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Wednesday, March 24, 2010  

Health Care Reform's Long 2009*

Irrational Rationing (4/8/09):

It's true that our system doesn't ration health care in the traditional sense of having a ratio or logic behind how it distributes its goods. But at this point there is no full-service emergency room serving the vast swathe of the southside of Chicago. There is no access to regular dental care (yes, this is a health issue) for lots of people, especially children, and decent, continuous primary care is hard to come by for the uninsured. That's rationing. It makes me really angry to read stories in the Tribune and elsewhere about how sad it is that kids whose faces have been torn off by pit bulls are getting turned away from the U of C hospital, stories that quote critics and defenders of the hospitals without ever once mentioning that this wouldn't be a problem if we, like every other industrialized nation, had health insurance for everyone.

Fight for your right to podiatry (6/16/09):

Down-the-line conservatives have noticed, no doubt, that it's harder to move on social issues than economic ones. Down-the-line liberals have found the reverse. And this makes sense when you consider that the very privatized economic ethic conservatives champion is profoundly corrosive of the social bonds on which traditional families and the like rest. Meanwhile, the get-your-laws-off-my-body ethic of social liberalism seems hard put to coexist with, much less cultivate, any kind of social solidarity that could provide universal health care as a matter of decency and collective good.

60 (6/30/09):

What the election and seating of Franken does, if anything, is take away a little bit more of the cover that the conservative Dems were using to monkey with legislation. Now, folks, it's all on you. No more blaming Republicans for not playing along. If we don't get health care or carbon legislation, we will know exactly whom to blame

Listen up, you little freaks (7/8/09):

Good news, as Harry Reid is apparently attempting an impersonation of a majority leader by telling Max Baucus to stop giving away the health-care store to buy magic pony Republican votes and by telling the caucus to vote together on cloture. No idea yet whether this will work; the lunatics sensible centrists have been running the asylum Senate for so long that acting like a real governing body won't come naturally to them.

Good news (7/29/09):

The House health reform bill has been crafted, finally, to the satisfaction of liberals and Blue Dogs alike, and it sounds pretty good on balance. The major fly in the ointment is that the floor vote has been postponed until after the recess, giving the Blue Dogs plenty of time to figure out how to Lucy-and-the-football this one, or just to hope that the silverbacked time-servers at Senate Finance craft a bill crappy enough to corner all right-thinking opinion.

The Sixty-Three Vote Requirement (7/31/09):

The noble and time-hallowed practices of the U.S. Senate continue to offer previously-unknown gems of institutional wisdom and probity. We've all learned over the last few years that the Senate, nearly alone among legislatures the world over, requires a supermajority of sixty to "get anything done." And then one party got a 60th member in the chamber. Now we learn that passing a bill requires sixty votes, plus Charles Grassley, plus Olympia Snowe, plus one Republican to be named later.

Hawking: Reports of my being euthanized are greatly exaggerated (8/12/09):

The truth-squadding has gotten going on this stuff, but it's a classic example of the lie shoving paraplegics into the Thames while the truth is still putting on its lab coat in the bedroom. If health care reform is going to pass, it will have to do so despite a widespread and literally ineradicable certitude that it's loaded with stealth euthanasia provisions.

The Nightmare World of Government Rationing (8/12/09):

The bureaucrats decided that two pools is "enough" for our town of under 30,000, but there are so many kids for my son to share the pools with--kids he probably wouldn't like, kids who look suspicious and so forth. Some of them looked at and talked to us, which makes me uncomfortable. Anyone who wants to know how horrible a rationed resource is should come to my neighborhood pool.

Let's Make a Deal (8/12/09):

OK, conservatives, here's my best offer: for every 150,000 people our death panels get to euthanize, you get to pick a country to invade.

Half a Loaf (8/13/09):

But what we've traded away, as Atrios pointed out in an old post, is a clear, bottom-line slogan that can enter the lists against "no death panels!" and "no HitlerCare!" We can't say "health insurance you can never lose" because we haven't proposed that. We can't say "guaranteed health care for everyone, always, no matter what" because we gave up on that goal. What do we have? Controlling costs? Here's a secret: nobody gives a damn about controlling costs they don't directly pay. The Medicare recipients who have been packing the town halls would evidently light the world on fire and let every person under the age of 65 roast before countenancing the first cost-saving measure for their own government-funded care.

Health Care: Now With Less Grassley (8/19/09):

There's a good article in the Times today explaining why the White House and some in the Congressional leadership are looking to pass health care on a party-line vote after deciding that the Republicans are not interested in negotiating in good faith. Most notably, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently reiterated his insistence that even if he gets everything he bargains for in committee, he'll still vote no on the floor without wide support from the rest of his party. I don't know why Grassley decided to tip his hand like that, but it gets very difficult to justify making concessions in exchange for zero votes.

Requiem for a Dream (8/26/09):

Ted Kennedy picked an ironic time to die. Just as Republicans are gearing up once again to thwart the culmination of his life's work--universal access to health care--they are at the same time using the popularity of Medicare, a Ted Kennedy program par excellence, to do it. This illustrates a paradox that defined Teddy's career in high tide and low--that real progress is difficult to accomplish, but once gained, is very, very hard to undo.

Nobody Could Have Predicted (12/17/09):

That dropping one of the most broadly popular provisions from an otherwise confusing bill would make the bill less popular.

Liberals and Democrats (12/17/09):

And speaking of business, since no one in the Congress is taking the job, Dean appears to be auditioning for the role of dissident liberal leader--possibly, if things stay bad enough, positioning himself for a 2012 primary challenge.

60 (12/19/09):

Take Harry Reid. He's come in for a lot of scorn from all quarters (including this one). But the fact is that he's done something remarkable in getting such a sweeping bill that both radically expands the social safety net and reduces the long-term deficit as far as he has. If trends hold and he actually manages to keep the caucus together and pass this bill in the age of the perpetual filibuster, he'll deserve far more credit than he'll get until posterity judges him aright.

Huckleberry (12/23/09):

All the same, not only is this "black folks on Medicaid" jag he's on really offensive in itself, it's also not a good-faith objection to the bill. Is he saying that he'd vote for the bill if every state got the Nebraska treatment? Or that he'd replace Nelson's vote on cloture if Reid took the Nebraska provision (admittedly an awful one) out? That would be a deal worth offering, it seems to me--a way to use legislative gamesmanship to marginally improve a piece of legislation.

MA-Senate (1/15/10):

From another point of view, this situation underscores the futility of all that time spent by the Senate Finance "Gang of Six" trying to spring a bipartisan bill. It was not only never going to happen, it was such an eventuality that the GOP strategy was meant to make possible. All those weeks of negotiating for nothing. It's a shame, really.

Sack Up, You Pathetic Wads (1/20/10):

I have consistently argued for sad-sack members and disappointing majorities. But if one stupid election reducing the Senate Democratic majority from 60 to 59 ends up skittering the House into killing health care reform, even I'll be hard-pressed to stay on the bus for this fall's elections. If you bastards give up now, you'll deserve the inevitable crucifixion that's coming.

Sack Up, Continued (1/20/10):

I'm just a preacher who doesn't even have cable, but I know this much: we were never going to keep 60 seats, even on paper. Even if Obama the political super-genius hadn't decided that sitting senators and potential candidates from swing states would make the best possible cabinet appointments, even if the economy hadn't continued against the predictions of super-genius Larry Summers to stall out at 10% unemployment, even if AHIP and PhRMA had stayed bought on health care--even if all the cards fell our way, we would have lost that 60th seat somewhere along the line. People die, switch parties, run into scandal, make stupid mistakes. Primary electorates choose nominees as pale as boiled chicken. Voters get bored or fickle or distracted. Stuff happens.

And if the Democrats have decided that nothing short of 60 votes will suffice to get even long-overdue and watered-down legislation on the table, then we might as well all hang it up, go home, and let the tea party nihilists run the country into the ground already, because there is no freaking point. You win elections and pile up big majorities so you can do stuff that matters. This isn't about Frank Capra and Bobby Kennedy and finding that rendez-vous with destiny in your own heroically liberal navel; this is about being a grown-up and doing your job and taking the kind of basic risks involved in, you know, governing.

Sack Up, Presidential Edition (1/22/10):

But the first signs out of the White House following the special election are not at all encouraging. In short, it seems that Obama is doing what he has habitually done when the odds start falling: walk away and insist that it's someone else's problem.

Deep Thought (2/18/10):

Now that the health care reform process has been slowed down so much, Olympia Snowe is probably ready to vote 'yes.' Right?

Victory (3/23/10):

At bottom this was never a complicated moral issue. The means--public option, excise tax, whatever--were so drastically secondary to the goal that the amount of time we spent arguing about them was not creditable. It was always much more important to do this than to do it in a way that satisfies us emotionally. Thank God we've taken such a step.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 9:41 AM
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