Democrats are hammering Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock over his statement that employers should not have to cover cancer in their insurance plans if they don’t want to.
Mourdock, the state treasurer, argued in a newspaper interview last week that not only should employers not have to cover health care services that they oppose, such as contraception, but they also should be exempt from paying for anything they do not want to include, based on costs.
“Does that employer have the right to do it?” Mourdock told theNews and Tribune, covering southern Indiana. “I would say yes they do if they want to keep their health care costs down but it also means it’s less likely you’re going to want to work here. If that employer wants to get the best employees coming in the door he’s going to offer the best insurance possible.”
Good thing unemployment is so low that workers are totally free to pick and choose their employers, right?
Gruber hopes for a not-too-distant future where Medicare and the health reform law enjoy the same status in the public’s mind. “My dream is of a world, 20 years from now, where someone says, ‘Keep the government’s hands off my ACA,’ ” said Gruber, a key architect of both Romneycare and Obamacare.
Well, you know, if you want it to be loved like Medicare, maybe you should have modeled it on Medicare. Just a thought.
Ezra Klein explains that Obama couldn’t possibly have done a better job, what with his miniscule majorities in both houses of Congress and all. I particularly like the part where he suggests that Obama would have been less popular and the 2010 bloodbath would have been worse if Obama had passed an effective stimulus and generally done more to live up to his campaign promises.
Because the American people just hate strong politicians who get results, especially when they don’t act like corporate tools. That’s why FDR was only able to get elected 4 times. Well, that and dying.
You know the old cliche gag where someone has an angel on one shoulder telling them to do the right thing, and a devil on the other shoulder telling them the exact opposite? The GOP is kind of looking like that right now, and the devil is winning.
Representing the angel (relatively speaking, this is the GOP we’re talking about), David Frum:
Look at the issues the House GOP has decided to showcase this summer:
A) A budget plan that would gradually withdraw Medicare coverage from everyone younger than 55, to the point where the Congressional Budget Office estimates that senior citizens will be paying two-thirds of their health coverage out of pocket by 2030.
B) A threat to force a default on the obligations of the United States by August unless the president yields on point A.
Tea Party conservatives complain that Republicans who advocate restraint, responsibility and moderation do so in order to be nice to Obama. That’s utterly upside down. Restraint, responsibility and moderation are indispensable to the defeat of President Obama. It is Tea Party conservatism itself that is Obama’s last, best hope for a second term.
The Obama campaign can only redirect attention from the president’s own record to GOP kookiness if the GOP cooperates. The conclusion that you’d think would follow: don’t do it.
And in the devil corner we have, who else but Karl Rove:
Next year, Republicans must describe their Medicare reforms plainly, set the record straight vigorously when Democrats demagogue, and go on the attack. Congressional Republicans—especially in the House—need a political war college that schools incumbents and challengers in the best way to explain, defend and attack on the issue of Medicare reform. They have to become as comfortable talking about Medicare in the coming year as they did in talking about health-care reform last year.
There needs to be preparation and self-education, followed by extensive town halls, outreach meetings, visits to senior citizen centers, and the use of every available communications tool to get the reform message across.
Yes, a full-court press to make sure America knows all about the Republicans’ Medicare sounds like an absolutely brilliant idea! And maybe Robert Samuelson can explain that the end of Medicare is a good thing, and exactly how cutting seniors loose with $8,000 to buy private coverage will “[force the] health-care delivery system… to restructure by reducing costs and improving quality.”
Obama doesn’t really deserve to win next year, but the GOP seems determined to help him out.
Hey, remember the Republican narrative about how the Democrats got pummeled last year because Mad Socialist Obama “overreached” with his government takeover agenda? Funny thing: As soon as the GOP took power after that wave election, it immediately got to work showing everybody what real overreach looks like, attacking collective bargaining rights, and now Medicare.
The Democrats swept the Republicans out in 2006 and 2008 because the Republicans proved themselves to be incompetent and corrupt. The Republicans swept the Democrats out in 2010 because the Democrats proved themselves to be incompetent and corrupt. Now the Republicans are proving themselves to be downright malevolent, and could very well swing the backlash pendulum back to the Democrats, and in a presidential election cycle too.
If the presidential election had been held in 2010, Obama might have been in serious trouble if the Republicans nominated someone even semi-sane. But if the Republicans continue to push a nakedly pro-wealth, anti-everything-else agenda, Obama’s going to win in another landslide, whether he deserves to or not (it’s “not”, by the way).
Also, the fawning Cheney endorsement probably isn’t doing Paul Ryan any favors. If I’m his opponent, I’m running that quote on a continuous loop from now until election day.
Americans clearly don’t want the government to cut Medicare, the government health program for the elderly, or Medicaid, the program for the poor. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted last week to drastically restructure and reduce those programs, while Obama calls for trimming their costs but leaving them essentially intact.
Voters oppose cuts to those programs by 80-18 percent. Even among conservatives, only 29 percent supported cuts, and 68 percent opposed them.
When simply asked whether they wanted Medicare to remain a defined benefits plan or see it changed into a voucher system to buy private insurance, a full 65 percent of Americans said they were opposed to this change, while only 34 percent supported it. After the poll explained that the cost of private insurance would likely rise faster than the value of the vouchers, causing seniors to pay more for insurance (as the CBO says would happen under the House Republican budget), the total opposed jumped to 84 percent.
Just how incredibly unpopular is this major provision of the Republican budget? With 84 percent opposed to it, Ryan’s Medicare voucher program has even less support among the American people than the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which the latest KFF poll found 67 percent want repealed.
If it were possible to vote against politicians without having to vote for their opponents, DC would be a ghost town.
[T]he financial crisis will end up causing government debt to increase by more than 50 percentage points of G.D.P. over a decade. This is the major fiscal crisis of today and the likely one tomorrow. (I wrote more on this in a column this week for Bloomberg.)
A future financial crisis, given the nature of our economy, could well cause a debt increase of more than 34 percent of G.D.P. — just look at what happened this time in the United States or the way in which Ireland was ruined by big banks and reaction by the politicians there. There is no way that the S.&P.’s stress situation is sufficiently negative.
There is, of course, a longer-run budget issue — beyond 2020 –- that is mostly about health care costs. S.&P. follows the current consensus by flagging the Medicare component of this, and the C.B.O.’s projections on this front are undoubtedly scary (see this C.B.O. Web page or jump directly to the document and study the image on its front page).
But the real threat to the economy is health-care costs seen broadly, not just the Medicare component. For more on this, see the analysis by my co-author on the Baseline Scenario blog, James Kwak, writing about an important letter from Douglas W. Elmendorf (the head of the C.B.O.) to Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, on Mr. Ryan’s budget proposal.
The real danger to the United States economy –- and to its federal budget –- is that we will somehow derail growth, either by letting too-big-to-fail banks become irresponsible again or by allowing health-care costs to continue to rise on their current trajectory or in some other way.
…Or we could just kill Medicare, slash Social Security, and keep cutting taxes for rich people and corporations until the trickledown fairy works her magic.
Paul Krugman is conditionally okay with the content of Obama’s Big Important Budget Speech:
Much better than many of us feared. Hardly any Bowles-Simpson — yay!
The actual plan relies on some discretionary spending cuts, this time including defense — good, although I think too much is being cut from domestic spending. It relies on letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire — finally! — plus unspecified reductions in tax expenditures.
Overall, way better than the rumors and trial balloons. I can live with this. And whatever the pundits may say, it was much, much more serious than the Ryan “plan”.
I should probably say, I could live with this as an end result. If this becomes the left pole, and the center is halfway between this and Ryan, then no — better to pursue the zero option of just doing nothing and letting the Bush tax cuts as a whole expire.
That is one enormous If for a president who plays tug-of-war in roller skates.
This is just disgraceful. It’s not surprising that the Republicans are proposing to balance a change to the healthcare bill on the backs of the poor, but it looks like the Democrats are going to go along with it. Which I guess is also not surprising, just disappointing and infuriating.
Here’s a thought: If you need money, why not look toward the people who actually have it?
Tell me again how the Republicans are the pro-life party?
Here in Pennsylvania we’ve got a guy who’s probably going to die of a heart attack because our new Republican governor took his health insurance away so he can’t afford to see a doctor when he has chest pains, and Florida’s new Republican governor is inexplicably protecting shady “pill mills” that kill seven people a day.
If America ever gets “death panels”, it will be the Republicans who create them, not the Democrats. And they’ll call them “life panels”.
Apparently a “Democratic hero” is someone who sabotages all attempts to turn Democrats’ signature initiative into something useful and good, and supports it only after it becomes a public-optionless, more-bad-than-good giveaway to the pharma and insurance industries. Oh, and who represents a state that’s much more progressive than they are.
Let’s see, Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter defeated, Lieberman and Kent Conrad retiring… can Ben Nelson and Max Baucus be far behind?
The central premise of the White House’s policy-making, the assumption that an economic crisis is a terrible thing to waste (as Rahm Emanuel famously put it), turned out to be a grave tactical mistake. It drew exactly the wrong lesson from earlier liberal eras, when the most enduring expansions of government — Social Security in the 1930s, Medicare in the 1960s — were achieved amid strong economic growth, rather than at the bottom of a recession.
Well, I suppose it is technically correct to say that the 1930s were not a time of recession…
The damage that the health care bill was doing to Democrats in swing districts was so enormous and so patently obvious it was impossible to miss. Van Hollen had to know the same thing we did.
But instead of letting his members know they were in danger, he lied to them. He commenced a propaganda campaign to keep them from finding out the truth: that for many members, voting for the health care bill could very well mean the end of their political careers.
And so the Democratic leadership corralled them all in March, filled their heads full of shit and told them it would be a great thing for Obama, them and the Democratic Party when the bill passed.
The entire party leadership was in on it. It was a “Paths of Glory” moment, where the generals fired on their own troops in the bunkers and forced them into an unwinnable battle that many would not survive.
Funny that they were willing to apply so much pressure to pass a bill with no public option, no drug price negotiation, and no coverage for abortions that most voters hated, and unwilling to apply any pressure at all to pass a bill that most voters would have actually liked. If you’re going to force members to commit political suicide, you should do it for something that will help the party as a whole, not hurt it. Why, it’s almost as if their desire to claim the illusion of victory without angering their healthcare industry donors trumped all other considerations.
Independent group messages have far more credibility and clout than those from party and candidate committees- even groups with generic-sounding names no one has heard of. Republican strategists like Rove got this early, and went about methodically organizing a network of corporate money to get involved in independent expenditure ads in swing races all over the country. But the Obama White House, sure of its fundraising ability and organizing genius, has consistently sent the signal to Democratic donors to not support outside efforts. They did it after they won the primary in 2008; they did it when they set up OFA to operate solely inside the DNC in 2009; they did it during the health care fight when they felt HCAN was being a little too independent in pushing for a public option, sending a clear signal to donors not to give to them at crucial times during the fight; they did it when ACORN had some bad publicity, very quickly making the decision to distance themselves and let them die even though no group has registered more voters or turned out more people in the last 10 years than ACORN.
I can’t even think of any rationale for this other than actively wanting to lose. As the mention of HCAN suggests, I guess they didn’t want outside groups running around pushing policies that were too progressive for Obama. God forbid.
The aide said it’s already a winning message without a vote since Obama and Democrats have framed the debate as the Republicans being for the rich and Democrats wanting to help the middle class. Others have made similar arguments, but several lawmakers have said they think a vote is the only way to score a political victory. The senior aide doesn’t think so.
“We have a winning message now, why muddy it up with a failed vote, because, of course, Republicans are going to block everything,” the aide said.
Wow. So instead of forcing Republicans to go on record with a vote against middle-class tax cuts, the Democrats are just going to assume that voters will blame the Republicans for their own inaction. It’s a lot easier to campaign on actual votes than hypothetical ones. “I voted to extend your tax cuts”, or “my opponent voted against extending your tax cuts”, or “my opponent wants to hold your tax cuts hostage so Paris Hilton can keep hers” is a lot more effective than “there was no vote to extend your tax cuts because we knew my opponent’s party would vote no”.
They. Want. To. Lose. Or they value their cozy relationship with their corporate and wealthy donors more than they value their elected positions (and know that said donors have much more lucrative positions waiting for them if they get voted out for protecting those donors’ interests).
Dday is right, of course, that a nominally “liberal” corrupt failure like HAMP makes liberalism look bad. But the problem is that all of Obama and the Democrats’ failures, sellouts, and assorted disappointments will be blamed on “liberalism” because, as everyone knows, Obama is The Most Liberal President Of All Time. So now most of America thinks that liberalism means putting corporations first and ordinary people and the Constitution last. Or maybe that we’re all just craven hypocrites like our supposed leader.
It’s not bad enough that Obama has to repeatedly kick liberals in the face – he makes us look bad by association too. It’s a win-win!
Party officials acknowledged low morale within their left wing and urged liberal bloggers and activists Friday to keep faith with President Barack Obama in an election year as Democrats brace for losses in Congress.
“We need to find a way to get our voters really engaged in this election,” Democratic National Committee executive director Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said at the annual Netroots Nation convention. “It’s more important, every single day, to know what’s at stake.”
Earth to Democrats: Your voters are not engaged because you’ve been either ignoring them or disparaging them for the past year and a half. You used “healthcare reform” to deliver an enormous captive customer base to a rapacious health insurance industry while doing little to rein them in, you settled for a weak and ineffective stimulus bill, you pulled your punches on financial reform, you never lifted a finger for EFCA, you’re still foot-dragging on DADT, you’ve shown no more respect for the Constitution than the Bush administration, and you shamefully hung ACORN, Van Jones, Dawn Johnsen and Shirley Sherrod out to dry because you were afraid of conservative shriekers.
You called us “fucking retarded”, and complained that we threw money down the drain by supporting Bill Halter’s primary challenge against the anti-progressive Blanche Lincoln. Why on earth should we be enthusiastic about supporting you when you so clearly have no respect for us at all? Why should we care if you only have 52 seats in the Senate when you did so little when you had 59 and even 60? (Yes, I’m aware that you passed bills called healthcare reform and financial reform, but that doesn’t mean they were progressive.)
You can’t jerk us around and spit on us and call us retards for all this time and then expect us to be your friends again just because you’ve suddenly realized you need us. Trust and friendship has to be earned, and you haven’t even tried.
A group of Democratic lawmakers wants to use the immigration reform debate to fix one of the most hotly contested aspects of the health care law — provisions that bar immigrants from using new government programs to get coverage.
The move by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus would add a contentious new element to an already monumental task — passing a bill that puts 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.
But the lawmakers say they’re merely following through on a pledge they made when the health care overhaul passed in March, and they expect the White House and Democratic leadership to do the same.
Some members of the caucus almost withheld their votes for health reform over what they saw as punitive, anti-immigrant measures in the bill, which bans illegal immigrants from using newly created exchanges to buy insurance, even with their own money, and maintains a five-year waiting period for legal residents to enroll in Medicaid.
They signed on only after receiving assurances that their concerns would be rectified as part of the immigration reform battle, according to lawmakers, advocates and Hill aides.
“The expectation was that everybody knew it was unfair and that a new immigration bill would correct that,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told POLITICO.
Asked at what level he received such signals, Grijalva said: “High enough to feel secure about it.”
And you believed them??? Have you been paying any attention at all? Obama promised labor EFCA if they went along with his terrible healthcare bill, and look how that worked out for them. You really think Obama’s going to go out on a limb for you when he’s never gone out on a limb for anything progressive in his life? Yeah, good luck with that.
Liz Fowler, a key staffer for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus who helped draft the federal health reform bill enacted in March, is joining the Obama administration to help implement the new law. Fowler, chief health counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, which Baucus chairs, will become deputy director of the Office of Consumer Information and Oversight at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
I for one am relieved to see that WellPoint’s Ms. Fowler’s bold vision will not be compromised when the reform plan is finally implemented.
Perhaps the most telling thing of all about the Obama White House’s open hostility towards labor for supporting Halter over Lincoln is that it’s not like the unions took on one of Obama’s staunchest allies. The unions opposed Lincoln because she helped torpedo EFCA and the public option, two things which Obama supposedly (emphasis on supposedly) really wanted.
So that tells us that:
A) Obama really really hates unions,
B) Obama really really likes conservative politicians who screw him over again and again,
C) Lincoln was in fact acting as Obama’s staunch ally by sabotaging progressive initiatives he cynically pretended to support in order to get elected, or
D) Some combination of both A and C.
None of these possibilities are exactly what I would call encouraging.
Look, if we agree to stipulate that the death of centrist bipartisanship is a horrible, terrible tragedy, will David Broder agree to go away and leave us alone? Or at least find a new topic to write about?
Okay, yeah, partisanship is bad, we get it already. How many times are you going to write the same column?
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democrats a win on the health issue will reverse the slide in public opinion, just as passage of another controversial proposal, the North American Free Trade Agreement, lifted President Bill Clinton in the polls.
Yes, I’m sure healthcare “reform” will help Obama and the Democrats this year just as much as NAFTA helped Clinton and the Democrats in ’94.
Rahm’s promise reminds me of the assurances that Dubya would bring his CEO expertise to the White House to do for America what he did for his oil companies.
If the Catholic Church were as tolerant and protective toward gays as they are toward pedophiles, same-sex marriage would be legal in every state by now.
And if it were as committed to peace and compassion as it is to outlawing abortions, we probably wouldn’t have invaded Iraq, and the healthcare reform bill would have contained a public option at the very least.
On the other hand, is “We passed a Republican plan with no Republican votes! Go us!” really something the Democrats want to brag about? Especially when so many people are already worried that the bill is way too conservative and business-friendly as it is?
“There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year,” McCain said during an interview Monday on an Arizona radio affiliate. “They have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.”
And that will be different… how? It’s not a threat if you were going to do it anyway.
2 commentsMarch 23rd, 2010 at 07:37amPosted by Eli
When I first saw this in my inbox, I thought maybe it was sarcasm, but no:
Thank you, Progressive Caucus, for improving health care reform
Dear Progressive Members of Congress:
Thanks to you, and the tough positions you took on reforming the health insurance industry, significant progress was made towards reforming health care in this country. We thank you for representing the majority opinions on health care reform throughout the debate and voting for change.
[Insert your name here, etc, etc.)
I’m supposed to thank them for caving? I’m supposed to thank them for backing down from their pledge to vote against any healthcare reform bill that didn’t have a public option, even though a public option was almost surely attainable through reconciliation? I’m supposed to thank them for looking the other way when Obama and Pelosi made their deal with Pelosi and legitimized the Hyde Amendment with an executive order? Are you kidding me???
The progressive caucus had the power to force Obama to choose between the healthcare industry and anti-choice fanatics or passing his signature reform which he wanted more than anything… and they threw it away without getting anything in return.