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Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009, 08:15 am
The Speech

So. What did you think? I thought Obama made a compelling case for a lot of the stuff that we really need to fix health care. I thought, as Rachel Maddow said, he made a great case for liberalism itself. I am, however, very cheesed off that he's still throwing bones to the health insurance industry with this "individual mandate" nonsense, the same stuff I spewed about in the previous thread. Making not having insurance illegal doesn't make the money for it magically appear.

To get past the "controversy" that no doubt will dominate much of the news cycle, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) -- the guy who yelled out "You lie" when Obama said the plan would not cover illegal immigrants -- is both a tactless, graceless boob and a liar himself. End of it. I don't want to hear about him.

I do want to hear what you thought about the speech, and the rebuttal by Dr. Charles "I'm Even Worse Than Bobby Jindal" Boustany.
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Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)

Can we have a debate between Drs. Boustany and Dean? That should seal the deal for the Dems, as long as Dean kept his cool. (Showing emotion? IOKIYAR)

I have no problem with an individual mandate, combined with a strong and cheap public option and subsidies for those below the poverty line. The things I don't want to see (and expect to hear about, at great length, in the next month or so) are any kind of triggers (because it's certain that those will either never be met, or will lead to a really horrible product) or a lock-in clause that precludes people being offered ANY kind of health care via work from declining it in favor of the public program.

It was nice to hear Obama talking tough to the Republicans. Now let's see if he means it.

Mon, Sep. 14th, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)

Why does Obama need to talk tough to the Republicans? The Dems have all the votes they need to pass anything they want. All the republcans can do is whine.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)

I have to admit I am truly sick of health insurance being compared to car insurance. I can choose not to own or drive a car - which absolves me of needing car insurance(in fact currently I don't even have a drivers license). I don't think I can choose not to have a body, at least not while being alive.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)

My point on the matter exactly.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)

So if someone doesn't get health insurance, what do you do with him or her, anyway? I assume you would just charge them for it anyway, but it's easy to see dissidents making this a cause. It's a weird and dopey idea.

As I noted on my blog, I thought it was a somewhat mixed speech with a bang-up ending. Its biggest flaw was in the timing; he should have gone to the people with this months ago. I think that the only way that any sort of health care reform gets passed now is if he hammers away at this non-stop, because the topic more than one speech to veer the debate back from the anti-reformers and their scare tactics.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)

Its biggest flaw was in the timing; he should have gone to the people with this months ago.

I don't know; that's what Clinton did, and no one remembered his speech when it came time to vote. It's something of a trilemma: Do you open strong several months before the vote, when the debate is just starting, then abandon the field to your opponents? Do you open strong several months before the vote, when the debate is just starting, then spend the next several months pushing the issue in the debate so that by the time the vote comes around everyone is sick of it and reduces the debate to he said/she said? Or, do you keep out of the debate and try to close strong shortly before the vote?

In an ideal world, I'd go with the second, but given the state of the media in this country, I can see some good arguments in favor of the last option.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)

It went far beyond Joe Schmo's little comment, Tom. The sign holding, paper rustling and sotto voce comments that still made it to the press box were all way over the top even if Joe's shout out hadn't occurred.
There is no spirit of cooperation, compromise or bi-partisanship in this Congress. The Republican Party has determined that if they cannot get their way they will, like two year olds, do everything in their power to hold this country hostage and bring it to it's knees. Screwing the country just to uphold a party line is not statesmanship.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)

One good thing about Joe Wilson (who is otherwise a useless moron): His outburst helped his opponent raise money :D

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)

What I took from the two speeches:

(1) Obama has abandoned the public option in all but name, in favor of Baucus' plan to punish people for being poor. (Instead we get an "insurance exchange" that is somewhat less effective than even the co-ops... and we don't even get THAT for five years, but you'll still get fined every year if you can't afford insurance.

(2) Obama breaks yet another campaign promise- the individual mandate- and he breaks it good and hard.

(3) The two above show, at least to me, that the speech will be isolated; Obama's going to continue to let Congress take the lead, and he's going to root for anything whatever that comes out.

(4) Obama utterly fails to understand that the Republicans are not trying to argue the merits or failure of reform in good faith. Rather, they're uniting their base, what's left of it, using the Big Lie tactic: repeat a big lie many, many times, and people begin to believe it. The Republicans don't dare allow ANY bill, no matter how bad, to pass if they want to regain ground in 2010- and they have no intention of letting it happen.

(5) The Republicans don't care if they come off to educated people as ignorant or insane. They've given up on the thinkers. They're playing to people who don't want to think for themselves, who want to let other people make decisions so long as the decision-makers look and sound like them. Unfortunately, there are a LOT of utterly ignorant people in the USA... and, until last night, Obama really hadn't lifted a finger to even try to end that ignorance. Too little, too late.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)

solarbird had one comment I agree with. Not one congresscritter, D or R, had the guts to stand up and call Dubya out on any of the bullshit he pulled during his reign. It's about damn time *somebody* had the guts. Even if he is a cheat and a liar and when he's not kissing babies, he's stealing their lollipops.

If the bullshit passes making it illegal for one not to have healthcare? Pass the ammo.
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Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
randwolf: The Heel of a Loaf

Obama has spoken memorably for the Democratic Congressional consensus. It was a brilliant speech, brilliantly delivered. But it was also the heel of the loaf. The big winners are the insurance companies; the people who get the heel of the loaf are me and most of my friends: the writers, artists, musicians, and designers who don't have corporate group insurance. Without regulation a health insurance oligopoly is going to set rates to soak up all the money we might otherwise save and we will be required by law to pay them. Obama has offered only tepid support of a public option or any other regulatory system. It is possible progressives can pull a slightly better deal out of Congress, but it's going to be a fight, and I don't think there's a lot of heart left for one.

[Second thoughts.] The big loser here is social justice: tax the lower-middle class to fund the insurance companies? Less obviously, this intensifies the class distinction between the people with corporate jobs and the people without.

This was not the change we voted for.

[Third thoughts: edited to be slightly more complimentary to Obama]

[Fourth edit: see also Jane Hamsher over at FireDogLake, for more specific analysis.]

Edited at 2009-09-10 04:28 pm (UTC)

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)

Boustany has been sued for medical malpractice three times. No wonder he says the answer is to make bad doctors immune from accountability for their botched operations.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)

How many of them did the plaintiff win?

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)

Personally I liked the President's speech. Being one of those people with pre-existing conditions I fully support a means by which I could access health insurance so I don't have bill collectors harassing me over hospital bills I can't pay.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)

Did you read that the Supremes are discussing lifting all limits on how much corporations can spend in elections? That'll pretty much end political discussion on any level; it'll all be rotten boroughs and purse-dog politicians. :(

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)

Yeah. I can see partial health care reform still doing great good. But THIS really frightens me.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)

My fear is that even with the 'help' that will be offered to those of us without financial means to purchase *any* insurance (and what kind of help is being offered, anyhow?) that I will still fall between the cracks. How can I pay a penalty if I have no income?

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)

There's a lot of versions of this. There probably won't be a penalty for the truly poor. People of moderate means without access to a group plan, however, will probably pay a percentage of their income, perhaps 10% or so.

Yup. The lower-middle class will get to fund the for-profit insurance companies. How cool is that?

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)

For some reason, the speech made me tense. I like Obama, but for some reason when he was talking about the finer points of his plan I felt they were too vague. I've yet to read the actual fine print on the plan, so I only know what people are arguing about right now, but I just feel this won't end as well as people hope.

In a perfect world, where I'm president of a Western nation, here is what I would do. I'm sure my plan is flawed, but it's what I would like to see with the development of a national health care package.

1. A development cycle
Just like with MMORPGs and major OS, I would like to see it be developed over a long period of time. I know people would make the argument of "People could die in that span", but people could still die if the program is full of errors and problems. Over the course of a year, they should write out the legislation, test it on groups of people, and then see what the results are and check what the major complaints about it are. If it's a system for the people of the US, see how they would handle the system first.

2. Funding
Our economy is just tentatively getting back on it's feet. There are still aches and pains everywhere, and we spent a lot of money investing into auto industries, financing firms, and other places to try to build it up. If we're expecting people to pay for their own health care that they can't afford in the first place, we should make sure we can afford it as well.

I could ramble on some more, but I'm not even sure if my idea would work. I think to many people would complain that it's such a slow process that it may get killed by congress (which with the current state of bipartisan antagonism, it very well could be!)

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)

1. The development period has been over for decades. The work was largely done in Western Europe and Japan. If the USA wanted to use a tested model, we would have a problem of implementation and deployment, rather than development.

2. Funding to some extent depends on the system itself. The US system is very expensive. The US government spends more per-capita on health care than most single-payer systems. Even within the USA, the costs of the single-payer Medicare system are substantially lower than the patchwork private system.

All this is irrelevant, however. The Democratic consensus that Obama has so ably spoken for has settled on an untested system that shows every sign of poor design. It will not be implemented, however, until Obama is in his second term.

[corrected omitted phrase]

Edited at 2009-09-10 09:08 pm (UTC)

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
dglenn: Reposting my Dreamwidth comment because the conversation seems to all be over here ...

I fear we need the radical solution he wrote off.

I thought he made an effective speech arguing for a conservative solution to a problem uncovered by liberalism, and fear that we may actually need the radical solution that he probably convinced a lot of people to give up on instead ... So if he does get his conservative solution passed, a) I hope he turns out to have been more correct than me regarding what the country actually needs, and b) I hope it does more good than harm regardless.

This isn't surprising, mind you: I expected an effective speech because he's good at that, and I knew when I voted for him that he was a moderate conservative who only looks liberal when compared to the extremism of most modern Republicans[*]. So like I said: I just hope his answer does more good than harm, and that his speech is effective enough to deflate the obstructionists.

He used the logic and rhetoric of liberalism to explain why we have to Do Something -- which should've been obvious using conservative reasoning as well, if today's arch-conservatives were sane -- and then proposed a conservative solution that didn't appeal to me but which sounds better than the obstructionists' lack-of-plan or opportunistic make-it-worse proposals I've heard suggested.

In the meantime, various Republicans[**] made a subtle but eloquent case for their own irrelevance in the larger debate by showing that they're not working for an effective compromise, or any solution at all, and the wrangling they've been doing has all been in bad faith ... but that too is no surprise to anyone paying attention (though the particular ways those particular Republicans showed it was).

[*] And a fair number of not so extreme but still more-conservative-than-Obama Democrats.

[**] Are there no Republicans actually debating this honestly and trying to push for solutions different from Obama's or minor adjustments to his plan, or is it just that the obstructionists are the only ones getting much press? I don't know that all Republicans can be written off as merely taking advantage of a Democratic instinct for bipartisanship to scuttle everything they can, but a bunch of them last night showed their -- that bunch's -- objections should be simply ignored from now on.

Fri, Sep. 11th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
randwolf: Just so

You're exactly right--the Republicans have no ideas. There aren't any other solutions than some form of national plan and, even to the silenced moderate Republicans, that is anathema. One thing I think this speech probably does is accelerate the Republican Party's slide into irrelevance. They've nothing left: no national base except the crazies, a regional base only in the South, no policy ideas.