Weekly Pulse: Did Wiretappers Target Landrieu Over Health Care Deal?

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger

The conservative videographer who donned a pimp suit to embarrass the anti-poverty group ACORN was arrested in New Orleans, LA for allegedly conspiring to bug the office of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

It’s not clear why Landrieu was targeted, but many suspect that she was singled out because she played a pivotal role in advancing health care reform.

Filmmaker James O’Keefe and three other men have been charged with been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, according to Justin Elliott of TPM Muckraker. At RH Reality Check, Rachel Larris notes that, if convicted, the four could face up to 10 years in prison.

Like chum in the conservative shark tank

Landrieu, a conservative Democrat, negotiated an extra $100 million in Medicaid funds for Louisiana in exchange for allowing the health care bill to come to the senate floor. Accepting health care for the poor in the interest of health reform was like chum in the conservative shark tank.

Rush Limbaugh called her the most expensive prostitute of all time. “She may be easy, but she’s not cheap,” crowed Glenn Beck. It got so bad that Democrats call on Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was called upon to denounce the chorus of conservatives attacking his fellow Louisiana senator as a prostitute. (Correction: Vitter did not call Landrieu a prostitute.)

O’Keefe must have realized that an exposé of Mary Landrieu would be a hot commodity.

“This is Watergate meets YouTube,” said Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn said on MSNBC’s Hardball last night.


Health care reform in limbo

The arrests could not have come at a better time for the Democrats. Health care reform is in limbo as congressional leaders plan their next move after losing their filibuster-proof majority. The bugging scandal is deflecting attention from tense internal negotiations.

Brian Beutler of TPMDC reports that the House Democrats are converging on a strategy to get reform done: The House will pass the Senate bill and the Senate will fix it through budget reconciliation.

The Republican counter-strategy

While the Democrats agonize over what to do next, that senate Republicans are honing strategies to thwart any Democratic attempt to pass health care reform through budget reconciliation, as Dave Weigel reports in the Washington Independent. The reconciliation process allows both sides to vote on unlimited number of amendments. GOP leadership is hinting that if Dems take the reconciliation route, they will be forced to vote on every politically embarrassing amendment the opposition can dream up.

The stakes are high. In the American Prospect, Paul Starr reminds progressives that there’s till a lot worth fighting for, even without a public option. For all its faults, the Senate bill would still cover 30 million uninsured Americans, expand Medicaid, end discrimination based on preexisting conditions, and set up exchanges designed to keep rising insurance premiums in check.

A memo for reform

Finally, our sources tell us that Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly is making quite a stir on Capitol Hill with his memo advising the House Democratic caucus on the need to forge ahead with health care reform. In 1994, conservative commentator William Kristol wrote a health care memo to Republicans that became the backbone of their anti-reform strategy, even up to the present day. Benen hopes his memo will be a useful counterweight for Democrats. Benen warns the Democrats that it’s far riskier to fail than to pass reform that doesn’t please everyone.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

"This is quite a system. What do you call it?"

The Senate seems set to kill off the public option in exchange for a package of compromises on other issues. This is going to cause understandable heartburn among progressives, but do we really think that a member of Congress should vote against the whole bill if it's this compromise or nothing?

How would such a Congressperson explain that decision to one of her constituents? Consider:

Jane: So, Congresswoman, what's going to happen with health care in this country?

Rep.: Well, Jane, I've got good news and bad news.

Jane: Uh oh. Better start with the bad news.

Rep.: The bad news is, the health care bill isn't going to pass because I've decided to vote against it. And I'm the critical swing vote.

Jane: Oh, no. Really?

There's more...

Weekly Pulse: Public Insurance Option Not Optional

 By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC Mediawire blogger

During a press conference yesterday, President Obama voiced support for government-administered health insurance for all who need it (aka the "public option"), as a key component of healthcare reform. Though Obama stopped short of threatening to veto a bill that didn't contain such an option, he said that a public option is needed to enforce market discipline. If the system is going to reform, the health insurance companies can't just keep selling the same bad coverage with bigger public subsidies for their monopolies. Essentially, Obama isn't about to force taxpayers to buy overpriced insurance from private companies.

"The public plan, I think, is an important tool to discipline insurance companies," Obama said during yesterday's White House news conference. "I think there is going to be some healthy debate about the shape that this takes." He outlined three options: Get insurance through your employer, buy insurance on your own, or buy insurance from a marketplace where public and private insurance providers compete for business.

There's more...

Healthcare 'Reform': First thing To Go Is 'AFFORDABLE'

I am going to attempt to make a list of the ways that the opponents of affordable healthcare are spinning the situation so they can keep healthcare costs expanding. They are already too high and they are going to get higher and higher, relative to most of our income, unless we take steps now to change that.

1.) Anything thats OPTIONal doesn't save enough money to make healthcare affordable. Why, because the two systems have to exist side by side, and as the cost of the armies of bureaucrats, is huge, and since also the cost of paying for healthcare for the sick is so expensive, its basically a choice, which one do we choose. If we keep both, we simply could not save any money, in fact, two options side by side means administrative costs rise, they might hit 40%

thats what happened in MA. net result, healthcare is LESS AFFORDABLE

2.) Schumer's proposal to make 'public option' "revenue neutral" means that the public insurance will soon cost MORE than private insurance. It will be better, but unaffordable to almost everybody. Sick people might find a way to pay, because they will need a plan that, for example, covers more, but the more of them who join, the higher the premiums will have to go thanks to Schumer's constraint. This is called "adverse selection", and the result will be prices getting higher and higher, soon the well wont be able to afford it. It will die and the right will say that universal healthcare "failed"

3.) Medicaid is not Medicare!!! BEWARE!Medicaid is a LOAN - for the indigent, and its only available once you have literally been rendered penniless by debt. Then it adds even more debt. At 9% interest. Medicaid will NOT HELP MAKE HEALTHCARE AFFORDABLE IN THE WAY MOST OF US THINK IT WILL. Expanding Medicaid will reduce insurers costs, because right now hospitals pass on those costs to others. The poor will have to pay them directly. No more writeoffs or free riders. THEY WILL OFTEN NEVER BE ABLE TO REPAY AND THE DEBT WILL MAKE THEM A NEW UNDERCLASS, LIKE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

There's more...

Weekly Pulse: Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer

by Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger

This week, the White House teamed up with healthcare industry giants for a two-day PR blitz on health reform. A coalition of industry leaders sent a letter to president Obama over the weekend, pledging to help contain healthcare costs. The signatories include PhRMA (drug makers), Advamed (device manufacturers), the AMA (doctors), the AHA (hospitals), AHIP (health insurance), and SEIU's Health Care project. The corporate signatories are the very same interest groups that have fought U.S. healthcare reform for generations. AHIP, America's Health Insurance Plans, helped torpedo the Clinton plan in the 1990s with the infamous "Harry and Louise" TV spots.

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