Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Say It Ain't So!

New York Times columnist and economics Nobel laureate  Paul Krugman, who once was insistent on the need for a "public option" in any health reform bill, on Friday, December 18, 2009,  urged passage of a health bill everyone knows is a giveaway to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, on the grounds that it will be easier to fix this 2,000-page hoax than start from scratch.  Krugman cited Social Security as a program that started with gaps and flaws and has been steadily improved since then.  But his comparison is wrong.  Social Security's counterpart in health is Medicare.  The expansion of Medicare to cover everyone would be the equivalent of closing gaps and loopholes in Social Security.  The Senate health 'deformation' more closely resembles a Social Security privatization scheme that would require people to put a certain percentage of their income in 401 Ks or some other mutual fund or private investment vehicle controlled by one of a small number of companies devoted to managing "pension" accounts.  Once it's in place, it will be nearly impossible to change.  This bill is garbage produced because Congress can't, as a lifeguard at a local pool says, manage to provide healthcare for all Americans.  That's really sad, he says.  Indeed.  I hope Obama is being cynical when he calls this bill, which meets none of his goals, a great achievemen.  It insures 30 million out of 47 million and climbing uninsured.  It does nothing to curb insurance policy increases; rather it rewards insurance and drug companies with massive infusions of government funds in the forms of subsidies.  It turns a fundamental human right--access to healthcare--into a legal mandate that everyone purchase insurance from a rapacious company. It cuts Medicare benefits.  Iit curbs the right of women to control their own bodies.

At this point, were I a Republican, I would simply step back and let the Democrats have the Senate deformation, since it will guarantee Republican victories and resounding Democratic defeats for at least another generation , no matter whom they run.

Were I a Democrat, I would scrap the House and Senate bills and introduce an expansion of Medicare.

Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont's erstwhile democratic socialist, told the New York Times's Sheryl Gay Stolberg, when describing his own struggle over the Senate health 'deformation,' that he was certain the "insurance companies and the drug companies will be laughing all the way to the bank the day after this is passed."  It is hard to see how that can be called reform.

[revised to get out most of the gremlins, 12/30/2009.]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Health Care Obamanation

-With the Senate's virtual abandonment of any "public option," even one of the most anemic sort, and its deep-sixing of the plan to allow people 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare if no private plans are available, healthcare reform has turned into a hoax disguised as fiasco with Joseph Lieberman, the putative independent from Connecticut  presiding and gobbling up all the attention he can get for being the paid lackey of the insurance industry.  He's ego tripping; he should be ejected from the Democratic caucus and ignored.  But the sad truth is that the Democrats, for the past 60 years a party of political cowardice, has now become a party of political cowards, although just what they fear, short of exposure of their own perfidy is hard to imagine. Note that I have called them "political" cowards, not personal cowards, since I'm sure many of them are quite brave physically.  But here they are preparing to pass a healthcare reform bill that no one in the public, except a few experts, perhaps, understands or supports because it does not include the one item a majority has consistently endorsed--some kind of  "robust" public option or the option to buy early into Medicare.

 To pander to and please Lieberman is to pass a bill only insurance companies and their paid representatives can love, but that exactly where these bills taking us.  The Democrats are so eager to claim a victory that they will pass a bill that will make things far worse for patients and institutions that serve the poor.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Afghanistan

My plan for Afghanistan is direct and to the point.

Call in Taliban leaders and tell them they can have their rocks under two conditions:
1. Produce Osama bin Laden's head on a pike.
2. We will airlift from Afghanistan all women and children and non-corrupt males who choose not to live under Taliban brutality.

After that, they are welcome to each other.