WSJ front page: More Talk, No Deal at Health Summit

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nationally televised session stretched over more than seven hours and, to no one's surprise, yielded no new agreement, although lawmakers strove to maintain an atmosphere of decorum and cooperation—even as they aired their warring views.

The president tried to project the sense he was searching for a middle ground. "We might surprise ourselves and find out that we agree more than we disagree," Mr. Obama said at the start, before adding what seemed like a judgment rooted more in experience than hope: "It may turn out, on the other hand, there's just too big of a gulf."

Republicans, only emphasizing the gulf, said they'd like to wipe out the last 13 months from the record and start over. "This is a car that can't be recalled and fixed," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

Posted February 26, 2010 at 9:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Trad Catholic wrote:

The Republicans came having read the Senate bill and the joke of an outline of a bill that the president posted at the last minute.  The president didn’t even know the contents of his own bill, since the purpose of the meeting was not to discuss substance but to give the Democrats cover for ramming their power-grab through.  (“We tried to get the Republicans on board but they refused.”  Of course, they did not try in good faith but, as they have throughout this charade, presented the Republicans with fait accompli backroom deals.  Never has an administration been so dishonestly partisan while piously shouting “bipartisanship.”)

This was never about actually improving healthcare for people who need help.  It was always about controlling people’s lives and about using an issue central to everyone’s life in order to justify government control.  The Republicans have plenty of faults, but the Democrats are drunk with pure, naked powerlust.  That’s what happens when one becomes the party of the Powerful’s right to choose to abort the weak.  That’s what happens when one believes that the sheer will of the mother changes the unborn from a welcome guest to an unwanted intruder to be defended against with lethal means—nothing in the child changes, only the acceptance or non-acceptance changes the child from innocent to guilty—Eileen McDonagh’s book, Breaking the Abortion Deadlock makes precisely this argument.

When you kiss the pale lips of Death in that manner, you corrupt your soul to become obsessed with power and nothing but power.  That’s what President Death’s “health-insurance reform” is really about.

February 26, 10:45 am | [comment link]
2. Reid Hamilton wrote:

Trad Catholic, I am a Democrat.  I am not crazy about the Senate health care bill that is now on the table - effectively the only proposal we have to work with at this point.  I would have preferred a single-payer system.  Failing that, I would have preferred to expand Medicare by making it available to younger persons.  Failing that, I would have preferred a public option.  Failing that, I would have preferred the revocation of the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies.  All of these alternatives have been either given away ab initio or negotiated away in the name of bipartisanship.  I assure you that for my part, none of them are motivated by “lust for power.”

Six months of work by the Senate Finance Committee (Max Baucus, chair), involving concession after concession to the Republicans has at the end resulted in zero Republican votes for the bill. 

If Democrats were interested only in power, they might take the Republicans up on the “blank sheet of paper” option and return to a bill that would be much more to the liking of their progressive wing (including me).

Politicians are venal and greedy, you bet.  Politics is a messy process, for sure.  But the reality is that people are going bankrupt and dying at the hands of the present system.  Something must be done.  I believe the present proposal, inadequate and messy as it is, is the best we are going to get. 

I presume when you say, “[t]his was never about actually improving healthcare for people who need help,” you are speaking in hyperbole.  If you mean it literally, then I will personally assure you that it is not true.  If not, I’d be glad if we could dispense with the overinflated rhetoric and try to resolve real issues for real people.

February 26, 12:29 pm | [comment link]
3. JustOneVoice wrote:

  All of these alternatives have been either given away ab initio or negotiated away in the name of bipartisanship.

  By they time these were given away or negotiated away, the Republicans were not even in the room.  There are a few Democrats that realize the damage done by the cost of what is being proposed and the problems with the government managing and running health care insurance instead of just regulating it, is worse than any potential good that would come of it.  The Democrats can’t even come up with a plan their own people can agree on.

I heard Democrats say that we agree on 80% of what needs to be done.  Why not start there?  The leaders of the Democratic party won’t even consider dropping the 20% of their plan that costs too much and give the government too much direct control.  It’s funny to hear people blame the Republicans for this.  They couldn’t have stopped it if they wanted to. They didn’t have the votes.  A few Democrats with the overwhelming support of the people is what has stopped this (so far).

Remember the only thing keep this from being pass now it that the Democrats in the House cannot agree with the Democrats in the Senate.

February 26, 12:59 pm | [comment link]
4. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

Our unfunded commitment to Medicare, medicaid, and social security is upwards of 50 trillion dollars. Obama’s health care proposal does nothing to make health care better or more affordable; It simply adds health care ( and 1/6 of the Economy) to the list of things the government has committed to and has no money to pay for, and gives the power over who receives it to a new federal bureaucracy. The United States are currently insolvent. Bankruptcy is next. If that is “progressive”, I want no part of it.
When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging.

February 26, 1:00 pm | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:

RE: “If Democrats were interested only in power, they might take the Republicans up on the “blank sheet of paper” option and return to a bill that would be much more to the liking of their progressive wing (including me).”

No—they couldn’t do that because the less progressive part of the party wouldn’t vote for it, knowing as they do that they wouldn’t be re-elected because the American people simply don’t want the liberals are peddling.

And of course, there is plenty more to “work with at this point”—for example the DeMint plan.  But of course, that plan is not in keeping with the liberals’ values and political worldview and thus not an option and ignored.

Thank God there was “no deal.”  I don’t want what collectivists want for healthcare.  And collectivists don’t want what I and others like me want—people interested in Constitutional, free-enterprise, solutions that allow for the maximum amount of individual freedom.

This isn’t about a “broken system”—it’s about a system that is dealing with two antithetical political worldviews duking it out.  And it’s about neither side having complete and total power.

And thus, we have a deadlock—hopefully, that is.

February 26, 1:08 pm | [comment link]
6. Reid Hamilton wrote:

Thank you, #s 3, 4, and 5, for your serious and thoughtful responses.  Sarah, I think you came closest to understanding my point, which was that while the Democrats (indeed, both sides) are using the various powers at their disposal to achieve their objectives, they are not, in the main, motivated solely or even primarily by the desire to “control people’s lives.”  Indeed, I trust and believe that the Republicans are also genuinely interested in “improving healthcare for people who need help.”

It’s too bad that if any changes are to be made at this juncture, they are likely to be enacted by Democrats without any support from the Republicans.

If this this happens, and if it is truly contrary to the will of the people, then the Democrats will be punished by the electorate in 2010.  I am less concerned about that than I am that the Democrats will take counsel of their fears and fail to act.

February 26, 4:09 pm | [comment link]
7. DavidBennett wrote:

While I recognize that not all diseases and accidents are preventable, I can still say this: until people care about their health the way they care about who wins American Idol or the Super Bowl, we will see double digit increases in health care, and go broke paying for it, whether we socialize health care or not. Americans will stand out in the cold for days to see a concert, but won’t walk for 20 minutes a few nights a week to prevent diabetes. They will spend hours researching their favorite actor, but won’t even bother to research how to prevent cancer and heart disease. We want “free” health care, that somebody else pays for, but we don’t want to put in the effort to get healthy. We are literally paying for our choices.

February 26, 4:16 pm | [comment link]
8. JustOneVoice wrote:

Although the motivation may not be to control people’s lives, their political belief is that the way to solve a problem is for the government to provide the solution.  When the government provides a solution to an issue, the government controls people’s life regarding that issue.  As was shown in the debate yesterday, the Democrats think the more the government does, the better the solution.  The Republicans are saying the least amount of control to improve the solution is best.

So controlling people’s lives might not be their motivation, but in the end it is their solution.

February 26, 4:44 pm | [comment link]
9. Sarah wrote:

RE: “It’s too bad that if any changes are to be made at this juncture, they are likely to be enacted by Democrats without any support from the Republicans.”

Not at all—it’s a *good* thing as the “changes” made by liberals will merely be in light of their antithetical political worldview to the conservatives.  There are no “changes” that conservatives can make to the bill to make it better—the entire bill is *contrary* to the political worldview of conservatives.

Hence, of course, the need to start over with a clean sheet of paper.  It’s a good thing that liberals will get the praise or the blame for what will pass—it will be *their political worldview* incarnated in that bill.

February 26, 5:37 pm | [comment link]
10. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

This all begs the question: Can the United States afford to assume public responsibility for the medical care of it’s population (not to mention a significant fraction of the population of our neighbors to the South, but I digress…)?
The simple answer is no. we are already insolvent if you take into account legislated future liabilities that no funds exist to pay for. It is not possible to raise taxes enough to cover another gargantuan entitlement program. The ones in place have already bankrupted us.

February 26, 6:57 pm | [comment link]
11. Reid Hamilton wrote:

Well, #10, it might just be a matter of priorities.  Many industrialized nations provide publicly funded health care for their citizens.  But in our case, perhaps, tax cuts for the wealthiest 10% of the population and simultaneous massive expenditures for a war of questionable provenance were more important.  The electorate appeared to think so for eight years.  Now we may be able to afford nought - neither the world’s most expensive health care nor the world’s most expensive military.  If your calculations are correct, Grover Norquist’s dreams will soon come true.

February 26, 8:54 pm | [comment link]
12. JustOneVoice wrote:

Wars, end.  Entitlements do not.  I agree the Republicans spent way too much in the eight years, but two wrongs do not make a right.

February 26, 10:19 pm | [comment link]
13. Br. Michael wrote:

Reid, define rich.  And set out just how much of our own money we should be allowed to keep.  And if you want Obama to stand down the military and other defense structures (I vote to get rid of TSA) say so.  We face no real enemies who want to hurt us, right?

However I suspect we could pour in every last cent of our GNP into welfare and it would still need more.

February 27, 8:36 am | [comment link]
14. robroy wrote:

“Failing that, I would have preferred to expand Medicare by making it available to younger persons. “

Medicare is already set to go broke by 2018. By expanding it, it will go broke earlier. In case, you hadn’t heard Medicare is cutting physicians fees by 21% THIS MONDAY. Physicians have been closing their practices to Medicare for a long time now. This will ramp up significantly.

“Six months of work by the Senate Finance Committee (Max Baucus, chair), involving concession after concession to the Republicans has at the end resulted in zero Republican votes for the bill.”

This is delusional. The Republicans haven’t even been in the room. The wheeling and dealing has been to get the 60 votes to get the blue dog democrats on board.

February 27, 10:11 am | [comment link]
15. Br. Michael wrote:

14, but you left out the game playing:

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, told Newsmax.TV’s Ashley Martella that both the House and the Senate bills passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress are full of “smoke-and-mirror” regulations that will stymie hospitals and doctors’ attempts to enact cost-cutting measures.
He gives several examples:

  * “This year, doctors in Medicare are going to get cut 21 percent in their fees. Everyone is trying to fix that. That’s $371 billion. What did the Democrats do — they took it out of this legislation and are moving it as a separate piece of legislation. So they have hidden $371 billion of spending right there.
  * “Here is a second thing they are doing, which CBO [Congressional Budget Office] has no control over, 10 years of tax increases and Medicare cuts to pay for six years of spending. They can manipulate a score anyway they want to to make it appear as if it’s not a deficit, but if you actually take away all the smoke and mirrors, all the gimmicks, the bill from our estimation costs about $460 billion in deficits in the first 10 years and about 1.4 trillion in deficits in the second 10 years.”
  * “If you use real world economics and reality-based scoring, not the spreadsheets they cooked up to manipulate a score, this thing represents a big deficit increase and it makes healthcare costs go up, not down and that is not my opinion, that’s the opinion of the chief actuary of Medicare/Medicaid,” he contends.

Great article here:

And the conclusion:

The problem is there are never enough of “the rich” to fund the entitlement state, because in the end it disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the basic survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. In Greece, they’ve run out Greeks, so they’ll stick it to the Germans, like French farmers do. In Germany, the Germans have only been able to afford to subsidize French farming because they stick their defense tab to the Americans. And in America, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are saying we need to paddle faster to catch up with the Greeks and Germans. What could go wrong?

February 27, 11:32 am | [comment link]
16. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

1-Historically, revenues collected by the federal government turn out to be 18-19% of GNP regardless of what the marginal tax rate is. Increasing taxes on the “rich” simply causes a lower GNP.
2- Military spending as a proportion of GNP is lower than it has been at any time since WWII except for a short period in the late 80s:
Blaming The previous administration for this mess is a canard. The Bush administration’s attempts to rationalize Social Security, and attempts to rein in FNMA and FHLMC before the mortgage bomb exploded, were blocked by an opposition controlled congress.
Now you are welcome to blame Nixon for taking us off the gold standard. But how else was he to pay for The Viet Nam war ,the utterly futile “War on Poverty”,and the “Great Society”?
Those great achievements: Social Security ( FDR ) Welfare and Medicare (LBJ), are the big reasons we are in the current mess. Adding another such “great achievement” (BHO) could be the straw that breaks our back. I have to wonder if that might be the actual intention.

National debt is growing on an exponential curve. GNP is not. Our choice is to either slow the increase to where the curve turns S-shaped and we can get a handle on it before it blows up in our faces, or pour more fuel on the fire, allowing the inevitable explosion to be dealt with of necessity by our children, if not sooner by ourselves. I fear that the choice may no longer be open to us.

February 27, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
17. Br. Michael wrote:

See Kendall’s new posts.

February 27, 1:59 pm | [comment link]
18. Hakkatan wrote:

Obama’s plan does not reform the health care system; it is an attempt to control health insurance and to make healthy people pay for the health care of unhealthy people in the process.

As for the two differing world views, here is a column (on climate change) that take the first five or six paragraphs to explain two entirely differing ways of looking at things:

February 27, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
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