Third Party & Independents Archives

August 06, 2009

The Politics of Health Care Reform In A NutShell

In a nutshell, the Republicans cannot permit a Health Care Reform bill to pass. The Democrats must pass health care reform to hold their majority in government. That is the politics of Health Care Reform in its simplest form. Following are the reasons why this has become such a pivotal political issue.

To understand why this is a pivotal political issue, we must first understand why health care reform is an issue, at all.

In 2008, health care spending in the United States reached $2.4 trillion, and was projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2012. Health care spending is projected to nearly double to $4.3 trillion by 2016. Total health care spending currently represents 17 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). (Keehan, S. et al. “Health Spending Projections Through 2017, Health Affairs Web Exclusive W146: 21 February 2008.)

By comparison, health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2004.

Rising health care costs result in more Americans living without health insurance. (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Uninsured: A Primer, Key Facts About Americans without Health Insurance. 10 November 2004)

The U.S. spends far more than any other industrialized nation on health care. Yet, those other nations insure everyone, while America has 46 million uninsured, a number which will grow as health insurance costs rise.

Premiums for employer-based health insurance rose by 5.0 percent in 2008. In 2007, small employers saw their premiums, on average, increase 5.5 percent. Firms with less than 24 workers, experienced an increase of 6.8 percent. (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Employee Health Benefits: 2008 Annual Survey. September 2008. )

The annual premium that a health insurer charges an employer for a health plan covering a family of four averaged $12,700 in 2008. The annual premiums for family coverage significantly exceeded the gross earnings for a full-time, minimum-wage worker ($10,712). A minimum wage worker without employer insurance would face a staggeringly higher amount that that afforded employers.

Since 1999, employer-based health insurance premiums have increased 120 percent. Cumulative consumer inflation rose only 44 percent and cumulative wage growth rose only 29 percent during the same period. (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Employee Health Benefits: 2008 Annual Survey. September 2008.)

Average out-of-pocket costs since 2000, for deductibles, co-payments for medications, and co-insurance for physician and hospital visits rose 115 percent. (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Employee Health Benefits: 2008 Annual Survey. September 2008. )

A study by Harvard University researchers in 2005 found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses. (Himmelstein, D, E. Warren, D. Thorne, and S. Woolhander, “Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy, “ Health Affairs Web Exclusive W5-63, 02 February , 2005.)

This number has no doubt risen with the advent of the current economic decline and rise in unemployment.

Retiring elderly couples will need $250,000 in savings just to pay for the most basic medical coverage. (Fidelity Investments, Press Release, March 6, 2006. ) Many experts believe this figure is conservative and that $300,000 may be a more realistic number.

The U.S. has an estimated $480 billion annually in unnecessary and excess spending compared to Western European nations which have universal health insurance coverage. The costs are mainly associated with excess administrative costs and poorer quality of care. The United States spends six times more per capita on the administration of the health care system than its peer Western European nations. (McKinsey Global Institute. Accounting for the Cost in the United States. January 2007)

The Democrats:

The Democrats ran in 2006 and 2008 on providing health care reform, if elected. It was a central theme of their campaigns. They spoke of the devastating consequences of rising health care costs for the uninsured, for the insured, for employers and employees, for retirees, and for the government's national debt and fiscal management. A majority of Americans in every polling on the subject indicate they want universal health care insurance.

It is a relatively simple proposition for Democrats politically. Pass health care reform, or, failing that, make absolutely sure that the public understands that it was Republicans who defeated it. In either case, politically, the Democrats prospects are improved for the 2010 and 2012 elections.

However, as this Rasmussen poll demonstrates, the major hurdle for Democrats is demonstrating to the independent voters that their health care reform legislation will end up lowering health care costs, or, at the very least, preventing costs from rising in the future. Given the math deficiency of the American public, it is difficult to imagine how Democrats will be able to prove to the public with numbers, that health care costs will not rise with their reform. A fact not lost on Republicans opposing health care reform, as we shall see.

The Republicans

Politically, the Republicans are on a tight rope with this issue. If they permit the Democrats to give the American people what they want, universal health care insurance, the GOP gains nothing on the issue in the 2010 elections, and little, if anything in the 2012 election if the economy and employment are in better shape than they are today. Therefore, they have intense motive to mobilize opposition toward the passage of health care reform.

On the other hand, if health care reform is defeated, and if Republicans are the organizers of the opposition, it is the Republicans who will be labeled as having killed health care reform, and preventing a majority of voters from acquiring universal health insurance. (It should be noted that this same analysis was not lost on conservative Democrats, who have now closed ranks with their fellow Democrats on passing health care reform in just the last week).

Of course, not everyone who is opposed to health care reform is a Republican, and many who support health care reform universal coverage, oppose the deficit spending they fear will be incurred to provide it (latest CBO estimate is 237 billion dollars over 10 years).

It is clear from polling (Rasmussen, link above) that a majority of Americans too, are very concerned about the cost of health care reform, which is why Republicans have made cost the spearhead of their tactics to halt health care reform.

Analysis and Conclusion

America cannot afford to fail to pass health care reform. The facts and estimates of the economic and debt impact of not passing health care reform are devastating going forward, with the worst effects being felt in 2020 and continuing for decades thereafter.

Failure to rein in costs for the federal Medicare/Medicaid programs will mean growth in our national debt for decades to come, and at current levels of national debt, creditors will NOT be available for U.S. borrowing for decades to come.

This argument can be made regarding any spending programs which promote deficit spending. The national debt, which has more than doubled since George W. Bush and Republicans took power in 2000, then 5.65 trillion dollars and now approaching 12 trillion dollars, seriously limits our government's ability to spend its way out of political or economic difficulties. Americans no longer trust the Congress nor the government on fiscal management issues. And that distrust is precisely the mountain that stands in the way of Democrats and health care reform.

I frankly have doubts that health care reform can pass. The convergence of the public's opposition to deficit spending and the Republican's concerted effort to paint any health care reform package to the public as a mountain of new debt and higher costs for consumers, will likely prove to be too high a mountain for Democrats to climb.

And yet, the fact remains, without health care reform, consumers and our economy will suffer more crises coming closer together, heel upon heel, as the years go forward. Allowing health care inflation to consume 20%, then 30% and then 40% of the total annual economic activity in America will create the greatest chasm between wealthy and poor, between elites and the middle class, that will rival, or exceed, even that of the 1920's, which preceded the last Great Depression.

And the fact remains, that creditors will not continue to lend America trillions of dollars if America fails to get its fiscal house in order. And when the credit stops, America will be plunged into another Great Depression, with massive unemployment and the most severe cutback in government programs and services that our nation has ever seen. One need only look to California for a glimpse of what it will be like on a national level.

Outside the political boxing ring, the solution is straight forward. The high cost of passing health care reform is far lower than the growing costs of economic demise, if health care reform is not passed. Of course, this is only true if the following conditions are met:

  1. Health care reform lowers overall health care costs per patient, and per patient visit to the doctor, for decades to come. If that is the case, then the savings will become greater than the investment cost to put the health care reform and universal coverage in place, and the costs of health care will drop not only for the consumers, but, for the government's sponsored health care programs as well. If the government's health care costs drop, significantly over the next couple decades, then a halt to the growth of our national debt is possible.

  2. The federal government commits to reining in and lowering the cost of other programs which will permit a reduction in our national debt in coming decades, thereby reducing the interest on the national debt, which in turn can lower taxes, or at the very least, prevent their rising more, which is money that can be recirculated throughout our economy stimulating jobs and economic activity, going forward, and therefore government revenues.

  3. Our nation, after passing effective health care reform, then immediately addresses the other potential bankrupting challenges facing the nation like energy dependence on foreign oil, water scarcity in the West, national security and defense cost inflation, and education quality which promotes American employees filling American jobs, instead of the growing trend of foreign immigrants filling American jobs while Americans wait in unemployment lines.

It's a very, very tall order, and an enormous challenge for America. Putting a man on the Moon was significantly easier, politically, economically, and socially. I hope America can pass this test. If America can't, my daughter is learning to be fluent in Spanish and Japanese, and en route to getting her nursing degree, so that she can apply for a productive career position in one of the World's growing economies like Brazil, if need be. Freedom is all about having choices, and of late, America is appearing to reject choice when it comes to health care insurance, and a more sustainable economic future.

Posted by David R. Remer at August 6, 2009 12:28 PM
Comments
Comment #285730

Good analysis. I think something will pass, but hard to say exactly what. Regardless, further reforms down the line will be needed.

Posted by: gergle at August 6, 2009 04:55 PM
Comment #285732

gergle, quite right. Health care reform will be a process that adjusts and adapts to demographic, economic, and regretfully, political changing circumstances over the decades before us. That is of course, if health care reform ever takes its first step.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 6, 2009 05:10 PM
Comment #285744

David, this is your best post yet IMO. You pretty much nailed the situation . Many feel that it is not possible to pay off our debt. We have all seen d.a.n.’s numbers. We may be beyond the point of no return. From my perspective we are simply in the latter phases of globalization. The beating down of the middle class, preparing us to be able to compete as a member of the global economy. I’m just hoping that as we sail through $5-6/hr wage that the Corpocracy will level things off and pretty much leave us alone. I believe we will be saved at the last minute. I believe that if the Corpocracy thought we were going over the cliff they would terminate illegal immigration and send them packing. Currently, the illegal population is useful in breaking down the middle class. Understanding that US workers are a resilient bunch, you have to take them well below zero to be effective. Therefore, you need to indebt the next couple of generations to really knock the blocks out from under them. No quick rebounds wanted. And just think of the benefits of ‘free trade’ in a globalized economy, post harmonization. One size fits all. Trade law is international. A power plug is built to one spec, shipped anywhere in the world and sold at the same price. No more trade wars like Iraq. Everyone will have an equal slice of the pie or same number of bites at the apple. Workers of any country can apply for work anywhere in the world, probably no visas or passport required. Students can attend Harvard U. at a location in Shanghai, Tokyo, etc. or China U. in Omaha.
It’s just that right now David, we can’t buy prescription drugs from overseas. We are caught between essentially two governments, One for free traders and one for the ole Republic. The EU is in the same boat. Try as they might they really haven’t capitulated and given up their individual sovereignty. Soon as the depression hit they all rushed back to revitalize their individual nations. It ain’t a done deal in Europe and it sure as hell ain’t a done deal here.
Doesn’t say it in the Constitution, therefore, it ain’t going to happen.

In a nutshell, post government reform: Use anti-trust to bust up big anything including big meds and pharmas. Creates competition and lowers costs. Cut foreign student training and increase by 2x or 3x the number of US students in the medical services. Creates competition and lowers costs. Return the illegal population relieving the US taxpayer of that burden. Establish non-profits to provide access to healthcare. Put non-profits in regions based on population, learning centers, and medical centers available. Volunteer boards to set pay caps for the top level execs. Data base all healthcare records. which can be accessed at every med center in the US. And, why not move Medicare-Medicaid to the private sector as well. Put it all under one umbrella, one national database, managed by non-profits and REGULATED by the federal government, or State governments. Appoint a State med czar from each State to sit on a board of med czars to keep the program cogent among the states. Probably work better than having the feds manage healthcare. Do away with brand drugs vs generic drugs and, yes David, purchase drugs from overseas entities. Want to address the obesity issue? Bring back the draft. Give the Army two years to give them a sense of purpose and some exercise.

David you cited many of our problems. Shouldn’t we look to solutions other than TEA parties, calling your rep’s, etc? If not now, when? Another day has gone by! Natl debt increased a few more bucks!


Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 6, 2009 06:29 PM
Comment #285748

David, excellent job I don’t know if the problem could be expressed clearer than that.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 6, 2009 06:49 PM
Comment #285749

reform, n.(OED)
[f. next, or ad. F. reforme (1640) = Sp. reforma, It. riforma.]
1. a. The amendment, or altering for the better, of some faulty state of things, esp. of a corrupt or oppressive political institution or practice; the removal of some abuse or wrong.
1730-6 BAILEY (folio), Reform,..a reestablishment or revival of a former neglected discipline; also a correction of reigning abuses.
1844 H. H. WILSON Brit. India II. 118 His unwilling consent..rendered him still more than ever hostile to all projects of reform
b. A particular instance of such amendment; a change for the better.
1883 Law Times 20 Oct. 408/1 The public and the Profession were alike urgent in calling for sweeping reforms.
3. Improvement or rectifying of something faulty or inexact.
1856 EMERSON Eng. Traits, Wealth, Roger Bacon explained precession of the equinoxes, [and] the consequent necessity of the reform of the calendar.
1839 J. S. MILL in Westm. Rev. XXXII. 477 No reformer can hope to realize any reforms of importance, but by means of a strong and united Reform party.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 6, 2009 07:16 PM
Comment #285753

Roy, thanks, and you make really important points.

Democrats and Republicans however, are the only means through which our nation’s problems can be addressed, as foreboding as reality is.

I believe America needs a pragmatic common sense party, even though parties are by definition, self-corrupting. I favor the NAIP, the New American Independent Party. Their platform is one which I believe will make sense to a majority of Americans, if they can get it known to the majority.

And chuckling Buddha knows, our Congress is in more dire need of pragmatic common sense than a 5 day constipated person is in need of a port-a-potty.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 6, 2009 08:02 PM
Comment #285754

j2t2, thanks. This is one of those articles that took some time to put together. Nice to know it is appreciated.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 6, 2009 08:03 PM
Comment #285755

ohrealy, very apropos’, in light of so many trying to squeeze ‘reform’ into a four letter word.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 6, 2009 08:05 PM
Comment #285769

David,
Did I hear President Obama say thhat the debate is over Health Care Insurance Reform and not Health Care Reform in the last 24 hours?

As you have pointed out, the Democratic and Republican Leadership have a problem seeing the Big Picture. So I feel that a new Health Care System will have to be done in stages or on the platform of a new Political Party that realizes and understands the Future belong to those who have Economic Freedom and not subject to Economic Slavery. A political point I wish more on the Left and Right would come to terms with.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at August 6, 2009 10:22 PM
Comment #285770

David R. Remer-
This is part of a comment I’ve posted on both my own and Eric Simonson’s post on this issue.

By way of information, I mentioned Rick Scott, whose company was forced to pay 1.7 billion dollars in fines after it was found they were overcharging Medicare and Medicaid.

This is who we’re up against and what.

[comment excerpt begins here]
Let the fine journalists at TPM give you the lowdown: (I know, you don’t like them. Prove them wrong if you can.)

On Friday, July 24, a representative of Conservatives for Patients Rights—the anti-health care reform group run by disgraced hospital executive Rick Scott[The Guy who bilked Medicare and Medicaid that I mentioned], in conjunction with the message men behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth—sent an email to a list serve (called the Tea Party Patriots Health Care Reform Committee) containing a spreadsheet that lists over one hundred congressional town halls from late July into September.

The email from CPR to tea baggers suggests that, though conservatives portray the tea bagger disruptions as symptoms of a populist rebellion roiling unprompted through key districts around the country, they have to a great extent been orchestrated by anti-health care reform groups financed by industry. (CPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

That email predates by about a week a recent flurry of events at which Democratic members of Congress have been accosted and harassed by anti-health care reform tea party protesters. But beyond putting those spectacles, now receiving wide play on cable news, into a fresh light, it also provides a window into the tea party protesters’ organizing infrastructure, which, like so much political organizing today, occurs in private email list serves.

Got that? Now I’ve heard plenty of protests saying that our friend who wrote that memo, Robert MacGuffie, wasn’t really employed or associated with anybody. That turns out to be rather inaccurate. He wasn’t just posting out into the wind.

But his memo nonetheless found its way to hundreds of tea party activists, including the very organizations MacGuffie insists he’s unaffiliated with.

Like many political movements in the country, the so-called Tea Party Patriots organize on a number of email list serves—an eponymous google group, one called Health Care Freedom Tea Party, the aforementioned Tea Party Patriots Health Care Reform Committee—where the broader community of tea baggers, including those working independently, co-ordinate.

MacGuffie’s memo was posted to the Tea Party Patriots’ list serve, which is hundreds of members large, and includes representatives from not just small protest groups, but also major anti-health reform organizations such as Conservatives for Patients Rights, and Patients First, Patients United Now (an affiliate of Americans for Prosperity), and, yes, Freedom Works.

With such broad and powerful memberships, the group is able to co-ordinate protests and counter protests at events hosted by members of Congress and pro-reform groups. And that’s just what they’ve been doing, and plan to do much more over the August congressional recess, during which many believe the fate of health care reform will be decided.

Like I said. It’s to grassroots what the Astrodome’s field is to a verdant meadow.

[end of original comment]

What are your thoughts on this?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 6, 2009 10:30 PM
Comment #285779

Stephen D., sounds to me like similar organization and tactics used in Florida in the 2000 Presidential election, backed unofficially, of course, by the GOP. The GOP works the legal side, and their ‘plumbers’ work the more nefarious public side by riling up those easily moved by false claims, disturbing misinformation, and petitions to their fears.

The GOP mastered the art of turning things upside down as a defensive and offensive tactic. If they are trying to kill Medicare and Medicaid, they turn it upside down, and charge Democrats with trying to kill private insurance and private health care providers.

From Nixon on, Republicans have become masters at this. Perhaps they have a Sung Su Art of War training class in the Desert somewhere, perhaps at Charlie Manson’s old ranch. I don’t know. But, you kinda have to admire their expertise to exert power, even after having lost so much of it. That is turning your weakness into a strength, and turning your opponents strengths into weakness.

And the Media, unaware or, uncaring in large part, of the tactics and strategy, will cover the confrontations but, not the civil discussions and debates held at more peaceful townhalls. Thereby, creating a public perception of wholesale public uprising where, in reality, only several hundred to a couple thousand, will in actuality be involved in creating the mayhem.

It is brilliant politicking. And your party still hasn’t learned how to counter it, though, I thought perhaps, Obama had. But, I have yet to see Obama get out ahead of these tactics and strategy. He is reacting instead. That is not a good sign.

If I were loyal to the Democratic Party instead of integrity and ethics, I would be out there predicting the opposition’s next moves and laying it at the feet of the GOP/corporate execs for the media, poisoning their own well so to speak, before they can implement, and in so doing prepare the public for underhanded tactics and let the GOP prove those tactics to be real to the public, or abandon them in a fit of fury. People don’t remember predictions that didn’t come true. But they will latch on to those that do.

But, I am disgusted by American politics on both sides. And I have worked too long and hard to develop integrity to participate in political warfare of this kind with such absence of rules, ethics, and civility. There has to be a better way. VOID and perhaps the New American Independent Party will have to be it unless, and until, I find a better one.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 7, 2009 03:10 AM
Comment #285884

I suspect you have all received an email from moveon.org. “We’ve got a plan to fight back against these radical right-wingers. We’ve hired skilled grassroots organizers who are working with thousands of local volunteers to show Congress that ordinary Americans continue to support President Obama’s agenda for change. And we’re building new online tools to track events across the country and make sure MoveOn members turn out at each one.
But we need to scale up our efforts quickly to make sure this plan works. To really swing into action during this month’s congressional recess, we need to raise at least $250,000 immediately. Can you chip in $20 to support our work?”

Sounds like the Acorns or going to morph into Hickory Nuts!

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 8, 2009 09:47 AM
Comment #285885

You guys can go back and forth with big words and long sentences all you want. Truth is however is simple. Even canadas own government reports show that only one out of two cancer patience recieve timely treatment. When one entity is paying the bill and there is not enough money to go around, then someone has to decode which people get help. Simple, very simple, so simple that I am sure Steven and David will write many paragreaphs to try to debate that statement.

If this was a debate between the Democrats and the Republicans the American public could probably get the much needed reform to solve some of the problems that our system has. We need tort reform. The doctors for years have been dealing with the overhead of huge insurance premiums to protect them from frivolous lawsuits.

However the far left is not happy without single payer socialized medicineand the Dems cant seem to detach them from their party. A provision in President Obama’s health care reform bill encourages “end-of- life” counseling for seniors.

Sorry folks but you guys on the far left do not have the support to accomplish your “far left” policies. The moment the Democrats took over the house and senate the far left began crying that conservatism was dead. Then you found out you took the house and senate with conservative democrats. Then when Obama won you said the same thing.


I have a surprise for you. You feel that way but the American people dont. We are rising up again and as much as you have the attitude of “we have to have this because its what is right and fair and just and we just have to have it”, this is still a democracy. Well all the polls show there is minimal support for the democrats version of health care reform. But the lefts response? Polls are not dialogue, they dont count. However those poeple who don’t count do vote. Call us the mob call us whatever you want. Say we are carrying swasticas when the pictures show swasticas with red circles and a line through them. The American people are outraged and the more you minimalize them the more you will ignite them. We know what your response will be……Oh thos people are hired by the GOP and all that. I know I know….well heres the facts folks. The far left5 has reared its full head finally and you are in the tiny minority..Now that the people in the middle know what you truely stand for(which you obvously hid and denied during the election so you know this to be true)you will be placed back further thatn you ever can fathom. We outnumber you big time… Now thats not what you say but facts are facts:


The Battleground Poll, the most respected and thorough of all public opinion polls:

In August 2008, Americans answered that question this way:

(1) 20% of Americans considered themselves to be very conservative;

(2) 40% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat conservative;
(3) 2% of Americans considered themselves to be moderate;

(4) 27% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat liberal;

(5) 9% of Americans considered themselves to be very liberal; and

(6) 3% of Americans did not know or refused to answer.


just one of many links to this poll, The Battleground Poll, the most respected and thorough of all public opinion polls along with an unarguable conclusioni=2ad_1219759494

Nancy Pelosi and Reid wouldnt be calling us astroturf if they werent concerned.

Posted by: scottie at August 8, 2009 11:35 AM
Comment #285886

sorry messed up the link and a few typos but its early and i am tired..

just one of many links to this poll, The Battleground Poll, the most respected and thorough of all public opinion polls along with an unarguable conclusioni

Posted by: scottie at August 8, 2009 11:41 AM
Comment #285897

David,
Good article.

The comments coming from right-wingers on health care and Obama are so strange, so odd, that it’s hard to know what to do. I understand an opposition party is going to be opposed to things presented by the party in power, and maybe even get a little crazy and offer alternatives, but the GOP conservatives have gone over the rainbow into weird, disconnected whackjobbery:

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
Sarah Palin, August 7 2009

“Now what are the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi party in Germany? Well, the Nazis were against big business. They hated big business and, of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism. They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working one of which was the Autobahn.

They were against cruelty and vivisection of animals but in the radical sense of devaluing human life, they banned smoking. They were totally against that. They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables as we all know and they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized health care. I have always bristled when I hear people claim that conservatism gets close to Naziism. It is liberalism that’s the closest you can get to Naziism and socialism. It’s all bundled up under the socialist banner.”
Rush Limbaugh, August 6 2009

And then, of course, there are the birthers, including sitting Republican Congressman in the House of Representatives.

Obama is receiving death threats at a rate four times as high as Bush received.

Republican conservatives claim, as Scottie writes: “A provision in President Obama’s health care reform bill encourages “end-of- life” counseling for seniors.” An entire article in the red column devotes itself to the idea that health care will result in euthanasia. It seems liberals and socialists are dedicated to offing grandma and grandpa, and as if that weren’t enough, they’ll round it off with a little old fashioned baby killing.

I guess what worries me is, what if commenters like Scottie are correct? What if a large number of Americans- maybe even a majority- believe universal health care is about euthanisia for the old, and baby killing? What if a majority of Americans really believe Obama is like Hitler, and the Democrats like Nazis?

I know the US is in pretty rough shape, but is a substantial portion of the country downright weird and stupid and detached from reality? Just how bizarre have the conservatives become? What will become of the rest of us?

Posted by: phx8 at August 8, 2009 04:02 PM
Comment #285899

Scottie, about half of Americans don’t know which is the older religion, Judaism or Christianity (Duh! Old Testamant, New Testament).

U.S. Mint poll reveals: When asked specifically about Thomas Jefferson, only 30 percent knew that he was our Nation’s third President. However, slightly more than half of Americans, 57%, knew that Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence

Of those who have held elected office, 43% do not know the Electoral College is a constitutionally mandated assembly that elects the president. One in five thinks it “trains those aspiring for higher office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.”

Nearly half believe that a president can suspend constitutional liberties in a time of national emergency.

Eighty-five percent think that any important Supreme Court case may be appealed from state courts to the Supreme Court.

Forty-six percent of adult Americans did not know that the purpose of the Constitution was to create a federal government and define its powers.

C-span’s poll reveals:

Most Americans don’t know how many justices are on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prior to Sotomayor, most Americans could not name a single one of the nine Justices.

And on health care, a poll last year indicates: 40% say the U.S. system is better than Canada, 31% say we’re better than France, and 37% say we’re better than the UK.

On every measure, the French system beats the U.S. system, cost, quality, and accessibility.

So, if you want to tout ignorance running to Town Halls to spread ignorance amongst their fellow citizens, so be it.

Seems to me, instead of townhalls where citizens go presumably to listen to their incumbents tell them why the incumbent should be reelected, Americans would spend that time better in Study Hall, instead of Town Halls. They would certainly learn a very great deal more.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 8, 2009 04:32 PM
Comment #285900

phx8, as my reply to Scottie above indicates, America is now going to pay a very heavy price for the ignorance the politicians have institutionalized as a means of keeping the voters pliable, manipulative, and reelecting incumbents. The Democratic Party has not been much better in this regard, historically.

The hot bed of social revolt and citizen contest toward politicians in power of the 1960’s ended the great education boom of the 1950’s which was going to elevate all Americans educationally. Politicians in the 60’s and 70’s realized that too much liberal education, as in humanities, world studies, philosophy and civics, results in a demographic that politicians cannot count on for reelection. The FIX was in.

Thereafter, American education has been more and more narrowly focused on vocational training and education, and this has become true too of colleges and universities over the last 3 decades as well. History, civics, literature, philosophy are dangerous to the status quo party structure and incumbent politicians.

What’s the direct connection between politics and education, you might well ask? I did, and was stumped for awhile. Then, the epiphany. School boards are made up of elected politicians. Many of whom have higher political aspirations.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 8, 2009 04:43 PM
Comment #285907

An astute response David. Many have sought to determine what happened to our excellent education system of yesteryear. I believe much of the ignorance is due to the lack of civics, health, geography courses taughtin the lower grades. And, how can you discern a culture if you haven’t studied a little history? Republic Sentry’s agenda calls for all high schools to operate as college prep schools. Also, that retired professionals spend some time during the school year, maybe 5-10%, in the math and sciences classrooms to give young people some idea of life beyond high school. I believe some students need more motivation than others to excel in the classroom.
Interesting statement on politicians on school boards. Do you think the education system should be moved further from the political arena? Something needs to happen and soon. There are a good percentage of poorly educated young folks that the private sector has writeen off as being employable or upwardly mobile.
Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 8, 2009 08:10 PM
Comment #285911

So let me get this right David……


Because some of all groups of Americans dont study up on the Supreme court and some dont know details about Thomas Jefferson, that makes conservatives ignorant? That means we cant think for ourselves? That is so typical of the far left. But guess what…the far left is ignorant on at least one fact…they have been saying for years that conservatism is dead….conservatives are in the minority…maybe the far left intelectuals are real smart on everything else and the conservatives are a bunch of stupid uneducated hicks. But facts are facts and they are that5 the far left point of view is held by less than 10% of the American public. The conservative point of view is held by some means by 60% of the american public. :

The Battleground Poll, the most respected and thorough of all public opinion polls:

In August 2008, Americans answered that question this way:

(1) 20% of Americans considered themselves to be very conservative;

(2) 40% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat conservative;
(3) 2% of Americans considered themselves to be moderate;

(4) 27% of Americans considered themselves to be somewhat liberal;

(5) 9% of Americans considered themselves to be very liberal; and

(6) 3% of Americans did not know or refused to answer

(link above at 11:35)

and so my point:

we may be ignorant….we may be stupid…we may be dumb…we may know nothing…however we do know how to vote…we do not like the far left way of doing things…we are waking up….and that 60% of 300 million is way more than the few “astroturfers” that the great conservative machine may provide much like Jesse Jackson, Acorn, the labor unions, code pink, and such have been doing for decades!

Posted by: scottie at August 9, 2009 12:09 AM
Comment #285914

BTW David,

Not only do I know the order of the New Testament, I can stump you on the Old!
Little David picked up 5 stones to go against the giant Goliath. Did his great faith waver? The boy who said:
“You come against me with sword spear and javelin but I come against you with the God of the armies of Isreal of whom you defy. And this day i will cut of your head and feed your carcass to the birds of the air and the beast of the field. And on this day the philistine army will know there is a God in Israel.” 2 sam 17 (and I didnt open the Bible to type that!)

Did his faith waver?
No there was a reason! I’ll give you the answer now instead of later…In Kings and Chronicals we find Goliath had 4 brothers!


Not only do I know that Jefferson was our third poresident and that he was at the second continental congress in 1775, I also know that he lived at Monticello and that he had children by a slave!

I know exactly what the Electoral College is all about!

I know that Barak Obama suspended our right to free speach when he made a website asking people to turn other people in to the white house if they say sumpin “fishy” about Obamacare and that Oliver Wendel Holmes said that that same right to free speech became suspended the moment that someone cried fire in a closed building!

I understand the supreme court AND can and name all 9 judges along with 5 who are no longer!

I also know that the purpose of the Constitution was to create a federal government and LIMIT its powers! Oh read James Colliers book on the summer of 1787 and the constitutional convention!

Id like to see some links on your opine on France and Canada and Healthcare…you jumped quickly from FACTs that dont need sources to one that does!

Soooooo…..you say:

“So, if you want to tout ignorance running to Town Halls to spread ignorance amongst their fellow citizens, so be it.”


Well im smart on all dem things you mentioned and this dumb hick conservative that dont know nuttin still doesnt wan a public opyion on healthcare like the VA has done had for so many years that not one of dem der’ vetrans like!

Posted by: scott at August 9, 2009 12:59 AM
Comment #285916

For those of you who missed it and I should have made a reference those last two posts refer to Davids Comment #285899.

And I hope CNN dont poll me on typing and spell check, but thats ok someone will!

Posted by: sc at August 9, 2009 01:08 AM
Comment #285918

sc, please conform to WB’s rules in using one name to leave comments.

Posted by: WatchBlog Manager at August 9, 2009 05:12 AM
Comment #285919

Scott said: “Not only do I know the order of the New Testament, I can stump you on the Old!”

If the shoe fits, wear it. If not, don’t. One doesn’t have to be dumb, or uneducated, to oppose a public policy proposal. The point being made is that the public is enormously misinformed on the facts, data, and concepts surrounding the current government provide health insurance proposal. Therefore, the polling data on this issue is of very limited value, since we don’t have referendums on such issues in America.

In fact, conservatives typically tout representative government as a safeguard against the very people protesting without appropriate information and data regarding the issue.

The VA provides the best health care at the lowest cost of any health care system in America. That is a demonstrable fact. But, the public is largely unaware of this. Medicare/Medicaid costs have inflated at lower rate than the public sectors inflation rate. Again, the government run system contains costs better, and part of the reason for that, is that Medicare eliminates more duplicative and unnecessary procedures than does the private sector, which in turn results in a lower incidence of reports of malpractice or consequential losses resulting from treatments. Which is another way of saying the quality of care is better than the private sectors.

Some make intelligent arguments that given our current national debt, we cannot afford to increase that debt through deficit spending of tax dollars at this time. And its a valid argument. Because those the government’s health care insurance would cover, already have emergency room access to health care and the private insurance premium payer is picking up that tab, not the tax payers. I disagree with the conclusion, because in the long run, consumers end up with the tab either way.

But, at least theirs is a logical and fact based construction for opposition to the current government sponsored health insurance proposal.

I argue their point too due to the fact that a government sponsored insurance plan will make American companies more competitive and allow for less inflation of consumer prices by relieving American companies increasingly of overhead for employee health care costs.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 9, 2009 05:32 AM
Comment #285920

scottie said: “Because some of all groups of Americans dont study up on the Supreme court and some dont know details about Thomas Jefferson, that makes conservatives ignorant? That means we cant think for ourselves?”

Man, how is it the English language so failed the comprehension that motivated your comment above?

I never said conservatives were ignorant. Is that what you think? I never said conservatives can’t think for themselves. Is that what you think?

I was speaking of Americans in general in quoting surveys demonstrating the fact. But, hey, if the shoe fits so tight it causes defensive comments like this, that is well beyond my control, since, I was speaking of Americans in general, and implying why this has to be a decision made by government, representative republic government, instead of direct democracy. A point which obviously alluded.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 9, 2009 05:40 AM
Comment #285921

DR
Good work. Another facet motivating the Reps is vested interest. There is no logical reason not to support the public option in what is actually a very moderate attempt at health care reform. None,zip. The fearmongering and outright lies are only tactics,nothing more. The Rep leadership MUST protect the powerful interest that finances them to survive as a party. This is a watershed for them. If they fail to protect their masters in this particular instance then those same interest and others will simply no longer support them. Why spend millions to buy a party that can’t deliver. Its a sad case.I pray they do fail in blocking the reforms. When that happens there will be a chance for the Rep Party to resurrect based on Powells wing of practical solutions and effective governance.
The desperation of the Reps is palpable. The thuggery they have resorted too in pushing frighted fools into disrupting meetings is apalling. Interesting that many of the idiots engaging in those actions are seniors on medicare,protesting government health care.

Posted by: bills at August 9, 2009 06:02 AM
Comment #285922

bills, thanks for the comments.

I wouldn’t call them idiots, however. Just misinformed and uneducated like the lady who wrote Obama to say she didn’t want no government run health insurance and he had better not touch her Medicare, either.

Of course, when folks are misinformed, it is a logical question to ask, who is misinforming them? In this case it is a combination of Republicans and Insurance companies. But, not all Republicans.

Rep.’s Darrel Issa (Ca.) and Jack Kingston (Ga.) made a good argument on the Bill Maher show this week, for extending the same health insurance they have as Representatives, to the public. Which is a plan in which the government negotiates coverage with private insurers, and tax dollar premiums are paid to private insurers.

It is a good argument. But, one which fails ultimately, for me, because private insurers are responsible for a big chunk of the unwarranted inflationary costs of our medical system with for profiteers raking off the top, and high administrative costs, compared to that of the VA or Medicare/Medicaid.

Still, for those who have lost faith in government as a result of government’s many failings over the last several decades, these Republicans do make a good argument which will make sense to many of their supporters, and I respect them for that. Though I disagree with it, as it would do nothing to lower the cost of health care in America. (Maher wasn’t up to snuff on this issue and didn’t ask a lot of the questions that needed to be asked. But, hey, he is an entertainer like Rush Out On a Limb augh, not an investigative journalist.) So, expectations have to be kept low.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 9, 2009 07:18 AM
Comment #285928

Every issue, be it health care, social security, education, has to be fought in the same light as this healthcare thing. It would be a simple thing to post the various bills on the Internet for people to look over. Just like Republic Sentry has an agenda posted on the site. Why in the world would anyone vote for any party that didn’t have their agenda spelled out in plain english? A 1000 page bill of boiler plate politics. Congress wants to pass a healthcare bill and have the various agencies write the rules over the next couple of years. A large percentage of folks are satisfied with their healthcare but not the cost. The government/industry, and China, wants the cost of our healthcare contained. But the government wants, in some way, to include the illegal population and some citizens who are not insured. Set’s up an impossible situation, in the minds of the public. More people means greater cost and/or reduced health benefits. The most ignorant among us understand that. And, they don’t trust government to not muck around with social security, medicare/medicaid.
Now, why, I ask you, would we expect real healthcare reform from this government?
Lets consider drugs. Drug Exec’s taking home millions yearly. A brand name comes off patent and within the first year the generic price falls to 85% of the brand name cost. Why not lay open the drug industry to the people? What is the true cost to invent drugs? How much is the taxpayer kicking in to this process? Who actually does the research and the invention of drugs? Drug companies? Does the FDA conduct research, universities, foreign labs? What roll does the government play in making/breaking drug companies? Why can’t we depend on competition among drug companies to keep cost low? Why does the government need to ensure high prices for drugs through this brand name/generic scheme? If we are free traders why is competition not allowed to work its way in the market place with the drug industry? Why can’t we purchase drugs from overseas entities?
I believe the public is kept ignornant for good reason. Not just in healthcare, but on any issue that comes before the legislative bodies. Obama is off to Guadalajara for a ‘regional’ conference. Is this to continue the NAU venue? We don’t know, but we don’t trust either. If we can’t trust government to do the right thing then why not work to reform government. Rather than fight every issue, knowing your going to loose every time, makes no sense. Reform government. listen to Thomas Jefferson and others who knew what obstacles we would face. Two years after ‘corporate personhood’ became law Pres. Coolidge stated something like ‘we no longer have a government of, by and for the people”. Greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind and people are more interested in whether TJ had a black mistress. It will sink in pdq from here.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 9, 2009 09:58 AM
Comment #285932

Roy,
Speaking of being foolish, I wonder if the Republicans are ready for Remote 911 Services? Because if Doctors and Nurses can do Remote Medical Screening around the World, why can’t Americans have a Remote 911 Emergency Medical Screening as well as Normal Doctor vists done by Remote Sources. Certaily that would cut down on overghead and open up opportunities, wouldn’t it?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at August 9, 2009 11:26 AM
Comment #285934

David….

You said:

So, if you want to tout ignorance running to Town Halls to spread ignorance amongst their fellow citizens, so be it.

“Seems to me, instead of townhalls where citizens go presumably to listen to their incumbents tell them why the incumbent should be reelected, Americans would spend that time better in Study Hall, instead of Town Halls. They would certainly learn a very great deal more.”

along with a diatribe of things the American public dont know!

…in response to a basic point proven that conservatives make up 60% of the American people and the far left makes up 9%.

Let the people read and decide but it has been a well known fact that the far left intelectuals think everyone to the right of them are just plain ignorant when it comes to politics and i have some real good far left friendsto prove it. Love them dearly but they think I am jus’ plain ignorant when it comes to healthcare!


btw watchblog manager——-I am sc and that was only a typo…sorry…I always put my full name!

I appologize!

Posted by: scott at August 9, 2009 12:02 PM
Comment #285940

Henry, I would think that type of med tech is already in service in many places. A problem might be in getting insurance to cover the cost. Dunno. But why pay top dollar for such technology? Why not link through satellite to a foreign, cheap labor, med service and have them bill your healthcare provider for the service. Is that not ‘free trade’? Not that I want anything to do with free trade, I want ‘fair trade’ where I can know that the service is ligit, certified, not a sweat shop med center, meets environ and safety, pays a living wage, etc. That’s who I want taking my blood pressure from somewhere in Northern Mongolia.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 9, 2009 02:21 PM
Comment #285948

Well, yes, yes, and yes! We will get a healthcare bill passed. The Dems have said that very bluntly. Whether or not we like it a healthcare bill will be passed. Get ready for a rammer-jammer 1st quarter.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 9, 2009 03:56 PM
Comment #285953

Dr Zerr,
Baloney. Betsey McCaughey hasn’t read the bill. Only four out of five committees have even completed their work. Furthermore, a final version has not come to either the House or Senate. Betsey McCaughey hasn’t read the bill. No one knows what the final version will look like. This is one of the most carefully crafted bills to ever go through Congress. There are a lot of compromises. That may be unfortunate, but that’s the nature of politics. There will probably be more compromises. Betsey McCaughey has not read the final version of this bill.

I don’t believe you are a medical doctor. No MD would oppose ‘end of life’ planning. Are you opposed to legally making the wishes of a victim known should a peson suffer the misfortune of being in a persistent vegetative state? There is the option of not ‘pulling the plug’ under any circumstances in such planning. That is what planning is all about… Making wishes known before the worse happens.

You write: “It is delusional to think the government can do health care better than the free market.”

Every wealthy country in the world must be delusional, because the US is alone in the world in relying upon free market health care for much of the population. Can you name one example of a wealthy country using government health care to force euthanasia upon its population? What rot. What complete rot. Most wealthy countries rank above the US with their health care systems, by any criteria you care to name. You favor private insurers coming between a doctor and patient in the name of private profit, and personally, I find that despicable.

Posted by: phx8 at August 9, 2009 05:10 PM
Comment #285968

Roy,
With Medical Schools costing more to operate O would think that the institutions would be glad to have their student doctors and nurses staff such a center. For I do believe the additional income for the adminstration and valueable experience gained by each student would more than make up for of any equipment since we are only talking about a connection to the internet (already paid for), software (already available), and some misc. things.

And BTW, the operation would have to take place within the borders of the United States due to the AMA control over the Health and Medical Services.

Phx8,
Why I respect you thinking “No MD would oppose ‘end of life’ planning” however, I do believe you need to talk to the medical staff at your local hospital and rest homes. Because as sicj as it may sound to some of us, given the chioce between letting Nature takes its course or living a life as a shell of your former self; which one will you select?

Besides, a Living Wills is just as important as Estate Planning, Trust Funds, and Last Will and Testimony. For does not all of them express what you want done instead of letting others decide your fate for you?

Now, speaking from personal experience I am glad that after six or seven major operations that I have never had to use my Living Will; nevertheless, I am aware at the dangers involved every time one goes under the knife. So please, do not confuse a Doctors Zealous to save Life to the Doctor knowing that it is time to allow the Patient to go peacefully. For why I have never had to make such a call, I am amazed at how well the Medical Staff is ok at accepting the idea that I do not care for or want any life extending medical services if the odds are that I can’t continue to live a Productive Life.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at August 9, 2009 09:33 PM
Comment #285969

Henry,
My wife and I went through a lawyer to set up wills and end of life planning. It is not something most of us like contemplating, but it is a good idea to have those situations decided in advance.

All,
Factcheck.org has a refutation of the lies concerning government euthanasia, lies spread in the comment by ‘Dr Zell.’

“Summary
On former Sen. Fred Thompson’s radio show, former lieutenant governor of New York Betsy McCaughey said that the House’s proposed health care bill contained a provision that would institute mandatory counseling sessions telling seniors how “to do what’s in society’s best interest … and cut your life short.” House Minority Leader John Boehner made a slightly more measured statement, warning that the same provision “may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law.”

In truth, that section of the bill would require Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions helping seniors to plan for end-of-life medical care, including designating a health care proxy, choosing a hospice and making decisions about life-sustaining treatment. It would not require doctors to counsel that their patients refuse medical intervention.”

“Page 425 does deal with counseling sessions for seniors, but it is far from recommending a “Logan’s Run” approach to Medicare spending. In fact, it requires Medicare to cover counseling sessions for seniors who want to consider their end-of-life choices – including whether they want to refuse or, conversely, require certain types of care. The claim that the bill would “push suicide” is a falsehood.”

It is simply amazing that a portion of the US population would believe these patently ridiculous rumors. Is it possible people are really that gullible, that easily misled, that foolish?

Perhaps the most amazing statement of all came from Sarah Palin, who decried “Obama’s death panels.” No one forced her to say that. No one tricked her. She made the comment voluntarily. Incredible. To think that idiot nearly became Vice President of the United States!

First the teabaggers, then the birthers, now the deathers.

Posted by: phx8 at August 9, 2009 10:16 PM
Comment #285970

Phx8,
You have to excuse me, but I don’t think an American needs a Lawyer (unless you are talking about Wealth) to make those kinds of agreements with the ones they do buisness with. What’s next, requiring a Lawyer be present win you buy a car?

Yet, I realize that both ways work toward achieving the same goal. The question I hve for the teabageers, birthers, and now deathers is do they know enough about the state of the current Health System to make a firm judment on what the President and Congress should do to insure that the Hieritage of the Banks own Everything is protected. Because in my opinion, if we give up the right to walk into a doctors’ office and leave with the bill being paid for in full than not even the Societal Elite would be afe from the Hounds of the Insurance Monster.

Because bolder stated, if the President of the United States of America can have a complete medical staff available to him 24/7/365. Why can’t the average American Citizen have access to a 24/7/365 Remote Medical Screening Community Based Service Center for their medical needs? Are the Doctors that scared of a little competition?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at August 10, 2009 02:30 AM
Comment #285983

Look, I watch TV, and I know that Glenn Beck’s mother and Sarah Palin’s son are not going to get any care if the health care reform passes. They said so themselves.

Posted by: Schwamp at August 10, 2009 04:01 PM
Comment #291973

Given the math deficiency of the American public, it is difficult to imagine how Democrats will be able to prove to the public with numbers, that health care costs will not rise with their reform.

Well, considering that Liberal control Education, and have for at least 30 years, then the “math deficiency” is their fault too. :)

Posted by: S Glitz at December 3, 2009 08:33 AM
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