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Posts Tagged ‘Reform’

Corporate Whore Health Care Summit Locks Out Single Payer And Medicare For All Advocates.

As the so called “Health Care Summit” got underway between the “third way” Democrats and the status quo obstructionist Republicans defining the debate, Democratic representatives that supported real reform on behalf of the American people such as Anthony Weiner (D) NY, Dennis Kucinich (D) OH, and Peter Welch of Virginia requested the inclusion of physicians that advocate single payer (but were ignored) as these groups stayed at home. This on the heels of a year that showed America’s biggest insurers combined profits rose 56% in 2009 while covering 2.7 million less Americans. In this from “Big Insurance: Recession? What recession?” by J.G. Preston,

HCAN found the insurers increased profits while simultaneously insuring 2.7 million fewer people through private insurance. The report claims that is “part of the industry’s long-term shifting of responsibility for the care of millions of sick, older or lower-income customers to taxpayer-supported government health programs…State and federal programs have increasingly been hiring big insurers to manage their care.”

In these increased desperate times for millions of Americans who have to forsake coverage to eat, those in government deciding their fate have been deluged with money from those that profit from their misery. In a report from Capital Eye Blog at OpenSecrets.org by Michael Beckel titled “Lobbyists Earn $1.3 Million Per Hour As Lawmakers Log Long Days“, it claims

Health-related lobbyists and lobbyists for business interests like the Chamber, for instance, earned more than $200,000 per hour that Congress was in session. Lobbyists for unions, meanwhile, took in $16,000 per hour that Congress was in session.

In a report from The Center for Public Integrity, it concluded that,

A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms shows that more than 1,750 companies and organizations hired about 4,525 lobbyists — eight for each member of Congress — to influence health reform bills in 2009.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has pushed the deficient Senate version of reform without a robust public option to contain costs. Commenting on the Obama approach, Doctors that are members of Physicians for a National Health Program said,

“For example, the president’s proposal would ship hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the private health insurance industry in the form of subsidies,” Young said. “And to help finance this, it would impose a new tax on health benefits of workers, especially those in high-cost states.

“Its individual mandate would force millions of middle-income uninsured Americans to buy insurers’ skimpy products – insurance policies full of gaps like ever-rising co-pays, deductibles and premiums. Such policies already leave middle-class American families vulnerable to economic hardship and medical bankruptcy in the event of a serious illness like cancer,” continued Young, citing a recent study.

In the meanwhile, the health insurance industry controls both sides of the argument, those from the corporatist Democrats who want their campaign largess and the Republicans that seek to block any progress for their profitable status quo while even proposing throwing fixed income seniors to the wolves through privatizing medicare as evidenced in a piece written by Peter Stone at the National Journal’s Under the Influence titled, “Health Insurers Funded Chamber Attack Ads” which reports,

Just as dealings with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats soured last summer, six of the nation’s biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills moving through Congress.

That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multimillion-dollar donations.

Representative Anthony Weiner summed up the situation on “the summit” while live blogging as it occurred by saying,

3:14 PM

The discussion has lost its mojo here. When you are saying “CBO” more than three times per speaker, they should turn off the cameras.

Let’s remember the choices here. Rep. Ryan and his party want to END Medicare completely. President Obama wants to lengthen its life.

Me? I want Medicare for all Americans. If I was in the room I’d be advocating for replacing private health insurance and its 30% overhead with Medicare’s 1.05%

Me too Rep. Weiner, but I’m just a citizen and I do not have the money to buy votes like our newest persons, corporations, do.

Team Canada Fan Mocks Americans After Team USA's hockey team defeated Canada in preliminary
Team Canada hockey fan mocks Americans after Team USA defeated Canada in a preliminary round game

Dr. Margaret Flowers and Dr. Carol Paris Arrested Outside The Renaissance Hotel In Baltimore.

January 30, 2010 8 comments

Doctors Margaret Flowers and Carol Paris were arrested on the sidewalk outside the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore, MD, for trespassing. The hotel was where President Barack Obama was staying before giving a speech. They were carrying a banner and had with them, a letter to give the President or one of his aides, requesting a single payer health care system or medicare for all plan for replacing America’s antiquated expensive health insurance system. After being arrested, they were released after sitting in a squad car and receiving a citation for trespassing. If you would like to help support a fair, cost effective, humane, modern universal health care system for citizens of the United States instead of the expensive, inefficient, one with third world statistical outcomes like the one we have now, you can lend your support here.

Joe Klein’s Fatuous Fantasy. Michael Collins Strikes Back At Time Magazine’s Klein.

Joe Klein’s Fatuous Fantasy

Michael Collins

Time Magazine’s Joe Klein is having an allergic reaction to free speech and public debate. The title of his latest column says it all: The Left’s Idiocy on Health Reform. It’s an ex cathedra pronouncement from a made man at one of the nation’s oldest media properties.
What’s got Joe so worked up?

Two things. He’s upset at the lack of respect that internet based writers show for the mainstream media and Washington insiders. He’s also beside himself that people are actually finding fault with the health care reform bill which many bloggers have the nerve to describe as just another government bailout for big business.

“In the snarkier precincts of the left-wing blogosphere, mainstream journalists like me are often called villagers.” Joe Klein, Dec. 30

That’s some pretty nasty name calling isn’t it. “Hey villager!” Accusing an entire class of people of idiocy pales by comparison. If I’ve ever read the term villager, I didn’t pay enough attention to remember it. But let’s take Joe’s word that it’s out there in all its rhetorical glory. According to Klein, leftist bloggers see villagers as “regurgitating spin spoon-fed by our sources or conjuring a witless conventional wisdom that has nothing to do with reality as it is lived outside the village.” Now there’s some idiocy – from Joe’s keyboard to our screens.

What Joe is doing at the start is an old trick called setting up a straw man. You create the perceived problem on your own but label it as your opponent’s position. You tailor it for your purposes with a little accuracy added for effect. Then you blast the straw man to smithereens in a self righteous rejoinder. Those who fabricate a straw man are essentially talking to themselves. The straw man fallacy is one of the first taught in logic classes because it is so easy to spot and so far afield from any form of serious dialog.

It’s a good thing Joe did this. Had he paid serious attention, he would have noted that over and over, on blogs and web sites of many persuasions, citizens refer to Joe’s kind of mainstream journalism as … the corporate media. It’s a dispassionate descriptor that invokes nearly immediate understanding.

Corporations almost never tolerate public criticisms or critiques of the corporate products and services from their employees. Corporate employees are aware of this rule. You go along or you find someone else to pay your salary. There are eight major corporations that “dominate” the United States news media. The obvious conclusion is that opinion journalists and reporters, to a lesser degree, have certain clear limits in their expression of opinions and reporting.

Given the problems with monopolistic behavior, predatory business practices, rigging regulations through bought and sold members of Congress, and the ultimate goal, the transfer of wealth from just about everybody to the financial elite running the major corporations, the corporate injunction against going after the company results in a corporate media that often fails to get to the bottom of our current troubles. It’s not a secret or a veiled conspiracy . It’s just the way parent corporations treat their subsidiaries and employees. But Joe doesn’t want to go there.

Joe takes down the straw man of his own creation by accusing the leftists of living in a “claustrophobic hamlet,” emulating Fox News, and a few other asides. However, once you know the straw man trick, it’s hard to take the author’s rebuttal seriously.

“Actually, both the left and right opponents of health care reform are drinking from the same watercooler.” Joe Klein, Dec. 30

After creating an interior dialog that he says represents a reality that he calls idiocy, Joe gets around to talking about health reform. He feels the need to explain why there is so much opposition by citizens, his leftists. Klein offers this.

“The dyspepsia of the left blogosphere is less easily explained, though. It has its roots in an issue the left got right and almost everyone else got wrong: the war in Iraq.”

This statement is factually incorrect. It was not only the left that got Iraq right, it was the left, the right (the paleocons, Ron Paul and his supporters), a majority of Democrats, and a majority of Republicans. Some of those good citizens were swayed by the scare tactics of a president we now know lied repeatedly about weapons of mass destruction and much more. This occurred with the support of Klein’s mainstream media which failed to ask the tough questions we’d like from journalists.

Klein’s argument about Iraq and the left is simply wrong. The public has serious problems trust those in power that create pervasive doubts about this legislation.

One key element in the distrust of the corporate media and the perpetual insiders who run our capitol concerns the Wall Street bailouts, a topic Klein avoids entirely. The intital bailout of 2008 was defeated after the most intense public outcry on any piece of legislation in memory. Wall Street mobilized quickly and with the help of both 2008 presidential candidates got the first of many bailouts. When administrations changed, the new president continued the tradition and opened up the full credit of the United States to the failed Wall Street enterprises to the tune of $23.7 trillion.

In the mean time, the people got virtually nothing. Facing record foreclosures, soaring unemployment (17% real unemployment, see “U-6”), and a constant fear of losing the ability to care for their families, health coverage included, many citizens have noticed a consistent pattern. We are always the last in line and there’s nothing but scraps left over when it is our turn to use our own contributions to the Treasury to help the nation as a whole.

The bipartisan coalition in Washington, DC, representing the vested interests of the very wealthiest individuals and firms consistently neglects citizens while it rewards the perpetrators of our current economic collapse. That’s why the people have little trust those who claim to represent them. The distrust is not limited to just “leftists.” It is pervasive.

Klein brushes aside the real winners in health care reform, the nation’s health insurance companies. The bill bails out an industry that adds no value to health care. However, the industry does take value from the health care consumer with a 12% to 30% overhead on the direct cost of insurance. In addition, companies extract huge added fees by their constant meddling with health care providers; something Medicare manages to avoid as evidenced by its low overhead. The “reform” proposal gives the insurance companies new customers by the millions, citizens will be forced to buy insurance with only the promise of cost containing regulations.

Klein avoids the key question — why are health insurance companies placed at the center of citizen health care? He also avoids the consistent support of citizens, as high as 65%, for a program with the federal government as the payer of claims. It’s called “single payer,” “Medicare for all,” etc. and has strong public support despite hardly any coverage by the mainstream media.

“populist exaggeration — the idea that Washington is controlled by crooks and sellouts” Joe Klein, Dec. 30

Klein’s essay isn’t about health care reform. It’s an attack on those in the Democratic Party and others who dare to speak out against what they perceive as the poor performance and neglect of the majority by the president and Congress.

In his closing, Klein says “those of the left blogosphere consider themselves the Democratic base” then quickly points out that the base is really “African Americans, union members, Jews, women and Latinos.” Klein’s transparent and somewhat ugly divide-and-conquer ploy ignores the important fact that all of those groups are heavily represented on the same “blogosphere” that is providing such troubling criticism of an overly sensitive national government that promises much but delivers just about nothing.

The source of increasing criticism is not an irrational response to the alleged good our leaders offer us. It’s the reality of getting nothing while those who created the problems reap untold rewards … every single day without any end in sight.

END

This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Original
Michael Collins January 1, 2010 – 7:39am

The Approaching Storm. The 2010 Congressional Elections and the Democratic Party.

As the attention shifts to Joe Lieberman and his new found power in being able to kill any remaining meagar progressive aspects of the Senate Health Care Bill and any cost containment mechanism except in reduction of care that health care insurers and their representatives in the Republican Party and their allies in the Blue Dog coalition and the DLC Democrats seek, public anger continues to build among the Democratic voters and the Progressives who sought change. This month, actor and activist Margot Kidder had the following to say about Democratic Party politicians in an op-ed titled “Ax Max, Time To Declare War on Democratic Blackmailers” ,

The absence of democracy in a congress whose votes are bought, sold, and traded like pork bellies by big corporations in exchange for highly profitable votes and amendments on bills is a bi-partisan infection. And the pus is everywhere.

Give me a nut job for an enemy anytime. You can take aim at the obviousness of the problem and roll a strike 99 times out of a hundred. But if your enemy is disguised as a boring but harmless friend, and wears the same logo on his sweatshirt as you do, then landing a punch is like trying to slug mist. There’s no connection, no delicious smacking sound, there’s no obvious win. The fact that 20 to 25 percent of Americans support policies and politicians that are bat shit crazy is not as much a concern as the fact that 50 to 60 percent of Americans support politicians whose policies are for sale to the highest bidder, and exist independent of any underlying morality or consistent philosophy of government. Arlen Specter calls himself a Democrat for God’s sake. And so does Ben Nelson. And Blanche Lincoln. These are not Democrats; they’re Republicans in Donkey suits. And somewhat tasteful donkey suits at that. None of them would have strings of tea bags dangling from THEIR cowboy hats, you can bet the ranch on that. They are much more dangerous than Rush Limbaugh could ever hope to be.

She had this to say about her Senator Max Baucus who has led the Senate disaster on health care reform,

The hideous truth is that this empty suit-person almost single handedly took the reform out of health care reform, has introduced and somehow passed more legislation to abet the cornucopia of crime that is our banking system than anyone else in congress, and has stalled the funding of any, if not all, modern programs that would give financial lifeboats of one kind or another to families in need. He did it by pretending he was a Democrat and by hanging in there long enough to get appointed, almost by default, as chair of the banking committee. And he gets elected in a state with the fourth lowest per capita income in the country by consistently “bringing home the pork.”

She had this this to say about “centrists” and the portrayal of them,

The mainstream media calls Max Baucus and other Democratic blackmailers “centrists”. As compared to what, Chiang Kai-Shek? “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” said Yeats, but that was in 1919 and he was referencing the Russian revolution. America’s centre has been tap dancing to the right since Ronald Reagan was loosed upon the world and it hasn’t taken a backwards step yet, so our centre is way out in right field and has no intention of coming back of its own accord. It’s up to us, unfortunately.

And it’s not just “liberals” or progressives that are realizing they are continually sold out by their party and that the Democratic Party itself has changed. In an op-ed titled “The Twin Frauds of Obama” , Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration had this to say,

There was a time when Democratic presidents represented the little man, and Republicans represented business. Today both parties represent the moneyed interests. On December 3 at the jobs summit with business leaders, Obama said, “We don’t have enough public dollars to fill the hole of private dollars that was created as a consequence of the crisis.”

In other words, all the public’s money has been spent on the banks and the wars.

Despite Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and the ease with which Obama won the presidential election over McCain/Palin, the Democratic Party has totally collapsed. The Democrats have abandoned every constituency. Democrats have discarded the American people. Democrats, in pursuit of campaign contributions, represent the moneyed interests on Wall Street, the munitions companies, the insurance companies, the agri-businesses that have destroyed independent farmers, despoilers of the environment, unaccountable police, and the builders of detention centers. The exception is Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

The Democrats have become brownshirt Republicans.

And what about the 60 vote excuse in the Senate? John Avarosis shoots that excuse down in his piece titled “The GOP had at most 55 Senators during Bush’s presidency” at AMERICAblog. He wrote

I’ve heard people say that it’s not fair to criticize the Democrats for botching health care reform because the Democrats never truly had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Sure, they have 60 votes in principle, the argument goes, but with Lieberman, Nelson, Landrieu, and Bayh counted as four of those votes, it’s not really a solid 60.

Perhaps. But then how was George Bush so effective in passing legislation during his presidency when he never had more than 55 Republicans in the Senate? In fact, during Bush’s most effective years, from 2001 to 2005, the GOP had a grand total of 50, and then 51, Senators. The slimmest margin possible.

And on the accomplishments of the Bush Administration’s actions of ramming things through that have transformed America for probably over a generation into something authoritarian and corporate in nature, he wrote

And look at what George Bush was able to accomplish in the Congress with fewer Senators than the Democrats have today:

– John Ashcroft nomination
– Iraq war resolution
– Repeated Iraq funding resolutions
– 2001 & 2003 tax cuts
– Patriot Act
– Alito
– John Roberts
– Medicare Part D

And of course there is the growing realization that the Obama administration is not a progressive administration from its DOJ defending Constitutional crimes of the Bush administration to its Wall Street economic team. This is producing a severe splintering away of the voters that have brought the Democratic Party its election victories in Congress since 2006 and the Presidency in 2008 and sets up what could be a base voter rebellion going forward. As Jane Hamsher put it concerning the Senate Health Care Bill, “I’ll add that whether they vote for it or not, it’ll be a bloodbath for anyone with a “D” next to their name in 2010 if it passes.”

Of course all this is probably confusing to many Americans, especially the Palin Teabag base and regular Fox viewers who think they are locked in a battle against either “liberalism” or the fantasy “Marxist Leninism”. Of course they will say what is needed is more tax cuts, more deregulation, less civil liberties, more war spending, and all the things that have led us to this point. It’s a pretty pitiful of a situation we find ourselves in.

Michael Moore Discusses The Health Care Debate And the Reform Bill To The Canadian Press. In Doing So, He Tells How The Bill Is A Corporate Giveaway To The For Profit Insurance And Pharmaceutical Industries And How Easy It Is To Fool The American Public Due To A Failed Educational System.

In his address to the Canadian press, Moore explained to them how things are in the United States concerning healthcare and the debate there and how the insurance interests and pharmaceutical interests aren’t concerned too much over this bill.  He mentions the deal the Obama administration struck with the pharmaceutical industry to keep them out of the debate by saying,

“And the drug companies signed a deal with Obama to keep them out of it, because they agreed to reduce their prices by $8 billion in the first year of the healthcare bill”

He went on to say how they had raised prices $10 billion the year before therefore coming out $2 billion ahead. Unlike Canada, the United States does not negotiate drug prices on behalf of their citizenry. In addressing the benefits the for profit insurance industry which controls the American healthcare delivery system and any solution those in government will come up with for them in lieu of the public interest, he said,

“The health insurance companies are going to make an extra $70 billion dollars as a result of Americans being forced to buy their health insurance. What company wouldn’t love this bill?”

He also added the following,

“So all of the wailing that they’re doing about this bill — believe me, the health insurance companies are not that upset about it. In fact, they helped write this bill. It’s not universal health care. Thirteen million people will still not have health insurance in the United States.”

And in describing a country where it’s citizens aren’t exposed to how other countries address their health care needs and an educational system that is lacking in many respects, he went on to say.

When you create a society that essentially is in that state, it’s very easy to run an ad on the nightly news about what a third world country Canada is, and about how people are dying on the sidewalk here because they can’t get in to see the doctor, you actually believe that stuff. Because of the education you’ve been given, because education is such a low priority. Our schools are in such disarray. And our media doesn’t do anything to help educate people in the way they need to be educated.”

If one really looks at the debate in the United States, it is really hard to argue with him. A single payer system such as Canada has wasn’t allowed to be discussed in Congress when crafting the bill, but corporate lobbyists were insiders to the process. The US media stopped investigative journalism or giving any valid multiple views to anything about a decade ago. It has all become part and parcel of the rise of the corporate state in the United States. The story can be read in full at the raw story.

How The Healthcare Reform Con Game Is Played. David Swanson Discusses The Ins And Outs Of American Politics And How The Monied Interests Never Lose Control.

Real reform was being defeated early on by lobbyists and their buying power of the people’s representatives. Hence, physicians for a change to a single payer or medicare model were escorted out of the Baucus hearings as ads came on TV where Harry and Louise were for health care reform this time along with Wall Street based insurers. Still, many rightwing organizations and some lobbyists were also providing the money to fight real reform and escorting and busing their useful idiots along with their guns (which they had been told would be taken away with an Obama presidency) and their “socialism” signs to disrupt town halls. And the Democratic Party vying to take away the dollars from the Republican Party that comes from the Health Insurers’ lobby and the big Pharma lobby, peddled to their constitients that sent them there to change things, that they took their interests to heart by providing a “robust” public option that would be available in an insurance “exchange”. In the end, this so called public option that was supposed to contain costs will be nothing but a dumping ground for those the for profit insurers won’t cover and only available to a few making it uncompetitive and unable to negotiate lower prices. Since progressives are the hardest people to fool with propaganda, another bone was tossed to them in the form of the Kucinich amendment which would allow the states if they wanted, to set up a single payer state system (along with using the combined state dollars for medicare and medicaid to pay for it). But now that is taken out because of the risks to the bottom line of the publicly traded Health Insurers for if a single payer system was allowed to exist in one of the states, people and businesses would start moving to that state to avoid the escalating costs and the cat would be out of the bag, so to speak. There is a reason the CBO won’t score a single payer system or a real single payer option. It would bring down the costs and be less expensive than the plans on the table or our current system and would actually save this country money. Saved money at the expense of those that can buy a member of congress with their lobbying money.

Rep. Alan Grayson Reads Some Of The Stories of The Dead On The House Floor. Listen To The Shame Of The American Health Care Delivery System. This Is In Honor Of Those Fighting The Good Fight In The Face Of The Capitulation To The Blue Dogs And So Called “Centrists”.

If you have a story, share it at Names of The Dead. As you may have heard, Pelosi decided to adhere to the Blue Dogs and support a weak instead of a robust public option. We will still have a system that falls short of modern democratic counties. We are truly a country with questionable priorities, beliefs and morals. A country whereby its citizens believe it is so superior, mostly due a false sense of self, deserves better in spite of that belief.