Slacktivist on Health Care

Fred explains why we’re not getting raises and knocks down a couple sacred cows.

15. Do you see the point here? You are angrily, loudly demanding that Congress make sure that you never, ever get another pay raise as long as you live. Because of you and because of your angry demands, you and your family and your kids are going to have to get by with less this year than last year. And next year you’re going to have to get by with even less. And if you keep angrily demanding that no one must ever fix this problem, then you’re going to have to figure out how to get by on less and less every year for the rest of your life.

The entire rant.

About the Massachusetts Election

1.  Scott Brown has a compelling narrative.  He is presidential material – he’s telegenic, smart, socially moderate, financially conservative.  He’s strong on defense, and unlike many Republicans, he’s actually served.   In some ways, he is like Obama – very himself, confident and clear.  Furthermore, unlike many conservatives,  doesn’t have the personal animosity towards Obama being fostered by plenty in the wingnut branch of the party.  That suits him.

2.  This MAY presage bad news for the Democrats.  Yes, perhaps they were not responsible for the economic fiasco.  But they were not able to provide a narrative about how we got here, in part because they, also, were complicit.  They were still at the bank’s bidding.   When the union party sells out the unions, a union man might just decide to vote Republican.

3.  Obama has generally been reticent about playing the economic populist.  He’s not an economic populist.  He’s a centrist, a libertarian of the behavioralist school.  In spite of the ridiculous assertions that he’s a closet Marxist, he actually believes that banks have a proper function in the economy.   This means the Republicans, being the alternative party, are getting to play that role.

4.  People don’t get Keynes.   The stimulus may have prevented jobs from being lost, but people don’t quite understand that.   They buy the easy (and possibly false) idea, that the deficit means something.   People are aware that they are not getting much for their taxes.   They don’t seem to understand that our taxes are helping our military, the Iraqis, the Afghanis, the Israelis, and the Pakistanis.   Good causes, to be sure, but its expensive to help millions of people in the rest of the world, and our own military and not get a much else in return, especially when we can’t seem to police our own borders as well as we should (unionized, skilled TSA workers might help).

5.  Scott Brown is more liberal than some southern Democrats.  He’s unformed by focus groups, and may actually be an independent.

6.  The national health care plan is basically Massachusetts but for the entire country.

7.  Perhaps Obama will be forced to form a bipartisan committee with Republicans and challenge them when they oppose a minimum plan.

8. Obama should challenge those companies, including pharmaceutical companies, who oppose legitimate free-market principles.  A national health exchange and allowing imports from Canada are popular, and legit to libertarians.

9.  Obama mainly wants people to be kept on task.  the task is to reform the system.  He can still be an effective leader, but you start with the possible to get to the impossible.

The Health Care Bill

A few things:

First it’s not a perfect bill.  Everyone knows that.  But politics is the art of the possible, and for the first time government is trying to do what one task it should do:  coordinate.  It’s more like a bill a liberal Republican in the 1970’s would have passed than a Democrat, who throughout the century have worked for a federal plan.

Second, this bill will help more poor people, and more African-Americans in concrete ways.  The long term effects will be enormous, and will go a long way to mitigate health care challenges between the races.

Third, this bill will put more pressure on insurance companies, big pharma, hospitals and doctors to work together.

Fourth, by 2016, it will reduce the likelihood of families being bankrupted by poor health.

Last, this bill demonstrates Obama’s strong, sensible leadership.  If he had pushed harder, he would have not gotten any further.  He allowed the bill to come from the legislature, not from on high.   He’s done what no president has done before.   It is clearly political leadership – not prophetic leadership.  It is practical leadership, not idealistic leadership.

The difference, perhaps, between Obama and the previous president is that Obama was conservative enough to let institutions do their work.  He was a strong enough leader to make them do it.

It’s a conservative bill.  It’s not a perfect bill.  But it will help millions of people and reduce long term costs.

Pastors Spell Things Out for Nelson

As Nebraska faith leaders, we call for systemic change that is guided by the following principles based on our religious values. We support universal access to good-quality health care that: (1) Provides comprehensive and affordable coverage for all. (2) Eliminates health care disparities. (3) Includes effective cost containment. (4) Simplifies administration. (5) Eliminates pre-existing condition exclusions from coverage.

We turn to U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, knowing he stands with us as a person of faith. As governor, he left a lasting and important legacy of strong public insurance programs such as Kids Connection and CHIP, which provides insurance to thousands of Nebraskans who would otherwise join the uninsured.

Now we turn to him again to leave another legacy: health care for all Nebraskans. If we can fix the broken health care system, we can ensure that Nelson’s legacy in Nebraska is continued with his vote this year to pass health reform.

The Letter.

George Clifford agrees.

Pro-life people should support the bill because greater health care will mean more women freely choosing to have children with or without an abortion amendment.

Better than Nothing

Senate Democrats on Monday evening dropped a plan to expand Medicare, winning the support of moderates and the reluctant acquiescence of liberals, in another major step toward building enough support to pass a health-care overhaul.

It’s better than nothing.

Nate: Yes, it is.

Rev. Currie disagrees
.

Quote of the day: Socially transformative legislation doesn’t happen at once. It evolves. Obama takes the long view.

Revealed: why Lieberman opposed expanding medicare – Liberals supported it.

Deal!

The public option has changed. Broaden Medicare and Medicaid. Keep cost-cutting devices. Personally, I think it is a smart move. Medicare and Medicaid are public options. Eventually, a single payer system, if possible, will arise from expanding institutions already in place. Politically, these changes happen in steps, and there is plenty of good in other parts of the bill.

Still, they should break the trusts and allow a little more free enterprise.

A few facts and numbers for ya
! A few more.

Update: The Washington Post decries this idea, saying “The irony of this late-breaking Medicare proposal is that it could be a bigger step toward a single-payer system than the milquetoast public option plans rejected by Senate moderates as too disruptive of the private market.”

A Christian view on Health Care

Christians desire health and wholeness, and call for our public institutions to encourage such.   Just as Jesus’ witnessed to the old, infirm and sick, church communities have been intimately involved with healing.  In our modern age, many denominations established hospitals and mutual aid societies.   But we have a problem: Americans spend the most on health care anywhere, but get the worst health care in the developed world.  This is because of the system of incentives that makes profit the center of the relationship between patient, doctor, and intermediate institutions, not health.

Some would object that it is Churches and not government, who should be working for such a change. Yet, if Christians truly were to embody the virtues of self-control and charity, they would drink moderately, refrain from smoking and keep a trim waistline.   Christian doctors would provide free health care and churches would create free clinics. Churches would also create mutual aid societies and cooperatives that would help mitigate the everyday illnesses and injuries that occur on a regular basis. This would be an appropriate religious response to our current health care crisis.  However, these are often challenging to manage and require immense resources to care for catastrophic events or long-term care.

Until churches make such contributions to their communities, public reform is the next best option.  A public option would decrease inefficiencies in the private health care market, encouraging companies to cut bureaucratic fat and coordinating administrative paperwork.

As institutions, churches would benefit from a reformed health care like other small businesses.  I’m fortunate:  most of my employees have health care under their spouses.   However, I could get the public option, my church would have more money to spend on mission.   My church can’t afford my getting married.  It means I can only marry someone with better health care than I have.

Health care would change the culture in a variety of ways.  One of which is subtle.  It would integrate society in a way we have not seen since the military was integrated.  It is one of the few places where both poor blacks and poor whites will benefit.   That many of the protestors are whites who feel disenfranchised exemplifies how universal health care will crush the ideology that connected socialism, civil rights and liberalism:  a resilient theology that has been losing credibility since both capitalism and civil rights won.

The Democrats should be aware that a policy that penalizes individuals, however, will end their current position as the party in power.  A universal health care system, however, will shift both parties to the left, ending the rightwing alliance of race populism, tax-cuts and nationalism.  A strong health care system would destroy the Republican party.  Blue Dog Democrats should realize that passing such a health care program will make their positions stronger, not weaker, with their constituents.

A universal system will bring down costs, liberate a sector of the economy trapped by insurance bureaucracies, give small businesses greater freedom in hiring employees, and further integrate our culture.  A mixed economy will catalyze the market.  People will need to be employed as caregivers rather than as insurance bureaucrats.  It will be easier to hire people full time.   It will restore that constitutional idea that the responsibility of the government is for the general welfare of all people.

I understand the resistance.  The Israelites resisted Moses.  Many wanted to return to Egypt.  They created false idols.  Remember – for some people, the idols probably worked.   Just as the current health care system works for some people.  But it doesn’t work for everyone.  There is a promised land.  It’s time for us to move toward it.