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This could become a lead story in a few months.
Meanwhile, Obamacare is moving closer to full throttle, for what it’s worth. My last caller on the radio the other night presented a very optimistic assessment of the law, and I wanted to believe him, just as I would love to join the optimism of this Kos poster.
Do you think national single payer is inevitable?
As of tomorrow, a few more HRC provisions kick in – including the requirement that 80 percent of insurance premiums be spent on health care. This will lead to two alternatives – lower premiums, or stimulative insurance spending on actual health care. How effective it will be I can’t say as I know nothing about the enforcement mechanism, and I’m sure that Republicans are going to try to starve it for funds. But insurance companies which dedicate more than 20 percent to dividends, salaries, and overhead will be in violation of law.
Given that the recession and bailout money have brought insurance companies record profits over the past couple of years, there should be plenty of money to invest in medical infrastructure, that that could mean significant hiring.
Also kicking in are the 50 percent pharmaceutical discounts for seniors caught in the infamous “donut hole” and that will sbe quite visible and very much felt by those on fixed incomes. Some senior advocacy group is already airing radio ads, and a number of people have been stretching out what they have to make it to Jan. 1 when unfortunately most pharmacies will be closed. But Monday isn’t too far away.
It’s not single payer, but it’s not a kick in the pants either.
So while President Clinton was pushing for employers to cover their workers in his 1993 bill, John Chafee of Rhode Island, along with 20 other GOP senators and Rep. Bill Thomas of California, introduced legislation that instead featured an individual mandate. Four of those Republican co-sponsors — Hatch, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Robert Bennett of Utah and Christopher Bond of Missouri — remain in the Senate today.
“The individual mandate, in our eyes, is clearly unconstitutional,” explained Hatch to FNC anchor Greta Van Susteren. “If Congress can do that to us, then there’s nothing that the government can’t do to us.”
Just so we’re clear:
In fact, says Len Nichols of the New America Foundation, the individual mandate was originally a Republican idea. “It was invented by Mark Pauly to give to George Bush Sr. back in the day, as a competition to the employer mandate focus of the Democrats at the time.”
A friend of mine recently received a prescription for ear drops and went to collect it. A small bottle was priced at $220.00. He refused to pay it, but took the opportunity to read the “active ingredients.” The ingredients are hydrocortizone and acetic acid (basically vinegar). He intends to mix up his own, costing him a few bucks with plenty of each ingredient left over.
Somebody want to try to blame Obamacare?
That is, in the 21 states that opted to let the federal government set them up. California, which decided to set up its own pool, isn’t ready yet.
MSNBC is reporting that Obama and Stupak have reached a compromise deal, involving an executive order to the effect that the law shall not be construed as to overturn the Hyde Amendment – interpretations to be left for court battles later I guess.
Now, do the progressives fight the deal? We know they won’t.
Addendum: The talking heads are saying that the “compromise” means nothing because an executive order only lasts as long as Obama is in office, and is (according to reports) vaguely worded anyway. Basically, it allows Stupak to vote for the bill and save face.
Second addendum: Stupak confirmed as a “yes” vote. That means it passes with votes up in the 220s.
Meanwhile, Pelosi this morning showed up to work with the gavel which closed the proceedings on the passage of Medicare in 1965.
Third addendum: Well, TPM is reporting that Stupak is denying he’s reached a deal, but I think he just wants to save it until he gets a microphone into his hand.
What’s really funny is that TPM scooped all the networks.
Fourth addendum: The pressure’s on and tempers are short. David Plouffe vs. Karl Rove on This Week:
Plouffe: “The politics of this, by the way: If we pass this, we’re in much better shape, politically, in the Democratic Party than we are today. Because we’re going to go out there and not just talk about what WE’RE for, but what the Republicans are voting against: They are siding with the insurance companies over people who are denied coverage for preexisting conditions, siding with the insurance companies over saving seniors money. So this isn’t just about us being a piñata here in the election. Elections are about choice. They are voting against an enormous tax cut for health care for 40 million middle-class families and 4 million small businesses — that’s what they’re voting against. … We are going to be much better positioned politically — now, that’s secondary to what’s right for the country — if we pass this. By the way, we had 15 million new voters vote in the 2008 election. OK, these are people are cynical that their vote really matters. If we don’t pass health care, I think that sends a very depressing message. But it’s going to be a very powerful message to them that their vote matters and they ought to stay involved in politics.”
Rove “This thing is paid for with Bernie-Madoff-style accounting. … It’s a gigantic disaster.”
Plouffe: “Karl and the Republicans would be familiar with that.”
Rove: “You will bankrupt the country if this bill passes. … For God’s sake, will you stop throwing around epitaphs [sic] and deal with the facts for once, David? … We will fight the election on this,. and the Democrats will have significant losses in the House and Senate as a result of this bill.”
Plouffe:”If Karl and a lot of Republicans want to call the election already, they ought to break out that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.”
Rove:”That’s cheesy, David. … You should not denigrate the mission of the USS Abraham Lincoln.”
You can view the video here.
Fifth addendum: Flipping between the cable news networks is amusing for the entertainment. MSNBC is filled with enthusiastic interviews with Democrats calling this the first step towards universal health care. CNN is focusing on the story of whether the Senate will betray the house and result in a “civil war” within the Democratic Party. Fox News has its cameras on the crowd outside, deftly avoiding the the pro-reform signs, and interviewing any Republican they can find not too surly to give them a statement.
Sixth addendum: As noted in the thread, the Republican pro-life caucus is turning on Stupak live as I type. Meanwhile, it’s sinking in to some on the right, and some of them are freaking out.
And the Tea Party demonstrators have included among their ranks those willing to resort to homophobia (while accosting Barney Frank) and racism (while accosting civil rights hero John Lewis). Add anti-Hispanic epithets (not “epitaphs” as Karl Rove said, although that word might also be appropriate) to the equation.
Seventh addendum: David Frum (Bush’s speechwriter) says this fight is the Republicans’ Waterloo.
And Boehner is begging his fellow Republicans to “behave like grown-ups” when the bill passes.
According to several lawmakers who attended the 15 minute meeting, Boehner said “we will behave like grown-ups,” and not engage in taunting the vulnerable Democrats who support the controversial measure.
Leaders anticipated that the Democrats will erupt in applause if the bill passes and they don’t want Republicans to react with a chorus of “Nah-nah-nah-nah hey, hey, hey good-bye,” as happened in November when the House healthcare bill was approved.
Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) explained that “this is too big. We believe that this is the beginning of the end of America,” and responding with taunts at Democrats, risking their jobs by voting for the bill is not appropriate.
Seventh addendum: Watching the debate and the Republicans really seem to be dispirited in their debate. They seem resigned to the inevitable. They really don’t seem to have their heart in it. Stupak’s sell-out took the wind out of their sails.
The one bright spot is Rep. Devin Nunes, from California, who says that the Democrats are “laying the cornerstone for their socialist Utopia.” I wish I could feel that way about it!
Nunes earlier commented that Democrats being hit with homophobic and racial epithets brought it on themselves, because “acting totalitarian” makes people “crazy.”
Meanwhile, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List Group have stripped Rep. Stupak of his award. Yes, you read that name right.
Eighth addendum: It passed, though by a three fewer votes than had been projected. It may be that the Stupak clan had provided cover for a few swing district reps to save their asses in November.
In any case, it passed following a very melodramatic speech by Bonior.
Afterward, they’re still debating the reconciliation bill. The Republicans made a motion to send it back to committee to revive the language of Stupak-Pitts, which was firmly opposed by Stupak himself. During his speech a Republican representative, not yet identified, screamed “babykiller” at Stupak. Joe Wilson off his medication again maybe?
Meanwhile, the Democrats needed something to energize the base. Looks like it may have had some effect.
TPM’s list of undecided House reps.
Rep. Steven Lynch, one of the Democrats voting no, had a meeting with Obama. He claims that Obama said he might push for the Public Option next year. According to this poll, some of these tactics may be causing a backlash against Republicans.
The latest and dirtiest in the GOP attempts to derail HCR.
Assuming the bill is passed with reconciliation fixes, here is a list of social benefits which will take effect immediately upon passage.
A deal with Stupak may be in the works, which is probably bad news.
And Glen Greenwald argues that Rahm’s strategy of ignoring progressive demands because progressives would eventually fall into line has been vindicated, suggesting that this may become a windfall in political capital for Obama, but the final defeat of progressive Democrats. Unless of course we get a public option next year. But actually, if progressives ever want to be treated seriously, they’re going to have to kill something important to Obama. It’s become an inevitability.
This Republican is calling the HCR an extension of “the Great War of Yankee Aggression.” There’s a winner of a soundbite!
Addendum: There’s some indication that Republicans are starting to regret their strategy. This is from David Frum, speechwriter for Bush.
It‘s critical for everybody, and not just the President. It‘s critical for us on the Republican side, too. If this thing passes, there is going to be an accountability moment on the Republican side. We had a choice; do we negotiate and try to get some of our values in the bill? Or do we go for total defeat of the President and bet everything on that? I was one of those who said negotiate. That advice was rejected. We went for total defeat of the President. If he prevails, it is going to be a shutout of Republican views in one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed in the United States.
Meanwhile, a Democrat responds to the calls from the right to “start from scratch” with agreement.
And after meeting with Obama personally, Kucinich will vote for the bill.
And health care reform opposition is outspending pro-reform in advertising about 25 to 1.
Second addendum: Endgame approaches. For those not up on the process, well, unfortunately this cartoon doesn’t explain reconciliation.
And in the “my heart bleeds” department, here’s one “no” Democrat lamenting about the pressure on him to change his vote: “It’s clear to me they could care less about my political future.”
Yesterday he said that by their next show they “will be talking about healthcare not as a presidential proposal but I think as the law of the land.” I guess they’ve counted their votes, probably as most of the Stupak Dozen are caving.
However, it will pass without a public option. The pledge only got to 40 votes, and some of them were equivocal.
Addendum: Stupak’s buddies are ditching him. Obama leaned heavy on Kucinich, who is not commenting. The Republicans are looking for ways to gum up the process procedurally, but they don’t have many options.
Second addendum: Health Care Reform’s own “Joe the Plumber:” Natoma Canfield.
Third addendum: You can tell it’s getting close. Some Republicans are wigging out big time.
CSPAN will probably get its best ratings ever tomorrow as the “summit” starts at 7:00 a.m. our time. Here are the players and their anticipated strategies.
Addendum: Some highlights.