Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Means War!

Fred Barnes serves up a big plate of crap entitled "The Health Care Wars Are Only Just Beginning":

On Dec. 7, 1941, an announcement was made during the football game between the hometown Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. All the generals and admirals at Griffith Stadium were instructed to report to their duty stations. Little did they know their lives would be changed forever and America would be at war, or on war footing, for the next half-century. Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

This was indeed a historic occasion. Few events have changed the course of American history the way that WWII did. You might add to that list the American Revolution, The Civil War, WWI, the Great Depression, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam and 9/11 (and it's subsequent decade-long wars). 

Apparently, Fred Barnes would add a government reform of health care to that list.

America will be in a constant health-care war if ObamaCare is enacted. 

Will this war involve tanks, guns, bombs and widespread slaughter like WWII?

Passage wouldn't end the health-care debate. Rather, it would perpetuate ObamaCare as the dominant issue for decades to come, reshape politics, create an annual funding crisis in Congress, and generate a spate of angry lawsuits. Yet few in Washington seem aware of what lies ahead.

One can see this from an examination of the other countries that have reformed their health care. Canada, for example, has fought a bloody and disastrous civil war ever since they implemented the original Medicare, guaranteeing health care for all its citizens, who were so angry at this affront to their dignity that they stormed Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

 The Swiss have been so busy fighting in the aftermath of their health care reform that they haven't even had the chance to enjoy their status as the world's leader in per capita wealth, and have even been forced to curtail their production of fine timepieces and cheese. The United States will be so busy fighting its own health care civil war that it will never again address another issue (with the obvious exception of a periodic examination of that Communist Obama's birthplace.)

We only have to look at Great Britain to get a glimpse of the future. The National Health Service—socialized medicine—was created in 1946 and touted as the envy of the world. 

And at the time, it was, although since then there is reason to believe that the Canadian, French and German systems may now be better. 

It's been a contentious issue ever since. Its cost and coverage are perennial subjects of debate. 

This is terrible. They instituted this system in 1946. Why didn't they just set all the rules and funding levels in place for eternity? It's obvious that the NHS wasn't created perfectly; therefore it must be evil.

The press, especially England's most popular newspaper, The Daily Mail, feasts on reports of long waiting periods, dirty hospitals, botched care and denied access to treatments.

This is shocking. A conservative tabloid newspaper finds things it doesn't like about a universal health care program? Well, that settles it.

A Conservative member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, last year in an interview on Fox News denounced the NHS as a "60-year mistake," declaring he "wouldn't wish it on anybody." 

Daniel Hannan said this? He also said this about Iceland:

 "In the ten years that I have been travelling to Iceland, I have watched an economic miracle unfold there"

Iceland, of course, is the country whose economy completely and spectacularly collapsed recently, with its stock market losing 90% of its value and its banking system suffering the worst relative losses of any country on earth. On the other hand, he was a guest on Fox News, where -surprise!- Fred Barnes also works.

As prime minister, Margaret Thatcher bravely cut NHS spending in the 1980s, but current Tory leaders regard criticism of the NHS as too risky. "The Conservative Party stands four square behind the NHS," its leader, David Cameron, said in response to Mr. Hannan.

I wonder why British conservatives are afraid to criticize NHS? Oh, right. Because, though not perfect, it is wildly popular, and the Brits pretty universally qualify their criticism of it by saying something like "At least we don't have the American system!".

Also, pointing out that both major British political parties support the NHS unequivocally is a strange way of arguing that people don't like it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes ObamaCare would have a more congenial fate—that it will become as popular as Social Security and Medicare with voters. She's kidding herself. Social Security and Medicare were popular from the start and passed with bipartisan support. 

That's because back then you didn't have crazed right wing operatives like Fred Barnes comparing Medicare to WWII. 

ObamaCare is unpopular and partisan. It's extremely controversial. Its passage is far more likely to spark a political explosion than a wave of acceptance.

Here, Barnes omits the fact that it's unpopular and controversial because he and his employer, Fox News, have led the charge to make it a worse bill than it could have been, and because they have been telling their viewers that there are provisions in it that will mandate that all grandmas be killed immediately upon passage. (Grandpas are, curiously, exempt. I'm surprised they haven't latched on to the obvious gender discrimination.)

Democratic leaders believe the public doesn't focus on the process of how legislation is enacted. But in this case they're wrong. I've been amazed at how many people understand "reconciliation"—a process that allows budget and spending bills to pass in the Senate with only 51 votes, instead of 60. 

Fred, I'm sure you're amazed at how many of your friends, who are all right wing pundits, have an understanding of how reconciliation works. I can assure you that most of my friends -who are too busy trying to make ends meet and praying they don't get injured or sick- don't give a fuck.

Many voters are also now studying the details of the "Slaughter solution," which would allow the House to "deem" the Senate health-care bill to have passed without actually voting on it and then to vote through changes to the Senate bill. These legislative shortcuts are already infuriating ObamaCare's opponents.

Yes, Fred, many millions of voters are undoubtedly spending their half-hour lunch breaks engrossed in a detailed examination of the ins and outs of a technical procedure in which the majority of the members Congress passes legislation in a process known to these voters as "democracy".

If ObamaCare passes, sooner or later the backlash against it would morph into a movement to repeal it. Republicans would likely make repeal a top issue in congressional elections this November. The GOP is expected to win a substantial number of seats in Congress this fall. If Republicans take control of the House or Senate or both, clashes over health care would be unavoidable.

I guess that this "democratic process" is not really familiar to Barnes. You see, Fred, in a democracy, the majority passes laws. If the voters don't like the laws, they vote the majority our and vote in people that will repeal the laws. So what is your argument against health care reform? That it will involve debate?

Assuming it passes, ObamaCare wouldn't go into effect fully until 2013. This fact alone would make the health-care plan a paramount issue in the 2012 presidential race, regardless of whether Mr. Obama is on the ballot. As long as he's president, Mr. Obama would surely veto legislation to repeal or gut ObamaCare. With a Republican in the White House things would be different. Republicans might be successful in dismantling the program.

Well, if people hate it so much, this will work out great for you. They will vote Obama out.

But Democrats wouldn't give up. Having gone to great lengths to enact ObamaCare, they'd go all out to protect it or revive it. Mrs. Pelosi is already talking about expanding ObamaCare. She favors adding a "public option" to compete with private insurers. "Once we kick through this door [and pass it], there'll be more legislation to follow," she told liberal bloggers on Monday.

And since you have presented no argument against a public option on the merits, we have to assume that this fight will be dragged out because Republicans just like political fights. It makes them feel like warriors, you see.

So the struggle would go on and on. If you think the fights over funding of Medicare and Medicaid in recent years have been unpleasant, wait until the funding battles over ObamaCare start. It's all but inevitable that they would occur every year given the way Mr. Obama has proposed to finance his health-care program.

Yes, the debates are unpleasant. No one likes being accuses of wanting to kill grandma, or of imposing a totalitarian health care dictatorship, or of being a proponent of the fourth Nazi Reich. But unpleasantry is a necessary by-product of a system in which you allow morons like Fred Barnes to have a voice.

ObamaCare low-balls its cost and exaggerates the means for paying for it. "Our proposal is paid for," the president insisted in a speech in Ohio on Monday. It's not. The financing includes billions that are obligated elsewhere. It claims to cut the budget deficit by $118 billion but achieves this by borrowing hundreds of billions more.

Does it cut the budget deficit or not? The CBO said today that the plan would reduce the deficit by $138 billion dollars of the next 10 years. Do you have some other information that the CBO is not aware of?

Who cares if it achieves that by borrowing money? This borrowing is reflected in the CBO analysis. It saves $138 billion over ten years. For someone who harps on the deficit continuously, you'd think this would be important.

At the same time, Mr. Obama's plan offers a cornucopia of new benefits: free preventive care, coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, guaranteed issue, no lifetime or annual benefit caps, and subsidies for insuring 30 million people now uninsured. All of this would increase the use of health-care services. 

Yes, it will increase the use of health care services. This is the whole fucking point. 45,000 people a year die in the United States because they don't have access to health care. The best thing about this bill is that it increases the use of health care. The fact that it does that while saving money is just a bonus.

The tendency is to underestimate just how large this increase might be. This was true with Medicare and Medicaid, whose costs have ballooned far beyond initial projections. 

Yes they have, because all health care costs have ballooned, because Republicans have refused to reform the system. Medicare and Medicaid have had crazy costs increases, but the increases in the private sector have been even worse.

The annual struggles in Congress over funding for ObamaCare would be intense.

Here you go again, worrying about these intense struggles. Well, guess what? That is what Congress gets paid to do; debate, argue, fight over things and make hard decisions. It's their freaking job. Get over it.

The courts would also get involved. In anticipation of passage of the president's health-care plan, three states—Virginia, Idaho and Utah—have passed laws to nullify ObamaCare's mandate that everyone purchase health insurance. Other states are expected to follow suit. Arizona voters will decide the matter in a referendum in November. Ultimately, federal judges would decide if these state laws are constitutional. Other issues would also end up in court. That includes the constitutionality of the process that Democrats used to pass ObamaCare. We could expect years of litigation.

What's your point? This is how the system works. Virtually every law passed by Congress could be challenged in court. Does that mean we should shut Congress down? I realize that Republicans are trying to do this already, but fortunately most voters aren't in favor of paying some $4.5 billion for a Congress that's too lazy to do anything but push the "no" button.

Enacting ObamaCare would be only the beginning. The controversy surrounding its passage and how it might work would preoccupy the president, Congress and millions of average Americans for the foreseeable future—and then some.

So, to sum it up, we shouldn't pass health care reform. Not because it won't work, or because it's not needed, or because a failure to fix it won't result in the bankruptcy of our nation, but because it's hard work and someone's feeling might get hurt.

Also, because it will probably start a third world war. Or something.

1 comment:

  1. “In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.” – JOHN GALT