Saturday, January 23, 2010

X is better than W[hat]

Without repeating myself, I'll call attention to the comment on my last blog from Retrieverman on the Massachusetts special senatorial election.  He's right--people are pissed at the banks; they're pissed that there are no jobs or that their job is gone next week or that people are walking away from mortgages and houses with impunity or that "too-good-to-be-true" offers from big banks to lower the interest rate on their mortgage are more of a hassle than they are worth; and they're pissed because their guts tell them that Obamacare is a fiasco wrapped in a monumental giveaway to insurance companies.  They are right.  They know that no matter how you justify it, insurance that costs them more than $5,000 a year for a family of 4 and then covers only 60 percent of costs, which the Senate bill deems affordable, is not advantageous to them.   It's amazing really, Rahm Emanuel has been so busy working to get anything passed in order to ensure the Obamacare is not Bubbacare that he has made something far worse. Now all the Obamans can do is whine that the cost of inaction on healthcare will be their ruination.  Then so be it.  

The Obamans decided at the start what they could not do--expand Medicare to cover everyone.  Indeed, they never wanted or intended to do that.  Nonetheless, many people bought the spiel called "hope," and sent the Obama to Washington.  What the Obamans didn't take into a account but the Republicans sensed intuitively--and doubtless through polling--is that it is far better to keep people hopeless and despairing, than to first raise and then dash their hopes and expectations.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Health Care X Massachusetts

The political classes most heard have declared that yesterday's election of Scott Brown to fill out the departed Edward M. Kennedy's seat in the Senate is, among other things, a repudiation of the health care bill now slouching toward denouement that would not pertain to Massachusetts in any event.   That means as nearly as I can tell that the good citizens of a state founded by religious intolerants fleeing religious persecution have voted into office a man who voted for a health care bill in Massachusetts authored by Republicans that served as a template for the Congressional bills that same senator-elect has sworn he will vote against once he assumes his seat, even though it will not affect his own state. Right.  No one will ever accuse these Republicans of consistency or intellectual integrity.

Brown's election is significant only because it cuts the Democratic majority to 59 votes, meaning they can no longer vote in a block to kill Republican filibusters. Given the sorts of vile deals the Democrats stuck to gain and hold those 60 votes, I'm not sure that losing that majority was such a bad deal.  Any time you pass a bill that satisfies no one, that doesn't meet its primary objective and that is inherently punitive, simply because you've convinced yourself that anything is better than what is, you have major problems, including ignorance.

Yet that's exactly what the Democrats were.  Now they might have to revert to a better strategy, which is to develop a simple, clean efficient bill that expands Medicare over time to include everyone and includes necessary tort and compensation reform and sufficient funding, much of it gained by taxation of the wealthy, especially the bonus babies of finance.  The Republicans, including Brown, who have declared themselves friends and defenders of Medicare, would then have to put up or shut up.    In either case, the Democrats would have something to run on that was  easy to understand.  The key for the Democrats and this means the Communicator in Chief would be to cast the expansion in a positive light--not hard.  It would shore up Medicare; it would provide health care for all without rationing or limits; it would remove a major source of stress, financial distress and early death from Americans; it would guarantee a fundamental human right.

Taking this step would take political courage of a sort not manifest in the Obama Administration, which seems intent on riding its slouching beast of a bill into the dustbin of history.