Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

September 24, 2009

CONRAD'S MESSAGE TO THE LEFT.... Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the Senate Budget Committee chairman and a member of the unsuccessful Gang of Six effort, raised a few eyebrows this week with a message for his "progressive friends."

Conrad, a consistent opponent of the public option, wanted liberals to know "government-run programs" aren't necessary to lower costs and expand access. He explained that he'd finished reading T.R. Reid's "The Healing of America" over the weekend, and learned Germany, Japan, Switzerland, France, and Belgium are doing just fine. "[A]ll of them contain costs, have universal coverage, have very high quality care and yet are not government-run systems," Conrad said.

It was an odd thing to say, and reflects some important confusion about these international systems. As Ezra Klein explained, "In France, for instance, the government provides all basic insurance coverage directly. In Germany, insurers aren't permitted to make a profit. In Japan, health insurance is publicly provided, and private insurance is available only to ease co-payments or cover services that the government leaves out."

Zaid Jilani added, "France has had a public insurance system that covers all of its citizens since 1945. Known as Securite Sociale (social security), their public insurance program accounts for nearly 75 percent of total health expenditures in France, and people have the option of buying complementary private health insurance if they'd like. In its most recent ranking of health care systems, the World Health Organization concluded that France has the best health care system in the world."

Matt Yglesias noted that in Germany, consumers are required to purchase coverage from one of many non-profit "sickness funds" that are regulated by the government. "It's true that this meets a technical definition of 'not government-run.'" Matt explained. "But the extent to which the Germany system isn't government run doesn't extend to dealing with any of the concerns of private industry. Which is fine by me, but nothing in Conrad's talk of co-ops and such has suggested that he's serious trying to put for-profit health insurance out of business, which is exactly what the German model does."

But I think Kevin Drum was perhaps the most succinct in summarizing the problem with the senator's remarks.

This has been sort of rattling around in my head ever since I saw it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what I wanted to say about it. But then I figured it out: it's completely, 100% batshit crazy. I mean, is this actually breaking news to Conrad after (excuse me a moment while I google) 22 years in the Senate? WTF?

Believe me: Conrad's "progressive friends" would be punch drunk with ecstasy if the United States adopted the healthcare system of (take your pick) Japan, France or Germany. It would be beyond our wildest dreams. Does Conrad really not know this? Did he only find out this weekend that those other countries have terrific healthcare systems that contain costs, provide universal coverage, and boast very high-quality care?

Conrad's efforts to impress the blogosphere will have to wait for another day.

Steve Benen 2:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

There isn't a single "regulation based" healthcare system that allows for profit insurance companies to take part. Nobody. Thats how you know the Ezra Kleins and Matt Y's of the world are lying when they claim that a system like the Baucaus bill creates would work in America because it's worked elsewhere. It hasn't even been tried elsewhere because it's such a bad idea, it was dismissed out of hat.

Posted by: soullite on September 24, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Conrad: "Hey! Who ya gonna believe, a bunch of so-called "Facts", or my personal Health Care Lobbyist????????"

Posted by: DAY on September 24, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ed Shultz has this guy on from time to time and has been a consistent voice on the side of universal health care - perhaps he can educate Mr. Conrad?

Posted by: DBaker on September 24, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, I simply have to believe that Conrad is deliberately trying to obfuscate the issue (more than has already been done to date) by providing fodder for Faux News and others with which to say, "see? Even Democrat Kent Conrad thinks that progressives are asking too much for too little return" or similar.

The converse is to believe that he really doesn't understand how these other countries do things, and how regardless of that, the plans from the various committees do not even approach what the Frances and the Germanies of the world are doing with healthcare. If Conrad really believes this, that suggests that others do, too.

And then all of our collective heads assplode.

Posted by: terraformer on September 24, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I have supported Conrad my entire voting life as he was in state offices before being elected Sen. I know from all these years of service that he is much smarter than he has been during this health care debate. I am in a real quantry about what to do the next time he comes up for re-election. I do not see how I can still support him and yet what are the opptions. Here in North Dakota Dem's are far and few between. I know he has never been a real liberal Sen., always pretty fiscally sonservative but he has always been a social moderate. All I can say is that I am bitterly disapointed in Conrad at the present time.

Posted by: nodaK on September 24, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I WANT THE FRENCH SYSTEM!!!!!!!!11!!

That's really all I have to say.

Posted by: MNPundit on September 24, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes you need to break out of the contradiction-mode and just run with the misperceptions that are in your favor.

Why not turn this into a rhetorical opportunity and adopt his labeling. "France/Germany et. al. do not have a 'government-run' health care system", according to that right-leaning, big-med-lackey blue-dog senator.

Great. So there shouldn't be any objection to modeling our health care system after them, right?

Posted by: Augustus on September 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

More and better Democrats. It's going to be a long haul to accomplish it.

Posted by: par4 on September 24, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's also important to recognize that American corporations and the American corporate culture are very different from those in other developed countries. For example, historically Japanese corporations have accepted a level of commitment to their employees that is unheard of among large American corporations. At the same time that they are trying to maximize profits in any way imaginable, American corporations are also more than willing to achieve success on the backs of their workers. The differences in management pay compared to worker pay are very different in the US and other developed countries, and it is common to see American upper management increasing their bonuses while simultaneously firing workers or gutting their benefit plans.

American corporate management may view their own workers as part of the opposition that needs to be beaten.

Posted by: oh really on September 24, 2009 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

MNPundit is right. Somebody needs to go to Conrad and ask him to propose something like the French system. If he sponsors it, I would imagine all the other Blue Dogs would want to be co-sponsors, maybe even a couple of Republicans. I guess a lot of progressives could be drug along as well.

Maybe we could get it passed before Conrad wakes up. Maybe not.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 24, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

DBaker I doubt weather vain Shultz could do much as he came from North Dakota and anyone who has known Eddie in the past knows that he was a rabid conservative on the radio who was in lock step with Rush baby. Problem was Scott Hennen had the local market for conservatives locked up tighter than a tick. So flippen Ed all of a sudden was "SAVED" and became "the liberal voice" to catch a market that was not being met in the area. If you had ever heard his past rants about welfare and everything else liberal you would not believe this was the same guy. But than again that is Ed "go where the money is" Shultz

Posted by: nodaK on September 24, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Drum's reaction pretty much echoed mine. As I posted yesterday afternoon at Ezra's place (as rt42):

"People like Kent Conrad don't know what they think, or why. They don't KNOW enough to have consistent views.

He's had plenty of opportunity, over the course of this debate, to find out how other countries do universal health care (UHC). (Ezra's "The Health of Nations" from a few years back would have been an excellent short primer.) But he just did this LAST WEEKEND.

So NOW he's impressed by France's approach to UHC. He probably doesn't know enough to realize how it compares with what's being discussed in the Finance Committee or in the House.

He's a freakin' moron who's too lazy to do his homework, despite being one of a small handful of people who will decide what our health care system will look like in 2015.

I doubt he's that much different from most Senators in this regard. Some do their homework, but many don't. But they get to run the country anyway."

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 24, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

If you folks understood the French system, you might not be so enthusiastic as it would not allow all the progressive "fine tuning" that seems to be so attractive to you. Obama may not think a fine for not buying mandated insurance is a tax but the French system is mostly funded by payroll deductions that most of us would not call a tax. The government did set the fee schedule, with negotiations with the medical associations and the other provider associations. However, that fee schedule does not pay first dollar, the root of most of our problems, and the doctor can charge more than the fee schedule, a sharp contrast with Medicare which makes that illegal.

The tax supported part of the French system, CMU, has been flooded with British ex-pats who don't want to home to the NHS for care. That is one source of its problems and is similar to our troubles with illegals. Aside from the CMU, the French system works like our health insurance through employers.

You really need to educate yourselves about the French system. I am a supporter of it and am not a supporter of what is in the Congress now. They are quite different.

Posted by: Mike K on September 24, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

MNPundit is right. Somebody needs to go to Conrad and ask him to propose something like the French system.

Absolutely! One of the real progressives just needs to draft something that mirrors the French system and give it to Conrad, saying that he should fully support such a system that isn't "government run".
But it is scary to learn just how freaking ignorant these people are, and the amount of control they have over our lives.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 24, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who believes that the rethugnicans have a strangle hold on stupid is completely wrong!

Conrad helped put the 'dumb' in the dumbocrap party. Unfortunately, he is far from the only stupid the democratic party.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on September 24, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

If you folks understood the French system, you might not be so enthusiastic as it would not allow all the progressive "fine tuning" that seems to be so attractive to you.

There you go making your ignorant assumptions again. We all know how the French system works, we know it's the best in the world, and we would all love to have it. Glad you're on board!
If the teabaggers feel the same way, then I've seriously misjudged them.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 24, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Many of these winger-baggers, perhaps including Conrad, believe that government-run health care actually means government run health care. You know, like VA, where the government hires the doctors and nurses and government bureaucrats actually sit in the "death paneled" offices at the hospital and tell everyone what to do.

While it's certainly true that many are intentionally distorting the facts, I think there may be an equal number who just don't get it.

Posted by: converse on September 24, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I had the same thought as Augustus.

Shouldn't our response be:

"Well, dangit! Okay, very well. We'll take a German-style private system like that penny pinching conservative Kent Conrad is insisting on. Half a loaf."

This remind me of Republican voters explaining that they wanted Obama to put Americva back to where it used to be when Reagan was president:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_10/015193.php

Give 'em what they need and tell them it's what they asked for. They're better off for it, happier, and... jeez, i feel another of those headaches coming on.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on September 24, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Conrad's not actually talking to progressives and/or lefty bloggers; his audience is the MSM and his objective is to confirm the widespread assumption that progressives & lefty bloggers are unreasonable because they oppose him. We know that there are very effective universal healthcare systems based on private insurance (although I contend that the US would never in a million years provide adequate regulation for such a system), and he knows that, but MSM journalists and moderates are only vaguely aware (if that much) of this fact, and Conrad has a bigger megaphone. If Conrad actually wanted to communicate with the left, he'd do meetings or conference calls-- this is just political theatre.

Posted by: latts on September 24, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

re: "There isn't a single "regulation based" healthcare system that allows for profit insurance companies to take part ..."
question: why should there be for-profit insurance companies ? I live in Germany, have made use of the system (unfortunately), and I wouldn't trade what we have here (mandatory coverage for everybody) for the worthless shit-system in the USA for anything.

Posted by: rbe1 on September 24, 2009 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

To nodaK: You know Schultz better than I and may be right, but I think his new wife helped him have a genuine converstion to populism, which is what he used to think he was doing on the right. He learned that the Republicans are only cynical faux populists and that the Democrats are closer to what he thinks should be done. His wife, a liberal woman, helped him toward this conclusion.

Posted by: News Nag on September 24, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

We all know how the French system works,

So you know that it requires the patient to pay the doctor first, then get reimbursed later and that it is based on fee for service. It uses the market mechanism of requiring patients to pay a negotiated fee and be reimbursed less than the fee unless they go to a sector I doctor. You know that free choice of physician is universal, there are no gatekeepers (although that is changing) and there are many private hospitals, some of which are for-profit.

If the Democrats bill contained those features, I would be supporting it, Instead, doctors are dropping out of Medicare by the thousands because it underpays and makes it illegal to charge more than the underpayment. Medicare is broke because of all the perverse incentives that you folks want to include in your version of health reform.

I'm not sure you really understand the French system.

Posted by: Mike K on September 24, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

I called Conrad's office to let him know that I am not pleased with his statements. I also said that he knows co-ops don't work. I stated that the reason the RNC is raking in more money than the DNC is because many on the left have decided not to donate when the dem members of Congress ignore what we want and are unwilling to stand up for what is right for the people. I said some other things that I don't want to repeat here, but ended by saying that I wonder what his underlying reason is for not supporting hcr with a strong public option. I'm hoping that others call and ask/say the same. He needs to know that we are watching him, and that we want him to get with the program.

Posted by: majii on September 24, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Most of our Congressional representatives are clueless. There is an illusion that they are smart and well-informed people with capable staffs. In fact, they are living in an opaque bubble in Washington, DC with little grasp of the realities that the rest of the world has to cope with.

Posted by: gizmo on September 24, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

The bubble preventing discussion of other countries that have actual healthcare systems, as opposed to the dog's breakfast in the US, is remarkable. TR Reid's book might have made a few inroads, but he may well despair at Conrad's mis-reading. I'd love to hear a quote from him on this.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on September 24, 2009 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure you really understand the French system. - Mike K

Maybe not, but what we can infer from your words is that French physicians are suffering from starvation because the French State underpays them on a massive scale.

Posted by: SRW1 on September 24, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Augustus on this. Lobby Conrad hard, hard, hard to introduce the Japanese or German model here. He'll have to do it or explain why Americans can't have something he things is really dandy.

OT G-20 update. Very quiet so far. More police than demonstraters, but I'll give the police credit for being very professional. And pleasant. I saw a State Police officer very gently move a demonstrater away from a moving car, and the demonstrater was quite gracious about him doing it.

Let's hope this holds. The anachists have started their unauthorized march, which could take them right down the center of the secure area.

Posted by: zak822 on September 24, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

The description of the German system (mandated coverage by regulated nonprofits) reminds me that I, along with a few million others in the Western states, are covered by HMO Kaiser Permanente, which is a nonprofit.

Health care via regulated nonprofits is not ideal, but it's a damnsight better that being squeezed for profit. (For the same reason, I choose to do all my banking at a credit union rather than a for-profit bank. I wish nonprofit options were available for a lot of the other services I need, such as Life and Property & Casualty Insurance, etc.)

I wonder why nonprofit HMOs haven't been a bigger part of this discussion. Maybe progressives are afraid of confusion around the silly designed-for-failure "co-op" idea.

Posted by: grassroot on September 24, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

TR Reid is a good writer. Conrad's comment is insulting to him.

If Conrad could say that after reading Reid's book, then Conrad must have some kind of brain injury.

Posted by: biggerbox on September 24, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

reb1:

Exactly.

Any situation - like the one that we in the USA are now faced with - wherein there exists a profit motive on the part of those who dispense health care and its funding, will absolutely and always result in those entities to make cuts. In this case, it costs lives.


Why we have a system that encourages providers to cut care to make profits is beyond me. We should have been marching in the streets long ago.


Health care simply cannot be for profit and simultaneously be humane. This is one area that should be entirely free of the 'free market.'

Posted by: terraformer on September 24, 2009 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

The complete story on the French system, which you won't get from dishonest and ignorant hacks like Mike K--

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9994.php

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 24, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

We all know the most convincing lobbyists are the firm of "Grant, Hamilton, Franklin, and Washington".

Get them out of the game, entirely, and we have a chance with this republic thing we've been working on perfecting.

Posted by: mdh on September 24, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

To nodaK: You know Schultz better than I and may be right, but I think his new wife helped him have a genuine converstion to populism, which is what he used to think he was doing on the right. He learned that the Republicans are only cynical faux populists and that the Democrats are closer to what he thinks should be done. His wife, a liberal woman, helped him toward this conclusion.

Agree with this 100 percent. I frankly don't care whether he had a conversion or not, but on his radio and his TV show he has taken a hard nose labor/pro-health care line right now and is supportive of Medicare for all solution. On the occasions that I have listens when a rightie calls in, he is able to deftly swat down all of the talking points that said rightie brings to the table. (Granted, it's Limbaugh's technique to have same unfair fight, but that's another story for another day)

Since they're both from North Dakota he has had Conrad on before and Conrad was FOR the public option 6 months ago. I'd just like Ed to ask "what changed, Mr. Conrad?, did you have the same conversion as Mr. Baucus?" Anyone else in the MSM unfortunately doesn't have the knowledge, the balls or both to actually ask this question, so it's Shultz by default.

Posted by: DBaker on September 24, 2009 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure you really understand the French system.

Yes, anyone with access to Wikipedia is pretty much going to have a better understanding of the French Health Care system than you, who see it distorted through a lens of political gamesmanship.

So you know that it requires the patient to pay the doctor first, then get reimbursed later and that it is based on fee for service...

Some of the little bits that you left out are that the sicker you are in France, the less you pay. If you are chronically ill, you pay NOTHING for treatment. If you are seriously ill, your treatment is subsidized by the state and again you may end up paying NOTHING for treatment.

Free choice of physician? That would be great. Why isn't it in the House Bill, Mike? Um, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that our for-profit insurance companies don't want it, and Republicans would block it. Which Republican dickweed senator said today that the insurance industry should have weeks to review and essentially rewrite any bill that comes to the floor? Inhofe?

Another issue is doctor pay. You don't seem to mind that that under the French system they would get paid less, but all your cohorts on the right do.

If the Democrats bill contained those features, I would be supporting it

Remember when you used to support single-payer? I do.

But as soon as Democrats supported single-payer you bolted for the door and claimed it the worst thing that could ever happen to the Republic. Your support for any system right now is a fluid set a moving set of principles that change antinomiously in relation to whatever Democrats propose.

Your party wants to sink ANY meaningful health reform. Period. The Democrats want to pass something helpful. Why do you always cheer on the wrong side?

Like the other Republicans, you are not arguing this issue in good faith. If the Democrats passed an effective bill that relieved health care costs for people while providing better access it would damage the prospects for the reactionary mob currently describing themselves as Republicans.

Posted by: trex on September 24, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

About seventy five percent of the total health expenditures are covered by the public health insurance system. A part of the balance is paid directly by the patients and the other part by private health insurance companies that are hired individually or in group (assurance complémentaire or mutuelle, complementary insurance or mutual fund).

That's one public health insurance system covering 75% of expenditures.

Reimbursement is regulated through uniform rates. The financing is supported by employers, employee contributions, and personal income taxes. The working population has twenty percent of their gross salary deducted at source to fund the social security system.

Regulated uniform rates, paid for by employer contributions, payroll deductions, and income tax.

Employer and union federations jointly control the funds under the State´s supervision. This involves an intricate collaboration between the various entities of the system.

unions have control over the state funds!

The State sees that the whole population has access to care; it dictates the types of care that are reimbursed, and to what degree, and what the role is of the different participating entities.
The State is in charge of protecting patient´s rights, elaborating policies and enforcing them. It is responsible for public safety.
Health authorities plan the size and numbers of hospitals. They decide on the amount and allocation of technical equipment (such as MRI, CT scans…). Through its agencies, the State organizes the supply of specialized wards and secures the provision of care at all times.

State control and rationing--glad you're on board Mike, sure beats rationing based on wealth and profit motive!

Experts set the relative price of procedures that are then negotiated by physicians' unions and public health insurance funds. Around ninety seven percent of practitioners conform to the Tarif de convention (tariff references) which sets prices. Tariff references are the fixed rates to be used by doctors set by the national convention for all health services. Medical practitioners and clinics/hospitals who are not conventions (complying with the tariff references) have to display their prices.

I couldn't be more thrilled if the wingnut crowd supports a system with this level of government regulation and control. I think we might have a breakthrough.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 24, 2009 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Since I haven't posted them for a while, here they are again. Mythbusting Canadian Health Care, parts 1 and 2:

http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/mythbusting-canadian-health-care-part-i

http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/mythbusting-canadian-healthcare-part-ii-debunking-free-marketeers

Posted by: Shade Tail on September 24, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kent Conrad has friends?

Posted by: SquareState on September 24, 2009 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

How come there is a public option for flood insurance?

Posted by: An Outhouse on September 24, 2009 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Doctors dropping out of Medicare because of the underpayments. Yes, I heard one the other day complaining about how difficult things are becoming. He needed a vehicle with more cargo space, so he had to settle for the Escalade. See, his Porche, his Ferrari and his Lotus just weren't good for going to the grocery store. But he had to get the Escalade, instead of something better, because his practice is suffering because of Medicare's underpayments. I felt so sorry for him. Especially since he's just getting murdered by taxes, too.

You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? I'm not. He was picking up a birthday cake that had been designed to look like his Lotus.

Posted by: wah? on September 24, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? I'm not. He was picking up a birthday cake that had been designed to look like his Lotus.

A relative who's a surgeon is worried that he'll have to cut back on the stable expenses for his daughters' horses, as well as his hobby of flying vintage WW2 planes. Terrible, terrible.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc on September 24, 2009 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

trex, I'm sorry you decided that a dialogue wasn't what you wanted. Your friends prefer Wikipedia to someone with graduate degrees in health economics and a study of the French system. Some one pointed out that "the sicker you are the less it costs." I am in support of the catastrophic coverage of the French system. Remember that it doesn't pay for everything once you have one of the conditions covered.

Also, your friends think the lower pay of French physicians influences me. They haven't read my blog like you have so you know that I think a compromise might be forgiveness of student loans in return for accepting the fee schedule. French medical school is free.

All these things are items for negotiation. That is the biggest thing missing from the current Obama plan and it will sink it once the NJ and VA governors' elections are lost. Yes, I can read the papers, too.

Trex, this sort of ad hominem ranting will not make health reform come any faster. It scares people away. They don't trust the folks who are being seen as evasive on details; and that includes "it is not a tax" Obama.

Posted by: Mike K on September 24, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Your friends prefer Wikipedia to someone with graduate degrees in health economics and a study of the French system.

Yes, I prefer peer-reviewed studies on the internet to someone who appeals to their own unproven authority and and then admits when they write about this issue that their information is not up to date and is hindered by lack of familiarity with the language.

Trex, this sort of ad hominem ranting will not make health reform come any faster.

"Ad hominem ranting"? Does that mean pointing your your dishonesty on this issue? Pointing out that I've caught you over and over making false statements on this blog in order to sell a meme?

Or by ad hominem do you making statements on your blog like:

"Obama has no concept of economics" as the stock market nears 10,000, or;

"Obama seems more comfortable with ACORN than democracy" as he works to pare back the terrible excesses of the Bush administration.

As has been shown time and again, you are not a arguing in good faith on this issue, so I have no reason to treat you as if you were. You have frequently shown that you will change your opinion to maneuver politically while at the same being careless with the facts and not taking responsibility for your errors.

You have chosen not to try and influence the health care in a positive fashion by framing the Democratic attempts to provide improvements in health care worse than Republican attempts to stymie it. You've engaged in every bit of seedy behavior including race-baiting and fomenting violence with cries of "socialist" and "tyrant."

I have read your blog, Mike. Perhaps I'll take a cue from you and visit it with the comments the equivalent of those you leave here. How would you like to have trex commenting on your blog every day telling your readers about the latest Republican sex scandals or corruption investigations or explaining how your party destroyed the economy in lucid detail?

And remember, unlike you I'm very, very careful with my facts.

Posted by: trex on September 24, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

latts at 3:02 takes perfect aim at the elephant in the room.

"We know that there are very effective universal healthcare systems based on private insurance (although I contend that the US would never in a million years provide adequate regulation for such a system)," And even if, by some fluke, the regulation was adequate, the enforcement would rival the SEC for failure.

If we haven't had a lesson in how corrupt the DC system has become due to campaign financing, we are all as ignorant as Conrad. I can only suggest his illogical, uninformed thought are due to stress related cognitive failure.

nodaK, I know it can help to be familiar with a person locally and then see some of their faults go national. I do listen to Ed with a semi skeptical ear, but as others have pointed out, since the conversion he has been as good a member of the national talk radio, and now cable TV, hosts we could probably get. (They all come with a few low values.) This is my conversion story.

I cast my first vote for Tricky Dick in '72 and had to deal with the reality check that despite the possibly dire consequences, politicians will lie with impunity. In '76 I voted for and celebrated Carter's win. Then I started reading Ayn Rand, became a devoted objectivist, moved to Alaska where I registered and voted Libertarian for 8 years. Then the Libertarians didn't get enough state wide votes to stay current as a party to register for. I went to register GOP.

I found the party in complete control of the fundies. It was gross. We were denied the opportunity to register and participate in the caucus as we had (correctly) been told was the process. I'm an atheist. I held my nose and went to the Dem caucus the next evening. And found some the nicest, most reasonable, informed people I had ever met. Been a flaming liberal ever since.

One point I have to make. All the folks harping on Rand's writing for fueling the evangelical/neocon takeover of the GOP, corporate America, justice and Congress should reread (or read) some of her writing. In a nutshell, they stuck to her basic tenets as well as they kept to Jesus'.

Posted by: Ginny in CO on September 24, 2009 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Conrad made a foolish statement, but many comments on this blog show a similar level of misunderstanding. Contrary to the very first comment from soullite, for example, there is indeed for-profit health insurance in some nations. Much of it is in the supplemental market, but in at least one case that I'm aware a top tier universal health care system permits both for-profit and non-profit insurers: The Netherlands.

The Commonwealth Fund did a nice analysis of the Dutch and Swiss systems a while back, which are the two European systems closest to the US:

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2009/Jan/The-Swiss-and-Dutch-Health-Insurance-Systems--Universal-Coverage-and-Regulated-Competitive-Insurance.aspx

Posted by: jonathanh on September 24, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

As has been shown time and again, you are not a arguing in good faith on this issue, so I have no reason to treat you as if you were.

Trex, feel free to leave comments there as long as they are as reasonable (meaning obscenity, etc, not point of view) as those I have left here. I have a low opinion of Obama as president and make absolutely no effort to hide that. That has little to do with the issue of health reform although his weaknesses have probably made it impossible to get anything done this year.

I have absolutely argued in good faith but you and your friends have trouble accepting any argument that does not agree with your own. It has been an education about left wing thought processes to read this blog. Briefly, I thought you were an exception. Maybe if you got away from the peer pressure here, you might make better arguments.

Posted by: Mike K on September 24, 2009 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK
I have absolutely argued in good faith

No, Mike, you haven't. You mostly just whine about how nobody listens to you and how you're censored and how we all live in a bubble. And when you actually do try to muster a real argument, you almost never get your facts right. You bring nothing to the debate here and you never have, in all of the years you've been whining here.

but you and your friends have trouble accepting any argument that does not agree with your own.

ROFL.... Talk about projection....

It has been an education about leftwing thought processes to read this blog.

Sadly, you've been reading this blog for years and you have yet to demonstrate that you have achieved an "education" on anything. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Briefly, I thought you were an exception. Maybe if you got away from the peer pressure here, you might make better arguments.

With you, we don't need better arguments, given the complete lack of logic, reason, or data that you bring to the table. Your posts on this thread are a classic example.

Posted by: PaulB on September 24, 2009 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe if you got away from the peer pressure here, you might make better arguments.

I don't know what could be better than pointing out your factual inaccuracies, rebutting your arguments, and highlighting those claims of yours that are invalid or unsound while at the same making an alternate case based on ethical considerations and the common good.

Perhaps if I got away from my peer group and posted at your blog my arguments would improve even more by turning luminous and becoming self-aware. But I don't want to be saddled with the responsibility of having created a whole new life form. It's enough work just exposing self-interested wingnuttery.

Posted by: trex on September 24, 2009 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

OK, trex. I tried.

Posted by: Mike K on September 25, 2009 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Mike, if I go to your blog, I will have to point out, for instance, that your latest post about the ACORN study is nothing but an ad hominem argument. You claim the study is somehow illegitimate because in your view the academics who did the study share the same worldview as ACORN (meaning presumably they aren't right-wing reactionaries). That is ad hominem, pure and simple. That's what passes for analysis with you?

I read a great portion of the study and it is pretty uncontroversial. Most of it just captures where the media took unproven allegations, rumors and falsehoods about that organization and ran them as if they were true, and discusses how the media bought into the empirically false Republican framing of ACORN as some kind of systematic voter fraud organization run by blacks for the purpose of stealing elections, instead of community organizers with a good record of helping people get access to housing and better wages wherein a handful of contractors were attempting to defraud ACORN out of money by submitting false registrations.

You've done nothing but essentially libel the authors because you don't like where they sit on the political spectrum. If you have a problem with the study itself you need to make that clear, but good look with that.

The first difficulty you're going to have is that the study very clearly shows how media bias against ACORN was drummed up by Republicans to try and damage their political enemies with false frame, and man does that reveal what a sleazy party you belong to.

The second problem for you is that you have spent the last eight years citing conservative think tanks and authors to defend Republican policy and behaviors -- so if this principle stands that studies done by authors with similar ideological views are worthless or automatically biased then you have essentially just invalidated the entire body of your opinions here and on your blog.

Yes, if I come to your blog those are the kinds of things I will be forced to bring to the attention of your readers, with lots of cites showing your flip-flops or instances of you engaging in the same kinds of behaviors that you criticize others for. Is that really what you want?

Posted by: trex on September 25, 2009 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

So Kent Conrad has a "brain injury" and Ed Schultz is a brilliant advocate for health-care reform. It's obvious you folks know nothing about either one of them.

Posted by: dexter on September 25, 2009 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately this reinforces my view that the people tasked with fixing our busted system really are ill-informed know-nothing jackasses. Sure, it plays to confirmation bias, but show me evidence of a counter argument...any evidence at all.

While I'm at it, are we as a nation incapable of collectively evaluating other countries' health care plans and choosing from the best of them, tweaking it a bit, maybe adding some robust coverage for self-inflicted gun injuries...whatever? Is it something about foolish pride that keeps us from doing that? I know the money is playing a big role, but you don't scream out, "Hey everybody, lookit me! I'm a golldang idiot!" a la Conrad just because some lobbyist gives you a check for it. Do you? Really, do you?

Posted by: Pork Rinds on September 25, 2009 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

A more accurate translation of Krankenkassen is "sick persons' funds" or even "funds for the sick". I appreciate that "sick funds" might lead to some confusion.

Posted by: Twoflower on September 25, 2009 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

In Japan, their superior system costs only half of ours because the government has a book of dictated prices. How's that for government-run? Conrad is evidently a very shallow reader.

Posted by: bob h on September 25, 2009 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK
It's obvious you folks know nothing about either one of them.

Equally obvious is your failure to address the substantive criticism of Conrad and the really stupid things he has been saying. Why is that?

Posted by: PaulB on September 25, 2009 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

It has been an education about leftwing thought processes to read this blog.

We have a process - who knew? I guess I missed that memo along with the check from George Soros.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on September 25, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Soulite - You lie. Under the French system, private, for-profit insurers offer supplemental insurance to go beyond what Social Security pays. The French also have the option to use private insurance and go to doctors outside the Social Security System.

Engage brain before typing!

Posted by: twodox on September 25, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

One thing is clear:
All that time "spent" by the gang of six to massage each other ego, would have much better used if they just all decided to first read together TR Reid book or, for that matter, to watch his one hour "Frontline" program on the five countries health care systems.

Posted by: Yoni on September 27, 2009 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should take Sen Conrad's message at face value - that he is proposing as an option, the outlawing of for-profit health insurance.

Let's talk up that angle, force him into a corner and see what happens. I for one would donate heavily and work tirelessly for his reelection if he indeed seriously takes this position.

Posted by: C182 on September 28, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Hell yeah, in them socialistimus countries in Yurp there is always the possibility to buy more insurance, or go completely private, if one wishes. However, this is not an option for most of people. Why? Because most people are not millionaires. So people do with what they can. Ergo, Soullite lies!

Posted by: Sami on September 28, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

good day ppl

my nephew yesterday stumbled into a website. the online store is selling wide variety of discounted label clothes. the shop is listing the products with up to 70% discounts. my dad really needs to get a pair before the weekend and not confident that order will be brought in right on time. I am thinking to order those [url=http://www.menspradashoes.net]prada shoes[/url] but havent decided yet.

just urged to share with you dudes.

thnx everyone.

Posted by: hystmanuscrixttd on October 22, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly