by Jerome Armstrong, Wed Dec 16, 2009 at 01:09:46 PM EST
Howard Dean goes to the Op-Ed:
If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.
...In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.
...I know health reform when I see it, and there isn't much left in the Senate bill. I reluctantly conclude that, as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America.
In my notes, once Blanche Lincoln took credit for killing the public option; once Ben Nelson took credit for retaining exemption from the anti-trust laws for Insurance companies from the bill; once Joe Lieberman took credit for killing the medicare buy-in... whatever fig-leaf of reform that existed in HCR, has been reduced to a bill that provides corporate subsidies to insurance companies via a politically toxic mandate to buy insurance.
As for Gibbs, he's been on the wrong side of Howard Dean since 2003, so there's nothing new on that end. Gibbs and Pfeiffer, in using stronger criticism toward Dean than this WH uses toward even Republicans, are tipping their hand that Rahm Emanuel is in enraged in full-fledged freakout mode inside the WH right now.
We are watching a wholesale panic by Democrats in DC. They are peeing their pants about the 2010 midterms and got it stuck in their minds that HCR passage asap, with its dire 30-35% approval rating in its current form, is some panacea that will lay the golden egg that turns everything around. The problem is that this bill is a turd by standards of those on the left, center and the right spectrum, and really only satisfies the insurance companies. I don't think getting a bounce works that way.Here's how Dean explains it: In Washington, you get into this crunch where bad- good money gets thrown after bad- good money gets thrown after bad- and good policy gets thrown after bad policy. And at this point, I think, the bill is not worth passing in its present form, Dean said.
The thrust of the bill, in its current form, is basically along with lines of what John McCain campaigned in in 2008, with its credits/subsidies to be used by people who to buy insurance-- maybe a bit more generous but the same idea. But I don't even recall McCain backing the notion of it being a mandate, and Obama had the sense to campaign against a mandate in the '08 primary (a mandate requirement will get you 21% in the polls--and that's before its been attacked.)
Howard Dean points out some good things in the bill:The legislation does have some good points, such as expanding Medicaid and permanently increasing the federal government's contribution to it. It invests critical dollars in public health, wellness and prevention programs; extends the life of the Medicare trust fund; and allows young Americans to stay on their parents' health-care plans until they turn 27. Small businesses struggling with rising health-care costs will receive a tax credit, and primary-care physicians will see increases in their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. What I don't understand, is why the Senate Democrats would endure so much political damage as has been self-inflicted over the past 8 months, only to come up with so little reform. They could have passed those good things back in June easily; they could probably have co-signed McCain to introduce his bill and attach those things on it with a bipartisan stamp of approval.
I'll betcha there will be no more partisan attempts at getting 60 next year. If McCain (or some other Republican like him) and Lieberman are not on board, anything in mind of passing is not going anywhere in the Senate.