Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 20, 2009

POOR CHESS PLAYERS.... If it seemed as if the vast majority of Senate Democrats were acting with a stronger-than-expected commitment to getting health care done this year, it wasn't an accident.

Faced with Republican resistance that many Democrats saw as driven more by politics than policy disagreements, Senate Democrats in recent days gained new determination to bridge differences among themselves and prevail over the opposition.

Lawmakers who attended a private meeting between Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats at the White House on Tuesday pointed to remarks there by Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, as providing some new inspiration.

Mr. Bayh said that the health care measure was the kind of public policy he had come to Washington to work on, according to officials who attended the session, and that he did not want to see the satisfied looks on the faces of Republican leaders if they succeeded in blocking the measure.

Now, I happen to like that sentiment quite a bit, but let's pause to appreciate who made it: Evan Bayh? Senate Republicans have been so irresponsible, so petty, and so exasperating, they turned Evan Bayh into a Democratic partisan? The same Evan Bayh who said, as recently as July, he wouldn't rule out supporting a Republican filibuster?

It's a reminder that the GOP caucus doesn't include especially good chess players. Jon Chait notes the larger context:

At the outset of this debate, moderate Democrats were desperate for a bipartisan bill. They were willing to do almost anything to get it, including negotiate fruitlessly for months on end. We can't know for sure, but Democrats appeared willing to make enormous substantive concessions to win the assent of even a few Republicans. A few GOP defectors could have lured a chunk of Democrats to sign something far more limited than what President Obama is going to sign. And remember, it would have taken only one Democrat to agree to partial reform in order to kill comprehensive reform. I can easily imagine a scenario where Ben Nelson refused to vote for anything larger than, say, a $400 billion bill that Chuck Grassley and a couple other Republicans were offering.

But Republicans wouldn't make that deal.... The Republicans eschewed a halfway compromise and put all their chips on an all or nothing campaign to defeat health care and Obama's presidency. It was an audacious gamble. They lost. In the end, they'll walk away with nothing.

They may, however, make significant gains in the midterm elections, especially if long-time proponents of health care reform decide that this health care reform fails to meet their expectations, and, instead of fighting for policy improvements, decide to just stay home.

But since repeal of the policy is all but impossible, Republicans will still be stuck with a ambitious national health policy they could have made far more to their liking if they hadn't been such knee-jerk reactionaries.

As David Frum recently asked his fellow Republicans, "The furious rejectionist frenzy of the past 12 months is exacting a terrible price upon Republicans. We're getting worse and less conservative results out of Washington than we could have negotiated, if we had negotiated.... I hear a lot of talk about the importance of "principle." But what's the principle that obliges us to be stupid?"

Steve Benen 1:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (86)

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Comments

Don't know what world those folks were living in since 2000. Fool them once, but fool them for 10 years?
I won't get my hopes up that they finally learned their lesson. Lucy, football, etc.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on December 20, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Something tells me that midterm elections are not going to be as bad for Dems as everyone thinks. Just saying.

Posted by: ted on December 20, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Good Lord. The Business Roundtable supports the Senate bill, for pity's sake. The Republicans look like fricking geniuses from where I sit. They're getting corporate bailouts out of the Dems with zero effort, and with the side benefit that the Dems are screwing over their own base to do it. I wish the Dems were half as dumb.

Posted by: TJ on December 20, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm gonna hafta respectfully disagree. I think the NY Times article is its usual high quality kabuki...look at that great unifier in the pic on the piece:

The Honorable Senator from Nebraska, Sir Benjamin, Son of Nel.

Naw, this is the retrenching of corporate control under the Dim gov't., since the Bush admin. was able to give away most everything in the country that wasn't nailed down to all their corporate friends. They over-reached -- who is to say unintentionally? -- paving the way for Obama.

This health care reform item is the process by which the Dims reach agreements with the corp masters...

Af-Pak
Bankster bail-outs
Health Care "reform'

I think the Dims and Corporate America have reached some agreements...

Posted by: neill on December 20, 2009 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK
But since repeal of the policy is all but impossible,

This may well be true, but I look forward to the coalition supporting repeal -- it should have great entertainment value. "Strange bedfellows" doesn't begin to cover it...

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 20, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

The Bayh story is propaganda. It's utter, insulting bullshit. It is in keeping with the Wasserman/Frankin narrative that the democratic party exceeded expectations and.... look over there! The GOP is fuming!

The GOP is popping champagne corks and toasting their fellow travelers across the aisle. For Christ's sake, health racketeering stocks have risen 12% in the past few days. What does that tell you?

Posted by: JW on December 20, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

We're on the verge of stopping decades of anti-reform momentum. Think back to how awful it felt when Clinton failed - it kept Democrats (and Republicans) from seriously attempting anything for a generation. That ends now. The momentum is on our side, and with most Americans supporting either this or an even more liberal version of this bill, we'll be able to keep fighting for more.

The Republicans have made fools of themselves with their Hitler-themed talking points. There will be no government death panels. There will be no forced abortions. None of their BS scare tactics will actually happen, and their claims will be revealed as bald-faced lies.

Will Dick Armey's dick army march on the Capitol and demand the return of rescission? Of course not! Will the Facebook Diva fight to strip Americans with pre-existing conditions of their right to obtain insurance? Ha ha ha ha! No f'ing way. They've got NOTHING.

Americans will not experience the dark fantasies imagined by right-wing kooks. They will live here in reality, with the real bill, and once they see what it really does for both the insured and uninsured they won't want to go back. Republicans know this, and they are terrified because they know they made an enormous gamble and lost big.

This bill will not be perfect, and we will improve it. But liberals take heart and don't lose sight of the fact that conservatives are in the same place we were 16 years ago - only much more so, because they know in their heart of hearts that they've not only lost the battle, but they've also lost the war.

They are now forced to debate HCR on our terms, and all the lies in the world won't change that reality.

We won.

Posted by: sloan on December 20, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I must say that much as I hate Evan Bayh and disbelieve this story remember that a party line vote for such historic legislation has a kind of logic of its own. I think the take home message here is actually a rather good one--in the end, the Democrats have been forced to stake everything on this bill and they now all know it. None of the centrist Democrats in the Senate are going to run against this bill after it has been voted on--they simply can't. That means that for once the Dems have to present a united front.

In its own way this is a huge step forward for the caucus. The "deficit hawks" who vote for this bill are going to have to defend it, as they should, because its good for the deficit *because they are ending up voting for it*. Because the margin of error was so slight, and the republicans so intransigent, democrats have been forced to act like an actual party. When fucking evan bayh realizes that he needs to support a piece of legislation--whatever reason he tells himself and "I don't want the republicans to be happy" is one of the stupidest--you know that rats are leaving the sinking ship of bipartisanship. And that's all to the good.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on December 20, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

"For Christ's sake, health racketeering stocks have risen 12% in the past few days. What does that tell you?"

Not much, really, since the final provisions of the bill were not released at that point. It wouldn't be the first time that the stock market got it WRONG.

Posted by: sue on December 20, 2009 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

"We can't know for sure, but Democrats appeared willing to make enormous substantive concessions to win the assent of even a few Republicans." Surely they already did, without getting any Republicans on board. Nonetheless, the Republicans may well lose even more than the Democrats here - they come out of this with very little and looking like idiots. It seems lately like even some of the fairly hopeless media is becoming willing to note when Republicans are particularly detached from reality.

"But what's the principle that obliges us to be stupid?" He might as well have asked why they ran McCain and Palin last year. There's no special obligation or principle involved here, although to be a republican it surely helps to be unable to see past a narrow self-interest and a simple-minded view of the world. The evidence seems convincing that too many of them are flat-out dim. They haven't cornered the market on stupid, but they've accumulated an impressive stockpile.

Posted by: N.Wells on December 20, 2009 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

We have a 60-member Senate representing all points of view from left to right. The other 40, who are supposed to representative conservative thought, should give back their salaries since they do no work and represent no one.

They let Bayh and Nelson and Baucus and Landrieu et al do their work for them.

Let's hope they're happy with the results. If not, maybe they'll show up for work next year. Politics is the art of compromise. It's not holding your breath until you turn purple.

Posted by: Steve High on December 20, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

"The GOP is popping champagne corks and toasting their fellow travelers across the aisle."

Ummm...if this is the case why did they need the obstructionist tactics then? The full reading of the bills, etc.? If the GOP really felt that this was a political loser for the Dems, their behavior betrays their beliefs.

Posted by: sue on December 20, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans will still be stuck with a ambitious national health policy"

LOL @ "ambitious." If there's one thing this ain't, it's ambitious. The Dems started negotiating at their end point, continually gave up ground, until we got basically a conservative proposal. The villain of the week rotated between Baucus, Nelson, and Lieberman. Obama vigorously supported each of these characters through his rotating cast of characters: Messina, Rahm, etc. Throughout the whole thing, a un-ambitious plan was pushed and an un-ambitious plan is what we got.

Posted by: .... on December 20, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the success of 2010, 2012 elections will have much to do with progressive health care proponents staying home. It'll have much to do with what the public thinks about the health care bill. I hope Obama will be prominent in explaining why voters should be happy about the bill. If not, the Republicans will run on the claim that the Democrats are forcing you to buy insurance from companies everyone hates and using the IRS as their collection agency. I haven't heard many Democrats addressing the problem that, without the public option, public approval ratings on the bill are in the 30s (I think). Not saying that can't change, but I hope Obama is more out in front of selling the passed bill than he was in getting the bill done in the first place.

Posted by: MikeR on December 20, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP has been reading their history books. FDR in the 30's, LBJ in the 60"s, changed the American landscape, and they are in abject fear of an Obama trifecta.

sloan @ 1:25 PM, has it right. Once passed into law, the GOP has no chance of rolling back the clock.

Posted by: DAY on December 20, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Faced with Republican resistance that many Democrats saw as driven more by politics than policy disagreements.."

Please remember that Republican resistance isn't based on traditional politics anymore. Rather, it's based on what I call "Messianic Psychosis" (MP). After decades of programming and oceans of money spent on getting the most unquestioning footsoldiers elected to Congress, Republicans now have no intellectual compass.

Traditional politics has no meaning for them now. They only respond to their programming which tells them that the only goal is to gain power by any means necessary. It's not about governing anymore, power is the sole agenda. The proof is all around us, every time you hear or read a supposedly rational person spout the most irrational nonsense even if it totally contradicts what they said the day before!

It's not an accident, it's their job now.

They have no morals. They have no shame. They despise everyone who is not like them. You think that "Kill The Gays" bill in Uganda was a fluke? Don't kid yourselves. That would be standard policy world-wide if they could get away with it.
The ultra-Christianist C Streeters are not an aberration, they are only the tip of a very ugly iceberg that will become more obvious as time goes by.

They hit a little speedbump when Obama got elected and the Dems took back Congress, at least for a while. But they're still out there and, like the Terminator, they never quit. They'll be back, and I can only hope more people will recognize them for what they are in the near future.

Have a nice day.


Posted by: Curmudgeon on December 20, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wow that is so wrong. The Republicans basically got Obama to waste all his political power to pass a bill that is easy to repeal. Why can't they repeal most of it in 2013? Little has actually come into being yet and you have subsidies that can be painted as welfare and taxes which Republicans can always cut. And in between now and then every health care horror story gets laid at Democratic feet.

Posted by: Rob on December 20, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Chess-playing ... (or sausage making?) In context, HCR was hobbled by the horrible dynamic of needing 60 Senators under what has become customary. But I wonder why our leaders didn't try reconciliation and avoid some of the creepy features of the souse loaf we got? Political fallout, what?

Posted by: neil b. on December 20, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Why can't they repeal most of it in 2013?"

You really think the GOP is going to have 60 votes in the Senate in 2013?

Posted by: sue on December 20, 2009 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

If there's one thing this ain't, it's ambitious. . . we got basically a conservative proposal.

It may be disappointing compared to the ideal, but it isn't "conservative." If this were such a Republican-friendly bill, such a meaningless, easy-to-vote-for lowest-common-denominator set of provisions, how come Congress didn't pass the basic consumer protections against maximums, preexisting conditions and recission, and higher subsidies for low-income families, decades ago?

Part of why we on the left get our asses handed to us on messaging, and why the general public tends to believe lies from the right over truths from the left is that Conservatives boldly and confidently proclaim victory even when they've lost, while Liberals snarkily and grumpily despair their "losses" even when they win.

Is it really any surprise which of those models the low-information masses follow or believe to be more successful?

Posted by: zeitgeist on December 20, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

@ 1:25 "We won."

By "we" you must anti-choice proponents because women are in effect losing a right substantiated by the Supreme Court.

Not so much a win from this woman's point of view.

Further, I don't think it's going to be a great win for those who cannot afford this insurance they'll be mandated to buy.

And can anyone tell me if this is even constitutional? Can the government mandate that everyone must buy a product from a private industry or be fined? That just doesn't seem right to me.

Posted by: Missouri Mule on December 20, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

@Mule

Nobody is losing a right. Roe v Wade guaranteed the right to an abortion, not the right to pay for it or to include it in an insurance plan. At least five states currently ban abortion coverage in insurance plans. No court has struck them down.

Not sure who won't be able to afford this. Poor and working poor will have $900 billion in subsidies to pay for health insurance. No one will be forced to pay more than 8% of their income for health insurance.

Yes, it's constitutional. Congress has the right to regulate commerce.

BTW, many people learn the facts first, then form opinions. Sounds strange, I know, but sometimes it works.

Posted by: converse on December 20, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Converse,
I said "in effect" losing a right. Insurance companies, as has been thoroughly discussed, will have no incentive to offer this as separate coverage. And many people seem to think that women should just take out riders, as though every woman anticipates a time when she'll need an abortion. That's crap. Abortion is not something women plan and most hope to never be in the situation of having to consider one. Fewer women will be able to afford this when they need it which will in turn cause there to be even fewer places to offer this service to women in need. No, they haven't taken away a right-- just severely restricted access.

So, yes, in effect we will be losing a right.

As for your subsidies... people are still going to have to cough up money they haven't had to pay before for this mandated health care. It's going to hurt people in a time when people aren't exactly plush anyway.

Posted by: Missouri Mule on December 20, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I hear a lot of talk about the importance of "principle." But what's the principle that obliges us to be stupid?"

That would be the definition of today's "conservativism"- a principle which obligates one to be stupid.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on December 20, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Also, this grates:
We can't know for sure, but Democrats appeared willing to make enormous substantive concessions to win the assent of even a few Republicans.
But they did make enormous concessions, to get the full 60 in their own party. Not as bad, but still not very good chess-playing. We should note the insertion of some good points to make up for the unfortunate shortcomings, but the effort came up short measured in terms of desirable results. REM again that a "loaf" or even "house" is a poor metaphor, since components interact with each other. Leaving out a gyroscope or radiator is not like having whatever percentage less "loaf."

Posted by: neil b on December 20, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Those health care stocks went up because of certainty. You hear all the time, "the market hates uncertainty", and it's true. Prices were down when the shape of health care reform was nebulous; now that its shape is becoming defined the uncertainty is gone.

This bill is just step one. Yes there were some losses but overall it is a win.

Posted by: ned on December 20, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

The sad thing is that the Democratic Congress had to be drug screaming and kicking to what the public generally wants. If corporate lobbyists want something from congress, no problem, but if the public wants something giving it to them is an act of great political courage. America what a country.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 20, 2009 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm really tired of abortion getting so much attention, from both the anti-abortion and pro-choice sides. Both sides continue to myopically focus on abortion to the exclusion of the bigger picture about women's comphrensive healthcare.

Abortion continues to get the hot spotlight and all of the other women's health issues-- contraception, comprehensive sex ed, fertility, pregnancy and childbirth coverage, family-friendly work policies, etc-- get left out in the cold.

I am fiercly pro-choice, however, I'd like to see my side adapt and expand their focus on issues beyond abortion. It's just not a winning strategy overall and is far too narrow a view. Not to mention that in an age of so many contraceptive options-- Plan B, the ring, etc.-- fewer and fewer people seem sympathetic to aborting unintented pregnancies. It's time to focus on pregnancy prevention in a serious way, it's something that both sides can come together on.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 20, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know what world those folks were living in since 2000. Fool them once, but fool them for 10 years?

I say 15 years, since 1994 and Speaker Gingrich.

Sometimes you get the ide that our elected representatives don't read the papers. Not just Palin.

Posted by: John Emerson on December 20, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

@Mule

I just can't buy your doomsday scenario on abortion services. Currently, most abortions are NOT paid for through insurance, not because it's not available, but because it's a rarely-used, relatively inexpensive procedure that often is less that the deductible. Services have not declined.

Second, if uninsured cannot afford insurance, they can receive up to a 100% subsidy. If they can afford insurance and have elected not to buy it, then they're either paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses now and could use that money to pay for premiums, or they've scammed the system and are costing us all a lot more in premiums as it is, and they should buy insurance. Either way, I can't see more than the tiniest number that end up paying more, and they're getting something for it anyway. If they can't find insurance for less than 8% of their income, they're waived from the mandate.

If these are your biggest concerns, then you're looking at a scale where the benefits of this bill greatly outweigh the costs.

Posted by: converse on December 20, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

The current struggles in Congress has drawn stark dividing lines visible for all to see. And the amazing thing is that these dividing lines are not along party, but along economic classes. When the rich Wall St financiers needed bailing out after they wrecked the world's economy, the Congress, the Fed, and the Treasury have jumped in practically overnight and given them over 12 trillion dollars, and once again the rich were back to handing out record bonuses.

But when it comes to passing help for the middle class, it's a different story. The Democrats had a historic opportunity to pass another Social Security or Medicare - programs that are well understood and liked by the middle class, both Republicans and Democrats. And indeed, polls showed that the public option or a Medicare buy-in were well understood and liked by middle class members of all political parties. But instead, we get this Senate bill which will force the middle class to shovel more money to another failing industry - the healthcare insurance industry that created the health care mess we're trying to fix.

Congress and the President have badly misread the public's attitude about bailing out the rich on the middle class's back. This is not the change they voted for. The Democrats are going to get walloped in 2010 and 2012.

Posted by: Glen on December 20, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Glen

If you think the Democrats are bad, what do you think about the Republicans? Unless people start a 3rd party movement soon, the 2010 elections will involve the same old players and the middle class will be left out in the cold wondering what happened to "their America."

You might be thinking that the teabaggers will change things, but I am not so sure they haven't been duped by some of the professional insiders. Don't look for real change you can believe in from Dick Army.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 20, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

I find it interesting to see someone use the term "obstructionist" in this way. Just as MSM types have attempted to downplay the common, baseline revolt against the moves to bankrupt our country as "nutjobs" or (my vote for infantile outburst of the year) "tea baggers", so the common outrage over the politics of the Obamites is not obstruction, but actual concern over the looming insolvency of our country. Deciding to compromise on something with the Democrats will still put the stink of the thing upon you. The ObamaCare/PelosiCare/ReidCare bills are all a disgrace. Howard Dean is a nut, but this needs to be scrapped and a workable bill enacted.

Posted by: Dr. David Secord on December 20, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

What part about voting and the filibuster do you hyper critical pundits here not understand? My guess is that none of you has worked on Capital Hill. Or in a state legislature. Or even on getting votes on a City Council. As Kerry put it, Nelson and Lieberman have votes, Howard Dean doesn't. Single Payer, the Public Option, and Medicare expansion did NOT HAVE THE VOTES. And guess what? This program - Now That It Exists - can be improved in the future.

The bill calls for protections against maximums, dropping and preexisting conditions, establishment of a federal employee-like OPM health care plan, and $800 million in subsidies for low-income families. And the public lost? Huh? Perhaps most important, like the Swiss and other non public option Euro plans, admin at health insurance companies is limited to %20. That is huge. That essentially limits executive pay.

Of course it is not ideal. But what actual democratically formed legislation is? E.g. medicare. This is a victory. A big one. And victories beget other victories.

Posted by: Wally Sandaber on December 20, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Wally, we get that much. But I'm still waiting for a good explanation of why our folks couldn't have tried, or at least threatened, reconciliation. (BTW Steve B. brought up those kinds of ideas to mull over, he wasn't ramming through establishment compromise thinking every chance as some breezy critics charge.)

Posted by: neil b on December 20, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,

I think the Republicans are bad, but I'm not the one who'll be voting them in.

The teabaggers are dupes being lead by the same people that fuck them over, but we all know that, and we all know that there's no way on hell they'll vote Dem.

The basic problem is that the Dems and Obama gave too much to Wall St and too much to the insurance companies in HCR and not enough to the middle class.

The voters have short memories especially when the economy sucks, they cannot get jobs, and they're losing their retirements, pensions and homes. They're not going to be voting for somebody as much as they will be voting to get rid of the last guy.

Posted by: Glen on December 20, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

This article seems a bit ridiculous. I don't know anyone who thinks this bill is a good idea. It has turned moderate people into Tea Party activists. The country is in grave danger of going bankrupt because of tin-ear politicians who enact bad legislation after bad legislation, blindly following an inexperienced, poor politician in the name of Barack Obama. The day of reckoning for this is coming, and I expect the backlash to be quite severe. I could be wrong, but that's what I am seeing.

Posted by: Randall from Herndon, VA on December 20, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

@neil b

Don't be obtuse. I already explained why reconciliation won't work. If you want more, go to Nate Silver's last post at 538.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/12/insidious-myth-of-reconciliation.html

Posted by: converse on December 20, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Tea baggers" is what they called themselves until they figured out it sounds stupid. Don't whine, Secord.

Posted by: John Emerson on December 20, 2009 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Can we drop the convienient fiction that abortions are cheap and "less than the deductible" and that good women, wives and mothers *who use contraception* never need them? Any woman who is fertile may need an abortion. Any married woman who wants children and pays for pregnancy coverage should have abortion services included in them. Any woman. Every woman. Pregnancies end tragically all the time and the way they end is called "abortion" whether you wanted it or not. Get hit by a car and need to have the damaged fetus removed before you hemmorage out? That's an abortion. Get pregnant, want the baby, and discover that its killing you? That's an abortion--and it aint no 400 dollars either. 9000 is more like it. On top of what you've already paid out for the baby.

Plus every time you remove a source of funding for abortion you remove an incentive for doctors to perform it. Even a 400 dollar abortion, the number people keep throwing around, is more like a several thousand dollar one if you have to leave your home, family, and job and travel out of state to get it.


What is wrong with you people? Abortion services should simply never have been allowed to be hived off from all prenatal care services. It should just be bundled in with all maternal care services and IVF. Don't want those to be covered because of moral objections? Try selling that to Senators and Congressmen. Don't allow these things to be unbundled and you won't have this problem. We loose--we all lose--because we have accepted the far right's frame that there is something odd, or weird, or wrong, about abortion. Its a legal medical procedure that thousands of women will require during their lifetimes. Its non negotiable.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on December 20, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

@aimai

Don't know exactly where you're coming from. A friend went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago and paid less than $300 for an abortion in 2007. She had two appointments. The second one, the procedure, took about 45 minutes. She paid cash because she had a $1000 annual deductible and, honestly, didn't want the insurance company and her work to have a record of the procedure. Call PP tomorrow; check it out.

Posted by: converse on December 20, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Converse (BTW, either you are erratic or someone else is posting rubbish to parody you): OK, I see that article. I don't have time to peruse all these threads despite posting here and there as I slip in and out of other things. In any case it's just an opinion piece like any other by people like Kos who disagree, not a "proof" paper. Silver has some points, but I see counter arguments for instance in this comment:
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/12/insidious-myth-of-reconciliation.html#comment-8013177850330409777
Yet in that and other comments I see, it is problematical to have e.g. a ten-year expiration built in to such actions. IOW: Reid and Obama did not have a magical way to make the problems go away and get a wonderful Bill. Critics and voters need to appreciate that. We still should be *honest* about how good it is or isn't, even if we forgive them and figure it's worth doing anyway.

Posted by: neil b on December 20, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

MikeR skrev :

I don't think the success of 2010, 2012 elections will have much to do with progressive health care proponents staying home. It'll have much to do with what the public thinks about the health care bill. ... the Republicans will run on the claim that the Democrats are forcing you to buy insurance from companies everyone hates and using the IRS as their collection agency. ... without the public option, public approval ratings on the bill are in the 30s

Exactly.

Only a minuscule number of voters follow the details of policy debates and vote accordingly.

The Dems have hung their political future on this bill ; I sure hope that a majority of voters can be persuaded to have strong positive feelings about the bill by election day 2010.

Posted by: joel hanes on December 20, 2009 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Aimai is right that $400 is only the best case for a low-cost early term abortion. I believe the figure reflects a 2001 Guttmacher Institute report.

The Senate is a millionaire's club for whom $400 is a bar bill. Neither they nor anyone they know ever had to file bankruptcy over $10,000 in credit card or medical bills.

The latest bill does not worsen the status quo on public funding for abortion, but the status quo was bad to begin with. Aimai is right to make the point.

Few speak up for the poor and friendless.

Posted by: Steve High on December 20, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"You spin me right roundbabyright roundLike a recordbabyright roundroundround.You spin me right roundbabyright roundLike a recordbabyright roundroundround."

You appartchiks are spun so easy it would be hilarous if it didn't hurt so much.

HCR Is A Great Victory for Democrats and a Terrible Loss for the Marginalized Republicans Who Rue the Day. Yeah yeah.

Read the damn polls. Stop spinning on command of your rent seeking DC puppet master whores. Or not, since it is the true calling of the hem hawer to cry out spin on command.

Posted by: razor on December 20, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

BTW I wonder how many tea-baggers appreciate the irony, that if there'd been a public option then at least every able-bodied person of working age wouldn't have to buy from a private company?

Posted by: neil b on December 20, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. David Secord @ 15:47

Is that a 600 page health care bill your concealing in your pocket or are you just happy to dump on us?

You trolling does not wear well.

Posted by: Kevin on December 20, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

I am willing to bet my nonexistent house that the very same "experts" clogging up left-leaning message boards about how awful HCR is are the very same people who were telling us how CATASTROPHIC it would be to include Rick Warren in the presidential inauguration. Who were also the same ones who told us that the world was about to end when the FISA legislation passed during the campaign.

Don't you guys EVER get sick of being wrong?

Posted by: neilt on December 20, 2009 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's not obvious that they're wrong, and some critics are very bright people with specific points. That said: I hope we can convince enough people that flaws in the HCR are mainly due to Republican/wannabee opposition, and it would have otherwise been a decent Bill (?) I wonder how many LIVs will appreciate that?

Posted by: neil b on December 20, 2009 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

The notion that there is going to be widespread outrage over this is wishful thinking. Wishful apocalyptic thinking. The new specialty of many of my former friends on the left end of the political continuum.

the very same "experts" clogging up left-leaning message boards about how awful HCR is are the very same people who were telling us how CATASTROPHIC it would be to include Rick Warren in the presidential inauguration.

And the same people who were very worried about the influence of free-trader Austan Goolsbee. And the same people who were lately very worried about the sidelining of progressive economists like... Austan Goolsbee? Lots of big talk. Lots of craving failure. Is there anything in the DSM that could provide a clinical name for this new combination of masochism, depression, and masturbation?

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 20, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

The question now is: does the House Progressive Caucus (all 190 or so of 'em) roll over and, basically, ping pong the Senate bill? Because, you know, Sen. Nelson will be very, very upset if anyone so much as looks cross-eyed at HIS amendment! And there will go the magical 60th vote; unless Lieberman feels left out again...
I just don't understand this. The House is supposed to have control of the bill dealing with finance and at $900 billion, this is certainly finance! So why does the Senate have the final say-so on the contents? It's certainly not because they're wiser...

Posted by: Doug on December 20, 2009 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Don't give Lord Bayh too much credit.

Where has been the last 9 months?

He's waited and watched with his finger in the wind, and see's which way it is blowing.

Definitely not a "Profile in Courage."

Posted by: Mamzic on December 20, 2009 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think Bayh gets to pretend to be the Good Cop because Lieberman played Bad Cop for that whole cohort, the Lincoln/Landrieu/Pryor/Carper group. It was like the flypaper theory. Get everyone all pissed at Lieberman, because everyone hates him already, but have him essentially empowered to negotiate for a whole bloc.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 20, 2009 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Repeal? Why in the world would Republicans want to repeal this bill? It is their dreams come true. The corporate overlords get a huge inflow of new customers, AND the Republicans get to blame Democrats for it. We Democrats have squandered our majority, and Obama's popularity for a travesty, with real problems and mostly illusory virtues (ie restrictions that insurance companies will easily circumvent). Also, if the bill can "be improved" down the road, it can certainly also be made worse, and you can be sure that Republicans will do that once they get back their majorities. They may not know how to make government work for the people, but they spare no effort to make it work for corporate fat cats. Would that our Democratic leadership had even half of that enthusiasm for serving the needs of their constituents.

Posted by: Outis on December 20, 2009 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ambitious? Sigh. Not really.

Posted by: Jay on December 20, 2009 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

And you can't fix stupid.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on December 20, 2009 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK
This article seems a bit ridiculous. I don't know anyone who thinks this bill is a good idea.
I don't know anyone who voted for Bush. Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 20, 2009 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

A cautionary tale

One upon a time a bunch of people, realizing that access to healthcare in the US was a joke, decided it was time to fix it, that it was time to implement a system whereby everyone would have access to high quality, affordable healthcare, regardless of how much they (or their parents) earned.

So after a lot of arguing they came up with a scheme where everyone is forced to buy expensive health insurance policies they can't afford, or else pay higher taxes, although some of those with very, very, low salaries would get help. They then went around crowing "You see, it couldn't be done but we did it! We will win the next election for sure with this winning formula!" And so ends our cautionary tale.

The moral of the story? Never try.

Posted by: squiggleslash on December 20, 2009 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

OK, critics keep saying that the resulting insurance policies under the new system will be "expensive" and/or "crappy." Why? Just a general feeling that insurance companies want things to be expensive and crappy, or is it based on something in the bill itself?

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 20, 2009 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

The entire argument for the bill being good seems to rest on the premise that, though the Democrats completely failed at any sort of cost controls this time, they'll totally get it right at some time in the future.

Step 1) Promise all stakeholders to protect their profits
Step 2) Pony.
Step 3) Cost control!

Posted by: Alan in SF on December 20, 2009 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

These posts critical of HCR don't say anything specific about why HCR is bad but instead say, the HCR is a bad bill because it ... is .. a ... bad .. bill. How about saying why? Why is a 20% cap on admin expenses bad? Why is a limit on maximums and prohibitions on dropping policy holders bad? Why are $800 million in subsidies bad? Want to know what bad is? Bad is the Demos losing the House in 2010 and the presidency in 2012 because they could not pass any bill to improve our health care system.

Look, I understand that many of you don't think Snowe, Baucus and Nelson are ethical people. But guess what. We all already knew that. And many of us also know that those Senators will be reelected, so what is the point of ripping them now instead of praising them? This is progressives at their worst. Immediately after GHWB got THE biggest environmental bill in 30 years passed - the Clean Air Act Amendments - he was ripped by environmental lobbyists for not doing enough on water issues. He said screw it, turned over domestic environmental policy to the original wingnut, John Sununu, who then crushed every progressive issue that Bush had actually been interested in. Why can't progressives stop gnawing their own legs off?

Posted by: Wally Sandaber on December 20, 2009 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

HCR is just like the New Deal, you know, when FDR cut deals with all the major business interests to give them what they wanted so in the long term middle and lower classes could do better.

This argument is exactly as specious and bogus as all those war on false pretense arguments about anticipatory war and Korean and Germany as models for the New Iraq transformed by being the Ward of the know it all Americans. Just bullshit for self absorbed DC chattering rent takers.

FDR did not go and cut deals like the WH did. He did not roll over for prima donnas like Lieberman and Nelson and Snowe.

The argument that what the WH is done is for the best is pure dogmatic bullshit. Those who make this argument make it every time regardless of the facts. The "progressives" I read have overwhelmingly predicted the sellout given the history of WH insults to progressives, and have accepted that strategically they are stuck. But don't let facts get in the way when you are a DC know it all civic rent parasite appartchik. Progressives don't control the polls. The electoral reality is the problem, not progressives, and the WH has bungled the electoral reality on a monumental scale. The WH is no different than a sports team that is getting its ass kicked, but all the shills on their pay roll always have excuses and to listen to them you would think the team was winning.

Basta basta basta.

Posted by: razor on December 20, 2009 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

BAH HUMBUG! What a bunch of negative mealy mouths. When will you understand that politics is for those that SHOW UP! You want to whine and snivel and 'he promised me' and 'he isn't doing what I THOUGHT'...JHC! It's up to YOU...if you don't show up then the GOP will win huge. What short memories you all have. The last 11 months have somehow been WORSE than the last 8 years??? I am disgusted by YOU! Yep, give it back to them...in all the complaining about Obama you think the goppers have done ANYTHING in the last 11 months. Get off your butts and start talking to every single person you know.

Posted by: SYSPROG on December 20, 2009 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

HCR is just like the New Deal, you know, when FDR cut deals with all the major business interests to give them what they wanted so in the long term middle and lower classes could do better.

So, preparing for World War II, that was, like, anti-corporate? Or was it a "bailout" for McDonnell-Douglas, Lockheed, etc. to build all that weaponry?

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 20, 2009 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

moterbike for sale nails it!

Posted by: yesss! on December 21, 2009 at 5:30 AM | PERMALINK

President Obama was perhaps not as involved in all this as he should have been, but I am sure he went to sleep last night knowing his place in history is now assured, for reasons having nothing to do with skin color.

Posted by: bob h on December 21, 2009 at 7:15 AM | PERMALINK

FlipYrWhig - it's based upon the fact that the rates are expensive now, that the mechanisms in the bill make it hard for insurers to raise rates by much in the future guaranteeing they'll keep the rates they have (or slightly raise them) before entering the exchanges, and it's confirmed, to a degree, by the CBO report that estimated rates will be around 1% higher than they are today.

Posted by: squiggleslash on December 21, 2009 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

This comment stream here is insanity. People literally talking past each other on this health care bill. The right thinks its good for them politically and the rest think its a revolution.

I'd say it's a small step forward, and it's too bad they didn't pass medicare for all. Come on Republicans, you keep saying your FOR medicare!!
Why not make it FOR ALL!?

The right wing it's truly delusional, isolated, and irrational.

So, I think it's time to lock them up in a padded room.

Posted by: johnnyr on December 21, 2009 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK
It's a reminder that the GOP caucus doesn't include especially good chess players.
TIME TO TOPPLE THE KING, MITCH.

It is REALLY bad form to continue to play out a lost game. And I thought all this time Republicans were such good sports... lesson learned - NOT! They are a bunch of dickwads.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on December 21, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK
They lost. In the end, they'll walk away with nothing.

Ahhh.... I am basking in the glory of them walking away with nothing.

Reports of the demeanor of the Dem Senators as the roll count was announced had them very much stifling their joy, as good winners should.

I have to admit to reading all their minds at the time, and here is what most of them boiled down to:

Yippy-Ki-Yi-Yay, motherf***ers!

.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on December 21, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

@ squiggleslash, why isn't that affordability concern addressed by the subsidies?

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

FlipYrWhig:

1. Because not everyone qualifies for subsidies.
2. Because subsidies have to come from somewhere.

The bill sets up a dynamic where insurers are rewarded for both starting with high prices (because future large rises will cause them to be thrown out of exchanges), and encouraging inefficiencies in medical care (because expenditure on care is linked to expenditure on administration and shareholder dividends, thanks to the 80/85% rule.)

The people who pay for that crap are us, either as taxpayers or as people having to buy these policies. I'm really trying to work out why anyone thinks this is a good idea.

There are two possible fixes:

1. Scrap the above rules. Weaken the mandate (at least ensure people can opt out without paying a penalty if the proposed penalty is lower than the cost of adequate insurance - that gives insurers a strong incentive to reduce prices.

2. Scrap the above rules, introduce adequate controls (Public Option, Price Controls set by a politically independent commission, something else)

Either one would work. I'd prefer the latter, it moves the cause of Universal Healthcare forward to a far greater degree than the former, but I can live with the former. The former is better than the bill as proposed. The bill as proposed can only fail.

Posted by: squiggleslash on December 21, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Bad is the Demos losing the House in 2010 and the presidency in 2012 because they could not pass any bill to improve our health care system."

As opposed to losing the House and Presidency because they passed a bill that had a 33% approval rating, the public benefits of which were essentially statistical, and did it in such a fashion as to make themselves look weak in a country that respects only strength?

Posted by: Forrest on December 21, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

They don't "walk away with nothing". Not by any means. We started this debate by talking about ensuring universal coverage and moving to a single payer system.

Now we have a bill that comes far short of solving our problems. Like a lot of bills lately, it does just the bare minimum to keep our heads above water, it doesn't keep us afloat. We have the odious individual mandate but no public option that would otherwise make it tolerable. A gigantic gift to private insurance companies. The public option is dead, and for all the talk about improving things later on, that's just punting, and completely unrealistic when there is no public option to improve upon later. We have a bill that further restricts a woman's right to choose. Do we even have a watered-down Medicare buy-in?

The GOP's united opposition forced us to negotiate with Stupak and Nelson and (ugh, I need to shower) Lieberman in order to get a bill that has a chance of passing.

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