Friday, July 31, 2009


The United States is the only civilized western country that doesn't have universal government health care. What we have instead is a market driven insurance system based on ability to pay, which makes it the most uncivilized healthcare system in the free world.

The most meaningful element to the healthcare overhaul is the government paid option which is the closest thing to the universal system that exists elsewhere. It would exist along with the private insurance companies but allow people to leave their insurance companies and opt into a government paid for health plan. This is what has been called the public option.

Those opposing the public option are people who have proved over and over that they don't oppose it on principle or practicality but are simply carrying water for the insurance companies more interested in healthy profits than healthy people.

The main issue now surrounding the public option has been how to pay for it. But how to pay for it isnt really the issue. It's the excuse those who oppose it want to use to kill it. How to pay for it shouldn't matter. What matters is getting it done. And if it means raising some taxes then that's what needs to be done.

Some Republicans and RNC Chairman Michael Steele in particular have called the public option "socialism". But is it? And if it is, would it be any more socialistic than your tax dollars paying to pick up your garbage?

The local taxes you now pay make it possible for you to take your garbage out, leave it on the curb or drop it in a garbage chute, and a bunch of guys in a big truck come by and take it away for you. No muss, no fuss. It's a good deal. And it hasn't stopped private sanitation companies from being in business either.

Having your tax dollars used to pick up your garbage is perfectly fine with the opponents of the public option. None of them, not Boehner, not Steele, not Mitch McConnell, has called government paid for garbage pick up socialism ( you can make the case that picking it up would be anti-socialism). But if your tax dollars go to saving your life or to pay for necessary medication for you or your child or elderly mother, or wellness check ups to prevent you from illness or to pay for a hospital stay so you don't have to worry about how to pay for it, that's bad. That is socialism.

Garbage yes, healthcare no.

The surest way to make up the short fall for pay for the public option is to raise taxes. The tax proposals to make up this short fall run from a nominal tax on health care insurance provided by employers to their employees, to higher income taxes for those making above $350,000.

The $300 billion needed to cover the short fall is a little less than Bush blew every year in Iraq for the last seven years (over $2.1 trillion since the invasion). None of the opponents of the public option had anything to say about the waste and no bid contracts which contributed to the cost to the taxpayers of $1 billion a day in Iraq for the last 7 years. For opponents of the public option, killing yes, living no.

Ron Paul and other conservatives who oppose healthcare reform have said health care is not a right. If that's true, neither is picking up your garbage.

As I said in an earlier article, to oppose the public option over how to pay for it is to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The public option would do more for the quality of life in America than almost anything since the post Depression reforms of FDR.

But congress is always more concerned about their own re-election than anything else which is why they are so skittish about raising taxes.

The way to insure they will pass the public option is for each person who wants it to let their member of congress know they want it and to tell them to simply figure out a way to pay for it even if it means raising some taxes.

There are actually some experts who believe that raising taxes might not even be neccessary, that there is much more in untapped savings that would be enough to pay for it. But if it takes some higher taxes on some thing somewhere then that's what needs to be done.

And then, just think -- when healthcare reform with a public option passes you'll be able to take your current insurance policy, the one that doesn't cover you for the things you might need the most, the one that drops you if you get a catastrophic illness, and put it exactly where it belongs -- in the garbage where your tax dollars will pay for it to be carted away and deposited where it belongs. In the dump.

Friday, July 24, 2009


You're sitting in your doctors office. You are told some sobering news about a medical condition that needs immediate attention. You listen. Your doctor says you need to get started immediately. You nod. Then your doctors asks, " so how are you going to pay for it"? This is the absurdity of the health care system opponents of the public option want to defend.

No one, surely not the Republicans who have been the most vocal opponents of a public option, ever ask, "how are we going to pay for police protection?" Or fire protection.They never asked "how are we going to pay for a Star Wars program?" or national defense.

They would argue, and in most cases rightly, that a strong defense against anything that threatens our life,liberty and pursuit of happiness has to be a priority and you do what you have to do in order to protect it and not worry about cost. Waste yes, cost no.

But the same is true for health care. Disease and inadequate access to quality healthcare also threatens the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of American citizens. Lack of adequate health care is a threat. And fighting those things should be as important as funding our national defense.
You never heard the people opposing the public option now argue "how are we going to pay for it?" when Bush invaded Iraq. You didn't hear them say "how are we going to pay for it"? when the Bush Administration burned through $1 billion a day in Iraq, mismanaging everything, wasting tens of billions, giving no bid contracts that wasted more billions and causing chaos while exploding the deficit. But the truth is, the current health care system is a bigger threat to more Americans than Sadaam ever was.

The only, repeat only, meaningful and substantial overhaul of the health care system is the public option which will give people the choice to keep their current insurance if they want it or opt in to a government paid for health plan. But asking "how are we going to pay for it"? as a means to stop it is is the wrong question. It's like the doctor asking the patient how they are going to pay for much needed treatment before giving it and making payment the priority.

The patient now is the healthcare system which everyone agrees is very sick. The market driven system places healthy profits ahead of healthy people and makes costs and profits for insurance companies the most important thing.When it comes to most insurance, it's healthy people wanted, sick people need not apply.The insurance companies don't care if it costs you an arm and a leg even if its your real arm and real leg.

This is what makes the most immoral game in Washington the "how are we going to pay for it"? game when it comes to the public option.

How do you pay for it? There are a few plans being hammered out now. The question shouldn't be how, but a commitment that the public option is going to be a reality and how it will be paid for will be worked out. Sometimes you just do what you have to do for the public good, do what is necessary and not worry how you are going to pay for it .Because it doesn't matter how you are going to pay for it, you find a way. You just do it.

For opponents of a public option it really isn't how its paid for anyway, they just want to stop it and use the question of how to pay for it as an excuse not to do it all. We know this because their arguments in ads, TV commercials and in public forums are all generally based on lies, deception and illogic.

One group is running a commercial that says "call your congressman and say no to the public option:"

The problem with that is, the public option reform being offered already allows anyone to say no if they don't want to opt in to a government plan . It's not just that they don't want it, they don't want you to have it either. That's not about saving lives its about saving insurance companies and their bottom lines.

The whole argument about how we pay for a public option is, as Oscar Wilde once said, knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The money to pay for it is there. Anyone can throw around statistics but the current system is a mess and you cant possibly take numbers that exist today and project them ten years down the road and think they are going to be accurate. Any number regarding costs now can only be an estimate. And there are people who say there are unseen cost benefits down the road that will allow the public option to pay for itself.

But the benefits of reforming health care aren't an estimate. They are real and concrete and will have an immediate beneficial effect. That is the value of the public option. And, since according to a recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans would favor higher taxes to pay for a government plan,that majority seems to understand the value and aren't too worried about the cost. And neither should the congress.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Paul Steinhauser, deputy political director at CNN did a story on new poll numbers for President Obama commissioned by CNN. According to Steinhauser 72% of those polled said that Obama inspired confidence (down from 75%).

The numbers of the poll were flashed on screen as Steinhauser spoke. Then Steinhauser said it was a different story regarding support for the Presidents policies and how confident people were with those policies. I never knew what those numbers were because, despite the fact that Steinhauser went on with his report for about another 4-5 minutes, he never gave us those deteriorating numbers nor were they shown on screen. All we heard from Steinhausers' report is that those numbers were significantly weaker than the "inspire confidence" number, and down from Obama's previous poll numbers. But Steinhauser never said what those numbers were.

I looked up the numbers and will give them to you here:

53% believe Obama has a clear plan for solving the country's problems down 11 points since February.

56% say that Obama shares their beliefs on the issues that matter to them, down 7 points since February. CNN declined to publish the opposing numbers. One could assume its 47% who don't believe that Obama has a plan ( a pretty high number) but some could have answered " I don't know", and the same is true for the 44% who say that Obama does not share their beliefs on issues that matter most.

But one has to wonder why CNN elected to only give us the 72% "inspire confidence" number and not tell viewers or show, what the other, less impressive and in many ways more significant, numbers were.

Obama's more significant and deteriorating numbers which CNN declined to report on the air were also supported by a Rassmussen poll which showed 52% approved of his job performance and 48% disapproved, his worst numbers since his presidency. And as Rassmussen pointed out , this was the first time his job approval numbers in their poll dipped below his winning percentage in the election. None of which are good signs.

But the real problem for the moment is the lack of quality, objectivity and journalistic integrity CNN has shown in covering the Obama administration, the same lack of quality we saw from all media outlets during George Bush's presidency, and a lack of quality that can be seen as directly responsible for many of the disasters Bush brought on the country, since had the press taken a more responsible role in covering Bush's failures and reported honestly about them, starting with his failures regarding 911, there is a good chance many of Bush's disasters would not have occurred since he wouldn't have had the political capital to carry them out.

CNN has shown, as they did with Bush, a distinct willingness to go into the tank for Obama and completely abdicate any journalistic responsibility to the truth. During the AIG bonus scandal when it was discovered that Obama not only knew about the bonuses being paid in advance but actually gave the go ahead to pay them, CNN heaped most of the blame on Chris Dodd who, at White House urging, put in the loophole that allowed the bonuses to be paid.

Suzanne Malveaux who covers the White House for CNN reported the day after Obama's speech to the AMA that the audience, in her words, "melted" in front of Obama. I'm not kidding. That's the word she used -- "melted". The truth is the only one who melted was Malveaux herself. I watched the speech. For the first time during any speech Obama has given he was roundly and loudly booed and more than once, the loudest boos coming from doctors who didn't like his stance on no limits for malpractice suits. They were the most hostile audience he has ever faced.

If CNN keeps up this kind of slanted and dishonest coverage it's going to continue to get exposed. And then its fair to say that their slogan just might have to change from "the most trusted name in news" to what they are slowly becoming -- "the most busted name in news"

Monday, July 6, 2009


President Obama has taken a lot of justifiable criticism for his tepid responses to the crisis in Iran. His failure to speak out forcefully on behalf of free and honest elections and support of the demonstrators have earned this criticism. But one has to wonder if his own political past is playing a role.

Obama has made the statement that voices must be heard and every vote must count. But the last time we heard Obama make that statement was during the Democratic primary battle with
Hillary Clinton where it was clear he was saying one thing and doing another.

During that primary battle he did everything in his power to suppress the votes of almost 2 million voters in Florida and Michigan because both states voted overwhelmingly against him in the Democratic primary. Both states had moved their primary election ahead of where the DNC wanted them, something other states also did but did not face the sanctions threatened by the DNC. The difference was the size of both states and the number of votes and delegates that would have gone to Hillary Clinton.

As those who remember, it was probably the most shameless moment in Democratic Party poltics since the corrupt of Boss Tweed.

The memory of Florida and Michigan protestors attending the meeting of the DNC Rules Committee and staging protests outside with signs similar to what we have seen in Iran, has not been forgotten. Nor has the excuses made that 2 million voters deserved to lose their votes because of the actions of a handful of peolple in the respective state parties who moved the elections up. ( by the way, the other states who did the same including the state of Delaware were not sanctioned or even threatened with losing their delegates).

At the time Obama, who had been campaigning using the slogan that voices must be heard and every vote must count, did all he could to make sure those 2 million votes didn't count until it didn't matter anymore. Only then did he petition the rules committee to allow the Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated something he could have done months earlier.

As events unfold in Iran,one can only wonder if Obama's own political past and images of thousands of Florida and Michigan voters taking to the streets to demand that their votes be counted, votes he was instrumental in suppressing, has in any way shaped his own reluctance to speak out and be faced with accusations of hypocrisy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Political organizers of the April 15th Tax Day Tea Party have scheduled new tea parties for July 4th. And a look at their site reveals their complaints: too many taxes, higher deficits and they don't like Obama's economic plan. Well, I havent been crazy about it either.

But the problem with the Tax Day Tea Party movement is that the chief organizers, the same people who are now complaining about deficits, are the same people who kept their mouths shut for 8 years while George W Bush ran the country into the ground with his nonsensical, inept incompetent policies, enabled by a compliant, irresponsible Republican congress.Which reveals the Tax Day Tea Party movement in terms of the organizers as nothing more than a partisan political event.
There were no complaints about the deficit from conservatives or Republicans when Bush became the first President in history to lower taxes and take the country to war at the same time, which is what exploded the deficit in the first place. They said nothing when the Iraq war was burning through $1 billion a day as the worst foreign policy decision in American history as well as the most mismanaged ill conceived post war fiasco. They also had nothing to say when Paul O'Neill, Bush's Secretary of the Treasury quit over Bush's economic polices, policies which led to the worst economic disaster since the Depression.

The point is the tax day tea party of both April 15th and now July 4th is not the grass roots effort it pretends to be, but a woefully transparent partisan exercise by conservatives who ran from the truth for 8 years like a vampire runs from a crucifix and are now cloaking their partisan agenda as some kind of grassroots non-partisan effort. That was obvious when the April 15th tax day tea party in New York City featured Newt Gingrich as the keynote speaker, a man who couldn't get himself elected dog catcher in New York City.

All one has to do is look at the Official Tax Day Tea Party web site to see what a partisan exercise it is. Which is not to say that the organizers haven't duped a lot of sincere people who have something less than confidence in Obama and how he is handling the Presidency. Count me as one of those. But the tax day tea party reveals itself to be essentially a partisan sham.

This is an excerpt from the home page of the tax day tea party site.

"Obama and liberals in Congress are taking us down the road to socialism, seizing control of key banks, insurance companies, the automobile industry, etc. They are currently working on a government funded national health care program which is expected to cost roughly $2 trillion while rationing services."

Obviously the far right has not learned their lesson -- that they are not going to lie their way into political power. Just about every word in the above paragraph is an out and out lie and perhaps they think they can appeal to some people who don't know the difference but not enough to win an election.

I was totally opposed to the GM bailout and said so back in November and was opposed to the AIG bailout as well but using words like "seizing control of key banks insurance companies, the automobile industry etc" sounds like the kind of dumb pamphlet printed on cheap paper with the ink smudging, that used get handed out on the streets of New York in the 1960's by a guy handing out flyers for massage parlors at the same time.

Note their clumsy use of the words "key banks" as if there was some kind of nefarious plot going on to only "seize",. certain banks. It borders on the infantile. Unless by the use of the word "key" then mean "failing" then yes, large failing banks that were about to go under were bailed out and since if they had gone under and it could have caused a run on all banks, I suppose you could call them "key". But that was all done on the advice of Bush's economic team in November of 2008, notably Bernake.

This site is also so out of touch with reality that they don't know that the national health care program now being proposed, whether you are for it or against it , has been budgeted out by the non-partisan and highly respected Congressional Budget Office at $600 billion, less than half the nonsensical $2 trillion this site is claiming.

Here are the facts: The country is in trouble economically, in a deep recession brought on by the economic polices of George Bush and the Republicans. The unemployment since Obama took office has gotten worse.The banks have been stablized. $39 billion in bailout money for GM went down the drain and never should have been granted in the first place. I see little or no benefits yet from the so called stimulus. The stimulus money that was supposed to create jobs or save jobs so far hasn't worked. And Paul Krugman the liberal economist who writes a column for the New York Times wrote some time ago that Obama's plan was not going to work, was spending too much and would return too little. So much for the clumsy attempt at the Tax Day Tea Party organizers to try and pin the problems on liberals which is nothing more than pathetically transparent partisanship trying to gain political advantage.

There are real problems and they are not going to get solved by conservative political consultants masquerading as organizers of a grass roots effort by non-partisan independents even if they do succeed in recruiting some well meaning sincere people who think it is non-partisan.

The last group of people who have anything to complain about are the conservatives who played "see no evil, speak no evil hear no evil" while George Bush and a reckless, incompetent irresponsible Republican congress let him get away with it for 8 years violating every conservative principle they stood for.

We do have responsible Republicans whose voices need to be paid attention to and who unfortunatley are being largely ignored because when Republicans were in power and could have spoken out, didn't. Among those Republican voices whose economic positions have reflected my own are Shelby of Alabama, Corker of Tennessee Graham of South Carolina, Grassley and to some extent, McCain.

But for the most part trying to make political hay or tea out of Obama's economic mistakes is not going to work. People have longer memories than that. No matter how you look at it, Republican control of the government and their inept policies and then silence when it counted most are responsible for the present economic mess and whether what Obama does succeeds or fails, its hard to blame those trying to clean up the mess more than the people who made it.

The July 4th Tax Day tea parties are a lot like 4th of July fireworks. They look good, make a lot of noise, attract a crowd, and then the next day are forgotten.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


In a speech to Iranian judiciary officials on Saturday, Ahmadinejad, Iran's disputed president, said he was "astonished" over what he said was Obama's interference in Iran's election .

Ahmadinejad, as if to rub salt in the wound also added, "They keep saying that they want to hold talks with Iran. All right, we have expressed our readiness as well. But is this the correct way? Definitely, they have made a mistake. They have revealed their intentions before the Iranian nation, before the world nations. Their mask has been removed. "

The statement makes Obama's position of the last two weeks and those who defended it as being "pitch perfect" left with diplomatic egg on their faces and leaves Obama with the worst of all worlds.

For two weeks Obama gave tepid,meaningless responses to the events in Iran because he didn't want to be seen as "meddling" to preserve some kind of undefined negotiating position while demonstrators protesting a clearly rigged election were murdered and beaten in the streets of Tehran. And the result of Obama's approach? He is accused by Ahmadinejad of meddling anyway with Ahmadinejad turning Obama's own words against him.

Obama's approach seemed like a diplomatic farce and a pragmatic disaster from the beginning as I and others pointed out two weeks ago. And now Obama looks weak and ineffectual on all fronts.

There were many things Obama could have said that would have put the Iranian government on the defensive, strengthened his own negotiating position and supported the demonstrators and the democratic institutions demonstrators like Neda sought. There were also actions Obama could have threatened (and still can) if he was able to rally other governments (either with the UN or without) to the cause. He did none of that. Instead he decided he didn't want to be seen as meddling and gets accused of it anyway.

On Friday with German Chancellor Merkel at his side, Obama called the violence against the demonstrators "outrageous". Why its outrageous now and not two weeks ago? When he was asked that very question at last weeks press conference he gave the preposterous answer that all of his statements had been consistent from the beginning.

Obama, after his meeting with Merkel also said " despite the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to the violence, we see it and we condemn it." Okay, okay, he sees violence and he condemns violence. We get it.

Then Obama actually did put his foot in his mouth and gave Iran good cause to accuse him of interfering when he said it was "absolutely clear" that Mir Hossein Moussavi, has "captured the imagination or the spirit of forces within Iran" .

Obama again missed the point. The turmoil in Iran wasn't about someone capturing anyone's imagination. It was about the likelihood that the election was rigged, and that those demonstrating against a rigged election have been beaten, murdered, and terrorized.

Obama is clearly grasping for something to say and has no idea what it is because nothing he has to say comes from within.It's always based on politics. His statement about Neda, the Iranian woman whose murder was recorded on a cell phone video and shown around the world was so meaningless and empty it would have been better had he said nothing.When asked his reaction to the video of her murder Obama said it was heartbreaking, then added "Anyone who sees it knows there was something fundamentally unjust about it".

Fundamentally unjust? All he has to say is that there is something "fundamentally unjust" about murder?

With German Chancellor Merkel present, Obama went on to say Friday that both countries "share the belief that what's happened in Iran is unacceptable when it comes to violence against its own citizens."

Unless Obama is prepared to back up what he means by "unacceptable", that statement is meaningless also, and for now leaves us with two presidents -- one with egg on his face, and the other, Ahmadinejad, with blood on his hands.