public option

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Barack Obama finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, or should I say, between Democrats and Republicans. In an attempt to please them both he has satisfied neither.

The death of the Democratic health care reform proposals remain the prime example of the war he finds himself in. Throughout the debate Obama was attacked from his Left flank. Liberal critics such as Howard Dean who attacked the bill’s lack of a public option and went so far as to say that “I would certainly not vote for this bill if this were the final product.” Many Democrats also took hard line stances. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said that,

“[i]t’s time for the president to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares.”

This represents the fundamental problem Obama and Democrats find themselves in. As different factions of the party compromise to capture the nation’s political mood – they find their chances at reelection compromised. The question, as John Harris of Politico put it, is “WWCD: What Would Clinton Do?”

In a rare unity of interest, following the Clinton approach would be simultaneously the best thing for Barack Obama to do and the best thing that could happen for the Republican Party. After a disastrous first two years in office, in which Clinton was lambasted for a liberal agenda that included failed attempts at health care reform and gun control, he course corrected. His march toward the right was highlighted by bipartisan achievements such as welfare reform and a balanced budget and crowned with his famous line, “the era of big government is over.” In words as well as deeds, Clinton grasped the fundamental truth that this is a center-right nation.

Political IdeologyBut “triangulating” a path toward the middle is fraught with peril. For one, Democrats will be furious. The party would no doubt begin to share the concern of Rep. Dave Obey, who has already chastised Obama’s centrist leanings saying,

“It’s ridiculous, and the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines. That’s nonsense.”

Second, in the race to the middle some Democrats are going to be left behind. The right-leaning public needs someone to blame amongst a government that at present is solely represented by the Left. If the President follows Clinton towards the middle, many liberal Congressmen will lose the political cover of Obama’s name.

By shifting the target that has been firmly placed on his back, come November the firing squad of the American people will be aimed at liberal Democrats as voters wonder what the heck they’ve been doing with those huge majorities up there in Washington. If Obama decides to stay the course, the political pressure that has thus far been released in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts will be a force again in 2010. Regardless of the path chosen, someone is going to be blamed for being moderate and someone is going to be blamed as liberal.

While Obama attempts to save his presidency by gratuitously distancing himself from the far Left influences of his party, Republicans find themselves in a place of power. Even without majorities, Barack Obama will be compelled to adopt many conservative positions, or at the very least let Republicans into the room. Republicans must use this opportunity to support reforms that relieve some of the pressure faced by America’s youth – namely reform Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security to slow the growth of entitlement spending. There is also no doubt that we must pass a health care reform plan that focuses on maintaining affordable health care for America’s youth as well as lowering insurance costs for families and small businesses.

Obama finds himself between a rock and a hard place. But Republicans cannot rest on the knowledge their foe is suffering, we must pick up the mantle of real reform.

- Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee

CT; The Mystery of the Vocal Senator and the Silent Senator

In a few days Robert Downey Jr. will star in a new movie version of "Sherlock Holmes". This week in CT we have been treated to a new mystery.

One senator, Joe Lieberman, has been out front and center on the debate over health care...attracting almost as much attention...and venom...as wayward golf legend Tiger Woods

The other senator just weeks ago pledged to make it his mission to pass health care reform as a tribute to his late friend. But in recent weeks, Chris Dodd has gone into radio silence on the whole issue.

At first I thought Harry Reid had put a gag order on Dodd, lest unpleasant banking stories step on socialized medicine talking points. But now I realize this form of omerta is probably the result of Dodd's pollster's

Today I wandered into a copy of a poll Whit Ayres took in CT on November 8-10 for a national business advocacy group. The results indicate that this very blue state has little enthusiasm for health care reform    

Connecticut voters overall, and independents in particular, think that health care reform will raise their taxes, increase the deficit, cause their health care costs to go up, expand government control over health care, and harm health care for seniors

 The specifics bear this out.

  • 66% of CT voters believe health care reform will cause taxes to go up
  • 69% of CT voters believe health care reform will increase the deficit
  • a majority of CT voters, inclusing 68% of independents and 62% of seniors believe the proposed Medicare cuts will harm health care for seniors
  •  a majority of CT voters believe the reforms will raise their health care costs

The "public option" didn't save the troubled bill. Although overall support was split; the intensity of opposition was far greater than the intensity of support, with 36% of the voters "strongly opposing" it.  44% of independents "strongly opposed" the public option.

Finally, despite all the screaming and bleating from the lefties across the nation, the poll showed Joe Lieberman clearly the more popular of CT's two senators  Lieberman had a 52% to 29% favorable rating, while Dodd was negative by a 41% to 47% rating; which included a shocking  59% negative rating from independents.

So this polls explains why Joe Lieberman is comfortable standing alone on health care, and why Chris Dodd is on radio silence. The relentless advocacy of health care reform didn;t save Dodd's political fortunes, and the issue isn't looking to do much damage to Lieberman's standing.

Explains why one dog is barking, and one isn't. now doesn't it?  

Underhanded! Democrats Extend TARP To 2010 – Election Slush Fund?

Underhanded to the core. DeMarxists, who are seeing a decrease in funding as the party left wing faithful begin to see the many promises made by the Obama administration go by the wayside as opposition from the right increases, are eying the TARP and TARP repayment funds as a war chest slush fund, some fear.

The Obama administration’s approval of Timothy Geithner’s intention of extending TARP until Oct 2010, claiming that withdrawal of the funding could endanger the economy, has some Conservatives suspicious. The fund’s intent is in its name: the Troubled Asset Relief Program. It was intended to relieve banks and lending institutions of bundled asset and bad paper loans by law. The 700 BILLION DOLLAR program was slated to end this December 31. The plan LOST 41 BILLION DOLLARS this year. It was never intended for use as a small business loan fund or anything other than its legally stated purpose.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats desperate to find anything in the health care debacle that they can call progress or a victory of sorts, have come up with another alternative to the ‘public option’ that they think may survive the scourging of the left wing of their party. It entails the creation of privately administered new government – run exchanges.

The hard left of the DeMarxists don’t care for this at all, so in an effort to offer a sop to them the DeMarxists would expand Medicare to millions of Americans over 55, thus potentially adding millions more people to a system already on the brink of bankruptcy, with a long term deficit of 38 to as much as 89 TRILLION DOLLARS. Plus, the deal STILL leaves open the ‘TRIGGER’ of a public option if plans for a new Office of Personnel Management doesn’t jell.

Sounds like a circular firing squad with the American people as the main feature. KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!! It’s working. Don’t listen to the media, don’t listen to anyone but yourself.

Semper Vigilans, Semper Fidelis

© Skip MacLure 2009

 

Chris Murphy's Hi and Bye Town Halls on health care

Guess Connecticut's Chris Murphy doesn't want to face any more nonscripted events like this

  

As he tries to explain the trillion dollar, two thousand page health care "reform" bill drawn up by Madame Speaker, Nancy Pelosi  

Now he can't just pretend he didn't solicit any opinion from the public. No, what he's done is try and sneak a couple of quicj town meetings in before anyone notices, probably stack the hall with SEIU/ACORN types, and then claim that public sentiment is radically more in favor of the new health care bill---which is just as bad, if not worse, than the piece of sludge Murphy helped draft in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

So what's a swing district Democrat to do. Give the actual voters less than 48 hours notice your are holding the Town Halls. And hold both in the more Democratic eastern end of the district.  And add a single hour for a "telephone town hall" which we can be sure is going to be stacked with liberal lackeys..

Dear Friends,

I’m bringing the health care reform conversation back to you.

When I held a series of public events in August on health care, I told you that I would host more meetings after the House unveiled the health care bill and before the vote. The House will likely vote on a health care bill within the next few weeks, so I am organizing these events so that I can hear from people in Connecticut about what you think should be done to make health care more affordable and accessible for residents of Connecticut.

I hope you can join me at one of the 2 town halls I am hosting this Sunday, November 1 to talk about health care reform. Due to space limitations, these town hall events will be for residents of the Fifth District only.

I will also hold a telephone town hall style meeting on Wednesday, November 4, at 6:20pm from Washington, DC. To join the call, follow the instructions below.

At all three events, I will address questions and concerns from both proponents and opponents of health care reform.

SUNDAY

WHO: Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5)

WHAT: Town hall meeting on health care reform legislation

WHEN: Sunday, November 1, 1:30-3pm

WHERE: Avon High School

510 West Avon Road

Avon

 

SUNDAY

WHO: Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5)

WHAT: Town hall meeting on health care reform legislation

WHEN: Sunday, November 1, 5:30-7pm

WHERE: Lincoln Middle School

164 Centennial Avenue

Meriden

 

WEDNESDAY

WHO: Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5)

WHAT: Telephone town hall on health care reform legislation

WHEN: Wednesday, November 4, 6:20-7:20pm

CALL IN: (877) 229-8493

PIN: 13348

Now the worst part of this is Murphy is holding these events so as to compete with a) the New York Giants football game ( 1pm Sunday) and the World Series; which features the Yankees ( start time 7:30 Sunday). So if you wanted to ensure a crowd full of wonks that hate sports, well this is when to schedule this. Most of Murphy's regular constituents are sports fans. Too bad for them. But if you are some bleeding heart who thinks valium prevents a suicide squeeze, you're all good.

There's shameless. And then there's Chris Murphy.

The Left's Tenacious Advocacy for a Public Option

If the public option passes in some form, thank the liberal blogosphere who put pressure on Democratic members of Congress to publicly threaten to derail health care reform if it wasn't included in the final bill.

The specter of Democrats reverse-filibustering their own President's plan is what has kept the public option alive, even if one could argue that "alive" is akin to a persistent vegetative state.

Contrast this to yes-man approach of the Congressional GOP in the early Bush years, and I personally find a lot to like about the Democratic model of the Congressional party serving as a sort of whip against the political expediency that will be the norm in any White House.

In 2005, I thought it would have been a good idea for conservative Republican members to publicly threaten to oppose any Social Security bill that did not include private accounts. There were multiple problems with this, not the least of which that the Congressional leadership was too spineless to bring a bill out of committee. But another was that conservatives in the House and Senate, with no strategic prodding or muscle in the blogosphere and the activist groups, never made the threat that would have rendered a "compromise" bill dead on arrival.

How groups like Open Left and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are taking on the role of legislative strategy is very smart, and something we can learn from. How the right has fueled the tea party movement to feed into a sense of backlash in the country about the left's total control of government is also very smart, and may have the last laugh in 2010, but will it be enough to deal with the immediate task at hand, derailing a government takeover of health care? I'm not so sure.

Of course, this could all blow up in their faces. Having destroyed any possiblity of compromise, or at least defined "compromise" as something very, very close to an absolutist-left position on health care, the left-blogosphere has ensured that the only alternative to doing nothing at all is a very leftist final bill. And if that's the choice, doing nothing becomes a much, much more palatable option for the Blue Dogs. I'm personally unsure as to how they thread the needle of getting a public option passed with 60 votes.  

Still, it's valuable to understand what the left is doing and how it differs from the Congressional GOP "roll over" strategy on White House initiatives in the Bush years, in which we either actively collaborated on bad bills (Medicare Part D) or didn't make a serious push to make the good bills (tax cuts, Social Security) even stronger.

Does the Right really oppose a strong public option?

In case you missed it, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a provocative essay by Columbia University's Mark Lilla under the title "Taking the Right Seriously".  Lilla writes: 

"[David] Horowitz makes hay (and money) by affirming conservatives' longstanding conviction that the university is a hostile place best avoided. He apparently doesn't see how his campaign hurts the larger conservative cause, since it gives students one more reason not to pursue graduate studies and actually become professors. My brightest conservative students, brought up on hair-raising tales of political correctness, dismiss academic careers out of hand because they are certain of not being hired or getting tenure. And I can't say I blame them. Even as an ex-conservative, I was lucky to have passed through the eyes of those two needles.

The late Paul Lyons, a professor at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey until his death, in January, recognized the problem but proposed something far more radical than anything David Horo witz has considered. And that was to persuade his liberal colleagues to teach courses on conservative political thought. Lyons was an American historian who wrote about the 60s and made no secret of his liberal politics or his loathing of Reagan and post-Reagan conservatism. But he was also disturbed by how few colleges offer courses on conservatism, treating it as a "pathology" rather than a serious political tradition, and by reports from his conservative students that "most of their liberal professors blow their comments off." So he not only posted a course on American conservative thought in 2006 but also kept a diary about his teaching experience. That diary has now been published, along with some of his own essays, in American Conservatism: Thinking It, Teaching It (Vanderbilt University Press).

The diary is fascinating and reassuring, at least about our students. Lyons's class was split almost evenly between liberal and conservative students, who had no trouble arguing with each other. They seemed to understand what thin-skinned professors wish to forget: that intellectual engagement is not for crybabies. The students had loud debates over Reagan's legacy, Bush's foreign policy, religious freedom, abortion, even the "war on Christmas"—and nobody broke into tears or ran to the dean to complain. And the more the students argued, the more they came to respect one another. According to Lyons, students learned that that conservative guy was no longer just the predictable gun nut or religious fanatic. And the conservative students learned that they had to make real arguments, not rely on clichés and sound bites recycled from Fox News."

Jon Henke seems to agree, blogging yesterday that "[t]he problem is not with the basic ideals of limited government and personal freedom, either. The problem is a movement that plays small-ball and cedes responsibility for infrastructure to business interests, leadership that rewards those who make friends rather than waves, an entrenched Party and Movement support system that mostly supports itself, an echo chamber that has rotted our intellect, a grassroots that is ill-equipped to shape the Republican Party, and a Republican Party that has replaced strategy with tactics, substance with marketing."

Lyons discovers and Henke examples that not every conservative is as predictable as the ones on TV.  Lilla and Henke agree that the Right needs more-substantive arguments.  Lilla notes that "that intellectual engagement is not for crybabies."  

That said, does the Right really oppose a strong public option to the health care reform bill?  If so, why?  What concerns you about it?

The Public Option: Stakes for the Vampire

With a reported bump in public support for some variation on Obamacare after the President’s speech last week, there is no time to rest. Rather, it’s time to drive stakes into the heart of the “public option” vampire. And stakes we shall provide. The following are solid reasons why no version of the public option must be resurrected:

  1. A government “competitor” can’t go out of business when it fails. Failing government entities only drains resources from more productive places—not to mention from taxpayers. (Witness the Postal Service.) The left has been particularly disingenuous with this constant doublespeak about the public options offering “competition and choice.” This is another example of the left trying cleverly to co-opt the language of the right. Call the b.s.  
  2. Sooner or later any public option will be subsidized by the government. This will put private companies at a competitive disadvantage, which is not only unfair, but threatens the private market so many Americans currently enjoy (despite all the cost-drivers created by government).
  3. A public option will create a new set of special interests and dependents. These supplicants will be beholden to the Democrats and Barack Obama. This is why government programs never go away. People who don’t think this is really about buying their power with our tax dollars are kidding themselves.
  4. Co-ops are a ruse. We already have non-profit health insurance companies with their own special place in the tax code. They’re called Blue Cross Blue Shield. Talk of co-ops is but a ruse to reawaken the vampire. Co-ops too must be killed.
  5. A public option will have different rules to play by.That’s not fair.  Believe it or not, the regulations and mandates that make premiums unaffordable in places like MA, NJ and NY are not as bad at the federal level. So the regulatory framework for the public option would be more favorable than for insurance companies in most states. Another reason private insurers would die off—preparing the way for a complete government takeover of healthcare.

There are fundamental asymmetries between government and private companies. Those asymmetries make government provision of most goods and services unfair and illiberal. Let’s take these stakes and kill the public option. (Lest cries of “you have no proposal” go up from the Left, this should keep you busy. And this.)

(Note: Baucuscare – i.e. Obamacare Plan B – has most of the elements of the failed Massachusetts plan. The MA plan jockeys for most expensive in the country with NJ and NY. All are more expensive due to regs Baucus is proposing for the whole country.) 

Open Letter To Our Government

Here is a letter that I wrote to my Congressman and Senator.  Please feel free to use it as a template to send to your representatives:

Dear Congressman/Senator/Mr. President,

I am writing to express my opposition to all health care/insurance reform bills currently in Congress, and my overall opposition to a public option.  Not one of the bills currently crafted by the Congress in their respective chambers and committees meet the President's goals and assurances.

First, I'd like to say that I agree with the President that we need health care/insurance reform to bend the cost curve downward.  I agree with him that any bill that comes out of Congress must be deficit-neutral.  I applaud him when he assures us that if our existing coverage works and we are satisfied with it, then great, we can keep it.  I applaud him when he says that Americans do not want a government bureaurcrat involved in our health care choices, but at the same time do not hold favorable views of insurance companies.  However, the goals that the President has outlined and the assurances he has made do not match the reality of the bills currently in Congress.

With respect to costs, the President rightly argues that reform must alter the trajectory of federal health spending.  However, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Douglas Elmendorf testified before lawmakers that the main proposals under consideration would fail to contain costs and would actually exacerbate the problem.  He stated, "We do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.  On the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs" (1).  Elmendorf went on to say that the cost curve is actually being raised (2).  As for the savings that the President argues would be generated through preventive care, Elmendorf reported in early August that "[a]lthough different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall" (3).  He then proceeded to expand, saying, "For example, many observers point to cases in which a simple medical test, if given early enough, can reveal a condition that is treatable at a fraction of the cost of treating that same illness after it has progressed. In such cases, an ounce of prevention improves health and reduces spending — for that individual.  But when analyzing the effects of preventive care on total spending for health care, it is important to recognize that doctors do not know beforehand which patients are going to develop costly illnesses. To avert one case of acute illness, it is usually necessary to provide preventive care to many patients, most of whom would not have suffered that illness anyway. ... Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness" (3).  The only conclusion that has been consistently drawn on these bills in Congress is that costs will only increase.

These costly bills will surely add to the deficit.  In fact, Elmendorf reported back on July 17 that HR 3200 would add nearly $240 billion to the deficit (4).  He also reported that the Senate bill coming out of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions would add a whopping $1 trillion to the deficit (5).  In either case, this is unsustainable and unacceptable.  We are already staring at a $1.5 to $2 trillion deficit and national debt as far as the eye can see.  Adding to this would be reckless and irresponsible.  At a time when Americans are tightening their belts, we expect the Congress and the President to tighten their belts as well.  Senator Mark Warner (D-Va) said it best in an article titled Deficit Plays Into Health Reform in the Washington Post on August 14: "It's not good enough that it's just paid for; it actually has to start driving long-term costs down" (6).  According to the CBO, none of the bills currently under consideration will accomplish that.

The President also assures us that those with existing health care coverage should have no fear of losing their coverage.  However, a Washington Post analysis reported on August 17 shows that none of the bills in Congress will succeed in keeping that promise.  According to the report, "Legislation written by three House committees and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions would allow eligible employers to move workers into a new marketplace for insurance, where they could choose from various coverage options" (7).  The analysis goes on to explain that the legislation could prompt "employers to drop coverage" (7).  With respect to the House bill, the CBO estimated that millions of Americans would lose their employment-based coverage (7).  The CBO and JCT estimate that by 2016, 3 million Americans covered by an employment-based plan would not be offered coverage under the proposal in the House (7).  The CBO also left open the possibility that a larger number of Americans would lose their employment-based coverage (7).  Further, an analysis of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill estimated that 10 million workers could lose their employer-provided health benefits and would have to find insurance elsewhere (8).  This is very concerning.  There seems to be a disconnect between what the President is assuring us and what the bills in Congress will actually do.

The evidence suggests that the root cause of these failures to meet the President's goals and assurances is the public option.  So my question to you is this: Why would you even consider voting for a bill that does not meet any of the most important goals and assurances in this health care debate?  This makes no sense.  The only conclusion that I can draw from this is that the real goal in pursuing the public option is, as Barney Frank himself stated, to lead us to a nationalized single payer health care system.  Therefore, I am asking you, for the sake of your constituency and the sake of our health care system, please vote against any bill that includes a public option.  It is fiscally irresponsible and it fails to meet the most fundamental goals necessary for real health care reform.

Further, I do not think any reasonable person would believe that the government would allow the public option to compete fairly in the free market.  This is the very same government that refused to allow banks and financial institutions to compete fairly, and it was less than two years ago that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were quasi-government institutions.  Today they are full on government entities.  There is no evidence to suggest that the government would take a hands off approach.  In addition, the litany of regulations that would be in place in the public option would give us government health care by proxy.  I do not want to see us move towards a nationalized single payer health care system.  We have seen from our Canadian and British friends that these health care systems are dysfunctional.  They cannot contain costs and the shortage of resources cause waiting lists and force them to ration care.  I am asking you to instead support reform as outlined by John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, in the Wall Street Journal on August 11:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020425140457434217007286507...

This is the type of reform that we need to see.  We do not need the government, nor does it have the Constitutional authority, to involve itself in the free market.  The free market is by definition a market free from government intrusion.  This is also the one component of the President's proposals that is causing the most division.  For the President to be pushing something this divisive is a violation of his campaign promise to bring Democrats, Republicans and Independents together.

Again, please vote against any health care/insurance reform bill that includes a public option.

Thank you for your time.

References:

1. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124775966602252285.html

2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/16/AR200907...

3. http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/08/congressional-budget-exp...

4. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10464/hr3200.pdf

5. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/103xx/doc10310/06-15-HealthChoicesAct.pdf

6. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/13/AR200908...

7. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/16/AR200908...

8. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-08-11-healthcare_N.htm

 

The Public Albatross

Whatever the outcome of the health care saga, it seems safe to conclude that the public option is dead. It is worth analyzing its impending demise for what it teaches us about American attitudes towards government, and how political battles are won.

The key fact here is that the public option is not some long-standing, highly pedigreed idea engrained in the liberal psyche, in the way that school choice or private Social Security accounts have been for the intellectual right. In fact, the idea of a public option is very new. It was first raised in 2007 by Berkeley economist Jacob Hacker, and popularized as a device that would "someday magically turn into single payer."

Continues Mark Schmitt at TAPPED:

Following Edwards' lead, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton picked up on the public option compromise. So what we have is Jacob Hacker's policy idea, but largely Hickey and Health Care for America Now's political strategy. It was a real high-wire act -- to convince the single-payer advocates, who were the only engaged health care constituency on the left, that they could live with the public option as a kind of stealth single-payer, thus transferring their energy and enthusiasm to this alternative. It had a very positive political effect: It got all the candidates except Kucinich onto basically the same health reform structure, unlike in 1992, when every Democrat had his or her own gimmick. And the public option/insurance exchange structure was ambitious.

The public option is an idea that was born, literally, in the last Presidential campaign. Even so, it was little discussed in 2008, when the main bone of contention was Hillary's individual mandate to purchase health insurance. A Google News search from the height of the Hillary-Obama primary battle shows two health care-related mentions of the "public option" in January 2008, zero in February, and two in March, one in April, and two in May and June.

That the public option was new and unfamiliar made it easily characterized as a ploy to introduce single-payer in miniature, which it was self-transparently was in the eyes of its originators.

Indeed, reading through the founding documents of the public option is about as damning as if one got ahold of a secret dossier of Milton Friedman's proclaiming school vouchers a necessary "compromise" that would eventually usher in the death of public education in America.

So, the public option was not serioiusly discussed in 2008. It was never seen as central to Democratic demands for health care until mid-2009. Since the failure of Hillarycare, Democrats have continually stressed that they would get to universal coverage by regulating and by building on the existing system. Indeed, for all that Hillarycare was being pilloried as socialized medicine, not even it contained as overt a nod to single-payer as a government-run health care "option."

Exactly like the Social Security fight in 2005, liberals hoped that by injecting more government into the health care system they could change the political culture, just as conservatives hoped private accounts would awaken more of us to the rich abundance of the free market.

However, as the economic crisis showed, the political system is only designed to tolerate sudden changes to America's economic model in a crisis atmosphere. We've seen more than a good bit of economic nationalization in recent years/months, but only as a response to a perceived crisis. Could health care in America be nationalized? Sure -- if the pandemic flu struck the United States and was well on its way to killing millions of Americans and private institutions were judged inadequate -- and even then, political leaders would caution that it was a temporary measure. Welcome to the "bailout" school of health care reform.

The problem for Obama is that after months of "crisis" after "crisis", the welcome mat has worn thin. Not unexpectedly, "emergency" moves toward socialism in the auto and financial sectors have sidelined elective moves towards the same in health care.

Baghdad Bob, meet Connecticut Chris

I was going to give Chris Dodd the rest of the month off to recuperate from surgery, but, sorry, what he said today simply can't go unnoticed.

Indeed, upon reading this all I could think of was Saddam Hussein's chief flack  "Baghdad Bob", insisting that the Americans were far from the Iraqi capital getting their butts kicked in the desert.

I attach, verbatim, the Senator's statement on health care reform from the Hartford Courant's "Capital Watch" blog

 At this historic moment, faced with an urgent crisis in our health care system but blessed with an unprecedented opportunity to fix it, we cannot let politics as usual prevent us from delivering on the promise of change,'' Dodd said in a statement.

A senior member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Dodd, a Democrat, was tapped by committee Chair Sen. Edward Kennedy, to help lead the committee's healthcare effort. "The Senate HELP Committee has passed a uniquely American bill, one that cuts costs, protects patient choice, and guarantees every citizen access to affordable, quality health care.  It also includes a strong public option that has earned the support of moderates in both the House and the Senate,'' Dodd said. He acknowledged winning passage will take "hard work, careful consideration of all perspectives, and a commitment to get to the finish line no matter what obstacles are thrown in our way by the cheap politics of the status quo." But Dodd offered the following prediction: "When Congress returns in September, the misinformation and anger of a hot summer will subside - and we will continue to move forward. "In fact, we will pick up exactly where we left off.  There will be a good bill on the floor.  There will be a spirited debate with ample opportunity for all ideas and perspectives to be heard.  But we will get this done.  And we will pass comprehensive reform this year." 

Chris, about those "moderates" backing the Public Option Bill .....mind telling us who they are?

This seems to be a bit more representative of reality, Chris

When a questioner, Ray Evans, said he believed the President wants to do too much at once and asked whether Boyd would "be willing to scrap everything" and start over to do pursue reform more incrementally, the congressman responded: "I think that is an excellent idea … we may end up there."

But what do we expect from Chris Dodd? This time last year he was insisting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "fundamentally sound".  Didn't quite work out that way, did it?  

Chris, don't worry. If the Senate thing doesn't work out for you there's plenty of work out there for propaganda ministers.

 

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