Friday, November 13, 2009

Moving the goal posts

I haven't been getting the Washington Post for a couple of weeks now. My subscription ran out. I have sent them several emails about possibly getting the paper only delivered during the week and not on weekends when I don't read it, but I haven't heard back from them. Very strange business model these folks employ. Anyway. I did pay 75 cents for the paper today, mostly to see what college football games would be on the teevee this weekend.

Unfortunately I also turned to ye old editorial section to see what was being offered there. I saw the by-lines for Michael Gerson, former W speechwriter, and Charles Krauthammer, former I don't know what but serious right wing hack, so I didn't read either of those pieces. I also skipped over Broder's column, which, based on its headline, appeared to be a complaint that the health care reform bill passed by the House last week might spend a few dollars. But once I got into work and turned on the inter-tubes I saw one of the Balloon-Juicers had linked to it, so I forced myself to give it a glance.

Broder does indeed go on to whine about the terrible financial implications of passing the current health care reform bill. This was a bit confusing to me as I had understood that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is somewhat of a big playa in this town, had scored the House bill as reducing the budget deficit over ten years.

Oh well. Apparently the media Villagers have decided that CBO has been taken over by aliens from the planet V and that therefore, their estimates are hooey. Because The Villagers "just know" that the health care reform bill will spill all kinds of red ink cuz it's like 2000 pages long and stuff. Seriously, Broder coughs up that red herring about the bill's length. Really. Is the GOP paying him for this? To support his Teh Health Care Bill Will Bankrupt Our Children!!! claim Broder trots out former head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) David Walker who says this:

"First, the reform should pay for itself over 10 years. Second, it should not add to deficits beyond 10 years. Third, it should significantly reduce the tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded health promises that we already have. Fourth, it should bend down -- not up -- the total health-care cost curve as a percentage of" gross domestic product. "

Based on my reading of the CBO estimate, the HCR bill meets the first two of these, but Broder prefers an analysis of another House Bill by something called the Lewin Group, which claims that the HCR bill blows all four of these sacrosanct "tests". Well.

Back to the sacred four tests. I'm not sure what the business about the "trillions of dollars" of unfunded health promises (test #3) has to do with the price of tea in China. I forget but was this a requirement preceding the passage of the (Republican sponsored) prescription drug bill? Or the tax cuts, which would make paying for the "trillions of dollars" of unfunded health promises much more difficult?

In any event, what sort of provisions would reduce the "trillions of dollars" in unfunded health promises? Maybe a government plan that would negotiate lower prices with insurance companies. Ah, but the Village doesn't want this because it would constitute big gubmit taking over the sacred private health insurance companies. Sigh. I'm not clear about how we should address test #4, but it would seem as if some kind of similar public option would help.

In any event, the presence of these four "tests" or demands seemed designed to ensure that no HCR bill passes, because trying to satisfy these conditions would only create more opposition--the current House bill passed with only 220 votes out of 218 needed. Does Broder realize this?

It seems that no matter what kind of bill the House or Senate would pass or that Obama would sign, would not be enough for the Villagers, who will keep moving the goal posts, pissing on whatever passes for not accomplishing this or that "goal" that the Villagers have NOW decided is very important and insoluable to accomplishing "real" HCR.

And the Villagers should make up their mind. Do they want only an incremental type reform bill to pass, that doesn't do too much? This has always been my impression of Villager media complaints about Obama's health care reform agenda. Or do they want something super-duper comprehensive based on the four "tests", that would stand very little chance of getting enacted, largely because to accomplish those goals would require a public option, which the Villagers don't want.

Of course, none of the four "tests" say anything about covering the uninsured. The Villagers apparently don't think that's a major concern.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Abortion Amendment (updated below - Update II - Update III)

I'm probably having a senior moment, but can someone explain to me how the abortion amendment to the health care reform (HCR) bill works?

What I think I'm not understanding is, if you are a conservative Dem or a GOP member and you don't really want HCR to pass, but if it does pass you want an abortion restriction included in the bill, doesn't that mean that in voting for the amendment you are actually voting for the bill? What application does the amendment, separated from the HCR bill itself, have? The HCR bill and the amendment would seem to go hand in hand. I'm not getting how the Repubs/conserv Dems could have their anti-choice amendment attached to a HCR bill they didn't vote for.

Thanks for your patience.

Update: I think I get this now. Once upon a time I think understood that this is how it worked, that amendment votes were separate from final passage votes, but it just didn't compute for me today. It's pretty effed up that a gang of misanthrops aided and abetted by the majority party, can muck up a bill and then walk away from it without facing any accountability for the final product.

Update II: An Andrew Sullivan reader highlights the abortion-restriction procedures already included in the bill before the amendment was passed, and what added restrictions the amendment demands. It's becoming more and more clear what a poison pill this amendment was.

Update III: Via Digby, Americablog asks an intriguing question of anti-choice congresscritters who receive insurance lobby money.