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Opening Arguments

Stealth health

Supporters of health care reform have gotten some traction by deploring misinformation, shouting out about people who are upset about things that just aren't in the plan. Plan opponents are just rubes being taken in by evil conservative liars who scare them about death panels and abortions and illegal immigrants and "the government taking over health care." Here's The Associated Press, helping out the president by checking the "facts" and destroying the "myths" that the ignoramuses insist on believing:

President Barack Obama's lack of a detailed plan for overhauling health care is letting critics fill in the blanks in the public's mind.

That's a telling point and should have given the AP pause in its rush to defend the indefensible -- how can you support something that isn't even there? There is no health care plan, just myriad proposals. The one most commonly debated from the House is more than 1,000 pages of incomprehensible bureaucratic jibberish. One from a Senate committee we don't even know the details of yet. So proponents exaggerate the need for and benefits of health care reform, the opponents go into hyperbolic overdrive about intentions and results, and the public is left to "fill in the blanks" as best they can.

Rube that I am, I expect the government to behave as it generally has behaved in the past. Most government programs never go away. They get bigger over time. They cover more than we were told they would. They have unintended consequences. The cost escalates threefold, then four, then five . . . How can anyone possibly say with a clear conscience that health care reform won't contain this or that specific provision?

Here's a supporter of reform making that essential point. Writing in Newsweek, Jonathan Alter tries to buck up reform supporters who might be losing heart at how weak a final bill might be after all the compromises that have to be made.:

History suggests that major social policy unfolds on a continuum. The Social Security Act of 1935 disappointed liberal New Dealers because what was called "old-age insurance" covered only about half the adult population. It excluded farmhands, domestics, employees of small businesses, and most blacks. That was because FDR needed the votes of Southern Democrats, the Blue Dogs of their day. (The bill cleared the House Ways and Means Committee with only one Republican vote.) Similarly, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, immortalized in Robert Caro's Master of the Senate, was weak tea. It had to be strengthened by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the later bills, Lyndon Johnson betrayed Southerners he had made deals with in 1957. If Nancy Pelosi can't break Rahm Emanuel's promise to Big Pharma's Billy Tauzin this year, she can try to break it in the future. And Tauzin will lobby for more favors as the all-important new regulations are issued. Nothing in Washington is ever set in stone.

Kind of lets the cat out of the bag, doesn't he? Never fear how little we get passed. That will be our foot in the door, then we can betray this group and fool that one and ignore everything but what we want. From the most feeble beginning we will eventually have everything we want.

The government already makes about 50 percent of all the health care payments in this country, and I'm supposed to believe that "government taking over health care" is a myth? Please.


Kevin Knuth
Mon, 08/24/2009 - 8:59am

So let's check on the free market health care solution:

My elderly mother is on social security and Medicare. She has one prescription that costs $350 per month. However, she can get the SAME prescription from a canadian pharmacy for $400 for 3 months.

On to prescription number 2. This one is $350 for 3 months. Oh, but if you are NOT on Medicare, the drug company will give you a coupon so you can get it for $25 per month.

The last prescription to talk about? Her doctor flat out told her she could not afford it. $7k per month. PER MONTH! They may be willing to subsidize it- only cost her $2k per month.

Tell me again why the system does NOT need reform?

tim zank
Mon, 08/24/2009 - 6:51pm

Kevin, we can all agree the "system" needs to be "fixed" and costs are waaaay out of whack. We just disagree on whether or not a socialist system of government will help or hurt.

In you & Der Leader's world, the money falls from the sky, and everyone eats what congress says, you get the treatment THEY say you are worth, your dwelling is subsidized by your neighbors, your cars are subsidized by your neighbors, your bank is regulated by congress causing credit worthy customers to wait 4 months to close a loan, while the USDA (formerly FHA) is loaning to anyone with a 570 FICO that can put fog on a mirror, fannie & freddie are stacking up trillions in shakey paper again, Barney & friends want to subsidize condos now (what could possibly go wrong there?), while the people that have no business buying homes get an $8k kicker from us.
Car delers have 20 pages of doc's to scan to get reimbursed the $4500 on cash for clunkers and are in effect "floating" the US government (7% paid out to dealers as of this morning)....using their operating capital.

Efficiency personnified eh? Yeah, let's pass off our health care to these Einsteins.

This clusterfark just get's better and better, doesn't it?

He's gonna make Jimmy Carter look like a frickin' hero.