FOR ONE MONTH, THE FIGHT FOR HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM LEAVES THE BACKROOMS OF WASHINGTON, D.C., and returns to communities across America. Throughout August, members of Congress are back home, where the hands they shake and the voices they hear will not belong to lobbyists, but to people like you.
August is a crucial time to show Congress where the people stand. That’s why Organizing for America is putting together thousands of events this month where you can reach out to neighbors, show your support, and make certain your members of Congress know that you’re counting on them to act.
Congressman Steve Kagen, (D-Wisc.) found himself interrupted during a town hall meeting on health care on Thursday evening which, considering the boisterous protests going on at these events all week, wasn’t much of a surprise.
But towards the end of the Wisconsin Democrat’s health care forum something a bit peculiar happened. A woman who initially identified herself as “just a mom from a few blocks away” who was “not affiliated with a political party” was outed by a reporter as a GOP operative who worked for Kagen’s election opponent John Gard as well as the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Republican National Committee. …
But Blish’s deliberate misleading of the local NBC reporter feeds into the suspicion that she – like other protesters at these events – are there because of political reasons not policy disagreements.
Kudos to the reporter for digging a bit in an effort to get a fuller story.
Good advice for Congressional Dems from Matt Yglesias:
David Brooks, predictable enough, says Democrats are overreaching and destined to reap the whirlwind. Frankly, I have some doubts about this. Remember yesterday’s Washington Post poll that was full of bad news for Barack Obama? The one about how the public is losing faith in him and his agenda? Well, here was their question about who the public trusts on some key issues:
I think the straightforward reading of this survey data is that congressional Democrats ought to ignore congressional Republicans and pass the ideas Barack Obama has proposed. And, again, the straightforward reading of November’s election results was that the public wanted (1) Barack Obama to be President and (2) members of congress sympathetic to Barack Obama. Congressional Democrats are good at overthinking political issues, and at coming up with rationalizations for why giving in to special interest demands are the only politically feasible option, but the evidence suggests that the public remains enthusiastic about Obamaism.
Washington, D.C. – The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released estimates this evening confirming for the first time that H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is deficit neutral over the 10-year budget window – and even produces a $6 billion surplus. CBO estimated more than $550 billion in gross Medicare and Medicaid savings. More importantly, the bill includes a comprehensive array of delivery reforms to set the stage for lowering the future growth in health care costs.
Net Medicare and Medicaid savings of $465 billion, coupled with the $583 billion revenue package reported today by the House Committee on Ways and Means, fully finance the previously estimated $1.042 trillion cost of reform, which will provide affordable health care coverage for 97% of Americans.
The President came out swinging in his weekly address yesterday:
First, the same folks who controlled the White House and Congress for the past eight years as we ran up record deficits will argue – believe it or not – that health reform will lead to record deficits. That’s simply not true. Our proposals cut hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary spending and unwarranted giveaways to insurance companies in Medicare and Medicaid. They change incentives so providers will give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care, which will mean big savings over time. And we have urged Congress to include a proposal for a standing commission of doctors and medical experts to oversee cost-saving measures.
Finally, opponents of health reform warn that this is all some big plot for socialized medicine or government-run health care with long lines and rationed care. That’s not true either. I don’t believe that government can or should run health care. But I also don’t think insurance companies should have free reign to do as they please.
That’s why any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange: a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, cost and track records of a variety of plans – including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest – and choose what’s best for your family. And that’s why we’ll put an end to the worst practices of the insurance industry: no more yearly caps or lifetime caps; no more denying people care because of pre-existing conditions; and no more dropping people from a plan when they get too sick. No longer will you be without health insurance, even if you lose your job or change jobs.
That’s what Health Care for America Now should have said in DC yesterday. It might have gotten them some media coverage.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said Friday that he will oppose legislation that would give people the option of a public health insurance plan. The move puts him on the opposite side of two-thirds of Americans.
A poll released this week by Consumer Reports National Research Center showed that 66 percent of Americans back the creation of a public health plan that would compete with private plans. Nelson, in comments made to CQ, joins the 16 percent of poll respondents who said they oppose the plan.
Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game,” Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a “deal breaker.”
Become a Republican already, Ben.
Bachmann, speaking on Pajamas TV, noted: “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”
Of course, since Bachmann said it, it would happen the ’70s swine flu came along during the Gerald Ford administration. Can someone please come up with a Bachmann vaccine?
By guess who?
When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year’s emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.
Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse — with workers ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces shuttered to avoid the spread of disease, transportation systems grinding to a halt and demand for emergency services and public health interventions skyrocketing. Indeed, they suggested, pandemic preparation was essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy.
Rove specifically complained that Obey’s proposal included “$462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations.”
The attack on pandemic preparation became so central to the GOP strategies that AP reported in February: “Republicans, meanwhile, plan to push for broader and deeper tax cuts, to trim major spending provisions that support Democrats’ longer-term policy goals, and to try to knock out what they consider questionable spending items, such as $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”
And it is important to point out that no serious player in Washington could have been unaware of the threat that a pandemic — or even the fear of one — would pose to economic renewal. Every discussion about a pandemic begins with the public health component but moves quickly to an acknowledgement that an outbreak, and the ensuing quarantines, would bring economic activity to a virtual standstill.
And the Democrats caved.