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July 18, 2009

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Thanks for this post. What I find especially galling is the way the GOP stance ignores the horrific cost of the status quo -- in uninsured people, in pain and grief, in poor quality or total lack of care, in sleepless nights of uncertainty, in fear of changing jobs or fear of divorce or fear of bankruptcy.

I'm not jumping up and down to think any heath care reform is going to be the perfect fix. I wish the options on the table went farther than they do, and I'm worried that without a simultaneous cultural and behavioral shift, people WILL keep using the ER for routine visits.

But I recognize the awful cost of no bill as compared to an imperfect one. I wish more self-proclaimed conservatives did.

I don't get the fetish for bipartisanship, either, I'm ashamed of those Democrats in Congress who are siding with Republican obstructionism. DINOS. Time for some primary challenges.

Depessing.

No one who reads this blog would miss that any significant opposition to your position annoys you. Your positions are always credible and your opponents not. It would be more enlightening if, instead of addressing what annoys you, you would explain why, if the positions on legislating healthcare that you support are unquestionably the right course for the American people, the proposals should not be subjected to open scrutiny and debate. If, indeed, they are strong and represent actions our government should take, will they not be able to withstand an examination by the people? If we have been mired in this terrible healthcare environment for decades, how can a few months to make sure we are not doing something to make it worse be wrong?

I have a suspicion that you might prefer that the people know less rather than more about what is being proposed. This looks more and more like Rahm Emanuel's dictum on crisis. You should notice that I do not defend the GOP and their inaction on this issue, but I'm not ready to sign a blank check and give Washington carte blanche for decision making in the medical arena.

but I'm not ready to sign a blank check and give Washington carte blanche for decision making in the medical arena

how is productive debate possible when one side is only interested in spreading misrepresentations, lies and bullshit ?

'how is productive debate possible when one side is only interested in spreading misrepresentations, lies and bullshit ?'

If these cannot be surmounted, perhaps the case is not as strong as you imagined. If you have the truth and the truth is good for the people, then they should go for it. What are these freshmen congressmen so worried about?

"how is productive debate possible when one side is only interested in spreading misrepresentations, lies and bullshit ?"

Only one side?

Your positions are always credible and your opponents not.

GOB, are YOUR positions sometimes INcredible?

This kind of complaint seems ridiculous to me. I don't know about you, but I hold my positions because I believe they're correct -- otherwise I'd hold different ones. I bet publius is the same way. Frankly, I suspect you are too.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you sometimes take positions that you don't think are correct, just to show how open-minded you are. If so, I salute you.

--TP

GOB - My point is that these arguments arent' being (and haven't been) raised in good faith. I saw a proposal the other day from Jon Henke I think about replacing the payroll tax with a carbon tax -- the idea is to make it revenue-neutral.

That's an interesting idea -- and one that progressives could chew on and debate in good faith. i think you would be surprised how quickly the liberal blogosphere would be productive if the GOP's policy ideas were substantive and made in good faith.

But they're not. And the point is that we should stop *pretending like they are.* Delay, more study, etc. would be absolutely right if these people were actually trying to pass health care. They're not -- they're trying to kill it.

These are old ideas, we need to go ahead and do it.

And question for you -- can you name a single good faith policy proposal by the institutional GOP on either health care or climate change? The ones you could list I suspect (drilling off Gulf, HSAs) are all fairly tiny reforms.

If these cannot be surmounted, perhaps the case is not as strong as you imagined

shorter GOB: it's not our fault if you can't stamp out each and every last lie we throw into the conversation we keep saying you won't let us have!

No one who reads this blog would miss that any significant opposition to your position annoys you. Your positions are always credible and your opponents not.

Do you have any particular examples in mind? If you can't link to any, I would politely suggest that you don't have a leg to stand on. I suspect what you might see is that Publius is annoyed with opposition that is not backed up by a decent argument. It's one thing, for example, to be annoyed with someone who makes a comparison between Bush and Obama at this time in their presidencies with, say, Bush making a better showing. It's quite another to be annoyed with someone comparing the debt and deficit during Bush's eight years with the debt and deficit of Obama's administration over ten or more years, nine-and-a-half which haven't happened yet.

So, GoodOleBoy, if you have any evidence to back up your accusations, let's see it; if not, you are making a bad argument. Which perhaps not so coincidentally will annoy me as well. Let me add that this has nothing to do with partisanship (I'm not even a liberal) and everything to do with good debate practices.

GoodOleBoy,

I guess the problem is, assuming that Republicans are concerned with the truth.

Let me put this another way: I'm a sciencey type of person, and I believe in measurable phenomena, falsifiable hypotheses, predictive power, that sort of thing. With that in mind, look at what came out on Friday:

July 17, 2009

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.

Now, if Republicans were really concerned about the cost of the proposal, as they've been saying, then they'll drop their objections, right? You'll see, oh, ten to twenty of them crossing the line to announce their support of this bill, right? At the very least. Now, that's operating under the assumption that they've been operating in good faith.

So if we don't see a lot of Republicans switching their opposition to support, what would you conclude? I don't know about you, but if the initial supposition is correct, I'd conclude that these Republican congress critters are not acting in good faith. Does anyone disagree? If so, why?

The GOP is only interested in torpedoing healthcare reform, regardless of the merit of any particular configuration of that reform. The GOP is not interested in governing in any normative sense; only in propagating its particular form of oligarchy. The GOP is not interested in a government that governs wisely and well: the GOP is, in fact, opposed to a government that governs wisely and well.

Anyone who supports the GOP at this point is endorsing the GOP's positions on healthcare reform (and everything else). Since the GOP's positions are utterly, unequivocably, beyond any factual doubt, shown and proven over and over and over again to be dishonest, destructive, and based on complete falsity - anyone who still supports the GOP must then also be dishonest, destructive, and comfortable repearing complete falsity.

It is therefore just as useless to attempt to engage with them as it is useless to try to persuade cyanide to be less poisonous.

From SOV's link:

"The estimates also cover important reinvestments in Medicare and Medicaid, including phasing in the closing of the “donut” hole in the Medicare drug benefit. The bill’s long-term reform of Medicare’s physician fee schedule to eliminate the potential 21 percent cut in fees, and put payments on a sustainable basis for the future, will cost about $245 billion. Those costs, however, are not included in the net calculations above, as they will be absorbed under the upcoming statutory “pay go” legislation that is pending in the House.

I am a sciencey kind of person too. So when I see that the CBO is counting savings from another bill, but not the costs, my sciencey side is going to read the whole thing.


So they have now raised taxes by more than 500B, counted cuts that aren't in the bill, and I still think they have made progress in coming up with a scoreable piece of legislation. Funny how when you give people the time to do their job they do it.

Opinion only: Imagine how well they could work through all of these issuess if they had time to actually work through HOW this stuff would work.

Except, unfortunately, that if it does not happen soon it will not happen. There is a limited time that things will actually happen, and once the crisis or drive goes away, it is dead.

If we wait too long, then we will get into re-election cycles, which will kill the motivation to enact legislation, and some other crisis will arise which will draw attention.

There is a joke around my house, "Delayed means denied." While we are not referring to passing legislation, procrastination and postponement frequently does mean that something is going to happen.

Within the MBA programs, we are taught that if you want nothing to happen, you set up a committee. Committee are long-lived groups that generally become dedicated to their own survival. Project teams are there to accomplish one task, and then are dissolved. While not directly applicable, this does serve as a lesson that you must strike while the iron is hot, and that endless meeting tweaking for perfection mean that nothing will happen.

To quote Voltaire, "The best is the enemy of the good." You will strive for perfect, and destroy the possibility of achieving the good solution. And in politics, there are no perfect solutions.

GOB, the opposition on any meaningful health care reform has more to do with strangling the Obama Administration in the crib than legitimate policy differences.

They want to deny him the accomplishment, not negotiate a more acceptable solution.

DeMint said as much the other day.

I really wish Obama would just put an end to all this crappy psychodrama and get on with passing major legislation by reconciliation. Fuck the Gang of Six, the Blue Dogs, the Republicans. After all, Bush used reconciliation for major bills. Are we to believe that passing bills by majority vote in the Senate is somehow undemocratic?

I am a sciencey kind of person too. So when I see that the CBO is counting savings from another bill, but not the costs, my sciencey side is going to read the whole thing.

This doesn't make any sense. Could you explain what you mean?

So they have now raised taxes by more than 500B, counted cuts that aren't in the bill, and I still think they have made progress in coming up with a scoreable piece of legislation. Funny how when you give people the time to do their job they do it.

Opinion only: Imagine how well they could work through all of these issuess if they had time to actually work through HOW this stuff would work.

Posted by: Marty

Without going into any more detail right now, it has already been stated that costs/savings would be stretched over several levels and programs. Now, if you were going to object to this type of accounting, why didn't you object to this when it was stated that the head of the CBO had stated the cost of the bill was going to be on the order of a trillion dollars? Or did I miss where you did?

You see, here's where the sciencey bits come in: you're perfectly free to make your objections before the facts come in. You are most decidedly not afterwords. So if the CBO itself says this is revenue neutral according to it's accounting methods, I think you've got to take it that it is, in fact, revenue neutral.

Of course, if you have some sort of objection to this type of accounting on record, or if you've already criticized the CBO has not being accurate in it's estimations . . . do you have those instead?

"...anyone who still supports the GOP must then also be dishonest, destructive, and comfortable repearing complete falsity."

This is just wrong. It's completely possible to simply be uninformed or ill-informed in a completely honest and sincere manner. I absolutely believe that a very significant proportion of the people who vote Republican and identify as Republican fall into that category. I'd venture to guess that it's even a majority of such people, but I really don't know if that's true or not; I am sure, without being able in the least to prove it, that at the very least some quarter to a third of regular Republican voters are sincere in their ignorance of how they are misled.

It's terribly important to realize that, utterly unlike regular readers of political blogs, most people pay little or no attention whatever to politics, to the best of their ability. These people are, by definition, uninformed.

And those who do pay some little attention, or even a fair amount, tend to do it from very poor, or biased, sources of news, be it their neighbor, or some highly partisan radio or tv broadcast or newspaper or magazine or website.

Presuming that "anyone who still supports the GOP must then also be dishonest, destructive, and comfortable repea[t]ing complete falsity" is just a terrible, terrible, error to make. It's a major misanalysis of the motives of a significant portion of the American people, in my opinion.

And I invoke the spirit of Hilzoy in pointing this out.

What's important is to educate these people, this portion of Republican voters and self-identifiers, not dismiss them as unreachable.

Look at OCSteve as an example, for goodness sake's.

Of course, I only do this because I'm such a "mendoucheous twatwaffle of the highest order."

John McCain was good at saying enough to get Sunday morning talk show praise. But when the real effort was needed, "national leader" McCain has been almost uniformly critical. He's referred to the plan as "cap and tax," and has provided no muscle whatsoever in building political support for this effort. And remember -- he's supposedly the best one.
John McCain's behavior has really been quite disappointing, and a bit surprising. After the 2008 election result rather put an end to his ambitions for becoming President, and simultaneously ended his chance of really controlling the Republican party, as it had never really liked him terribly well even before he lost their chance to retain power, he faced a few options: he could retire from office, he could remain in office and do nothing, or he could try to work in his remaining years to create a lasting legacy, to become something more than just the guy who lost to Obama and who continued the surrender of the Republican party to the Christianists and Know-Nothings who thought Sarah Palin was a dandy choice.

The last option, of doing something constructive and burnishing his legacy, seemed eminently desirable. It was what he did in the years before the 2000 election, and to some extent what he did after the 2000 election (though less so after 9/11, and not at all once his ambitions for the Republican primary really hotted up in about 2006). And Obama was reaching out to McCain after the election, making it clear that he'd love to work with McCain on whatever common policy ground they could find.

And yet McCain, who retains the love of the Sunday morning shows and who could be a key to furthering authentically bipartisan ideas, has instead decided to kick back his heels and do nothing but occasionally jeer Limbaugh-isms from the peanut gallery. I'm left to wonder: is it just because McCain is bitter over the 2008 election? Is it some sort of laziness or exhaustion? Why has McCain, who for all his shallowness has in the past prized his veneer of independence, become indistinguishable from the likes of Coburn?

"Why has McCain, who for all his shallowness has in the past prized his veneer of independence, become indistinguishable from the likes of Coburn?"

Hypothesis: maybe for McCain, it really is just mostly about personal pique, and taking offense, and expressing it.

And maybe his past acts of seemingly reaching across the aisle were primarily about getting good press, and now that just really doesn't matter to him, and on top of that, he now reviles the press after the 2008 campaign.

I don't believe terribly strongly in these hypotheses; I'm mostly just tossing them out there because I really have no better explanations to offer, either.

Demonize, demonize, demonize.

How about this for a hypothesis?

The bill isn't very good over all.

Some Democrats would like to make it better.

They aren't be listened to by a caucus that just wants to push any old health care reform through as fast as possible.

Institutionally that puts them in a difficult position.

They can use the general Republican Party obstructionism on the topic to make sure at least some of their concerns get addressed. Because the Republican votes are reliabley 'no'.

When they get their concerns addressed they can then vote yes, and we can have better health care law.

This strategy can also be used by more moderate Republicans.

It fits all the facts. Doesn't require demonization of EVERYONE who disagrees with you about this bill.

"Some Democrats would like to make it better."

One has to believe that this is true, and that these Democrats are acting in good faith, rather than to protect the interests of the insurance industry. I see no evidence to support this hypothesis.

"They aren't be listened to by a caucus that just wants to push any old health care reform through as fast as possible."

"as fast as possible" being since 1948, ever since which Republicans and some paid-off Democrats have been insisting on the need for further study.

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