expect Republicans and other opponents to act in good faith? This should have been ready to go at least before Congress waddled off to have town meetings. Even gullible innocents should show a learning curve after all the abuse directed at Obama, democrats, etc., since the election.

Posted by: VKW on August 15, 2009 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

he shudda thrown that god damned grassley on the fire...
that asshole wants to kill people.

Posted by: neill on August 15, 2009 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Propose this in 2009:



(This is worth reading. It is short and to the point.)

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years.

Our Senators and Congresswomen do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it.

You see, Social Security

benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan.

In more recent years, no congressperson has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan.

For all practical purposes their plan works like this:
When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die.
Except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments...

For example, Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7, 800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing $275, 000..00 during the last years of their lives.
This is calculated on an average life span for each of those two Dignitaries.

Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will
receive much more during the rest of their lives.

Their cost for this excellent plan is $0.00. NADA!!! ZILCH!!!

This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds;


From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into, every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer), We can expect to get an average of
$1,000 per month after retirement.

Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to
equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits!

Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.

That change would be to

Jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen.. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us

Then sit back.....

And see how fast they would fix it!

If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.

Posted by: venne52 on August 15, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

His delivery might possibly have been aided by using a brunette Barbie doll to represent Sarah Palin's "death panel" straw man, and a partially melted GI Joe could fill in for Sen. "Pull the Plug" Grassley. Then stand them up next to a stuffed walrus to represent Rush Limbaugh and... yeah, I guess that would be unpresidential.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on August 15, 2009 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

venne52 comments??

I fully agree that congress should have to live on the same retirement plan as the rest of us but there are some errors in the figures used to determine retirement benefits. First of all, Byrd has every intention of keeping his seat until he's carried away in a casket so he's not going to enjoy close to 8 million in retirement. Next, most people working until full retirement age will receive a bit more than $1000 per month in social security. The figures concerning congressional retirement and social security are straight out of one of those chain emails that fly around the net. As for all Americans enjoying the same medical plan as our congress, that'll never happen as long as the health care INDUSTRY has money to feed into campaign funds and promote misinformation for dissemination on Faus News. I agree that the current system really sucks and we, the taxpayers, are not likely to see any improvement until Congress places itself in the same leaky boat the rest of us are in. And when is that likely to happen? Not until hell freezes over would be my guess

Posted by: sparky on August 15, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Women's right to vote? Conservatives fought it.
Safe water and food? Conservatives fought it.
Have a day a week off? Conservatives fought it.
Abolition of slavery? Conservatives fought it.
Social Security? Conservatives fought it.
Seatbelts in cars? Conservatives fought it.
Child labor laws? Conservatives fought it.
Minimum wage? Conservatives fought it.
Freedom of religon? Conservatives fought it.
Senators elected by the public? Conservatives fought it.
Medical care for the elderly? Conservatives fought it.
Women in the military? Conservatives fought it.
Voting rights for blacks? Conservatives fought it.

Health care for all citizens? Conservatives are fighting it.

A pattern begins to emerge here.

Posted by: Buford on August 15, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK


In MI., Blue Cross raising individual, group rates 22 pct.

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By Stephen C. Webster

Published: August 13, 2009
Updated 2 days ago

Insurer originally sought 56 percent rate hike, but regulators refused

Michigan insurance regulators have approved a 22 percent increase for group and individual Blue Cross Blue Shield health policies in the state, according to reports published Thursday.

“Blue Cross officials have said they need rate increases to help cover $133 million in financial losses in 2008 on its individual health insurance policies,” reported Crain’s Detroit Business.

Blue Cross originally sought to raise individual rates by 56 percent and group rates by 41 percent. Its proposed rate increases were initially rejected by the state’s Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, which negotiated the still-significant hikes.

The new rates, set to take effect October 1, will affect 163,000 policies.

Blue Cross is also awaiting a September 14 hearing on its proposed 33 percent rate hike for senior citizens, according to Detroit Free Press.

Free Press adds:

Monthly premiums for some of Blue Cross’ most popular plans would be increased this way:

• Young Adult Blue PPO, now $47.14 a month and will be increased 4.5% to $49.30.

• Individual Care Blue between the ages of 40-44 was $230.30 and will increase 28.2% to $296.67.

• Non-group Option C, for people who once had workplace coverage, was $361.42 and will go up 21.3% to $438.86.

• Group Conversion Individual Care Blue for an individual between the ages of 40-44 was $238.72 and will be increased 11.3% to $265.72.

• Group conversion Option C was $233.60 and will go up 24% to $289.75.

“The state’s insurance commissioner also approved an interim increase of 4.7 percent on Blue Cross’s supplemental Medicare policies, known as Medigap, which will affect more than 200,000 seniors in Michigan,” added Detroit News.

“In 2007, 11.6 percent of Michigan’s total population was uninsured, while 13 percent of Michigan’s non-elderly population was uninsured,” reported the state’s Department of Community Health (PDF link). “Michigan is ranked 11th among the states in having a low percentage of uninsured residents…”

The agency added that black and Latino Americans living in Michigan were almost twice as likely to be without insurance than Whites.

According to an article carried by the Michigan State University Library, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox took exception to the proposed increases, saying Blue Cross should cover its losses with its current $2.4 billion surplus.

The news comes just one day after Health Care Service Corporation — which runs Blue Cross Blue Shield — announced it would cut 650 jobs from offices in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois and New Mexico in anticipation of the government’s new health care reforms.

Posted by: stormskies on August 15, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"For all the chatter and the noise out there, what every American needs to know is this: If you don't have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will deliver this in a fiscally responsible way"

Err, how? I don't get it. How do you expand access, swear off demand management and avoid either raising taxes or blowing out the deficit. More health care costs more money.

Posted by: jmk on August 15, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I just can't imagine what would be happening right now if Obama would have lost the election. Oh the horror.

Health care reform is finally going to happen but it is so long overdue. Now the lobbyists will have to work towards unraveling it while progressives will work toward making it a not for profit single payer national system... as in Medicare for all. Oh happy day.

Posted by: bjobotts on August 15, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Like the (truly unsatisfactory) Medicare Part D program, the healthcare bills may look controversial and unpopular to some degree now, but pass one them and in a few years they will look utterly brilliant. Just do it with whatever ruthlessness you need.

Posted by: bob h on August 16, 2009 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

Why do we only hear about those 'bastard insurance companies' raising rates but never, never the cost of the care?

Insurance companies are merely pools that spread the risk of catastrophe. Everyone pays a little so no one has to pay a lot.
But with the cost of medicine these days, a tonsillectomy is a catastrophe!

Every hospital I see is adding wings or building entirely new hospitals! They don't seem to be hurting for cash! (Google up the American Hospital Association/enter the zip code of your hospital/scroll down and find out what their mark-up is!)

I once had a titanium valve put in by one of the top heart surgeons in the US. His fee? $3,200 for a grueling 3-hour surgery. And because of insurance discount, he received, as I recall, somewhere around $2,400. The rest of the huge bill went to pay the huge expenses and salaries of the hospital administrators (that hospital pays their menial workers $9.25 an hour).

This, I believe, is where reform needs to take place: in the hospitals which charge $8 for a band-aid.

Posted by: drl423 on September 1, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK



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