The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Healthcare Wheel Spinning

I can’t say how grateful I am that I didn’t spend the last year working for a blog where my job would have been to report in the minutaie of health care “reform” like it mattered.


That’s what keeps going through my head.  Most of the entire year was spent on Kabuki, we now know for a fact what was obvious by the summer, Obama never wanted a public option, never wanted a good bill, and was putting together a bill whose fundamental structure was created by cutting deals with pharma, insurance companies and various other health care providers.  It was always intended to be a dog’s breakfast.

I suppose somebody has to be part of the left wing noise machine, however much it amounts to pushing the same boulder up the hill over and over again, then being bitchslapped by your “friends”.  I’ll pass.

The end result of all the fuss is that some people got paychecks, some progressive legislators got donations,  and if a lousy bill passes, it will be no more to the left than Obama originally intended.  In fact, it will amount to a right wing bill intended as a huge giveaway to various powerful interests.

The only good thing which could be said, I suppose, is that for most of a year, various people have been given an education in healthcare economics. Unfortunately, when you get out into the general population, most of what they heard was lies and liberal blog readers already knew that single payer was the way to go.

Clinton was the “spin” presidency.  Bush was the “big lie” presidency.  Obama is the “Kabuki” president—there’s lots of bullshit pretense at consultation and process, but the end result they want is predetermined, and it’s almost always conservative.


Losing 35K jobs is not good news


Shock Therapy in Greece


  1. anonymous

    Seriously. I can’t get over Krugman’s support for this. It’s like he’s been asleep for the last 10 years. If you can’t get a good bill now with the majorities the Dems have now, how and when in the world can it get improved? Now way, never. It will be a huge disaster for consumers.

  2. David H

    And still, even when so-called progressive senators appear on sympathetic news/opinion shows and talk about how single payer should’ve been the way to go (more kabuki with that petition a few weeks ago in support of single payer) nobody but nobody ever talks about, much less suggests doing away with, insurance companies’ anti-trust exemption. I would say it’s unbelievable, only it’s all too believable. I can only wonder how long those trod upon by this new great depression will just lie back & take it.

  3. Oaktown Girl

    Yes to everything you said.

    What really, really stinks is that Obama is probably going to succeed in coming out of this thing still smelling like, well, if not exactly a rose, at least not like the skunk that he truly is. All he had to do was give even the slightest push for the public option, and boom! – it’s a done deal. But he didn’t even do that. In fact, he undermined momentum for the PO every chance he got – repeatedly emphasizing that it was just one idea among many that were on the table, and not a particularly important idea at that.

    It makes me want to puke that Obama’s not going to take the fall the public option not being in this “reform” bill when in truth it was all on him to make or break it. And he broke it. Broke it real good.

    Long live the push toward victory for Single Payer state by state. Please let CA be first – I need some goddamn health care.

  4. Jeff W

    While I’m right across the Bay from you, Oaktown Girl, and wish that California would be first with single-payer, it seems that Pennsylvania might, in fact, win the race.

  5. KZK

    I knew that Obama was a Stealth candidate from the getgo. All you had to do was contrast the message he was sending in his 2004 DNC Keynote, and compare it to the Kerry/Edwards campaign. His slick speech by contradicting the K/E “Two America’s” message with his “One America” / Unity Pr0n BS, completely undercut the message of the K/E campaign, and likly was a part of what caused K/E to Lose. And it worked, as Obama’s in the WH and K/E isn’t.

  6. Formerly T-Bear

    For concern the “T” is for terminator, your move was the only rational move to make. As long as people refuse to see what their lying eyes inform them of what is before themselves, those people will never be able to respond to reality, most times the condition is named madness, they comprise “… the Madding Crowd”, best be “Far From”.

    The idea is broke, the government is broke, the Constitution is broke, the law is broke, the nation is broke, the economy is broke, the military is broke, education is broke, reason is broke, politics is broke, the language itself is broke, the people are broke, and nothing is able to repair such widespread breakage. A war has been waged against the national mind, that war was lost, the national mindset irrevocably altered, nothing of the “old order” remains but the myth of it; not even the history remains reliable, it too has been broken.

    Many elite went down on the Titanic, the elite will go down with the country, the substance of their elite is not exceptional outside of hubris. There are others that will inherit the earth, whatever condition it is in.

  7. Oaktown Girl

    Jeff W. – yes, thanks. I’ve been following the goings-on over there in PA.

    Sure, I’d love CA to be first, but in truth I feel that once we can get one state – any state – to go genuine Single Payer, that will make it easier for others to follow suit. Yes, the Pols, lobbyists, and Insurance Industrial Complex will double down their efforts, but they won’t be able to overcome the momentum of the People who will no longer be denied once they’ve seen that freedom from the Medical Insurance Monster, (no offense to actual monsters), is actually attainable. The fear tactics of corporatists and tea baggers screaming “Socialism!” will be increasingly ignored as more and more people lose their insurance and access to basic health care, and those that still have insurance find the skyrocketing costs too much to bear. That view might not be cynical enough for some, but I think that’s the way it’s going to go. It’s just a matter of when, and how much more needless death and suffering happens in the interim.

  8. Kudos, Ian. “Kabuki” cuts to the heart of it. Like the remark about Reagan being the “Teflon” President, your remark just might be telling, and at a National level!

    Ian, it’s not just your correct observation about Obama’s cleverly disguised conservatism. It’s also seems to me to be a moral corruption. Sometimes, it’s the “little” things: Last Fall, Swine Flu almost did me in (my immune system is badly compromised due to bone marrow cancer). Meanwhile, Wall St. Investment Bankers were queing up for their flu shots. Obama’s appointment of Ambassadors is even more mercenary than Rove & George W. – A car dealer to Switzerland, a New York Investment Banker to Germany (the Germans balked, but Obama prevailed on Merkel). And, in January of this year, he gives “Amnesty” to over 4,400 UBS/Secret Account Tax Fraudsters. Stephen Kohn, Director of the National Whistleblowers Center opined that among these >4,400 lowlives were “some of the richest Americans”.

    Ian now that I’m almost 60-something, I thought that I had developed a highly-tuned “Bullshit Detector” (to borrow from Hemingway). Never have I been so badly fooled, by anyone, anywhere!

  9. About a week ago I posted this comment on The Agonist:

    I am on record here (and elsewhere) predicting that a bill would get passed…, and that the only sure thing about it would be mandatory “insurance” coverage. I thought for a brief moment that I would have to admit that I was wrong…, it was barely on life-support. But it didn’t take the insurance companies long to swing into action…, raising rates. Now…, if they really didn’t want any bill passed they would have laid in the weeds waiting until it was completely dead…, but they didn’t…, they rose up and virtually shouted out load, “You need to pass some kind of bill NOW…, or look what’s going to continue to happen!” And The Big O stood right up with them (coincidence?)…, calling a summit…, promising “bipartisan” (compromise?) support for a new health “care” reform bill.

    What we need is a health “insurance” reform bill…, not a health “care” reform bill.

    The Big O is going to deliver for the insurance companies (mandatory insurance coverage & no competition)…, and the insurance companies are going to keep the premium increases…, and there won’t be much (if any) insurance reform in it.

    I agree…, there is still “hope” that he will take a stand and deliver something meaningful…, or let it die…, but I am not holding my breath.

    Scott R. February 28, 2010 – 11:02am

    Last night on PBS, Bill Moyers asked as much of one of his guests.

    BILL MOYERS: Excuse my growing cynicism at this age and stage, but could this be the briar patch strategy? In other words, they want to get people angry enough to– for Congress to pass that health care reform with the mandate that delivers millions of new customers to them under penalty of law?

    The guest, Wendell Potter didn’t answer that question directly, but he believes that the bill should be passed because there are enough good things in it (at least the Senate version) to offset the “mandated coverage” requirement. Things like requiring the insurance companies to cover “pre-existing conditions”. My question is, will they be required to cover people with “existing conditions”…, and what’s the difference? He says there are meaningful regulations…, I say those will be eliminated or watered down in the bill that gets passed. And I say again…, a bill will get passed.

    The next guest, Marcia Angell takes the position that there isn’t enough good in the bill, even if it isn’t watered down, to make it worth passing. And she echoes what I said above.

    MARCIA ANGELL: It’s not lack of health insurance. It’s lack of health care. There is a difference between health insurance and health care. You can have insurance offered that is too expensive to buy or too expensive to use. What good does it do? And what happens when this occurs, is that what you see is instead of improvements, look at my state of Massachusetts.

    So if you look at what’s causing the problem, the causes are not being targeted in this plan. They’re not being addressed. Maybe some of the symptoms of the causes are being addressed like let’s stop excluding people from pre-existing conditions. But it doesn’t stop the insurance industry from raising its premiums.

    And what do you think they’re going to do? If you were an insurance company, you would say, “Well, thank you, Santa Claus. I’ve got all of these captive customers. Young ones are healthy. They probably won’t even use the insurance. There’s nothing to stop me from raising my premiums. I have all of these subsidies coming in.” Don’t you think that the prices would go up? I think it would be remarkable if they didn’t.

    When I look at the Senate bill and the President’s suggestions, almost every paragraph, there is a poison pill for someone. I think sometimes they’re unintended. Let me give you one example. They allow for insurance companies to charge three times as much for older people as for younger people.

    So from the point of view of the insurance industry, this is a god-send because either way, they win. Either the 55-year-olds cough up three times the premiums, and that’s good. Or else they can’t, and that’s probably the more likely situation. They can’t, and then they’re fined. And the insurance companies don’t have to take care of people who might actually get sick. They’re left with all of the thirty-year-olds, who are less likely to get sick, but who are required to buy their products.

    So this sets up a situation which probably all plans, for 55-year-olds, are high priced. So they can’t afford to buy it, or if they do buy it, they have to pay an excise tax on it. This is a real poison pill for these older people. It’s a gift for the insurance industry.

    Well worth the read…, or the watch.

  10. nihil obstet

    Scott R. is right — this is all about giveaways to the insurance companies. If the Democrats refuse to pass the bill, the Republicans will. Everybody would prefer the Democrats to do it. The Democrats can scream that now they need more money from their base to improve the bill. The Republicans can scream that they need more money from their base to stop the rampant socialism. Meanwhile, the lords’ kabuki keeps the peasants fighting each other.

  11. Various thoughts:

    1. The party of No vs. The party of Noh. (Too bad “kabuki” has usurped that semantic space.

    2. The moral corruption was shown from the very beginning, as the Obama administration (operating out of Nancy DeParle’s office) censored a single payer question from one of its fake health care forums, excluded the “little single payer advocates”, and were aided and abetted by “career” progressive access bloggers, who shamefully and without exception collaborated with our famously free press by denying single payer advocates oxygen on their front pages and in their coverage, while some even collected for Potemkin “whip” campaigns for [a|the] [strong|robust|triggered]? public [health insurance]? [option|plan], a Trojan Pony that was deliberately confused with Medicare for marketing purposes. These lackeys couldn’t even be bothered to cover Dr. Margaret Flowers when she and other single payer advocates got themselves arrested in Baucus’s hearing room. No sound policy could have proceeded from such a corrupt process, and indeed one has not. The upshot is that the health insurance companies have been bailed out by making failure to buy junk insurance a Federal crime. Well done, all.

    3. Will people please stop talking about the “public option” as if there was some reality to it? Any “policy” that starts out by claiming to cover 130 million people (policy entrepreneur Jacob Hacker’s original proposal) and ends up covering 9 or 10 million (as in CBO) scoring shouldn’t be treated as anything other than the marketing slogan and fundraising hook that it is. “Public option” is a roach motel for progressive energy, and the sooner the term gets purged from the discourse, the better.

  12. I’d pretty much figured out how things were going to go last June, early June at that. I kept on writing about it, though, because I just didn’t see an acceptable alternative. And here we are.

    The only good I can see that’s come of this is that it’s now clear how far the rot has spread in DC. It extends just about everywhere. That’s a very pessimistic assessment, but it’s better to know the truth than to try things that clearly aren’t going to work. Whatever progressives try to do should be done in light of that reality.

  13. Right on Cujo359…, write on. Your other posts

    deliver as well.

    PS Thanks for the Springsteen tip…, I haven’t kept up with Bruce since he went commercial on us with “Born in the USA”. But might have to check out “Magic”…, on your say so.

  14. It is extremely unsurprising that any action that would have entailed the death of the current system of private insurance providers was going to fail miserably/be rejected (that includes the “public option” as much as it does single payer, including a rhetorical public option because it admits that the government can be an effective provider of an alternative).

    Be that as it may, the simple truth is that on the health care file, something must be done, almost for the sake of doing something. I hope PA gets it right as the “good” solutions were always more likely to come from the state level, and I’d be very happy if it did, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  15. anonymous

    I can’t see PA or any other state trying to start something as ambitious as single payer in the current economic climate. With the states in various degrees of fiscal distress, how is a conservative place like PA going to do it?

  16. jumpjet

    Beats me, Anon, but they’re doing it. I’m certainly not going to tell them to stop.

  17. Jeff W

    Fiscal distress is one of the reasons why Pennsylvania is seriously considering single payer. One study indicated savings of nearly $2.3 billion if the single payer bill were passed. (The page I’ve linked to is, regrettably, lacking in a lot of detail but the general idea that single payer is cheaper than the status quo is eminently sound.)

    If, in fact, the resolution being passed around in the Pennsylvania Senate to study the economic impact of a single payer health care system in Pennsylvania gets passed, the cost savings will be apparent.

    Incidentally, as much as I despise President Obama’s “bipartisan” rhetoric, Pennsylvania’s bipartisanship is different, at least in this instance. As this piece notes [emphasis added]

    There followed another milestone in the form of hearings before [Pennsylvania] State Senator Don White’s Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on December 16, 2009. This was the first ever, anywhere, single-payer hearing before a Legislative Committee chaired by a Republican with a Republican majority membership.

    Something unusual, indeed, is going on in the Keystone State, but, like jumpjet, I’m not going to tell them to stop.

  18. Jeff W

    if a single payer health care system in Pennsylvania gets passed,” not “of”

  19. We *have* learned one thing, though, I think; health insurance/care reform is not necessarily “too big to fail” for the administration—not as such, at least.

  20. Ian Welsh

    they seem pretty desperate to put it through to me. We’ll see if they succeed.

  21. if information is a kind of power, then following the kabuki was valuable — when it was called kabuki and analyzed as such.

    the changing dem talking points as though they meant anything other than trying to bamboozle the base, though? not so much.

    all i can say is that i’ve certainly learned a lot in the past year and a half and almost none of it good or hopeful. i’m certainly astounded by the willingness of so called progressives to call neoliberal policy progressive (is is possible that alot of people can’t tell the difference? if so, we ought to be able to do some kind of education) and to bully or to mislead, deceive and even outright lie in defense of that. even more astounded when other progressives have supported those actions.

    i used to have a lot of hope for the progressive political blogosphere being a force for good or at least progressive ideas and values. the bubble of that illusion has popped along with lots of others.

  22. some non kabuki reporting:

    Health Reform Lessons from Massachusetts, Part X
    Unintended consequences for low-income workers
    By Trudy Lieberman

  23. If this bill passes I see a very clear path to a Republican president in 2012. It’s so screamingly, massively unpopular that it astounds me we’re even talking about passing it. Thanks to this process dragging out for an entire year, the American public has actually learned who’s to blame for a potentially huge new tax – one that many people will get absolutely nothing in exchange for.

    In fifty years they’ll talk about Obama alongside Warren Harding and Andrew Johnson.

  24. they seem pretty desperate to put it through to me. We’ll see if they succeed.

    Oh, they may well succeed; but if this current process fails, they’ve made it very clear and obvious they won’t come back with something better. They’ve let it reach the point where they’d *potentially* see an (R) House before they’d have another opportunity to start over.

    ie, they’d rather health insurance/care reform fail before they allow any [single payer | public option | Medicare buy-in] type solutions to be introduced. Some people (for example) were telling me that killing this bill would pave the way—or even force—the Democrats to “deal”; that it would reopen the opportunity for better/actual solutions. Does anyone seriously think that now? (Probably, but you have to be closing your eyes and sticking your fingers in your ears really hard to do that.)

    i used to have a lot of hope for the progressive political blogosphere being a force for good or at least progressive ideas and values. the bubble of that illusion has popped along with lots of others.

    Two things tipped me off:

    1. The serial dKos purges in the mid-2Ks.

    2. The massive growth of dKos despite—possibly because—of those purges.

    Nevertheless, I still think that the blogosphere has done good work in the long term (ie, 20-to-50-year time-scale) in terms of meme-spreading. I never heard American media talk about single payer or government-managed insurance schemes or whatever until relatively recently.

  25. Ian Welsh

    Their proposals were always designed not just to not be single payer, but to preclude single payer in the future if at all possible.

  26. Formerly T-Bear

    Too big to fail – bailed out

    Designed to fail – health insurance reform

    Bound to fail – Administration of B. Obama, one termer.

    Failed – democracy as foundation for Republic

  27. At the start, “liberal blog readers … knew that single payer was the way to go,” but thanks to those blogs, they were convinced that the meaningless “public option” was the way to go.

    Well done, all!

  28. selise

    Their proposals were always designed not just to not be single payer, but to preclude single payer in the future if at all possible.


    and at the same time the marketing campaign to progressives was designed to convince them their proposals were a path to single payer.

  29. Making failure to buy junk insurance a Federal crime — What could go wrong?

  30. It’s even more nefarious than that, lambert. They were careful to make sure that failing to buy the insurance itself isn’t a crime – failure to pay the fine is. Only they’ll call it Tax Evasion and make the people who don’t pay their extortion money out to be Al Capone. They didn’t want any Thoreau reenactments.

    In essence, the Dem bill is a tax on being working poor. If you’re really, really poor, you go on Medicaid. If you’re poor enough, you get lousy insurance bought with middle class tax dollars. You can’t afford the copays to see a doctor, but you get a pretty card to carry around in your wallet and society gets to say you’re taken care of.

    But if you’re not quite poor enough, you either get forced to buy insurance you can’t afford, or forced to pay a tax, aka a fine, that you can’t afford, or they send you to jail for tax evasion.

    And of course, we all pay for the subsidies that go straight to Wellpoint et al, because they’re being paid for with money that was originally stolen from taxpayers for Medicare Advantage, amongst other things.

  31. Their proposals were always designed not just to not be single payer, but to preclude single payer in the future if at all possible.

    There’s no legislation that can’t be undone if it is worth undoing. One can’t simultaneously believe that it’s bad legislation and also believe that it is immutable. If it’s bad legislation, then what can’t continue, won’t. Like anything else. If it’s really particularly immutable, then there must have been something to it, some material improvement over what was there before, or the system is so broken that it doesn’t matter either way (quite likely).

    I think it’s bad legislation, and that it will have to be changed at some point in the future if it passes. The problem that should not be underestimated is the enlarging meme that the government cannot function. It becomes its own excuse that itself undermines any kind of reform, especially the good kinds that are going to involve some amount of government involvement. One may hope that it would lead to reforms in the system itself, but these are unpredictable and will likely take the form of right-wing populism.

    I wouldn’t be so afraid of this, or so willing to see a bad bill pass if the third party of everyone’s dreams were already in place and already capable of seizing power in one or two election cycles. Otherwise, it’s become necessary to break the inertial logjam itself. Yes, even with a fine for not buying junk insurance. The stakes are higher than “just” health care: it’s the idea that the government can do anything at all. Political legitimacy. Allowing the legitimacy of the political process to wither away without having another one to take its place is walking without a safety net.

  32. anonymous

    Is this the same Ian Welsh that owns, if so I have to tell you how annoyed I am about your comment on Manly P Hall. How dare you even say such a horrible thing about such a good man, you even have a quote from him on the site which clearly shows his understanding of the inner freemasonry, you my friend are deluded, you are the only one playing the devils advocate. The man is a genius, and I find you very disrespectful to say such a thing.

    The all is mental, as above so below so below as above, everything is mental my friend, all this devil stuff you create in your inner mind. You are the creator of this devlish nature and I think you are very wrong about Manly P hall, how many books of his or lectures have your read/listened to? to come up with such a conclusion only tells me you dont fully understand the world we live in.

    Your an angry little man and you need an uppercut straight to your jaw maybe that would knock some sense into you, Manly P Hall was trying to teach/protect people and you come up with this nonsense.

  33. anonymous

    You assume that everything freemason is evil, I am not disputing that there is probably some corruptness in these fraternities, however corruptness is everywhere, even in most of this website you have created.

    Not all freemasons are evil, and your assumptive manner is very frustrating. Get over your obsessions, you are obsessed with the devil, its like you are in love with the devil.

    The devil is in the mind, the devil is metaphoric for doing evil, like what you are doing, your trying to make people fearful so you can control them. I have read alot of Manly P hall stuff and listened to him, not once did I get sense of fear, actually the opposite a sense of warmth and genuineness. I really think you should consider blurting the odds of about people you are clearly wrong about, you think you know it all, a bit like myself really, but you know nothing, just like myself again.

    One things for sure, your fear mongering plan aint working on me punk, I have you sussed and I conclude that you have been mislead, like the many of us.
    You try and make the readers believe you have the truth, and that you have found the real secret to life, yet you have not even learnt to use the God given Gift of your mind.

    Shame on you.

  34. Formerly T-Bear

    Raving insanity has no name, as usual, cannot be responsible for their rants.

    Bet their mothers wished they were never taught to speak.

  35. Ian Welsh

    I don’t own a freemasonry site and I haven’t the faintest idea who Manly P. Hall is. If you’re going to go off on someone and call them an evil little man, you should know what you’re talking about before you attack them. I assume you will now apologize.

  36. “Manly P Hall” = band name.


    i can hear the Snap that goes with that, heh.

    frankly, i find it sort of fascinating to watch them throw it all away so quickly. progressives should take heart, a lot of what we want really is popular and people support it, when they hope and believe. the “we’ll make you hate us” campaign the dems are currently on is sort of amazing, it’s like a contest to see who can fail the most greatly. this is my pollyanna spin on things. never mind the dinocrats, let’s work on getting more graysons in the game. it may all be Kabuki but i like my singers in the traditional “progressive liberal” style.

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