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Paul Krugman:

America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like  the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

[...]

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

[...]

Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.

Gee Paul, for a really smart guy you can be kinda dumb sometimes. Your thesis is based on a false premise.  The Democratic leadership (Obama, Pelosi and Reid et al.) have no intention of enacting any real health care reform.  They never did.  Their goal is and always was to preserve the status quo while giving the illusion of reform.

If they tried and failed that would be one thing, but they aren’t trying.  There has never been a better time in our history to make single-payer a reality, but the Democrats took it off the table before discussions began.

What we are seeing now is just Kabuki – when the final curtain drops all we’ll have is some new lipstick on the same old pig.


Blame Obama, Pelosi and Reid – it’s their fault.


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76 Responses

  1. But won’t it be perceived as trying and failing, since the media is still reporting that Obama wants universal health care and “reform?”

    What happened to Pelosi’s statement that the House would not pass a health care bill without a public option?

    • If the Obama media have their way the GOP will get blamed.

      As if the GOP can do anything right now.

      • Right: The Good Demopublicans will blame the Evil Republicrats for scuttling
        “reform”. The insurance companies will get what they want, and everyone (in DC) gets paid.

        In 4 or 8 years, the Good Republicrats will blame the Evil Demopublicans for depleting the treasury because of all those “entitlements”. Social Security will be privatized, Medicare will be replaced with a “private option”, the insurance companies and the Wall Streeters will get what they want, and everyone (in DC) gets paid.

        We are at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

        Or, as Yeats put it:

        Hurrah for the Revolution and more cannonshot
        A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot
        Hurrah for the Revolution and cannon come again
        The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.

    • BB:

      The house has drafted it’s form of the bill it has a public option.

      Check your e-mail because I sent it to everyone 2 days ago. It’s 850 pages long but you can navigate it easily.

      • I didn’t get it. I’ll e-mail you and you can reply, OK?

        It’s great to see you! I saw your comments last night. Hope you’re doing well.

      • Hello :-) (((missed you, especially in the morning)))

      • It’s grandstanding. The “public option” will die in the Senate and House members will make speeches. The two bills will go to conference committee and the resultant “compromise” will not have the public option and be roundly hailed as a “responsible compromise that preserves American values”. It will pass overwhelmingly (except for a few Republicans who will be required to object to “creeping socialism”). The Dems will pat themselves on the back for a “great victory”. There will be much talk in The Village about a “permanent Democratic majority”.

        When the eviscerated plan fails in a few years, it will be touted as an example of the failure of “Big Government” by the Republicans (who will then be in the majority). This will be used as an excuse to provide a “private option” for Social Security and to remove any new regulations that might have been placed on the financial industry. The Democrats will bleat that they can’t stop it because they’re in the minority (even though they have enough votes to block cloture in the Senate).

        Damn, I’m getting cynical in my old age.

  2. Pierre Tristam:

    There is no health care debate in the United States. There’s not even a debate over principles. You’d think a nation intent on overhauling a broken system that presidents going back to Harry Truman have been trying to fix would want to openly discuss what it wants — universal care? Single-payer? A private-public combination? Nationalized insurance? Nationalized care? All very different things. None is being aired in congressional hearings and town hall meetings, with one exception: Tinkering with more of the same.

    When even Barack Obama — the last great hope for reforming the West’s trashiest health care system — plays into the rhetorical ambushes of reform’s enemies, it’s clear that the debate has been hijacked by shams over the language of reform rather than its substance. Detractors can lob meaningless phrases like “government-run health care” and “socialized medicine” all day long, knowing that the diversion is enough to keep reform comatose. In an almost hour-long address to the American Medical Association on Monday, Obama couldn’t bring himself even once to say universal health care.

    • We need riots in the streets here. We should have a general strike and picket outside doctors’ offices and hospitals. This is just plain ridiculous, cruel, and evil.

      • not going to happen as long as every stays punch drunk on the koolaide

      • I think we will have that…but unfortunately there will have to be more pain and suffering first it seems before the tipping point. I’m haunted by what Hill said during the primaries at an editorial meeting . After listing reforms she wanted to do , Hillary said, “if we don’t get these things done, you will not recognize this country” .

    • What does he mean by “even Obama” playing into rhtorical ambushes? At least here in Colorado, the Obama campaign ran numerous ads that referred to a public *option* as “extremist”.

      Why or why didn’t these guys *PAY* *ATTENTION* during the campaign?????

      Nevermind – I already know the answer.

  3. Dave Lindorff:

    The Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats are finally hitting the inevitable wall that was bound to confront them because of the president’s congenital inability to be a bold leader, and because of the party’s toxic decades-old decision to betray its working class New Deal base in favor of wholesale corporate whoredom.

    The wall is health care reform, which both Barack Obama and the Democratic Party had hoped would be the ticket for them to ride to victory in the 2010 Congressional elections and the 2012 presidential election.

    But you cannot achieve the twin goals of reducing health care costs and providing access to health care to 50 million uninsured people, while leaving the profit centers of the current system–doctors, hospitals and the health insurance industry–in charge and in a position to continue to reap profits.

    • I agree with everything here except Lindorff including “doctors” in the list of the profit centers who are balking.

      Sorry, but the administration has actually refused to even consult doctors, or let them have a voice at all. They have only consulted the AMA, which represents only about 15% of practicing doctors in this country, and have stonewalled any other physician group..

      The meme that “doctors” are opposed to health care reform is one of the most insidious lies in this game, and is mindlessly repeated ad infinitum by BOTH the right and the left. It’s not true.

      • The reason this lie is so dangerous is that repeated polls indicate that 73% of Americans trust doctors to give the best advice re: healthcare reform, and what will work.

        If most people believe that doctors know best re: the system, and you can convince people that doctors oppose reform, that is a PR coup of staggering proportion.

        “A study published in a March 2008 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine reported that a 2007 poll of 2,193 physicians nationwide indicated that 59 percent supported “government legislation to establish national health insurance.”

        That was 2007, and the number is growing. Rcent polls show that docs prefer Medicare (our best version of a limited “public option” ) HANDS DOWN over all other insurers. Yep, docs think that our govt insurance is better, more efficient, and easier to work with than the gazillion private plans out there. The meme that docs don’t want reform is a LIE, period.

        • I think most doctors are fed up with the system. However they did fight UHC back in ’60s when the economy was strong and JFK really wanted to do it. If only it had happened then!

          • I can remember as a kid seeing flyers in doctors’ offices about “socialized medicine.”

          • Yes, they did, sadly – but those docs are dead or retired now. Not the same people. Democrats also supported Jim Crow way back when, but it would be silly to NOW say that “Democrats oppose civil rights legislation”, or hold current Democrats responsible for the actions of those 50 years ago.

          • There was an article last week by O’s own doctor of 22 years, an internist in Chicago, saying he disagrees with O and supports single payer. He was overly gracious to his patient, saying,”He just doesn’t see the pain in the trenches.” He also mentioned that he didn’t discuss it with him, because he didn’t think it was appropriate, but he did mention the medical malpractice issue once, and “Obama took the lawyer’s position.” Big surprise. I’ve also mentioned that my father is still practicing at 81–he’s also an internist–and he is adamant about single payer being the best solution. With the GOP in disarray, and so much political capital, it’s just unbelievable that they are waffling.

        • Those were doctors that were thrown out and of the original Baucus meeting for protesting in favor of single payer–they were arrested.

      • Does the AMA represent doctors then IYO? Cause that’s the political face of the medical profession and they are against single payer . How do doctors get around them?

    • the president’s congenital inability to be a bold leader, and because of the party’s toxic decades-old decision to betray its working class New Deal base in favor of wholesale corporate whoredom

      touche.

      p.s. this myth that all doctor’s are raking it in is also inaccurate. Doctors who do procedures using technology–surgeons, gastroenterologists et. al.–make good money. GP’s and internists, not so.

      • I am a pediatrician and recently found out I earn half of what a “waste site manager” makes working for our water district. My hourly is about 2/3 of local plumbers and electricians. Times have changed. Procedure docs do well, others not so much. I think single payer would be great as long as the oversight as to what is covered and how docs like me (who think and teach rather than perform procedures) are reimbursed is high quality. If it was like state care in California, then I’m not so sure.

    • Very well said….of course Dave was a big Obama lover and a Hill hater, and IMO ,had to know better

      • There’s a LOT of people that shoulda known better.

        • sure thing, but I because read him for years, I feel certain Dave had to know. I can’t say that about some others with equal certainty . I only think it was a check or blind Clinton hatred or both that got him on the Barry love boat . It would be one thing if he didn’t say anything either way, but he was in there with glee.
          ugh

  4. is there any truth that it is written in kennedy’s plan that congress and federal employees will be exempt from any plan, now that’s interesting

  5. Krugman’s article is a reminder of why PUMAs are so critical to the sorry state of politics today. Written between the lines of Krugman’s essay is the implication that Democrat politicians believe they can get away with ignoring what the public wants because voters who wanted a change from the Bush years have no other option than to vote for anyone with a “D” behind her/his name. The comments section attached to Lindorff’s essay makes it clear that, increasingly, voters are fed up with both parties.

  6. Okay. I’m ending up in the spam filter again today. Can someone please fix whatever is going on? Thanks.

    • Hi, I have no idea why you’re ending up in Spam. You’re not using the trigger words as far as I can see, you’re not writing excessively long threads, and your IP is not on the block list to my knowledge. It’s not something from our end. But we maybe some of the more wordpress literate folks have some suggestions. I’m up now so, I’ll check and see what I can do.

    • Sorry, grayslady. I checked every possible thing I could think of yesterday, including trying to see if your e-mail address matched somone’s in the spam filter. I can’t figure out what is going on.

  7. lol. I just clipped Krugman’s piece to paste here, in case someone hadn’t yet. I didn’t get it either–he’s placing all of the responsibility on the few centrist Dems. If O (& Pelosi & Reid) were really leaders, in this climate, they would get it done. He ignores that Obama himself said, “I’d rather have 70 Republican votes and get 85% of what we want, than get 100% of what we want with a 52-48 vote.” I think someone slipped some Kool Aid into his coffee when he was having dessert at the White House–he’s been off his game ever since.

    • What’s ironic is that there was plenty of “tough love” in evidence during the primary. O and Pelosi and Reid had no problem at all throwing their party weight around and threatening those very same “centrist Dems” with political annihilation if they dared to not vote the way they were told and support Teh One. They threatened them with total withdrawal of party resources, and to PRIMARY them with a challenger when they ran again.

      They were ruthless TIGERS at whipping party recalcitrants into line when the issue was something important to them, like “vote for BO at the convention OR ELSE.”

      But they want us to believe that their poor widdle helpless hands are tied to get those scary senators and reps in line to support healthcare? Puhleeeeeze.

      • The sad thing is that Reid and Pelosi will probably get a pass on this the way that they have gotten a pass on everything else from the “progressive” community. They would rather have a phony “progressive” occupying the seat then actually holding them accountable for their action or non action as the case may be. Their eggs are all in one basket, even if that basket is full of holes.

        I doubt even Clinton managed to get it through their skulls that the way to get things accomplished was to jettison party loyalty and focus on issues.

      • Good point, they are playing helpless victims, after years of taking donations from the ‘For Profit Health Industry’ that they truly represent, which is not the working people (those folks that vote in hopes of getting Health Care Reform).

      • excellent point WMCB. When it’s in THEIR self-interest, they’re full of fight–for the average American, not so much.

  8. Administrator: Can someone please tell me why I can no longer post? This is the second day in a row that none of my comments make it past the spam filter. Since I’ve been commenting here since March, 2008, I’m feeling frustrated. You may reply to me by email so as not to take up valuable comment space. Thanks.

  9. A bombardment of letters to editors across the country, and a deluge of calls to phone-ins regardless of political stripe, on the subject of “actions speak louder than words” might help shift the perceptual logjam of “but but but the big, bad republicans won’t let us”. Obama’s claim to fame is his articulateness. Use every opportunity to call him and his henchpeople on the emptiness of his words, if not his suit.

  10. Universal Health Care = Rationed Health Care

    Waiting lists are for dinner reservations, not doctor referrals.

    No, thank you.

    • Honey, I’m waiting now. Getting to see a doctor besides my primary is like laughing a landing at Normandy. And if more folks can see a doctor if I still have to wait a bit…I’m ready to make that deal .

      • PS . Blue Cross just told me which foot doctor I HAD to see for coverage . Someone I never heard of…So where’s the vaulted freedom of the current train wreck….er I mean system?

        oh and I meant “ launching a landing.” …dang typos!

    • Oh look!

      A wingnut troll.

      Aren’t you scared to be hanging out with us librul socialists?

      Run along now, before our man-hating lesbian femi-nazis pummel you.

      • I am not a wingnut troll…

        I used to be a citizen of Canada. My wife died of IBC 15 months ago. She was referred by our doctor to an IBC specialist. After waiting for an appointment for 4 weeks, her breast had swollen to nearly two times it’s normal size. We took her to the hospital, and she died two days later.

        I am not in need of a lecture on universal health care. I know exactly what it means. Cheaper/Free insurance, and lots of pain.

        • I’m sorry for your loss. But here’s the thing. 50 million in the US are already in the boat you described …. and those with insurance will progressly be joining them , as it seems the point of the current system is to get rid of the sick people. What I mean is , any horror story one can point to in a UHC system, can be matched in the current system …and less people are covered. There’s a tipping point where are victems of both systems, but one covers more people…I’ll go with that one.

          • Perhaps you are right… all I know for SURE is that in the USA if you have IBC you get put on chemo within 48 hours.

            Not so in Canada.

            How many of those 50 million were incorrectly counted because of
            temporary unemployment? A report came out today that over
            1/2 of those 50 million are from the 4 states with the highest rate
            of illegal immigration. How many of those 50 million can afford it
            and choose not? People, please stay away from fascism… no need
            to surrender your decision making to a bunch of lawyers. Nothing
            in life is perfect, but it is better than people in government
            determining who lives and who dies.

            Trust me.

          • So we should surrender our lives to some greedy insurance companies?

            I’d rather trust bureaucrats than bean counters.

        • Very sorry for your loss and experience.

          Not to be insensitive, but there are many horror stories to be told here by people who are insured, too.

        • Unfortunately, your story is repeated daily in THIS country. It is not unique to countries with UHC.

          One of my husband’s patients died just last week. She was uninsured, and needed specialist care/surgery. None of the local hospitals who had that specialized care would take her. They all “had no beds available”. Hubby tried for 3 days, making calls, pleading, arguing. He could not get her any care.

          It happens EVERY DAY here, and not just to uninsured patients. Wait times and rationing are not solely a problem of UHC, they happen everywhere. Those problems can be addressed, and should be, but to hold them out as the boogieman resulting solely from UHC is false.

          • Maybe I need to look into this more…. I really only know about IBC related things, here vs. there.

            Average wait time in Canada for referral is over 16 weeks…. same
            here?

          • Well, let’s see….I just noticed an appt on my calendar for Aug 10th for my mother. Called to cancel it since she died 7 weeks ago. Does that answer your question?

        • I hope you’ll pardon me if I don’t believe you.

        • I live in Italy, we have UHC.

          Cancer treatment is very good over here. In particular women are contacted by letter every 2 years for cancer prevention. Appointments are made for free pap tests, and free breast screenings. If you can’t make it, then you can phone in and ask for another appointment at another time. Employers are obliged to let you have time off.

          Your wife obviously had a very advanced form of breast cancer if she could not wait for as long as 4 weeks. Chemio at that point would probably not have been of any use. Please don’t blame the system.

        • I don;t believe you.

          Tell us your name, and provide us with actual documentation of your claims, because people making the same kind of claims are showing up all over the blogosphere — people that have not participated in the blogs they show up at, and make anonymous accusations about the Canadian health system.

    • I live in Canada, and have since 1972 (3 years after Single Payer was implemented nationwide). In my experience, for every horror story, there are hundreds of “Oh thank heavens!” stories. I wouldn’t move back to a system of “show me the money or yer on yer own” for love nor money.

    • A troll. Are you right wing or Obama wing? Is there a difference?

  11. The only ” transparency ” I see is in the the Dem’s excuses

  12. I wouldn’t include Pelosi in this group. I think she is pushing much harder for a public option that’s worthwhile than Reid or Obama. My issue with Krugman is that he seems so satisfied with the friggen public option. My Lawd, we have huge majorities in Congress, and the majority of the public supports Medicare for All. Why is Krugman ready to settle for a vulnerable “public option”? Why not simply extend Medicare to everyone now, as it was intended to eventually be expanded to everyone? I don’t understand why Krugman was so quick to settle on this. Further, we don’t need Ben Nelson’s vote. We need 51 votes if health care is passed, as it should be, through reconciliation. Any health proposal that garnered too many votes out of this Senate would not be worth spit.

    • my SO is a conservative 68 years old. He was giving me the bullshit, “I know someone in CA story” and said “we don’t want government healthcare here”. I said “honey, you already have government healthcare” and it works a hell of a lot better private healthcare”.
      um um um.. he didn’t know what to say to that.

  13. The thing I find most interesting about all of this is the fact that congress has no problem providing money for the emergency war funding that was just passed. There really is no discussion about the money being spent on the wars in the middle east. Remember the Democrats were going to get us out of the war! What a big lie! It’s interesting that they can always find money for war but whenever the discussion of health care reform comes up both sides, Repubs and Dems, whine about the cost. How much is it costing us for all of the wars and the mental and physical anguish of the troops when they come home? http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i1DBB8JA46mzegcVniqdGeQYASwQD98TBF4G0
    Do they think we are so stupid we can’t add? The war profiteers are right there bleeding our country of our most valuable resources, our people. It’s all about the corporations. Our congress will feed the corporate masters that own them! It’s not about the people. They continue to manipulate us any way they can. I know many of you are probably doing the Twitter thing. Personally, I think it’s one more form of controlling the masses. Obama has the youth so messed up they can’t even think for themselves. It’s all about him and his “personality”. The reality is he has no personality and he is a corporate generated puppet. Someone here suggested taking to the streets. I don’t know how you get a movement going. Years ago back when Bush was in office my sister went to Detroit fo rthe annual labor day parade. Bush was going to be there and the laborers were all set to protest. They were shoved way back away from the cameras. The press didn’t even really report about it! The television press seems to be getting their news two days after it’s the Internet puts things up on Youtube. We have had people protesting the war and it goes largely unreported. Our vote was stolen here in Michigan and all I hear about is the stolen vote in Iran. The press only puts out what they want us to know. Unfortunately, we live in our own little worlds. We don’t have street parties where we really get to know our neighbors. We’re all too busy and hoping someone else will do the leg work to make things right. How do you start a revolution if we don’t start talking to our neighbors? Some how we have to demand better from politicians and break the cycle of the career politicians that are so entrenched in the good old boy Washington politics that only fulfull their own self interest. You have to wonder about that plane crash that took out Paul Wellstone! I believe he would be really fighting for health care reform and it wouldn’t be about profits for the insurance companies!

    • great post!

    • Silent Kate, on June 22nd, 2009 at 12:37 pm Said:
      The thing I find most interesting about all of this is the fact that congress has no problem providing money for the emergency war funding that was just passed. There really is no discussion about the money being spent on the wars in the middle east.

      Excellent point, plus no one said bailing out Goldman Sachs over a weekend was” too much ” either

    • Kate, just this morning I was wondering why the media was reporting the stolen election and protest in Iran and had absolutely no idea how they let the country down in Bush V Gore and the anti war protests and the protests during the bush inaugural in 2000. I remember being told by one media stooge that they were not going to televise us because they didn’t want to be used by people just seaking publicity for their partisan issues.
      Gag, do they listen to themselves?

    • Yes, the emergency “WAR” funding. What war? Is anything at all happening in Iraq? I know we’re just chasing drugs in Afghanistan.

      • I see where 5 soldiers died this past week, so there must be plenty happening there. I suspect it isn’t all going as we have been told.

  14. No Thank you, on June 22nd, 2009 at 12:43 pm Said: ……. Nothing in life is perfect, but it is better than people in government determining who lives and who dies. Trust me.

    I agree. Because I feel those in power now want to wreck what I would call a government. But I would say those running the medical the insurance companies for profit now aren’t any great shakes either… After seeing them in action, I don’t want them determining who lives and who dies either….and they do that and give bonuses for denying people coverage. Could government be worse? Let’s find out…but never fear! We won’t get UHC. If it was in the cards at all , Hill would still be in the Senate. IMO

  15. myiq2xu, on June 22nd, 2009 at 12:54 pm Said:
    So we should surrender our lives to some greedy insurance companies?

    I’d rather trust bureaucrats than bean counters.

    Lord, yes

  16. AMERICA’S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY!

    It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.

    STAND READY AMERICA TO SEIZE CONTROL OF YOUR NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.

    We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

    And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

    Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

    Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

    In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

    Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

    God Bless You

    Jacksmith – WORKING CLASS

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