Death Panels, Progressive Style

by Karoli on December 21, 2009 · 10 comments

Health care reform?

At the top of my email this morning, one headline stood above all others. From Jane Hamsher at FDL Action, this urgent message:

The Senate’s health care bill must be killed.

It is an ungodly mess of errors, loopholes, and massive giveaways. When the American people find out what’s actually in this bill, they will revolt. Congress and President Obama have no choice but to do better for health care than this bill.

Not so much, Jane. There’s a lot not to like in this round of legislation, but killing it is the equivalent of a death panel for people like me. [Update: Ezra Klein answers each of the 10 reasons with facts.]

David Sirota joins the panel of judges with this:

We can feel free to risk sending a bad bill down to defeat in the cause of making it better — because we know that the bill in its current, non-improved form is bad. And from that stand, we may get more progressive concessions before this thing is finally done. Just as the old dynamic was based on buying Lieberman’s vote with insurance/drug industry concessions, this new Dean dynamic could means progressives forcing the leadership and the White House to, say, add back a public option back into this final bill as price for progressive votes.

Jane Hamsher at least carries the authority of her own experience battling breast cancer with her and a genuine desire to carry a torch toward improving the system for everyone. David Sirota just genuinely thinks if we all stand up and throw a far-right-size hissy fit, we might get more.

Yesterday I was taken to task privately for ‘caving’ to the Senate compromise instead of ‘fighting back’. The logic went like this: When Howard Dean called for the bill to be killed last week, what he was REALLY saying was to fight for more progressive concessions, and by not supporting him (and in fact, criticizing him) I was selling out progressive values to insurance companies and fat-cat lobbyists.

If a call to kill the bill is REALLY intended to be a pressure play, a roadmap for exactly how to mislead people who trusted what I said would have been helpful, similar to the one that went out from Frank Luntz to the right-wingers last summer. It is a character flaw of mine, this belief that if I say something I ought to actually mean it, and if I’m going to start using far-right wing memes to push the debate in one way or the other, there had better be a damn good reason to do it. But really, there is no reason compelling enough for me to ever start using teaparty memes to put progressive pressure on Congress.

In fact, hell would really have to freeze over first, and I am not referring to the weekend blizzard in Washington DC. That’s as intellectually dishonest as the furor over death panels, rationing, and socialist takeovers of health care.

In the world Hamsher and Sirota live in, an unholy alliance forged with the likes of Grover Norquist and Phyllis Schafly is perfectly justified, as long as they share a common goal. In this respect, perhaps I am more of a purist than they, since I believe that there is a line that should not be crossed. Overall ideological differences still matter. It is one thing to craft a compromise. It’s entirely another to crawl in bed for a one-issue stand with the same people who funded the tea party movement and crafted terms like “death panels” and “government takeover of health care”.

Yet, for Hamsher and Sirota, this is a perfectly rational response to their perception that the current Senate bill is so terribly awful that it should just be killed dead. They somehow justify this rationale by thinking they can come back around in 2010 to a bill that more closely resembles what they want.

I ask this: In what alternate universe do they reside? The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn injects a dose of reality into the discussion, as does Nate Silver, the new media guru of statistical political analysis. If they couldn’t get it on the first, best try, what fantasyland do they think will give it to them on the second one, with an entrenched right wing and a divided left wing?

It’s clear to me that there is such deep anger over the very idea of insurance companies not being completely destroyed by this effort at health care reform that progressives like Hamsher and Sirota want to destroy those who are currently struggling in the name of an ideal.

I would like for them to tell Brenda the waitress why the bill should be killed. The immediate Medicaid expansion will cover her medical needs. Or David, whose son Woody will immediately receive the care he needs without his family worrying about caps on the cost of his care.

If Brenda and Woody’s story aren’t enough, maybe they could explain it to all of the people who wrote their stories here.

History is a fabulous teacher. It teaches us that Truman, Nixon, Carter and Clinton paid dearly for failing to get health care reform passed. We are now TWO cloture votes and one up-or-down vote away from having a bill that will ultimately go to President Obama to sign. No President has accomplished this in the first year of his first term as President.

Killing the bill is the equivalent of a death panel for the ranks of the uninsured, the unemployed, the US economy, and progressive values. Only by organizing and mounting a campaign to IMPROVE the bill will we rise. We fall if it dies.

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  • http://tiedyes.com tarathralls

    I am a 64 year old self-employed vegetarian. I do not take ANY medications, nor go to a doctor very much. I DO NOT NEED EXPENSIVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES AT THIS POINT, and cannot afford to be bankrupted by the government, so that these Senators can meet promises they made to their lobbyists (Google Chuck Schumer who has received over $1 mill from Ins Lobbyists). I rarely go to the Doctor, and think twice before I do, 'cause I can't really afford the $100 it's gonna cost, so where do they expect people who cannot afford one doctor's visit to come up with the ongoing monthly funds for full insurance?

    Gee, pay the rent or pay my health insurance? Pay the Car Payment or pay my Health Insurance? Pay the phone bill (so I can get more work, and be connected to the Internet) or pay my Health Insurance? Congress will be forcing many Americans to make that choice, or be “criminals” if they can't AFFORD health insurance.

    This is Democracy, how?

    This is insanity, that's what this is! They are not thinking at all about helping the poor, they have obligations they have to fill, to the companies that are paying for their campaigns. I, personally feel forced into something I do not want, or need.

    Simple truth: I CANNOT AFFORD TO BUY GOVERNMENT MANDATED INSURANCE THAT I DON'T NEED! I do not like this bill, and have even come to wonder about my vote for Obama, and if I'm happy about it (not that McCain was a choice – I'm a Kucinich girl, myself, even with the Flying Saucers remark)!

    Yes, Obama's done a few good things, but he also has not repealed Bush laws that give him more power than he should have, as well as having done many other actions that leave me in doubt (esp. Roe v Wade worries). I am one unhappy camper, and think this bill is B.S. for the poor, who were supposed to be targeted and helped the most by this bill. It only seems to help the fat-cats to get their deep pockets lined a little bit deeper. I don't believe anyone will actually have any kind of immediate coverage from this bill, other than the Insurance Companies will see an immediate influx of cash into their twisted coffers.

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    Where to begin…okay, here. I think it's terrific that you're in good health, don't need any medications and are one year away from having comprehensive coverage for your health needs with Medicare. It doesn't look like you'll need to buy any mandated insurance beyond the small amount that everyone pays for hospitalization insurance under Medicare.

    Your argument for the rest of it rings hollow to me, because you are arguing that no one should have insurance if they're healthy, that disasters don't strike at whim, and that if they do, well, they can get it then. That's not how it works, because the fundamental question with insurance is always having a large enough risk pool of healthy to unhealthy people that the risk spreads among the largest group possible.

    Assuming we had the infrastructure for single payer in place (which we do not at this time), would you be as angry about being MANDATED to pay WHATEVER IT TOOK for every American to have single payer, unlimited accessible health care?

    I wonder about your indictment of it being BS for the poor, too. The Brenda link in my post goes off to a story of a hard-working waitress making next to nothing who now cannot work and cannot get Medicaid because she has no children eligible. Is it BS for her? Really? How so?

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    Where to begin…okay, here. I think it's terrific that you're in good health, don't need any medications and are one year away from having comprehensive coverage for your health needs with Medicare. It doesn't look like you'll need to buy any mandated insurance beyond the small amount that everyone pays for hospitalization insurance under Medicare.

    Your argument for the rest of it rings hollow to me, because you are arguing that no one should have insurance if they're healthy, that disasters don't strike at whim, and that if they do, well, they can get it then. That's not how it works, because the fundamental question with insurance is always having a large enough risk pool of healthy to unhealthy people that the risk spreads among the largest group possible.

    Assuming we had the infrastructure for single payer in place (which we do not at this time), would you be as angry about being MANDATED to pay WHATEVER IT TOOK for every American to have single payer, unlimited accessible health care?

    I wonder about your indictment of it being BS for the poor, too. The Brenda link in my post goes off to a story of a hard-working waitress making next to nothing who now cannot work and cannot get Medicaid because she has no children eligible. Is it BS for her? Really? How so?

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/ Karoli

    Where to begin…okay, here. I think it's terrific that you're in good health, don't need any medications and are one year away from having comprehensive coverage for your health needs with Medicare. It doesn't look like you'll need to buy any mandated insurance beyond the small amount that everyone pays for hospitalization insurance under Medicare.

    Your argument for the rest of it rings hollow to me, because you are arguing that no one should have insurance if they're healthy, that disasters don't strike at whim, and that if they do, well, they can get it then. That's not how it works, because the fundamental question with insurance is always having a large enough risk pool of healthy to unhealthy people that the risk spreads among the largest group possible.

    Assuming we had the infrastructure for single payer in place (which we do not at this time), would you be as angry about being MANDATED to pay WHATEVER IT TOOK for every American to have single payer, unlimited accessible health care?

    I wonder about your indictment of it being BS for the poor, too. The Brenda link in my post goes off to a story of a hard-working waitress making next to nothing who now cannot work and cannot get Medicaid because she has no children eligible. Is it BS for her? Really? How so?

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  • So Sad

    Tarathralls, you hit the nail on the head. I will repeat your post hear for emphasis.

    “I am one unhappy camper, and think this bill is B.S. for the poor, who were supposed to be targeted and helped the most by this bill. It only seems to help the fat-cats to get their deep pockets lined a little bit deeper. I don't believe anyone will actually have any kind of immediate coverage from this bill, other than the Insurance Companies will see an immediate influx of cash into their twisted coffers.”

    Those fat cats include those Senators who accepted bribes for their states that you will be mandated to pay for… There is certainly no equality for all with this Bill. Looks to me like a slush fund for the Dems and their supporters.

  • So Sad

    Tarathralls, you hit the nail on the head. I will repeat your post hear for emphasis.

    “I am one unhappy camper, and think this bill is B.S. for the poor, who were supposed to be targeted and helped the most by this bill. It only seems to help the fat-cats to get their deep pockets lined a little bit deeper. I don't believe anyone will actually have any kind of immediate coverage from this bill, other than the Insurance Companies will see an immediate influx of cash into their twisted coffers.”

    Those fat cats include those Senators who accepted bribes for their states that you will be mandated to pay for… There is certainly no equality for all with this Bill. Looks to me like a slush fund for the Dems and their supporters.

  • http://tiedyes.com tarathralls

    I am a 64 year old self-employed vegetarian. I do not take ANY medications, nor go to a doctor very much. I DO NOT NEED EXPENSIVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES AT THIS POINT, and cannot afford to be bankrupted by the government, so that these Senators can meet promises they made to their lobbyists (Google Chuck Schumer who has received over $1 mill from Ins Lobbyists). I rarely go to the Doctor, and think twice before I do, 'cause I can't really afford the $100 it's gonna cost, so where do they expect people who cannot afford one doctor's visit to come up with the ongoing monthly funds for full insurance?

    Gee, pay the rent or pay my health insurance? Pay the Car Payment or pay my Health Insurance? Pay the phone bill (so I can get more work, and be connected to the Internet) or pay my Health Insurance? Congress will be forcing many Americans to make that choice, or be “criminals” if they can't AFFORD health insurance.

    This is Democracy, how?

    This is insanity, that's what this is! They are not thinking at all about helping the poor, they have obligations they have to fill, to the companies that are paying for their campaigns. I, personally feel forced into something I do not want, or need.

    Simple truth: I CANNOT AFFORD TO BUY GOVERNMENT MANDATED INSURANCE THAT I DON'T NEED! I do not like this bill, and have even come to wonder about my vote for Obama, and if I'm happy about it (not that McCain was a choice – I'm a Kucinich girl, myself, even with the Flying Saucers remark)!

    Yes, Obama's done a few good things, but he also has not repealed Bush laws that give him more power than he should have, as well as having done many other actions that leave me in doubt (esp. Roe v Wade worries). I am one unhappy camper, and think this bill is B.S. for the poor, who were supposed to be targeted and helped the most by this bill. It only seems to help the fat-cats to get their deep pockets lined a little bit deeper. I don't believe anyone will actually have any kind of immediate coverage from this bill, other than the Insurance Companies will see an immediate influx of cash into their twisted coffers.

  • So Sad

    Tarathralls, you hit the nail on the head. I will repeat your post hear for emphasis.

    “I am one unhappy camper, and think this bill is B.S. for the poor, who were supposed to be targeted and helped the most by this bill. It only seems to help the fat-cats to get their deep pockets lined a little bit deeper. I don't believe anyone will actually have any kind of immediate coverage from this bill, other than the Insurance Companies will see an immediate influx of cash into their twisted coffers.”

    Those fat cats include those Senators who accepted bribes for their states that you will be mandated to pay for… There is certainly no equality for all with this Bill. Looks to me like a slush fund for the Dems and their supporters.

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