In Some Ways Admirable, In Some Ways Delusional

One of the moderately interesting things I’ve noticed about the rhetoric of those who have badgers in their pants about Obama and/or the Democrats in Congress and/or the new health care laws is how everything that happened or has happened during the passage of the health care bills into law has invariably meant doom for the Democrats, like so:

“Obama and the Democrats are trying to pass health care! That’ll cost them in November! No, wait! Now Scott Brown has been elected and health care reform is dead! That’ll cost them in November! No, wait! Now health care reform has passed and is the law of the land! Excellent! That will cost them in November!”

Now, on one hand I do admire the commitment to a single message, and wonder how far those who use it would be willing to exercise it (“The November election results are in and the Democrats didn’t lose a single seat in the House! Fantastic! That’s going to cost them for sure!”). On the other hand, if your response to everything is “that’s going to cost them in November,” at some point you should be willing to entertain the notion that other people may think your single note response to every political event bespeaks a certain lack of complexity in your thinking process.

Do the Democrats face the possibly of losses in the mid-term elections? Certainly they do, as typically does any majority party in mid-term elections; it’s a common enough occurrence that it’s notable when it doesn’t happen (for example, in 2002, or, for you Democrats out there, 1934). That being the case, it doesn’t take special prognostication skills to suggest the Democrats will likely lose seats come November. The question is whether, in the case of passing health care reform into law, it would cost them more than if they had failed to pass it (or if they had done nothing about health care at all).

My own personal expectation (as noted before) is that it’s far better for the Dem’s political fortunes to have passed it than not; people may argue the benefit of the health care reform now that it’s passed, but the fact is no one likes a loser (see: mid-terms, 1994). I’m willing to entertain arguments that the Democrats were better off not passing the bill, unlikely though I think that is, but the apparent enthusiasm for the “everything they do is equally and apocalyptically bad for them” argument is not one I find particularly compelling, or one that suggests to me that the person fronting it has much more than a mantra going for them.

Likewise at this point I find people hauling out the latest convenient-to-their argument poll about the popularity of health care reform and from that making predictions of the GOP retaking the Hill to be equally silly; it’s the end of March and the elections are in the beginning of November, and between now and then are seven full months. I certainly understand the desire of some folks to declare the results of the elections now, especially when they’ve called it for their side. But inasmuch as the demise of health care reform was also called, and that just two months ago, not seven, I’m sure most of you will understand when I say I’m personally going to wait a bit to call the 2010 elections. Seems the prudent thing to do.

128 thoughts on “In Some Ways Admirable, In Some Ways Delusional

  1. I find it interesting that Obama in passing it still manages to break his “promises” by signing it without the time to review he indicated. Obama is still a fairly lame president in what he has managed to not get done. No better than Bush who was was loser as well. Both are worthless. Now congress….. having Pelosi to laugh at is worth keeping her around as long as possible! She is stupid and funny looking.

  2. I think that the bill is so horribly complicated and yes, BAD, that it will cost them in November.

    If they had gone for something less far reaching, (e.g.. no individual mandate), and added some real reform measures like allowing individuals to pool, and individuals and corporations to buy across state lines then it would have been a major win.

    Once people realise how much of the expense has been pushed down onto the states (For example it just added 4 Billion to our state budget – AZ) without compensation, folks are going to get pretty bent out of shape.

    This is why the states are suing, the bill, now law, forces AZ to add 320,000 people to our wellfare rolls immediately, but does not provide any money untill 2014. Unlike the Feds, the states can’t simply print money, so we are going to have to cut something somewhere.

  3. I think David Frum got it absolutely right. Look what it got him.

    I suspect (although any prognostications now are worthless) that the democrats will lose some seats, but not enough to make the republicans comfortable. I suspect that Senate Majority leader Durbin will be less feckless than Harry Reid ever was, and Nancy Pelosi will still be the most powerful liberal in Washington.

    The economy is improving, and will continue to improve. Depending on the speed of the recovery you may see some good news for the Democrats in November; you will also see great news for the Democrats in November 2012.

    Cheers
    Andrew

  4. Think of what it will sound like when the Republicans do gain seats. Even if they were to only get one seat the right would trumpet that fact like it was the second coming.

  5. I doubt the dems will lose their majority this November. Even if they do lose it, it will be so close to even still that it won’t matter. The result will be the same, congressional gridlock. Due to the way the health care bill was passed, I expect congressional gridlock to be SOP for the immediate future anyway.

    I can understand why those on the left wanted the bill passed. In fact, I have a good friend who made it very clear that there were good reasons to do something about health care. However, it does seem that this bill doesn’t satisfy anyone on anything, really. Which makes it sort of pointless to pass unless the objective was to tick off people on all sides of the issue.

    While the GOP has certainly staked out a party of “no” position on this. The Dems staked out a “we don’t care how many people in the country don’t like this bill, we’re going to pass it anyway” position. Both positions obviously could be good or bad depending on where you sit. I personally think they were both extremely stupid. At least 75% of the population want *something* done about health care. Couldn’t the party of no have been marginalized enough that some discussion of what might really be needed could take place? If we’d marginalize the wing-nuts on both sides, we could actually have had a bill that meant something. This one is just going to cause problems for *everyone*.

    Mr. K (formerly aligned with the party of no, now aligned with the party of “why won’t any of you make any sense?!”)

  6. Andrew – the majority party always loses some seats though, so that’s a safe statement. In fact, one reason I think the Rs and their partisans are saying this is because they’re almost guaranteed to be right since the majority party usually loses some seats. Most of them are playing it safe and not saying what they really mean by ‘it will cost the Dems’.

    My favorite spectacle here? The people who whined about activist judges and legislating from the bench are backing the lawsuit by 13 Republican AGs to challenge the law. Ah, the smell of hypocrisy…

  7. Mark @ #3 – cut health benefits. If the Federal government is subsidizing or offering a cheaper plan, put state employees on that instead. Problem solved. And it makes the federal government pay for it.

  8. I’m willing to concede that it’s the job of the partisan talking heads and apparatchiks at the microphones to calibrate their talking points to whether a given piece of legislation is in the win or loss column. I *get* that their standard measure is whether you get in power or stay in power.

    But good gravy I wish the folks *holding* the microphones would make more effort look to beyond the Ws and Ls and instead address what the legislation *means* in and of itself: what’s the impact likely to be, and for whom, and when? It’s a pipe dream, maybe, but I’d hope that folks casting those ballots some seven months hence might do so with some informed deliberation.

    Bwahaha. Who am I kidding?

  9. The anti-Obama crowd was just as intent on ousting Democrats before the passage of health care as they are now; the big difference is that Obama supporters are more likely to drag themselves to the polls now that their elected representatives have, like, actually done something. The Dems will still lose seats, but not as many as if the health care bill had died.

    I’ll release my specific predictions for the November election just before the end of the year.

  10. If the democrats had not passed healthcare they would have looked incompetent. That would be portrayed as kind of a no confidence bill on Obama. The democrats are going tolose alot of seats in the house. They could lose their majority. Unemployment is at 9% and the democrats control the presidency and both houses. That is just the way it works. It is unlikely that the democrats will pick up the senate. I think there are more republicans running than democrats.

    My understanding is that in 2012 there will be 23 democrats and 7 republican seats. If as expected unemployment stays at 9% they could end up losing everything that year. It is way too easy to tell.

    My beef with the healthcare bill is how to pay for it. I do not buy the CBO numbers. There are more details than what we are given. Also it appears that alot of the budgeting revolves around taking money from medicare. ok so what happens to medicare? i am confused on this. All I get when I look for an answer to this is political BS from both sides.

    It is really hard to get a straight answer out of a republican or a democrat.

  11. Best non-serious rebuttal I’ve heard on the issue: The Democrats don’t care about their reelection chances because they know the Apocalypse is coming.

  12. They’re playing political Calvinball*. Remember, the only rule is that there are no rules (or something to that effect). In a political sense, it means that you’re constantly changing the “framing” of the debate. Thus, if President Bush’s approval rating went from 30% to 32%, that meant that voters obviously preferred the Decider to the evul Dhimmocrats. But if President Obama’s approval rating goes from 57% to 55%, it means that voters obviously prefer the stalwart defenders of liberty to the evil half-breed Muslin. So, like you said, it’s always good news for the Republicans.

    *Thanks, Balloon Juice Lexicon!

  13. I think we can safely assume Mr. Boner – er, um, Boehner* – will still have a job. Butler County, the political epicenter of Boehner’s district, would rather elect Ted Bundy than a Democrat to Congress.

    So the question before us now is whether Mr. Boehner gets to keep his job as Minority Leader if it’s still a Democratically controlled House come November. Or will he find himself assigned to the Committee on Fingernail Clipping Recycling while someone like Cantor takes his place?

    I’m betting a new minority leader next January. Anything less than retaking one or both houses is going to be grounds for house-cleaning.

    Which both parties need to do on a more regular basis anyway. (Yeesh, who gave Harry Reid a job, anyway?)

    *The dude just makes it too easy, especially when he opens his mouth. Republicans should try and get him to switch parties just so they can get a few Boehnerisms to laugh at, too.

  14. Mark @3, the problem with insurance of any type is that when you expand what is covered either by the number of people or the type, you will have more claims against that insurance. With more claims you need more non-claims to balance it out. Alternatively you can raise your rates.

    *shrug* The health system is a complex system as a result anything you do will have both positive and negative effects. I have hopes for this bill but we will need to wait and see.

    Jim

  15. Hann1bal:

    “So, like you said, it’s always good news for the Republicans.”

    Their Candide-like optimism is so refreshing in these troubled times!

  16. John – Yay for your reasoning! It really has been a “Dems are SCREWED”-a-thon for the past 8 months or so – maybe since the town hall meetings last fall?

    @whos2say (2) I do agree with you in that I would have been happier had Obama stuck with that particular campaign promise, the waiting period before signing, if only to shut up the whiners. OTOH – can you honestly say that this particular piece of legislation was rushed through? I mean, it was a freakin’ year long negotiation.

    @Dragon (6)=> that (Republicans gaining seats) already happened. See Scott Brown’s election in January, and boy, was their celebration loud. I still like what John Stewart said after that happened – something to the effect of “Oh No, Dems! You’ve gone from the largest Senate majority in 50 years to the SECOND largest Senate majority.”

  17. lol @ David H, I have to agree with you, Scalzi, that no one likes a loser when it comes to voting, that is generally why no one votes for independents, because they don’t think they can win.

    The, “that will cost them”, mantra, is founded in good political thinking. The bill is widely unpopular, almost fatally complex, and has most of the “unintended” costs coming even sooner than expected. But here is the kicker, since the passage of the bill and the bill it self were so ugly, who do you think it is going to bring out support for come election day? My guess is the Republicans and I am also thinking this administration alienated more voters than it saved with the passage of this bill.

    This bill and its passage is an example of why one party rule is not to be desired.

  18. When I voted for Obama, I knew that he could not achieve everything that he promised. The fact that we live in a representative-based government means that he cannot just unilaterally mandate every law, policy and decision.

    The big problem that I have right now is too many of our elected officials are concerned with their job or their party instead of their country. I didn’t elect anyone so that they could have a job for life or until scandal brings them down. I tried to vote for the people that I thought could get us out of the mess we are in and maybe lay down some road towards a better future.

    The people that are dismissing Obama as a failed president are similar to those people who watch the first 25% of a sporting event and feel that they can accurately predict the next 75%. As recently as the olympic men’s hockey finals, we were shown that it never pays to trot out the fat lady until it is really her time to sing.

  19. Mark@3 —

    “Buying across state lines,” is a soundbite that sounds good, but would be a really, really bad idea.

    What most people think of when they hear “buying across state lines,” is that they will be able to purchase policies from out-of-state companies, which will raise competition and force insurance companies to compete for customers by offering better products.

    But what it really means is that people in, say, California, will be able to purchase policies from a company in, say, South Dakota, which policy will be governed by S.Dakota law and thus exempt from the insurance regulations and requirements that otherwise protect California citizens.

    This inevitably will result in a “race to the bottom,” with health insurance companies relocating their offices to those states with the most lax regulatory control (very much the way credit card companies all relocated to Connecticut) and the least consumer protection.

    Hey, I’m all in favor of allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines, so long as — and this is important — those consumers are able to take advantage of the regulations and consumer protections that their own state legislature has provided for them. In other words, if a S.Dakota company wants to offer insurance to me here in N.Carolina, well great — so long as the policy, my rights, and my protections are all governed by N.Carolina law.

    If one wants to be serious about fostering competition and letting the “free market” militate for better policies, a better solution would be to eliminate the anti-trust immunity that health insurance companies currently enjoy, which allows them to operate pretty much as monopolies (with monopoly pricing and services) in most of the country.

  20. I think my biggest problem right now is a country run by a party system. People need to start thinking about what is right for those they represent. Not what party they run for.

    If you are not taking care of the people of the people who voted for you, you need to go. It is sad that someone who wants to run for any significant post in this country has to align themselves with a party or have no chance of winning.

    Come November I really only care about an actual honest election with people discussing problems without hate mongering.

    http://www.csdaley.com/2010/03/our-party-politics-are-killing-us.html

  21. Are we still busy debating how Reconciliation bills are only evil if Democrats use them, but never evil when Republicans use them?

    Give it a rest, people. We get that history is a subject that’s to be ignored if politically convenient. Stop beating a dead horse.

  22. Democrats lose seats in November? That almost makes it sound like these good folks still believe in the institution of government enough to go in for elections. Here I had thought that the goal was to whip the government and keep it in the corner. What good will elections due once we’ve gotten the government down to a size we like sufficiently?

    It’s grating to hear “YOU CAN’T TRUST THE GUBMENT!” and then hear “BUT WE’RE TAKING CONGRESS BACK IN 7 MONTHS!” Seriously people, if you’re saying that ‘the government shouldn’t govern’ one day, you need to stick with it. The Congo seems to be doing pretty well with that, maybe we could get some pointers from them.

  23. Health care was always 2 issues: cost containment (which actually threatens to become a crisis) and non-universal coverage (which many people care about for moral reasons but wasn’t ever really going to cause a crisis)

    The two issues are linked, in that the uninsured tend to inflate demand for emergency room services, etc. but the heath care bill only made any real progress on the coverage issue.

    I worry that this means the politicians will proclaim “mission accomplished” while we keep on down the road to the real crisis with our eyes closed.

  24. @ 21. Swellsman, competition is never a bad thing even across state lines, it means that people will not be stuck buying insurance from the companies located their state but will be able to buy insurance from any where in the country. A race to the bottom in a free market system is not to be feared because, if you allow people to make their own decisions when it comes to health care you will have a better system.

    Also the anti-trust immunities for these insurance companies allows for more diverse competition, because smaller companies would not be able to competitively price their insurance if they did not have access to the pooled pricing data that all insurance companies use to price their plans. So if you want to price out smaller insurance companies than do away with this protection, and you will be left with even bigger insurance companies to purchase health care from.

  25. Swellsman @ 21,

    I work for a large corporation with presence in multiple states. Our employees in TX pay less than half what we do in AZ. Both folks have a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan. The difference is that we have 200 employees in AZ and 5000 in TX. (i.e. pool size matters)

    Trust me, I’d be very happy to save almost $4000 a year and take the TX BC/BS plan over the AZ one.

    Think how much money could be saved if Boeing could pool across state lines, or Ford, or UPS. Or if AZ, NV, and NM could pool their state employees

    I buy my life insurance from a company in another state, my car insurance in another state, and my homeowners insurance in another state. Why is health insurance somehow different?

    Josh Jasper @9, the new law does not allow states to reduce benifits or lower their state medicade rolls. Thus AZ cannot (per the bill) legally lower benifits or reduce the rolls. It adds 4 billion to our 2011-2012 budget (2-year budget). You could eliminate all state employees entirely and couldn’t save 4 billion. The total estimated unfunded mandate is 11 billion between now and 2014.

  26. eviljwinter @ 15

    Unfortunately, Boehner is pronounced BAYner, not BOner. It would be far better for everyone if it was the other way around. Maybe he’d stop pulling boners every time he opens his mouth.

    I’ll say it again – I am embarassed to be represented by the man, and what that means for the people I live near.

  27. (Republicans gaining seats) already happened. See Scott Brown’s election in January, and boy, was their celebration loud.

    I expect there’s a pretty fair chance that Scott Brown will be /losing/ his seat in 2012. His election was due to a combination of complete incompetence on the part of state Democrats in running their primary, resulting in two progressive candidates splitting the vote and allowing Martha Coakley to grab the nomination. There has never, ever been a worse candidate than Martha Coakley. Capuano would have wiped the floor with Brown.

  28. @26 Paul

    A race to the bottom in a free market system is not to be feared because, if you allow people to make their own decisions when it comes to health care you will have a better system.

    How did that work out for you re: credit cards?

  29. Think how much money could be saved

    Saved by whom? Your insurance companies? Absolutely – if you have a dispute with them and they can use the most regressive, policy-holder-unfriendly rules around to beat you over the head with.

  30. I’m personally not real big on this health care bill but it seems to be better than the option the gop brought us when they were in power, and I suspect has enough problems that it will probably demand corrections in the not too distant future (competition, cost control, etc). We basically turned it from some people’s problems to now all of our problems, which in my experience seems the most effective manner in which to correct them when they arise. There just seems to be more sympathy then for some reason.

    I do find it amusing to hear the gop talk about what they’re going to do when they gain control of the senate & congress. My response is, “how do you plan to get this stuff through the senate?” (smirk)

  31. “it’s the end of March and the elections are in the beginning of November, and between now and then are seven full months.”

    Yes. I seem to recall a situation in 2008, approximately this time of year, when the talking heads were taking it as a given that the presidential election was supposed to be Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani. How did that come out, again?

  32. “Gut” is pejorative,

    Why, yes, it was. Deliberately.

    Increases to AHCCCS are projected to cost about $4 Billion:
    http://www.yumasun.com/news/state-57281-health-federal.html

    That link gives a cost of $3.8 billion from 2011-2014, which is three years, not two. And the $11 billion unfunded mandate that you cited is actually not between now and 2014, but now and 2020, averaging a little over a billion a year.

    (This all coming from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which is what the person in your link was citing in the first place. Report is here: http://www.azahcccs.gov/reporting/federal/legislation.aspx )

    That’s still substantial but I’m not impressed that all the mistakes in your post point in one direction, that of making it worse than it actually is.

  33. if you allow people to make their own decisions when it comes to health care you will have a better system.

    Ok, I’ll bite.

    I’m on a business trip to… er… let’s say San Diego. I get short of breath and start to feel a nasty pins and needle sensation in my left arm followed by a nasty nasty chest pain. I collapse onto the sidewalk and call 9-11.

    At what point am I making a decision about my healthcare. At that point I’m more likely to be focused on a) not dying and b) pretty please I don’t want to die get me to a hospital RIGHT NOW.

    I’m not going to be making any decisions about the hospital, the quality of its cardiac care department, the best treatment options etc…

    This idea that people make “choices” in healthcare is utterly preposterous because, the fact of the matter is, people aren’t actually well qualified to make those choices.

    Those “choices” could mean that a well meaning individual gets a “homeopathy” insurance cover and sits drinking “water” until they’re taking in to have the coronary stent inserted and the blocked artery fixed. People make lousy choices all the time, I have a problem where “choice” can lead to messes that the rest of us will have to clean up at our cost.

  34. Why is health insurance somehow different?

    Working out the actuarial nature of car, life and household insurance is actually pretty easy and the probability of needing it is pretty easy to calculate.

    The probability of people requiring medical attention is pretty much 1 over a given period of time. For most people that won’t mean very much, a course of antibiotics here, a cast there etc…

    For a non-trivial percentage of the population it’ll mean chronic care over a protracted period. Be it anti-depressants, asthma medication, blood pressure management, diabetes… it’s a long list of largely genetic conditions that are easy and cheap to treat but if left can lead to something expensive and nasty.

    For a small percentage it’ll be a catastrophic illness you can’t predict; coronary failure, renal failure, cancers of various ilks (genetic or environment etc…).

    If health insurance ran like your car insurance, for example, a woman in her 40s who had a direct relative with menopausal onset Breast Cancer will be uninsurable. The probability of an incident is basically 1 – it’s something my wife and I have to look forward to over the next 20 years. Yay!

    A drunk driver with a history of accidents might well not be able to get insurance, that’s fine. They’re a high measurable risk.

    Do you seriously want to apply that to your fellow man? Your wife?

    I don’t, and, yes, I’m happy for my money and yours to be spent to insure that whoevers wife/mother/daughter/neice etc… it is gets cover whether they can afford it or not.

  35. “This is good news for John McCain!” became a running joke during the 2008 presidential race.

    It got so bad that I started expecting a Serious Pundit to jump out from behind a tree and confidently proclaim that it was Good News For John McCain when my dog took a dump.

    And I don’t have a dog.

  36. 26 Paul: A race to the bottom in a free market system is not to be feared because, if you allow people to make their own decisions when it comes to health care you will have a better system.

    The market isn’t magic: it’s people. And like any endeavor that involves human beings, some reasonable regulation is needed to prevent crooks, bottom-feeders, and riff-raff from taking advantage of others. We seem to accept this in other phases of life–we have laws against murder, assault, robbery, and the like–but as soon as the word “market” is invoked, some folks assume that a miraculous, invisible force obviates the need for a strong governmental role.

    Read your health insurance policy, then convince me that you understand it half as well as the people who wrote it, and who stand to gain if they deny you coverage when you need it most.

  37. Bob, I tend to agree. Especially when it comes to things that are necessities. In my opinion the major problems in the health care industry didn’t start happening until it was allowed to transition from non-profit to profit.

  38. “The market isn’t magic: it’s people.”

    Not only that, it’s busy people. People who have to do things to make a living, have families to look after, and generally don’t have the time to do the eternal, nitpicking, tedious price-vs-benefits comparisons of every purveyor of every possible good and service that they want. Sure, I could make an informed decision about, say, my health insurance, but getting relevant price information from multiple insurance agents is like slogging through a swamp – it is huge effort when there are other things that one would rather be doing. And on top of that, the insurance agents are actively trying to make it hard to make this comparison, because it is not in *their* interest to have you do so.

    That’s the problem with expecting the “free market” to solve all problems. Over time, the most efficient and best-value producers will tend to win out, but there is a lot of lag in the system while the information gets around. It might take decades for the bad actors to get weeded out, and in that time a bunch of new ones (or renamed old ones) can get started.

  39. I am an independent/libertarian who tends to be very liberal on social issues and more conservative on fiscal issues. I voted for Obama, won over by his promise of transparency and good government, the ideal of proposed legislation (such as health care) being posted on the Internet and debates & hearings on CSPAN, etc. I have been more than a little annoyed that he did just the opposite in this case — turned the crafting of the bill over to Pellosi and Reid and closed committee meetings and lobbyist influence and then use our taxpayer money to bribe various Senators and Members of Congress special deals for their districts in order to gain their votes. Plus the endless stream of insults and slurs coming against citizens who dared to question this (including from Senator Whitehouse of my state who said those who were not in favor of the health bill were racists, Aryan supremacists, and Nazis).

    I would have been happy to support a rationally designed health reform bill that provided access to health care for those who could not afford it and protection for all Americans from catastrophic health care costs. Now that more and more of the details — and flaws — of this bill are becoming public, it seems to me that it is is going to be a major negative for Democrats in November.

    The only thing I can see that would prevent huge electoral losses for the Democrats is that they will be fortunate enough to be running against Republicans.

  40. ben@24, That is exactly why it makes no sense to me why the wife of a Supreme Court justice would join the teabaggers in trying to “take back their country”.

    So, this brilliant woman has it in her head that she must take back “her” country from her husband?

    Well, given to whom she is married, I do understand that she’s not the brightest bulb in the pack…but, sheesh! these people make no sense whatsoever.

  41. @27 Mark

    I believe that when you buy auto insurance from a company in another state, they have to conform to the rules and regulations of your state, not theirs. That’s what @21 Swellsman was asking for for health insurance.

    My major concern with allowing it would be uber consolidation, the big insurers would eat the small ones, and we’d get Clear Channelled into having just a handful of choices.

  42. whos2say @ #2:

    Now congress….. having Pelosi to laugh at is worth keeping her around as long as possible! She is stupid and funny looking.

    Nancy Pelosi seems to me to be perfectly ordinary-looking, but tastes differ. But stupid? She took a bill that everyone considered dead and buried a month ago (just check out this Chris Matthews performance) and turned it into a Big Effing Deal, in Joe Biden’s words. That ain’t stupid.

  43. “(including from Senator Whitehouse of my state who said those who were not in favor of the health bill were racists, Aryan supremacists, and Nazis)”

    Jim @ 43: Citation for that?

    And I think Nicolas Sarkozy of that socialist hellhole France summed up the rest of the developed world’s attitude to the healthcare fight (quote nicked from TPM):

    “”Welcome to the club of states who don’t turn their back on the sick and the poor,” Sarkozy said, referring to the U.S. health care overhaul signed by President Barack Obama last week.

    From the European perspective, he said, “when we look at the American debate on reforming health care, it’s difficult to believe.”

    “The very fact that there should have been such a violent debate simply on the fact that the poorest of Americans should not be left out in the streets without a cent to look after them … is something astonishing to us.””

  44. It seems like the two trends go together. Given the likelihood that the Dems are going to lose seats, the Republicans are trying to pre-emptively win the right to interpret the meaning of that loss of seats. So when it happens, as it is likely to, they will try to use it to push their agenda, and have set the stage for interpreting the event in a way most favorable for themselves.

  45. Right, Charles. The right will always try to define their losses on their own terms. I guess everyone does, really.

  46. Jim @43 remember it’s not the Executive’s job to craft legislation, traditionally it’s Congress. His job to guide the direction it takes.. primarily with veto threats.

  47. Eddie @48: what Whitehouse said was a condemnation of Republican lawmakers. Certainly one can criticize him for his characterization of his Republican colleagues, but it’s disingenous (that’s lawyer for “liar liar pants on fire”) to claim that he said “people who oppose the health-care bill are Nazis.” Of course, the badger-pantsed prefer to interpret it that way, because, hey, badgers are distracting! Here’s the quote, as it appears on both liberal and conservative websites:

    They are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist. That is one powerful reason. It is not the only one.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/200912210036

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/watercooler/2009/dec/20/sen-whitehouse-foes-health-care-bill-are-birthers-/

  48. Farley @ 51:

    Right, Charles. The right will always try to define their losses on their own terms. I guess everyone does, really.

    Sure, but it’s pretty impressive how much louder the echo in the so-called liberal media is of Repub definitions than Dem ones.

    It’s amazing how many things just happen to be signs that the Dems need to “move to the right”. When was the last time any Serious Person on the teevee suggested that maybe Repubs need to possibly move left a teeny tiny bit?

    Hell, the Dems won big in 2008, and even then nearly all of the talking heads were cautioning them against “going too far”. (As if!)

    But Bush pulled a one-vote win out of the Supreme Court in 2000, and it’s “elections have consequences” time.

  49. It’s definitely a mantra. I imagine the Republicans saying it quietly to themselves, over and over, as they lay in a fetal position. It’s a magic charm against further realization that their party has abandoned even the pretense of governing and now exists solely as a mob of bullies and spoilsports (epitomized perfectly last week when Cranky McCrankypants himself, John McCain, announced that the Republicans will block any and all legislation for the rest of the year purely out of spite.) It’s the political equivalent of shouting,”I do believe in fairies!”

  50. mythago – thanks for that. So the premises were essentially:
    – birthers, white supremacists, and extreme right wingers don’t like Barack Obama and want him to fail;
    – a signficant portion of the republican base is made up of these people; therefore
    – Republican congressman are politically bound to oppose Obama beyond the point of reason.

    You can quibble with the factual accuracy of those premises and that conclusion, I guess. But whether you agree with it or not it does NOT say that all health care opponents are birthers, white supremacists, and extreme right wingers.

    Disingenous, then, Jim @ 43.

  51. You mean Jim could be uncritically swallowing a third-hand account of Whitehouse’s remarks, rather than having actually read them? Okay, fair enough.

  52. I’d be happy if no incumbent of either party was re-elected. Throw them all out, please, for at least a decade, and fire all of the top three layers of their staffs as well, and of all of the executive staff.

  53. AlanM, so use anti-trust laws (which we have had since the 30’s) to prevent overconsolidation. Most folks only have 3 real choices anyway, AEtna, BC/BS, and United own almost all of the market as it is. (and they all suck).

    Silbey, the 11 billion is 3.8 billion from forced expansion of AHCCCS and 7 billion if we don’t restore Kidscare. = ~ 11 bilion. Even if you discount the kidscare 7 billion, since we will likely restore that, we still can’t find 3.8 billion in the current budget. The total budget is 8.9 billion.

    But legally speaking it does not matter if it is 11 Billion, 3.8 billion, or a single dollar. It’s an unfunded mandate that the Feds have placed on the states, and I think the Republicans can really use that to their advantage.

  54. htom – yeah, that’s a practical solution. Fire everybody with expertise at government (I’m more talking staff here than elected members) and that will improve the quality of government. Wtf? Do you know how to draft legislation? How to balance economic policy matters? How to run a healthcare system? Say what you want about politicians, but public servants work hard at difficult jobs for not great pay.

  55. @ Bob 39. I never said that their should be no regulations, but that is beyond my point about the value of free markets. Bob do you think their is value in choice or do you think the government should make those choices for you? The ability to chose, is an important part of what makes you a free citizen, if you are dependent upon the government for such an important choice, than are you really free? Government has a role to play, it could easily facilitate choice but instead it chooses to limit choice, and that is what I disagree with.

    I am not, nor are conservatives advocating for no government laws or regulations, we believe that their should be less government not more.

    It comes down to a pretty simple question; who do you think knows how to meet your needs best,you, or the government?

  56. Scalzi decides to defer till later calling the November elections. Good call Scalzi.

    Why does no one in this thread point out just how much we all suffer from American voters seeming to have only short term memories. Most of our elections can be predicted based on the simple curve of the economy the last two months before early voting begins. Economy up? Good for the incumbents. Economy down? Bad for the incumbents. Then, there’s the predictor of mid-term elections? Bad for the party in power.

    As for the new Health Law the Republicans now run a great risk. They said no to the law 100% across their party. For all the flaws in the details and the massive tab we will eventually pay, in the next seven months a lot of voters will hear about the handful of good things in the bill. Things they will like, say for one, you cannot be denied coverage just because you are sick (pre-existing condition). Already, some halfway smart Republicans are creating the mantra “Repeal & Replace.” Why not “Keep the Good, Ditch the Bad” I wonder? Shouting that word “repeal” when voters see things they want to keep may well scare them right back into voting for the Democrats.

    I do not think November’s elections will be all that remarkable or history changing. More Americans skip voting than vote most of the time. The tea baggers think we are overtaxed. What a hoot! For a first world nation we are way down the list of total tax burden, local, state, and federal. The poor tea baggers do not even understand the reality they live in and protest a condition that does not exist.

    Nope. November 2010 likely will be another election that brings us a national government that limps along suffering gridlock most of the time. Like Scalzi, let us all wait till, say, September, before we call this one.

    On a related note I have recently subscribed to International Living Magazine. Retirement should be about ten years off. I am considering being an ex-patriot. I shall take my social security check overseas. I have had about all I can take of American political gridlock.

  57. @ Gary Willis.

    Goodbye and I hope they don’t move up the retirement age to 75 before you leave, as this might discourage you from leaving.

  58. I knew the full moon would make him do something like this.

    We should be glad that the US is 20th in rank for healthy western populations. Making America healthier might mean it’s going to get metro-sexualized to elfin extremes. Our sucky health means our women-folk find macho, heavy-browed, hairy alpha male types more attractive than effete males. The link is to the NY Times bit.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704100604575145810050665030.html

  59. I am not, nor are conservatives advocating for no government laws or regulations, we believe that their should be less government not more.

    This is dogmatic. And like most dogmas is wrong, silly, and/or dangerous depending on the situation.

    Example: Food and Drug Administration. The “less goverment” zombies will argue that they ought to have the right to purchase moldy sausage with petroleum products that leaked into it from the machinery, if they so choose that the price is right for the potential health risk.

    I’ve had morons come out and tell me exactly that. No food regulation should be allowed of any kind. Let it all sort itself out magically by removing the governmetn “takeover” and allowing people to “freely choose” the best product for the best price.

    It’s not based off of any empirical data. Before the FDA, read the Concrete Jungle. After the FDA, you’re far less likely to have human fingers in your snausages.

    What the Objectivists will point to is the FDA doing something they declare as “wrong” or “wasteful” or whatever, and then they make the completely illogical leap that rather than make the FDA right, non-wasteful, efficient, or whatever, they declare the the best solution is to get rid of the FDA completely.

    This is really nothing more than the outcome of people who don’t like it when a democracy tells them they can’t do something. Anything. Then they think the problem is democracy, not themselves.

    I’d rather not have evolutionary practices decide the best design for a safe aircraft. Give me the FAA.

  60. lol, no not really, mythago. My last comment was a bit silly but it is still relevant. The current government entitlement spending is unsustainable, and in all likely hood is going to lead to a government rationing of care and benefits. Knocking the retirement age up to 75 is an easy solution, to the main problem of social security, since our average life expectancy is like 78.

  61. Paul, I meant your prior comment, which is full of begging-the-question type of questions. And you do know that we’ve always rationed care and benefits, right?

  62. 69#Paul
    Current government entitlement spending is not sustainable only if you make a few assumptions, such as: 1 No real change in military spending-we remain a world empire into the indefinite future, 2 We never sell Federal assets like all those land and mineral rights west of the Mississippi and off-shore, and 3 the baby boomer generation will live forever. I think we can afford all this massive spending if we stop being a world empire, sell a bunch of Federal assets back into private hands (where the free market can work to make the assets more profitable), and are patient enough to get to the year 2065 when the boomer swell in the retirement population is history. But doing what we are doing now with no real watershed changes, and you are right–we are [expletive deleted]. Learned that bracket bit from Nixon’s Watergate papers.

  63. @ Greg London, 68. You have made a very nice scarecrow.

    We currently have a health care system that is currently regulated at the state level, and because I object or disagree with, further federal legislation, as I understand it, I could be wrong but I think I have a pretty good grasp on what it is about.

    But because I object to this particular piece of federal legislation (which is now law), that conservatives and I must be against all regulation of the health care system? You than must wonder why I or anyone else with similar beliefs would even involve our selves in politics or government since we seem to be of the belief that no government is better than some government.

  64. The Democrats will lose 8 seats.

    Many of the interests that employed the army of lobbyists to defeat any healthcare reform will now employ that same army of lobbyists to find ways to get their snouts in the trough.

    In three years the Republicans will forget they were against healthcare reform.

  65. Doesn’t it all boil down to the moral of the tale of The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, in the end? Perhaps I’m hopelessly naive, but I still think the Democrats biggest electoral asset is still a Republican Party that can’t see the top of any policy argument without flying over it with apocalyptic fervour. Eventually, there comes a point where people say “oh, come on, drama queen much?”

  66. Silbey, the 11 billion is 3.8 billion from forced expansion of AHCCCS and 7 billion if we don’t restore Kidscare. = ~ 11 bilion. Even if you discount the kidscare 7 billion, since we will likely restore that, we still can’t find 3.8 billion in the current budget. The total budget is 8.9 billion.

    That’s not what the report says. What it says is that the total cost to the Arizona budget is 11 billion until 2020. What you said is that it would cost 11 billion until 2014.

    So you were badly wrong.

    But legally speaking it does not matter if it is 11 Billion, 3.8 billion, or a single dollar. It’s an unfunded mandate that the Feds have placed on the states, and I think the Republicans can really use that to their advantage.

    Which translates as “I was completely wrong, but it *doesn’t matter*!”

  67. Paul @63: Bob do you think their is value in choice or do you think the government should make those choices for you?

    Exactly what choices am I giving up with the passage of the health bill? The right to buy insurance from a company that will drop me when I get sick? The right to be disqualified from buying insurance because of a pre-existing condition? The right to pay for emergency room service for someone who couldn’t afford to see a regular doctor and had to wait until their illness escalated to a point where such care was necessary? The right to buy insurance from an out-of-state company that can skirt my state’s health insurance regulations? The right not to buy insurance at all, then throw myself on the mercy of the state when my gamble doesn’t pan out?

    Paul @63: It comes down to a pretty simple question; who do you think knows how to meet your needs best,you, or the government?

    When it comes down to picking my job, or where I live, or my spouse, I definitely think the choice should be mine. (Conservatives, please note that those choices should be available to everyone, including our gay friends. Didn’t mean to get off topic, just sayin’.) I even want to decide which company I buy my medical insurance from, something that many people with pre-existing conditions can’t do currently.

    But there are certain obligations that come from living in society. My house has to be built to codes so as not to pose a hazard to neighbors. I have to pay taxes to support the police and firefighters and road building and aid for people who are down and out. (Wealth redistribution! Apostasy!) I have to do jury duty. These and other obligations limit my choices, and they sometimes mean that the government makes decisions for me. That’s OK. I don’t expect to get a call from my local officials about exactly how many lights should be installed on a new street, or how wide a curve has to be on the nearby highway to support traffic at 65 MPH, or whether they should plant maples or elms in the local park. We hire people to make these decisions for us. It’s called civilization, and for all its ills, it sure beats living in Somalia.

  68. Paul @ 26: Similarly, we shouldn’t have workplace safety laws; if you allow workers to make their own decisions they will simply choose not to accept employment from companies that don’t have safe workplaces, right?

  69. Paul @ 69 – The current government entitlement spending is unsustainable, and in all likely hood is going to lead to a government rationing of care and benefits.

    You say “rationing benefits” as if it meant something concrete. Insurance companies “ration” benefits. They deny procedures, claims, have had lifetime caps on benefits, and have raised deductibles because they are driven to make as much profit as they can.

    Countries like England and Canada have no such restrictions, and pay out less in healthcare costs as a portion of GDP than the US. If you took out what citizens paid in taxes on average for health care, the US would be spending far more when compared to countries with real socialized medicine, not the mandated subsidized industry buy in we now have.

    What’s unsustainable is the insurance industry continuing as they have, and people with no insurance getting no government help in getting any.

    As it stands, corporations get a tax break on insurance, and then get to claim that tax break as money they themselves spent. This is a government subsidy of corporate America that they use to make profits. And now they’re moaning because they can’t use that as a tax break anymore, all the get is subsidies?

    It’s outrageous the level of entitlement that these Rolls Royce driving welfare kings think they can get away with, isn’t it?

  70. John Scalzi: “Do the Democrats face the possibly of losses in the mid-term elections? Certainly they do, as typically does any majority party in mid-term elections; it’s a common enough occurrence that it’s notable when it doesn’t happen (for example, in 2002, or, for you Democrats out there, 1934). ”

    IIRC, also in 1998.

  71. Paul@72: You have made a very nice scarecrow.

    Hold that thought for a second…

    because I object to this particular piece of federal legislation … I must be against all regulation of the health care system?

    Uhm, yeah, because

    Paul@63: Bob do you think there is value in choice or do you think the government should make those choices for you?

    You’re the one who bifurcated the issue. Don’t get all bent out of shape when someone calls you on your nonsense.

    we believe that their should be less government not more.

    this is dogma. it is something that libertarians and conservatives repeat by rote, almost like a religious mantra. And either you mean it literally, in which case you’re saying that no matter what the situation, we believe in small government in which case, the FDA is an expansion of government and you would oppose the creation of that agency and any agencies like it. (and you’d be a fool to give up the regulatory benefits of things like FDA, FAA, and so on.)

    Or you mean “we believe in small government” as in “when we disagree with a particular policy”. In which case, it is a meaningless bit of drivel trotted out when convenient (we disagree with health care reform a la 2010) but hidden when it would be obviously the foolishness that it is (But we’ll allow for the hypothetical existence of something like the FDA, even though we’ll complain about every specific thing they do)

    It is a mantra that if enforced consistently is moronic. And if not enforced consistently indicates it is little different than a vague law that allows the police to arbitrarily enforce it on their subjective whims.

    So, either you really meant it when you said you believe in small government, no matter what, and you are against all health care regulation, OR you’re using the “we believe in small government” dogma as an arbitrary hammer to beat up policies you don’t like.

  72. Paul, put another way “We belive in small government” cannot be your primary directive. It must be secondary to some other rule you use.

    If you’re buying a car and you say “I want All Wheel Drive, less than 20k miles, and I want it to be as cheap as possible”, then you get the cheapest car with AWD with less than 20k miles.

    If you just say “I want the cheapest car possible”, then you get a $300 shitbox that barely runs with over 200k miles on it from the want ads.

    So, either you have an unstated primary directive to which the “small government” directive is secondary, in which case, you need to make the primary directive part of your public pronouncements, OR you really do mean “small government” to be your primary directive, and you end up with the $300 shitbox that barely runs.

  73. “Small government” means “government large enough to meet my needs, but not big enough to tap me for yours.”

  74. GregLondon @ 78 –

    Big Government = what government does for ‘other’ people.

    Small Government =what government does for me.

    If I realize a benefit from government in action, well alright small government. If some other poor slob who didn’t decide to graduate high school/college/graduate school gets some benefit just for being a do nothing idiot, that’s big government subsidizing poor choices.

    Remember Adam sandler in big daddy? Where the kid says he’s playing “I win”? And rob schneider is like, “this is bullshit, should be same rules for everybody.” And then Sandler says something to the effect of “cmon man, he’s just a kid.”.

    Yeah, it’s is the same with republicans and conservatives today. Only everyone in this game is an adult.

  75. Hey 48 and 53 and 57 and 58 — I know what he said because I read it it in the Providence Journal, heard a clip on channel 10 (the NBC affiliate in Providence), have played it on YouTube, and have read praise of his comments from a number of his supporters. And no, I do not believe the Media Matters spin on it that he only meant Republican Senators were birthers and Nazis. (And he has not issued any clarification to say he only meant that Republicans were the same as Nazis and I doubt that he is not aware of how people have taken his rant.) He is only a name to you but I am his constituent and am quite familiar with him and his attitudes toward non-Democrats. And, frankly, he is far from being the only Democrat politician going about attempting to insult and smear any mere citizen who fails to properly genuflect. Am I supporting Republicans? Hell no. But have the Democrats managed to thoroughly insult me and piss me off? Yes, indeed. And they are doing it more and more every freakin’ day. (Hey, whatever happened to “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism?” Oh, does that only apply to your dissent?)

    I haven’t had any particular problem with Jim Langevin, my Congressman, and I have voted for him in the past, but this year I think I may just vote for his opponent precisely because I am sick of hearing smears and insults from Democrats about anyone who is not a Democrat… and I’ve sure as hell not heard Langevin popping up to speak against these smears and insults. Langevin will probably still win because Rhode Island is one of the few states that still provides the option to vote a straight party ticket, but maybe it’s time for him to have to worry about keeping his seat.

  76. I’d bet a dollar that the Democrats will lose the House and the Senate come November. But only a dollar.

  77. I love how certain people claim to be for state’s rights, but their solution to the healthcare issue to take away the state’s right to protect their own citizens from predatory insurance companies. Hypocrites. Have any of them studied what happened when the banks were allowed to “shop” for the states with the laxest regulations?? If people of a certain state think that there is too much regulation on insurance companies, they are free to vote in legislators that want to lessen the regulation.

    On the other hand, I think this bill has potential to turn into a giveaway to insurance companies like the prescription drug benefit. If the insurance companies don’t have to compete against a public option, what is to stop them from raising prices again and again?

    The other thing I find interesting is that no one seems to think it is a problem that private insurance companies get to make money off the young and healthy and then get to dump the old and sick on the government when they qualify for Medicare. Medicare would be more financially stable if the young could buy into it early.

  78. Jim –

    “Am I supporting Republicans? Hell no.”

    I’m not sure I understand. If you aren’t supporting the republicans (because of what they offer, how they’ve handled the debate or because you aren’t one, you don’t say) why are you taking so personal the remarks against republicans?

    “I think I may just vote for his opponent precisely because I am sick of hearing smears and insults from Democrats about anyone who is not a Democrat.”

    most of the rhetoric I’ve heard has been directed at the folks who thought a reasonable riposte in this debate was “yeah, well you just want to kill my grandma, my brother the soldier and America.”

    But, aside from that, why would you vote for a republican opponent you don’t support because you don’t like how one guy responds to accusations from folks exactly like his opponent?

    I would agree that dissent is an American virtue. But, that’s entirely different from the most vocal half of this healthcare debate. Making up a point and responding to The subsequent accusations of lying as simply a “philosophical difference” is not the reasoned dissent of American virtue.

    If you aren’t doing that, I doubt that rhetoric is directed at you.

  79. We already regulate what sort of drugs are allowed on the market. If anyone thinks that’s a bad idea, I refer them to thalidomide. as a great example of what happens with too few requirements for drug testing.

    We even regulate how long medical residents can work. We don’t offer people a choice about hospitals that work residents longer than 80 hours a week, and don’t allow for insane 36 hour shifts. Because that kills people.

    So no, you didn’t have full choice about the kind of health care you get. You never have. You also don’t have full choice about buying a home with wiring that’ll burn it to the ground in the first power surge, asbestos, lead paint, and so on.

    Regulation = bad is a lame argument, unless you think things like thalidomide babies and deaths due to overworked doctors are a fair trade. In which case, it’s a staggeringly lame argument.

  80. Other Bill @ 90:

    Making up a point and responding to The subsequent accusations of lying as simply a “philosophical difference” is not the reasoned dissent of American virtue.

    [nod] A recent example is a Rachel Maddow show when she pointed out to her guest (J.D. Hayworth) that a claim he made was clearly not true. She looked in the legal decision he was talking about and the phrase he claimed was in there just wasn’t. (It wasn’t a matter of interpretation, either. He had made a statement about what the decision actually said.)

    And his response was simply, “You and I can have a disagreement about that.”

    In this era of he-said-she-said reporting, it’s rare that someone gets called out on this sort of thing. But to then try to frame a statement of fact vs fiction as a difference of opinion is to double-down on the dishonesty. It shows an unwillingness to engage in honest discussion that is an integral part of real democracy.

    If the term wasn’t so watered down by misuse, I’d be tempted to call it un-American.

  81. Jim: I am sick of hearing smears and insults from Democrats about anyone who is not a Democrat…

    Aw, you poor thing. So, what you’re telling me is that you’re a man without a party, because a lot of Republicans have consistently called Democrats cowards during the “Reign of Terror” for not wanting to invade Iraq, Afghanistan, and Elbonia, among others, and because third party presidential candidates have consistently claimed that both republicans and democrats are like tweedle dee and tweedle dum.

    I mean, really, if even a few individuals can spoil the entire party for you, you’ve got no party left to vote for, do you.

    and I’ve sure as hell not heard Langevin popping up to speak against these smears and insults.

    Again, teh same could easily be said for republicans not standing up to smears and insults from other republicans. And independents standing up to the smears of otehr independents.

    “I think I may just vote for his opponent”

    Then obviously there are very few principals driving your voting strategy.

    I’m starting to really get a sense of what an “undecided voter” really is. Someone who can’t see fundamental differences between Democrat and Republican values and instead votes based off the sort of emotional nonsense one might expect in the election of the prom queen.

  82. Josh Jasper @ 91:

    Yup. Unregulated systems fail. Period. Whether you’re talking about markets or machines or the human body or ecological systems, there are mechanisms involved that regulate the system to keep it within the envelope of sustainable functionality.

    As I understand it, pure free market theory claims that “natural market forces” are sufficient to regulate markets if they were allowed to operate without interference. Unfortunately, this seems to assume two heavily inter-dependent things: (1) that most or all of the participants act rationally most or all of the time and (2) sufficient relevant and verifiably-true information is easily accessible to those rational participants. Judging from the real world, these strike me as the free-market economists’ versions of perfectly spherical elephants.

  83. Jim @87, happily, I provided links to both Media Matters and to the Washington Times, both of which reproduced the quote exactly, and both of which agree with one another as to what that quote was. The WT also embedded the video. Are you accusing the rather conservative WT of “spin”?

    Now, you can certainly object to what he did say, which is that the GOP is currently kowtowing to fringe elements. But what you’re actually doing is the tactic Bearpaw references in @92: when confronted with facts, deny, deny deny.

  84. Good job, J.S., now they’ve got straw men (people to be pc) hanging around and threatening to be burned! Think of the straw children will you!

  85. Sibey,

    Again, it’s 11 Billion for the current 2-year budget , 7 billion if we don’t restore Kidscare and 3.8 billion from forcing us to expand our wellfare rolls.

    No one is planing out to 2020, as the lawsuits will be settled by then. But as I said earlier, from a constitutional law standpoint, a single dollar of forced spending would be grounds for a federal suit.

  86. Again, it’s 11 Billion for the current 2-year budget , 7 billion if we don’t restore Kidscare and 3.8 billion from forcing us to expand our wellfare rolls.

    You said it was $4 billion for the current 2 year budget. Where’s the 11 billion number coming from?

    I’ll just go ahead and quote from the state of Arizona itself:

    “Arizona is anticipated to spend $11.6 billion…from FY 2011 through FY 2020…This translates to over $1.0 billion per year.”

  87. Bearpaw @ 92 –

    yup. I saw that one too. Another great example is Kevin Madden, who previously worked on Mitt Romneys campaign. He does a lot of interviews now where he plays the role of the republican opineer.

    He’s is quite fond of using the “philosophical” tactic to infuriate his opponents. In fact, last week I saw him get his opponent screaming angry on the ratigan show regarding the status of Israeli settlement activities.

    Even though he flat out lied, an unaware viewer would have thought him the winner if only because his maniac of an opponent was left shouting “you don’t tell me what I think, I tell me what I think because it’s in my own head.”

  88. If I understand these things correctly and maybe I don’t in this particular case, Arizona could refuse to spend the money, but then it would have to cede control over its federally funded state health programs. So no constitutional damage there probably.

  89. Guess @#12:
    “My beef with the healthcare bill is how to pay for it. I do not buy the CBO numbers.”

    Why not? They’re the actual experts who have the actual numbers, after all.

    Also, I would like to remind you that you Americans have been paying about twice as much per capita than your average Northern/Western European, [i]and[/I] getting worse outcomes.

    If we can do better, on less money, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it as well.

  90. In 1994 the Democrats got badly spanked and lost control of Congress for (among other things) failing to pass Hillary Clinton’s developed-in-secret less-aggressive-than-this-one health care “reform”. Similar whistling past the graveyard by Dems preceded that election. The American electorate has not changed that dramatically. History will repeat. The only question is how badly will the Dems get spanked.

  91. But see, that just doesn’t make any sense. They got spanked in 1994 for failing to pass Health Care, so that now that they’ve passed it in 2010, they’re going to get spanked, too? I question the logic of the argument, there.

  92. Let’s see: the Democrats lost Congress in ’94 in part because they didn’t pass a health care bill, from which we have to conclude that they’ll suffer in ’10 because they did pass health care. Can’t argue with that.

  93. The Dems got spanked in 1994 because the American voter didn’t like what the Dems ALMOST passed and threw them out. Unless you’re arguing that the American voter turned Congress over to a Rep majority in the hope that it would be MORE likely to get Hillary’s health care legislation passed. That would be rather contrary to the facts since the Reps of that time ran against it.

  94. The Dems lost in ’94 because of health care that “almost” passed? I seem to recall that lots of folks were up in arms in ’94 because the Dems passed a tax increase in ’93 that was supposed to devastate the country. (We all know the trouble that can ensue when the government actually starts paying its bills.) If only we could count on similar devastation in the next few years.

    Of course, the Republican narrative is that the economy blossomed because they took over Congress in ’94. For some reason their magical ways ceased to work when a Republican became president in 2001.

  95. Locomotive Breath:

    “The Dems got spanked in 1994 because the American voter didn’t like what the Dems ALMOST passed and threw them out.”

    Again, nonsense: The 1993 health care package never made it to a vote; at no point were there enough Democratic votes to pass it. So not only did it not almost pass, it didn’t even almost almost pass.

    Please try again with this explanation, hewing as closely as you can to actual fact.

  96. I’ll break it down for you in five easy steps.

    1. Bill Clinton made what came to be known as Hillarycare a signature issue in his campaign.

    2. The Dems had a majority in both houses of Congress. Most Dems wanted it or something like it but they couldn’t agree on what they wanted to pass so….

    3. They failed to pass anything. Had they been better organized they had the votes to succeed and a President who would have signed it.

    4. Regardless, in 1994 the Reps ran against the Dem’s goal of passing it or something like it.

    5. The electorate handed control of Congress to the Rep’s.

    It’s entertaining me to see you parsing the meaning of “almost” to avoid the fact that the Dems failed health care plans of 1993 were an important factor in their stunning defeat of 1994.

  97. The Democrats got spanked in 1994 because of the Omnibus Crime Bill, and the firearms nonsense therein. Ask Bill Clinton about it, he even said so.

  98. Actually, I think Locomotive at 106 has it much more right than wrong. The Dems were seriously considering something that was not popular with the Reps or the Indies. They tipped their hand as to what they, or a signifcant portion of their party, wanted to do. This contributed to their losses. I believe they will pay a much higher price in November of this year.

    But I’d still only beat a dollar. Everyone’s opinion as to what the impact on the healthcare vote will be in November (including our esteemed host’s) is so much hot air until then.

  99. Locomotive Breath:

    “It’s entertaining me to see you parsing the meaning of ‘almost’ to avoid the fact that the Dems failed health care plans of 1993 were an important factor in their stunning defeat of 1994.”

    For my part, I’m parsing the meaning of “almost” because your use of the word doesn’t actually comport to commonly accepted uses of word. Nothing in your latest explanation suggests that health care almost passed in 1993, so your previous assertion that voters punished the Democrats for almost voting in health care is deeply questionable, as is your linking the results of the Clinton-era health care and voter sentiment to the results of the Obama era health care debate.

    In sum: You made two stupid bad arguments, offered a third that has no relation to the first two as a way to clarify them, and are attempting to be smug about the fact that your arguments have been so logically unsound that they don’t even use common words correctly.

    I think you’re better off simply not offering any further arguments, LB.

  100. Locomotive Breath @ 109:

    I understand the current narrative about 1994, but it’s interesting that the famous Contract With America makes no mention at all of the health care issue.

    It’s also interesting that the legislation that the Dems just “rammed through” with a majority vote curiously resembles the Republican counter-proposal at that time, including a mandate.

    What might also be interesting would be figuring out how much of the 1994 Republican electoral success was due not because the Repubs ran against “Hilarycare” — to whatever extent they actually did — but that the Dems failed to pass health care reform, and therefore didn’t have that to run with. I know that goes against the near-universal pundit assumption that — whatever happens — Dems have to “move to the right” to succeed, but that assumption is not necessarily correct.

  101. Wow. This discussion is bringing back memories.

    htom at 110 is right that the gun ban had a lot to do with Democratic losses. He’s also right that Bill Clinton blamed that bill in particular. And Bill Clinton was no dummy when it came to politics.

    Bearpaw at 113 mentioned the Contract with America, and I think that also played a role. If nothing else, the Republicans had on display a coherent philosophical basis of limited government, which I think played well within the Independents. Bill Clinton acknowledged this when he [prematurely] declared “the era of Big Government dead.”

    So both the Contract and the gun ban had a lot to do with Democratic losses. On the other hand, I believe the 1993 health care debate helped the Republicans to stick the Democrats with the label “Big Government”. I’m beating the Democrats suffer massive losses come November, 2010 largely as I don’t think the electorate has changed that much. Big government is still largely despised and the Obama and Democratic Congress has done everything to deserve the label.

    But again, we are all expressing mere opinions. No one really knows, yet.

  102. Locomotive Breath:

    If the Republican victory in 1994 was all that and a cake of soap, why were they unable to follow that up with a White House victory in 1996? For all that the Dems may have been defeated (in ’94), Clinton was, after all, re-elected two years later.

  103. Hugh57: By memory only, Clinton never broke the 50% mark in either of his presidential elections. Perot split the vote both times. I was one in ’92. In ’96 I voted for Dole, but it was a reserved vote, as he seemed tired and run down all the time.

  104. stevem @116: As the Republicans are fond of pointing out re the 2000 Bush/Gore contest, it’s the Electoral College that counts. And Clinton won that rather handily both times.

    I guess my real question is: why were the Republicans unable to come up with a stronger candidate than Dole (who, as you say, “seemed tired and run down all the time”) in ’96, coming off such a strong showing in ’94?

  105. Hugh at 117: I don’t know. I suspect that the Perot voters were considered about out of control spending in ’92. Perot wasn’t running in ’94, so the Perot voters voted for Republicans, who at the time were touting the Contract with America. The Contract was largely a fiscal document, with national security and limited government overtones so I’d bet ($1) that it played well with the Perot voters.

    Come ’96, however, large parts of the Contract had not been enacted. An example would be the Balance Budget Amendment to the Constitution which died in the Republican Senate (though only by 2 votes and largely because almost all the Democrats voted against it). Having failed to implement the document, the Perot voters were back in play (though not in the same strength).

    Also between ’94-’96 Clinton tacked right back to the middle, with welfare reform, etc. He (and the Democrats) were rewarded by the voters.

  106. By memory only, Clinton never broke the 50% mark in either of his presidential elections

    Well, hell, if we’re going by the popular vote, Democrats have won 4 out of the last 5 Presidential elections.

  107. My own personal expectation (as noted before) is that it’s far better for the Dem’s political fortunes to have passed it than not; people may argue the benefit of the health care reform now that it’s passed, but the fact is no one likes a loser (see: mid-terms, 1994).

    This is an example of one of the more pernicious attitudes to have developed among Democrats and like-minded supporters of late — that the image of political policies is more important than the practical effects of the same. Let me offer a counterpoint: how the Democrats fare in November will be almost entirely centered on how the economy performs up to then.

    Love it or hate it, Obamacare is entirely owned by the Democrats, and it’s a huge, game-changing beast. Any broadly-encompassing law is going to take time to work its way into the economy, but six months is probably enough time for most people to have a rough pass at understanding what it means to them personally. It is unlikely that any other bill Obama and Congress passes until then will be anything close to it in effect.

    So watch the economy. If it improves, the Republicans will probably re-take the House anyway, just because it’s volatile — but maybe not by much. If things continue in the stagnant-to-mild improvement way as per the last few months, it’ll look dodgy for Democrats hoping to keep the Senate, and the House is a goner. If things drop into a double-dip recession, we might well get to see how Obama fares against a completely opposition-controlled Congress where the phrase “veto-proof” starts getting tossed around.

    However it turns out, that die has already been cast. All we can do is wait for it to stop tumbling.

  108. to have developed among Democrats and like-minded supporters of late — that the image of political policies is more important than the practical effects of the same.

    The same could be said of dogmatic republicans, conservatives, and other right wingers who focus on the image of a black man being their president, and calling him fascist, socialist, and foreigner, rather than the practical effects that Obama is a centrist when it comes to his voting behaviour.

    Or the fact that all the gun nuts have caused a run on guns and ammo on the image of a black president sneaking into their homes at night to rob them, when Obama hasn’t passed or even indicated an interest in passing any significant gun control law of any kind.

    Or the fact that right wingers love to talk about health care reform as Obamacare and associate it with a black president rather “practical effects” of the actual bill. Or “Death Panels” when no such thing exists. Or “Killing Grandma”. Or putting a Hitler mustache on Obama.

    So spare me the lecture on how Democrats have any sort of monopoly on image being more important than practical effects.

    Love it or hate it, Obamacare is entirely owned by the Democrats, and it’s a huge, game-changing beast. Any broadly-encompassing law is going to take time to work its way into the economy… So watch the economy.

    It should be noted that the economy tanked before Obama was president and before anyone thought health care reform was going to pass in 2010. So there is no causual link.

    The economy tanked because a lack of market regulation allowed megacorporations to take risks that they couldn’t cover in the long run, but gave those megacorporations short-term profit they were too greedy to turn down.

    If you want to fix the economy, the thing to look for is whether the government will actually attempt to regulate the economy to prevent that from happening again.

  109. Greg London @ 121: black man [...] black president [...] black president

    You seem to have some serious racial issues. You might want to talk to someone about that.

    I call it “Obamacare” because Obama has staked his administration to it, and because he’s the president. That’s all.

    It should be noted that the economy tanked before Obama was president and before anyone thought health care reform was going to pass in 2010.

    And that recession is over. The question is whether or not the economy tanks again — which very much does have a causal link to Obamacare.

  110. Greg London @ 121: black man [...] black president [...] black president

    gerry: You seem to have some serious racial issues. You might want to talk to someone about that.

    Implying that not a single conservative opposes Obama because he’s black rather than because of some “practical effect” of his policies, indicates that you’re completely delusional.

    But you just keep on saying that its Democrats who have the “pernicious attitude” that the image is more important than the practical effects.

    Maybe you’re like a lot of right wingers who think if they keep saying something over and over (like, say, “Global warming is not real”) that it will come true.

    For those of us in the real world, there are a lot of conservatives who hate Obama specifically because of his image, specifically because he’s black. You wanna pretend Dems are the only people who are concerned about image, well, hey, it’s not a crime to be delusional on the internet.

    And that recession is over.

    Um, yeah, that might be what republicans want to believe so they can pretend Bush didn’t have anything to do with the current crises and want to blame it all on Obama. But for those in the real world, the crash that started while W. was president has not recovered yet.

  111. Calling the recession “over” is a tricky thing, but currently, economists are saying it looks like we’re reaching a period of recovery.

    It’s worth asking if Obama’s health care plan will help, or hurt the economy. If something like medicare hurts the economy more than it helps, it might, but Obama’s plan doesn’t really change things for small to mid sized employers, and in many cases makes it easier for them to provide insurance for workers who they ordinarily might not be able to. Presumably, if you’re a sane employer, you want your employees to have affordable access to health insurance. The one change you will see is that large corporations can no longer get a government subsidy for health insurance purchases, and then write off the subsidy as if it was a corporate expenditure.

    In other words, the free lunch they’ve been getting won’t be a free lunch as well as a tax write off. Already, large corporations have been squealing like stuck pigs over it, and the idiot tea-baggers don’t seem to have a problem with shoveling money to corporations and allowing them to write it off on taxes. Because taxes are *bad*, see, so if a corporation has to actually stop writing off a tax free government gift as if it was an expense, clearly, the government is in the wrong because governments are wrong when they’re run by scary socialists, and right when run by rich nitwits who shovel tax dollars into corporate treasuries.

    Tea Party Logic in a nutshell.

  112. greg London @ 123: Implying that not a single conservative opposes Obama because he’s black rather than because of some “practical effect” of his policies, indicates that you’re completely delusional.

    You may have inferred that, but I assure you I did not imply that. Furthermore, what I stated is that between the two of us, you brought up race. Not me. You.

    Um, yeah, that might be what republicans want to believe

    Believe what you like. As a matter of fact, however, by the accepted economics definition of a recession (two or more quarters of economic contraction) we haven’t been in one since 3Q 2009. The question is whether or not economic expansion will continue or reverse. If the former, passing Obamacare will likely be a balloon to Democrat hopes this election cycle; if the latter, an anchor.

  113. Poor Scalzi is so far in denial that he’ll never admit that anything about the Dems performance in Congress got them tossed in 1994. In fact, he’ll probably not even admit that they DID get tossed.

    The reason Clinton was able to win in 1996 was because he did one of his famous triangulations and got in line with at least some of which the Reps wanted to pass. Welfare reform comes to mind. He vetoed it twice before finally signing off. There is still a crowd of Dems resentful of Clinton figuring out which way the wind was blowing moving to the center.

    Obama is too much of an ideologue to do that.

    Hee, hee. I just realized that I used “Clinton” and “blowing” in the same sentence and wasn’t talking about Monica.

  114. Locomotive Breath:

    “Poor Scalzi is so far in denial that he’ll never admit that anything about the Dems performance in Congress got them tossed in 1994.”

    Yeah, not really. I am pretty certain that none of the arguments that you’ve presented in this thread have come close to making sense. These are two separate things.

    The fact you appear to confuse me pointing out your inability to make a coherent argument with the assertion above does help explain why you have problems presenting coherent arguments, however.

    Learn to make better arguments. You can come back here when you have. But for now, since it’s evident that all you currently have left for your argument is snide attempts at deflection, you’re done in this thread. Thanks for playing.

  115. The thing is, that could have been framed with polite manners, and been made as a reasonable disagreement. “I think Democrats are screwing up in ways similar to 1994″ is a reasonable statement. “Democrats are doing the exact same thing as they did in 1994, and anyone who disagrees with me is a pooyphead” is not.

    If I were a conservative, I’d be embarrassed that Locomotive Breath was on my side.

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