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Is the individual mandate really the hill progressives want to die on?

2012 April 2
by Ian Welsh

Really?

The individual mandate is lousy policy.  It always was.  It is especially lousy policy without a large (100 million +) public option.  The health care plan is, for all intents and purposes, a 90′s Heritage plan.

This?  This is what progressives want to fight for?

BMaz has a good article up on whether the bill is Constitutional.  Me, I don’t know if it’s Constitutional.  But what I do know is that if I were a conservative Justice, I’d want to just strike down the individual mandate and leave the rest in place, because I would laugh myself sick every night watching Obama have to kill the bill himself, getting rid of guaranteed issue, community ratings, and so on.  Because Obama would have to, and would.  He made a deal with the health insurance companies.  In exchange for some concessions, what they received in exchange was every American being forced to buy their shitty product.  And while Obama doesn’t keep promises to left wingers, he does keep promises to people like the CEOs of health insurance companies.

Still, watching “progressives” defending the individual mandate is just another reminder of why I don’t call myself a progressive.

Go and die on a hill, for forcing Americans to buy shitty insurance from evil companies which aren’t properly regulated.

I’ll just sit here on the sidelines laughing myself sick.  With progressives like these, who needs right wingers?

105 Responses
  1. April 2, 2012

    Too true! I never seriously considered that the conservatives might kill the mandate alone. You’re right, that would be hilarious. Not really, but entertaining in a bitter way. But not in a million years will Scalito and Thomas let that happen. They completely lack the intelligence, imagination and creativity for a stunt like that. Plus, that would not please their minders, who are the same minders who own POTUS. But Obama spending the last 6 months of his presidency dismantling “his legacy” (as Digby calls it in her delusions) would be such poetic justice.

  2. Ian Welsh permalink*
    April 2, 2012

    Oh, I think Obama is going to get a second term. He doesn’t deserve one, and he’s done everything he could to make sure he wouldn’t get one, but the Republicans are such a disaster that I think he’ll win. (And I don’t think the Republicans really want it that badly, either.)

    Of course, my record of presidential predictions is so abysmal that I’m probably a contrary indicator, so maybe Obama will lose.

  3. Pepe permalink
    April 2, 2012

    I’d want to just strike down the individual mandate and leave the rest in place, because I would laugh myself sick every night watching Obama have to kill the bill himself,

    That would be great theater, and might be the only thing cheering me up this election season. Consider the situation in which either the mandate or the entire law gets ruled unconstitutional: the White House has NO contingency plan. Fucking hilarious.

    I’m with Glen Ford on this, and think that Obama is the more effective evil than the Rs, not the lesser evil.

  4. April 2, 2012

    Do you want to die on the hill of “public option”?

    Its essential characteristic is giving the appearance of offering broad coverage and meaningful competition to insurance profiteers, a very handy and sadly effective tool for taking single payer and socialized medicine off the table.

    Not one of the well-placed advocates for “public option” took a stand as “PO” became defined (to the extent it was) as something small enough for Grover Obama to drown in a bathtub–only carping that they didn’t get bragging rights of something, anything called “Public Option” being passed.

    Every time a sensible person legitimizes “public option,” a health-industry fatcat gets his or her horns.

  5. nihil obstet permalink
    April 2, 2012

    I’m still of the opinion that the Court will uphold the mandate — the so-called health reform was all about how to funnel taxpayer money to the insurance companies and hospitals. The Roberts Court has never seen a business privilege that it didn’t fall on its knees offering up to its friends.

    The alternative is to see the Court as more interested in being an electoral politics player. They may have come to that, living in the elite bubble. But as you say, the Republicans don’t even want the presidency. They can get more from Obama, and all the craptacular policy and its results gets blamed on liberalism.

  6. Ian Welsh permalink*
    April 2, 2012

    My record on the public option, at the time, speaks for itself, thanks. If a 100 million strong public option was in place, I would support it. That, however, was never going to happen, and I said so at the time.

  7. April 2, 2012

    Fact is, though, that “public option’s” salient characteristic is ability to fool progressives into believing it’s either a panacea or a good foothold, regardless of its size and terms. Qualifiers like “robust” and “strong” and big size targets reliably fall away.

    Not saying you’d be fooled by a shitty version of “public option,” but keeping that sneaky chameleon on the table is an invitation for fool-me-twice by most left/lib/progressives.

    It’s a goal on wheels that the powers that be move around… and the hip “public option” advocates love to get everyone chasing it. Doesn’t the big blogs’ and activist groups’ track record from the year of healthcare reform debate speak for itself to that effect?

  8. Pepe permalink
    April 2, 2012

    I wouldn’t be surprised however the Supreme Court ruling comes down. I could see Roberts, who was essentially chosen by the US Chamber of Commerce, upholding the mandate, and pulling Kennedy along with him for a 6-3 pro vote. On the other hand, a 5-4 vote striking down the mandate (with Roberts and Kennedy in the majority).

    Based on the oral arguments alone, I would lean to the 5-4 vote striking the mandate, but that’s just a guess, really.

  9. Pepe permalink
    April 2, 2012

    @vastleft

    I’d love to see the big blogs financials from the time around the health care debate. There must be a better reason that they banned all talk about single payer (and mocked commenters who brought it up) and pushed “public option.” I mean – I hope some money changed hands, and it wasn’t merely ass-kissing and strategy phone calls from the West Wing.

  10. April 2, 2012

    The solution for an overpriced crappy healthcare delivery system is not to make sure more people participate in it. It is to change the fundamental basis of the system; to eliminate the ability of surgeons to own the hospitals in which they operate, and the clinicians to own the skyscrapers in which their clinics are located.

    The key is that the mandate is that people but a priduct from an essentially unregulated industry. Utterly insane.

  11. LorenzoStDuBois permalink
    April 2, 2012

    This is a very good post and discussion.

    Vast-Left and/or Ian, could you please stop disagreeing with each other? I love you both to death and the disagreement is making my heart hurt.

    As for predilictating on the outcome, it’s an interesting case of the immovable object and unstoppable force. The silly hyper-partisanship that is very real (remember Bush v. Gore) vs. the fact in Washington that money writes policy, and you would expect a Roberts Court to follow suit in that respect.

    So will they be good party members or good special interest cronies? I think the court has broken enough from its history of an appearance of independence with the advent of Roberts that we can pretty much lump them in with the rest of Washington and say they’ll rule according to the money. Also, Wall Street doesn’t seem to be worried in the least.

    Of course, like most around these parts, I’m definitely rooting for a mandate-kill, definitely for the entertainment value, but also for the fact that the stock of single-payer will rise, slightly.

  12. April 2, 2012

    @pepe Bingo!

    It was eerie how quickly and universally all the big Professional Left playas suddenly got religion on such a wafty concept as “public option,” how sharp their elbows were to people pushing, y’know, proven solutions, etc. There was no public discussion of which horse to back, and no shame about backing such a phantom horse. And no second thoughts when the “PO” got whittled down to all-but-nothing, it was all about proving their savvy with a nominal win (plus whatever other benefits that may have accrued).

    Funny coincidence, huh?

  13. April 2, 2012

    @LorenzoStDuBois, it is awfully rare for me to disagree with Ian.

    But I have nominated myself to be the “public option” police, nagging people to reconsider treating it as a lost opportunity, because its essential characteristic was and remains being a tool for squandering the opportunity for real HCR.

    It’s a huge blight on progressive policy debate, and barely anyone is prepared to come to terms with how and why it came to be the coin of the realm and at the cost of diverting interest from quite popular ideas like single-payer. It’s a zombie that few people recognize for the threat it is.

  14. LorenzoStDuBois permalink
    April 2, 2012

    BTW VastLeft, I thought you should know that Websense at my work blocks your website as a Security Threat, which I’m guessing is just a pretense, but thought you should know.

  15. April 2, 2012

    @LorenzoStDuBois, first I’ve heard of it, thanks! I guess my free-speech zone got a little smaller.

  16. beowulf permalink
    April 2, 2012

    What’s interesting is that the conservative justices want to kill the entire bill (since Harry Reid removed the boilerplate severability clause, I suppose in a sad attempt to play chicken with the Supreme Court), if the mandate is struck down, the Administration argued that the community rating and must-issue rules should be struck down as well (for no discernible legal reason).

    I can imagine one or two Democratic justices (Sotomayor, say or Breyer) agreeing to support striking down the mandate, thus removing the appearance of a partisan action, on condition that the rest of the bill be left intact. That would leave Obama scrambling, as Ian notes, to kill the bill himself to keep the insurance industry happy.

  17. groo permalink
    April 2, 2012

    well, from a European perspective the US debate about socialized medicine and such sounds outright crazy.
    Not that we Europeans found the golden rule.
    Far from that.
    But the French, German, British medical systems have about half the expenses of the US-system.
    You know that.

    This is a complex issue.
    The US-system has legal issues, to protect doctors and clinics from costly legal battles.
    This feeds a whole foodchain of profiteers, e.g. lawyers.
    Pharmaceutical company-propaganda and the outright creation of ‘illnesses’ are another case.

    This is no market, because a sick individual is no ‘homo oeconomicus’, but a person needing care, and a rationality, replacing their temporarily missing one, carefully restoring their autonomy.
    Such a system is lacking globally, but at least it could be a perspective, what would be the right thing to do.

    The Republican fringe does not seem to understand this (democrats not so different) , and seems to say:
    Care for yourself, and pay for it, or die. Under any circumstance.

    See all that as a self-serving system, where the sick individual is an object of exploitation.

    The overarching issue seems to be a a politics of fear, disguised as a politics of self-empowerment.
    The retardesd lot of republicans seems to live in a 19th-century world. Indians, guns, scalps, fights, law in statu nascendi.

    And it works quite well.

    I call this infantile regression.
    It is not the gun in your hand, but the thumb in your mouth.

  18. Morocco Bama permalink
    April 2, 2012

    Couldn’t agree more, Ian. Without the mandate, this thing fails, period. To me, it was always as you described…..a failure from the get go for The Masses. It was always meant to extend the failing health insurance business model another decade or more that would otherwise fail sooner. To me, anything short of single payer is a failure, so once again, you’re much too lenient. And to think, you’ve been criticized for being too harsh.

    Speaking of failed business models, everything these days is a failed business model….and that’s why I think these greedy plutocratic bastards are going for broke. They know the end is nigh, so they’re raking it all in while they can…before it all goes completely bust.

  19. StewartM permalink
    April 2, 2012

    Interesting points…

    1) Both the Obama Administration and the bill opponents are arguing that the mandate is an essential and integral part of the bill, and cannot be severed. The court had to appoint its own advocate, H. Bartow Farr, to argue that it was severed. AND…the usual severability clause was removed from the bill before final passage.

    So, we are left to conclude that Obama and the Republicans agree that from their point of view, they’d rather see the whole bill be struck down rather than just the individual mandate (because then it becomes a marginally better law).

    -StewartM

  20. BDBlue permalink
    April 2, 2012

    I thought Stuart Zechman did a nice job on the idea of the healthcare bill as some sort of progressive achievement – here. What kills me is that even now a lot of big progressive blogs still like to down-sell single payer even as they endorse it.* It’s like they can’t help themselves. They were smart not to fight for single payer because it would’ve lost so let’s all rally around and hope the Supremes don’t strike down the Dole/McCain/Romney healthcare plan. And how ironic if the conservatives kill the Heritage Foundation’s plan and, in the process, save universal healthcare.

    * I mean, I get it, they’re partisan hacks, but still it’s depressing.

  21. April 2, 2012

    The progressives … as a whole, I’m sure there are exceptions … are a lot worse that I had thought they were back in 2009. I actually thought back then that they stood for something more than blindly backing obama and the democratic party and would eventually come around and realize that obama was nothing more than the head pr man of the establishment who dutifully represented the plutocrats’ interests over ours. Well, they got more than enough proof to come to that conclusion … actually the fisa bill turnabout and sellout before he ever got into office should have been enough for that … but they still loyally back obama and the dems no matter what the hell they do even when he does things that were worse than the things they used to jump all over bush for back when they used to posture like they had principals. It’s been quite a spectacle and they have accomplished very little except to continue to corral people into their tribe and get them to vote for the extremely corrupt democratic party and try to co-opt and thwart any movements from the left that don’t pledge their allegiance to their precious party.

    Now they are off on their latest stunt: obfuscating the issues about the aca bill. But hey, I suppose they have to back “their” president during an election year. Except that he ain’t their president, they’re his idiots.

    Z

  22. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 3, 2012

    Z PERMALINK
    April 2, 2012
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Pretty hard to argue against your point; even if I hadn’t left in ’03, that marked the end of my ever voting again.
    The greatest trick ever played on the American people was getting them to consistently vote against their own self interests; and 9/11 had nothing to do with that.
    Cheers.

  23. April 3, 2012

    With luck the Roberts Court will die on that hill.

    Circle, circle, circle…

  24. April 3, 2012

    Vastleft:
    And who, pray tell, do you consider “The Professional Left”?

  25. John Puma permalink
    April 3, 2012

    To groo:

    Yes, our “healthcare” system treats the sick as profit centers and no more.

    But you give what sounds a bit much like the reich-wing slant when you say: “The US-system has legal issues, to protect doctors and clinics from costly legal battles. This feeds a whole foodchain of profiteers, e.g. lawyers.”

    First, there DO exist incompetent doctors, the effects of whose, sometimes hideous, mistakes are legitimately revealed and repaid. No injured patient could possibly represent themselves in court and the incessant demands for “tort reform” are no more than an effort to limit access of the individual to the legal system.

    Two, the reputedly outrageous cost for malpractice insurance is on the order of 1% of healthcare costs and perhaps 5% of the healthcare insurance “overhead.” Of course, who, exactly, is to blame for the horror stories of doctors having to quit practice due to excessive INSURANCE costs? No “tort reform” legislation would ever include malpractice insurance caps.

    The medical insurance industry “overhead,” variously quoted at 15-20%, is comprised of executive bonuses, armies of workers finding ways to refuse/reduce payment and the legions of THEIR OWN expensive lawyers to cover them all.

    Medicare is reputed to operate at 2-3% overhead. Perhaps this is why our proudly, and aggressively, ignorant teabaggers want the government to keep it’s hands off “their” Medicare.

    Are European doctors perfect? How does your system deal with patients injured by medical malpractice?

  26. April 3, 2012

    @Phil, the big Professional Left pushers of the “public option” included Open Left (Chris Bowers, in particular), Firedoglake (primarily Jane Hamsher and house HCAN fixture Jason Rosenbaum), Digby, and activist groups like MoveOn. And, lest we forget, Howard Dean, “paid advocate for interest groups that would find few fans among the progressive voters,” whose “Stand with Dr. Dean” campaign helped seduce early supporters of the great HCR nothingburger.

    Most of the big blogs (and Prof Left journalists, as well) followed suit, pushing the vaporous “public option,” and writing little to nothing about single payer. All along, and to this day, with no one answering questions like how a wet noodle like “public option” suddenly and completely dominated the conversation in top-tier blogs and advocacy groups… let alone how such a “policy” of undetermined size and benefits would, and would be allowed to, meaningfully compete with the monied interests who drove the whole HCR process.

  27. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 3, 2012

    vastleft PERMALINK
    April 3, 2012
    @Phil, the big Professional Left pushers of the “public option” included Open Left (Chris Bowers, in particular), Firedoglake (primarily Jane Hamsher and house HCAN fixture Jason Rosenbaum), Digby, and activist groups like MoveOn. And, lest we forget, Howard Dean, “paid advocate for interest groups that would find few fans among the progressive voters,” whose “Stand with Dr. Dean” campaign helped seduce early supporters of the great HCR nothingburger.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    That’s a pretty good compilation; the galoot’s of one side against the galoots of the other; who needs galoots?
    None of us who cherish our individuality.
    But then, some of us stay just outside of the crush…

  28. April 3, 2012

    Sorry, I did not mean that I believe Obama is a one termer, just that it would be such poetic justice if he was and if he spent the last 6 months in office campaigning while dismantling his legacy. I agree that he is the lesser yet more effective form of evil, and so he will be the choice of the evil rich “illuminati”. And for those speculating that he would let the prior existing conditions and other legislation stay in place if the individual mandate were struck down by itself, it is team Obama that is arguing that those have to be struck down together.

  29. April 3, 2012

    I wrote a long screed here but deleted it, since y’all don’t want to read it. I simply cannot understand in what universe you would think that if Obamacare/Romneycare hadn’t passed, single-payer would be any closer. News flash: single-payer true universal health insurance (==care) isn’t and never was an actual part of the discussion, Obamacare wasn’t promulgated as a way to prevent the route to the Promised Land.

    The reason why progressives fear the Supreme Court on the mandate front is that the arguments against the mandate are in a fundamental way identical to the arguments against single payer. They are the arguments against anything that looks, even symbolically, to be an extension of insurance/care to the uninsured.

  30. April 3, 2012

    Mandos, in what universe does taking the only proven solutions to a problem off the table at the outset of negotiations help lead to an optimal outcome?

    Unless one were trying to solve a different “problem,” that is.

  31. April 3, 2012

    The universe in which it is not a literal negotiation between roughly equal partners. In that universe, single payer is brought to the table, summarily rejected for communism, and nothing happens for some unpredictable amount of time later, until something similar to Obamacare is passed by a Republican administration and upheld by the Supreme Court.

    THAT universe.

  32. April 3, 2012

    As opposed to ObamaCare, which received so much Republican support and was never conflated with communism or challenged in court.

  33. April 3, 2012

    The underlying problem is that it is not possible in the USA to have a discussion about “proven solutions” to real problems, because there is the deadweight of a huge chunk (a minority, but large enough) of the public who are willfully and knowingly accepting of corrupt media bamboozlement, who have a vicious mentality, and who have brownshirted political unity about certain issues.

    In that universe, there only solutions that remain are to (1) permit collapse of some sort or (2) negotiate with one hand tied behind one’s back with entities whose maximum is much higher than any rational minimum. The insurance industry had to be enlisted in a (yes, certainly) corrupt compromise to prevent imminent collapse (in case you want to believe that I would ascribe altruistic motives to the principals here).

    But that is relitigating 2009 onwards. Which we can do all over again for fun, I suppose, but I don’t want to waste that time.

    When it comes to the Supreme Court, here and now, the individual mandate and single payer and all of a piece. They are seen as accomplishing the same end—allowing the socialization of risk for ordinary people—and that privilege is verboten and reserved only for the rich and powerful. The mandate would be allowed if it were the Republicans who passed it under a Republican president (or there would be no question, since we don’t have the judgement yet and it could be in favour of the mandate). But right now any policy on health care, when passed by a Democrat, generates the wrong symbol.

  34. April 3, 2012

    As opposed to ObamaCare, which received so much Republican support and was never conflated with communism or challenged in court.

    It had the acceptance of the insurance industry, and was therefore allowed to meet the technical requirements needed to pass. Or did you forget that there is a procedure by which laws are passed, even now?

  35. groo permalink
    April 3, 2012

    John Puma,

    …Are European doctors perfect? How does your system deal with patients injured by medical malpractice?…

    No.
    Ofcourse not.

    In my country doctors are very protected from malpractice.
    It got better (from a patients perspective), but still has to get better. And it will. The ‘system’ has some flexibility to the better side.

    What the REAL problem -methinks- is, is the pharmaceutical companies.
    They have the REAL lobbying power, and, as a side-effect, also protect their front(wo)men, the doctors.
    In Europe eg there was the Contergan scandal of the 1960s, with 10000 people affected.
    Another case would be the recent silicon-breast-implant-scandal, where industrial silicone has been used.
    And there are lots of comparable other cases.
    The companies either went bankrupt already or pay a minimal fee.
    To ruin a life costs approx 50-100k$.
    In the US this maybe 50million, with 40million going to the lawyer.
    What a wonderful world.
    The fight against the Cuban approach as displayed by Michael Moore, has some plausibility, right?
    Because the Cuban healthcare-system is diametrically opposed to the US-American one, and is approx. >10times more efficient, the US-Ciceros repeatedly say: “Ceterum censeo, Cuba deletam esse” (pun intended.)

    Thanks to the army of lawyers the system is kept alive.
    This is lobbying by another name.

    Now, what makes medicare so expensive in the US?
    Double that of other industrialized countries, and possibly severalfold that, what it needs to be, without any loss of efficiency, measured as average life-expectancy.

    Final question.
    Why do you think that the US is deadlast in the industrialized world wrt to this ‘efficiency-measure’?

    The system is ‘efficient’ wrt the system, not the patients.
    It is parasitic in the genuine sense, and you have to find out why the parasite, which originally should be a symbiont, has grown to such monstrous proportions, that it nowadays, as some say, has has invested the brain, and convinced the host, that this is all in the hosts best interest.
    This nearly sound as a right-wing-conspiracy. It is not!

    It is a constant fight, to be sure.
    Everywhere.

    NB:
    And because all follies in the US are role models for the rest of the west, count me as concerned.

    G.
    OK?

  36. John Puma permalink
    April 3, 2012

    I’d suggest that not only ” … is that it is not possible in the USA to have a discussion about ‘proven solutions’ to real problems” but the more critical and pressing a problem that needs addressing, the less chance the problem will allowed even to be acknowledged to exist, much less solutions explored.

  37. April 3, 2012

    Mandos, did you forget the procedure by which laws are passed? Wholly owned politicians of one or both parties pass them. But it’s all for the best in the only possible of all possible worlds.

  38. Pepe permalink
    April 3, 2012

    the arguments against the mandate are in a fundamental way identical to the arguments against single payer

    Not true actually. If the government withheld monies via a payroll tax as in SS or medicare, that is a “tax” and not a “penalty” for failing to purchase independently. Congress has the power to tax.

    And the day the SC finds either SS or medicare unconstitutional is the day the Court becomes completely irrelevant (or 5 justices find themselves impeached).

  39. April 3, 2012

    Mandos, did you forget the procedure by which laws are passed? Wholly owned politicians of one or both parties pass them. But it’s all for the best in the only possible of all possible worlds.

    Sure. If you believe that that is the only factor involved here, then what you would be thinking about is how to own a party.

    Or is it the case that all of this was just about validating your magical thinking? About giving you an excuse to draw sophomoric cartoons spewing contempt for well-meaning mainstream liberals? Because, of course, grassroots political coalitions are built on sneering contempt for well-meaning members of the majority…

  40. April 3, 2012

    And the day the SC finds either SS or medicare unconstitutional is the day the Court becomes completely irrelevant (or 5 justices find themselves impeached).

    Or they’ll do you one better, and find universal medicare unconstitutional for [insert some predictable sophistry here], but find old people Medicare and SS acceptable.

    However, this is all hypothetical. Chances are they won’t want to mess with the interstate commerce thing and agree to uphold the law. I’m only bemused by the mental contortions this situation has created, with some people finding any reason to hold their nearest mainstream counterparts in more contempt than their actual political opponents.

  41. John Puma permalink
    April 3, 2012

    To groo:

    What fraction of the total medical system cost goes to protect doctors from malpractice claims?

    Everything in the US is magnified well beyond logical extremes. I do not deny large settlements are announced, just that very few are “paid in full.” This another function of the corporations’ trial lawyers, to allow the “legal” refusal to pay judgments. There is no mechanism to assure enforcement of court awards.

    As Mandos has pointed out, the double standard ignores, or even glorifies the legal technicians of the rich, but the individual plaintiff and his/her attorney are demonized for considering a suit against the insurance companies.

    While the reich-media fulminates about “excessive” settlements to individuals there is essentially NO discussion that most settlements are awarded in, and most of the courts’ time is taken up with, corporate claims against other corporations.

    I see no great difference in the insurance (all forms) and pharmaceutical industries. They are close enough in reprehensibility to not warrant the effort to determine which is worse.

    Why are US healthcare costs so high? Good question.

    In general, we are the seat of predatory capitalism. We are (or were) generally wealthy, so something as important as maximizing longevity and enjoyability of life is not a right as any rational, compassionate, LIFE-LOVING society would insist but no more than another way to turn a handsome profit.

    Also, while there are hardly any unions left to trash, the strong doctors’ union, the AMA, limits the number of physicians allowed in the supply and demand game. Double standard again.

    A couple articles:
    http://tinyurl.com/bs59pdf
    http://tinyurl.com/ck4t5x4

    A google search will have you hip deep in them.

  42. Pepe permalink
    April 3, 2012

    [insert some predictable sophistry here]

    If it’s so predictable, please explain it to me. Hinge it on an actual legal principle, please.

    Chances are they won’t want to mess with the interstate commerce thing and agree to uphold the law

    No, they’ll pretty much have to address it. The only question is how they’ll rule (and I think Roberts and Kennedy are the potential swing voters here).

    some people finding any reason to hold their nearest mainstream counterparts in more contempt than their actual political opponents.

    My Mainstream allies? I think the so-called liberals/progressives pushing the badly-named Affordable Care Act as progressive are a bunch of fucking idiots.

  43. beowulf permalink
    April 3, 2012

    Speaking of magical thining..

    As Jon Chait and Ezra Klein have (belatedly) noted in the last few days, Medicare can be expanded with a filibuster-proof reconciliation bill. Think about it. Obama had 59, and then. for a few months, 60 Dem votes in the Senate. He needed every single one to pass Obamacare. If he had pushed a Medicare for All bill (even Ted Kennedy’s watered down version that’d let consumers opt out for private insurance), he only needed 50 Senate votes to pass it, with Joe Biden breaking the tie.
    Unless you’re going to rationalize away everything Obama does as the best, smartest, bravest thing anyone could possibly do, there is no non-corrupt reason for Obama walking away from a 50 vote plan in order to enact a 60 vote plan, especially when the former had the added advantage of being constitutional.

  44. April 3, 2012

    And I’m still catching my breath over the arrogance and audacity of VL using that “best of all possible worlds” quip on me. If he really believed that, why would he limit his ambitions to something so fundamentally mainstream and modest as single-payer health care? Is that the best of all possible worlds? Really?

    As Mandos has pointed out, the double standard ignores, or even glorifies the legal technicians of the rich, but the individual plaintiff and his/her attorney are demonized for considering a suit against the insurance companies.

    While I thoroughly agree with this, I’m not sure that it was me who pointed this out in any recent time.

  45. April 3, 2012

    OK, so we are going to relitigate this again:

    If he had pushed a Medicare for All bill (even Ted Kennedy’s watered down version that’d let consumers opt out for private insurance), he only needed 50 Senate votes to pass it, with Joe Biden breaking the tie.

    Senators 51 through 60 were an alibi. For anyone who (quite possibly justly) believes that the US political system is thoroughly corrupt, and that it’s not just a few bad Dem eggs, why would you imagine that if push really came to shove, Senators 25 through 50 would have come through on the reconciliation thing? They felt safe in publicly supporting various version of the ACA because they had Joe Lieberman to hide behind. Joe Lieberman, who had no shame about publicly nixing anything that looked like it would disintermediate the private insurance companies, and saying openly that was why he did it!

  46. April 3, 2012

    “The progressives … as a whole, I’m sure there are exceptions … are a lot worse that I had thought they were back in 2009. I actually thought back then that they stood for something more than blindly backing obama”

    Same here. I actually think there is more integrity on the Republican side, since they will actually throw out the odd politician who doesn’t meet their standards–even if it hurts them in the short term.

    And please stop referring to Obama as “the lesser evil” as someone did. No Republican has asserted the right to assasinate Americans or start a war without Congressional approval like Obama did. And if anyone manages to cut Social Security or Medicare it will be Obama, not a Republican.

  47. April 3, 2012

    My Mainstream allies? I think the so-called liberals/progressives pushing the badly-named Affordable Care Act as progressive are a bunch of fucking idiots.

    Eh, I was mostly taking another jab at Vastleft and his cute little cartoon series and T-shirt line.

    If it’s so predictable, please explain it to me. Hinge it on an actual legal principle, please.

    Why? On which legal principle was Bush v. Gore hinged, aside from Scalia’s “We wants it”? IANAL, but I could see some kind of hacked up interpretation of the takings clause being deployed. ie, insurers don’t want to cover the old so Medicare>65 isn’t depriving them of a market, etc. Who knows, like I said, IANAL, but almost anything can be read into the constitution, especially by “originalists” or whatever they’re calling themselves today.

  48. April 3, 2012

    Beowulf,

    Parts of obamacare were passed through reconciliation. When it became clear that it was going to have to be passed through reconciliation, obama finally got off his ass … after posturing like he had been sitting on the sidelines above the fray (while he actually was directing the action behind the scenes through proxies like joe lieberman) as it got continually altered per health care corporate interests’ wishes. He then rushed in to make sure it was consistent with the dirty backroom deals he did with the hospitals, the pharmas and the health care insurance companies becoz he lost his filibuster excuse as to why a public option, negotiated drug prices, and drug re-importation had to be excluded from it.

    Nototious P.A.T.,

    I’m going with the “more effective evil” monicker that I’ve been hearing lately.

    Z

  49. April 3, 2012

    “I’m going with the “more effective evil” monicker that I’ve been hearing lately.”

    That’s fine, but I just can’t abide “lesser evil”.

  50. StewartM permalink
    April 3, 2012

    Mandos:

    The underlying problem is that it is not possible in the USA to have a discussion about “proven solutions” to real problems, because there is the deadweight of a huge chunk (a minority, but large enough) of the public who are willfully and knowingly accepting of corrupt media bamboozlement,

    That’s because said “corrupt media bamboozlement” hooks into some of the most cherished myths of the culture. Rejecting the bamboozlement means also rejecting those cherished beliefs, and correspondingly acceptance of truths that they’d rather not accept.

    I might add that most people, including those on the left, follow this course at one time or another. It’s just a matter of varying degrees of practice.

    -StewartM

  51. April 3, 2012

    Yes, there are far too many progressives who want to die on that hill. Who can blame them? After all, there’s nothing more romantic than losing a hopeless battle over something that wasn’t worth fighting for in the first place.

    I hope that the mandate is killed, but the Medicaid expansion is not. That strikes me both rational and supported by precedent. IANAL, and what I think is rational is probably a contrary indicator to what the Supreme Court will do. It’s certainly been a contrary indicator to what the other two branches of government have done recently.

  52. April 3, 2012

    Shit, “die on a hill”? They’ll dig their own grave and then die in that if obama asks them to …

    Z

  53. April 3, 2012

    … anything to support “their” president.

    Z

  54. April 4, 2012

    I don’t think many progressives are going to be dying on this hill. There’s nothing left to fight for. But the court…

    The Roberts Courts bids fair to be the worst since the Taney Court. Since, so far as I can see, there’s no good reason to declare this unconstitutional, they’re going to have to make something up, and it will probably be destructive. Weakening the legal authority the Federal government derives from the commerce clause, and probably in some ambiguous way that no-one will be able to predict or understand, is a good bet, but anything is possible.

    That metaphorical hill people may literally die on.

    Circle, circle, circle.

    Still not voting for Obama. I lack the stomach for it. (And no, I’m not voting for the Republican candidate, either.)

  55. Pepe permalink
    April 4, 2012

    there’s no good reason to declare this [ACA] unconstitutional … Weakening the legal authority the Federal government derives from the commerce clause

    The ACA’s use of the Commerce Clause is unprecedented, and even the Congressional Research Service said that it its constitutionality is “unclear”. I really don’t see how the mandate can be constitutional.

  56. April 4, 2012

    The Raven,

    If you are interested in reading some different views on whether “there’s no good reason to declare this unconstitutional”:

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/04/01/requiem-for-aca-at-scotus-legitimacy-of-court-and-case/

    Z

  57. Morocco Bama permalink
    April 4, 2012

    Progressives are already dead, they just don’t know it. They’ve been dead for quite some time now. They’re Zombies. There’s a reason Zombie movies are en vogue these days….it’s because there are so many walking about these days, IRL. It’s perfect metaphor for society and goes hand in hand with the vampire craze that’s so ubiquitous these days.

    Night of The Living Progressives IV

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5IRI4oHKNU

    It’s way too late for them “to say they’re sorry” (per the song), not that they would, anyway. Zombies are not responsible for their behavior. How could they be. They’re not alive.

  58. Hugh permalink
    April 4, 2012

    Difference in nomenclature. What you call “progressives”, I call Establishment liberals and others call faux progressives. In general, these are people who are Democratic tribalists or can’t see anything except in terms of the two legacy parties. So why wouldn’t they follow Obama and the Democrats over the cliff on the individual mandate? These are the same people who championed a contentless public option and got angrier at real progressives supporting universal single payer than they did at either Republicans or the Democrats who sold them out.

    These are the people who railed against Bush’s excesses, cronyism, and corporatism and went silent when Obama embraced and expanded on these. The mandate is really nothing new or different but rather the latest in a long list of their hypocricies.

  59. April 4, 2012

    And these are the progressives … like moveon.org … that later threatened to primary any democrats that voted against a bill that DIDN’T have a public option in it.

    If the supremes just sever the individual mandate … and keep the rest of the bill completely intact … not only would it be fun watching obama trying to dismantle his own bill becoz it doesn’t have the mandate (while still attempting to conceal the obvious truth that he was blatantly looking out for corporate interests in this bill over the people’s), it would also be awfully amusing watching moveon.org changing their position from first demanding a public option in the bill; to then threatening to primary any democrat that voted against a bill that DIDN’T have a public option in it a week later (because of all the “good things” in it); to now taking the stance that the bill is completely unacceptable if we aren’t forced to buy insurance from private for-profit insurance companies. They’d probably swing it though, and file it all under “we got to support our president during an election year”.

    Z

  60. April 4, 2012

    “Still not voting for Obama.”

    Me neither. F**k him. No one who thinks he can order me killed gets my vote. Why in the world would he?

  61. David Farrell permalink
    April 4, 2012

    There isnt a difference between giving up and being on the sidelines, and if you’re still spending time to pay attention that objectively makes it more pitiful. I’ve read your blog for sometime now, ever more impressed but always dismayed ok you’re smarted or more practiced than me something constructive more often would be nice. You say you spent years trying and now you’re done, cant win dont try; the path is to a lower quality of life, how is slower worse than nothing. Impeding the elite is better than stepping aside, this wont end anytime soon regardless slowing it down reduces the chance of irreverisable domination.

  62. April 4, 2012

    Vastleft:
    Sorry for being so slow in my response. So those groups are the “Professional Left.” What about the other groups who told us that we should STFU and just accept what ever Congress and the President decided was good enough? After all, it was some of those same people of the “Professional Left” that made people aware that the bill was being written by Big Pharma and other corporate interests. So it was a mixed bag with those you named.

  63. April 4, 2012

    I think Jane Hamsher distinguished herself from the rest on that list becoz at least she exposed the obama administration’s duplicity and corrupt backroom deals, aggressively whipped for the public option, reported on the progressive caucus’ caving, and didn’t later turn face and lobby her readers to support a bill WITHOUT a public option.

    Was she wrong to muffle the calls for single payer on her blog? Yeah, I believe so for multiple reasons. But, again, at least she didn’t acquiesce to the obama administration’s call to support the piece of shit that the bill turned out to be.

    Z

  64. Bruce Wilder permalink
    April 4, 2012

    I don’t know about the constitutional issues — I’m inclined to believe that there are no legitimate constitutional issues to dispute, but IANAL — but I do understand something of psychology of “progressives” who will invest a lot of emotional energy in this fight, over the mandate, and over Obama’s second-time-around candidacy.

    The phrase I hear, repeatedly, with Obama-as-candidate and with the mandate and Obamacare in general, is: “what’s the [practical] alternative?” The implication, which is usually made explicit, is that there isn’t one. Obama is better than Romney and ACA is an incremental improvement in the healthcare system, and shut-the-f-up[!]. Sometimes, this is expanded into some kind of argument for the possibility of incremental change over a long period of time; I am even hearing about Hilary 2016 (won’t that be peachy keen? — a long game.

    There’s an old adage about not making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good, but this is something new: now the “Better” is to be the Enemy of the Good: something, which is not-good, is promoted as “better” than the alternative, and therefore a justified choice.

    At the core of support for Obama and for the ACA mandate, I think, is an unwillingness to face the twin facts of powerlessness and hopelessness (within the existing political order). Powerlessness is the first hard reality to grasp — that political power has been grasped by a plutocracy, which assigns only a bit part to the tribes of voters, which tribes are organized to be manipulated by and as part of televised political theatre. The deeper and more serious reality is that radical change is necessary just to avoid systemic collapse. Denial on the first count aids denial on the second. Focus on the foreground detail, to avoid recognizing the full ominous shape in the landscape background.

    So, yes, “progressives” really would prefer to die on this hill, so to speak. It avoids admitting their powerlessness to influence policy in any substantive way, by either judicial reasoning or electoral campaigning. And, denying their powerlessness avoids admitting responsibility for the colossal acts of negligence, which have followed one upon another for a generation, and continue . . .

  65. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 5, 2012

    Bruce Wilder
    April 4, 2012

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You hit the important points, at least for me; powerlessness, the necessity for radical change, and denial. Denial floats back and forth, between the beginning and the end of the problem, IMO.
    Thus my intransigent pessimism. IME, true change isn’t incremental; it’s sudden and generally radical. The truth of this is an oft taught aspect of Buddhist mystics regarding human nature.
    True change is most difficult and in these times of intended/directed turmoil, it becomes even more difficult.

  66. April 5, 2012

    From the progressive-democrat-obama supporters that I’ve dealt with, I think a lot of the reason that they continue to vote D is ego. In general, too many people make an emotional investment in being right and are unwilling to admit that they are wrong and hence correct course; these people are certainly no exception to that.

    This whole “lesser evil” approach … sorry, Notorious P.A.T., but this is the first time that I’ve ever used that term … is rife with self-deceit built upon this quixotic foundation that your vote alone stands between the lesser and the “worser” of two evils when in fact your individual vote is statistically insignificant. All the “pragmatic” nonsense is concocted primarily to justify why they continue to do what they’ve always done: vote for democrats no matter what the democrats do. When faced with their rampant hypocrisies in supporting candidates that don’t represent what they claim to hold so dear, that is what they revert to to avoid admitting that they are wrong. It’s just an excuse.

    Z

  67. groo permalink
    April 5, 2012

    Bruce Wilder,
    Good to hear from you, occasionaly.
    You stopped commenting on economistsview sometime ago. Which is a pity.

    Anyway.
    On the healthcare-issue, I find it astounding, that countries do not learn from each other.
    On a rational level, one would think, that countries learn from each other, which system is best.

    But this does not happen. There are always arguments, why system A does not apply to society B.
    This maybe the case in a restricted sense, because beliefs and habits are different, but the vested interests are so much stronger than any rational discourse, that this seems impossible.
    TINA, ‘freedom’ and other memes do the job of keeping the systems as they are.

    This is a global syndrome, where the leader –the US more often than not– sets the agenda.

    This is not away from a conspiracy, which it actually is.
    The international corporations set the agenda in their specific fields, and i am quite sure that thhey have have task-forces for all the key countries, to advance their agenda.
    They are not in lockstep, but the general direction is clear.

    See this:
    http://exiledonline.com/the-one-percents-doctrine-for-the-rest-of-us-slavery-feudalism-la-da-da-dee-dee-dee/
    By Mark Ames.
    Ofcourse he is right.
    He tells the story from his angle, and it converges on a common theme, which is always the same.

    The US-system, as the center of the capitalist universe, immunized itself by majority rule, ie generating a two-party-system, gerrymandering, party-donations, election-sponsoring by corporations and so on.

    The US-election-system is the heart of darkness, to borrow Joseph Conrad’s term.
    I don’t know whether you Americans recognize that.

    As a result, the American system is immunized against ANY substantial change.
    As a second result, this will -by necessity- propagate through ALL western nations with some delay.
    But there will come a point, where this smoothing out does not work anymore, and the whole edifice, called the ‘west’, will collapse, quite similar to the collapse of the soviet bloc.

    But we all know that here.

    I preach to the choir.

    Sorry.

  68. April 5, 2012

    I also concur generally with Wilder’s comments.

    IME, true change isn’t incremental; it’s sudden and generally radical.

    This has been my experience as well, Celsius.

  69. April 5, 2012

    Yeah, it’s when things get out of the power structure’s control that change breaks loose. As long as things go slow they have time to adapt their strategies to keep it contained. Look at the OWS movement: it went a lot further than expected, but it’s going to have a lot more difficult time matching that gradient of build up this time becoz the authorities are ready for it.

    This coincidentally is why obama is the biggest danger to the citizens of this country in my opinion, not only has he been able to mute groups that would have been against his actions if they were administered by almost anyone else becoz he’s a democrat and he’s black, but he also is a cold, calculating bastard that moves forward with his fascist agenda methodically and incessantly, yet not fast enough to awaken the subjects … which tells you the subjects are damn near in a coma becoz he’s moved pretty damn quick.

    Z

  70. shargash permalink
    April 5, 2012

    I had thought the court would go 6-3 or 7-2 in favor. I figured the conservative justices would be split between their tribal and corporatist loyalties, and I had thought (hoped) that one of the “liberal” justices would balk at force-feeding Americans into the corporate meat grinder. Apparently I was wrong, as everyone seems likely to vote along tribal lines.

    On the plus side, the odds of the bill being struck down are higher than I thought they would be. It would be nice if just the mandate were struck down. The bill isn’t half bad if you take away the mandate. Also, It would also be entertaining, as Ian points out, to watch Obama tear his own bill apart making up to the insurance companies.

  71. beowulf permalink
    April 5, 2012

    Ian,
    OT but I just read a book you would love, Alan Taylor’s “The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels & Indian Allies”. It focuses on the American invasions of Canada, which I knew virtually nothing about until this book (freakin’ Laura Secord!). :o )
    The most astounding part is how the US more or less threw the fight by letting bondholders dictate military strategy. The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=0nYRpx1X46YC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA269#v

  72. beowulf permalink
    April 6, 2012

    To provide backfill for those not familiar with the war… because we (the US) had overwhelming superiority in men and material, it should have been a cakewalk. That we got thwarted at every turn was because the British generals (who brought their A game after years of fighting Napoleon) was so damned competent. Meanwhile the US leaders, military and civilian, could be divided into 1. corrupt, 2. stupid or 3. corrupt and stupid. If it it were a fairer fight, the Canadians would have ended up occupying New York State.

  73. Morocco Bama permalink
    April 6, 2012

    Considering that was 1812 Beowulf, what must that say about the Civil War……that Rorschach War which has become whatever the beholder has wanted it to become based off of the beholder’s conscious and unconscious predilections.

  74. groo permalink
    April 6, 2012

    Question:

    Is Obama the proof of the pudding, that MLK was just a phony -ahem- ‘Black’, doing the big talking, but never delivering.
    Being shot was sort of a sidenote.
    Only the promise remained.

    But maybe this is too much of a conspiracy theory.

    But, on the other hand, this maybe a good strategy of the Right, to corner the Left as just nuts, by exposing them as just what they are: Phony blowers of hot wind.
    Regression to pre-middle-age society (habeas corpus and such) is hard work, and this is the supreme obligation of the regressive right.

    The phony left (impersoned as a black man) is drawn through the arena, to make him look like a deadly wounded bull. The triumphant right shows it strength, by presenting the dying bull.

    Even the Spanish got indignated, so that they forbid this cruel spectacle.
    But the muppet-like US-(majority) audience applauds every killing of any evil-doer.
    Chop their heads!
    At home and abroad.
    The public yelling: Yeah!
    The perverse logic of the ‘death-tax’ meme promotes exactly what? Death.

    Is this any different from the late Romans, who maintained the ‘life’ of empire by imposing the dictum of ‘death’ in their adversaries, not ever trying to understand in their late phase?

    Watching Fox news is probably not very different from going into the colloseum.

  75. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 6, 2012

    groo
    April 6, 2012

    Is this any different from the late Romans, who maintained the ‘life’ of empire by imposing the dictum of ‘death’ in their adversaries, not ever trying to understand in their late phase?
    Watching Fox news is probably not very different from going into the colloseum.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Boy, you said a mouthful! And no argument here on your observations.
    That closing sentence is killer! Cheers…

  76. April 6, 2012

    groo – on MLK: No. Getting shot is not a “sidenote.” Real people were “put down” that year.

    The rest of your comments, OK.

  77. April 6, 2012

    I don’t know about dying on a hill, but:

    “We should be preparing to riot in the streets the day the ACA ruling is handed down”

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/04/06/100078/#comment-3164877

  78. eclecticdog permalink
    April 6, 2012

    Just don’t call yourself liberal. The progressive moniker has been hijacked by the Kooks so they can be included as lefties. The difference between liberals and progressives is that liberals still suck up to corporations, money, and power. Progressives want a level playing field and to dethrone corporations. Jim Hightower had a better definition on Bill Moyers.

  79. Ian Welsh permalink*
    April 6, 2012

    Ah yes, Balloon Juice, still wrong about everything.

  80. Ian Welsh permalink*
    April 6, 2012

    Beowulf. Canadians still like to point out that in the only war we fought against the US we burnt down the White House. :)

  81. shargash permalink
    April 6, 2012

    Ian, don’t forget the Pig War, though I think only one shot was fired and the only casualty was the pig.

  82. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 6, 2012

    Petro PERMALINK
    April 6, 2012
    groo – on MLK: No. Getting shot is not a “sidenote.” Real people were “put down” that year.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Oops, missed that; agree, hardly a side-note.

  83. beowulf permalink
    April 7, 2012

    “Canadians still like to point out that in the only war we fought against the US we burnt down the White House.”

    Ha, yeah and the Capitol Building too. When Tony Blair gave a speech to Congress in 2003, he brought down the house (so to speak) with this:
    “On our way down here, Senator Frist was kind enough to show me the fireplace where, in 1814, the British had burnt the Congress Library. I know this is kind of late, but sorry.”

  84. April 7, 2012

    To anwer the question: Hopefully. It would clear a lot of obfuscation out of the way if in fact the career “progresssive” leadership did die (metaphorically) on this hill, some hill, any hill.

    If this battle cripples them so much they can’t run interference for America’s First Black Fascist President any more, then have at it, say I.

  85. April 7, 2012

    Pepe: Jason Rosebaum at FDL, who was forced to disclose his affiliation by single payer advocates, also worked for so-called “public option” weasels HCAN’t, which was funded by SEIU. He proceeded to print HCAN’t propaganda and never, not once, linked to or covered a single payer story. That’s how the news blackout worked at FDL. Money changes everything…..

  86. shargash permalink
    April 7, 2012

    If this battle cripples them so much they can’t run interference for America’s First Black Fascist President any more, then have at it, say I.

    That’s the only reason I can come up with for why “progressives” are fighting so hard for the mandate. The only people who are affected by the individual mandate are people who don’t want to pay for insurance. If you want insurance, you don’t need a mandate to buy it.

    If the mandate is struck down, we have a free rider problem; a few healthy people will be able to skip out on insurance payments until they actually get sick or injured. It is a cost issue, and we’ve basically got a bunch of “progressives” whining that they don’t want to have to pay for someone else’s health care.

    Free ridership is a problem that can be solved without an expansion of the coercive power of the government. But having the individual mandate struck down would be an embarrassment to the Leader, and I think there you have the crux of the matter for progressives.

  87. shargash permalink
    April 7, 2012

    Wow. A pair of blockquotes really screwed up that comment. Sorry about that.

  88. beowulf permalink
    April 7, 2012

    Lambert, its astonishing how many people get roped in by the public option con. Frankly, I don’t think the insurance lobby really cared if Obamacare included something called a “public option” (Obama’s no PO pledge was made to the hospital lobby), they would have carved it up so no customer they could make a profit from would be allowed within a mile of it.

  89. April 7, 2012

    I think some folks are too caught up tagging anyone who even mentions the public option as someone who “took the bait” on it. Many times the discussions on the public option are just being used as an example of how intellectually corrupt that progressive groups are. For even though a lot of us, myself included, were for single payer, it says a hell of a lot that these progressive groups, even after making their initial compromise to basically black out any single payer talk before the negotiations even began, later, after claiming that the public option HAD to be included in any health care reform bill and stating that they wouldn’t support a bill without it, turned on a dime … under the direction of the obama administration … and tried to downplay the importance of the public option and then pushed their followers to support the bill anyway.

    Yes, they were wrong for not aiming for single payer from the get-go … and that was their worst mistake in my opinion … but then, even on top of that, the fucking hypocrites turned face on the public option as well.

    Whether or not the “deal” was with the hospital lobby or not, it was more for the insurance companies and was part of a bunch of intertwining deals that I’d bet heavy money on was primarily directed towards the insurance companies’ interests. The whole hospital thing just gave the obama administration some plausible deniability on accusations that they directly traded off the the coverage for pre-conditions and community rating by forcing americans to buy insurance from the crooked, for-profit insurance companies.

    Z

  90. April 7, 2012

    Of course, the pharmas also made out like bandits … no negotiated drug prices for medicare and no drug re-importation … in the deals.

    Z

  91. beowulf permalink
    April 8, 2012

    I think the insurance lobby had a defense in depth strategy. Their preference was Obamacare, status quo, Public Option and (God forbid) single payer.

    They already had their trenches built for single payer (if their worst fears were realized, they cold still lobby that the template should be the existing Medicare Advantage system of private insurers funded directly by the govt); They gave money to the Democrats (Max Baucus and his ilk) to get exactly the corporate welfare plan they really wanted; they secretly gave money to the Chamber of Commerce to defend the status quo (that may have been more about staying in good standing with the corporate plutocrats who own the Chamber); and they gave money to public option groups (once they figured out how to quietly drain it any usefulness). Even if the PO groups had won, it would have a “robust public option” that maybe a few million unprofitable customers could pay for out of pocket, everyone else would be stuck with the dog food Max Baucus was serving.

    There was no need for the insurers to muddy the waters by endorsing the public option since Medicare for All was DOA, but they had laid the groundwork for it to be their second to last (Medicare Advantage being last) firewall against a single payer plan wiping them out. Its possible the hospitals were acting as their stalking horse in demanding Obama kill the PO, more likely the hospitals didn’t get the memo that the PO was really about PR.

  92. groo permalink
    April 8, 2012

    well, guys/gals, to put this into perspective:

    Over here, approaching retirement myself, I am thinking more than I actually want to, about health insurance.
    One: i never went to a doctor for the last 12 years or so.
    Two: During that time I paid approx 60 000 Euros in health-insurance.
    Three: I don’t mind. this is ok. Presumably just have been lucky. One of my nephews has possible MS (multiple sclerosis) which costs about 2000 Euros/month on medication.

    Sums and relations like that make you think.
    Which is.
    a) I do not complain. This is sort of a risk-levelling. I pay my due, but do not care about that.
    b) what bothers me on the other hand is the pharmaceutical/health-care profit machine, which takes my money and, with a huge profit, sells the medicine to my nephew.

    Call these intermediary guys health-arbitrators or whatever.
    I do not find a better word than ‘arbitrage’ with those financial intermediaries.
    They draw a disproportionate profit from the risk-asymmetry between the healthy and the sick.

    As said: I do not have any problems arbitraging out the life-risks between my fellow human beings, (or even nonhuman ones), but get furious, when intermediaries EXTREMELY profit from this.

    This profit-maximizing scheme (pharmaceuticals+doctors+lawyers9 seems to be about double the average in Europe.
    And even here it is a aleardy scandal!

    If anybody even mentions -like Michael Moore- that Cuba has a tenth of the healthcare- cost of the average west, he is, well what?- a communist.

    And why exactly is that?
    Pavlovian name-calling, where the thinking has been replaced by a conditional reflex, imposed upon us by our dog-masters.

    Maybe we should be more aware of us being the the dog, who bites the master, and basically is much stronger than the master, if he is not evolved down to a -how do you call it?- Min Pin- Zwergpinscher.
    But on the other hand, the master kills the dog, who bites him, who by that shows a blink of consciousness, awareness, even maybe a moral impulse, demanding justice.

    So it stays the same as it ever was.

  93. groo permalink
    April 8, 2012

    slight correction, sorry:

    This profit-maximizing scheme (pharmaceuticals+doctors+lawyers9 seems to be about double the average in Europe.
    And even here it is a already scandal!

    This profit-maximizing scheme in the US (pharmaceuticals + doctors + lawyers) seems to be about double that of the average in Europe.
    And even here it is a already scandal!

    sorry.
    I write this, and then there are those embarrassing errors.
    Beg your pardon. Being a nonnative speaker is not really an excuse.
    I have to express myself correctly.
    At least in the lingua franca.

    On the other hand:
    In my own idiom we are proud to be misunderstood. This maybe provincial, but maybe you understand. Being misunderstood is a linguistic defense-mechanism against the dominant dogma of the language of power.
    (“He speaks 10 languages, but does not know the way.” This rarely does apply to the Americans, who typically are mired in THEIR single language. How do they understand, compare?)

  94. April 8, 2012

    In my own idiom we are proud to be misunderstood. This maybe provincial, but maybe you understand. Being misunderstood is a linguistic defense-mechanism against the dominant dogma of the language of power.

    groo – Haha, what some indelicately call “Ebonics” serves the same purpose here! :)

  95. groo permalink
    April 8, 2012

    Petro,

    ;)
    G.

  96. April 10, 2012

    I don’t always agree with Chris Hedges … I don’t always agree with anyone … but he’s spot-on in this article:

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_real_health_care_debate_20120409/

    Z

  97. groo permalink
    April 10, 2012

    Z,

    the more I think and read about the issue, the clearer it becomes to me:

    The health-care issue is just another class-war-issue in disguise.
    Such, that the gullible do not recognize it as what it is.

    We have a well-hidden history of class-divide, which mutates from outright slavery to feudalism and capitalism in its diverse incarnations.

    What all have in common, is that the elite of its time uses a variant mixture of force and propaganda, to further their immortal agenda.
    Which is: live off other people’s means. Their supreme goal.

    Methods vary over time.

    One revealing statement is this:

    “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.”
    -Arthur Young; 1771

    The health-care-issue is just another tool to make You afraid. The more the better.

    The perverse situation is, that the lower -active voting- strata of society
    can be aligned to the ideology of the elite (1%).
    This works more often than not.
    With a little help from the 10% profiteers.
    So add this up:
    the solid 1%, plus 20% energized idiots with IQ <80, plus 10% profiteers whom you have to pay a decent, but, well, adequate salary, and you win most elections, considering 40% nonvoters.

    As an armchair capitalist, who has nothing to do the whole day, you just manipulate the percentages, which mostly go into your direction.
    For the rest of the day you can go fishing and sailing and partying, or go to a vernissage, meet friends, avoiding the Bernie Madoffs, ofcourse. Life is difficult.

    I stop here and put the rest in a second post.

  98. groo permalink
    April 10, 2012

    now Yasha Levine from the far-out ‘Exiled’ put an interesting argument together, based on Michael Perelman’s book ‘The Invention of Capitalism’, which is from 2001.

    http://exiledonline.com/recovered-economic-history-everyone-but-an-idiot-knows-that-the-lower-classes-must-be-kept-poor-or-they-will-never-be-industrious/

    Here is an interesting snippet:

    by far the most interesting parts of the book are where you get to read Adam Smith’s proto-capitalist colleagues complaining and whining about how peasants are too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited, and trying to figure out how to force them to accept a life of wage slavery.

    Here you have it .
    Healthcare is one of the CURRENT systems of enforcement to conform.
    You can easily deduct that from the context.

    So healthcare is ONE of the methods, which forces you to conform.
    In a perverse sense, the Republican lower strata are right:
    You are forced to pay for some undeserving lot of some 42million unemployed.
    Do they deserve to suffer, or did they just fall through the system.
    YES, they deserve, say the Repubs,
    Well, maybe not all of them, say the Democrats.

    The mode of liviong together is not questioned.
    It is solidly monetarized in both cases!

    So this is probably a futile discussion.

    The best comment on Perelman, I found on the net is this:

    Mass Murder and Slavery: The Invention of Capitalism.
    http://www.notbored.org/perelman.html

    Maybe You find this off-topic, but I don’t.
    It is up to the point.

  99. geoshmoe3 permalink
    April 11, 2012

    Of course they would like to die on a hill like that, they would like to die on a hill, that’s better than to live where they live in low place…

    Well I just wanted to give em some type of rational, for their behavior, go up on to a hill, and die! that might be the onliest thing such idiots could ever do, other than be some piece of crap cannon fodder, or other useful idiotic trash.

  100. April 11, 2012

    Great links, groo!!

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