Pelosi Takes Public Option Off Our Table

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The day after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech to Congress, the conservaDems intent on bailing out the health insurance industry are happy to hear that House Speaker Pelosi say that:

“I think that the President’s, not only his appeal to pass it but his explanation to the American people as to what the possibilities were was a very powerful statement that will be helpful to us,” Pelosi said.


“You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll poll vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”

– from Greg Sargent’s Plumline


Pelosi and her House are allegedly attempting to do a run around of the “60 vote Senate supermajority needed to block a filibuster” problem, by passing a House version of “side car reconciliation” to the bill first before signing off on the Senate’s version of a “health insurance reform” bill.  There is no timetable, other than they have a year to contemplate how to do this before the proto legislation already passed, expires.  

Pelosi also, according to Time’s Swampland Blog,  has taken the Public Option off the Table.   From yesterday:

Interestingly, she downplayed some of the hot-button issues that had dominated so much of the debate last year. Abortion, she said, “is not the subject of our conversations at this time.”   And she dismissed any suggestion that the public option might be resurrected. “You can’t do that,” she said.…

Why can be seen very clearly here, as Congress has just neatly hamstrung itself today from doing anything serious on domestic problems for the rest of the President’s first term-  

Senate Oks pay as you go spending curbs, GOP votes ‘no’    Thurs January 28, 2010 McClatchy

The Senate Thursday backed by a 60 to 40 vote tough new curbs on federal spending, a requirement that key parts of the budget be paid for with budget cuts or tax increases, as part of legislation to increase the nation’s debt limit.

The bill, which now needs House of Representatives approval, allows the debt to grow by $1.9 trillion to $14.29 trillion, a measure that moderate Democrats, as well as most Republicans, had been wary of supporting without assurances spending would be controlled.

The plan has some exemptions – too many, according to Republicans – including a permanent extension of Bush-era middle class tax cuts, certain Medicare payments to physicians, extensions of the alternative minimum tax and estate tax relief.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, Thursday also backed Obama’s call for a three-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending, and went a step further.…

The “step further” was her making sounds that military contractors, the Sacred Edible Cow of the Blue Dog Democratic caucus in Congress, should also be subject to a spending freeze.  This has to be her way of waving hello at her district in San Francisco, because it just isn’t going to happen during a ramp UP of several foreign wars, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen. Nice try, tho, they probably appreciate the shout- out.

I want to go back to the Times Swampland article and that dreadful “economist say” line about how the erroneously named “Cadillac Tax” aka the “excise tax,” on the working and middle class’s OWN health insurance benefits, would be the only way to control costs.  

It doesn’t say who’s costs.

Remember what Bruce McF here at Docuharma said the other day- if exposure to high costs was the way people learned to self ration their medical care so they used less to make the system cheaper, then it would have worked by now.  

This is the fake argument in a nutshell- the assumption, that a consumer will NOT need a necessity, if it is expensive enough.

If oxygen cost a lot,  would you need to breathe less ?  

If food cost a fortune, would this change your metabolism to need fewer calories ?

We have watched insurance industry insiders for months, planting this phony- bologna line about “bending the cost curve,” by insisting that an MIT economist named Jon Gruber, who was hired by this adminstration to run some economic models, who did NOT disclose such, but was pretending to be an independent expert, that one can decrease demand for health insurance coverage by making people pay more out of pocket and buy cheaper plans with less coverage.

It mistakenly treats health care as an optional, luxury item for the consumer class.  

And yet incredibly, re this regressive tax  “… President Obama has already said he wants it in there. ”    

You CANNOT take the PPO and other decent health insurance policy holders, force them to buy for profit private insurance by mandate, which forces them into crappy HMO’s, force them then to jump thru bigger and more frustrating hoops to access the health care they thought they had paid for, and use the supposed “cost savings” of that to FORCE more poor people onto the Medicaid rolls.

The ONLY thing you are doing with this approach is salvaging the profits of the Health Insurance Industry in the most inefficient way possible.

Now, what does the health insurance industry do with those profits ?

They spend millions of dollars in your premiums to lobby the House and Senate to continue to leave as many people as possible OUT of the current pool of covered people.  This is how they maintain their system of continuing to create shortages of product, to spike prices by increasing demand for a rare product.

This is what is wrong with the Senate version of this bill.  It only covers 30 million out of 50 to 70 million who will be medically uninsured in this nation this year, and in the years to come.  The media likes to bandy about that lower number and ignore the Treasury report.  There are NO COST CONTROLS possible with a permanently uncovered segment of the population.

Mandates give 30 million new captured customers to Medicaid, but they will be serviced by private insurance companies, which are currently FLOODING the state legislatures, such as California’s, with heavy donations to fight against any regulatory reform. Indeed, the Republican Insurance Commissioner of CA, Steve Poizner, is now running for Governor. That ought to make our near bankrupt state’s resident’s sleep better at night.  

The President is going to call various interest groups and House caucuses and Really Influential people to the White House for lunch, and turn on the charm, and get them to agree to compromise and roll over on this Senate bill.  For example, see the Unions getting their little sweetheart exemption for the excise tax on their benefits, in return for their support in the November 2010 elections, no doubt with a promise to do something about Card Check. Which in turn- won’t happen.

But no matter what concessions, it is NOT a reform bill, because not only does it punish the working and middle class with new regressive taxes, it seeks to punish them with less insurance coverage for being able to work and afford it in the first place.  THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE UNIONS WITH DECENT INSURANCE.  The problem is the INVESTMENT BANKS and the INSURANCE COMPANIES are allowed to keep STEALING FROM PEOPLE who pay for a product and then get scammed from using it.

This is, as health care reform advocate Eve Gittleson says, a moral catastrophe and a failure, and you own it, Democrats.  And I know she doesn’t mean all Democrats, only a few of them who are supposed to be LEADING on this topic, and on this legislation, and yet are refusing to do so.   A a lot of people who are on the blogs, who consider themselves stalwarts of the President’s OFA, have been typing away with utter, intellectual claptrap in terms of both attacking other Democrats, and trying to rationalize this rotten and corrupt to the core Senate Bill, as it exists now.

Senator Teddy Kennedy wanted a Public Option.  Where is it ?

Why do retired people get a Public Option, aka Medicare, yet we won’t let healthy and cheaper younger workers into this system to pay premiums to help themselves obtain medical care, if needed ?  Logic, please ?

The Democrats are committing political suicide by telling people to pay taxes to private companies in return for absolutely NOTHING guaranteed in return.  And they can’t figure this out !

A bill that COULD be fixed by putting in either Medicare for All, an early Medicare buy- in, or a Public Option-  and it turns out the President we have now, does NOT support this.  And Speaker Pelosi knows this.  So she’s not supporting it either.  

We can ask why the President thinks this way.  Either he doesn’t understand the economics, or he understands it, but has cut his deals with the various business industries, Insurance and Pharma, the Military DOD contractors, the Pentagon, the Republican Party, to keep domestic entitlements down and military spending up, and now he is loathe to go back on it.  We know why the insurance industry thinks this way- they refuse to change their evil ways.

It doesn’t matter how he thinks.  It matters very much that we, as a nation, did not vote to continue bad economic policy just because it is the easiest and most politically expedient for the Senate to continue to be the Good Ol’ Boy’s Entitlement Club, or the House of Lords, whichever you prefer to call them.   And the President needs to be told, that this is not acceptable, by those who can see why it is wrong.

Remember what Keith Olberman said a few weeks ago ?

“NO SALE, Mr President, NO SALE.”    

Somebody needs to work on their product development. And it isn’t the American consumer, nor the millions of unemployed, foreclosed on, bankrupted, medically indigent, recissed, and uninsured.

Fix this bill, really fix it, or start over.  You can’t fix this with a continued party purity purge.


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  1. …. bill is just blowing optimistic smoke up everybody’s butt and hoping nobody notices.

    The over all problem- It has to be the President with this pathological need to try to make nice with the Republicans and the Vichy Conservadems, because I can’t figure what or why else Nancy Pelosi would be saying this.   It’s come down to, for them, just try to pass something or anything and call it a win.

    It doesn’t make sense.  They could have made a better bill and had rabid liberal and moderate support, instead, the only people left are the idealists who are trying to work within the party, and the really conservative Democrats that give the party a very bad name because they back flip on everthing and then shiv the liberals in the back again and again.   The House did make that better bill, but the Senate Dems are as big as a bunch of greedy bastards as could be imagined in your worst nightmares.

    What do we do ?  Keep advocating.  Elections coming up. Let’s see them read the polls and keep this crap up.

    • Big Tex on January 28, 2010 at 23:03

    out of this irredeemably poisoned HCR process is going to make things worse, not better, and it’s going to do lasting damage to the Democratic Party and the left.  But these fools don’t care, as long as they keep getting their blood money from the insurance industry and as long as they get their signing ceremony before next year’s elections.

    • Edger on January 28, 2010 at 23:37
  2. Public Option was always that mythical sales talking point of Obama fantasyland.  It is/was and will always be the same thing as unicorn flu vaccines and world peace.

    Here in Mass, we were after all the mandatory medical insurance lab rats.  Yeah, the state may “give” you insurance but they will also bill your estate afterwards.  The application is more intrusive than an IRS audit.

    When the CEO of a health insurance company walks away with

    then it would be far simple to task those secret alphabet agencies that don’t exist with that person’s disappearance.  It would after all only take a few of these to make a real difference for positive “change” in the world.  

    • Eddie C on January 29, 2010 at 04:31

    Yes this sums up Obamacare.

    an optional, luxury item for the consumer class.

    There was the promise of no individual mandates, not taxing health care benefits, and no backroom deals with special interest groupes that was bullshit. There was transparent negotiations and drug price controls that just washed away. And I watched as he personally worked to kill a government run public option that would compete with the murderous market based system but I still had a little hope.

    That excise tax killed the last of my belief that Obama is a good man. On the campaign trail Barack Obama said he would seek to repeal Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and use the money to pay for health care reform.

    Somehow that became;

    “I’m on record as saying that taxing Cadillac plans that don’t make people healthier, but just take more money out of their pockets because they’re paying more for insurance than they need to, that’s actually a good idea and that helps bend the cost curve; that helps to reduce the cost of health care over the long term. I think that’s a smart thing to do.”

    In that debate over the finance of health insurance expansion the wealthy who voted for Barack Obama and supported the Democratic party fully expected a tax increase, so I don’t think they would have bee upset.  The union members who voted for, stuffed envelopes, reached into their pockets an organized fundraisers, were under the impression that they would see some much needed advancement from a Democratic president after eight years of Bush.

    Except Obama has been working to tax the middle class since he was President elect Barack Obama. But since this excise tax is so often presented as a product of the Senate, lets go to the video tape. Back on July 20th Barack Obama sat across from Jim Lehrer, sounding genuinely concerned about a tax increase on the middle class workers.

    What’s being talked about now, I understand, is the possibility of penalizing insurance companies who are offering super, gold-plated, Cadillac plans. I haven’t seen the details of this yet, but it may be an approach that doesn’t put additional burdens on middle-class families. My whole goal is not to add burdens to folks who are already having tough times affording insurance, but actually to relieve it. And so I’ve got to look at the details of that before I make any kind of final determination.

    What’s that about “penalizing insurance companies?” I did not read the whole thousand pages of health insurance company expansion but I’m pretty sure that Obama is not going to give the free market of death the right to print money.

    Ten days later House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went on The Newshour and expressed concerns about “super, gold-plated, Cadillac plans.” Concerns that would become warranted in no time. Concerns for everyone except Barack Obama, Senators and a few so called economist.

    Well, I’m open to — I say just put everything on the table. But I think it has to be truly the top of the line. Once you get into sort of the middle income, I don’t think that that is a good idea. I don’t think it’s a good idea there.

    But, again, when we talk about at the highest level, to have a surcharge, or at the highest package, let’s take a look at — insurance package, let’s take a look at it. But there’s a big appetite to tax the insurance companies.

    When Baucus claimed the money should be found by placing a new excise tax on the most expensive health insurance policies, with that David Axelrod talking point “like the ones that the executives at Goldman Sachs have, the $40,000 policies,” the media was quick to smell a rat in that scheme.

    As it turns out, though, many smaller fish would get caught in Mr. Baucus’s tax net. The supposedly Cadillac insurance policies include ones that cover many of the nation’s firefighters and coal miners, older employees at small businesses – a whole gamut that runs from union shops to Main Street entrepreneurs.

    Under the Baucus plan, insurers selling a plan costing more than $8,000 for an individual and $21,000 for a family would have to pay a 35 percent excise tax on the excess amount.

    Just about everyone smelled a rat but Baucus is getting credit as the rat too many places. Now who picked Max Baucus as the lead gunner against progress in the health care debate anyway?    

    Barack Obama went on the PBS Newhour a couple of weeks before the Massachusetts voters told him where to go and claimed legislation that does not include the public option that he practically invented for his presidential campaign but does include mandates that he was against on the campaign trail to answered Jim Lehrer’s question “Ninety-five percent of what you wanted?” with “Absolutely.”

    The White House that wasted no time getting away from the campaign platform of rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year deserves all of the blame.

    While the media presented a union leadership that is satisfied with Obama, try asking any member of the rank and file. They will all tell you the same thing “Oh Barack Obama isn’t going to fuck over my family until 2018. What a guy.”

    And when Republicans remind Americans that it was a targeted Middle Class tax increase, that will hit home. Even if Barack Obama thinks putting the tax increase off until after his next election is a “a smart thing to do.”  

  3. They’ll have to add a donkey to the picture.

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