Happy Hour Discurso


Today’s opining on the public discourse.

I am, once again, suffering an embarrassment of riches. You’d think Cons didn’t have anything better to do all day than sit around and think up new ways to be egregiously stupid.

I guess that’s what the lobbyists pay them for. And they’re certainly attempting to earn their pay as they spin their gloom, doom and mass casualty stories of health care reform:

Fearing that health reform is getting closer to passage, the right-wing is escalating its rhetoric by issuing dire warnings of its consequences. Interviewed by the Washington Times, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was asked if “government-run health care” will “end up killing more people than it saves?” Coburn responded, “Absolutely.”

A couple of right-wing congressman voiced similar doom-and-gloom rhetoric on the House floor yesterday:

Rep. Steve King (R-IA): “They’re going to save money by rationing care, getting you in a long line. Places like Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe. People die when they’re in line.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): “One in five people have to die because they went to socialized medicine! … I would hate to think that among five women, one of ‘em is gonna die because we go to socialized care.”

Paging Mr. Reality:

Comapred [sic] with Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the United States ranks last in all dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. The United States currently ranks 50th out of 224 nations in life expectancy, with an average life span of 78.1 years, according to 2009 estimates from the CIA World Factbook.

Note to Cons: fiction works better if it’s based in reality. Not that you’re on speaking terms with reality anymore, but really, you’d think that a friend of a friend of reality might’ve mentioned how reality’s doing when you were having coffee the other day, before remembering you’d been through a messy divorce and maybe didn’t want to hear the first fucking thing about what reality’s been up to since you split.

Still, it’d be best to check in once in a while, because then you wouldn’t suffer embarrassments like these:

It’s nice to get definitive proof that some bloggers really don’t bother to do basic research before posting something, and we got some today. Here’s a scary article from Investment Business Daily:

“It didn’t take long to run into an “uh-oh” moment when reading the House’s “health care for all Americans” bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal. (…)

Under the Orwellian header of “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage,” the “Limitation On New Enrollment” section of the bill clearly states:

“Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day” of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won’t be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.”

That sounds scary! It also sounds completely implausible. So I went and looked at the actual bill, and there that paragraph was, on p. 16, in a section defining the term “Grandfathered Health Insurance Coverage”. The fact that it’s in a definition might lead readers to conclude that it doesn’t mean that you can’t buy individual insurance after the bill takes effect, but only that you can’t buy such insurance and have it meet the bill’s definition of “Grandfathered Health Insurance Coverage”. There is a difference.

Not to Michele Bachmann:

On Dennis Miller’s radio show today, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the bill, claiming that it plainly stated that Americans would be forced out of their current health care plans “within five years”:

BACHMANN: Well, what does that mean? That means that politicians are going to substitute their choice for your doctor’s choice for you. That’s exactly what this bill does. Here’s the other thing about that bill. It’s a monstrosity. I have the bill printed out on my desk, it’s over 1,000 pages long. On the 16th page, it says whatever health care you have now, it’s going to be gone within five years. So your current health care plan, you’re not going to have in five years. What you’re going to have is a government plan and a federal bureau is going to decide what you get or if you get anything at all.

[snip – refer to Hilzoy’s debunking above]

In fact, as the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky points out, the CBO’s coverage tables “undermine the conservative claim that a public option would eliminate private insurance and erode employer-sponsored coverage”:

The House bill actually increases the number of people who receive coverage through their employer by 2 million (in 2019) and shifts most of the uninsured into private coverage. By 2019, 30 million individuals would also purchase coverage from the Exchange, but only 9-10 million Americans (or approximately 1/3) would enroll in the public option, the rest would enroll in private coverage.

So, in Bachmann’s world, increased private insurance is a government takeover of health care.

Sometimes I wonder if Michele’s parents put her in the bouncy chair upside-d
own. That might explain at least some of the brain damage. But unless there was a mishap with instructions and a generation of credulous parents, I don’t see how that explanation could extend to all of the extraordinary idiots on the right.

Now, I know it’s easy to get distracted by the blaring dumbfuckery over health care, but don’t forget the Cons are being equally fucktarded about the stimulus. The latest:

House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), as part of his efforts to undermine confidence in the stimulus package, is talking to reporters again today to blast the recovery package. Just as important, though, the White House and its allies aren’t ceding any ground to Cantor on the issue.

The DNC, for example, is reminding journalists today that, as recently as April, Cantor was in home district bragging about the thousands of jobs to be created in his home state, including a high-speech rail project in his district.

“It’s not that surprising that yet another Republican has been caught speaking out of both sides of his mouth on the effects of the Recovery Act. But Eric Cantor and his fellow Republicans can’t have it both ways. Either they are for economic recovery and the jobs it’s bringing to the folks they represent, or they are against it,” said DNC national press secretary Hari Sevugan in an e-mail.

What’s more, it’s not just the DNC.

Vice President Biden plans a political broadside this afternoon in the home district of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), accusing the senior Republican lawmaker of joining in his party’s smear of the $787 billion Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

[snip]

“I ask those critics…. Would they not help the states prevent lay off thousands of teachers, firefighters, cops?” Biden will say in the remarks. “Would they not give a tax cut to 95 percent of the American people? Would they sit back and do nothing as our economy collapsed?”

In a word: yes.

Oh, wait – they will do something. They’ll rail against the evil socialist federal government and threaten secession, then demand more stimulus money:

In March, Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected $555 million in federal stimulus money that would have expanded unemployment benefits for Texans. Perry argued at the time that accepting the stimulus dollars would force the state to expand eligibility to include thousands of low-wage workers — including part-time employees like single mothers, college students and senior citizens — which Perry bemoaned would burden tax payers with “higher taxes and expanded obligations.” When explaining the decision, Perry told Fox News, “this was pretty simple for us.” But now Perry is reversing his decision. Texas has asked the federal government for a $170 million loan to ensure the state is able to continue paying out unemployment benefits:

Texas is now asking the federal government for a $170 million loan so that benefits keep getting paid.

“This is nothing out of the ordinary. We’re following protocol that we put in place,” said Governor Rick Perry.

Texas has asked for this loan only one other time, in 2003. This year however, the decision is getting extra attention after Governor Rick Perry rejected federal stimulus money that would have replenished the fund.

Texas is expected to request $650 million, roughly $100 million more than Perry initially rejected.

Wow. That kind of hypocrisy takes Texas-sized balls, Texas-sized stupidity, or both.

Of course, Tom Coburn’s trying to prove Oklahoma Cons are just as big as Texas Cons when it comes to hypocritical stupidty:

The conservative preoccupation with judicial references to foreign law has always been rather misguided. But sensible or not, the right takes this very seriously.

Indeed, just yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn, a far-right Republican from Oklahoma, reminded Judge Sonia Sotomayor:

“We don’t want judges to consider legislation and foreign law that’s developed through bodies, elected bodies outside of this country.”

I think that’s a little closed-minded, but Coburn’s perspective on this is hardly unusual.

What was interesting, though, was what Coburn told Sotomayor less than 24 hours later:

“What I was trying to draw out to you is, where do we stand in this country when 80% of the rest of the world allows abortion only before 12 weeks, only before 12 weeks?

“And yet we allow it for any reason, at any time, for any inconvenience under the health of the woman aspect.”

That about-face must have left the poor man dizzy. I do hope he doesn’t suffer from motion sickness – wouldn’t want him to expend his last microgram of dignity by barfing on Sotomayor’s shoes, now, would we?

Meanwhile, signs that the right will ever put out the burning stupid and become worthy opponents again are completely fucking absent:

This blog has repeatedly wondered aloud whether Sarah Palin would be able remain hugely popular among Republican voters, now that her resignation has shown that the Alaska governorship was too big a fish tank for the Bailin’ Barracuda to handle.

Well, the new Gallup poll shows that she’s still far and away the most popular GOP figure among Republicans a
nd Republican-leading independents (click to enlarge):

Palin retains an astronomical favorability rating of 72%. No one else in the Republican Party can touch her.

With a base like this, I seriously doubt we’ll see many credible Cons hit the national stage any time soon.

Comments

  1. says

    "A progressive conservative solution to the healthcare problem would be keep it private, offer short-term government plans for the temporarily uninsured, and use anti-monopoly powers to bring rates down to reasonable levels. I also like the idea of collective bargaining where small companies can band together and purchase coverage at discounted rates."Mike at the Big StickIn the light of that dead-last ranking, I'm wondering if Mike is still willing to defend the wonderful capitalistic US system against those horrid "Swedish socialism" systems in Europe and the Commonwealth — or possibly to consider specific changes which might make the US system acceptable and maybe even truly competitive (which it certainly is not right now).For example, I would be willing to support a health system based entirely on private insurance under the following conditions:1. Insurers are required to cover all US citizens, no exceptions2. There will be a maximum monthly premium (MMP) for all insured, no exceptions. (Companies can offer lower premiums if they wish, but competition will probably focus on customer relations, not price, since the profit margins should be very small. I'm leaning towards requiring that insurers must be NPOs.)3. The MMP will be on a sliding scale, going down to zero at the "poverty level" but going up to several times the average cost-of-delivery for the wealthiest insured (to help keep most people's rates lower).4. The MMP overall will be based on the cost-of-delivery of the world's best healthcare systems, as measured by overall client satisfaction with the system.5. Coverage must include all medically necessary medications and services, including those necessary for mental health.(And yes, I'm still planning to respond to your most recent comment on the other thread; we've been rather busy dealing with our own ongoing mental health problem. The latest twist seems to be denying him services such as therapeutic foster care because there's nothing medically wrong with him, just mentally/neurologically.)

  2. says

    Unlike Mike, I quit the Church Of The Free Market decades ago. I'm not willing to have only private insurance coverage, because, as that great COTFM adherent Milton Friedman once pointed out, any regulation of such a well-financed industry will inevitably fail. I've seen how this works with no-fault auto insurance – once everyone is required to buy it, the insurance inevitably gets expensive and useless, because the legislators who write the laws and the regulators who enforce them will be co-opted by the insurance industry. Been there; tried to do that; it doesn't work.The means-tested way of financing that you're describing, Woozle, is the way a publicly-financed system would work if it were financed using the federal income tax. (I'm pretty sure you're aware of this, Woozle, but it's still true.)I wish the free-market fanatics would wake up to the fact that there is no such thing as a truly free market, and learn to see which segments of our economy work the way they are, and which have to be fixed somehow. I doubt I'll live to see that day. Free market belief is even more prevalent than creationism here, even though it's almost as mistaken.

  3. says

    Cujo: I agree that the so-called "socialist" solution is what is needed, largely for the reasons you state; it just astonishes me that the die-hard free-marketeers are unwilling to consider changes which could arguably make the current system workable, so they would at least have a leg to stand on in defending their sacred cow.It's as if they know how unworkable a reasonable compromise would be, so they might as well stick like glue to their completely insane position — because it's safe from rational criticism.

  4. says

    On "foreign law": the entire US legal system is built on "foreign law". Where the heck do the cons think the legal system comes from? Spouted forth from Ben Franklin's ass, no doubt.The legal system of just about every western democracy looks to foreign law as part of their consideration, particularly when there is little guidance under the current laws. There are a variety of *very* good reasons to do so. The sensible note of caution is that judges needn't consider foreign precedent binding. But to fail to consider it at all is ludicrous.