Breaking: We Have a Bill

meatgrinderIt’s been through the meat grinder a few times, been used as a vehicle for the promoting of anti-choice legislation, has been held hostage by shameless scoundrels, but The New York Times is reporting that Democrats have finally come up with a health insurance reform proposal that all 60 Senate Democrats can support.

Yes, it’s a neutered proposal that does not go nearly far enough. It may lead to a terrible electoral outcome for Democrats in 2010, unless a massive all-out PR effort is mounted to defend the program. But let’s face it: this is likely the only opportunity the American people will have to effect some measure of health insurance reform for a generation, and failure to enact even these modest reforms would be utterly disastrous for the nation as a whole.

It’s not what we’d hoped for, but at this point, it’s this or nothing. And before we start crapping all over the graves of Democratic politicians who had it in their collective power to have given us oh, so much more, let us not forget that every single GOP Senator and all but one GOP congressman did everything in his power to oppose even these modest efforts. We must not lose sight of that fact.

And Hell, the Congressional bill still includes a Public Option. We may yet be pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the compromise unity bill (OK, I’m not holding my breath, but…).


TJ/ Yo. How is it that the Birchers are flush enough to sponsor anything? I didn’t even know those wackadoos were still around, let alone had enough support to even buy little league t-shirts. WTF?

The Republicans were the least of it. The insurance companies have run a massive disinformation campaign. I heard McCain repeating the same tired lies as the response to President SparklyUnicorn of Hope’s weekly address. Of course this means more work for me. If they get this through I’m going to have to call everyone to say well done. I know they’ve been worried I might withdraw my support and it’ll give them a little boost for the holidays.

I don’t think this is going to hurt them. They’ve got enough programs kicking in next year to give us all Hope® for the future. I am still holding my breath to hear what’s left of long-term care provisions. I don’t think people are anything like aware enough of how much it costs or what a protracted illness means. Grayson is right about the Republican option: If you do get sick you better die fast so you don’t bankrupt yourself and/or your children.

@Benedick is Danny Tanner: It’s not even close to being over. Likely, the insurers have all manner of stalling tactics ready including, who knows, suits against the federal government the moment the legislation is passed and enabled. It’s not over until Aetna’s sniper team is captured in Lafayette Park attempting to take out Obama. Meantime, they’re purging their roles of anyone who might actually require medical care.

@FlyingChainSaw: All of which tells me that even this half of a loaf bill is a step in the right direction. Any movement toward taking health care out of the for-profit category and pushing it closer to the worth-doing-for-each-other category is progressive to me. The wealthy see this as a first step on a slippery slope away from our “He who has the gold, rules” society. Changes start small and grow.

@Dave H: I heard Nelson expressing concern a couple of months ago that the CEOs of hospitals in Nebraska were opposed to reform as it would cut into their profits. This whole idea of making money off sick people is incomprehensible to me.

@Dave H: Anything is better than nothing theoretically but this is the opening salvo against an apocalyptically wanton adversary with virtually unlimited resources. This could take decades of grudging legislative trench wars, endless law suits, monkeywrenching by insurers, and non-stop swiftboating and teabagging. Dealing with industry is like being in a B-horror flick. You might think the monster has been decapitated and the hero’s won but it’s only the beginning of the fight.

Don’t get too excited — Douchebag Joe hasn’t pulled away the football yet.

Looking ahead: Apparently the House can pass the Senate version as-is, bypassing the conference committee.

If it goes to conference, everything’s back on the table. Whatever emerges has to be passed — as is — by the House and Senate. And the Senate will again be subject to filibuster.

When things go down the shitter like this health ::cough:: reform bill has, my mind just shuts down, and my heart turns to stone. It’s happened with DODT, the escalation in the Stans, the whole nine, and I am weary.

It’s my own damned fault: I voted for Barry thinking he was the candidate I wanted rather than being the candidate he said he was, and I’m totally withdrawing from this game now.

I might be a registered Democrat (only way to vote in primaries in PA is to be aligned with the Ds or the Rs), but I’m totally voting for Socialists from here on out. Yeah, I might be throwing my vote away, blah, blah, blah, but I can’t take much more of this bullshit. If only we had a parliamentary system where I’d be guaranteed some sort of voice in the system, even if it’s some nutcase hollering in the wilderness, then I’d feel more engaged. At least I’d be represented proportionally. None of these bastards represent me. None of them ever will.

C-SPAN 2 (which I finally found on my cable system) has The Reading of the Amendment, demanded by Republicans so the final vote would be delayed until 1 a.m. Monday, allowing them to make “dead of night” noises.

Reading should finish around 3:40 ET. Not sure whether the cloture vote immediately follows. This is more fun than a video Yule Log.

@JNOV: Given that any democracy amounts to herding sheep, any democratic structure will be prone to this shit.

With a parliamentary system, the major parties are hostage to minor parties, whose votes are needed to create a governing coalition. You can enjoy the thought of the Progressive Caucus being a party unto itself, but you’ll have to add Teabaggers United to the mix. And we end up in the same place.

But no need to go that far. We’ve reached this moment because of the filibuster, a non-Constitutional Senate rule, which has the effect of making an unrepresentative chamber even more unrepresentative. A 51-vote Senate wouldn’t be Valhalla, but the ugly compromises would be more sufferable.

(Omitting discussion of corporations squatting on the entire process, of course.)

Too bad the wimminz had to be thrown under the bus, with Nelson’s ladybits amendments even worse than Stupak’s. Women who opt to pay extra for abortion coverage (because you know, those are always PLANNED????) will have to write two separate checks each month to their insurance companies.

Where is the requirement of two separate checks for Nelson’s little blue pills?

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood:

The Nelson language is essentially an abortion rider. It creates an unworkable system whereby individuals are required to write two separate checks each month, one for abortion care and one for everything else. There is no sound policy reason to require women to pay separately for their abortion coverage other than to try to shame them and draw attention to the abortion coverage. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that insurance companies will be willing to follow such an administratively cumbersome system, leaving tens of millions of women without abortion coverage.

@JNOV: I don’t know what to make of the Birchers sponsoring CPAC. And despite Rachel’s amusing segment on the subject, I don’t know whether these are Your Father’s Birchers — whether the organization has had consistent and continuous management since the 1950s, or whether the brand has essentially been bought from bankruptcy.

It’s all quaint, really — you have to almost qualify for AARP membership to even recognize the name. They’ve long since been superceded by neocons, teabaggers, the CATO Institute, and a dozen other entities more familiar to contemporary politics.

nojo: Honestly, the clerk reading this amendment should append “So there, bastards!” at the end of the reading.

@SanFranLefty: And Politicrap has a piece showing Stupak’s Minions trying to undermine Nelson’s amendments.

But back to my two questions:

1. Is this better than the status quo?

2. How much does it screw me over?

If even the crumbs that remain truly help a substantial number of people, I’m willing to bite it, to the extent I’m capable of doing so. (I can afford the penalty.) I’m still not there, but I’m not outright opposed to it yet.

@chicago bureau: I would allow the clerk the additional time necessary to accomplish that purpose.

C-SPAN estimates keep slipping — “expected to conclude momentarily” is their safety chyron.

Oh, and I was looking into Reconciliation the other day. Can o’ worms.

Cloture time!

@nojo: Your Rawls is showing.

Since most women don’t even realize their health insurance plans COVER abortion (almost 75-80% of insurance plans do, probably because they’re way cheaper than covering pregnancy care and birth of a baby), or the few who do know often decide not to utilize their insurance to cover an abortion and pay in cash because they don’t want the insurance company knowing, in the end it’s a marginal difference. I have to keep reminding myself of the 25 million women who don’t have any health insurance so I don’t think about how those of us with insurance are being thrown under the bus.

@SanFranLefty: Your Rawls is showing.

That, madam, is a low blow.

Coburn: “The filling of the tree by the Majority Leader.”

I think there’s some parliamentary shit going down, but I can’t figure it out.

So: No cloture vote yet. I think everyone’s going to trade ten-minute blathering segments for awhile.

A few moments ago, Harry Reid offered a flurry of amendments, all of which “strike the language” of something or other. If I grasp Coburn’s comment correctly, the purpose was to flood the zone of remaining “available” amendment slots in order to move the process along.

nojo: Yeah — Vote on Monday morning… at 0100. Beauty.

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but Nelson is a fucking shakedown artist:

This morning’s managers amendment to the merged Senate health bill goes a long way towards satisfying the demands of Democratic hold-out and all-important 60th vote Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE).

Nelson has recently complained that the proposed expansion of Medicaid to those earning below 133% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) would burden his state of Nebraska and suggested that states should be able to opt-in to the program.

Under the current merged legislation (the version unveiled on November 18th), the federal government fully finances care for the expanded population for two years and increases its matching funds (known as FMAP) thereafter. Page 98 of the managers amendment specifically identifies Nebraska for higher federal matching funds, fully funding its expansion for an additional year.

Fucking old white guy from a fucking red state with more fucking cows than people. He and people like him are the reason we will never get health insurance and the reason the human race is finished – Nelson and his ilk will never do the things necessary to fix the climate change problem. Nice knowin’ ya.

Coburn quotes Jefferson:

Compelling a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

When Tom’s done with that placard, can I have it? I have a couple of wars heading up a long list of items to apply it to.

Senate adjourned until 1 p.m. Sunday.

Is it the cloture vote coming at 1 a.m. Monday?

@nojo: Yes and yes, but I’m yearning for a party that, despite coalition building (something the Ds can’t even do amongst themselves let alone with Rs), represents me and my interests. Would that happen all the time or even some of the time? Probably not, but my little band of lunatics would get their 10 minutes to howl a Dean Holler on C-SPAN, and I’d feel like at least someone was speaking on my behalf and that at least someone tried to achieve the changes I think would benefit society, even if the downside is that the Teabaggers get to spout off, too. These fools we’ve got now and this administration are fucking Keystone Cops trying to sort out the difference between their assholes and holes in the ground. Pfft.

@nojo: Right! Maybe they dug some up or they stuffed ’em and will wheel ’em out for the conference like Bentham.

@SanFranLefty: Yeah.

@blogenfreude: The Senate has become The Fucking Spinning Wheel of Shakedown Artists for Romney 2012. God, I hope Dean runs.

@JNOV: I was an (I) for 20+ years until I registered for Barry in PA primaries 08. I still haven’t changed back (lazy), but intend to. I have a long string of losers at the ballot box behind me: John Anderson, Moe Gibbs (a college frined of my bro), Jerry Garcia and Ralph Nader among them. But I have never missed a fucking election no matter how momentary my engagement was or wasteful that single vote seemed.

Participatory democracy ain’t just hanging a chad every two to four years, it’s also doing what we do every frigging day, and with the interwebs, it’s getting easier. OTOH, the corporation funded echo chamber is also getting much bigger.

@Nabisco: When I first registered to vote in 1984, I tried to register as an (I), but that’s when I learned about our primary issues. I’ll probably stay a (D) just so I can vote against Specter in the primary, but after that, I’m changing my affiliation.

I’ve never voted for a 3rd-party candidate although I considered vote swapping in 2000 when I lived in CA so the Green Party could get some federal duckets. My dad scared the crap out of me, so I went Yellow Dog Dem as per. Pfft.

Oh, I just emailed Dr. Dean at the DNC. Think they’ll forward my email? Heh.

@Nabisco: I’ve been an I maybe 25 years, since being a D has no electoral advantages where I’ve lived, and I’m not a fan of labels. (Naomi, you’re very late to that game.)

Funny story: The Hill (I think) had a profile this week of my ancestral-home congresscritter, Pete DeFazio, who’s been fronting the progressives on occasion. It was suggested that he’s somewhat unusual since he represents a right-leaning district.

Um, hello? EUGENE?

Now I recognize that OR-4 takes in more than Lane County, and that outside the Willamette Valley, Oregon might was well be Idaho. But Pete’s been elected without substantial opposition since 1986, replacing 0ld-school liberal Jim Weaver, who was first elected in 1974. You have to go back to a name from my distant childhood, John Dellenback, to find an R in that slot.

Everyone likes Pete, who exudes Oregon Nice, but let’s be clear: a progressive couldn’t ask for a safer seat.

Oh, and Ron Wyden annoys the hell out of me. But he’s from Portland. They all annoy the hell out of me.


Funny thing: I registered as Green just after the Senate Dems voted to approve the Iraq war resolution. Haven’t seen the reason to change back to Dem, even though I voted for Obama and still am reasonably satisfied with the direction he’s trying to move the country in (I’m operating largely under the assumption that Obama is picking his battles carefully so as not to lose the “war.”).

@Serolf Divad: I hear you, and you won’t get an argument out of me about picking battles. Thing is, I just have to accept that I’m out there on the fringe, and I need to woman up and own it in the booth.

@nojo: I do believe Jefferson was talking about the separation of church and state.

Fuck healthcare, there is a motherfucking blizzard going on here that started last night, with gale winds, blinding fucking snow, now over a foot deep. Its a fucking shitstorm.

@nojo: Herding cats, dude, sheep are easy to herd.

Coburn is a douchehat, here is the context of the quote, it is part of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom:

“that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry, that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right, that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them: Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.”

@Promnight: Yes. Cats. Of course. Having C-SPAN 2 on all afternoon will do that to you.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be geeking under the hood for a bit, in case something suddenly blows up.

@nojo: “Hand me a wrench, willya, Chewie?”

/tj – So I hung with political cartoonist Pat Oliphant for a while tonight and had no clue. We talked the Aussie drought, the effect on the wine industry there, duststorms, and google satellite pix of one’s house. He was just “Pat from Australia” as far as I knew.

Holee fucking crap – Thur – Indian Market party; Fri – Spanish Market artists’ party; Sat – up at Ancestral Homeland; Haunakah party; then watched Dallas beat Sts at partner’s party. Drankin’ now and I’ll shoot the next fucking plate of food I see.

@redmanlaw: And among his many works, the Oliphant cartoon I still recall most clearly is John Mitchell surrounded by mewing cats. Something to do with the milk-fund scandal.

(Oh, good. The updated comment editor works.)

Don’t mind me, just checking how things look to civvies…

Your comment editor doesn’t have nearly as many doodads as the admin version…

@nojo: Okay, that should do it for the public part of our show. If something breaks now, it’s a Problem.

Boy: Listen to those congressmen arguing! Is all that discussion and debate about you?

Bill: Yeah, I’m one of the lucky ones. Most healthcare bills never even get this far. My daddy, Hilsbotcare, died in committee. I hope they decide to report on me favourably, considering I’ve died several times before and am currently dying from a thousand cuts thanks to lobbyists.

Boy: Die?

Bill: Yeah, die in committee. Oooh, but it looks like I’m gonna live! Now I go to the House of Representatives, and they vote on me.

Boy: Now they voted yes, what happens?

Bill: Then I go to the Senate and the whole thing starts all over again and get ass raped by Joe Lie and his tiny dick.

Boy: Oh no!

Bill: Oh yes!

I’m just a health care bill
Yes, I’m only a weak ass bill
And they voted for some versions of me on Capitol Hill
Well, now I’m off to the White House
Where I’ll wait in a line
With a lot of other bills
For the president Barry to sign
And when he signs me, then I’ll be a law.
How I hope and pray that this works,
But today I am still just a bill.

I have a good friend who works for an interfaith not-for-profit that had the good sense to set up some staff in Nebraska months ago. As a result, I have had a front row seat to the sausage-making process during the last two days, since my friend’s org and just about every other person connected to “faith” or “Nebraska” has been getting calls from the White House, making sure they coddle, pet, and reassure Nelson for all they’re worth. Proud as I am of my friend for being able to do more than most of us can to bring about a passing bill, the process is truly disgusting. The sausage analogy is apt.

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