The Ridiculous Debate About Paying For Health Care

As part of their plan to raise the funds for universal health care, the White House is planning on revising the way the estate tax is paid. That’s a really good idea! But this passage jumps out at me:

Filling that gap actually understates Mr. Obama’s problems in paying for reforming health care. The deductions limit has hit a wall of opposition in Congress, with the Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees among others objecting that it could depress tax-deductible charitable contributions. The proposal accounts for half of Mr. Obama’s proposed $635 billion, 10-year reserve fund to introduce cost-saving changes into health care and to expand coverage to the uninsured;

The debate on health care reform is really simple in my opinion. You either want universal health care or you don’t. Those few people who are arguing against health care reform, who are clearly in the minority, are swimming upstream without a paddle or a fact to back them up. The fact is that we had an election and the universal health care people won, overwhelmingly. That’s life conservatives.

So the real debate at this point in the discussion is how to pay for health care reform. Here’s a tip for everyone reading this blog. Call it politics 101 if you will.


Rather than debate lofty ideals and semantics, people need to realize this simple point. We have to pay for health care somehow. If you don’t want to deficit spend, then the government is either going to have to raise taxes or cut spending somewhere.

So far the White House has proposed that we raise this money in one of three ways. Closing tax loopholes that let corporations avoid paying hundreds of billions in taxes, slightly raising the estate tax, and/or limiting charitable contributions to 28%. While I certainly have an opinion on which option is preferable, I’m not picky. I’d settle for doing any of the three, or any combination of the three.

But if you’re that adamant about letting corporations get away with tax fraud, not raising a tax that effects !% of the population, or letting the rich lower their taxes by buying lavish statue at their school, then the burden of proof is on you to come up with a method to pay for health care. And no I don’t mean a bullshit “method” like “ummm we should get rid of welfare” or “shrink the size of the army!”. No, I mean a real idea that can seriously can be considered a legitimate option. Anything else is just pissing in the wind.


Health Care Industry Jumping on Board With Health Care Reform?

Today, all the major players in the health care industry, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, Advamed, the California Hospital Association, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and SEIU, are releasing a letter promising to aid health care reform effort by cutting health care spending by 1.5 percentage points over the next 10 years. That’s $2 trillion!

Needless to say this is a very big deal for a two big reasons:

1. Remember 1994 when the medical-industrial complex teamed up to kill the Clinton universal health care initiative? Millions of dollars and vicious attack ads later, public and congressional support for eroded and health care reform is dead. This is the exact opposite of that. Now the weight of these big hitters are on the side of health care reform. That’s a lonely political island that opponents of health care, ie Republicans, are going to be left on.

2. Arguably more important than the health industry’s commitment to reducing spending is the way they’re going to cut costs:

In the letter the groups deliver to Obama on Monday, they will call for (among other things) creating electronic medical records, streamlining billing systems, linking payment to quality measurements, and encouraging the use of evidence-based guidelines. Taken together, the groups will say, these measures can reduce the annual rise in health care spending by 1.5 percentage points a year.

I think I just got hard…

These cost cutting measures not only save money, they drastically improve health care quality. As we know, electronic medical records save lives. Evidence based guidelines save lives, and linking payment to quality saves lives.

Krugman is excited, Jon Cohn is excited, and Ezra is skeptical. Still, this is major news.

Its the ZOMBIES STUPID: Obama vs Krugman Round 2

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably seen Newsweek’s cover story “Obama is Wrong” featuring Nobel Prize winning economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman.

While its worth a quick read, the article itself does little to explain the long held policy disputes between Obama and Krugman. In short, Krugman has been very skeptical of the Obama administration insistence in propping up our current economic system, which Krugman, believes is fundamentally flawed. How flawed? Krugman has begun calling these ideas “Zombie ideas” because of their role in keeping dead banks alive.

But this isn’t the first, or nastiest debate the President has had with Krugman. During the primary, Krugman and Obama traded several blows while debating the necessity of a mandate in achieving universal health care. Obama opposed it and Krugman, along with Clinton, Edwards, and most of the progressive community supported it.

It got so nasty, that the Obama campaign even sent out an opposition hit piece on Krugman. Of course, once he was elected Obama changed his mind and sided with Krugman. Oops

You can read about the debate HERE

Is Obama Doing Too Much? No, He’s Doing Too Little

One of the newest political theme’s gaining traction lately is the ” Is Obama is doing too much” message. The idea behind this being that with the economy being in such poor shape, Obama should drop everything he’s doing and focus on fixing the economy?

So is it true?

In a sense no. In another sense hell no.

Click below to read more

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Idealism Over People: What The Health Care Debate Tells Us About Conservative Priorities

Via Politico

…McConnell suggested there were areas in which Republicans won’t compromise, particularly the creation of a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers.

“Forcing free market plans to compete with these government-run programs would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition,” the letter stated. […]

McConnell’s letter was signed by Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Is anyone really surprised? In a free market economy that Republicans allegedly promote, the market would be open to whoever provided the best product or service. But as Bill Kristol pointed out in his famous 1994 health care memo, universal health care is dangerous to the conservative agenda because it would actually work, thus proving that the Government can provide better commodities than the private sector in many important cases.

The problem with McConnell’s rejection of free market competition, that socialist bastard, is that it undermines the entire foundation of the Republican party. Small government, because the private sector can do it better. You might recognize this meme from the debates you have with your Republican friends when they argue against critical social programs. “It’s not that I’m against helping the poor, I just think the private sector can do it better.” Nope, they don’t. This is merely a convent argument they use which allows them to sidestep the horrible moral implications of their beliefs. That having a small government is the most important end, even if millions and millions of people are harmed in the process.

NOTE: If Conservatives think the private sector would provide better service than a public insurer, then shouldn’t they be encouraging competition between the two?

NOTE II: David Sirota totally agrees with me.

Busted: Obama’s Inconsistency and Honesty Problem Caught On Tape

In Iowa and New Hampshire , Barack Obama attacked Clinton and Edwards over the mandate portion of their health care plans. While the ensuing back and forth occured, the Clinton campaign pointed out that Obama supported not only universal health care, but single payer universal health care in 2003. But after Clinton and Edwards pointed out Obama’s alarming inconsistencies during the recent South Carolina debate Obama claimed to have never supported Single Payer Health Care. Unfortunately for him the Clinton campaign released a web ad a few days ago calling bullshit on Obama’s claim:

Uh oh… But of course when people are usually stuck in a blatant lie they dig themselves an even deeper hole:

But don’t take my word for it. Look at what the American Research Group, a national polling firm, said about Obama’s gaffe:

There are times in campaigns when candidates say or do things that destroy the major premises of their campaigns in an instant. Barack Obama did that this morning in his interview with Meredith Vieira on the Today Show.

When confronted with a clip of him saying in Monday night’s debate that he never supported a single-payer health care system and then a clip of him saying he was a proponent of a single-payer system, Obama uncomfortably dodged his very obvious contradiction by telling Vieira that he could not hear the clips.

By relying on the Groucho Marx defense (“Who are you going to believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”), Obama reduced himself to a typical politician in front of millions of voters.

Vieira reported that the clips were prepared by the Clinton campaign, which was all the more reason for Obama to have been prepared to respond to the clips.

Voters react to demonstrated behavior. If a politician says he or she represents a new style of politics, but his or her behavior clearly demonstrates the opposite, voters will base their judgments on the behavior and not on what the politician tells them.

–Dick Bennett

But of course the Obama campaign claims that he’s being smeared when someone attacks him with the truth. Look at what Obama’s spokesman said to the Wall Street Journal :

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are going at it over health care again, this time over whether Obama once advocated a single-payer health care plan, a system favored by the left wing of the Democratic Party.

He says he didn’t. She says he did.

But she has the proof. His comments are on video, from a speech he gave in 2003 to the AFL-CIO. It’s all on YouTube, natch.

At a Democratic debate Tuesday night, Clinton accused Obama of supporting single payer and then backing away. Obama flatly denied it: “I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn’t have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system. What’s evolved, Hillary, is your presentation of my positions, which is what’s happened frequently during the course of this campaign.”

But Clinton has the goods to back up her claim. In his 2003 speech, Obama said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America the wealthiest country in the history of the world … cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody … . A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. And as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, we have to take back the House.”

Challenged with the apparent contradiction, Obama spokesman Bill Burton produced three recent examples where Obama did in fact say that he would support single payer but only if we were starting from scratch. And he put out this nasty statement: “The Clinton campaign has shown itself willing to say anything, distort anything and twist anything in order to win an election.”

When asked to respond to the fact that the video shows that in 2003 Obama held a different view, Burton challenged Washington Wire to get a copy of the full Obama speech and suggested that would show his comments were taken out of context. Clinton spokesman Phil Singer provided the full video and it proved Clinton’s point.

Obama tried to use the incident as an example of Clinton manipulating the facts, but it seems clear his campaign is the one doing the twisting. Clinton wants the incident to highlight how Obama no longer supports universal coverage, which she and others believe is not possible without a mandate. On that matter, the debate goes on.

See the full video here:

Some materials for this diary were originally used by Mydd poster Seymore Glass