Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Some Tuesday Dem Health Care Hijinks

Despite it all, I still basically support these people, even though they’re an execrable lot at times (I also posted here, and posting may be questionable this week; I don’t know exactly if or when yet).

This post over at The Hill tells us that 23 U.S. House Democrats have gone on record as opposing the pending health care legislation, and they are as follows…

John Adler (N.J.)
Jason Altmire (Pa.)
John Barrow (Ga.)
Dan Boren (Okla.)
Rick Boucher (Va.)
Allen Boyd (Fla.)
Bobby Bright (Ala.)
Travis Childers (Miss.)
Jim Costa (Calif.)
Henry Cuellar (Texas)
Parker Griffith (Ala.)
Frank Kratovil (Md.)
Betsy Markey (Colo.)
Eric Massa (N.Y.)
Jim Matheson (Utah)
Charlie Melancon (La.)
Walt Minnick (Idaho)
Tom Perriello (Va.)
Earl Pomeroy (N.D.)
Heath Shuler (N.C.)
Bart Stupak (Mich.)
John Tanner (Tenn.)
Gene Taylor (Miss.)
If it were in my power to personally pillory all of these characters, I would do so. However, the demands on my time and my tolerance for cowardice and stupidity only allow me to do so much, so I’ll concentrate on four from the list instead.

  • The first is John Adler of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District.

    “But he’s been targeted by the Republicans and he’s in a tough re-election fight,” I hear you cry.

    Let me start playing the world’s smallest violin for Adler, OK?

    For the record, here is what he said when he was campaigning…

    John Adler knows what it is like to live without adequate health care. When his father suffered a debilitating series of heart attacks, his family faced what one in five Americans are facing now: limited or no health care, no income, and a pile of hospital bills. With rising food and gas prices in an increasingly unstable economy, too many Americans cannot afford to pay for their health care. Over the last six years, health insurance costs have risen four times faster than wages. Over 48 million Americans, including 1.3 million New Jerseyans, are living without health insurance. We spend so much per capita on health care; we have a right to demand better outcomes at a lower cost. John Adler supports a system that guarantees health care to all children and provides affordable health care to all who seek it.
    That’s important, sure, but what about health care for adults, John?

    (Cue the sound of crickets…)

    Oh, but Adler does tell us this…

    John supports a collaborative approach to health care reform involving employers, providers, consumer groups, carriers, and experts in economics and technology. We need to expand what works and fix what does not work. We need to make health care accessible to all who seek it, in a way that allows our businesses to thrive. The federal government must help small business afford health insurance for employees through risk pooling and catastrophic funds.
    Soo…Adler supports government help for small businesses (or so he says) – also a good thing – but not for individuals, apparently.

    Well, by opposing health care reform, Adler is hastening the following consequences (noted here by Blue Jersey)…

  • 14,600 small businesses will not get tax credits for 50% of their health insurance costs

  • 12,000 seniors will remain stuck in the Medicare Part D "donut hole"

  • 1,330 families will go bankrupt due to health care costs (2008 figure)

  • $56,000,000 in unpaid medical bills will pile up for doctors and hospitals (2008 figure)

  • 47,000 people will remain uninsured
  • As Blue Jersey states…

    This is the bill that John Adler tells us "isn't good for America." It's time for the people of the third Congressional district to tell John Adler that what isn't good for America is his work on behalf of his paymasters in the insurance, health, and pharmaceutical industries to derail real reform that millions of Americans are relying on, including tens of thousands who elected him to office last November.
    I knew Adler was in a bit of a "rookie slump," but I would say that it has taken a decided turn for the worse.

  • Next, let’s check in with House Dem Gene Taylor of Mississippi. And I realize that we’re below the Mason-Dixon line here (and we’ll stay there and venture west shortly), but I think it’s safe to say that people all over the country regardless of where they live have the same need for somewhat affordable health care that doesn’t leave them destitute.

    And as noted here, Taylor supports the following…

    Allowing the government to use its purchasing power to lower the cost of prescription drugs. (HR 684)
    But he doesn’t support “allowing the government to use its purchasing power” to establish a public option and allow competitiveness for real…

    And as noted here (Myth #11), Taylor claimed that health care reform would add $1 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, when the CBO pointed out that it would only add $239 billion over that same period (and when measured against the estate tax cuts, Iraq war and Medicare Part D boondoggles, that’s actually chump change). And as noted here, Taylor opposed Waxman-Markey also.

    And just for good measure, Taylor opposed the “stim” here, even though it created “hundreds of summer jobs” in southern Mississippi (here).

  • Now I realize Taylor really set the “stupid” meter spinning with some of what I linked to above, but at least he didn’t call President Obama “soft on defense,” as Dan Boren of Oklahoma did here (see, Boren was mad about cuts in defense spending potentially hurting his district; I’m not unsympathetic to that, even though I personally think there’s a “greater good” involved, but my issue with Boren is over the fact that the defense budget is prepared by the defense secretary, Robert Gates…I’d like to see Gates’ reaction if Boren tried a number like that on him instead).

    And it’s hard for me to come up with a word to describe how galling it is that Boren now opposes health care given the following as noted here by Down With Tyranny!...

    (Boren) brags how he didn't vote for Obama for president and how he opposes Employee Free Choice. This year he voted against equality for women in the workplace and against hate crime legislation that would help protect gay men and women from violence and he seems to revel in distancing himself from President Obama and calling him a political liability.
    In a very real, personal way, it’s difficult for me to stomach the presence of someone like Boren in the Democratic Party (for my money, Taylor is merely clueless, but Boren seems to revel in own egotistical aversion to his own party).

  • Finally, this brings us to Bart Stupak of Michigan (heading up north once more). And it’s hard to me to take a shot at him like this, given that (as noted here) I once supported him for commerce secretary, partly for standing up to Bushie Andrew von Eschenbach of the FDA (here), and he also opposed the “Deleting Online Predators Act” introduced by PA-08’s former House rep Mikey Fitzpatrick (as I noted when it was introduced, the bill had less to do with protecting our kids than it had to do with ensuring that our libraries and schools could not be held liable in the event that something went horribly wrong).

    And also, Stupak deserves credit for responding to constituents over his position on this issue (here), even if he is demonstrably wrong.

    However, I’m highlighting Stupak because of his reliance on the same CBO estimates as other Dems, including Taylor above. And the problem with the CBO, as noted here, is as follows (and I also don’t know where Stupak is getting his claim that health care reform will cost “hundreds of thousands of jobs” – maybe Myth #10 here)…

    The CBO report, reveals once again the problems that attend letting the decision of whether or not to adopt health care reform legislation to turn on CBO ten year cost estimates. First, it is much easier to score costs than cost-savings. Legislation pending in both the House and Senate in fact includes state-of-the art proposals that many health policy experts do believe will result in real savings, as the CBO recognizes It is easy, however, to figure out how many people are under a particular multiple of the poverty level and how much it will cost to cover them through Medicaid or to provide them with insurance subsidies, i.e the cost of reform. It is much harder to figure out how much public plan choice or accountable care organizatons will save the federal government. The CBO guesses conservatively with respect to savings, and the media reports this as a "blow to reform."

    Second, the CBO only estimates financial costs and savings to the federal government. It ignores all of the other benefits (and costs) of reform. Third, CBO estimates are not real numbers, just guesses. Remember how much angst went into getting the CBO to score the Part D drug benefit to hit Congress' own cost target, how it turned out later that the Bush administration had held back on its own cost estimates which were much higher than the CBO score, and how the real cost turned out in fact, at least initially, to be much lower than the CBO score. Congress needs to be fiscally responsible, but it also needs to address the very real needs of the American people for health care relief. And the media needs to stop reporting CBO reports as though they reflect the real costs of reform.
    Also, I would trust Peter Orszag of Obama’s OMB versus Douglas Elmendorf of the CBO merely because Orszag has a better familiarity with the issue of health care.

    I guess I have a respectful disagreement with Stupak here, and I’m hoping it isn’t too late for Adler to come around also (I don’t know what it’s going to take for many Dem politicians - but not all - to get the message that the only way he or she will stand is to be true to the party’s core beliefs, particularly on this issue). However, I realize that Taylor and Boren are lost causes.

    If we deliver health reform, it will have many practical benefits for vast numbers of uninsured and under-insured individuals and families. And it will have ancillary political benefits also for those who do the right thing.

    If we get it done, then it looks like at least 23 people will have some serious ‘splainin’ to do. But if we don’t, the number will be a whole lot bigger than that.

  • Update 11/7/09: Man, I spologize to every living being in the universe for ever supporting this guy for anything based on this (h/t Atrios)...this also.

    1 comment:

    whitecollargreenspaceguy said...

    Now on youtube:
    "A Citizen's Response to President Barack Obama's Health Care Speech"


    The government already has the funds to pay for universal health care and to reduce our carbon footprint. Stay tuned for an earth-shaking paradigm shift that could save jobs, universal health care, and the environment. The Information Age finally talks to its older brother, the Industrial Revolution. Interchangeable parts in a virtual world.

    For a full transcript visit

    The 50 million individuals with no health insurance are not just Americans; they are our relatives, neighbors, and friends. Just as the majority of us have no idea what it is like to live with a deadly disease or injury, we also cannot imagine what our lives would be like if we had to face such suffering and pain with no health insurance. We must stop using our mouths to fight and argue over which souls will be covered; we must put our hearts and minds together and find the funds to pay for their care. That would be the American way.

    Mr. President,

    In a recent radio address you stated that the only way for us to dig our way out of the rut we are in is through innovation. I wish for you and Congress to consider the following policy change. Anyone that has questions or comments or thinks that this will not work, can leave me a comment at www.whitecollargreenspace.blogspot or send me an email at whitecollargreenspaceguy@hotmail.com

    The Federal government leases or owns close to ½ billion square feet of office space. Most white collar workers work an eight hour shift each day even though most buildings are open for 12 hours from 6 am to 6 pm. Overall these expensive facilities sit unused 60 to 70% of the time. By keeping buildings open an additional 4 or 5 hours each day, we could schedule 2 shifts of white collar workers, thus increasing our efficiency by 100% and reducing our carbon footprint by 50%. We could cut the cost of overhead for each employee by 40 to 50%, half as much infrastructure, half as much office space, half as many computers and supplies. With the overhead for each of our 2 million Federal workers approaching $50,000 per year, the potential savings could be $25 to $50 billion per year. By extending this new paradigm to independent contractors and state offices where the Federal government pays the state a percentage of the cost, the savings could be between $50 and $100 billon per year. This could be used as the seed money to help pay the cost of covering the currently uninsured...