Pass the bill, change the rules

Over at The New York Times, Paul Krugman is saying, “Pass the health-care bill awready, jeez.” But with more elegance, of course. Like Kevin Drum, he says the measure is flawed, but better than nothing, which is what history shows we will have for the better part of quite some time if this latest attempt at reform goes down in flames:

“Whereas flawed social insurance programs have tended to get better over time, the story of health reform suggests that rejecting an imperfect deal in the hope of eventually getting something better is a recipe for getting nothing at all.”

I’m not nearly as smart as Krugman — you may not be, either — but it’s clear to even a dummy like me that our present system is unsustainable. Health insurance constitutes the second biggest bill we pay here at the DogHaus, right behind the mortgage, and we’re just two people who are reasonably healthy when not falling off our bikes. And nearly every experience we’ve had with an insurer has involved a monumental clusterfuck of some kind, including botched billings, unintelligible paperwork and exorbitant premium increases that make a mob loan shark seem positively angelic by comparison.

Some of this has to do with the employer-based structure of U.S. health insurance. I don’t have an employer, so I can either cut a deal on my own — the last time we did that it involved a monumental deductible and paying full retail at the sawbones and pharmacy — or piggyback on Herself’s policy, which at various times and places has looked not unlike robbery with violence, with one plan for single people and another for families, but no mid-priced offering for a man and wife unencumbered by offspring.

Drum concedes that the Senate plan kowtows to powerful interests like the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, adding, “But that’s why they’re called powerful interests: because they can kill your legislative priorities if you don’t assuage them.” In return, he continues:

“(T)he Senate bill brings down insurance rates, expands Medicaid, offers the prospect of moderately priced insurance to tens of millions of the uninsured, forces insurers to take you on even if you have a chronic pre-existing condition, mandates minimum levels of coverage, and takes several small but important steps toward reducing the future growth of healthcare costs.  That’s an enormous advance for the progressive agenda.”

We’ll see. Or maybe not. It’s far from a done deal. But if the sausage gets made, Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson should be next to go into the grinder. And let’s toss the filibuster in there with the sonsabitches. Krugman again:

“The filibuster, and the need for 60 votes to end debate, aren’t in the Constitution. They’re a Senate tradition, and that same tradition said that the threat of filibusters should be used sparingly. Well, Republicans have already trashed the second part of the tradition: look at a list of cloture motions over time, and you’ll see that since the G.O.P. lost control of Congress it has pursued obstructionism on a literally unprecedented scale. So it’s time to revise the rules.”

Can the Donks play that kind of hardball? Stay tuned.

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11 Responses to “Pass the bill, change the rules”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    All I want for Christmas is healthcare reform — pretty much ANY reform, flawed or not. Listening “Droopy Dawg” Lieberman and Ben Nelson? Show some spine and do what you were elected to do this time and quit worrying about getting elected next time.

  2. Bruce M. Says:

    There’s a line from the old movie, “American President” that states, “I was too interested in keeping my job than doing my job.” A good definition of “sin” is self-interest above all else. Hummmmmm…..

  3. khal spencer Says:

    The Elefinks threatened to kill the filibuster when they were in power by a change of rules. I don’t think the Donks have the balls to return the favor. I’m pretty disgusted with this bunch.

    Obama better get his ass back over to this side of the pond and whip his party into shape before its too late.

  4. Ben S. Says:

    Two very good Krugman pieces in a row. I’m still working through the ramifications of:

    “I actually believed that influential people could be moved by evidence, that they would change their views if events completely refuted their beliefs.”

    What the hell happened to the Enlightenment and Rational thought? Is this the new middle ages were belief is more that verifiable reality? I know nothing really new in this since Regan.

    Yes. Health Care Reform by Christmas. Nothing else is coming home by then.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    When someone as daffy as “Caribou Barbie” is looked upon as a viable candidate for Commander in Chief it’s easy to understand Krugman’c concerns….as my wife always says to explain this kind of insanity — “people are stupid” I say this is especially true here in the US of A these days.

  6. Dale Brigham Says:

    Khal has nailed it. My Demo-donks need to grow a pair, threaten Droopy-Dawg (Sen. Lieberman) with loss of all committee assignments, and grab Sen. Nelson by the short hairs. Let them know that they are either with us or against us.

    Even as a fellow Texan, I fully realize that LBJ was a duplicitous, manipulative SOB, but he was “our SOB,” by God. He knew how to line up the votes. I wish our current President would play the Chicago-style politics that the he is accused of doing by Rush-Blob, et al, and make these assholes get with the program. And, don’t hesitate to go to reconciliation with the House bill, which would only require 51 votes from the Senate. The Elefinks did it, and so can we.


  7. khal spencer Says:

    Dale, I have to agree. We need an LBJ clone right now. Someone who knows how to make the legislative sausage and who also understands that old expression made famous by Nixon: When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.

    We didn’t elect the Donks so they could play nice-nice. At least I didn’t. If the Donks don’t grow a pair, they will be back on the minority side soon enough.

  8. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    I always loved the tale from Hunter S. Thompson (as always, to be taken with a hefty dose of salt) about an early political campaign of LBJ’s. The race was a close one, and LBJ reportedly proposed spreading a rumor that his opponent had a lifelong habit of boinking his barnyard sows.

    “Christ, we can’t get away with calling him a pig-fucker,” said his campaign manager. “Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.”

    “I know,” LBJ replied. “But let’s make the sonofabitch deny it.”

    Say what you will about LBJ, the old boy knew something about trench warfare. Rahm Emanuel is the Sugarplum Fairy by comparison.

  9. Downhill Bill Says:

    I date my awareness of how politics really works to the day I read that HST line in Rolling Stone, way back when it was worth reading. The failings of the American electorate stem from (in order of increasing frequency) stupidity, ignorance, and gullibility. That unholy soup results in an abysmal lack of critical thinking, and a political memory about 2 weeks long. Dem pols forever seem unwilling to throw the Repuglicants’ hypocrisy back in their faces, or to use the same kind of strong arm tactics they so gleefully indulge in. The Elefinks should have to deny their pigfucking once in a while.

    Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

  10. swell Says:

    “I’ve been around here 20-some years. First time I’ve ever seen a member denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks. And I don’t like it.”
    — Sen. John McCain, complaining about Sen. Al Franken’s objection to extra time for Sen. Joe Lieberman, December 17, 2009

    “I object.”
    — Senator John McCain, denying Sen. Mark Dayton extra time, October 10, 2002

    “I object.”
    — Sen. John McCain, denying Sen. Robert Byrd extra time, a few minutes later

  11. Larry T. Says:

    And just think, Mr. Magoo could have been our president. At least the American voters had their heads screwed on right for a few moments back in November 2008. Can you imagine the mess we’d be in now if Magoo and Caribou Barbie were at the helm? As bad as it might be now, it could only be MUCH, MUCH worse with those bozos in the White House. And it sounds like we may finally have some sort of healthcare reform — HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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