Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dissecting the Republican Position

Let's consider:

1. The Republicans say there has been totalitarianism. It seems to me the majority ruled, as it has done since the founding of our Republic. Totalitarianism?

2. The Republicans say they have been entirely shut out of the process. But the fact is that more than 200 Republican amendments were accepted in the health reform bill as part of the process. Shut out?

3. A Republican leader predicted that the passage of the bill would be "Armageddon." That could be up there with the "Mission Accomplished" banner as one of the biggest political blunders of all time.

4. Senator Brown says it will not help Massachusetts. But the facts are that thousands of low income individuals will now be eligible for new subsidies, almost 80,000 seniors will benefit from the donut hole fix and Massachusetts will receive an extra hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid matching funds. It is hard to understand how one could rationally say this does not benefit Massachusetts.

5. Republicans say mandates are un-American and unconstitutional. But they were for them before they were against them. In an interesting article in today's Globe, the AP documents how the health insurance mandate began as a Republican idea in the 90's as an alternative to the Clinton plan. But when the Dems picked it up, they had to be against it.

6. And how about Romney? You'd think he would learn, as his wishy-washy position on abortion over the years could have cost him the nomination in 2008. Yet here he is, the leader who deserves enormous credit for spearheading the successful reform plan in Massachusetts -- upon which the federal plan was based - and now he opposes the federal plan and wants it repealed. How he thinks he can credibly even think about running for President, given such a disingenuous flip-flop, is beyond me.

7.  The Republicans claim this is a big government take-over and we are leading to socialized medicine.  Again, this ignores reality.  There is no public option.  The states create exchanges, simply to allow individuals who lack private insurance to gain better bargaining power in the purchase of insurance through private plans.  There is no new public plan or government take-over.  There is greater government regulation over insurance companies -- but even Republicans say they want this and the public surely does. 

8. The Republicans repeatedly say that the American people overwhelmingly are against this bill.  Yet, a Gallup poll conducted right after passage showed that 49% of Americans support the legislation and 40% do not. 

9.  Finally, the Republican strategy is now to run in the Fall on repeal of the law. Repeal?! Do they know that repealing the law requires not just taking over the majority in both houses, but actually taking over a veto-proof majority, which all experts from all sides believe is virtually impossible. And that's now their strategy?

They took a big gamble. They all voted against it. They hoped it would take down the Obama Presidency. But they lost. It didn't. And now they are left to explain how their strategy was actually in the interest of the American people, and not just a raw political scheme. They will have a tough time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The End In Sight!

It's hard to believe, but by the end of today we may actually have a health reform bill moving to the President's desk for signature (followed by passage in the Senate of a reconciliation bill to fix the worst parts of the Senate bill). If it happens, it will not only be a great victory for our President, who will have achieved more than any other President since 1965, but also (and more importantly) a great victory for our nation.  It's going to be close and no one is claiming victory yet.  But I knew things were looking up when I read that nuns had departed with the Catholic Church to support the legislation. 

On this, the frist full day of Spring, hope springs eternal!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Good Clean Joke

With all the seriousness of health reform, I thought it might be time for a good joke (courtesy of my friend Gary Lapidas). So here it is:

Two middle aged men, Art and Phil, were best friends.  And more than anything, they loved baseball.  They would often watch games together and root for their favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.  They could not imagine life without baseball.  That got them to wondering -- do they play baseball in heaven?   They would often discuss this, debating back and forth.  Finally, they decided to enter into a pact.  Whoever arrived in heaven first would promise to somehow come back and let the other know whether they play baseball in heaven. 

Years went by and they became old, but continued to enjoy baseball together.  Sadly, Art suffered a stroke and died.  Phil was forlorn but he often wondered whether his friend Art was playing baseball in heaven.  One day as Phil was having a quiet breakfast alone, Art suddenly appeared in front of him. 

"Oh my gosh, Art, is that really you?!"

"Yes it is, Phil." said Art. 

"Well, tell me, do they play baseball in heaven?" said Phil. 

"Well Phil. I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that they do play baseball in heaven."

"Oh that is wonderful Art.  And what is the bad news?"

"The bad news is that you're pitching tomorrow." 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Obama Should Go Further

President Obama will speak today about four proposals of Republicans that he will accept in the health reform legislation, apparently setting the groundwork for a reconciliation vote.  Unfortunately, he does not go far enough on malpractice reform.  Here is what he said, from the NYT:

"The president said he also supported providing $50 million in grants to states to help them test alternatives to the current system of resolving medical malpractice claims. But Mr. Obama stopped far short of endorsing Republican proposals to impose hard limits on damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits."

He should go further. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Cost of Doing Nothing - Version II

Avid readers of this blog (all three of you!) may recall this old post of mine from November discussing the significant cost of doing nothing on health reform.  See this interesting story in the New York Times over the weekend, by the same title, and essentially making the same points.