SOTU Preview!

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Bush Administration, Health Care

I know you all are eager to hear the State of the Union address, which I will live blog. I’m not promising to live blog it sober, mind you, nor do I promise not to channel surf if it gets too painful. But I will do my bloggerly duty.

In tomorrow’s New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear provide us a preview — Bush’s plan for national health care!

You’ll like this, my lovelies. It’s as good as his Social Security plan.

President Bush intends to use the State of the Union address on Tuesday to tackle the rising cost of health care with a one-two punch: tax breaks to help low-income people buy health insurance and tax increases for workers whose health plans cost more than the national average.

“I will propose a tax reform designed to help make basic private insurance more affordable,” Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address on Saturday, “whether you get it through your job or on your own.” He did not offer specifics, but an administration official provided details of the plan late Friday afternoon. …

… The basic concept of the president’s plan is that employer-provided health insurance, now treated as a fringe benefit exempt from taxation, would no longer be entirely tax-free. Workers could be taxed if their coverage exceeded limits set by the government. But the government would also offer a new tax deduction for people buying health insurance on their own. …

… Supporters say the plan would expand coverage to some of the 47 million uninsured. But critics say it would, in effect, tax people with insurance to provide coverage to those without it.

Now, here is the bestest part.

In his radio address on Saturday, Mr. Bush described his proposal as a way to “treat health insurance more like home ownership,” giving people tax deductions for their health insurance in much the same way as they get tax deductions for home mortgage interest. He said the current system “unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans,” driving up the overall cost of coverage and care.

I’ll pause here to let you read that last paragraph two or three more times. It takes a while for the breathtaking — help me here; I need a noun that means “clueless” and “arrogant” at the same time.

And isn’t this the same attitude that got Marie Antoinette decapitated?

More clues about the SOTU:

White House officials say Mr. Bush has decided to forgo the traditional formula for the State of the Union — a laundry list of ideas, many of them dead on arrival — in favor of a more thematic speech that will concentrate on a few issues, like health care, immigration and energy, on which he hopes to make gains with the new Democrat-controlled Congress.

Yeah, that health care proposal is going to knock ’em dead.

As he heads into the address, his first delivered to a Congress controlled entirely by Democrats, Mr. Bush faces intense skepticism from lawmakers over his new strategy in Iraq. But while he will not be able to avoid the subject of Iraq in the speech, White House officials hope to use the address to shift the national conversation away from the war and toward the possibility of bipartisan cooperation in Washington.

I can’t stand it.

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29 Comments

27 Comments

  1. erinyes  •  Jan 20, 2007 @8:09 pm

    I think my Tourette’s will be in high gear that night.
    That boy dropped WAY too much acid. He is a cross between J.R.Ewing and Gollum.Iraq is the precious.
    I picked a bad year to quit drinking…..

  2. Swami  •  Jan 20, 2007 @8:26 pm

    I need a noun that means “clueless” and “arrogant” at the same time.

    Smuck?

  3. RandyH  •  Jan 20, 2007 @8:34 pm

    Oh I just love it when they sell that “Ownership Society” line. Isn’t that what Colin Powell tried to tell Bush about invading Iraq? Something like “You break it, you own it…” but no. It’s now “We broke it, so you own it.”

  4. RandyH  •  Jan 20, 2007 @8:38 pm

    Don’t fret though, Dear Maha. They say it’s going to be shorter than usual so you can have an extra couple drinks before it even gets going. You’ll make it. I like this cartoon.

  5. Doug Hughes  •  Jan 20, 2007 @9:14 pm

    I watch the State of the Union Address every year – and I can never figure out which state won.

  6. joanr16  •  Jan 20, 2007 @9:32 pm

    Yeah, another great idea from the Bush White House. Tax the working class some more, so the “entrepreneurial” class can get yet another tax break. With any luck, Nancy and Harry will nip it in the bud.

    I think this is a genetic thing. I remember when Poppy Bush “41” (he who’d never seen a supermarket scanner before) had federal withholding reduced, because he thought we’d like to have more take-home pay. Until April 15th, anyway, when we who really do pay taxes would end up owing a huge lump sum to the IRS. He just didn’t understand that we working stiffs were different from him and Bar. We pay the bulk of this country’s taxes, and we can only afford to pay it in installments. And we sure can’t afford to pay income tax on employer-paid health premiums.

    What a maroon.

  7. biggerbox  •  Jan 20, 2007 @9:40 pm

    God forbid people choose those “gold-plated” plans that allow them to lounge in the hospital for as long as 12 hours after giving birth, or let them choose between either of their plan’s two inexperienced and poorly trained internists or a nurse practioner to diagnose their cancer! Because as Our Leader understands, our system really encourages people to choose such plans, through such unwise things like employers forcing workers to contribute at great cost to receive more than band-aid plans, and high co-pays and deductibles.

    I just wish that Bush’s own plan allowed him more coverage for mental illness, because he’s obviously used up all his appointments, despite clear need for further treatment.

    So, after years of zealous tax cuts, he’s going to finally suggest raising taxes, on the people who still have health insurance? I thought they said he wasn’t going to bring ideas that were dead on arrival.

  8. moonbat  •  Jan 20, 2007 @9:57 pm

    This is one of the best ideas I’ve seen, after invading harmless countries and privatizing social security, for sinking the whole Republican project. I can hardly wait for Bush to announce it with a straight face, and for the ridicule to begin.

  9. k  •  Jan 20, 2007 @11:56 pm

    Yea I already get taxed on my $800 monthly low option plan, It is not tax free now and it ain’t goldplated but for 800monthly you’d think it was. I pay 25 to see my pcp, 45 to see a specialist and 25 generic and 40 non generic etc . Yea I ‘choose “the cost and coverage. Since the pres has to never pay for or worry about retirement or healthcare for life, no pres should ever be allowed to have any say about ours.

  10. Swami  •  Jan 21, 2007 @12:00 am

    I wonder who his honored guest is going to be. Probably the parents of the recent Medal of Honor “winner” who threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow soliders. Well, whoever he gets, they’ll just be a prop to bolster his bullshit. Let’s roll!

  11. Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog  •  Jan 21, 2007 @12:18 am

    I am astonished that the editors of This Great Nation’s Only New York Times still allow the use of “bipartisan cooperation” as anything but a laugh-line, as regards this administration.

    Surely not even a Professional Journalist™ can believe this crap?

    With kind regards,
    Dog, etc.
    searching for home

  12. Jonathan Versen  •  Jan 21, 2007 @12:24 am

    Swami: that’s “shmuck”.

    as far as Junior’s healthcare plan, although I know nothing about it as yet, I assume it’s designed to make it easier for employers to trim what they offer their workforces, and harder for people of moderate means to afford it onced they’ve been bounced off said plans. And what good are “tax breaks” that only kick in if you make at least 40 grand a year to someone making 8 or 9 bucks an hour– i.e. the precise population more likely to lose their healthcare in spite of soldiering on at their jobs?

  13. nomdeplume  •  Jan 21, 2007 @12:46 am

    Well at least 45 million Americans aren’t covered, and increasing numbers are declaring bankruptcy because they can’t pay for their medical bills, even if they’re covered, and hospitals are closing.

    So I can guess we can assume, if this is all we’re getting, those numbers will continue to rise, we shall remain the only industrialized western nation that doesn’t cover all its children, and doesn’t give a darn about whether the parents are well and alive enough to care for them.

    “Let them eat cake.”

    Just remember that Congressional representatives have full coverage, including vision and dental, and, like the war that has killed 3,000 Americans, and just in this past year alone, 45,000 Iraqis, we’re paying for it.

    Chop chop.

  14. sisyphus  •  Jan 21, 2007 @12:47 am

    I’m amazed that the Repubs think they can still sell bait and switch plans. Do they have evidence that their bs still sells?

    The recent Attorney General pronouncements about habeas corpus makes me think they can sell rewriting the Constitution. They despise the Constitution. And there is evidence that the Supreme Court despises the Constitution as well.

  15. nomdeplume  •  Jan 21, 2007 @12:57 am

    “I’m amazed that the Repubs think they can still sell bait and switch plans. Do they have evidence that their bs still sells?”

    Bush is just a wolf in grandma’s dress. He’ll keep playing the naked emperor card as long as he can, finally, just doing whatever the heck he wants to, when the American people in unison say, “No.” Like the surge thing.

    This is all along the same lines as the family values platform. Meaning, they never have really given a poopy-do.

    The real question now is does Congress have the kahoones (sic) to live up to that picture of Nancy Pelosi with a stage of children standing next to her to the tune of “If I had a hammer.”

  16. nomdeplume  •  Jan 21, 2007 @12:59 am

    And if they don’t have the kahoones (sic) — do the American people have enough of those things to tell ’em where to go?

  17. nomdeplume  •  Jan 21, 2007 @1:15 am

    Just remember — for a temporary position, Congressional representatives have full lifetime medical coverage from the American people — including vision and dental — PLUS full retirement plans.

    And we’re getting this poopy do on national health care for all Americans, and, social security?

    All those children on the stage were and shall continue to be fully covered.

    Are you and your loved ones that safe while you pay for them and theirs?

    To pose for good pictures?

  18. Swami  •  Jan 21, 2007 @1:21 am

    Jonathan…actually it’s spelled “schmuck”. I knew I misspelled it after I posted it.. it was an impulse post without the aid of a spellchecker. I appreciate your correction because it gives me the opportunity to excuse my poor spelling.

    Bush is missing the point by offering tax breaks for health insurance.. the point is that the 47 million uninsured just can’t afford to lay out the initial $500 to $1000 dollars a month for insurance coverage. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

  19. nomdeplume  •  Jan 21, 2007 @1:30 am

    And let’s not forget those whose policies won’t even cover them without bankruptcy either.

    And the employers who can’t afford it either.

    But he will get on, talk to the American people as if they are in second grade, and do whatever he wants.

    And Congress will?

    And the American people will?

  20. prisicanus jr  •  Jan 21, 2007 @1:45 am

    I need a noun that means “clueless” and “arrogant” at the same time.

    No, you need an ADJECTIVE that means “clueless” and “arrogant” at the same time. I can’t think of one word, but how about just “cluelessly arrogant”?

  21. rachel  •  Jan 21, 2007 @5:20 am

    …Mr. Bush described his proposal as a way to “treat health insurance more like home ownership,” giving people tax deductions for their health insurance in much the same way as they get tax deductions for home mortgage interest.
    Huh? When you pay your home mortgage interest, you get equity in something that you can keep until either you die or you sell it. When you pay health insurance, that money is gone for good. Maybe paying the insurance will keep you from having to pay a lot more money later; maybe you and yours won’t need healthcare that year. Either way, that money is gone, gone, gone.

    Furthermore, while you may (hopefully) not need health insurance, but you must have a roof over your head. The two cases are not eqivalent, and should not be treated as if they were.

  22. maha  •  Jan 21, 2007 @7:18 am

    No, you need an ADJECTIVE that means “clueless” and “arrogant” at the same time.

    Uh-huh. Given the sentence I wanted to write I wanted a noun; the adjective was “breathtaking.” I realize that “clueless” and “arrogant” are adjectives, but I was looking for a noun form.

  23. erinyes  •  Jan 21, 2007 @8:09 am

    Jock

  24. joanr16  •  Jan 21, 2007 @10:24 am

    Yes, it’s spelled schmuck (literally, Yiddish for “penis”) and to nomdeplume, it’s cojones (Spanish for “testicles”). In both cases, equipment lacking on George W. Bush.

  25. sachem515  •  Jan 21, 2007 @11:54 am

    Consider watching the pregame on C-Span. Instead of the usual blathering, you get to see the chamber as it fills, and as the SCOTUS and the cabinet are announced and seated. The ritual is more interesting than anything that will come out of W’s mouth.

    Stay tuned for Sen. Webb’s response after the speech. I expect the contents of Webb’s speech will have many ripe words about the delusions and fantasies that have facilitated the forming of the existing policies.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Webb’s speech is the one being talked about the day after.

  26. Gordon  •  Jan 21, 2007 @1:19 pm

    Whoa – Bush is going to raise taxes? Even if only on those with gold-plated plans, this just don’t fit – it’s not “doing it better than Daddy”. And it will drive a good part of whatever base he has left absolutely bonkers.

    Rachel at 21: absolutely right. This is even worse than comparing health insurance to auto insurance (very commonly done). Auto insurance only applies if you own an auto (vs simply existing), and only liability is legally required. The equivalent in health insurance would be that if you sneeze on me and I get sick, your insurance has to cover it.

    Off-topic: Maha, I thought of you (and Stirling) when I read this:
    http://prorev.com/2007/01/christian-right-is-built-on-suburban.htm

  27. vibinc  •  Jan 23, 2007 @9:09 am

    I need a noun that means “clueless” and “arrogant” at the same time.

    Clairogant?

    Or how about Dipsh*t?

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