The Roller Coaster

I honestly don’t know what’s going on in Congress with health care reform. Here is Ezra Klein’s latest and Brian Beutler’s latest. The sticking point at the moment appears to be financing.

At The Guardian, Rose Ann DeMoro writes that the government sure as hell had better do something. If you want to be thoroughly depressed, however, read the comments to the article, in which American dittoheads tell Europeans how much better the U.S. system is to theirs. It’s embarrassing.

However, see also P.M. Carpenter, “Healthcare Reform and the Lure of Despair.”

I’ve been among the guiltiest of prejudgers of coming health-care legislation, essentially, or even explicitly, on occasion, declaring a robust public option doomed before birth. I now question the wisdom of that prejudgment, although, obviously, it may well prove to have been deadly accurate.

The chief cause of my self-questioning is not some pollyanish, utopian epiphany that has befallen my brain. Rather, it has been the overwhelming totality of like-mindedly negative prejudgments I’ve repeatedly encountered from around the Web.

And they’re downright depressing — premature tossings in of the towels; emotional declarations of it’s all over before it’s actually over; black, foreboding, self-righteous brayings of I told you so, again, before there’s even anything of substance on the Congressional table for us to be told about.

These are the Sarah Palins of online progressivism: the whiners, the quitters, the inactive activists, the incurably discontented voices of departure from Washington’s camp of Valley Forge before the first snowflake descends. And I’m embarrassed and ashamed to confess that too often I have had one foot in the retreating camp.

Normally I’d be with P.M. on this, but right now I’m feeling pretty bleak about it all. I still say if there’s no public option, they might as well not bother. And the public option still seems like an uphill struggle.

19 thoughts on “The Roller Coaster

  1. Giving trillions to shore-up the rich banks which heisted peoples money? No problem.
    Giving trillions in tax cuts to the richest 5%? No problem.
    Financing two needless wars and their occupations? No problem.
    Financing more money for military defense than the rest of the world combined? No problem.
    Financing for national health care? What, are you some kind of godless, socialist spendthrift? PROBLEM!

    And look, the Blue Dogs just chimed in with their usual worthless two cents. Hey Blue Dogs, I know you hate us DFH, but there was a saying back about 40 years ago that applies to you: ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’
    Why don’t you just run as Republicans and save us all a lot of Pepcid AC?

    Keep sending e-mails, making calls, and annoying the living shit out of those MFer’s who who are trying to stop progress.

  2. I feel pretty bleak, but not so much about health care reform – I’m encouraged by Bernie Sanders and Dr Dean getting out in front of this in recent days, and by Reid reining in Baucus’ appeals to Grassley (a Republican), merely to gain a few Republican votes. Of course it’s difficult for us outsiders to make sense out of all the noise and moment by moment dramas to get a sense of what is really going on.

    I’m dishearted by things I’ve been reading over at Daily Kos & Empire Burlesque (too lazy to provide links) – about how we’re building another super “embassy” in Pakistan, along the lines of the one Bush erected in Iraq. And of how the DOJ fired a whistleblower attorney in the Don Siegelman case. There are many other datapoints as well.

    Too much “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. Of course, it takes a lot of energy to turn a ship around that’s been sailing in the wrong direction for 3 decades, but I was hoping for more boldness. I’ve been sighing and making apologies for Obama – “long on the visionary, short in the delivery” is my unpoetic way of characterizing his rein so far. But then, consider the mess he was handed…


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


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

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

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

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

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

    If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.



    Join the fight.

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

    God Bless You

    Jacksmith – WORKING CLASS

  4. Moonbat, it indeed takes a lot of energy to turn the ship of state around, and I’m sad to say there is a continuity between administrations that borders on criminal behavior. Bush 41 began a bombing campaign in Iraq which continued through the Clinton years, escalating in the last 2 years of his administration, culminating in a whole scale invasion under Bush 43.Obama is continuing this madness with his push into Pakistan.
    I once again recommend Eric Margolis’ book “American Raj”, the military push into South and Central Asia is abject stupidy, and will ruin us.
    There is a continuity in the intelligence community and the military; some strangely believe they work independently from the legislative branch.
    There indeed seems to be a “shadow” government that runs the show, hence Marvel’s comment on a previous post regarding Obama “drinking the Kool Aid.”
    Speaking of energy, today is the birthday of Nicola Tesla, the genius who brought us AC electricity, and much, much more. Advanced Tesla technology may yet save humanity from its self. For some facinating reading, google advanced Tesla technology, and look on youtube. This stuff is here and now, Prometheus Synergetics , sustainable energy , agriculture,and technology rule!
    “sustainable” “unsustainable”, we’ll be hearing these words more each day, the new “Zeitgeist”.
    And we cannot forget the mess he was (we were) handed.

  5. Obviously they cannot be informed and honest and worried about financing healthcare; if they were they would be pushing for a single-payer system or for copying the French or Dutch systems. These are all much cheaper than ours, cover everyone, and have the same or better outcomes.

    So these people claiming to be worried about the costs are either uninformed or dishonest… unless they’re just really super stupid. The meta-question (rhetorical) is why do we have people like that in the positions they are in?

  6. The opponents of a public health care system for the US were surprisingly well-sourced than I expected, though all they managed to prove was that Canada’s and the UK’s system is perfect (what is?). It’s hard to ignore the statistics that we have the lowest life expectancy, infant mortality rate, and highest AIDS infection rate of the industrialized nations, with the highest health care costs. True, we tend to pioneer more breakthroughs, but that is changing with our top students and researchers traveling abroad to work due to more lax restrictions on their work (yet another way the religious right has hamstrung us).

    Despite what the opponents say, I would happily help pay for the 45 million currently uninsured to be insured for the following reasons:

    1. Cost- those who are uninsured do not make routine and relatively inexpensive doctor visits to assure good health. Instead, many wait until their lives are jeopardized by illness and make costly emergency room visits. Often, these people cannot pay for these visits, the cost is passed on to me in the way of higher premiums (this is part of the reason why a 22 dollar glue stick to seal a wound costs $120 dollars: to cover the costs the hospital doesn’t get from the uninsured).
    2. The public health safety net- those who do not go to the doctor for routine health checks and vaccinations threaten my own health. Diseases like polio are extinct in the US now because of widespread public vaccination drives. Diseases like TB and Swine Flu can also easily threaten my health if those around me don’t visit a doctor when they are sick or receive vaccinations due to cost. Imagine how our AIDS transmission rate would decrease if everyone could go to their doctor for comprehensive sexual education prior to their first sexual experience and could get free condoms. As an interesting and more feminist point, my husband’s vasectomy was covered under insurance, yet all forms of feminine birth control are not covered by my health care. Interesting.

  7. Mrs. W: the “Harry and Louise” shenanigans during the Clinton admin’s attempts to plot out a new system seemed to take the Clintons by surprise, too. I bet if you asked Hillary Clinton about health-care reform today, the first thing she’d say is, “Always keep an eye out for torpedos. They never stop.”

    The massively intertwined, almost-cancerous nature of our “medical-industrial complex” or MIC, as maha called it the other day, means there will be wave after wave of well-financed disinformation assailing the American public and our legislators. I’m actually not surprised by that. And as much as I loathe being compared to Sarah Palin, I have to admit I’m feeling pretty bleak about the chance of viable reform myself. The MIC owns too many legislators for this Congress to do any good.

  8. Jack Smith I love you! Life is an uphill struggle.
    I’m content in my belief that we somehow managed to get an administration that can handle the job. They’re still hearing from me daily, that’s my job.

    Let’s do what we have to do now, or we could all keep on singing “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

    Viva La Evolution!

  9. Just wanted to stop by, cannot believe the discourse and flame wars at another site that once maintained a robust dialog of the issues. Now it is all ridiculous threads about the same group of wingnuts we all had issues with the previous 8 years.

    Even though that crew has been marginalized and is currently relatively powerless, that blog now posts 24/7 about those previous lying liars while flaming and banning anyone that asks, “WELL WHAT ARE THE DEMS GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS!”

    I share your concerns about meaningful reform and am grateful you have maintained a site where these concerns can be posted. In the end, it is much better to participate in a respectful dialog (with fewer comments) than a 150+ flame-a-thon where a small group of commentators proclaims every other poster and viewpoint is a “troll”.

    Thanks for being online today!

  10. moonbat – moonbat, I agree that when I look over the political landscape, there is more reason for hope there then in many other areas.

    Will they take a stand and force the hands of the party-of-no and its subset of blue dogs? I don’t know, but we need to keep the dialog up and be sure everyone knows this is what the majority of Americans want and expect (even the majority of repugs!)

  11. Food for thought: see Stirling Newberry’s Three Polar Politics In Post-Petroleum America. Excerpt:

    …The Confederates and Moderates agree in their guts: they have a gut level fear of a post-petroleum, post-financial, world. A gut level dislike of homosexuals, a gut level distrust of Progressive movement. However, they disagree wildly on how to protect the petroleum paradigm. The Confederates are virulently anti-technocratic, while the Moderates are technocratic to the core. This division means they are barely on speaking terms about the ways to preserve the petroleum economy, including disagreements over taxes, stimulus, and the size of government.

    The Confederates have much in common with the pre-1930 Democratic Party, of which they were the base until the Civil Rights era. They are laissez-faire, for example, and localist. Many Moderates defect because Moderates are often regulation for thee, but freedom for me. George Soros, for example, believes in regulation — except for the financial industry. The Confederates are also socialists for themselves. Looking at Palin’s record in politics, one can see that she is, effectively, a socialist. She taxes oil companies to provide benefits and services. It is her religious beliefs, which have deep cracks and contradictions, and contempt for competence, which expose the contradictions in her own career, which prevent her from being a Progressive.

    The Moderates and the Progressives agree on how to do things. They both understand the size of government, the need for an ultimate provider of stability, and the importance of discipline, science, and accepting what the numbers say. Indeed, many Moderates, such as Peter Orszag, are fully aware that the numbers the Moderates are looking at, do not add up. But they cannot bring themselves, on a gut level, to abjure the power of the financial system.

    That financial system is the hidden vector on the chart, that pulls off in a Moderate/Confederate direction. It warps the presentation of news, the flow of donations, and the shape of public debate. Since between 40 and 60 percent of all the free cash flow on the corporate level comes from finance, depending on whether you look at only the financial industry, or whether one counts the financial arms of other companies, it is not surprising that this “money electorate” creates a virtual representative plutocracy. The financial sector hires politicians to make palatable and workable policies that the financial sector likes.

    The Confederates and the Progressives agree in their guts: both have a suspicion of large concentrations of power, though they disagree on which ones are most dangerous, and both have an inherent belief in the individual against the organization man. The Moderate pole is the corporatist pole. However, the Confederates and Progressives hate each others’ gut sympathies. Equal marriage is perhaps the paradigmatic example, but government is another. War a third. Confederates believe in war, and in defense spending as an entitlement.

    This three pole view predicts explains why there are three kinds of votes in Congress, and nationally as well.

    There is the Moderate-Confederate, or Confederate-Moderate coalition. These votes, such as FISA, the Iraq War, escalation in Afghanistan, or any vote generally that gets to the root of protecting the petroleum paradigm and the suburban industrial complex built on top of it, go 75%-80% against 20%.

    There is the Moderate-Progressive coalition. This is roughly the Democratic Party. It goes between 55%-65%, with some of the people on the boundaries of the Confederate-Moderate line defecting.

    Finally, there is the Moderates against both of the two wings. This leads to the Moderates pulling out money. They do a two step: they shift towards the Confederates, that is to the nominal “right,” and buy enough Progressive votes with small bribes. Since the Progressives have few sources of large money, this is not expensive from the view of the Moderates. These votes slide through just barely, with an important piece: the Confederates agree not to filibuster these votes, because there aren’t really 60 votes for them.

    From this can be seen the most important political fact of the present: President Obama is a Moderate, and leader of the Moderate wing. On many issues he is a Confederate, such as equal marriage, on many issues he is more towards the Progressive view, particularly on nuclear weapons. But in his guts, he thinks the left is nuts. Hence the utter lack of important Progressive policy advisors….

  12. moonbat — Wow. Stirling remains one of the most brilliant thinkers on the web, and whenever he and I have disagreed, he usually ends up being the one who called it right.

  13. Thanks for being online today!

    Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I personally hate comment threads that turn into 573 people leaving about three words each, or threads in which everybody is playing “more leftie than thou.” DU is particularly bad about that, which is why I won’t go there. So I may not get the big volume of page views, but we’ve got a crew of people who really think and write thoughtful comments, and I love it.

  14. since you mentioned DU, which I also gave up on last summer for the exact same reasons, can I mention that today, I am referring to an insane threadwars at TP.

  15. oh – want to add, hope no one confuses my comment about TP with the excellent blog TPM!

  16. I always miss Stirling’s writings after he does one of his periodic, abrupt exits from whatever site he’s been blogging on. I’m later pleasantly surprised when he resurfaces a few months later, sometimes on the same site, sometimes somewhere else, with yet another genius article, that I sometimes have trouble understanding (‘cuz I never took Econ 101, let alone graduate level work).

    When much of Lefty World was swooning over Obama a few months ago, he was very negative on BO, and my guess is this is what precipitated his latest hegira, only to reappear recently with the above article.

    • There were a couple of times when some frightening economic news was going around that I don’t understand, that I emailed Stirling and said, “should we be concerned about X?” He sent back 900-word replies that I didn’t understand, either, but if the gist of it was “yes, you should worry” or “no, it’s no big deal,” I considered the matter settled.

  17. This is a great blog, and for someone who likes to comment on occasion it doesn’t get lost in the 678 three word comments whom all appear to have an inside joke that I’m not getting. Besides, no one can write like Maha, period. As per the topic at hand I would prefer no legislation than a bastardized option that will make actual change later just that much harder. The public option is the only option; if it’s not on the table, screw it. As a teacher I have great insurance, Cadillac, the best of anyone I know, so I guess I should not be concerned about this particular public issue. But for me, in a classroom of 30 kids, statistics tell me that 5 of them don’t have any insurance, and a good portion of them are under-insured. I personally know several people who have gone bankrupt on ‘good’ insurance, 80/20. They couldn’t cough up the nearly $100K in the co-pay. That’s awful. My insurance would probably get worse, but the fact is that it’s just not right, nor fair, that many are not able to get to a doctor if they are sick, and many of them are kids.

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