Tuesday, March 23, 2010

All Through the Night

We got a health care bill passed the other day. That's reason to celebrate - I guess. It's certainly not my version of ideal health care reform - far from it. Still, politics is the art of compromise as they say. It's not unlike the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The reason you've probably never heard of that one is because there was not a hell of a lot about it to remember. Mere scraps thrown out to appease the "American Negro" (in the parlance of that era). But its passage made the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - the one we remember - somewhat easier to pass seven years later. A precedent had been established. We'll live to fight another day.

A special tip of the hat is in order for President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid for being able to pull this thing off. Two months ago I was convinced they would not be able to do it given the toxic political atmosphere. They did it. Somehow they did it.

Tonight, old man, you did it! You did it! You did it!
You said that you would do it and indeed you did!
I thought that you would rue it, I doubted you'd do it
But now I must admit it that succeed you did!

Lerner and Loewe
from My Fair Lady

Freedom died in America when this bill was passed - at least according to the Republicans that's what happened. The hours leading up to its passage was like a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. I was thinking "Selma, Alabama 1965". The news media were fairly low key in their coverage. There was Congressman John Lewis, a virtual icon of Civil Rights and one of that movement's last surviving leaders, walking into the United States capital building while scores of people hurled "racial epithets" at him. Let's call a spade a spade - no pun intended: These jackasses were chanting "NIGGER! NIGGER! NIGGER!" Another African American lawmaker, Emmanuel Cleaver, was actually spat on. It really bought me back to the weird old days. The only thing missing was Bull Connor with his police dogs and fire hoses.

But seriously, folks! If you still choose to remain blind to the overt racism that is the cornerstone of the so-called "Tea Party Movement", you're kidding yourselves. It is an organization of white supremacists - not much more; not much less. True, you might glimpse an occasional Uncle Tom on the fringes of any gathering, chomping away at a watermelon, but that's merely for decorative purposes; Lester Maddox would have felt right at home with these birds. As if that wasn't bad enough, at this moment Republican lawmakers are urging these assholes to commit violent acts with their inflammatory rhetoric. Do you think I'm exaggerating? Here's something you can take to the bank: There will be violence down the road. The reaction to the health care bill by the reactionaries on Capital Hill yesterday virtually guaranteed that. It's only a matter of time. Brace yourselves for the shit storm.

This is one of those good news/bad news scenarios. You've just heard the bad, now hear the good:

The Grand Old Party is screwed.

It was a lot of fun watching these idiotic Republicans "warning" the Democrats that the passage of health care reform will cost them dearly at the polls in November. It reminded me of a certain Disney film I saw when I was a kid:


It's going to cost someone dearly, alright, but it won't be the Dems. Former Bush 43 speechwriter Davin Frum put it perfectly yesterday when he said that it was the Republicans - not Barack Obama - who had met their "Waterloo". The historical rule of politics, that an incumbent president's party always loses ground in the midterm elections, will go out the window come November. They will be unable to win without the help of the moderates. At this moment the moderates are abandoning this sinking ship en masse. The extremism of people like Michele Bachmann and John Beohner is starting to scare the hell out of them. Gee, I wonder why!

Then there is the sticky situation of the Tea Party. By this late point it must be obvious to even the casual observer that this is an organization comprised of morons. It was formed as a protest movement against high taxes - immediately after President Obama passed the largest middle class tax cut in American history. There's no denying it, these are not the brightest people on the planet. Their overt racism notwithstanding, they sure are funny! One self identified Tea Partier called into C-SPAN's Washington Journal the other day asking the moderator where she could write to her congressman. When host Greta Brawner asked this idiotic woman what her congressman's name was, she replied (I assume with a straight face) "He's a Democrat. I don't know his name." Ya gotta love 'em! You just gotta!

Look toward the top of the circus tent, boys and girls! Watch that elephant attempt to walk the tightrope! It's hard not to feel just a smidgen of sympathy for the "party of Lincoln" (Doesn't that title just tickle the hell out of you?) Embracing the Tea Party last year was akin to kissing a viper. Watching them desperately trying to distance themselves from this bunch is - "amusing" shall we say? On the one hand they don't dare give these nitwits even a token role in putting their platform together at the 2012 convention for fear of further alienating the moderates. On the other hand they run the risk having them bolt the party, launching a series of third party uprisings. It's already happening in Nevada. Two months ago I dismissed Harry Reid's chances in November as hopeless. All bets are off. As I write these words, the Republican party in that state is working overtime trying to keep a renegade Tea Partier off the ballot in November. If they're unsuccessful Reid will have more-than-a fighting chance.

Are you having half as much fun as I watching the utter implosion of that party? I'm gonna miss them when they're gone - I really am!

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, as far as health care in the USA is concerned, this is not the end of our long road. Nor is it the beginning of the end. But, perhaps, it is the end of the beginning.

The commentators keep reminding us that Theodore Roosevelt was the first president who tried to bring universal health care to the American people. That's not quite true. He never really expressed the idea while he was in office. In 1912 Roosevelt had been out of the White House for four years when he attempted to reclaim the presidency from William Howard Taft, the man he had picked to succeed him. Once in office, Taft began to dismantle most of the progressive reforms that Teddy had put into place. When he sought the nomination once again, his campaign slogan was "a square deal for every man and every woman in the United States." Part of the "Square Deal" was health care for all. He arrived at the convention that summer with all the delegates he needed (and then some) to seize the mantle of standard bearer. It was not to be. His party would betray the will of the people (not for the last time) by giving the nomination to Taft in spite of TR's victory. They had had enough of Theodore Roosevelt and his progressive reforms. 1912 was the year that the progressive wing of the Republican party died. He was the last great Republican president - the very last.

A generation later Roosevelt's distant cousin Franklin attempted to pick up the torch of universal health care. In his 1944 State of the Union address, he told the American people that his major goal for the post war world was national health insurance. Unfortunately for you and I, FDR did not live to see the war's end. A film of that speech can be viewed in Michael Moore's film, Capitalism: A Love Story. It's is now out on DVD and is essential viewing.

The new health care bill is not perfect - far from it - but as the old Chinese saying goes, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." There will be improvements made on it down the years - there absolutely needs to be - but this is a fairly good first step. We're on our way! The Conservatives will whine, but that's what they do best. They'll whine just as they whined when Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just as they whined when Harry Truman desegregated the army in 1947, or when Franklin D. Roosevelt brought Social Security into being in 1935. They'll whine just like they did when Woodrow Wilson tried to form the League of Nations in 1919 - or when Abraham Lincoln ended the institution of slavery in 1863! They whine a lot. Did you ever notice that?

There's gonna be a whole lotta obstruction goin' on between now and Election Day, you can be certain of that. The success of health care reform in America can only spell trouble for the GOP. They will do everything humanly possible to see to it that it fails completely. Count on them trying to get it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of John Roberts. This is going to get really interesting.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


A film by Michael Moore


President Obama this minute signed the health care bill into law. We've just crossed over into a new era. Health care is a right - not a privilege. It took us two-and-a-third centuries to acknowledge this truth. Better late than never, huh? Here's to you, Mr. President!


At 5:38 AM, Blogger Sue said...

great job Tom!

My conservative visitors think the teabaggers are Gods gift to humanity, but the sane people of this country know the truth and you spoke it.
I'm trying to believe the GOP has cooked it's last goose, for the next century anyway! lol

What Boehner said on the floor Sunday night was actually hilarious, I thought he was gonna spit his teeth across the room! They're all a bunch of whiny morons. I can't stomach them one bit!

President Obama and Pelosi are the heros, next we will get a chance to see Reid at work!

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Aly said...

Bravo Tom, This is brilliant!

At 8:03 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thank you, Aly, but I've got to be honest with you: brilliance has not a darned thing to do with it. Given the weird times in which we live, these things literally write themselves.

But thank you for the kind words nonetheless. You made my day!

Love and Peace,

Tom Degan

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

But Obama wants to ban fishing!

Seriously, Tom, your comparison of HR 3592 to the Civil Rights Act of 1957 is completely apt. The health reform bill leaves so much to be desired but it does, in my view, unequivocally establish the expectation, if not quite the right, of an American citizen to receive health care regardless of their economic condition or whether they are sick or well. (To think, prior to this, we have a system designed around the logic of only denying care to the sick; for everybody else, it was a great system!) With expectations established, the United States has rejoined "the community of nations" -- as they like to say. We've crossed a bridge of sorts, and we can now plausibly look forward to the day when we will establish an actual, beneficent, market neutral single-payer health care system (hopefully a superior one like Japan's or Sweden's, and not a chronically mis-managed one like the English NHS).

At 11:33 AM, Blogger P M Prescott said...

The whiners still have the media to spread their lies and distort the truth. Don't count them out by a long shot.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I hope you are right about the implosion of the whack job party but we've been saying that since inauguration day and I don't see where they've faded away in the least. If anything, there seems to be an unlimited supply of vitriol that everyday flows out from underneath another rock. I heard that some teabagger extremist, yesterday, called for the assassination of our President and that the FBI is "checking it out." My ass! You know if someone had made that call against GWB they would have been arrested within the hour. And Rush Limbaugh screamed on his program "Get rid of those bastards!" Now, if you are some rednecked idiot layabout with an 8th grade education who's finally found a place of belonging and affirmation within a group whose leaders are promising all sorts of glory and heroic status for being the trigger man, what are you gonna do? I swear to God, Tom, if they hurt my President, I'll personally find those fuckers...

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am less angry than I am bewildered. Do you people not understand that we are already sitting atop > $20 TRILLION in debt obligation brought on over the past 50-100 years by past socialist policy like this (I’m not using socialist as a derogatory word but a technical term). Do you understand what this will do to our already shaky credit rating amongst the few sovereigns who still see some warrant to fund US debt? Do you think the US is bigger than the arena of global finance? Do you people get ANY of this? I suppose the answer is obvious. And all of this on top of the fact that we recently barely escaped an economic meltdown based on a mountain of bad debt we accrued during the Clinton and Bush years. I applaud the good motives, but you’re not thinking this through properly.

Anyway, I agree with one point. He did say he was going to do it – and he did. A rare happening in Washington to be sure.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Bennett said...

"a mountain of bad debt we accrued during the Clinton and Bush years"

Shrub took office with a budget surplus. 8 years later the nation's finances were in the toilet.

You silly Republicans.

And yes, Tom. I will be watching with glee as these knobs go down in flames.

Thanks for another good read!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Wonderful as always, Tom. I was waiting to see what you would have to say about this. I sincerely hope to God that you are right about the GOP loosing rather than gaining seats in the upcoming election. I think this is one of the areas where we can actually thank the tea baggers; they are causing such mixed reactions in the GOP that they are going to split the party.

One small item that you mentioned has scared the hell out of me for a long time, and I am afraid you are correct: there will be violence. However, it is interesting to see conservative writers finally waking up to the truth and, calling out the continued obstruction of the GOP as leading to their Waterloo. And last week another conservative writer mentioned that the fringe edge and the nutwings needs to be very careful. They are going to continue to push, threaten and bully until those limp wristed liberals say "enough" and begin to fight back. While I admire Ghandi, I can not always emulate him and I feel that sometimes violence has to be met with violence. It is coming.

I lived in the south during the days of civil rights and the raw hatred and violence would have to be seen to be believed. Anyone who did not experience it cannot comprehend how ugly it was.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Den said...

Just had to drop by and agree with what you've written. I blogged myself about the outcome of all the months of hand-wringing, shouting, and finally, political deal-making -- the passage of this first major healthcare reform.

The G-No-P makes themselves increasingly irrelevant to what's happening in the world. They want to return to a conservative paradise that has never existed except in their fevered imaginations. Their sometimes buddies the Tea Party faithful may or may not be along for the ride; I can't avoid the feeling that the Tea Partiers are like a "team of mavericks." You know what that is, right? Another name for a "team of mavericks" is a herd of cats. Good luck corraling those folks into anything resembling a political party.

So, finally, we have one major accomplishment for the Administration. As you point out, the new law is far from perfect, but it's a first step. Now the real work begins (as though the job up to this point wasn't hard enough) -- insuring that the gains made so far are not reversed by the wingnuts on the Right.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger PCS said...

They say everyone loves a winner. A poll released today shows 49-40 percent that passing HCR was a good thing. This just one day after the Bill was signed.

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Tom, unlike you and your faithful readers, I can't get enthused about this more-than-just-flawed healthcare bill (law). As Chris Hedges states in his Monday article, "This bill is not about fiscal responsibility or the common good. The bill is about increasing corporate profit at taxpayer expense. It is the health care industry’s version of the Wall Street bailout. It lavishes hundreds of billions in government subsidies on insurance and drug companies." And as Robert Laszewski frames the argument quite convincingly, "...this bill doesn’t even come close to deserving to be called 'health care reform'.” He argues that not only is it not sustainable, but it "is paying off the people already profiting the most from the status quo." And who is that? Chris Hedges just made it quite clear.

Tom, you just may be celebrating the Trojan Horse of healthcare reform. Be on guard, lest a sucking sound (remember Ross Perot and his ominous warning about NAFTA?) may be all you hear once the hoopla and self-congratulations of the Democratic Wing has died down.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Nance said...

Righteous post! I'm afraid I agree with you, though, on the chilling violence prediction. The last time things looked this crazy, I was sixteen; five years later, the crazy was still rolling in. You've said what so many of us have been afraid to think.

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

One minute and thirty seconds after the President signed the bill 13 GOP (Greedy Old Plutocrats) Attorney Generals filed a lawsuit claiming the legislation was unconstitutional. Here we go !!!

They GOP (Grotesque Obnoxious Pimps) couldn't wait to rain on our parade.

Before anyone accuses me of calling nasty names I will readily admit to the dastardly deed. It feels so good.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Ken Riches said...

Fortunately, the constitutionality aspect was addressed when MA passed their reform, so it should fall on deaf ears. Also, the auto insurance industry has similar regulations. I agree that there is little room for moderates in the Republican party.

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The law's most far-reaching changes don't kick until 2014, including a requirement that most Americans carry health insurance — whether through an employer, a government program or their own purchase — or pay a fine. To make that a reality, tax credits to help cover the cost of premiums will start flowing to middle-class families and Medicaid will be expanded to cover more low-income people. " (Copied and Pasted from MSN.) Would this fine for not having coverage in turn give me health insurance coverage? I have been rejected for health insurance before, but I am not a low income person. I´m OK with fine I guess if it will give me coverage. Does anybody know?

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Kate said...

Tom, I think I love you. Thanks so much for this post.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Oh, Kate! Thank you so much! You can rest assured that the love is reciprocated!

You honor me.

Love and Peace,

Tom Degan

At 12:37 AM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Another top read Tom mate! Thanks

Speaking of the GOP designing themselves into irrelevance, have you seen this new poll (post-HCR being passed)?

After Healthcare Reform passes: a scary new GOP poll

The GOP: The Party of the Past is peopled with the perilously potty

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bennett, as I infer in the post, you and many like you DON'T GET IT. Budgets #1 are a farce. #2 have nothing to do with debt obligations of the US. Anyway, ignorance is bliss - I wont' ruin it for you...

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, maybe I will ruin it for you. Apparently, I was using old data…

Here’s a quote from the “Fiscal Year 2007 Financial Report of the US Government”.

“Considering this projected gap in social insurance, in addition to reported liabilities (e.g., debt held by the public and federal employee and veterans benefits payable) and other implicit commitments and contingencies that the federal government has pledged to support, the federal government’s fiscal exposures [i.e., its aggregate direct and indirect debt obligations] totaled approximately $53 trillion as of September 30, 2007, up more than $2 trillion from September 30, 2006, and an increase of more than $32 trillion from about $20 trillion as of September 30, 2000. This translates into a current burden of about $175,000 per American or approximately $455,000 per American household.”

Blame it on whomever you want (BTW, I’m no fan of Bush nor do I consider myself a Rep – I am unaffiliated with any party) but at least understand it.

Also, ad hominem attacks expose weakness of argument. I’d advise against it if you want to be taken seriously…

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

While the health care reform bill is probably better than nothing, I do have a problem with the mandate aspect of it. Does anyone know HOW MUCH of a subsidy will be provided to the folks making under the $44k for an individual and under $88k for a family ?? I really DON'T think the establishment has the right to force people to purchase a product from a private ( or even a public ) source. Auto insurance is mandated for people who VOLUNTARILY own a car. This health insurance mandate is for people who just happen to be alive, not exactly a voluntary act. My concern is beyond the philosophical....will low income folks be forced to pay an unrealistic percentage of their TAKE HOME income to pay for this mandated coverage ?? Amerikan workers are underpaid as it is. This is why we need socialized medicine folks...if health care is a right and not a privilege, it should be FREE even for the wealthy ( who of course can pay for BETTER care should they so choose ). Take capitalism ( profit ) out of health care and the landscape will change significantly for the better. This mandate is a bad precedent......what will folks be mandated to purchase next, GM cars ??? I say take the money used for unnecessary WARS and use it for socialized medicine !!!

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Hugh A. Miller III said...

Tom, I agree with you 100%. I'm so glad I voted for President Obama! The right wing-nuts are simply angry that they did not complete the process of turning our country over to the corporations!

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Anna Van Z said...

I agree with Ellis and JG. What we have now is nothing to celebrate.
Alan Grayson's proposal to expand Medicare to anyone who wanted to buy into it as one of their options was brilliantly simple. Medicare can be run, and is run, far more cost-effectively than private health conglomerates - which now we will ALL HAVE TO PATRONIZE BY LAW. Which is a first for Americans, and NOT a step in the right direction. That's LESS choice, not more.
We have no public option at all. Insurance companies are NOT required to limit their rates.
In spite of having a majority in the House, Senate, and the Executive Office to boot, the dithering, quivering, dems could not even muster the nuts to act on behalf of taxpaying citizens rather than their corporate puppet masters. Or to tell the repug noise machine to shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down, which they should have done as soon as Obama won the election with overwhelming public support for REAL change.
Look around you, folks. Look at the economy, look at the corporatists who've been installed. The continuing wars, the unprecedented levels of funding for the Pentagon, the refusal to restore the civil liberties gutted by Cheney-BushCo, and the continuing of the vast majority of destructive Bush-era changes.
Then look at unemployment, the record foreclosures, the continuing ability of the banking industry to fuck us over six ways from Sunday. Notice the unfettered, wholesale transfer of jobs from America to third world countries, and the fact that your dem representatives don't appear motivated to stop that exodus any more than the goppers are.
I understand that it's probably more comfortable for some of you to ignore all this, clinging to whatever little "improvement"you can focus on as progress. You're probably still thinking the economy is improving, also. Hey, whatever works for you. Think positive! Go team go!
But some of us who aren't buying it are your fellow-progressives; people who have nothing to do with the repulsive, ridiculously ignorant tea-bagger movement.
Speaking for myself, I have no allegiance to, or affiliation with, ANY political party. I believe they BOTH sold out to corporate $$ and the interests of the financial elite long ago. Everything we've seen since then - including the present menagerie of congressional critters and its attendant media circus - is just theatre.
Plan accordingly.

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No takers on explaining how we’re going to pay for it (or for our existing trillions of $$$ social obligations, for that matter)? Lauding Degan is cute and calling Republicans right wing-nuts is mildly funny, but it doesn’t accomplish much. Any substantive advice or ideas to offer out there?

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Anna Van Z said...

More info...

From Chris Hedges:
"...Take a look at the health care debacle in Massachusetts, a model for what we will get nationwide. One in six people there who have the mandated insurance say they cannot afford care, and tens of thousands of people have been evicted from the state program because of budget cuts. The 45,000 Americans who die each year because they cannot afford coverage will not be saved under the federal legislation. Half of all personal bankruptcies will still be caused by an inability to pay astronomical medical bills. The only good news is that health care stocks and bonuses for the heads of these corporations are shooting upward. Chalk this up as yet another victory for our feudal overlords and a defeat for the serfs....
This bill is not about fiscal responsibility or the common good. The bill is about increasing corporate profit at taxpayer expense. It is the health care industry’s version of the Wall Street bailout. It lavishes hundreds of billions in government subsidies on insurance and drug companies. The some 3,000 health care lobbyists in Washington, whose dirty little hands are all over the bill, have once more betrayed the American people for money. The bill is another example of why change will never come from within the Democratic Party. The party is owned and managed by corporations. The five largest private health insurers and their trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, spent more than $6 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2009. Pfizer, the world’s biggest drug maker, spent more than $9 million during the last quarter of 2008 and the first three months of 2009. The Washington Post reported that up to 30 members of Congress from both parties who hold key committee memberships have major investments in health care companies totaling between $11 million and $27 million. President Barack Obama’s director of health care policy, who will not discuss single payer as an option, has served on the boards of several health care corporations. And as salaries for most Americans have stagnated or declined during the past decade, health insurance profits have risen by 480 percent..."
More here.

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


You make some excellent points there, pal. It would be difficult (if not impossible) to dismiss your logic outright.

As some columnist (whose name escapes me) remarked in print this morning, this is the Civil Rights Act of 1964 x 100. How the hell are we going to pay for it? I have one suggestion:


Thanks for keeping the pot stirred, Harley.

All the best,

Tom Degan

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Anna Van Z said...

Harely, let's see - where could we get the money to cover the basic healthcare needs of Americans, as opposed to forcing us to patronize a select industry?
Wait, I know! Let's start with ENTITLEMENT policies:

"The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) found billions of dollars hidden in offshore corporate tax havens....There is more than 100 billion dollars worth of tax shelters offshore created by many of Santelli's Wall Street pals. We don't have money to pay for schools, teachers, new roads, and health care, but billions of dollars are sitting in no-ask no-pay corporate tax shelters offshore." See entire piece.

WASHINGTON — "Eighty-three of the nation's 100 largest corporations, including Citigroup, Bank of America and News Corp., had subsidiaries in offshore tax havens in 2007, and some of the companies received federal bailout funding, a government watchdog said Friday.

The Government Accountability Office released a report that said Bank of America Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley all had more than 100 units in countries that maintain low or no taxes. The three financial institutions were included in the $700 billion financial bailout approved by Congress.

Insurance giant American International Group Inc., which has received about $150 billion in bailout money, had 18 subsidiaries. JPMorgan Chase & Co. had 50 units and Wells Fargo & Co. had 18; both financial institutions received government bailout money... The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has estimated abusive tax havens and offshore accounts cost the U.S. government at least $100 billion a year in lost taxes." More here.

Hmmm... sure sounds like some sorta WELFARE program to me!

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

I see Republican congressmen have forced a new vote on the health care reform bill by finding two procedural "violations".

It's enough to make non-Americans weep for the USA. Won't your benighted country ever get a break where healthcare provision to all is concerned?

The GOP - the party of the past and of self-interest.

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to strongly agree with Ellis and Anna. This legislation is a farce and a boon for the Insurance industry. Obama is a sellout as was every President from Reagan on.

Its dark times indeed when Progressives celebrate this "sucking chest wound".


At 9:22 AM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Dan wrote: "This legislation is a farce and a boon for the Insurance industry."

In the sense that it will add those 32+ million Americans currently denied any access to meaningful healthcare provision, then yes, the insurance companies will have upwards of 32+ million more customers.

But then again, isn't that how capitalism works?

At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am relieved to hear that many of the nations larger banks have money tucked away off shore. I always wondered where the FDIC was going to get the money to pay me back if the bank goes under. Perhaps they have money there too?

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anna van Z

Well, first, we need to get terms straight. Not taking more tax money from an individual or corporation in not an entitlement. Giving money to an individual (e.g.-welfare) or corporation (e.g.-ethanol subsidy) from a pool of other people’s money is an entitlement.

I’m not defending big, bad banks. The rich get rich often by taking advantage of people. And, let’s be clear, the financiers run the world as much as or more so than the governments. You won’t get your hands on that money.

Let’s also be fair and understand that government entitlement thinking and policy has led to some (not all) of the bad lending practices that led us to verge of economic meltdown (we’re still there by the way). Everyone was entitled to own a home of their choosing and the government was going to insure that and back it. So, when things went south, the banks were about to go bust – many countries bailed out state banks. Same principle applies with retirement benefits, healthcare, etc. The gov’t is backing all of these as well. Only difference is that the indicators are not as evident as a sudden and unforgiving housing bubble collapse.

But, you can look at the balance sheet for some clues. Go to the “Fiscal Year 2008 Financial Report of the US Government”. Go to the “Management’s Discussion & Analysis Link”. A few pages in it’s all there – the balance sheet is ugly. There’s even a graph “Chart B – Current Trends Are Not Sustainable”.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Cher Duncombe said...

You are so right. This is blatant racism and the Republicans are boosting it like a feeding frenzy. I do not recall such terrible times. Even the passage of The Civil Rights Act did not evoke such hatred.

At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Bill said...

I think the Republicans are just now starting to reap the 'rewards' of the past 30+ years of catering to the people in their party who occupy the lower end of the IQ scale.

The conservative mindset appeals to the type of person who derives comfort from being surrounded by people who think like they do, even when it requires an actual denial of fact to hold onto that shared belief.

It's no wonder such a large segment of the far right wing fringe is made up of religious fundamentalists.

Where else are you going to find a large group of people of voting age who are predisposed to believing any ridiculous thing they're told, as long as it comforts them to feel they're part of the herd?

At 3:31 PM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

A very sage observation, Bill.

That being the case, this following link will not come as a shock to anyone in understanding how genuinely difficult Republicans find it to operate outside of the herd mentality (Exhibit 'A': the Teabaggers) - and they struggle massively with nuance, too - indeed, it's a recognised condition and there's even a current study on it: The Full Measure of Republican Neuroses

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Harley, your comment, "...let’s be clear, the financiers run the world as much as or more so than the governments." shows you're enticing close to understanding. Why not just admit the sobering truth and acknowledge that they run the governments, or at least this one...period. To not acknowledge this is the bane of our current republic. Too many people...citizens...disproportionately blame "government", and god knows they share the blame, but the true evil of our current situation -- decades upon decades in the making -- is the rise to power of corporate entities, the international banking cartel included, whose influence exceeds those of the majority of nations combined. The vantages of corporate personhood invades our lives on a daily basis. Because the vast majority don't understand what the term means, or its ramifications, we all suffer the consequences. It's apparent to me that only Anna VanZ, and possibly Ellis, truly "get it". Everyone else seems utterly gratified and thrilled with the latest corporate-sponsored legislation, designed to steal even more of their livelihood from their struggling existence.

I suggest everyone turn off the TV, with its self-congratulatory overtures comparing this legislation to milestone enactments of the past, and read Rose Ann DeMoro's analysis. She vividly outlines the pros (very few) with the cons (far too many, and certainly mainly to the benefit of the healthcare insurance behemoths) in her recent article titled, Diary of a Wimpy Health Care Bill. To not take a stand and step away from the unjust rejoicing of the "progressive" crowd (quotation marks intended), is just falling into the same mob-mentality of the wingnuts and their Tea Party insanity. To not understand the truth is bad for America -- no matter your party affiliation.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Good one, J.G.!

One of these days I think I shall compile an entire book of your postings on this site. Every one of them are gems!



At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, they've been running things for a couple hundred years now by and large. For years they ran the war machine that drove Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Now (20th century) they drive our modern industrial economy - globally. That's the problem, we cannot survive without the financiers - they make the modern economy work. They also destroy it occasionally, but with little recourse to themselves seemingly.

I agree that the insurance companies (and the financiers that back them) are a sort of Brer Rabbit and this HealthCare bill the briar patch...

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Opinionated Gifts said...

Nicely said.

To be fair, it was Democrats who whined about the end of slavery...but the parties were very different then.

TR was indeed the last great Republican president, the beginning of the party's descent. Civil Rights cemented it. The Democrats found a new voice and conscience and the Republicans abandoned what little it had left.

I hope you and Frum are right about the ultimate results of all this. I wonder though. The Civil Rights Act of 64 was electoral death for Democrats for the most part. So I worry. Still, I think the Dems are playing this right...Do a Victory Lap, keep it going..
Also the student loan overhaul was brilliant...and to my mind, a better bill.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Monday said...

Tommy, I think you're really fooling yourself. The election of Scott Brown was a clear messsage from the bluest state in america to NOT pass this bill, and barry, nancy and co responded with a middle finger. If this bill was unpoular enough to cost you ted kennedy's seat in the most liberal bastion this side of the rockies, where do you expect it will go over in november ? I don't see how you win back independents after this.

At 7:53 PM, Blogger roseduncan said...

Oh for god's sake. Oh FOR GOD'S SAKE. Although I'm a red, make that blue blooded atheist. We finally have some form of health care reform, albeit imperfect. It's taken what, a hundred years? I for once started drinking from my Obama cup the next morning, you know, the one that says Everyone chill the fuck out, I've got this.
Whenever I start to give up, the man just pulls me right back in. And I'm glad to be there with him.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger roseduncan said...

And pardon the typo . . . one, not once.

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


A gal after my own heart. That was the best comment in months!

All the best,


At 7:32 AM, Blogger W.D. Shirley said...

I have a severe problem with calling this a health "care" package. It seems to me it mostly gave billions of dollars to the insurance companies. By requiring people to buy insurance rather than offering Medicare for all Obama is paying off the corporations that seek to tear him down. It won't work, of course, the corporations run the show now. After watching the TV and listening to the lies the republicans spouted every day I have to wonder why there is no concept of TRUTH in our news media. For instance when they talked about rationed health care couldn't the news guys mentioned that our health care IS ALREADY rationed? That's why Americans go to Thailand for operations. Still, I hope this is a first step toward a compassionate society but what do we do about the Tea Baggers and the rest who are really anxious to start burning crosses and smashing store windows? They know where Oabama's children are, that has to scare him.

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Perfectly put, Tom. I'm going to share this on Facebook, because I have a lot of like-minded friends that will enjoy it.

Interestingly enough, I just read a blog entry from an African-American acquaintance. She had originally embraced the teabaggers, although as one of my other friends pointed out, any African-American who loves the teabaggers obviously is self-loathing. This person saw some racist signs and finally said that she wants no part of that and no longer supports them. I hope my other friend and I had a little something to do with that...it's been obvious from the beginning to me that there is a deep-seated racist element there. Think of the rabid Birthers...why weren't they more questioning of McCain's credentials? After all, he was actually born in Panama! (And yes, I know that it was perfectly legal--if stupid--for him to be President, and so it is with Obama.)

At 4:01 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

The health care bill is nothing more than a START at fixing the many problems that exist in our health care system And I think, it's a pretty good one.

At this point, all the Right can do is keep rehashing talking points from last summer that were irrelevant to the debate the day they were first used.

I think it's ludicrous how the Teabaggers keep portraying President Obama as Hitler, when they're the ones who act like Hitler's Brownshirts, disrupting public meetings, and targeting polticians who oppose their point of view. They claim to be 'patriots', but they are anything but.

Patriotism requires that you have faith in the political process, and if you don't like the outcome of an election, you still abide by its result, and work towards getting the support of a majority to get the outcome you want in the next one.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

"Patriotism requires that you have faith in the political process, and if you don't like the outcome of an election, you still abide by its result, and work towards getting the support of a majority to get the outcome you want in the next one."

Words that should be etched in stone. Thanks for the great comment! Now, where the hell did I put that chisel!


At 4:16 PM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Speaking of abiding by majorities' decision...

The Simple Majority

Mark Fiore is a national treasure in the US - his political satire is world class.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


Everyone - PAH-LEEZ! - click on the link just above this posting where it says "The Simple Majority"! You've got to see it!


At 8:55 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

I just watched The Simple Majority and it's a hoot.

Thanks Cosmic Navel Lint.

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Clearly you haven't actually taken the time to read this bill yourself. I doubt the Democrats have either.

The only "option" for the sick and uninsured (if they make above 133%) of the federal poverty level is to purchase insurance themselves through a high risk pool which, even the Dems have admitted will be very pricey.

And how can you say the middle class will be enjoying tax cuts??? The middle class, which I am liberally defining as anyone above the 133% federal poverty level, if now going to have to purchase there own health insurance. The generous federal sudsidies won't kick in until the premium exceeds 9.5% of my income which is insane because I could, under the new bill, apply for a hardship if I cannot find a policy that doesn't exceed 8% of my income. How would that help any of the middle class? I calculated what my "subsidy" would be on my $15000 Kaiser policy and was quoted a measly $1500 by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

As to small business, the law doesn't require businesses with less than 50 employees to puchase coverage. The measly 35% credits are hardly an "incentive" for small businesses to run out and purchase coverage that averages $10000 for a family of 4 per year.

And further, I think we may see many businesses with 55 or 60 employees reducing their workforce to avoid the new penalty taxes of $2000 per employee. How is that business friendly in this tanking economy?

Say what you will but the only people this bill helped was the poor, and it was at the expense of the middle class and businesses.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Why it's not obvious to most is easy to see. The mirage of our continuing democratic processes is easier to digest, easier to accept. Just like any traumatic or horrific event that hides itself in the subconscious recesses of our mind, because the pain is otherwise too overwhelming, the same sort of traumatic event on a cultural or societal scale (or unending sequence of) will produce the same result. Naomi Klein makes a valid case for this in her best-selling book, The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Fairy-tales are as much of the western lexicon as they were for ancient civilizations. They were simple and direct, and helped to explain the unknown and unexplainable. The tales are now much more sophisticated, more complicated. But fairy-tales they are, nonetheless. To believe the Democratic Party, once the adversary to the G.O.P., is for you, is a tale they have worked arduously to perfect; to fine-tune. From the tone of the remarks on Tom's blog, it's apparent most have bought into the Democratic Party's claim that healthcare reform is complete, and a new era of progressivism is here. Nothing saddens me more to see so-called progressives and liberals follow instep; hook, line and sinker, just as the rightwing does with the equally outrageous tales told to them by their leadership and provocateurs. To believe this president is anything more than a messenger for the ruling class is naive and dangerous.

The global march of capital, over the needs of workers and individuals, is continuing. This latest legislation is just another example. No matter the rhetoric, no matter the innuendo, no matter how the democratic leadership fames it, this bill is nothing more than a money and power grab by the large insurance companies. It's just another piece of the puzzle for the looming government-corporation that now runs the show. As Noam Chomsky outlines in an article from the other day, "...we have another significant shift in global power: from the general population to the principal architects of the global system, a process aided by the undermining of functioning democracy in the United States and other of the Earth’s most powerful states." As corporate rule makes its unabashed and unapologetic role more and more visible, Chomsky notes that "[t]he future depends on how much the great majority is willing to endure, and whether that great majority will collectively offer a constructive response to confront the problems at the core of the state capitalist system of domination and control. If not, the results might be grim, as history more than amply reveals."

For those of you who wish to ignore the facts, please continue to live your fairy-tale existence. I'd rather live by the axiom of former environmentalist Edward Abbey, who said "Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion." But if you do see what's happening, and "get it", my advice is the same as that offered by another commenter earlier, "plan accordingly".

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Anna Van Z said...

JG, those were crucial points superbly expressed.
I couldn't agree more!

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is always to late to change things when the "I told you so" comes out. When 59% of Americans don't like the HC bill and 68% think Congress is doing a bad job, something is wrong. This wasn't about health care; it was a government takeover of 1/6 of the economy and the government in its all knowing wisdom will do an expert job like Welfare, SS, VA, USPS, Medicaid and Medicare all who are bankrupt. Next it will be a "right, not a privilege" to own a car, have a house, or free college education. Who will pay for all of this?

Everyone already has health care: you can walk into an emergency room and get care even if you don't have insurance. That is one of the reasons that hospitals have to charge so much; to pay for the ones it has to treat for free. We already have the best HC in the world, why do we need to change it?

What entity denies the most procedures? Medicare. They decide if they want to perform services depending on what they decide is the appropriate action.

Take a lesson from history; socialized medicine doesn't work.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

You have hit the nail on the head (as usual), J.G. To say that this president has been a tremendous disappointment is to understate the facts. Still, as I said, this health care reform will be the first step of a thousand mile journey. I believe within the space of a few years we will have a public option - or rather, I hope.

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous GRR said...

No Tom. We don't want the public option. That will do nothing.

We want single payer for everyone, not just Wall Street and all the other oligarchs. What's provided the MIC, should be provided for everyone.

Fair, is fair.

Visit the folks at Physicians for a National Health Policy and see what they have to say.


And please, do yourself a favor and wipe the spam off your comment board. Ick.

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous GRR said...


Yes everyone has "healthcare' Have no insurance? Walk into an emergency room and get treated for say an emergency asthma attack' 3 minutes with a doc, an emergency inhaler, and you get a $1200 bill.


You obviously are one of those dependents who have a J-O-B.

And if you think insurance companies don't dictate what procedures can and cannot be performed, you're living under a rock.

The biggest barrier to progress in this country is the mindless repetition of 'conservative' talking points without giving those points a minutes worth of thought.

Common sense is not, it seems, all that common.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


No doubt about it, after this week, I will have to install a CAPTCHA sign in. I hate to do it but the SPAM is getting out of hand.



At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Thomas Jefferson said...

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children
wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Great post, and interesting comments/discussion! Whenever I read you, I feel like I'm not alone, and makes it less depressing!!!

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

"The drug and health insurance industry, swarming with thousands of lobbyists, got pretty much what they wanted in the new health law. Insurers got millions of new customers subsidized by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with very little regulation. The drug companies got their dream-no reimportation of cheaper identical drugs, no authority for Uncle Sam to bargain for discount prices, and a very profitable extension of monopoly patent protection for biologic drugs against cheaper, generic drug competition."

---- Ralph Nader, American attorney, author, lecturer, political activist, and four-time candidate for President of the United States

No truth could be better spoken.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Den said...

I found your blog due to a comment you made on the NYT website and I have to say that I think the points you make are far to narrow.
You condemn the right wing and rightly so they politics of fright are just simplistic attempts to retain relevence in todays world and they unfortunately one day will reappear with a vengence with an even uglier face. The problems the US face are world wide, documentaries like John Pilger's War on Democracy show this problem in a stark reality.
People like John Howard (Australian P.M.) and Tony Blair (English P.M.) who bought into the weapons of mass destruction con are equally to blame. The problem is that the US has always been far more interested in solving the problem as far away from their borders as are humanly possible and if and frankly without Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan how much better would the US economy be?
The world will never end due to universal health care in fact it will improve the lives of many but if the US keeps trying to disprove Darwin's Theory of Evolution by killing the brightest and best in pointless police actions people like the various militia will eventually bring the US to her knees from within.
Keep the rage against the small minded in our midst alive!
Den form Oz


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