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Why Democrats are fighting for a Republican health plan

Here is the ultimate paradox of the Great Health Care Showdown: Congress will divide along partisan lines to pass a Republican version of health care reform, and Republicans will vote against it.

Yes, Democrats have rallied behind a bill that Republicans -- or at least large numbers of them -- should love. It is built on a series of principles that Republicans espoused for years.

Republicans have said that they do not want to destroy the private insurance market. This bill not only preserves that market but strengthens it by bringing in millions of new customers. The plan before Congress does not call for a government “takeover” of health care. It provides subsidies so more people can buy private insurance.

Republicans always say they are against “socialized medicine.” Not only is this bill nothing like a “single-payer” health system along Canadian or British lines. It doesn’t even include the “public option” that would have allowed people voluntarily to buy their insurance from the government. The single-payer idea fell by the wayside long ago, and supporters of the public option -- sadly, from my point of view -- lost out last December.

They’ll be back, of course. The newly pragmatic Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was right to say that this is just the first step in a long process. We will see if this market-based system works. If it doesn’t, single-payer plans and public options will look more attractive.

Republican reform advocates have long called for a better insurance market. Our current system provides individuals with little market power in the purchase of health insurance. As a result, they typically pay exorbitant premiums. The new insurance exchanges will pool individuals together and give them a fighting chance at a fair shake.

Republicans now say they hate the mandate that requires everyone to buy insurance. But an individual mandate was hailed as a form of “personal responsibility” by no less a conservative Republican than Mitt Romney. He was proud of the mandate, and also proud of the insurance exchange idea, known in Massachusetts as “The Health Connector” (the idea itself came from the conservative Heritage Foundation). Romney had a right to be proud. As governor of Massachusetts in 2006, he signed a bill that is the closest thing there is to a model for what the Democrats are proposing.

Don’t believe me on this? On The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page earlier this week, Grace-Marie Turner -- criticizing Romney from the right, it should be said -- noted the startling similarities between the plan he approved and the one President Obama is fighting for.

“Both have an individual mandate requiring most residents to have health insurance or pay a penalty,” she wrote. “Most businesses are required to participate or pay a fine. Both rely on government-designed purchasing exchanges that also provide a platform to control private health insurance. Many of the uninsured are covered through Medicaid expansion and others receive subsidies for highly prescriptive policies. And the apparatus requires a plethora of new government boards and agencies.”

She added: “While it's true that the liberal Massachusetts Legislature did turn Mr. Romney's plan to the left, his claims that his plan is ‘entirely different’ will not stand up to the intense scrutiny of a presidential campaign, especially a primary challenge.”

What does it tell us that Republicans are now opposing a bill rooted in so many of their own principles? Why has it fallen to Democrats to push the thing through?

The obvious lesson is that the balance of opinion in the Republican Party has swung far to the right of where it used to be. Republicans once believed in market-based government solutions. Now they are suspicious of government solutions altogether. That’s true even in an area such as health care where government, through Medicare and Medicaid, already plays a necessarily large role.

As for the Democrats, they have been both pragmatic and moderate, despite all the claims that this plan is “left wing” or “socialist.” It is neither.

You could argue that Democrats have learned from Republicans. Some might say that Democrats have been less than true to their principles.

But there is a simpler conclusion: Democrats, including President Obama, are so anxious to get everyone health insurance that they are more than willing to try a market-based system and hope it works. It’s a shame the Republicans can no longer take “yes” for an answer.

By E.J. Dionne  | March 19, 2010; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Comments

Republicans are the party of "no." If this plan were anything but a wonderfully good deal for insurance companies, then you can be very sure those insurance companies would be spending MANY tens of millions more dollars to oppose it. Instead, the insurance companies are mostly sitting in the sidelines, while the pharmaceutical industriy is actually running millions of dollars worth of advertisting this week in support of it.

No, Obamacare is not a "government takeover." It is Republican reform. And the only reason Republicans are misleading their unfortunate constituents is that they don't want Obama to get credit for it.

Too bad.

Posted by: paul65 | March 19, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I said this in a comment-post yesterday (not that anyone reads them). It is truly interesting that Dems are trying to pass a Repub bill. Hollywood couldn't write script like that.

Equally interesting -- I don't think the Repubs want to pass up the opportunity to blame every health care related problem on the Dems for years to come. I mean, look how much traction they've gotten out of Carter and the idea that Dems can't manage the economy.

Posted by: Fletch_F_Fletch | March 19, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Right on with this story, it touches on the suspicions that exists out there, but us republicans and conservatives have to rethink our strategy when it comes to health care. Take a look at this article I read that spoke about American history and why the health bill is more constitutional than we think. I can say as an avid conservative republican, I was forced to challenge my views, take a look, challenge yours too:


http://bit.ly/constitnmandate

Posted by: republicanblack | March 19, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Mr Dionne's article is irresponsible. Yes the Democratic Bill keeps private insurance companies in the "mix" (for now) but it takes away thier ability to underwrite. This will do to health insurance what government tampering did to the housing market. Insurance rates will sky-rocket, than the insurance companies will be villified. This bill is literally the worst of both worlds. We have been given the choice of bad irresponsible reform or no reform at all. It is a shame that there are rarely consequences for shameful politics and shamelful journalism. When our insurance rates dramatically increase over the next decade and doctors become more difficult to access is Mr Dionne going to write an article appoligizing and accepting partial responsibility?

Posted by: AnnapolisMD1 | March 19, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Dionne's article starts with a faulty premise - that the Massachusetts healthcare plan was ever popular in the Republican party or among Conservatives.

Governor Romney was admired in the Republican party for his success as a venture capitalist and for turning the Olympics into a successful venture. Governor Romney failed miserably in the 20008 Reublican primaries despite spending tens of millions of his own fortune. A primary reason he lost so badly in the 2008 Republican primaries despite his personsal fortune and economic policy strengths was because of his support for the Massachusetts heathcare plan. Conservatives clearly have always opposed the government requiring people to buy things they don't want to buy, yet Mr. Dionne claims this is a Republican/Conservative principle the Dems have incorporated into ther plan.

I have rarely seen an article based on such a faulty premise.

Other issues are equally faulty. Conservatives have always been skeptical of the ponzi schemes represented by entitlement programs. They have always predicted the money will run out. Guess what? The money is running out for both Medicare and Social Security. Conservatives were right.

The Conservative approach, however, is to recognize that the government has taxed people for decades for both Social Security and Medicare. The Conservative approach is to give proiority to trying to fix these programs to benefit the people who have been forced to pay into them while politicians lied about these programs for decades.

The healthcare bill takes the opposite approach. It imposes new taxes, but it doesn't use the revenue raised to help the governmemt keep its promises to people who were forced to pay Social Security taxes for decades. Instead, Dems want to use the additional taxes to fund a new healthcare entitlement program for people who have not paid into the system, while reducing Medicare payments to doctors. So, despite the new taxes, we will still have a bankrupt Social Security and Medicare system.

Conservative/libertarian principles cleary were never a basis for the healthcare bill.

With respect to other aspects of the healthcare plan

Posted by: jfv123 | March 19, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans oppose the bill because Obama supports it. If Obama came out in support of motherhood and rainbows, the Republicans would oppose him. The only thing he can do to satisfy them is resign or die. Grover Norquist said that bipartisanship is another name for date rape. It's nice to see the Democrats finally coming to the same conclusion.

Posted by: sjpatejak | March 19, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"Republicans believed in market-based government solutions"???

What is a market-based government solution? It's either one or the other. In typical loony liberal fashion, words have no meaning.

Posted by: mgrantham2 | March 19, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I've said it before here, I'll say it again. The Bismarck Model. We should keep health insurance in the private sector but make it completely non-profit and heavily regulated, while at the same time, more heavily regulating costs in the health service sector. This Frankenstein of a bill is going to make sure insurance companies keep making truckloads of money, while tax payers hand that money to them in the form of subsidies to people who can't afford insurance. Plain and simple, the health insurance sector and the medical services sector need to be non-profit and heavily regulated. Otherwise they will continue to squeeze either the customer or the tax payer for a service that should be affordable and available to everyone.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | March 19, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The problem with this bill is much of it is unconstitutional. The very keystone that holds it all together, the "individual mandate", is going to be challenged in court and stricken down as being in violation of:

4th Amendment
10th Amendment
Commerce clause

Without the "individual mandate", this bill does NOT work. It kills the private insurance industry and drives premiums through the roof.

People will feel financial pain when this bill passes and likely before the year out.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | March 19, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

There is no "why" for anything going on - except for a power grab, a redistribution from the elderly - to give to the young and lazy, AND the fact that your Representatives' votes have either been bought by:

CAMPAIGN "contributions" - BRIBES

OR

A PROMISED POSITION IN OBAMA'S CAMP IF YOU LOSE YOUR SEAT.

Look here to verify who bought YOUR vote:
http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/candlist.php?congno=111


THE IDIOT OBAMA PREVARICATES WITH EVERY MOVEMENT OF HIS PURPLE LIPS.

HE LIES...YOU DIE.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | March 19, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Amen. Someone finally said it.

Posted by: sbaker1 | March 19, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Any bill that creates 100's of new federal boards and commissions to be filled by partisan-appointed, un-elected bureaucrats has nothing to do with Conservative or Republican values. The continued vilification of insurance companies is just another example (like "fat cats" on Wall Street) of Marxist class warfare. The reason insurance companies exist is because medical care is too expensive to purchase with one’s own cash. Healthcare costs have skyrocketed because new technology is expensive, not because of insurance company profits or doctors getting rich. The only doctors that get rich are the ones that perform elective (cosmetic) surgery, where insurance is not involved. When 30 percent of the population pays 90 percent of the taxes, which fund the many insolvent entitlement programs in this country, the term “soak the rich” begins to come to mind. We 30 percent are not going to take it anymore!

Posted by: Love-em-or-leave-town | March 19, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Good article that looks back on the history of health-care reform ideas past and present. Those who scream about "socialism" and a "government takeover of health-care" are ignorant of not only what is in the bill itself, but of the very history that Mr. Dionne goes over. They're angry, frustrated people who just parrot the talking points they hear on FOX News and right-wing talk radio. For them to be correct, Richard Nixon, the red-baiting former Republican Congressman and President, would have to have been a flaming socialist, as his health-care proposals made in the 70's are eerily similar to what is now on the table. These people have no perspective whatsoever, and are darn proud of it.

Posted by: bienefes | March 19, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Two years ago, I followed a dream: I left my work at a healthcare research firm to start my own global health consulting practice. While I helped partners in low-resource countries like Bangladesh improve maternal and child health, the irony was that my own family was losing access to healthcare. When we had gone to buy private health insurance, I discovered that a pre-existing condition edged us out of the market. While I had known that setting out to be an entrepreneur would involve business risks, I had no idea that I would need to abandon my healthcare insurance in the process. We as Americans can and must do better.
What we have today before the Congress is the best healthcare reform package that we can collectively create. Period. Despite all the disagreements in the proposal, there is unquestionable agreement that the bill would increase access and that its defeat would diminish it. The Institute of Medicine found that compared to insured adults, uninsured adults have a 25 percent greater risk of premature death. This mortality differential remains even after factoring for social, demographic, and health behavior differences. Moreover, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimated this month that if the health proposal does not pass, another 10 million Americans will join the ranks of uninsured in just five years. The social and economic costs of over one-sixth of our population being uninsured would be enormous—and deeply embarrassing. At our best, the US healthcare system is second to none in cutting-edge technology and patient satisfaction; but for the marginalized, we endure infant mortality and life expectancy rates that put us at the bottom of the heap compared to other wealthy nations.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is most shocking and inhuman.” Let’s be on the right side of history and pass this important piece of legislation.

Posted by: khizer | March 19, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"No, Obamacare is not a "government takeover." It is Republican reform. And the only reason Republicans are misleading their unfortunate constituents is that they don't want Obama to get credit for it."

And republicans know the next step is a public option.

Posted by: knjincvc | March 19, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

AnnapolisMD1:
"This bill is literally the worst of both worlds."

This bill is practically what the Republicans were pushing for in 1993. Despite the fact that they were all for it then, now suddenly it's borderline Communism.

Posted by: presto668 | March 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Yes the Democratic Bill keeps private insurance companies in the "mix" (for now) but it takes away thier ability to underwrite. This will do to health insurance what government tampering did to the housing market. Insurance rates will sky-rocket, than the insurance companies will be villified."

First, government did not tamper with the housing market. Government deregulated the the financial industry which led to a housing bubble.

Second,"Insurance rates will sky-rocket,"
I assume you haven't heard about recently announced 39% increases.

Posted by: knjincvc | March 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely correct. Even worse, the irony of the situation is lost on the Republicans themselves; they are so obsessed with obstructing progress they have lost touch with reality and the needs of their constituents. They care only about their own future victory at the polls, whatever the cost to the country.

Posted by: gposner | March 19, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

mgrantham2 says:
"Republicans believed in market-based government solutions"???

What is a market-based government solution? It's either one or the other. In typical loony liberal fashion, words have no meaning.

-----------------------------------------

Sorry, but you are the ignorant one. There are hundreds of examples of governments 'supporting' market based solutions. The entire economy of Japan was based on this model. Not to mention the fact that the US government has used it as well for decades (have you heard of the military-industrial complex, or the subsidies to farmers, or SBA loans, on and on...??)

Typical ignorant right wing drivel... everything is black and white to you people! That's what happens when Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are your Gods!

Posted by: Dara2 | March 19, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The problem with this bill isn't its contents, its its funding; and by that I mean that it isn't funded.

I don't care what gimmicks the CBO is required to "score"; the facts remain as follows: 1) The $500B in Medicare cuts they use to balance this bill will NEVER BE MADE - they aren't made in this bill they are pushed off to the future so other politically pressure congresses can waive those cuts; Congress will not make them, period. It was the Democrats who vilified the GOP when they intended to make $25B in cuts, or 5% of what the Democrats SAY will be cut from Medicare here; 2) Paying for a new entitlement with deficit money is not funding at all!! Medicare is broke in the long-term by trillions of dollars; taking $500B that doesn't exist from one negative balance sheet and using to create one that will APPEAR positive therefrom is nothing but nonsense, pure and simple; 3) The bill pushes a large portion of the costs that will ensue from this bill to the states in the form of Medicaid mandates; and therefore, while representing real costs of the this bill are being kept of the federal "scoresheet" by pushing it to states to fund, who are, by the way, running deficits and debt already. Oh, and lastly, the bill's democratic authors have conveniently left the "doc fix" out of this, which will cost $250B+ and WILL be passed and is certainly part of this overall health care issue. Add that in, which it should be, and that $138B preliminary deficit reduction becomes $112B deficit at least.

These are not statements of opinion; they are FACT!! The principles of this bill are acceptable to me; if paid for...but they are not.

The fact that this bill does NOTHING to actually rein in healthcare costs (now, it MAY lower many people's insurance premium costs, while most assuredly raising others, but that is not lowering costs of service, costs of healthcare; just what many people will pay vs. the actual costs of the service). Until and unless that issue is addressed; we'll be searching for some other fix, even if this bill works out net against the current status quo, in another few years.

Posted by: fredgrad2000 | March 19, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"People will feel financial pain when this bill passes and likely before the year out."

Hey Tex, the bill hasn't been signed into law yet but we are already receiving 39% rate increases ... hows that for financial pain?

Posted by: knjincvc | March 19, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

“I mean, look how much traction they've gotten out of Carter and the idea that Dems can't manage the economy.”

Republicans who demonize Jimmy Carter have not studied history. Economic recession caused by the Vietnam war, Arab oil embargoes, Nixon taking the U.S. of the gold standard, Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” program and more.

Republicans started their program against Carter because the realized cheney and bush were going to destroy the economy with tax cuts and war.

Posted by: knjincvc | March 19, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"We will see if this market-based system works."

The current bills in congress are not market based.

Heck, our current system isn't market based. The fact that employers get tax breaks for providing insurance to employees is already skewing the demand curve. By decoupling price with service you create a situation where people no longer shop for value. As a result we have run-away prices of health care and as a result insurance. Cutting into insurance profits will help keep costs down in the very short term but will do nothing to slow the growth of actual health care costs.

The current bills will do nothing to create better decision making from the consumer and will have a worse economic impact than a single player plan (which would be bad enough)

There are 3 ways to distribute scarce resources: Price, First Come First Server and rationing. The current bill trys to distribute health care without using any of the above methods and is doomed to fail.

Posted by: BradG | March 19, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse


Exact Same Style weekend event by US Congress sent HelathCare bill to US Senate in LATE 2009. Several Problems then, US Congress was NOT In session that day/NIGHT & photos show Person with Grey hair, heavy set & Mustache, identified in News Release as US Congressional Sgt at Arms, whom Lost Job (fired) about 6 Years ago. Recently, earlier today, picture on internet with Same Heavy set gray haired & Mustached defunct Sgt at ARMS, with group in US Congress Floor area with Hon Pelosi, Seems that specific BAD guard Knows how to enter US Congress when out of session & Pull Spoof Photo session that becomes foundation for HealthCare bill Moving Bill on in Process, complete Fraud, Public Seems NOT smart Enough to UnderStand Mess has fallen into. terrible Crime, Right in Front of US Public Eyes.
Murder Is NOT Health Care & Prsent Bill Is Harvest of People whom bought BAD Package, NOT HealthCare At ALL. Entertainment Murder In isolated Place called hospitol. Inside Foundation of present HealthCare, Is HATE of Citizens of United States of America Lawyers Are that Way with Others. Whole Lie now called health Care Bill Needs Be Thrown Out, Defeated. Congress Is About To Criminalize HealthCare Process Further than every before. Public Being Duped & Repeat of first events in US Congress in Lat 2009. US CongressPeople Are NOT Above Law.

Signed:PHYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART von DRASHEK M.D.
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY 1984 to 1989.

Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | March 17, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | March 19, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a great, thought-provoking article. I say that as a Republican, by the way, so "thank you," Mr. Dionne. While I often disagree with your positions, you do make your points rationally and coherently.

In this particular case, while I have reservations about the bill--remember, this same government that pays $10,000 for a hammer or a toilet is going to effeciently oversee healthcare?!--I do believe that Obama has moved more to the center than the left wing of the Democratic Party would prefer and that there are many Republicans voting "no" more out of obstructionist politics than honest disagreement. It is unfortunate, of course, that matters are so polarized. There's plenty of blame to pass around for that situation.

Posted by: ayavelberg | March 19, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse


The republicans are not motivated by any principles other than to destroy Obama's presidency and regain power. This is why they are obstructing everything possible and participating in the most egregious forms of fear-mongering. It's the same sort of thing they did with Clinton, though much uglier this time, and it's the same thing they'll do in the future.

Posted by: dougd1 | March 19, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

If Obama were to offer a plan that cured all disease, balanced the budget and provided all American children with a quality education, and which cost nothing, the Republicans would oppose it. (And scare half the Democrats in Congress, if not more, into dragging their feet until after the midterm elections).

Posted by: Ralphinjersey | March 19, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Republicans forgot how to spell or say "yes" since 01/21/2009. That's why.

Posted by: ExpressReader | March 19, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

BOTTOM LINE: Republicans are not interested in covering the 30 to 40 million uninsured, period, end of discussion. Their lame ideas that won't work, selling across state lines, malpractice reform, purchasing pools; if these are such good ideas why didn't they pass any of them during the 7 years they controlled all braches of government?

Posted by: wrw01011 | March 19, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, no, the bill isn't something Republicans would ever have supported. Come on, diversity training? How does that serve health care? It doesn't, and it doesn't belong in the bill, but there it is. The bill now before Congress does not do what its supporters claim - improve access to QUALITY AFFORDABLE health care. It does a bunch of other stuff, yes, but to say that this bill is a health care bill is nonsense. Labeling requirements for vending machines? This does nothing to serve health care, but there it is in the bill. The sick truth is that this bill is ordinary Democratic politics - identity politics, special interest politics - that does nothing to REALLY address the health care issues we face.

Ironically, the Republican health care bill that Congress voted down, which they only proposed so they could claim to have an alternative, did a MUCH better job of addressing actual health care. Ironically, the Republicans, when pressed to produce an alternative, presented the best health care reform bill the country has yet seen. But since it isn't full of unrelated crap that serves special interest and identity politics, the Democrats won't support it.

Posted by: _BSH | March 19, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Amen. Someone finally said it.

Posted by: sbaker1

YES

Posted by: mixedbreed | March 19, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone confirm or refute what I read in a NY Post column the other day--that this plan will likely lead to many employers dumping their health-care coverage and sending their employees into the newly created 'exchanges'? The employer would have to pay a fine but that would be far less than the portion of their employees' health coverage they had been paying ... the employee, however, will now have to pay the full cost of his or her coverage--and if his or her salary is above a certain combined amount ($100,000, which is really just two people each earning $50,000) the employee will NOT receive any subsidy to defray these costs ... in my own case (I work for a medium-sized organization, more than 50 employee but fewer than 500) my premiums would therefore double or triple in price to buy coverage on the exhange (coverage that would have to meet a government requirement and thus include things I do not want or need) ... moreover, because of earlier laws, I am already protected from the preexisting coverage problem because my current plan already covers such things ... so how will THAT be health care reform? I might end up paying an extra $5,000 to $10,000 a year ... goodbye to saving money for my kids' college! (By the way, I do NOT want a government subsidy--what I want is for the government to NOT screw up my health care coverage which is what this bill will likely do ...)

Posted by: ToughChoices | March 19, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

thomasxstewart1 ,
for the sake of patients I hope you are already retired.

Posted by: mixedbreed | March 19, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Thank you White House, er EJ.

Think beyond today's talking points- 32M new customers for insurance companies that the government will fund is a windfall for who? The tax payers who will fund this- certainly not.

Let's say 32M pay the fine and get insurance when they need it. These 32M customers will not pay premiums until they are sick and thus rates will go up for all.

Let's say 10% of all companies pay the fine (Maybe 10% of real cost the company currently pays) that adds maybe 30M (worker and family members) more to the uninsured. A burden for the tax payers who pay for the uninsured.

Let's say the 62M pay the fine. These 62M customers will not pay premiums until they are sick and thus rates will go up for all that remain.

Let's say more companies drop employee insurance and pays the fine.......
The cycle of destruction continues.

There is only one windfall here- 16% more of the economy will flow though the federal government. And a similar amount removed for the American people in taxes, fines, penalties, good jobs and benefits.


Posted by: flyover22 | March 19, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans believed in market-based government solutions"???

What is a market-based government solution? It's either one or the other. In typical loony liberal fashion, words have no meaning.

Posted by: mgrantham2 | March 19, 2010 11:34 AM

--------------------

And thus you prove Dionne's argument with your own words. Congratulations!

Posted by: js_edit | March 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I am pretty skeptical about believing anything I hear or see on MSNBC or Fox. However, last evening on Hardball Matthews had footage of a man with MS or some serious affliction sitting on the ground with a sign supporting the healthcare bill. It was outside at a Teaparty or similar protest against healthcare. A man dressed in pants, white shirt and tie walked up and threw a dollar bill at the man asking him about his "needing a handout." The man turned, turned back and threw another dollar bill at the man.

This says a lot about the quality of the opposition to the healthcare bill and the state of conservative values today.

Posted by: kermit5 | March 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

E.J - lets not forget article 10 - the states are already lining up. Not to mention - article 7 - you know - that silly little thing called the US Constitution that our congress wants to cr*p all over. And Oh nevermind that a majority are against it - but the eliete know better than us - right? Nevermind - the fudged CBO numbers - already leaked is a dem plan to add 400 Billion to the plan to prevent the reduction in Dr payments. Without that - the Drs bail...but with it - its no longer a savings - but an added expense - and thats if you believe its not an added expense from the on-set as the CBO numbers double dip for both SS & medicare dollars. Nevermind the added expense to our businesses - ah the lay-offs...then the dems will blame the business? And lets not forget about that final slip in regarding the cadillac tax..why the union brethren get a reduce rate - while the american working slob gets nada. What a piece of garbage. A third entitlement - here's a plan - fix the first two ..you know the ones going broke.

Posted by: short1 | March 19, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

AMA Supports House Passage of Health System Reform
Will work with Congress and the administration to make critical changes that cannot be addressed through the reconciliation process

For immediate release: 
March 19, 2010

Washington, D.C. – After careful review and consideration, the American Medical Association (AMA) today announced its qualified support for the current health reform bill as a step toward providing coverage to all Americans and improving our nation’s health system.
……

Every day physicians see the devastating effect that being uninsured has on the health of our patients: They live sicker and die younger," Dr. Rohack said. "Physicians dedicate their lives to helping patients live healthier and longer, and we have an historic opportunity to do just that."
...............

Sit down and shut up, teabagger loons- you're done.

Posted by: losthorizon10 | March 19, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"The money is running out for both Medicare and Social Security. Conservatives were right."
Posted by: jfv123 | March 19, 2010 11:11 AM
------------
Perhaps if the Republicans stopped looting the Medicare fund it would be in its current state. This bill is aimed at fixing the costs with Medicare.

Social Security has a trillion + surplus.

Posted by: JRM2 | March 19, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, meant "wouldn't be in its current state"

Posted by: JRM2 | March 19, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Of course the Democrats are trying to pass a Republican bill. There haven't been more than a handful of actual Democrats in Congress for nearly 30 years. The country needs liberals, but there's only about two of them in Congress right now and one of them is kind of nuts.

The Republicans are not the "Party of No." They've become the Party of Idiots. And it's a danged shame because the country needs real conservatives, too, but there is only a handful of those in the Republican Party now and they've been gagged by the whackjobs. All the Republicans have got are fake conservatives who have betrayed real conservatism time and time again over the past 30 years. Jeez.

No wonder the country is screwed up. Both parties have come loose from their moorings.

This health care "reform" package reforms very little and most of that could have been done through regulatory mechanisms without legislation. The Democrats, poised at a historic juncture, will manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory even if their bill passes. It'll be another 50 years before real justice and equity can be found in American health care.

When there was a public option, 76% of the American public supported it (i.e., ALL the Obama/Biden voters and HALF of the McCain/Palin voters. Only those opposing reform would have been in danger of losing their seats in an election). When the public option was stripped by the faux Democrats in the Senate, public support began to whither. Now we've got a garbage can of a bill that is being pushed just so that SOMETHING can be passed and called "reform." Pathetic.

This bill has managed to unite parts of the country, though: left-wing liberals hate it and right-wing conservatives hate it.

I've worked in health care for 31 years. The health care fiance system has been pretty much broken that whole time and has only gotten worse. I will retire in 20 years and nothing will yet be fixed. I will eventually go to my grave with the American health care finance system STILL broken.

Gee, thanks, "blue dogs." Thanks for making sure my country stays firmly on the road to ruin.

Posted by: Ilikemyprivacy | March 19, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Then the Republican fight against the out-and-out socialists has been a roaring success. Republicans can now wait until the Democrats get pulverized in Novemeber to put the finishing touches on the bloated monster and get all the credit for a good bill and maybe the ObamaNation will get cut short after 4 years.

Thanks Democrats!

Posted by: battleground51 | March 19, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

We will end up getting to either single payor or much more highly regulated health insurance no matter what. the only question is when and how we get there. If the bill fails, we will get there from increased inequality. More and more people will be uninsurable. And as fewer people are "haves" with health care, universal coverage will get enacted. If the bill passes, costs will rise even faster then they do now. We will bankrupt ourselves paying for health care. And cost control will get enacted. A cynical person would say that the goal of this bill is to bankrupt the federal government so we have to enact single payer to cut down on health care costs.

The unfortunate bottom line that no politician wants to face is that we cannot afford to provide every drug and procedure known to medical science to everyone who needs it. We have to ration. Right now we ration through inequity. Some people get everything and others get next to nothing. Some day we will most likely switch to everyone gets something but no one (except the rich) gets everything. It is just a question of when.

Posted by: taxguru | March 19, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

EJ,

Once again, you have said what neeeded to be said with utmost clarity. Your voice is an extremely important one amidst the din.

Thank you.

Martin Weil

Posted by: martinweil | March 19, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

because they dont care about the american people and they dont understand DEBT MATTERS

Posted by: dummypants | March 19, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"...the newly pragmatic Dennis Kucinich..." That's really Rich EJ. It looks startingly like little Denny sold his soul for an airplane ride. Now that we know what these bowing Dums real profession is, all we're really negotiating is the price!

The Dums don't need the Repubs and they haven't for over one year and they still can't pass this POS. Catch a clue, after you set down that BO Kool-aid glass though!

Posted by: rogerherd | March 19, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Paul65 wrote:
Republicans are the party of "no."
---------------------------------------

In the case of a government takeover of health care, Paul65, "no" is the right answer.

Posted by: fishguts | March 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

This hasn't been said very much in the hyperbolic conversations over this issue. The health care payment reform will be a windfall, both for the private insurance industry and the health care providers. The government is going to require people to buy health insurance from private companies, with very few restrictions. People who have no access to medical care now are going to show up in doctors' offices asking, "what is this lump?" I don't know if this will be good for the country in the long run, but it will certainly be good for insurance companies and doctors. The doctors understand this, and are supporting the changes. The insurance companies, puzzlingly, are not.

One thing that could happen is a massive explosion on insurance fraud. By that, I mean fraudulent insurance companies who sell policies and collect premiums with no intention of ever paying a claim. There has been a lot of this already. With virtually every state insurance commission already corrupted by the industry, it is unlikely that anyone but the Feds will rein this in. They probably will, eventually, if the Republicans don't take over first.

Interesting times that we live in.

Posted by: DaveHarris | March 19, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

ahaha..what kind of twisted BS do you think we're buying?!

Posted by: bobilly2 | March 19, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

DaveHarris: the bill takes some of that windfall to pay for the bill, which was fine with the hospitals, etc. because they will still come out ahead, which is fine with me, many are losing money now and depend on donations to stay open. payment reforms will help too. Imaging centers owned by doctors who can order the tests have operating margins of 30-40% in many cases, making many docs multimillionaires. there's stuff in the bill to level that out, too.

Posted by: JoeT1 | March 19, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

As Senator Graham said, the Massachusetts bill did not cut your parents Medicare by 500 billion dollars. That's after your parents were told that the cost of living went down 4% so no increase in Social Security. Meanwhile your parents supplemental insurance is rising at 10- 20% per year.

The Massachusetts plan was implemented in a state that requires a balanced budget, very unlike the runaway Federal budget that continues to be financed with borrowing and printed money. And yep the CBO numbers are a hoax.
.

Posted by: hz9604 | March 19, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Yes, EJ, the Democrats are killing themselves so that they can pass a Republican bill.

This is disingenuous garbage. Are you bored and need to amuse yourself by playing these games?

Posted by: scott3 | March 19, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

EJ, you're kidding yourself if you think the Republicans have "swung to the right" and are opposing this health plan based on principle. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it's been clear that the Republicans' one goal has been to deny Obama any legislative victories, regardless of the cost to the American people in lives or jobs (see stimulus bill).

This morning I witnessed the ridiculous sight of Joe Scarborough railing against the bill because it rewarded the private insurance companies with more customers. Of course he didn't offer up his solution like any principled person would. Would he support a public plan or Medicare for all instead or is he simply using whatever arguments are available to him to bash the bill? It's obvious to any intelligent, sentient being that the Republicans are demonstrating rank dishonesty and hypocrisy.

Posted by: sambam | March 19, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

A good compromise is usually one that neither party like particularily, so in that sense I guess this bill is one. That said, from a Canadian perspective this is all kind of amusing. Our health care program is slammed by conservatives universally, and yet few Canadians (rich or poor) have any interest in changing it. Republicans defend US style health care to their dying breath, and yet the whole USA is going through convulsions around the issue. Republican's love America, I'm just not so sure they love all Americans (at times), otherwise why would they be so vigilantly opposed to a bill that extends basic human rights to the poor (even if it is flawed).

Posted by: tripleseq | March 19, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

ahaha..what kind of twisted BS do you think we're buying?!

Posted by: bobilly2 | March 19, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

THe conservative GOP congress has painted itself into a corner. Had they been the party of work with -- versus the party of no -- they could have stolen the dems big ticket item and used it for years. Instead, the conservative mindset of victory though destruction will "probably" give them the victory in November. It will be a short lived celebration!!

The voters will remember the party that gave them a better health care system and the dems will be back in power in 2012. And they will remain in power for a long time after that.

It will be amusing to watch the GOP try to claim credit for health care reform in 2012.

Posted by: Freethotlib | March 19, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

"market-based government solutions"

What an oxymoron that statement is....

Posted by: boosterprez | March 19, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Republicans keep saying that Medicare and Social Security are failures because there is a looming deficit. Yes, there are looming deficits, some due to sheer demographics, some due to economic conditions and some due to fraud. But this doesn't mean these programs are failures. On the contrary, social security has been a resounding success in keeping the wolf from the door of many older folks and disabled persons. The money paid to social security recipients does not go down a rat hole and disappear; rather, it goes back into the economy, creating demand for goods and services. Yes, adjustments will have to be made to keep this program going in the future such as later retirement benefits, but that fact alone does not detract from the tremendous good that social security, and medicare for the matter, have done for our older citizens. I had an Italian grandfather who worked in the Steel Mills for years as a crane operator. His Steel Mill pension paid him $81.00 per month. I shiver to think where he would have been had it not been for social security.

Posted by: rcairo | March 19, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

"The obvious lesson is that the balance of opinion in the Republican Party has swung far to the right of where it used to be. Republicans once believed in market-based government solutions."
------------------------------------------
Great point. Another example is "cap and trade", a Reagan-era Republican, free-market-based idea for controlling harmful pollutants. Now the Republicans act like it's some kind of socialist scheme. Why? Probably because Republicans are no longer conservatives; they are now 100% owned by large business interests, and are selling an approach that undermines individual rights in favor of business rights.

Posted by: ScottinNC | March 19, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking many people on this board have no idea what "market-based" even means.

It means letting that market figure things out, not the government.

Cap and trade, as proposed by Obama, is not market-based. Whenever you have tight regulations on things, you are taking it out of the hands of consumers and business to decide what's best for the econom.

Same goes for the health care boondoggle. No, it's not a literal takeover of healthcare by the government on day one. But government DOES control the how's, why's, where's and what's....which WILL eventually lead to a complete government takeover of healthcare. The fact that this isn't evident to some is baffling.

Posted by: boosterprez | March 19, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Since Republicans violently hate the U.S. Government, I see no reason why they should remain here. "America: Love It -- Or Leave It" was a slogan right-wingers hurled at hippie draft card burners 40 or more years ago. Now the hand is on the other foot. Of course, the GOP doesn't really hate the U.S. Government. They simply hate it when Democrats are in charge of it. When the GOP runs the government, regulation of businesses dips, government spending rises, violent encounters with foreigners increase, wealthy Americans get a pass on paying income taxes, financiers kill jobs, cabinet departments get thoroughly politicized, torture breaks out, international agreements are abrogated, natural disasters are ineptly handled, and China invests in U.S. Government bonds.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | March 19, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I think it is ironic that when it comes to education Obama with his educational program 'race to the top' recognizes the flaws in Union run public education and looks for answers in independently run or charter schools. Yet in health care he did his best to create a centralized union run institution claiming that goverment can do a better job. Can you say cognitive dissonance? Early on in the health care debate there was talk about health care cooperatives. That idea could have appealed to a broader audience and should have been discussed more than it was.
The right and the left see this plan for what it is, a foot in the door for socialized medicine.

Posted by: jgault2 | March 19, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

boosterprez, so we should let the free market work everything out, like we did with the banking system?

The problem is that the free market is not self-correcting. It tends to form monopolies and serve its own self-interest, rather than the interests of the people. The insurance industry is comprised of self-interested, monopolistic companies that make the most money by denying you and me coverage when we're sick, or if we're likely to be sick. Without proper regulation, they will restrict health care to the young, the privileged and the healthy, because that's the best way to maximize profits.

The only way the American people will ever have health care security is if the government imposes proper regulations such as eliminating the use of pre-existing conditions and payment caps, and sets up pools to break the insurance monopolies. This bill is a very modest step in that direction.

Arguing about which regulations are necessary and appropriate is reasonable. Arguing that the government has no regulatory role whatsoever is simply foolish.

Posted by: ScottinNC | March 19, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

It is very true what Mr. Dionne says and that fact has gotten surprisingly little press. It might be because the press is more thrilled by a battle of the Titans to realize that Democrats are bending over backwards to save our current, backwards system. Eventually we'll have some kind of single payer system but we must explore all the alternatives before we do the right thing. At least for now , the political taboo against touching the current system is broken

Posted by: Waterloo1 | March 19, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Long ago the GOP abandoned the center. It sped through the conservative band range beginning in the 1980's, gaining momentum with the 1994 "Contract with America". It is now mostly firmly ensconced in the reactionary arena with many followers tickling the ivories to the tune of anarchy. While Scott Brown's ideology is antipodal to mine, perhaps his election signals the party moving away from the extreme. If not, the GOP will continue to marginalize itself following the next off-year election. It is foolishly hardening its WASPish stance in futile defiance of our evolving demographics at its own peril.

Posted by: cue13 | March 20, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

The GOP are against this Republican healthcare plan for political gains in November. With the help of Fox News fearmongering, the public is energized and they only need to ride the wave. I hope there's a backlash soon, as I can't believe all the angry people protecting a system that's going to leave them without insurance or bankrupt in a few years. I wonder when that happens, who are they going to blame?

Posted by: postnocomments | March 21, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

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