Posts Tagged ‘Reform’

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GOP Not Interested in Governance, Only Politics

04.12.10

The Republican Party established itself as the “Party of No,” a unified front interested only in voting against whatever Obama and the Democrats proposed, regardless of the content of that legislation.  No to the Stimulus. No to SotomayorNo to Healthcare. No to Extending Unemployment Benefits.

And it continues.

Instead of bothering to announce anything productive for 2010, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterates that nothing has changed for the Grand Old Party: repeal health care is their number one priority.  Now, I’m sure many a Republican could and would argue that repealing health care reform would be productive.  But that would mean that the status quo prior to March 21st – or their own ideas (Rep. Paul Ryan’s bill the only real document they’ve provided as an alternative) – is a step forward from the reform, not a step backward.

Boehner sounds like his background vocal track hit a snag and he’s stuck on repeat:

“I’ve never seen a bill pass the House of Representatives that the American people knew about, that the American people had discussed, debated, and had decided ‘no.'”

Sigh.

I suppose this will be the strategy until November.  If the GOP wins as many seats as they hope, then one could argue their strategy worked.  As far as winning seats in Congress goes.  And that’s just politics.  Not governance.  Which is all in which they’re interested anyway.

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Health Care Passes! What Does That Mean Again?

03.21.10

The House of Representatives passed the Senate Health Care Reform Bill tonight, by a vote of 219-212.  I repeat, HCR passed.

After months and months of watching the gnarled, ugly yet effective mess that is the American legislative process, we finally have health care reform despite the gnashing, screaming tantrums and staunch opposition from the Republican Party.

So, wait: what does this all mean?  Good question. Rep. John B. Larson notes the changes that will take effect immediately:

  • Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
  • Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
  • Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
  • Lower seniors prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;
  • Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
  • Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
  • Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
  • Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
  • Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
  • Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.

Noticeably absent: death panels, government takeover of health care, the public option, and socialism.  Also, the argument that this bill was rammed down the throats of Americans holds no water.  There was no voting on a “rule.” The majority of representatives took an up-or-down vote on health care and health care won.

The first step has finally been taken, which is always the hardest to make.  The nastiness from the opposition is far from over, I’m sure.  Sen. Jim DeMint already announced that he’s going to initiate a bill to repeal HCR.  But given how difficult it was to pass, I imagine it’ll be next to impossible to repeal.  Unless it ends up being an utter failure, which I don’t see happening.   This is a major reform unlike any we’ve seen in health care in 40 years.  But, at the end of the day, the bill will prove to not be nearly as radical as some on either side of the divide claim it to be — health insurance companies won’t become nice guys overnight nor does the reform bill shred the Constitution.

Thank you, Representatives, for seeing this through.  Especially to Rep. Jane Harman, who represents my district here in Venice, CA, to whom I called last week to lend my support and remind her that we do want health care reform.  It wasn’t pretty, but you got it done, and for that, I thank you.

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White House Releases the Real ObamaCare

02.22.10
South façade of the White House, the executive...

You can download the PDF of the president’s proposal here.

From what I’ve read, it looks like what people expected: a combination of the Senate bill and the House bill.  No public option was added; no more federal insurance exchange; the Nebraska deal eliminated along with the Stupak amendment; and many of the taxes won’t go into effect for several years to help ease states into the system.

In some aspects it looks like this proposal is a little more centered with the change of having states create their own insurance markets versus a national one, but then it also removes the abortion language that moves it over to the left.  So a few moderate Republicans might be happy with the former but then they, along with the conservative Democrats, will be rather displeased with the latter.

At the end of the day, I don’t know that the actual substance of this proposal will sway any politicians who weren’t already on board with the Senate bill.  It’ll lose some Democratic support with the removal of the Stupak amendment, and I highly doubt that it will gain any Republican support for any reason because they’re lock-step in opposition to the bill.  But one of the big criticisms of Obama and how the Democrats have handled this health care reform business was their total failure on selling the bill; they let the Republicans demonize it as a socialist, government takeover of health care.  And the public bought it.  How else can you explain how people tend to approve of the specific elements of the bill but not the actual bill itself? So, we’ll see if this has any affect on public opinion. If it does, it will take away some of the Republican’s ammunition of opposition and hopefully nudge the listless Democrats into signing off on a bill similar to that which almost all of them already voted yes. We’ll see.

Do your part of making an informed opinion: take a look at the proposal.  Nothing revolutionary that we haven’t already seen in some form in the House or Senate bills; like expected, it’s a mix of the two.  But, try to make up your own mind about it.

Image via Wikipedia

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What Other Options?

09.13.09

Let the appeasement continue.

Once again, the White House and the Democrats reiterate that this government-run public option really isn’t at all a mandatory part of the bill.  They say that it’s a small part of the health care reform.  Senator Feinstein says that there’s “more than one way to skin a cat.”

Then let’s see those other ways.  What other ways are there that would be as impactful as a public option yet isn’t the public option?  And who has these alternatives?  One would think that it should be the Republicans turn to bring some plan to the table.

Enter Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican out of Utah, who said that:

an alternative to the broad overhaul could be as simple as providing subsidies to the roughly 15 million Americans who he said truly cannot afford coverage.

Truly cannot afford coverage.  That’s the plan.  What does that mean, exactly?  What are the deciding factors in determining who truly cannot afford coverage versus those who just simply can’t afford it?  What about the other 30 million Americans?  The problem is not just how coverage is too expensive, but that even those who can afford an insurance plan can’t always receive proper coverage due to “pre-existing conditions.”

Subsidizing 15 million Americans won’t cure our health care problems because it’s only a matter of time before all 45 million of those uninsured will truly be unable to afford coverage.  And by then, that 45 million currently uninsured could rise to 55 million, 65 million.  What then?  More subsidies?  More bandaids on bullet wounds?

“C’mon, we’re living in the real world here,” said Hatch, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee. “People all over the country don’t want this.”

That’s right, Sen. Hatch.  We are living in the real world here and we do want this.  We do want access to health care.  We do want proper coverage.  We want to be able to afford that coverage for those illnesses and diseases for which we need care.  Where are you living?  Clearly not in the same world as your fellow GOP leaders who said

they agree with Obama that the current health insurance system needs a change, but argue his plans are too costly and won’t work.

Well, Sen. Hatch has announced his plan, but if the GOP is resting on his subsidies idea as their only alternative, they clearly don’t have any real desire to be part of this reform.

But we already knew that.  Which is why I cannot understand why Obama and the Democrats keep showing weakness when it comes to the only real option we have at reform.  We have no other real alternatives other than status quo.  They need to stand firm.  Only then will the GOP be forced to respect the Dems position and provide a viable alternate plan.

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Just Say No To Status Quo

09.12.09

Obama announced it at a rally today: status quo is not an option on health care.

And that’s exactly what the Republicans are seeking to do.  As if the current situation is worth keeping as-is or even financially sustainable in its current state.  (It’s not.)

We need to push for Medicare Plus – which would be essentially Medicare for everyone.  It works for those over 65.  There’s no reason that something like that couldn’t work if both sides made true efforts to make it fiscally responsible yet socially beneficial.  That is if people from both sides actually wanted to work for a same goal.  Seems that these days to even have the same idea for how things should be – not even how to get there – that it’s somehow going against your ideals.

If the GOP truly wanted to do anything productive whatsoever, they’d actually go into the bill with an honest approach with their interests and ideals in hand and be willing to find a true common ground.  Since they’ve proven they have no desire to do any such thing, the Democrats need to sustain the GOP’s infantile behavior and get things done regardless without conceding too much.  Because no matter how much the Dems compromise, the GOP will not be pleased unless it’s exactly how they want it.

Might as well go for the gold.

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We Need GOP Reform

09.09.09

The good ole two-party system. Republicans and Democrats.  Liberals and conservatives.

Black and white.

What about the gray area in which most of us live?

The goal is for each side to bring their perspectives to the table and together some compromises are reached that create more moderate policies.  Of course, this depends on what each side is bringing to the table that determines what could be considered moderate.  When one party tries to bring a moderate view to the table while the other offers religious extremism or is just completely unwilling to compromise… Well, that’s where we find ourselves now.

It’s not the system that’s broken.  It’s the GOP.

In order to truly make changes to our country that need to be made, the Republicans need to find their way out of being the Christian Party and back to being the fiscally conservative, small government party.  If that really has ever been the case.

Until then, this health reform bill will end up a total disaster.

“The G.O.P. used to be the party of business. Well, to compete and win in a globalized world, no one needs the burden of health insurance shifted from business to government more than American business. No one needs immigration reform — so the world’s best brainpower can come here without restrictions — more than American business. No one needs a push for clean-tech — the world’s next great global manufacturing industry — more than American business. Yet the G.O.P. today resists national health care, immigration reform and wants to just drill, baby, drill,” – Tom Friedman.

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan’s “The Daily Dish” for the quote.)

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This Is Not Socialism

04.04.09

While bored, I ended up jumping around friends’ Facebook walls and read posts from random people that I may or may not have ever met.  The Six Degrees of Facebook, essentially.  On one wall I found a post that read as follows:

yeah, i agree, i am not against Obama, but i disagree with the philosphy that the stimulus package and more government spending is the right solution. and i don’t think pelosi and reid did him any favors by locking out the republicans when they created the bill and then expected support for it. but it is what it is – moving towards national healthcare run by the government and nationalization of banks is socialism.

This person has every right to disagree with Obama’s politics.  But the final remark is incorrect.  A country can have social programs without being a socialist state.  No one was screaming socialism when Bush was in office, yet he was the one whose spending was completely out of control to the point where the administration claimed that deficits don’t matter.  We’ve also had social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security for decades, yet again, the Republicans weren’t screaming socialism 6 months ago.  In fact, Bush spent a TON of money on Medicare just before he left office.  Finally, Bush was the one who started the whole “nationalization” of banks with the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG bailouts.  Again, no calls of socialism, yet these were all characteristics of socialist policy.

Obama does have a plan for health care reform and so did all of the other presidential candidates.  Only Clinton’s even came close to being universal coverage.  I am not sure that Obama’s plan of forcing employers to provide health care really is the answer at all, but I do know that it’s not national healthcare nor socialism.

I am not an economist.  I’m not even an political scientist by degree.  I have no idea what the best course of action is with regards to the banking system.  In my gut I would rather them fail than the Big Three.  I also would rather the president didn’t tell the GM CEO to step down – but that’s what happens when the government essentially owns part of the company.  I can see this being a dangerous state of affairs but I also don’t see it as socialism.  If you ask for the government’s help, then you should be held accountable to their stipulations.  If you don’t want the help, then let capitalism do its thing and GM would most likely be going through bankruptcy right now.  Which they still could be doing soon.  Either way, it wasn’t a hostile takeover by the government like what happened in Venezula.  Far from it.

Regardless of how it all turns out, we are not living under socialism, we are not heading toward socialism, and having social programs when you’re one of the wealthiest and strongest countries in the world is not socialism.  It’s part of what makes us one of the best nations on the planet.

(P.S. I don’t know the protocol for the content of a random Facebook wall posting.  I don’t want to credit the writer because I would like for him/her to remain anonymous.  It’s nothing personal and if he/she so chooses to want credit for said quote, I’ll be happy to attribute accordingly.)