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After the Massachusetts special election


I don't know who will win today's special election in Massachusetts. But I do know what should happen -- and what can happen -- after the votes are counted and the winner is seated: Democrats should pass health-care reform.

Scott Brown's victory would change the math in the Senate but not the fundamentals of the bill. It's true, of course, that the addition of a 41st Republican means that the GOP can thwart the will of the 59 Democrats in the majority and successfully filibuster legislation. But this particular bill has already passed the Senate. It can be signed into law without ever seeing Harry Reid's desk again.

That would require House Democrats to do something they don't wish to do and pass the Senate bill unchanged. But passing the Senate bill unchanged would not mean that health-care reform cannot be changed. The bulk of the controversial differences between the two bills have to do with money -- how you raise it and how much of it you spend. Those differences can be resolved through the 51-vote reconciliation process. There's even an open reconciliation vehicle waiting to be used.

There is a tendency, however, to get caught in the politics and process of health-care reform. But the most important fact is not that House Democrats can pass the Senate bill. It's that they should, if it comes to that.

This argument is generally made in terms of the politics of health-care reform. Both chambers of Congress have already voted for reform. The question is simply whether Democrats want to own a historic legislative success or a calamitous political failure. If Democrats pass the bill, they have a major accomplishment to message around in 2010. Every paper in the country will have a front-page headline featuring the word "historic." If Democrats don't pass it, they must explain away their failure, and beyond their failure, their decision to try at all. Just as no campaign is ever as good as it looks when it's winning or as bad as it seems when it's losing, bills that pass look better than bills that fail, regardless of the underlying merits.

But that argument is almost sociopathically detached from the actual bill. Democrats should pass health-care reform because it's the right thing to do. They should pass health-care reform because between 18,000 and 45,000 people die each year because they don't have health-care insurance, and this bill will save many of those lives. They should pass health-care reform because it will prevent countless medical bankruptcies and an enormous amount of needless chronic pain and infirmity. They should pass it because it will take important steps towards cost control. They should pass health-care reform, as my friend Chris Hayes says, because it's important for the American people to see their government doing more than starting wars and bailing out banks. They should pass health-care reform because it's the right thing to do, both for the millions of people whom it will directly affect and for the country as a whole.

The fact that this argument is being made by a blogger rather than a congressional leader, however, is exactly the problem. This legislation, like all legislation, is the product of an unending series of compromises and a long and tough political fight. The bill's natural allies have made painful concessions that have sapped their enthusiasm, and its natural opponents have had a long time to learn to hate it. But for all the concessions, the bill is not that different, in effect or in construction, than it was at the beginning. The problem is that the bill's supporters seem to have forgotten why they were doing this in the first place. And if they can't remember the bill's virtues, who will remind the country?

Photo credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 19, 2010; 7:07 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Putting the health-care bill into perspective
Next: State of the Union scheduled


Robbing a bank gives you money, but it is wrong. Passing a health care bill that is comprised of special interest giveaways that the American People reject is wrong.

I don't know how democrats have become so deaf. the Denver Post is demanding Colorado senators vote NO. Most newspapers will not call it historic, but NOTORIOUS!

Posted by: Cornell1984 | January 19, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Ezra. The bill is a major step forward, expanding Medicaid, providing subsidies for people who can't afford insurance, closing the donut hole, expanding health centers and supporting medical education, experimenting with delivery systems and cost controls, enabling young people to stay on their parents' insurance and more.

The administration, the left, and congressional leaders have to answer for not being more focused on answering the slurs against the bill. The WH communication team should take a good look at itself and its failings. The media has been awful in promoting right wing lies, but the communication folks have not been effective. I would hope the progressive left and blogosphere would step up and take responsibility for having been more negative than supportive. And, yes, there is blame in Congress as well, particularly Senator Baucus who allowed the major delays in August.

Posted by: mainer2 | January 19, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Judging from the last 18 years (2 Clinton terms, 2 Cheney terms, and half an Obama term), flawed Democratic legislation is better than any Republican legislation. Get on with it!

Posted by: frodot | January 19, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse


" .. They should pass health-care reform because between 18,000 and 45,000 people die each year because they don't have health-care insurance, and this bill will save many of those lives. They should pass health-care reform because it will prevent countless medical bankruptcies .."

LIE NO. 1 -- "medical bankruptcies." Ginned up by Harvard Law Prof. Warren (no CPA/JD), a 30-year record of attacking non-Commies and Dr. Himmelstein of Harvard Med (no CPA/JD), the founder of MDs for Single Payer.

This LIE was questioned by NYTimes last month.

Kid, you obviously use that LIE because you are a STEAL-O-CRAT.

Shame on you for LYING, Kid. You should know better, but STEAL-O-CRATS and the truth are mutually exclusive.

LIE NO. 2: "So many will die with insurance." Ginned up by the New England Journal of Medicine (no PhDs in Econ.) Not unlike the Lancet's attacks on GWB.

Kid, you have no conclusive econometric proof of that.

You are LYING, Kid.

Kid, more than 40% of USA medical costs are due to DOPE, SMOKING, over-eating, booze (think SWIMMER) and "extreme living" (Bwarney Fwrank).

It is my fault, someone smokes?

Why, kid? Why my fault?

You want to pay for smokers -- go ahead. I AM NOT!

Kid, you are way over your head. Way over.

Posted by: russpoter | January 19, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Ezra - Those death numbers you cite have no basis in reality.

I think you underestimate Dems ability to screw this up. If Brown wins, there's about a 50% chance that HC reform bill fails to pass (vs. about 1% right now).

Posted by: MBP2 | January 19, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Indeed. Those numbers are always changing because they are pulled out of people's a*&*ses. By what means can it be determined someone died from lack of insurance? Unless you can say how that is done, you cannot have a figure. Who tabulates such deaths?

Posted by: truck1 | January 19, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Your absolutely right Ezra. I think it still has a chance to pass because I saw a quote from Pelosi last night that was approx. "regardless of what happens Tues, health care will pass." Take that to the bank because she can get things done. I know it would be a heavy lift for her and the president, but both of them together is heavy pressure. It would be absolutely ridiculous to have the president use all his political capital on this & the Congress to waste so much time & not have the bill pass. I don't need it, but I know a lot of people who do. It is the right thing to do.

Posted by: carolerae48 | January 19, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

There's another good reason to pass health care reform: people like truck1 and russpoter need a hard kick in the teeth to remind them that their ideology and belief system is a failure and that advocacy for their God forsaken cause is futile. Failure begets failure: show right wingers that despite their best efforts, they will fail, and they'll be more accommodating in the future. Show that after some stressful times that the Democrats will flinch, and you'll only embolden them. As if the torture issue wasn't already enough, the health care reform issue has given a chance for conservatives to show their true colors and expose them as the destructive force that they are. This is a chance to shut them down.

Posted by: tyromania | January 19, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Kill the bill. Anyone who thinks this bill will pay for itself only need to look at any government program.

Name me a government program that pays for itself without the need to tax its citizens to death?

All who want this bill to pass please raise your hand and ask the IRS to tax you with an extract 20% on top of what you are paying.

Its only fair that you do what is right.

Posted by: ahender1 | January 19, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I think another thing you see from russpoter reall exposes the dynamic here... his complaint was that research methods were "Not unlike the Lancet's attacks on GWB." What we have here is a bunch of Bush dead-enders: the Bush feydayeen if you will desperately trying to salvage their cause. To concede the need for health reform would be to admit that the last ten years of their lives were wasted on a worthless destructive ideology. They have to see health care reform fail and a broken system continue to justify the ideological falsehoods they cling to. Now we're either going to continue to support Bushism and conservatism, or we're finally going to reject it and the failures of the last several years. And health care reform is a good start that helps us turn the page on the past.

Posted by: tyromania | January 19, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Ironically, Massachusetts is a good example of why, no matter what happens, the Dems should go ahead and pass health care reform. One of the reasons that health care reform is an issue in the election is because the state already has a version of health care reform, courtesy of Romney, and consequently its citizens are ambivalent about signing on to a national program. In other words, like the tea party types who wanted government to "stay out of their Medicare", they like what they have, the operative clause in this sentence, and worry that a national bill might impact it in negative ways. Klein is right. Dems have to muster up the courage to take the long view and buck the propaganda telling them that they can't afford to take short term risks. Had proponents of Social Security and Medicare capitulated to the same, self serving nonsense in the past, society would be in much worse shape today and Dems should note that in all of the tea party protests, not one person, however demented, suggested ripping up either card, which I'm quite sure rested comfortably inside their wallets.

Posted by: Koko3 | January 19, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Ezra. This so-called health care reform is a no-go for this citizen, voter, and honest taxpayer. For starters, they might as well forget any chance of getting me to comply with an unconstitutional mandatory health insurance provision. Not doing it, no matter what. It's my private choice whether to make that purchase or not and nobody tells me what to do with my private finances. The IRS and anyone else can save themselves a lot of headache, stress, and wasted effort and just let go the issue of getting me to comply with anything remotely like that requirement.
A necessary start, regardless of who wins this special election, would be sending it back to the Senate to strip that mandatory provision from the bill and to not replace it with any more stealthy or manipulative way of achieving the same thing in its absence. Then we can talk about the rest.

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | January 19, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

KoKo3 -

Although I am not a member of the Tea Party movement that you mention, rest assured that the only things in my wallet are my driver license, my debit card, my cash, and my credit card. Neither of the cards you mentioned rests in MY wallet.-

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | January 19, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Hi Ezra! I do have a question here:

How is it that Congress can pass the bill without bringing it back to the Senate for a vote?

So, a bill is passed by the Senate and House. The bill goes to Conference. Here's what I don't get:

If the bill is not changed from the Senate/House version (in this case the Senate), does that mean that then the other chamber (House in this case) can simply vote to pass it as is and it becomes law?

So basically, another vote after conference only comes into play if changes are made to either of the bills?


Posted by: JERiv | January 19, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse


Go for it. I frankly don't care if you want to comply with the new rule or not, and a little civil disobedience is always good for the soul. Since you obviously don't care what happens to you, you surely also don't mind if the healthcare reform bill gets passed and helps people like ME, who are self-employed and have pre-existing conditions that mean we can't get insurance or can't afford to pay for it on the off chance we find an insurer that won't discriminate against us in the first place. I don't care if you have insurance or not. For the sake of myself, my family, and my business, you better BELIEVE I care if I have insurance.

Posted by: gmarasco | January 19, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I live a comfortable middle income life together, due to the fact that my hubby has worked for the same company for almost 40 years --- because he's diabetic and if he changed jobs, he wouldn't have insurance. He's almost 60 years old, is working himself to death and driving a terrible commute five days a week. He wants to retire. However, if he should retire, then I won't have insurance, because he covers me -- and I have pre-existing conditions. I would more than likely be unable to get the insurance I need.

Think about it -- he needs to slow down but can't. Should he retire, we won't have insurance.

We want this bill to pass. We want to be able to go into the open market and buy insurance.

Get off your rear ends, Congress and pass the bill!

Posted by: pollythewriter | January 19, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and I have to say, it's sad to see the hyper-partisan folks are now commenting here.

I've always wondered why people who disagree about "something" have to do so in CAPS, need to use simplistic sentences that usually end in exclamation points or question marks, use insulting and childish names towards the opposition, and question the data and analysis being presented without ever actually refuting it with verifiable facts of their own (or coherence).

Saying "that's not so" is not a very good argument on anyone's part, and isn't very convincing. If you graduated even elementary school making that argument whenever your teacher said anything, I question the value of your education.

Just a heads up... Bringing only your overwhelming sense of dread about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket when others are in charge, and believing whatever the other party does is evil for no reason other than it's being done by the other party, isn't really a very rational argument to make, and won't really take you very far.

Posted by: JERiv | January 19, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Ezra--people are simply sick of condescending elitists (like you) telling them what is best for them. It's as simple as that. The current bill is full of mandates, compulsions and grotesquely increased spending.

Ezra, stay the hell out of my life !

Posted by: dan1138 | January 19, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

polly obviously needs to read up on the HIPAA laws. its a shame that people like that make assumptions not based on fact but on their misunderstanding of fact.

Yes Healthcare should pass but remember Ezra that if the senate bill is even to pass in the house it'll be yet another example of how the house must hold its nose for a less liberal senate bill. I don't know if Pelosi et al can stomach that espeically with the likes of FDL and other progressive bloggers breathing down their necks.

Obama has it right that the perfect shouldn't be the ememy of the good yet the far left is just as bad as the far right when it comes to destroying its party's chances.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 19, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

At present, assuming that Coakley does not win, the only viable plan for HCR is as you mention - House to adopt Senate bill as is and then via reconciliation to change the terms of funding / spending. It is very tough for House folks to accept this. So there seems to a Pollack plan - simultaneously negotiate terms of reconciliation in the budget and have House to vote on both things at the same time. That way House members will be assured of things in place.

I read that formulation of reconciliation along with necessary agreement is time consuming part. Is it true? Any additional information here?

Posted by: umesh409 | January 19, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

and its that democratic fear machine about pre-ex (and the assumption that it applies to all) that drives Polly's fear I'd expect. Polly, don't listen to the fear mongers and check out for yourself whether you'd be subject to pre-ex. In many situations you wouldn't be. Read up on the law of HIPAA instead of trusting fear mongers. THe right wing may have had the death panels but the left has the fear of everone being recinded and pre-ex'd market cornered.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 19, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I think I'd rather have the argument that health insurance is maldistributed and the government can't fix all types of maldistribution than argue that medical bankruptcy and deaths from lack of insurance don't actually exist or can't be counted (so they don't exist). If there are no downsides to not having insurance, then insurance is massively overpriced in this country and that market failure is a strong reason for more radical health care reform than contemplated here. If it doesn't matter at all, just have the NHS and be done with it.

However, I hope reconciliation starts as soon as the house/senate compromise gets fillibustered. We need to get Congress working as the constitution envisioned with majority rule and two houses. Promises in the future about process are always contingent as we have seen.

Posted by: windshouter | January 19, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse


If you have any suggestions as to where to find an insurance company that doesn't discriminate on the basis of a pre-existing conditions, please tell me. I have been searching for two years without any luck. I'm not sure why you think HIPAA would prevent insurance companies from asking about your medical history. They do. Routinely. And then stamp a big "NO" on your application when it turns out you've already got something going on.

Posted by: gmarasco | January 19, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

59 senators in favor is not a majority of the people who are almost equally opposed (give it time, the people opposed keeps going up and number of senators will go down a bunch come november). yes we the people want reform starting with tort reform and freedom of interstate commerce (which would actually be the only way congress could "constitutionally" get involved in the first place). neither "big" problem most people areconcerned with are addressed that is why we are against it

Posted by: shorething | January 19, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"Having insurance improves health overall and could reduce mortality rates for the uninsured by 10-15%. It has been estimated that the number of excess deaths among uninsured adults age 25-64 is in the range of 18,000 a year." - Kaiser Family Foundation

For more facts on the uninsured, please copy and paste the link below to your browser.

kff stands for Kaiser Family Foundation, which has nothing to do with the kid, Ezra Klein.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), or just Kaiser Family Foundation, is a U.S.-based non-profit, private operating foundation headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

Posted by: dummy4peace | January 19, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

*it's sad to see the hyper-partisan folks are now commenting here. *

There is nothing wrong with being "partisan." It clarifies who believes what. We have a two party system that acts as a zero-sum game: there are winners and losers, and the goal is to win. If you're not willing to do that, you shouldn't be picking a fight.

Posted by: constans | January 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

As I have previously said: if the Democrats don't get this passed then they deserve to lose in 2010 and beyond. It will mean that the are unable to govern and are useless.

Posted by: am1968 | January 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, thank you and you are so right, especially when noting that political leaders, rather than a blogger, should be stating the obvious about this. It is, of course, not perfect, but as a memeber of the great uninsured who really needs this bill, it is a vast improvememt and reconciliation can take care of the tax and spending changes to be made from the senate bill. The communication on this has been awful. Of course the right opposed it, the left complained about it not being perfect and the administration failed to get across all that was being accomplished. Obama should have been holding town meetings answering concerns and if he had I think the situation would be much improved. In fact, when this goes ahead, a good idea might be to hold on in Mass.

Posted by: gregspolitics | January 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

i meant "one" not "on" as in holding a town meeting in Mass, but maybe there is an omen and we will hold on in Mass, as in senate seat.

Posted by: gregspolitics | January 19, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse


what state are you in? People dont' realize that depending on what state you're in depends on whether or not pre-ex applies. They also don't realize that many states have limited pre-ex windows meaning that they can only subject you to pre-ex for a short period of time.

Here's a couple good websites.

In my state of NJ for example there is limited pre-ex but there are so many variables that it really has to be looked at by an expert on a case by case basis. That's why ending pre-ex just makes sense and standardizing it (as well as benefits) nationwide makes sense but you can't end pre-ex without accountability (individual mandate) otherwise people would (and do) game the system.

Check with someone who knows. I'm an insurance broker, that's how I know. I had a client who thought he'd be subject to pre-ex if he came onto his employer's plan at open enrollment because of a condition his daughter had. NJ law for groups 6-50 does not allow that. He called the state of NJ and was given incorrect info. We confirmed it directly with the insurance company that he wouldn't (and wasn't) subject to pre-ex.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 19, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse


I agree that there's nothing wrong with being partisan. However, that's not what I said. I said "hyperpartisan". There's a difference.

Partisan: An ardent and enthusiastic supporter of some person or activity

Hyperpartisan: Sharply polarized by political parties in fierce disagreement with each other.

The difference being that you can talk to a partisan. You can't talk to a hyperpartisan.

As Barney Frank once said to a hyperpartisan: "Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to have a conversation with a dining room table, and I have no interest in doing it".

Love that quote. :-)

Posted by: JERiv | January 19, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse


Those are great links, thank you! You've already given me more information than the worthless insurance brokers I've been dealing with for the past two years.

Posted by: gmarasco | January 19, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse


no problem.

as i've come to learn there are idiots in every profession. insurance brokers are absolutely not immune to that fact.

Please note that the as the laws vary from state to state they also vary whether you're speaking about individual coverage, small group coverage (usually 2-50 lives) and large group (usually 51+). It also is dependent if you're going from one market segment to another. Again another reason "standardization" is a HUGE benefit of reform not only in benefits but in pre-ex laws too.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 19, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

All those who are pointing at the special interest giveaways as a reason to kill the bill need only ask "who wins if the bill is killed"?

It's a pathetic sight watching people who are trying to do the right stopped by special interests. That's the way the stinking system works. The solution to that problem is to get money out of politics. Again ask yourselves, "What party defends corporate interests at every turn and especially when an attemp is made to stop the legalized bribery?" "Which party supports judges who equate money with speach?".

We all know which party is completely (as opposed to partially) controlled by big money. Until we vote out every pol who defends these practices they will continue.

In the mean time, PASS HEALTH CARE NOW!!

Posted by: rramos01 | January 19, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The only thing Obama can do is to try to get the House to approve the senate bill and then sign it into law. There is no other option left if Brown wins. If the President can't get his own party to back him on this one, then he should not be president. As for those democrats who will lose their seat from voting for this bill, tough, it's why they were elected. Only option Obama has if Brown wins.

Posted by: pg1923 | January 19, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"This legislation, like all legislation, is the product of an unending series of compromises and a long and tough political fight."

No, this legislation is the product of a strategy that intentionally convolved and obfuscated as many different policy aspects as possible, in the hope that the bill would be too massive to criticize effectively.

The strategy worked: The criticism is all over the map, some of it cogent, some of it just full-blown bat-guano crazy. But the end result is that, as of today,'s average of approve/disapprove polls on the bill stands at 42.8% approve, 53.1% disapprove.

Legislators should vote this bill down because, while laws and sausages may both contain a certain amount of ground-up pork rectums, it's usually advisable to wash the fecal matter out before things make their way to the grinder. Nobody did this--indeed, the leadership took a perverse delight in generating the most opaque bill possible. They need to own up to their catastrophic misjudgment of the intelligence of the American electorate, scrap this piece of junk, and try again. Maybe this time they can treat us all like grownups.

Posted by: theradicalmoderate | January 19, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

If you're in Massachusetts, vote for whomever you like, on the merits, but do it for the right reasons. Although kind of vague, the statement that "the bill is not that different, in effect or in construction, than it was at the beginning" is misleading, perhaps intentionally. Right now we have a bill in the Senate that doesn't control private health-care costs, requires tens of millions of Americans to buy unaffordable insurance, and then tries to help them with not-too-generous subsidies. When we were "at the beginning" last year, we discussed having public alternatives to a private health care market that makes us all pay 2 to 3 times as much on health care as other industrialized countries. Now we've abandoned that. So we hope that expensive health-care coverage for this captive market will translate into actual treatment when they need it and that the private health care market won't try to screw them or avoid the government's (theoretical) enforcement of bans on rescission and the like. This is about the most industry-friendly version of "reform" that you can think of, and having Ezra pretend that it's something better than it is really sticks in my craw. You could support it on the theory that something is (or might be) better than nothing and that we could improve it later, but that's the best you could say for it. The grim reality is that, without the bill, perhaps 18-45,000 people may die every year, but it's still quite possible that something very close to that may happen even with the bill. We may be incrementally better off with the bill than without, but pretending that we're making health care more affordable and reliable when we're not is irresponsible and demogogic. It's the samllest of small steps that we possibly could have taken.

Posted by: redscott | January 19, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the Democrats should pass a health care reform bill. The problem is neither the House nor especially the Senate passed a health care reform bill. The majority of Democratic Representatives should not abandon their slightly better health care bill to boost the egos of Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

The word reform has become the most abused term in the English language. A surrender to health insurance companies that leaves twenty or more million without health care insurance is considered by some people to be "reform." Scapegoating teachers for the failures of students and parents is considered "reform." Rewarding people who break federal laws to come to this country illegally is regarded as "reform."

Maybe conservatives will demand "reform" of the minimum wage and child labor laws by repealing them. People need to show they have some minimal critical thinking skills and independent judgment to ignore the propaganda.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | January 19, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, blog and pontificate all you want. Brown's election is a scream at the Democrats that we don't want Obamacare. Looks to me like the Democrats are going to fail big time and in doing it in such a partisan way, they will dig their own grave. Pride goes before the fall.

Posted by: delusional1 | January 19, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse


" .. They should pass health-care reform because between 18,000 and 45,000 people die each year because they don't have health-care insurance, and this bill will save many of those lives. They should pass health-care reform because it will prevent countless medical bankruptcies .."

LIE NO. 1 -- "medical bankruptcies." Ginned up by Harvard Law Prof. Warren (no CPA/JD), a 30-year record of attacking non-Commies and now Obama "czar" & Dr. Himmelstein of Harvard Med (no CPA/JD), the founder of MDs for Single Payer.

This LIE was questioned by NYTimes last month.

Kid, you obviously use that LIE because you are a STEAL-O-CRAT.

Shame on you for LYING, Kid. You should know better, but STEAL-O-CRATS and the truth are mutually exclusive.

LIE NO. 2: "So many will die with insurance." Ginned up by the New England Journal of Medicine (no PhDs in Econ.) Not unlike the Lancet's attacks on GWB.

Kid, you have no conclusive econometric proof of that.

You are LYING, Kid.

Kid, more than 40% of USA medical costs are due to DOPE, SMOKING, over-eating, booze (think SWIMMER) and "extreme living" (Bwarney Fwrank).

It is my fault, someone smokes?

Why, kid? Why my fault?

You want to pay for smokers -- go ahead. I AM NOT!

Kid, you are way over your head. Way over.

Posted by: russpoter | January 19, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse


Your comment was pointless the first time around, any specific reason you decide to post it again?

Posted by: gmarasco | January 19, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"the addition of a 41st Republican means that the GOP can thwart the will of the 59 Democrats in the majority"

Herein lies the problem in a nutshell. This administration has ignored the will of "We the People" and are concerned only with their own agenda, their will, not ours. The majority of the nation does not want ObamaCare (check realclearpolitics for individual and averaged polls). Citizens that had never been politically active went to Town Hall meetings and tea parties but Congress paid no attention. Citizens have called, faxed, and emailed their Senators and Representatives but they aren't listening. The possibility that SOMEONE can stop ObamaCare has ignited a fire under everyone that is concerned about the lack of bipartisanship and the failed policies of the administration. If you're in a hole, you need to stop digging. If you're in debt, you need to stop spending.

Posted by: Jen06 | January 19, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

What a silly argument. Why don't you focus your energy on private charity efforts to help the poor with healthcare issues? Why is it necessary to sabotage the economy and further expand the cancerous effects of public sector incompetence in order to help people with healthcare financing issues? You are so foolish. Focusing all of this time and money on politics is a complete and utter waste. You should be focusing on actually helping people through competent charities. Go buy some ointment for your political zombie bites and get to work.

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | January 19, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Good point, gmarasco. The author makes a good point also, Democrats never realistically expected to have a 60 vote majority to begin with. So, if the GOP can by some miracle, win Sen. Kennedy's old seat, Democrats will just have to save the nation with a 59 vote majority.

This healthcare reform legislation is more conservative than most expected, yes. However, it does solve some problems and place some heat on giant insurance companies. The decisive heat and cost-cutting "public option" can debut in later versions of this.

Call this "Health Reform version One" and pass we can make sure "version Two" fixes everything Version One does not.

Posted by: free-donny | January 19, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Where did the "45 Million people die each year from lack of health coverage" figure come from? Hmmm, well, it's right on Ezra's page here:

It's from a Havard Medical School study. OK, haters, prove that it's wrong.

Posted by: jp1954 | January 19, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Don't "get caught in the politics and process of health-care reform" Klein warns us.

Um, that's what we elected our representatives to the House to do. Otherwise the House just turns into a rubberstamp for the Senate, and that's one of the worst things that could happen to our Congress.

Why even have a House, if they aren't going to use their part of the bicameral process? Might as well just get rid of the body and have a single House of Lords write legislation for corporations and special interest groups.

If the House capitulates to the Senate, then the filibuster will have cemented the death of the People's chamber, as there will not be any incentive for the Senate to ever do anything but send them legislation with an ultimatum: take it or leave it. Horrible precedent.

Stupidest logic I've heard in a long time.

Posted by: jc263field | January 19, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Despite the flaws in the Senate bill, your analysis is still correct. Obviously, the best hope is that Coakley somehow wins and the final bill corrects the obvious problems in the Senate version. (The other possibility would be a close election where certification of the winner would be delayed.) But if not, adoption of the Senate bill by the House is the best of the unpalatable choices remaining. If we need any more proof of how necessary this bill (or something like it is) just look at the run up of drug and insurance stocks today. Investors obviously see higher profits if the bill doesn't pass. One more reason it is essential to pass something and fix it later.

Posted by: TRMalarkey | January 19, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Democrats get one chance to get health insurance reform right. Passing the big insurance and drug company giveaway embodied by the Senate is not the way to do it - unless their goal is to burden the middle class with rapidly rising expenses and guarantee they will lose control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency.

You say there is a bill ready to be fitted with reconciliation language. I find it interesting that this vehicle was not being advertised prior to Coakley's impending defeat.

Here's a novel solution - pass the guts of the House bill in the House using this newly discovered vehicle and send it to the Senate for the required 50 + Biden vote. Then, send a simple conference committee report back to both Houses that requires insurance companies to accept all health insurance applicants and never to drop coverage. Let the Republicans filibuster that bill, if they dare.

Americans win. Insurance companies lose.
Democrats win. Republicans lose.

Posted by: johnsonc2 | January 19, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Well, regardless of what happens in MA, I think the House and Senate should do what it takes and go ahead and approve the bill, as weak as it may be, if for no other reason than to put an end to the outrageous remarks being made by some contributors that smack of hatred and downright thoughtlessness. There were similar conniptions, when health legislation was being considered to help states provide for children whose parents were unable to obtain insurance. It is worth reading, since some of the same behavior is repeating itself here.

Posted by: rryder1 | January 19, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

What is the percentage of Americans represented by 40/41 Senate Republicans?

It is much less than even 40/41% of the population of the United States.

The tyranny of the minority is represented very well by the Republican party today.

Posted by: HillRat | January 19, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I had several friends and family killed by the current system - because they could not get health insurance.

I regard them as 'killed'. I regard the 45K dead every year as 'killed'. I regard folks who do not support this reform as complicit in that killing.

If you do not care about the lives and deaths of Americans, you are not fit for political office or influence. You should stand aside and let decency win.

Posted by: mminka | January 19, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse


Where did the "45 Million people die each year from lack of health coverage" figure come from? Hmmm, well, it's right on Ezra's page here:
It's from a Havard Medical School study.

OK, haters, prove that it's wrong.


Dear Lib-Hater:

I wrote previously that HIMMELSTEIN is a co-founder (with his wife Stacie) of MDs for Single-Payer.




It's a lie. Like everything LIBERALS produce.

Thanks for being WRONG, LIB. You deserve being wrong.


LIE NO. 1 -- "medical bankruptcies."

Ginned up by Harvard Law Prof. Warren (no CPA/JD), a 30-year record of attacking non-Commies and now Obama "czar" & Dr. Himmelstein of Harvard Med (no CPA/JD), the founder of MDs for Single Payer.

This LIE was questioned by NYTimes last month.

Kid, you obviously use that LIE because you are a STEAL-O-CRAT.

Shame on you for LYING, Kid. You should know better, but STEAL-O-CRATS and the truth are mutually exclusive.







Posted by: russpoter | January 19, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Re: Where did the "45 Million people die each year from lack of health coverage" figure come from?

I know you're obviously brilliant, but do you understand the difference between "thousand" and "million." It's only three zeros, but 45,000 is quite a bit different from 45,00,00. Tsk, tsk.

Posted by: TRMalarkey | January 19, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If the people of Massachusetts ignore history by electing Scott Brown to the Senate, I anticipate a serious case of buyer’s remorse setting in shortly thereafter. It won’t take long for citizens of that notoriously blue state to realize that they’re stuck with an obstructionist, GOP hack eager to repeat the tragic follies of the Bush-era.

Read more @

Posted by: ArmchairFirebrand | January 19, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

does anyone (other than me) not have their own blog that they'll shamelessly plug whenever they get the chance? ArmchairFirebrand, you do realize that the right would say the same thing about Obama right? that a vote for Brown is "buyers remorse" for an agenda gone too far left. Again it depends on your perspective. Obama loses clout because progressives (IMO) felt he'd be more to the left than he is and he's truly (again IMO) a centrist. So basically Obama's ticked off the far left and the far right.


while russpoter has his many flaws which are self-evident if you're going to correct someone I'd suggest you do it with a number that actually is a number. 45,00,00. is wrong too and very different from 45,000.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 19, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Touche visionbrkr. Typing is not a skill I've mastered yet . But it obviously pays to review before posting!

Posted by: TRMalarkey | January 19, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

and we're all stricken with the fact that the blog here is not editable. I throw stones even though my glass house has shattered windows which I admittedly shouldn't do but i couldn't help myself!

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 19, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Ezra certainly has taken the bait. All pretense of "getting it right", all pretense of putting together a sound plan based on accurate information and containing policies with predictably favorable results goes out the window. Just pass a bill, ANY bill, to avoid the political ridicule and embarrassment. There's plenty of time to fix it later. Sure... like they fixed Medicare later.

Posted by: OhYeahBabe | January 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

To those that insists on giving the poor health care through charity:

The Poor gladly enjoy Medicaid paid by you and me. They don't have to work or work much, because if they do, they get punished and cut off Medicaid.

The Lower Middle Class works really hard to pay bills and cannot afford health insurance premiums. Most of them are uninsured. They don't qualify for Medicaid, because they work too much. Denying the Lower Middle Class Public Option, we will gradually send them down to Medicaid, because it is just easier to get poor and stay poor than climbing out of it.

Again, you and I will have to pay more to more beneficiaries of Medicaid as we shrink the Middle Class and force them down to the Poor rank.

Charity care is offered by some GOP doctors only on a weekday per week. People can get sick every weekday or weekends. ER is where the uninsured would end up most often and you and I again have to pay a lot more for saving lives of these uninsured.

Economically, denying the Middle Class with Public Option is wrong. Morally, it is wrong to refuse to help sick fellow citizens.

But Middle Class people don't want anything free. That's why they fight to stay as the working poor. They want to pay premiums for health insurance run by our government. Why would you reject them now and send them to Medicaid later? You must have too much money to waste than I do as this dummy cannot think of anything more logical.

Posted by: dummy4peace | January 19, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

How could this message, IF delivered to House members on the day of the vote, affect the outcome of the HC reform bill?

One nation under God!

During the 1930s, legislators, much like yourselves, were challenged, after a contentious debate, and on an imperfect bill, to pass what has become the the Social Security system of today. The quality of life increased damatically for seniors and their families then, and now.

How would God have voted on Social Security if he had the opportunity then?

During the 1970s, legislators, much like yourselves, were again challenged, after contentious debate, on an imperfect bill that became the Medicare health system of today. The quality of life increased for seniors and their families then, and now.

How would God have voted on Medicare if he had the opportunity then?

Today we are challenged to vote for a controversial and imperfect bill whose goal is to ensure preventive health care and increase the quality of life for all American citizens.

How would God vote today if he had the opportunity?

You have that opportunity, and you have God with you in your hearts. Ask him what you should do today. Will your vote be on the side of history and help all Americans enjoy, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Or, will your vote enable millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans to sufffer or die until another group of future legislators is given a similar and equally controversial choice?

Look inside your heart for the answer.

Posted by: CJfromPA | January 19, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

This election is OVER.

Intrade has almost 5-1 odds on Brown beating Croakly.

I hope the Devil lets Ted out of Hell for 5 minutes to see the election results.

Posted by: BO__Stinks | January 19, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse


"You have that opportunity, and you have God with you in your hearts. Ask him what you should do today."

We're our brother's keeper.


"Social Security is manageable" -- BANKRUPT.

"Medicare is manageable" -- BANKRUPT

"Medicaid is manageable" -- BANKRUPT

"Only one ILLEGAL" -- 30,000,000 INVADE.

My God says I'm OK. That's enough for moi.

Posted by: russpoter | January 19, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

At this point, I hope the bill passes just so it sends the 30% right-wing, teabag MINORITY into shock even beyond their usual apopletic fit.

Once the "death panel" and "cutting medicare" nonsenses falls away, a majority of American will support the reforms. They just have to see that the sky isn't going to fall.

Posted by: washingtonpost22 | January 19, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse


"At this point, I hope the bill passes just so it sends the 30% right-wing, teabag MINORITY into shock even beyond their usual apopletic fit."

Yo mama.


Posted by: russpoter | January 19, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

If they pass this bill through a bunch of machinations after Brown wins in MA the Dems will endure a bloodbath in Nov that will make 1994 pale in comparison. Remember back then the must-pass legislation was the Brady Bill. Even Bill Clinton said that law cost them between 30-40 seats. You can double that if this POS bill passes. It will then be the only legislation Obama gets passed. Say goodbye to the rest of the agenda.

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 19, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Gee whiz there outta be a law against "political malpractice" in Massachusetts. With all that back and forth finger pointing between Coakley's campaign and the DNC before ballots are counted, something really must be wrong. I blame Obama for abandonding the principle of universal care. Without that, Democrats gave up the high ground.

Posted by: Aurellano | January 19, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

dan1138: thank you for one of the funniest postings I have seen in a very, very long time.
telling the guy who's blog you are commenting on to stay outta your life...
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! has no one told you yet how absurd your statement is???

Posted by: katem1 | January 19, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Report: Franken recount lawyer leading MA legal team

Posted by Eric Roper

Last update: January 19, 2010 - 2:59 PM

"The twittersphere is awash today with concern that today's Senate race in Massachusetts could become a repeat of Franken v. Coleman. And judging by a recent story from Politico, the stars might just be aligning.

The website reports this afternoon that Al Franken's lead attorney during the recount, Marc Elias, "has arrived in Massachusetts to head up the Democratic legal team."

Providing the race is a nail biter, the Washington-based attorney may find himself once again fighting to secure a Democrat supermajority in the Senate." Minneapolis Star Tribune
MA be well aware of Phantom ballots or non-existent ballots being counted or Coakeley ballots being counted and similarly situated ballots not being counted for Brown even if the absentee ballot addresses are in the same apartment building.

Posted by: kwoods2 | January 19, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Use reconciliation! The GOP used it to pass some VERY important tax cuts during the Bush Years. Do it...they did.

Posted by: mrmagoo066 | January 19, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

The Massachusetts Massacre
a political autopsy- how and why obama’s presidency failed

coakley was the least significant among the losses on tuesday night. obama’s presidency not only failed, but was soundly rejected. but due to his predictive profile, obama will not comprehend the nature and extent of his failures.

obama had a systemic political failure in massachusetts.

political autopsy results–

1. while obama slept–how could massachusetts NOT be on obama’s radar screen?

obama has spent most of the year bribing senators due to a razor thin margin in the senate. yet obama sleeps while brown attacks.

more ominously obama had two systemic failures–strategic and tactical which will reappear with far more serious consequences in national security, as homeland napolitano makes coakley look like a genius.

2. strategic –obama failed to designate someone to monitor massachusetts. thats what presidents do--and obama didn’t.

obama is not only asleep at the switch, obama denies there are trains while the whistle gets louder and louder.

3. tactical–obama does not multitask well, he is hopelessly mired in a reactive mode. team obama has some great players, but the bench lacks depth.

Posted by: ProCounsel | January 19, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ezra, it is over. It is wrong for there to be health care reform. It is not the country we might have wanted it to be, but it is the country we have.

It is time to find ways for people to simply survive as best they might without national leadership.

Of course we understand how it might have been different, but you know the majority of people in our country do not want what you may have understood is best.

It is a cowboy country. You live in a country where people would love to take great risks, even with their health, to maybe strike it rich.

Just because they are making mistakes, what is it you want to do, create a paternal dictatorship to make them do what you know is right? Of course you don't.

It's over. We will not live in one of the more advanced countries of the 21st Century.

Posted by: Donlee25 | January 19, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Never let it be said that Ezra lacks a dogged determination to push this legislation through, even over the clearly expressed objections of voters, who have now repeatedly made clear that they DON'T want it.

Ezra would make a very good tyrant.

Posted by: cjknew | January 19, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

It is surprising to me that people who should know better substitute name calling and yelling for coherent arguments. I am also puzzled why most conservatives keep claiming that the vast majority of the american public do not want health reform.

This is simply not supported by the facts. Most people in fact are deeply concerned about heath care and support health care reform. This has been shown in poll after poll.

However, the positions pushed by most of the conservatives I have heard are those supported by the private insurers. If I was on that side of the debate, I would be quite concerned that I was lining up on the side of a giant industry that sucks 18% of our economy and delivers a mostly inferior product.

I suppose that is to be expected. After all the mantra of the Republican party is that government cannot be trusted, and that federal leadership always fails. It cannot truly surprise anyone that everytime they get into power they do their best to demonstrate the truth of this by screwing up as much as possible.

Posted by: reussere | January 19, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein is right. This is the only sane choice for the Democratic party. Otherwise you will be lassoed, hogtied, and served for dinner in the 2010 elections with a ring in your nose. Listen to the Republicans and you will be led to the slaughter. Scott Brown means what they say. Do not compound one mistake with another disastrous one.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
MLK, Jr.

Posted by: eastport1 | January 20, 2010 4:45 AM | Report abuse

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