Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

metaphor alert 

h/t hiaw

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

santa loves us 

Rudy Giuliani is set to throw his endorsement to 2010 GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio a press conference tomorrow, where he's also expected to indicate he's not running for US Senate himself next year, Republican sources told The Post.


No more Giuliani. I can't think of a better Christmas present.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Smart big picture assessment 

This is by a Huffington Post blogger who is a grad student in health policy.
It seems pretty smart to me -- worth considering in trying to assess just what the current bill is and whether it is worth supporting:

The latest installment of conventional wisdom to emerge from liberal writers who support the current health care bill argues that the best entitlement programs come from bad bills. This caterpillars-into-butterflies narrative boasts Medicare and Social Security as the templates for how this flawed bill could form the cornerstone for single-payer, or something like it. Take, for example, Paul Krugman:

"Bear in mind also the lessons of history: social insurance programs tend to start out highly imperfect and incomplete, but get better and more comprehensive as the years go by. Thus Social Security originally had huge gaps in coverage -- and a majority of African-Americans, in particular, fell through those gaps. But it was improved over time, and it's now the bedrock of retirement stability for the vast majority of Americans."

Yet what they ignore is that so many entitlement programs enacted by Democrats, even the popular ones, are starved of funding, stripped of their authority, delegated to the states and left to fall by the wayside. Nothing exemplifies this more than the welfare programs enacted under the Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. From the moment of its inception it was slowly defunded and shrunken down only to be killed off - or rather 'reformed' (sound familiar?) - by the big-government ending Bill Clinton. A decade later, facing record unemployment, the federal government is compelled to re-authorize welfare payments to the states to stave of state bankruptcies and mass starvation.

And the current health care reform package in the Senate looks far more like a welfare program for the poor than Medicare or Social Security. Whereas Medicare and Social Security make the middle class stakeholders in a government run system, and entirely dependent on that system working properly and delivering results, the current reforms are selective in their effects, largely sidestepping those with employer based insurance. Instead, like welfare, the benefits are exclusive in nature, in this case targeting only those who are barred from the current insurance market, and thereby don't give the middle class a stake in its success. Without bringing these stakeholders into the policy it is far more likely to likely to follow the fate of welfare than Medicare or Social Security as services for the poor always become poor services.

With the Medicare buy-in and public option off the table there is no 'entitlement' or 'social insurance' program that can grow and expand. Instead there are subsidies to private insurance for those currently left out which are more likely to shrink over time than grow. For the liberals' argument to hold true, that the bill would get better over time, Congress would have to vote to increase the size of the subsidies at a rate higher the inflation of the price of health insurance. Given that nobody seriously believes this bill to "bend the curve" of costs, those subsidies would have increase greatly year-on-year just to remain at parity. The likely outcome is that the growth in subsidies will fall behind the rising cost of insurance, making health insurance more expensive, more regressive and less progressive as time goes on.

probably a more sane perspective 

Justina, commenter at The Field says:

Having reviewed the proposed "Manager's " 385 page amendment to the Senate Finance Committee bill, I'm still not clear on its real impact for those 47 million uninsured and the 50 million who are under-insured. I trust Howard Dean when he says its represents an improvement. But clearly, we are still not yet close to providing affordable health care to all those who need it. Until we know whats in the final bill, we on the left need to keep yelling so that any further changes aren't just more gifts to the private insurers and the conservadems they've bought and paid for.

Logically, no one who cares about providing the broadest possible coverage at the lowest possible price should be shouting "Pass this Bill" or "Kill this Bill" until we have gotten the best possible deal in the final bill that we can.

We have one more shot if we can push for a conference committee to reconcile the best parts of House and Senate Manager's Amendment bills. At the conclusion of that process is the time to decide whether we should support passage, try to get the best parts passed through reconciliation or advocate killing the bill and starting over.

In the meantime, exposing the Democratic Party's sell-out to, and control by, corporate interests is extremely important to generate support for electing progressives to replace the "Blue Dog" conservadems and, hopefully, to remove the power of the DLC to further pervert the Democratic (and democratic) agenda.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

happy holidays 

(click to enlarge)



But to repeat—despite flaws, I think this is an excellent piece of legislation. Among other things, it represents a return, after fifteen years, of the idea that congress should be trying to pass major legislation that tackles major national problems. And even beyond that, it restores an even longer-lost tradition of congress trying to pass major legislation on specifically progressive priorities.

"represents a return...of the idea"...."restores...lost tradition" - These are the words a of a bullshit artist with nothing substantive left to say. When people start talking about representation and restoration, reach for your gun. Or your wallet. Or both. Or pawn your gun to have something to put in your wallet.


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