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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And the Day After That…

 

This is a big fucking deal! - Vice President, Joe Biden

The VP didn’t realize his mic was on yesterday at the HCR signing.

But you know what? Healthcare reform is a big fucking deal and I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Damn straight, Joe, damned straight.

And to celebrate, I ordered myself a T-shirt – which I think I’ll wear to the next Tea Party rally in Anchorage.

No doubt that’ll piss a few conservatives off, so I consider it money well spent. Because, frankly, they’re pissing me off.

True colors, folks, that’s what these frightened Conservative obstructionists in Congress are displaying, their true colors.

The Attorneys General of half a dozen Red States, led by Virginia, have announced they intend to file lawsuits to halt implementation of the Healthcare Reform bill, or portions of it such as the Individual Mandate.

True colors, folks. And that color is a rich dark brown chocolaty shade of bullshit.

Should Conservatives actually go ahead with their lawsuit, no Republican better ever again complain about “legislating from the bench” without getting kicked right in the junk.  Seriously. Any Conservative who thinks this lawsuit is a good idea better never ever whine about “activist judges” again. The stench of hypocrisy is so strong it almost drowns out the cloying stink of Rush Limbaugh’s aftershave.

This idiotic lawsuit is an idle threat at best and really nothing more than sour grapes - and Republicans know it.

Now, it is possible that if the bill had passed the House by the Deem and Pass procedure, conservatives might have had a basis for a Constitutional challenge. Might. It’s unlikely they’d win, no challenge to Deem and Pass has ever been successful in the past (you know, when Congressional Conservatives used the option), but because of the nature of HCR it’s possible that the courts might rule in favor of Conservatives.  You pays your money and you takes your chances before the Supreme Court. Good luck.

However, be that as it may, the HCR Bill wasn’t pushed through the House by Deem and Pass, it was voted through via the normal House procedure.  And, of course, the usual rogue’s gallery immediately started making shrill accusations that bill was pushed through by dirty tricks (Bawaha welcome to Congress), chicanery, or by the liberal media as FoxNews sourly claims today (Bawahahaha, Fox accusing other media of bias. Fox. Bawahahaha don’t step in it), or by Executive fiat, or by some secret evil socialist enchantment (these are not the droids we’re looking for…).  That’s just not the case.  Provably so. President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi made deals and twisted arms and got the votes they needed, and the bill passed by simple majority vote, 220 ayes to 212 noes. The ayes have it. Simple as that. That is exactly what Conservatives said they wanted, a simple up and down vote, and that’s what they got. That’s the Constitutional process.  Democrats were simply better at vote getting and more convincing this time. Period. Conservatives lost. Again, it’s just as simple as that, and it doesn’t get any more American than that. That’s the way it goes. Tough titty for conservatives and it’s pretty damned hard to see where they have any kind of challenge at all. 

Which doesn’t mean they won’t try. They, meaning the conservative shit shakers in Congress who have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Conservatives know this, of course.  Virginia’s Attorney General isn’t stupid.  But, AG Ken Cuccinelli has some ambitious political aspirations and this case isn’t about getting the law repealed, or even about repealing the Individual Mandate (the requirement for all Americans to purchase coverage), it is completely and totally about making political hay. It’s about appearances. It’s about damage control and it’s about information warfare. And most of all, it’s about the 2010 and 2012 elections. Cuccinelli and his fellow Red Stater AG’s know they can’t win the court case, but they want to look like they’re trying, a tiny battered David and his pea shooter heroically standing up to the goliath, Obama, for you, oppressed and down trodden Americans, for you. Vote for me! Send us money!

But the truth of the matter is that these so-called fiscal conservatives are going to spend your money, not their money, your money, shitloads of it, and your time and your government assets on this frivolous bullshit solely in order to further their own careers, solely to get themselves elected in 2010 and 2012.  And they’re going to spend more money trying to get themselves elected than Healthcare for their constituents will cost.

That’s the real agenda here.

Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill:

Republicans, conservatives, have suffered the single most humiliating and devastating setback since the 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson jammed the Civil Rights Act right up their collective poop chutes and then stuffed Medicare and Medicaid right in on top of it and here it is, what? 50 years later? And how many Conservatives are willing to give up either those civil rights or their Medicare? How many? What? You’ll have to speak up, I can’t hear you over all the frightened old seniors screaming about how HCR is going to fuck up their Medicare entitlement. What?  That’s right, for all their bluster about the wants of the “American People,” Conservatives lost.  For all the lies and propaganda and information warfare (Death Panels! Death Panels!) they waged, they lost – and really, if you have to lie to get people over on your side, well then your side sucks and maybe you ought to think about where you’re standing. Really. Which is why I’m not a republican any more.

But what’s really, really twisting the screw for conservatives today is this:

Barak Obama won.

That’s right. 

He won big. Huge. The biggest win ever.  Young. Black. Jug eared. Liberal. Inexperienced. Funny weird foreign name. Elite. Outsider. He promised us healthcare reform, and he did it.  Despite everything, and I mean everything, that Cheney and Palin and Rush and Glenn and Michelle and Sean and Boehner and Joe Verbal Diarrhea Wilson and the Tea Party and the Neocons and the entire might of the GOP and all the money the Insurance Industry lobbyists could throw, he won.  Conservative pundits can rant and rave and spin until they puke, but in the final analysis, Obama beat them all.  Every damned one of them. Talk about David and Goliath.

Hell, that sound you heard yesterday? The one that sounded like thunder? That was Obama dropkicking Chuck Norris. That’s right, Bitches, Looks like Ole Chucky finally has something to fear.

And Conservatives just can’t stand it.

Just. Can. Not. Stand. It.

They told everybody that this damned, uh, well, uh, you know it’s not about race, liberal would fall flat on his face. Instead, he won, he won the election, and he won the biggest political fight in the last hundred years.  Palin? She quit. Obama won. Put that on your Facebook Wall, Bitch. It’s damnably hard, damnably hard, to keep claiming you’re the party of God, when God clearly doesn’t like you. You’d think somebody would get a fucking clue, wouldn’t you? Apparently it’s going to take a couple of plagues and some smiting to convincing these idiots that they are on the wrong side.

Obama has managed to do what no other president has been able to do in the history of the Union, he extended healthcare to nearly every American.

Call it however you like, spin any which way you want, lie and make the Glenn Beck poopoo gesture and shed tears on TV, nothing will change the fact that a guy conservatives wrote off as nothing more than a smile and an empty suit just handed them their ass on a plate.

Not too shabby for his first year in the Oval Office. No, not too damned shabby at all.

So, what are Conservatives going to do about it? Besides sue, I mean?

Well, after extensive study, they’ve decided to panic and run around in circles flapping their arms and squawking like chickens caught in a hailstorm.

Senator Jim Demint, a guy you can always count to do the assclown dance, and a band of his friends introduced legislation to repeal the Healthcare Reform bill and return to the status quo. Not fix the flaws in the HCR, and there are flaws, repeal it and return to the status quo – you know, the one where 47 million Americans get ass fucked by the insurance industry every single day. Now this bill doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Glenn Beck’s hot sweaty asscrack of passing, and it sure as hell doesn’t have a chance of getting past the President’s veto pen – but they filed it anyway.

And do you know why?

I’ll tell you.

Because they fear the next three years more than anything else.  The GOP is deathly afraid of the next three years. They’re more afraid of Obama and the remaining three years of his term than they are of terrorism – and that’s a lot of fear, boys and girls.

Why?

Well, starting today small businesses get a substantial tax credit to make insuring their employee affordable.  That means their employees will be more healthy and less likely to miss work due to health problems, which makes small business more profitable sooner rather than later. And that means small businesses can attract better workers. That means small businesses can provide better benefits to their employees without having to increase wages, which means in general employees will be more loyal, satisfied, and more likely to stay, making small business more sustainable. And that starts happening right away.

Seniors that up to now have fallen through the Medicare Part D prescription medication donut hole will get a rebate to cover their costs – and the donut hole will be closed. Permanently. (Tell me why certain seniors should get screwed on prescription medication coverage and not others, because that’s the current status quo. Please, I’m listening).

From this day forward, Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny people coverage for pre-existing conditions or drop people from coverage if they get sick. (Tell me why you want to give Insurance the right to drop your ass if you get sick, go on, tell me that’s what you want).

From this day forward, Insurance companies are prohibited from placing lifetime caps on your coverage. Restrictive annual caps are also banned. (No seriously, tell me you like the idea of caps on your coverage. Go on, tell me).

From this day forward, every single America has the right to appeal to independent arbitration regarding decisions made by their insurance provider. (Tell me why it’s patriotic to be bent over a barrel by your provider without recourse of any kind).

Effective immediately, there will be a temporary high-risk pool to provide immediate access to coverage for the uninsured denied access due to pre-existing conditions (go ahead, tell me why we should repeal the bill and condemn these people to death. These Americans. Tell me what Jesus would do. Don’t strain yourself thinking about it, take your time).

And effective immediately, young people can remain on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26. (please, Conservatives, tell me how cutting your kid loose into the world without coverage makes them stronger and teaches them to stand on their own two feet. Fuck ‘em, get a job hippies. Right? Isn’t that your plan for poor people too? Cut them off so they’ll learn to stand up on their own? Say, while we’re on that subject, how come this wouldn’t work for Israel? Cut the parasites off and let them solve their own problems? Well?  I’m sorry, I could hear you over your howling hypocrisy).

That, my friends is what Republicans fear more than anything else, right there. Because in three years, Americans are going to realize that they are far, far better off than they were yesterday – and that they’ve got President Obama to thank for it. Then they are going to go to the polls. 

Americans are going to realize, probably sooner rather than later, that all the lies Glenn Beck told them and the Rush propaganda and Palin’s talk of death panels was complete bullshit and that healthcare for all Americans is a damned fine idea, a damned fine American idea – and a hell of a lot of conservatives are going to end up depending on it.  Just exactly like they have benefitted from every other major piece of social legislation. 

Every one.

Oh? What? You think I’m kidding?

If it wasn’t for the Civil Rights legislation, Michael Steele would be mopping floors at the RNC instead of chairing it.

If it wasn’t for Social Security most of the seniors out there would be too damned busy either working or rummaging through garbage cans for cat food tins to attend Tea Party rallies in protest of socialism – which is why Social Security was passed in the first place and why damned near every single American senior who isn’t Bill Gates depends on it today.

And if it wasn’t for Medicare most of those self same senior Tea Baggers would be dead or dying or too fucking sick to stand on the Washington Mall waving signs all damned week.

And if it wasn’t for Welfare and Medicaid, they’d all be ass deep in sick, dying, poor people like something out of the 1800’s.

You think getting rid of social programs gives you freedom? Hell no, it gives you Uganda, you dumb fuckers.

No, the last thing Conservatives want is to let Americans get used to Healthcare Reform.

Because when it is all said and done, Americans are going to realize they wanted it all along.

This is a big fucking deal.

Yes, it is.

20 comments:

  1. Bravo, sir.

    My quilting mentor is about to hit her $2M limit. She's on maintenance chemo, and is friskier than I am. I'd like to have someone tell her that her lifetime cap needs to be reinstated. Oh, yes.

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  2. Do I think the lawsuit is about making political hay and has little to do with the actual legalities of any of this? Absolutely. Do I think these jackasses would be suing regardless? Yeah. Is the individual mandate Constitutionally problematic?

    ...

    ...

    I reconciled myself to this bill after Kucinich gave up playing hardball on it. We gave it a shot on the far left, tried to get at least a public option out of it, and when that failed--well, as the saying goes, "Half a loaf is better than none at all." The bill that was passed will make healthcare accessible to millions who wouldn't have had it otherwise, prevents the insurance companies from engaging in some of their most abusive practices, and gets a toe in the door; Timothy Noah at Slate made some good points, I think, to the effect that the history of Federally-funded student loans may be a hint for the future of healthcare reform.

    But make no mistake: the individual mandate is Constitutionally suspect. I'm not saying it's unconstitutional; aside from the fact that that'll technically be up to the SCOTUS to decide (yes, that's a punt), the nearest thing to a good argument for a precedent for it is the argument Tom Schaller makes at Five-Thirty-Eight that the mandate is similar to the FICA tax. And it's not completely convincing, frankly. (The most-used argument, that the individual mandate is like auto insurance, is still horseshit.)

    Ultimately, thanks to an ancient historical screwup that I'm not going to get into now (sorry), the issue will be whether the Commerce Clause of the Constitution allows the individual mandate. It's not a simple question, and "no, it doesn't" is a reasonable and possible answer.

    Now, a little more perspective: that doesn't mean the HCR bill would die. It's been a long time since law school and maybe I'm missing something, but I can't think of any reason that finding the individual mandate unconstitutional would invalidate the rest of the bill. So I don't see any reason for the Republicans to be peeing themselves with glee even if the individual mandate is unconstitutional. And I feel reasonably comfortable in saying, for instance, that Virginia's claims of sovereignty are not going to have an impact on the case at all (part of Virginia's claim is that they just passed a law purporting to keep portions of the HCR from being applicable in Virginia; good luck with that--as far as I know, no state has won a sovereignty claim since Reconstruction).

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  3. This is a big fucking deal.

    Indeed it is. Indeed it is. It's not perfect...but it's a start.

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  4. If I'm not mistaken, George Bush the First pushed the individual mandate back in the 90's as a response to a push for the employer mandate.

    D'oh!

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  5. Have you considered righting for Keith O? I could hear KO ranting that out in my head as I was reading. Bravo indeed.

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  6. Well, see that's the thing, Nathan - a whole lot of this bill was lifted directly from the GOP response to Bill Clinton's attempt at healthcare reform. In some cases, Republicans are objecting to clauses they themselves wrote twelve years ago. D'oh, indeed.

    Eric, what do you think of this as an alternative to the Individual Mandate? If the mandate were deemed unconstitutional by Scotus, I think you could replace it with something like this and still get nearly the same results.

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  7. CJ&Erik, I hear Keith's stable of writers are kept on chains in the basement and fed nothing but Raisin Brand. Dry. I hate Raisin Brand.

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  8. Jim, I assume in your comment you're talking about the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993.

    If you look, you'll see that Senator "Congress has never crossed the line between regulating what people choose to do and ordering them to do it" Hatch was a co-sponsor of that bill.

    Like the current law, it had the requirement that everyone have insurance, called for purchasing pools and standardized insurance plans, a ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums because a person has been sick in the past, and increased federal research into the effectiveness of medical treatments.

    Hatch, like so many of the GOP today, has a very short memory. Or just likes lying for their own benefit.

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  9. Hatch, like so many of the GOP today, has a) a very short memory. Or b) just likes lying for their own benefit.

    I choose option (b).

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  10. Man, Eric's harshing my mellow.

    And yeah, i'm sure they added a separability clause somewhere in there (it's pretty standard boilerplate, even for our little village). The good thing for our side is they're bloviating now, which tends to lead one to bad conclusions and wrong headed arguments. As long as they don't get their tempers down or thing they'll lose, it has an excellent chance of passing through.

    Yep, I think the conservatives got caught shouting out "Hey, what 'chop ringing that bell for."

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  11. Jim, something like the opt-out outlined in the American Prospect article seems like it would get around Due Process and "Takings" considerations, which I think are the big (potential) problems with the individual mandate. It's certainly a better response than the usual hand-waving at the "Takings" issue ("You're not being unconstitutionally deprived of property because you get health insurance out of it." Well, okay, sure--if that's how it is, does it mean Congress can force me to buy a new television? Purchase a new car?)

    (I'd also note that the Prospect article's idea for putting "uncovered" children into S-CHIP or Medicaid is a nice touch.)

    Personally, I think the Fifth Amendment is the major problem with the individual mandate. There may be some other issue I'm overlooking, but the Prospect's suggestions are definitely one way to deal with it. (Another way would be single-payer... I know, I know--I just had to say it! A man can dream!)

    -----

    gniesseg: what a duck's sister's daughter hatched from.

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  12. Eric, that's about how I read it too. The point being that there are options - options that the GOP could be pursuing, if they, you know, got in the fucking game instead of spending their time acting like petulant selfish spoiled privileged brats. You want democracy? You want a republic? Then get the fuck to it, stupids.

    You're right, a man can dream.

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  13. Even former Bush speechwriter David Frum has commented that this is a very Republican bill:

    Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

    O'course, as a lot of people on the left and right alike have noted, Frum would be on higher moral ground if he wasn't now criticizing Republicans for acting the way he encouraged them to act when he was writing speeches for Bush and the Republicans controlled Congress and the White House (and, basically, the Judiciary, though we all know the SCOTUS is "nonpartisan").

    So, yeah, the ones with "short memories" are really just lying through their teeth. And in the most cynical way conceivable--I mean, they can't possibly be in favor of the way insurance companies have handled rescission policies or against closing the Medicare "doughnut hole," can they? No, they were gambling, as Frum says, on the Democrats blowing everything and looking like choads. Oops.

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  14. Jim, there are indeed options, and the President was so eager to make this a bipartisan bill, they could have had a more productive impact on the process if they'd come to bargain in good faith. No, they weren't going to get everything they wanted--any more than the real progs were going to get single-payer; that's the point of compromise--they give up something, we give up something, everybody sucks it up a little. The party with the better bargaining position gets more, naturally--which, in the case of healthcare, meant that the Republicans needed to understand that as the opposition party facing a popular opposition leader, they'd get less of what they wanted but could still get something.

    There's been a lot of bullshit bouncing around about "backroom deals" as if they're wholly a bad thing. They are a bad thing insofar as they obscure transparency. But wheeling-and-dealing used to be a major part of the political process. LBJ wasn't "Master Of The Senate" because he was a bully with a majority at his back, but because he was a political horse-trader, part of a tradition going back to Ratification (the Bill Of Rights, as I'm sure everyone here knows, was a political horse trade).

    Ah, well, enuff--I should be in bed; goodnight, kids!

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  15. You think getting rid of social programs gives you freedom? Hell no, it gives you Uganda, you dumb fuckers.

    Nope, forget buying you a drink. I think I need to buy you the whole bottle.

    readin: how I spend my morning, before I'm caffeinated enough to notice all the letters

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  16. Brilliant piece (as usual) - There is another side to it, that in addition to reflex (Obama-NO!) many republicans truly believe that the bill is the wrong way to help people, all those things you mentioned (no pre-existing conditions, etc.) could be better solved by the companies working out a solution rather than gov mandating it...in theory it should be, but the truth is, they are not. They are systematically squeezing tighter and tighter to make more profit - something perfectly in line with capitalism. It is sad that the message doesn't seem to get across.

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  17. And to expect the health insurance industry to self regulate is pretty much like expecting the financial industry to self regulate. There is simply no short term benefits to self regulation. Make your money, get out of the business and buy some land on an island. You'll be fine and your children will be fine. Period.

    I think the Republicans would have had a more thoughtful response (see the last decade or two) if they hadn't felt obligated to follow the party line about Obama being the Anti-Christ, Hitler, and Chairman Mao all rolled into one.

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Mr. Wright, I love you.

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  20. Clap! Clap! Clap!

    My favorite line:"You think getting rid of social programs gives you freedom? Hell no, it gives you Uganda, you dumb fuckers."

    My grandmother's first husband died of TB, leaving her a young widow with four little boys. He died in a cabin they lived in, and alone with her dying husband and four little ones, no one would help her because they were afraid of getting TB. Soon after, her infant son died of malnutrition and she almost died too. That was before safety net social programs.

    Even with employer insurance, our costs have exploded and we've been surprised by new limits and sleazy game playing, ignoring appeals until time is up, costing us about $2500.00 extra last year that was supposed to be covered but we never got it back and that was on top of the big leaps in costs we did owe; plus we spend a lot every month to keep our young adult offspring covered with private policies. We need relief.

    I'll be happiest when the parasite health insurance industry is crushed into oblivion because as long as we are paying multi-layers of private sector companies to take our money to hand to medical providers, making a profit doing it, we are paying more than we should be; and I don't like government forcing Americans to be customers of a private sector company/industry. Until then though, woo hoo!

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