Archive for Thursday, January 21, 2010

Democrats are teetering on precipice

January 21, 2010

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“We are on the precipice of an achievement that’s eluded congresses and presidents for generations.”

— President Barack Obama, Dec. 15, on health care legislation.

Precipice, 1. a headlong fall or descent, esp. to a great depth.

— Oxford English Dictionary

Trying to guarantee Americans the thrill of the precipice, the president dashed to Massachusetts on Sunday, thereby conceding that he had already lost Tuesday’s Senate election, which had become a referendum on his signature program. By promising to cast the decisive 41st vote against the president’s health care legislation, the Republican candidate forced all congressional Democrats to contemplate this: Not even frenzied national mobilization of Democratic manpower and millions of dollars could rescue one of the safest Democratic seats in the national legislature from national dismay about the incontinent government expansion, of which that legislation is symptomatic.

Because the legislation is frightening and unpopular, Democrats have had to resort to serial bribery to advance it. Massachusetts voted immediately after the corruption of exempting, until 2018, union members from the tax on high-value health insurance plans. This tax was supposedly the crucial component of what supposedly was reform’s primary goal — reducing costs.

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., thought Bill Clinton’s presidency was crippled by the 1993 decision to pursue health care reform rather than welfare reform. So slight was public enthusiasm for the former, Clinton’s program never even came to a vote in either the House or Senate, both controlled by Democrats. There was such fervor for welfare reform that in 1996, after two Clinton vetoes, he finally signed the decade’s most important legislation.

In their joyless, tawdry slog toward passage of their increasingly ludicrous bill, Democrats cling grimly to Robert Frost’s axiom that “the best way out is always through.” Their sole remaining reason for completing the damn thing is that they started it. They seem to have convinced themselves that Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994 because they did not pass an unpopular health bill in 1993. Actually, their 1994 debacle had more to do with the arrogance and malfeasance arising from 40 years of control of the House of Representatives (e.g., the House banking scandal), a provocative crime bill (gun control, federal subsidies for midnight basketball), and other matters.

With one piece of legislation, Obama and his congressional allies have done in one year what it took President Lyndon Johnson and his allies two years to do in 1965 and 1966 — revive conservatism. Today conservatism is rising on the stepping stones of liberal excesses.

Between FDR’s reprimand by voters in the 1938 midterm congressional elections (partly because of his anti-constitutional plan to enlarge and pack the Supreme Court) and LBJ’s 1964 trouncing of Barry Goldwater, there was no liberal legislating majority in Congress: Republicans and conservative Democrats combined to temper liberalism’s itch to overreach. In 1965 and 1966, however, liberalism was rampant. Today, Democrats worrying about a reprise of 1994 should worry more about a rerun of the 1966 midterm elections, which began a Republican resurgence that presaged victories in seven of the next 10 presidential elections.

The 2008 elections gave liberals the curse of opportunity, and they have used it to reveal themselves ruinously. The protracted health care debacle has highlighted this fact: Some liberals consider the legislation’s unpopularity a reason to redouble their efforts to inflict it on Americans who, such liberals think, are too benighted to understand that their betters know best. Last week, trying to buttress the bovine obedience of most House Democrats, Obama assured them that if the bill becomes law, “the American people will suddenly learn that this bill does things they like.” Suddenly?

If the Democrats’ congressional leaders are determined to continue their kamikaze flight to incineration, they will ignore Massachusetts’ redundant evidence of public disgust. They will leaven their strategy of briberies with procedural cynicism — delaying certification of Massachusetts’ Senate choice, or misusing “reconciliation” to evade Senate rules, or forcing the House to swallow its last shred of pride in order to rush the Senate bill to the president’s desk. Surely any such trickery would be one brick over a load for some hitherto servile members of the Democratic House and Senate caucuses, giving them an excuse to halt their party’s Gadarene rush toward the precipice.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

It's not the Democrats who are on the precipice, it's the American people. Sure, the DLC/Blue Dog Democrats helped put us there, but the Republicans will gleefully push us all off the edge if it'll restart the money train from the same special interests that funded the creation of this debacle of a health bill.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"I would suggest not looking at and blaming republicans anymore.'

Jeez, uranus, just because the Democrats have really screwed up doesn't mean it wasn't primarily the Republicans who got us where we are, and who would surely just pick up where they left off if given the chance.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"What the Tea Party people stand for "

What do they stand for, kubacker? I mean, they have a right to be angry, but if there is any amount of thought behind that anger, it would be directed just as much at the Republicans as the Democrats.

So while it might have felt good to vote against the idiot running as a Democrat, all it got Massachusetts was the idiot that was running as a Republican.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

If that's the case, then voting for a Republican would be counterproductive, if the last 30 or so years is any indication.

diplomacy205 5 years, 3 months ago

The Tea Party people who keep wanting me to participate tell me that they want a smaller government and less government intursion into their lives.

That's what they tell me. I'm not a member.

jaywalker 5 years, 3 months ago

"if it'll restart the money train from the same special interests that funded the creation of this debacle of a health bill"

Freakin' hilarious. Restart? What? A trillion dollar's was a shutdown?

And nobody's standin' on any precipice. It's the same ol' song and dance, back and forth, up and down, player's coach or disciplinarian. Doesn't matter who gets power, give 'em a few months and Americans will find a reason not to like them too.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"Freakin' hilarious."

Yes, the degree of your ignorance can indeed be hilarious. It's been well-established that Democrats, including Obama, have been getting a lot funds from special interests and their lobbyists that used to go almost exclusively to Republicans-- which explains why this disaster of a health bill (along with much other policy and action, particularly with regards to Wall Street) has such a Republican flavor to it.

But the tea-party folks seem to think that all they have to do to fix things is elect Republicans again. I guess at least that way the screw job they get will be a little more "authentic."

madameX 5 years, 3 months ago

IMO, being for "small government" is like being for an end to world hunger. It's a beautiful concept, but unless you're prepared to bring a solid plan to the table for how to make it happen, and how to deal with the practical obstacles and problems that are sure to arise, I'm not prepared to take you seriously. So far, all the Tea Party folks seem to be prepared to do is yell, carry signs and call names.

Although I can sympathise with the feeling that your elected representatives are not representing you. I frequently feel that way about Brownback's and Roberts' actions.

jaywalker 5 years, 3 months ago

"It's been well-established that Democrats, including Obama, blahbitty blah...."

Duh..huyuck. No foolin', Mr. Wizard?

"have been getting a lot funds from special interests and their lobbyists that used to go almost exclusively to Republicans—"

Uh, yeah, I'm the ignorant one. Almost exclusively? Do you actually believe the shinola you shovel?

"But the tea-party folks seem to think....."

Didn't the same kind of thing happen 'bout a year ago? 'Course, when realistically you only have two choices it's pretty much one or the other, now ain't it?

Bozo's mind: sharp as a baby bumper.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 3 months ago

Dear Leader has been spanked by the IOC and the voters of MA. Who's next in line?

jaywalker 5 years, 3 months ago

"all it got Massachusetts was the idiot that was running as a Republican."

Typical from bozo types. All it takes is an (R) in front of the name, eh hypocrite?

20 January 2010 at 8:34 a.m.

Suggest removal

Permalink

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"So, monkeyhawk, what makes Obama “more despicable?” Is it merely the “D” that designates his party affiliation?"

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/jan/18/obama-visits-boston-bid-save-senate-seat-health-vo/#c1116499

georgiahawk 5 years, 3 months ago

I would love to see smaller government, but who is going to control big business? I trust big business less than I trust big government!

diplomacy205 5 years, 3 months ago

McCain Feingold just got struck down as unconstitutional. I can't wait to read the decision.

M. Lindeman 5 years, 3 months ago

rukus (Anonymous) says…

Bringing about small government is a losing battle as long as power is derived by handing out government money to special interests. At this point I think it would involve burning DC to the ground.

rdragon writes:

It is sad to say, but rukus I think your right. I do think a step in the right direction would be, to push for term limits on the House and Senate. If we can get term limits passed, then we can work on getting rid of the lifetime retirement they get on our dime.

Newell_Post 5 years, 3 months ago

diplomacy205 (Anonymous) says…

McCain Feingold just got struck down as unconstitutional. I can't wait to read the decision.

I heard. This is a bigger catastrophe than anything else that has been mentioned in years. Big bucks being used to buy political offices is a bigger threat to the safety, security, and very existence of the USA than anything else. I understand their theory, but the practical reality is a disaster.

Newell_Post 5 years, 3 months ago

How did I know when I read the headline that the author would be either George Will or Cal Thomas?

MyName 5 years, 3 months ago

Ugh, any column that opens with a dictionary definition is automatically fail. Especially if you use the wrong definition as the President was referring to the edge of a steep cliff face (on a mountain that the people advocating health care reform were presumedly climbing). That's High School Freshman quality writing.

Critiques aside, I don't see how anyone outside of the political soap bubble can claim this special election was about healthcare. Mass. already has government healthcare that is remarkably similar to the bill in Congress. It was more about voters picking the candidate they like over the crappier one that squeaked through the Democratic primary.

But hey, let's keep fighting the culture wars from 40 years ago while a broken healthcare system bankrupts the budget. It may be bad for the country, but it's GREAT for ratings.

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

Ending slavery was once unpopular with a large segment of the American population. It led to states withdrawing from the union and a civil war. Had George Will been alive back then, I suspect he would have argued that since all Americans weren't in favor of ending slavery then the president should have backed off his emancipation rhetoric. I mean, why force an unpopular idea on the masses, right George?

Some issues -- like making sure all Americans have access to health care, are larger than just the latest poll numbers.

By the way, Dems still have a majority in the Senate of 59 - 41. They should go ahead and call for a vote and make the Republicans start filibustering. Make it last all the way through the next election period, keeping those Republicans needing to run for office in Washington to continue filibustering. I'm sure after such a long, protracted filibustering season, Dems would then gain back the needed majority to end the filibuster.

Just a thought.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"Typical from bozo types. All it takes is an (R) in front of the name, eh hypocrite?"

I also called the Democrat in the race an idiot-- which she clearly is.

Do you even bother reading the whole thing before responding to my posts, or do you just look for the first snippet that comes along that you can whine about, however out of context you need to take it?

MyName 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh really Richard, then why were both candidates in the special election supportive of the current government healthcare system in Mass.? That does not sound like a T-bagger to me.

MyName 5 years, 3 months ago

@barrypenders:

Did you even stay awake during 8th grade history? In the civil war the Democrats were the conservatives in the South who wanted to keep slavery, but they all defected in masse to the Republican party after LBJ pushed through the Voting Rights act.

The Democrats of the 1860s have about the same relationship to the modern (post 1930s) Democratic party as the Whig party does to any modern political party today.

So please, take your BS reinterpretation of history somewhere else. This isn't a football game FFS.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

Myname, trod not between barrypenders and his lies with your addition. He knoweth, and careth not.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

Newell post, I've made a game out of it, guessing the author of columns in most discussed by Thomas, Will, Krautthammer and Pitts. This one lost me a point, though, because I guessed Thomas.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 3 months ago

"...while a broken healthcare system bankrupts the budget." Actually Dear Leader's payouts to the special interests that bought his way into the White House are accomplishing the budget busting.

MyName 5 years, 3 months ago

@Snap:

Oh sure, and his message that we need to stop treating politics like a football game and start trying to actual fix some of the problems in this country had nothing to do with his win. It was all about special interests (which are only "special" if they're something you don't like, otherwise they're "necessary government spending").

And please explain to me how an area of the economy that whose costs are increasing at triple the rate of inflation is going to do anything besides bankrupt the budgets of every group (public or private) that spends money on healthcare.

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

“Jeez, uranus, just because the Democrats have really screwed up doesn't mean it wasn't primarily the Republicans who got us where we are"

You know, I'd be willing to vote for universal healthcare if only it would ensure a cure for BDS.

"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at his daily briefing, "That anger is now pointed at us because we're in charge. And rightly so.""

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100120/ap_on_el_se/us_massachusetts_senate

Even the White House is starting to realize they're the ones in charge, and the ones responsible for our situation as it stands today. When are you going to, boohoohoozo?


Newell_Post (Anonymous) says…

"How did I know when I read the headline that the author would be either George Will or Cal Thomas?"

How did I know Newell would completely dismiss the article without reading it because it wasn't from one of his Party-approved sources?


Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

"You already control big business with your dollars."

Surely you jest, suggesting such a thing in Larryville.

'What? Spend more on a product that was built with 'green' technology to force the polluters out of business? You mean WE have to bear the cost instead of having the nanny-state government make them stop? No way.'


MyName (Anonymous) says…

"And please explain to me how an area of the economy that whose costs are increasing at triple the rate of inflation is going to do anything besides bankrupt the budgets of every group (public or private) that spends money on healthcare."

As soon as you explain how the Democrats' proposed 'reform' would do anything whatsoever to slow those rising costs, let alone reduce them.

jaywalker 5 years, 3 months ago

"Do you even bother reading the whole thing before responding to my posts,..."

Obviously. I"m usually parsing the whole thing line by line to refute every word. And you think it's all better because THIS time you called the Democrat an idiot too? Yes, you're the epitome of rationality and fairness, bozo. You consistently post "Repbublicans baaad!", but with that one half sentence you've balanced the scales.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 3 months ago

Will is showing himself to be a reactionary just like the chicken-little-sky-is-falling idiots on Fox (and Limbaugh).

Predicting grand and dire consequences from minor events was the provenance of liberals, against which conservatives would argue rationally.

My how the tables have turned.

One lost senate election does not the end of a presidency make, unless you are a mushy-in-the-head liberal like Will.

MyName 5 years, 3 months ago

@notajayhawk:

Oh okay, so you're saying that the problem is going to magically go away by itself then? Because so far that's the only explanation I've seen for the lack of anyone on the Republican side trying to do anything to fix this problem.

But, if you want to talk about solvency: 1) It would force private insurance companies to actually compete with each other on cost through the healthcare exchanges, whereas what they have now is a system of oligarchy where all of the actual healthcare costs are passed directly to the employer and employee. If they have to compete on price, they will also have to do more to get a better deal from the health care providers (which is the real source of price increases) 2) Since everyone would have coverage, it would drastically reduce the ER "clinic system" that we currently have now, which is extremely wasteful. 3) Medicare costs should go down because, the way the system is now, many people without insurance put off preventative medicine until they reach late middle age and they can use medicare instead. Everyone is covered so they are more likely to treat ailments earlier on. 4) Setting up a standardized electronic form/claims/billing system will result in a sizable cost savings.

And then there's the opportunity for tort reform and the possibility of interstate competition in future legislation which has been very unfeasible now because of the patchwork healthcare coverage in this country.

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

MyName (Anonymous) says…

"Oh okay, so you're saying that the problem is going to magically go away by itself then? Because so far that's the only explanation I've seen for the lack of anyone on the Republican side trying to do anything to fix this problem."

Is that why the news reported today that the Dems are considering including an end to the restrictions on interstate sales of insurance - just one of those non-existent Republican proposals (like tort reform, expansions of HSAs and tax credits, etc.)?

"1) It would force private insurance companies to actually compete with each other on cost through the healthcare exchanges, whereas what they have now is a system of oligarchy where all of the actual healthcare costs are passed directly to the employer and employee. If they have to compete on price, they will also have to do more to get a better deal from the health care providers (which is the real source of price increases)"

a) The Senate and House can't even agree on what these exchanges will look like. The House wants the states in charge, the Senate wants the feds running them.

b) Insurance companies will not be forced to participate in the exchanges and consumers will not be forced to buy from them. More importantly, providers will not be required to accept any particular plan.

c) More and more hospitals are dropping insurance plans when they can't get the rates they want. This will essentially set up a two-tiered system - hospitals and physicians that will not lower their rates will not be covered by companies participating in the exchanges, which will greatly reduce the available treatment options for those who are covered by them (how would you like to find out that the nearest hospital that participates in your plan is in Wichita?).

d) The new dynamic created by provisions in the reform proposals will drive reimbursement rates UP, not down. The only lip service made towards cost reduction is one that supposedly limits insurance profits. Except it does no such thing. It only limits them in proportion to premium rates - but there's no limits on those rates. Under the current system, for better or worse, there is a profit incentive for insurers to hold down costs - the less they pay out, the more they make. But with the loss-ratio mandates in place, insurance companies LOSE money by negotiating lower rates. The dynamic becomes one in which the only way to increase profits is to inflate reimbursement rates and increasing premiums. Which, incidentally, is exactly what is happening in states that have tried the same approach.

[continued]

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

[continued]

"2) Since everyone would have coverage, it would drastically reduce the ER “clinic system” that we currently have now, which is extremely wasteful."

This is a leap of faith. Many of those who overutilize ERs do so for convenience - why miss a day of work at the doctor's office when you can go to the ER after work?

Especially if you have insurance to pay for it?

"3) Medicare costs should go down because, the way the system is now, many people without insurance put off preventative medicine until they reach late middle age and they can use medicare instead. Everyone is covered so they are more likely to treat ailments earlier on."

Well, theoretically, according to your logic, that would also mean people would live longer - which would actually increase, not decrease, Medicare costs.

Um, MyName? People get old. Many of the infirmities that people suffer from in old age have nothing whatsoever to do with early preventitive care.

"4) Setting up a standardized electronic form/claims/billing system will result in a sizable cost savings."

Which is something that's already happening, because it adds to the profitability of insurers.

"And then there's the opportunity for tort reform and the possibility of interstate competition in future legislation which has been very unfeasible now because of the patchwork healthcare coverage in this country."

Both of which, up until now, have been rejected by the Democrats. They were, however, part of those 'non-existent' proposals made by Republicans.

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

yourworstnightmare (Anonymous) says…

"One lost senate election does not the end of a presidency make, unless you are a mushy-in-the-head liberal like Will."

Keep that head buried firmly in the sand, nightmare.

MyName 5 years, 3 months ago

@notajayhawk:

I love how I did exactly what you asked me to do, and you still haven't explained to me how doing nothing, which seems to be the only Republican response to this issue, and letting rising health costs bankrupt the country, is a valid policy option.

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

MyName (Anonymous) says…

"I love how I did exactly what you asked me to do"

Um, no, you didn't. You repeated the pabalum being shoveled at you by the Democrats, but not a single one of your explanations hold water. There is absolutely nothing in the Democrats' proposals that will bring costs down, and as a matter of fact it will create pressures forcing costs UP.

"and you still haven't explained to me how doing nothing, which seems to be the only Republican response to this issue"

Are you that deluded, MyName? You mentioned two of the Republican proposals yourself - or did you think that tort reform and interstate sales were Democrat proposals? Since you don't seem to be keeping up with current events, those have been republican suggestions for a long time (along with others) - and have been consistently refused by the Democrats.

Do you want to have another whack at explaining how the Democrats' proposed legislation will lower costs? One that actually is based in reality, not political idealism?

Flap Doodle 5 years, 3 months ago

House Democrats are exhibiting a lack of willingness to go down with the ship. {laughter}

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Poor poochie, still doesn't know what healthcare outcomes means.

And, um, pooch? If the Democrats' proposal passed, the insurance companies would be skipping the vaseline.

"Only a party which has been so soundly defeated in the last two election cycles would be so desperate for any good news that winning a single senate seat would be proclaimed as the end of the opposing party."

Ted Kennedy's seat, pooch.

A seat that was in Democratic hands for over 40 years, in a commonwealth with a million more Democrats than Republicans.

A Republican won in the Kennedys' home town, pooch. And in Barney Frank's district.

It was the only seat up for grabs that day, pooch. So much the shame. We would have been more than happy to take a few more if they'd been in play.

Wanna' make a little bet on whether the Republicans pick up more than one seat in the midterms, pooch?

Scott Drummond 5 years, 3 months ago

It is the nation that is teetering and the Supreme Court shoved us over yesterday. Think things are bad now? Wait until foreign and domestic corporations have the unfettered ability to select the government that best serves them. God help us, we are about to get the just rewards of 30 years worth of right wing dismantling of government, deliberate dismantling of the public education system and relentless media propaganda. It is deserved, no doubt, for our generally stupid self governance, but will lay waste to the next several generations and will likely not be satisfactorily resolved in my lifetime.

Scott Drummond 5 years, 3 months ago

"And Air America, teetered right over the brink today"

Goliath wins again. Is that anything to celebrate? The novel "1984" is being played out right before our eyes & the ship of fools gleefully applauds O'brien's progress.

Scott Drummond 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, make that "Big Brother's" progress. That'll teach me to make comments before morning caffeine.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 3 months ago

Old news, girlfriend. I posted about that yesterday,

while

I

was

having

a

wonderful

internet

life

.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 3 months ago

What happened to the conservative virtues of restraint and contemplation?

My goodness, every political event that happens is evidence that the Obama presidency is over and that the democrats are going to lose the house and senate.

Maybe, but we will see.

One thing is true, and that is that conservatives have lost their conservatism. They will rant, rave, and extrapolate wildly to try to force political points that aren't there. This is characteristic of liberalism.

What passes for conservative today is actually a nasty brand of populism fueled by anger and self-pity.

The republicans were once the enemy of populism, which resided with the populists and with the democrats.

The republicans are now dominated by angry populism, while true conservatism exists only in a few republicans and some moderate to conservative democrats.

The GOP, the Grand Old Populists, the Repopulists.

kidicarus 5 years, 3 months ago

"rukus (Anonymous) says…

I believe they stand for small government and no taxation without representation (aka deficit spending and inflationary policies)."

If they truly want smaller government, then neither party seems to be a viable option. Democrats are a fiscal nightmare, and Republicans have been gunning for government intrusion into social issues for years (i.e. gay marriage, abortion).

Seems to be a lose-lose for true (as opposed to "social") conservatives.

Scott Drummond 5 years, 3 months ago

""The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed." - Abraham Lincoln

Scott Drummond 5 years, 3 months ago

I guess the founding father's intent does not always guide the right wing contingent on the Supreme Court.

"The end of democracy, and the defeat of the American revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of the lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." - Thomas Jefferson

Scott Drummond 5 years, 3 months ago

"It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late revolution. The free men of America did not wait until usurped power has strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle." - James Madison

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