Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time To Ignore The Corporate Shill And Man Up In The Senate--And Where Is The Voice Of The USCCB Decrying Corporate Socialism

Senator Lieberman is still the party loyalist--just not to the party whose caucus he sits with and whose committe chairs he holds.

Michael Kieschnick Huffington Post, 12/16/09

If I wanted Joe Lieberman to write health care reform, I would have voted for John McCain.
Somewhere in my mind, I thought that. But Jane Hamsher wrote it and that single phrase says it all. Due to the rules of the Senate and the political strategies of Rahm Emmanuel, Joe Lieberman is having the time of his life. (Rahm Emmanuel is turning out to be the most mistaken decision Obama has made. Emmanuel appears to be twenty five years behind in his understanding of the American electorate.)

It is time to admit that if we play by Joe's rules, health reform is dead. When we are reduced to Evan Bayh (!) saying let's compromise so that the perfect is not the enemy of the good, it is way past time to try a different path.

The Trojan Horse at the center of the Senate's health care package is the mandate that people without health insurance be forced to purchase it from private health insurance companies or pay a fine. And the dirty secret of the package is that the price they will be paying is quite high -- like up to 10% of income. So the way that we move along the path towards greater coverage is that the taxpayers and poor and working class people pay more to the insurance companies. What part of this is the "good"? (Which means many Americans will pay more for health insurance to private companies than they will in taxes.)

I cannot imagine that the White House has done focus groups or polling among the surge voters of 2008 -- young people, poor people, single women -- to ask if they want to pay Aetna or Blue Cross or Wellpoint 10% of their income for lousy coverage. Ask your friends. Your recently graduated from college kids. I have -- the mandate is the wet dream of private insurers and will be stunningly unpopular with just about everybody else. (I have too, and they are furious because they know that if they have any kind of pre existing condition there is nothing in this bill that prevents insurers from putting them into a much more costly plan. Exactly as this bill allows insurers to put seniors in a much more costly plan.)

This is bad policy and bad politics. This is not progressive change. Costs will continue to skyrocket and the Federal treasury will suck wind. And surge voters will not come out to vote again. (This is not change we can believe in--unless you happen to be the CEO of Cigna.)

But it does not have to be this way. It is only this way because in the world of the Senate, if we play by the 60 votes are needed rule, coupled with a weak White House that only threatens progressives, then the 60th Senator -- that is, the most unprincipled paid off Senator -- gets to write health care reform.

Let's not play that game. If Harry Reid and the White House don't have the integrity to kill the package as is, it only takes one progressive Senator to take Joe Lieberman's place. Surely there should be a rush to do this!

And what should take the place of Lieberman's rules? Reid already has the power -- contained in this year's budget resolution -- to enact much of the health care reform through budget reconciliation, which requires 51 votes. There are 51 votes for the best -- not the worst -- elements of great health reform. Or the Senate could change it's own rules to eliminate or alter the filibuster. Any reading of Senate history makes it clear that the filibuster has been used most often to defeat progress, not to stop special interests or reactionary initiatives.

And if Sen. Reid will not use reconciliation or change the filibuster rules, then at a minimum he should hold a series of individual votes on the critical issues currently bundled together in the massive reform bill. If he were to ask for my advice, I would start with a prohibition on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. Let's put everybody on record whether they are in favor of the current practice of vicious discrimination.

Health care matters far too much to let rules designed to stop change block us. And it is cynical beyond measure to call Lieberman's demands real reform.


This current bill is a disaster waiting to happen for millions of Americans. The fact it allows insurance companies the latitude to crank up premiums on targeted populations is not reform for the current practice of denying them coverage for pre existing conditions. It will more or less mean more people will be fined for not being able to afford mandatory health insurance. Fines that as far as I can tell, will not go towards purchasing health insurance. The very population which most needs health care will be priced out of the health care system.

The idea of mandatory health insurance is all about forcing healthy young people into the system to spread out liability. The neat thing is this bill also allows the insurance industry to price the unhealthy out of the system and so the net effect is way more profit for health insurance companies. This is brilliant policy for insuring nothing else than more profits for health insurance companies.

How does this serve the common good? Where are our bishops concerning the core immorality of this current senate bill? Why aren't Flinn and Naumann writing pastoral letters about the evils of mandated corporate socialism like they wrote a letter about potential fears of government socialism? Why isn't Chaput writing pastoral letters about the blatant use of innocent people as pawns in a for profit scheme in which the government is using it's legal power to force this same scheme down the throats of powerless innocent Americans? Why are they still concerned about the rights of illegal aliens to buy into this scheme?

Perhaps the reason is as simple as we have corporate bought and paid for religious leadership just like we have a corporate bought and paid for congress. It seems some people are far more inclined to sell their souls than save their souls.

I guess as long as we're not funding abortions the bishops think it's OK that we are legally forced to fund insurance corporate profits as our the basis for our moral right to health care and that really sick people should pay significantly more for this right than healthy people. I'm sure Jesus is all on board with that notion. The New Testament authors must have left out the part where Jesus charged more for chronic leprosy than He did for transitory illness issues. Come to think of it, they left out the whole notion that Jesus healed for profit.

Here's the really sick part of this whole health care reform business. Some democrats think passing this bill is a good start and that they can effect meaningful reform by attaching that reform to defense spending. Just like Pelosi did yesterday to pass the 154 million dollar jobs bill.

If I remember correctly, the only time PO has twisted congressional arms was when some progressive legislators balked at his spending bill to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of which says that American priorities are firmly planted in wasting our governmental resources on wars and defense spending. The government can't afford both health for it's citizens and it's military budget without raising taxes on the wealthy so the brilliant solution is to force not rich people into spending 10-20% of their before tax income on forced private health insurance.

We not only get to pay for the world's most bloated, wasteful, defense budget, but we also get to privately fund the world's most bloated and inefficient health care system. And in order to fix health care we have to make sure the bloated, wasteful defense budget stays the priority so we can tag on our little health care reform changes. Apparently we can only have health care reform if we agree to continue to subsidize the military industrial complex to the tune of trillions of tax dollars and the health insurance industry to the tune of billions of our private dollars.

It's no wonder my daughter's generation is leaning more and more to expat status. It's the only thing that makes sense for their generation. If Obama keeps to this concept of 'change we can believe in', Costco will have to pull the tomatoes off their shelves for his public appearances as well as Sarah Palin's.

Maybe the House will stick to their guns and insist on passage of their bill. It's obvious the senate no longer has a clue, a backbone, moral integrity, or any sense of the common good.


  1. Expat status is starting to look real good to my generation too. Will go with the children. Not sure which country to go to though. Maybe Canada.

    The young will leave and their parents will follow them out of this country. We will leave because there are no jobs. We will leave because the leaders have made this country into a corporate heaven on earth in which the wealthiest will party hardy while the rest suffer.

  2. wow! scary as hell. I've been an expat for nearly 30 years and could never go back to the US. American friend of mine living in Thailand was diagnosed with lymphoma - went to Bangkok's world class Chulalongkorn University Hospital and was given a two year treatment - checking in ever four months for two week stays. He's been in remission for three years. The charge? One US dollar a day for everything, doctor's fees, medicines, lab, room and all meals. Drawbacks? He had to line up at 6am and wait for four hours the first time he entered the treatment plan. After that it was easy.

  3. I predict the lines at the free health care clinics will get longer as more and more people are unable to afford health coverage or their employers no longer provide it. Is this what we really want for the United States? If I were 10 or 20 years younger, I too would be leaning toward expat status.

  4. Someone I used to work with had a daughter with cancer. She was treated in the US and as soon as the insurance companies decided to no longer pay for treatments they deemed were necessary, she died at age 17.

    Great system we have here. Such love and care for our fellow man. Such brotherly love. It just emanates and oozes from the Christ-like Bishops all the time that I feel so compelled to kiss their feet with my tears and give them such a big teddy bear hug!! LOL!!!

    The Bishops are for medicaid for immigrants that are paying taxes. How nice that they care so much for the immigrants. Yet, they are not for medicaid for those who cannot afford insurance premiums who have lived and worked in this country for all of their lives.

    The Bishops only care about their hospitals and their bills. They do not seem to care about the rest of us. It's ok if we lose our homes, jobs, health care.