A Chicken in Every Pot

How Will the Debt Limit “Game of Chicken” End?:

“The Republican strategy seems to be to ram their Medicare abolition plan into law within the next two months – Treasury says the ‘drop-dead’ date for raising the debt limit is August 2 – before people learn what they are really doing to Medicare.”

(Via Capital Gains and Games | Washington, Wall Street and Everything ….)

Isn’t this exactly what the Republicans accused Palosi and Reid of doing with “Obamacare?”

Does The U.S. Really Have A Fiscal Crisis?

Does The U.S. Really Have A Fiscal Crisis?:

“But the problem here is bipartisan – as it was with the tax cut last year.  None of the leadership on either side is willing to talk openly about how our biggest banks caused great fiscal damage.  No one is willing to explain why our healthcare costs continue to rise.  And no top politicians currently champion real tax reform.

The Republicans have seized a moment.  To them, this is not really about fiscal responsibility; this is about an opportunity to shrink the size of government.

But the Democrats have played perfectly into their hands.  The heart of their mistake was the president’s refusal to explain clearly how the financial system produced a recession that has pushed up our national debt. “

(Via The Baseline Scenario.)

We are the Socialists for Britain

T.R. Reid: Looking Overseas For ‘Healing Of America’ : NPR:

Mr. REID: Yeah, yeah. One of the ways – you know, they have that thing on Britain on Wednesday where the prime minister stands up in parliament, and the other party insults him and shouts questions at him. And one of the most-standard questions is: A woman in my constituency has been waiting four weeks to see a doctor. This is outrageous. And that happens, and then the answer that the prime minister always gives is, well, obviously, the gentleman opposite wants to see us institute for-profit, American-style corporate medicine. This we will never do. You know? And they never will.
GROSS: Is that the worst thing that you can say, we’re going to institute American-style corporate medicine?
Mr. REID: All over the world, people say that. If you complain about health care, they say well, you want to move to America? You think that’s better?

Everywhere I went, people had this kind of smug superiority. They know. They know that we let people die and go bankrupt by the thousands in our health care system, and they don’t do that, so they feel better.
A person in the Health Ministry in Canada – you know, they’re kind of understated people in Canada – said to me, you know, we don’t go around chanting we’re number one like some countries I know, but there are two areas where we’re better than the states: hockey and health care.
(Soundbite of laughter)

(Via NPR.)

Our system is ranks 37th in the world right between Costa Rica and Slovenia.

Sacrificing the Public Option

Sacrificing the Public Option | The American Prospect:

“Because the public option has stood no realistic chance of being enacted in the form it was conceived, its main value all along this year has been as a bargaining chip. The proposal will now have served a valuable political purpose if, by sacrificing it, the White House is able to provide enough cover to Democratic senators from red states to get a bill out of the Senate Finance Committee, through the upper chamber, and into conference with the House.”

(Via The American Prospect.)

To quote Denzel in Training Day, “This shit is chess; it ain’t checkers!”

Health Care Explained On The Back Of A Napkin

Health Care Explained On The Back Of A Napkin (SLIDESHOW):

(Via The Huffington Post.)

The Word – Hippie Replacement

The Word – Hippie Replacement | Colbert Report 05105 | ColbertNation.com:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Hippie Replacement
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Meryl Streep

(Via Colbert Nation.)

That “sleeping giant” has corporate sponsorship.

How American Health Care Killed My Father – The Atlantic

I knew someone out there had some good ideas at reform. A Democrat no less. It’s a great read and should be on anyone’s list interested in reform who is interested in solutions to fixing our status quo. The sad part is that no one in power is advocating a solution resembling the author’s, esp. the GOP which should be if they were actually solution oriented. In fact, I’ve thought of many of the same things.

How American Health Care Killed My Father – The Atlantic
(September 2009)

“I’m a Democrat, and have long been concerned about America’s lack of a health safety net. But based on my own work experience, I also believe that unless we fix the problems at the foundation of our health system—largely problems of incentives—our reforms won’t do much good, and may do harm. To achieve maximum coverage at acceptable cost with acceptable quality, health care will need to become subject to the same forces that have boosted efficiency and value throughout the economy. We will need to reduce, rather than expand, the role of insurance; focus the government’s role exclusively on things that only government can do (protect the poor, cover us against true catastrophe, enforce safety standards, and ensure provider competition); overcome our addiction to Ponzi-scheme financing, hidden subsidies, manipulated prices, and undisclosed results; and rely more on ourselves, the consumers, as the ultimate guarantors of good service, reasonable prices, and sensible trade-offs between health-care spending and spending on all the other good things money can buy…
First, we should replace our current web of employer- and government-based insurance with a single program of catastrophic insurance open to all Americans—indeed, all Americans should be required to buy it—with fixed premiums based solely on age. This program would be best run as a single national pool, without underwriting for specific risk factors, and would ultimately replace Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. All Americans would be insured against catastrophic illness, throughout their lives…
Every American should be required to maintain an HSA, and contribute a minimum percentage of post-tax income, subject to a floor and a cap in total dollar contributions. The income percentage required should rise over a working life, as wages and wealth typically do…
Americans should be able to borrow against their future contributions to their HSA to cover major health needs; the government could lend directly, or provide guidelines for private lending. Catastrophic coverage should apply with no deductible for young people, but as people age and save, they should pay a steadily increasing deductible from their HSA, unless the HSA has been exhausted. As a result, much end-of-life care would be paid through savings…
For lower-income Americans who can’t fund all of their catastrophic premiums or minimum HSA contributions, the government should fill the gap—in some cases, providing all the funding…
Some experts worry that requiring people to pay directly for routine care would cause some to put off regular checkups. So here’s a solution: the government could provide vouchers to all Americans for a free checkup every two years…
Many experts believe that the U.S. would get better health outcomes at lower cost if payment to providers were structured around the management of health or whole episodes of care, instead of through piecemeal fees… For simplicity and predictability, many people will prefer to pay a fixed monthly or annual fee for primary or chronic care, and providers will move to serve that demand…
Many consumers would be able to make many decisions, unaided, in such a system. But we’d also probably see the rise of health-care agents—paid by, and responsible to, the consumer—to help choose providers and to act as advocates during long and complex care episodes…”

(Via The Atlantic.)

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I’m with Stupid

The 10 Dumbest Arguments Against Health-Care Reform | The American Prospect:

“This is just part of the hurricane of idiocy the administration must struggle through if it is to pass health-care reform. Don’t get me wrong – there are some very good reasons to remain optimistic about the odds of reform succeeding. On the other hand, if in our national debate you always bet that the side offering the most dim-witted, disingenuous arguments will triumph, most of the time you’ll be right.”

(Via The American Prospect.)

A friend of mine observing the current debate threw up his hands and simply said that the American people were, to put it bluntly, stupid. That made me uncomfortable, because I don’t like to think people in general are in fact, stupid. But if these arguments hold sway, it’s hard to argue against that. Fear and prejudice almost certainly produce that result.
And just so those conservatives who read this try to hide behind the tired cliché of liberal smugness, please remember the definition of stupid: “lacking in intelligence and common sense.” These “arguments” employ both deficits.

Reform on the Cheap

WSJ.com – In New Law’s Wake, Companies Slash Their Political Donations
This was a really nice surprise. I’ve been a long time supporter of campaign finance reform because I felt special interest money held too much sway in the process.

WSJ.com – In New Law’s Wake, Companies Slash Their Political Donations
This was a really nice surprise. I’ve been a long time supporter of campaign finance reform because I felt special interest money held too much sway in the process. It seems that the unintended effect, is the democratization of the money. Since corporations are forced to solicit employees to support their political ends, regular people are getting more involved in supporting candidates.
One possible effect is that corporate and employee interests can be more aligned, explicitly in the political process. Cause and effect are more tightly coupled. I think this is a good thing for Americans in general.
Another is that it returns a good portion of power in our democracy back where it belongs: with the people. Of course, this power is being exercised by the filter of corporate PACs, but what can you do? We live in a liberal-capitalist nation. Corporations exert tremendous power by virtue of their economic strength in our society, but now that is shared between management and employee. That is as democratic as we can get with out social and political revolution. Libertarians and anarchists take note. You must destroy people’s source of paychecks to enact your visions (pipe dreams? just kidding). What about the other PACs? Some consolidation is bound to occur. After all, once I donate to MoveOnPAC or some other general PAC, which else do I support? Just like charities, there will be “donation fatigue” and this limits their number.
These results are far from perfect, but change is a welcome.