Frank Blethen likes his own health coverage

For the third time in as many weeks, the Seattle Times editorial board is advocating that Congress drop their efforts at health care reform for the foreseeable future.

Given the shrinkage of the economy since 2007, this is not the time to promise every American a new benefit. And that is what these bills want to do. By their attempt at generosity, they would raise the cost of creating a job, especially by small employers.

Spoken like somebody with decent health care coverage.

I, on the other hand, am not so fortunate. For all but a few scattered years of my adult life I have purchased my own health insurance coverage via individual plans, and every year I have seen my costs rise, my benefits fall, and my security ebb away. As of now I spend over $200 a month for a $1,900 deductible and zero preventative care. It is a “catastrophic” coverage plan that, should I ever become seriously ill or injured, would supposedly limit my out of pocket expenses to about $10,000 a year… plus the cost of prescription drugs.

That said, for the tens of thousands of dollars I have paid into the system over the past couple decades, I have never had a claim paid, and when I do seek medical care I am always billed the full retail rate… as much as four or five times higher than the negotiated rate my insurance company would have paid had they covered the service. If I had the income, I could spend more each month for more generous coverage, but as an individual it would always cost me much more and cover much less than the type of plans one can buy through a group. And even this expensive option would be closed off to me should I first develop a chronic illness or injury, which under current law would forever prevent me from purchasing adequate coverage due to a preexisting condition.

And to top it all off, as an individual, with no group or corporation to fight for me, I am exactly the type of person for whom insurance companies are notorious for dropping coverage once a claim is made.

I have never, in my entire life, had a lapse of coverage. I, my parents or our employers have faithfully paid into our health insurance “system” on my behalf for every single one of my 46 years. And yet with each passing year the likelihood that I will be left permanently destitute by a serious illness increases. And this is the broken system the Seattle Times would leave in place, possibly for another generation should our current attempt at comprehensive reform collapse?

But then, I guess, if you already have adequate coverage, reform must seem less urgent.

Comments

  1. 1

    rhp6033 spews:

    The Seattle Times, and others who don’t like the idea of health care reform, will NEVER see a good year in which to institute a reform. If it’s a bad economic year, they will argue that we can’t afford it. If it’s a good economic year, they will argue that there is no pressing need. If it’s a mediocre economic year, they will argue it’s a bad economic year.

    Of course, the only persons really benefiting from the current system are the insurance companies and the huge health care monoliths who are intent on monopolizing the health care and nursing home systems as our population ages. It’s never a wrong time to do the right thing – a delay only ensures that we will lose more money in the future.

    By the way, I don’t know how the Times has the gall to offer business advice, whether to businesses or on matters of public policy. The current Seattle Times management has a terrible track record. The Seattle Business Monthly recently pointed out that the Times was unable to unload it’s pension obligations for the employees of the Main newspapers it had purchased (and sold at a considerable loss), so it is saddled with underfunded pension obligations for persons who were employees of the Times for only a few years.

    Seattle Times Still Mired in Pension Woes

  2. 3

    Aaron spews:

    Makes me want to get another solicitation call from Seattle Times. I’ve received several from them after we canceled our subscription when the Seattle Times endorsed Susan Hutchinson. I was kind of entertaining the thought of getting the local fish wrapper again (handy for compost bundles too) for the new decade, but now I’d like to tell the sales agent, “close, but no sale due to the idiocy of the Seattle Times editorial board with respect to health care reform”.

    Hey Seattle Times: feel free to give me a sales call!

  3. 4

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    I, on the other hand, am not so fortunate. For all but a few scattered years of my adult life I have purchased my own health insurance coverage via individual plans, and every year I have seen my costs rise, my benefits fall, and my security ebb away.

    Sounds like all the more reason to get a real job. I don’t think I’ve been without health insurance through my employer since I’ve been in the working world and I’m fairly certain that I’m more of the rule than the exception.

    But if you think an incompetent, bloated government is going to be able to give ANYONE healthcare efficiently, adequately and without encroaching on their personal life and habits; and all the while increasing the cost while lowering the quality of care, then you, sir, are a raving loon.

    Read this before replying:
    http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/.....8;month=04

  4. 5

    rhp6033 spews:

    (Off-topic, but where’s an open thread when you need one????)

    If you’ve been following the saga of the Craig James (ESPN broadcaster and father of Texas Tech footballer Adam James) vs. recently fired Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, you might find this interesting.

    It seems that Craig James announced that he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in Texas, if Kay Bailey Hutchinson vacates her seat to take the Texas governorship. Apparantly he’s been planning a transition to a political career for some time. But the recent brouhaha regarding his son’s dispute with his football coach has threatened to derail those plans.

    So James does what any good Texas conservative Republican would do. He goes out and hires the P.R. firm behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Merrie Spaeth and Spaeth Communications, to make sure that the coach’s name gets sufficiently drug through the mud. Their attack seems to have been effective, drowning Leach in a tidal wave of negative publicity just as he’s trying to prepare for a big bowl game. But Leach’s friends and former assistants have been fighting back, accusing Adam James of being a lazy, undisciplined, and untalented football player who wouldn’t even be in NCAA Div. I football if not for his father.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I really don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong in this controversy. The fact that the right-wing hit-squad behind the Swift Boat Veterans is involved tends to make me more likely to wait for Leach’s side of the story. Leach has filed suit against Texas Tech, and unless there is a settlement, it might be a very interesting trial.

    Swiftboat PR Firm Repping James Against Leach

  5. 6

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 4: Health care insurance linked to employment is fast becoming a ancient novelty. Employers now often go to great lengths to avoid providing health-care (or other) benefits by a variety of mechanisms, including hiring staff as “temporary” workers employed by the temp agency, keeping workers hours just below the amount needed to qualify for benefits, etc.

    In addition, the turmoil in the economy over the past decade or so has created a worker class that “turns over” every 1-1/2 to 3 years, being laid off due to out-sourcing, mergers, etc. through no fault of their own.

    This has caused health insurers to avoid paying for preventative care. They know that any money paid for preventative care will mostly be enjoyed by the next insurer, some two to three years (or two or three jobs) hence.

    U.S. employers argue that they have to adopt these strategies to remain competative. But their foreign competitors don’t have to worry about providing health insurance, as most industrialized nations have a national health-care plan. This makes it easier for employers to deal with employment strategies on a logical, long-term basis, rather than adopting contorted business arrangements to avoid paying for health coverage for their employees.

  6. 8

    uptown spews:

    @4 I’m fairly certain that I’m more of the rule than the exception.

    Well, if you work for the government, a large corp, or any large org; you are probably right. Large groups can usually self-insure, using a third party to administer the program. Medium size groups are able to buy through insurance companies because they are still large enough to spread the risk, though they run into cost issues if their employees are older than average.

    The problem comes for small groups and self-employed. They are too small to spread the risk and get better rates from the insurers.

    Basically – the larger the pool of folks insured the lower the cost per insured. Combine that with everyone being insured throughout their lives, and you have a plan for spreading the risk, and cost, as evenly as you can. This also allows for better long term planning by the health providors involved, private and public, which can keep costs down.

  7. 9

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    @6,

    It’s kind of like shopping at Wal-Mart versus buying from the local mom and pop stores. Every employer is trying to get away with the least cost possible, and paying for health care has become prohibitively expensive. The way to really affect health care costs is to dramatically increase the number of docs, nurses, and other health care workers. Also, force health insurers to accept every person and also force those companies to pay every claim. That will cause the insurance companies to abandon the market so that the public option becomes the only option. Next, build malpractice costs into the premium structure so that lawyers won’t make careers out of suing doctors and hospitals. Do all that stuff, and you’ll have a truly public system that covers everyone.

    Pensions are dinosaurs, at least in the private sector. The problem is that the damn retirees kept on living long past when they were supposed to be dead! Just bite the bullet on this one and participate in what is available at work – 401K, 403B, SEP, SEP-IRA, SIMPLE, 457 – whatever. Also, be sure to do an IRA for yourself, especially if you’re eligible for a Roth IRA.

    When doing retirement planning, come up with a monthly figure that will support you comfortably in retirement (including you social security), then double it. Retirement is probably going to be at least twice as expensive as you think!

  8. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    How many billions of tax benefits have we already thrown at business on the premise they would create jobs? How many more billions more must we throw at them before we realize that’s a lie?

  9. 11

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 8

    “Basically – the larger the pool of folks insured the lower the cost per insured. Combine that with everyone being insured throughout their lives, and you have a plan for spreading the risk, and cost, as evenly as you can. This also allows for better long term planning by the health providors involved, private and public, which can keep costs down.”

    Absolutely right. But no excuse for making a consumer decision a criminal matter. I have the right to adopt a strategy of insurance appropriate to my age, health and employment status, Obama and his Little Red Book nothwithstanding.

  10. 12

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    This is not an argument for being mean. It is an argument for getting people back to work, and earning cash to support their families. Do that first, and have the discussion about new social guarantees later.

    I so grateful to the ST editorial board for being able to set the priorities. Whatever would we do without them?

    And speaking of the priority of getting people back to work, what is the status of Blethen and ST getting these people back to work?

    Physician heal thyself.

  11. 13

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Roger Rabbit said:

    “How many billions of tax benefits have we already thrown at business on the premise they would create jobs?”

    Answer: a shitload!

    How many more billions more must we throw at them before we realize that’s a lie?

    Answer: another shitload!

  12. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    As a self-insured working stiff, Goldy can’t deduct the first 7.5% of his income spent on health care for himself or his daughter. But there is no such limitation on what a capitalist can deduct for “business expenses” like private jets, company yachts, golf club memberships, and hunting lodges used for “business entertaining.” Why would anyone want to be a worker under a tax system like this? I don’t work, and no one else should work, either. We should all live on dividends, rents, interest, and capital gains!

  13. 16

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 9

    “Also, force health insurers to accept every person and also force those companies to pay every claim. That will cause the insurance companies to abandon the market so that the public option becomes the only option.”

    Also right, but you’re letting the bait and switch cat out of the proverbial bag. This ‘reform’ has absolutely nothing to do with bettering health care or expanding coverage. It has everything to do with giving the industry a poison pill, then acting shocked when it gets sick.

    And what do you say to this link, out of curiousity? Yet another Obama campaign promise blatantly broken.

    http://www.sphere.com/opinion/.....webmaildl1

  14. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 I predict that even now the Seattle Times’ pricey lawyers are plotting how to dump those pension obligations on, guess who, the taxpayers.

  15. 18

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 14

    The real answer is to talk to an accountant. That claim is simply a lie. I can deduct anything legitimately in pursuit of either of my 2 businesses without running afoul of the IRS.

    You’re entitled to hate jobs producing businesses, but don’t out and out lie.

  16. 19

    Matthew spews:

    @4 “Sounds like all the more reason to get a real job.”

    Fuck you. Just plain, fuck you.

    I’ve been trying to get a full-time job with health benefits for years now. Instead, I’ve scraped by with part-time and temp jobs. Jobs that don’t provide health insurance, and never will.

    I’m not asking for a handout. I’m not asking for (and have never received) free health care from the government.

    I’m asking for the opportunity to BUY health insurance at the same rate that massive corporations get when they negotiate with the health insurance companies (assuming the corporation actually provides health benefits to its employees). Preferably BEFORE I get something that becomes a pre-existing condition and disqualifies me from getting insurance at all.

    Fuck. You.

  17. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 It takes quite a cynic to believe the only purpose of getting a government job is to get the health benefits.

  18. 21

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Actually the folks that need to strike are the producers, ala Ayn Rand. Most of her books are silly and melodramatic. The important message is lost in a wordy sea of irrelevant plot and character interaction.

    But she was right. If you folks hate the job producing capitalist so much and they are so evil they should just stop. They should give the finger to the lot of the ingrates out there who wish to run business from the bottom.

  19. 23

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 19

    The callous response justifiably raises your ire.

    However you can’t have talked to an insurer. I carry catastrophic care coverage only. I pay for my dental and physicals out of pocket. The net savings over when I did have insurance? Over 2 10 year spans I paid half the costs for health care while ‘underinsured,’ as I did while insured. My costs, not those of me and my employer combined. Should some major health event occur I (and my fellow citizens, as Obama says it’s my duty to care) am protected from financial disaster.

    See, you don’t have to destroy the system to fix it.

  20. 24

    headless lucy spews:

    re 11: Fine. But if you become fatally ill or are severely injured, do you agree that those of us paying for insurance should not have to foot the bill for your care.

    Could we apply that concept to your children as well if you refuse to cover them.

    Sounds like you are using fee choice to be a free-loader.

  21. 25

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 22

    Don’t know. My business is to make money by making a product people want (good housing) and making a reasonable profit on it.

    I can say that 5 or 6 subcontractors kept men employed in part due to my contracts. I can say that lumber yards and other suppliers sold material requiring cashiers, yard men etc to get to me. I can say that these are the natural consequences of running a profitable locally based business. Were I to run a business solely to create jobs I would have gone bankrupt, as all such fools do.

  22. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    One of the problems with this incessant day-to-day tit-for-tat arguing with our ideologically-driven trolls is that we get bogged down in petty details and never step back far enough to talk about the Big Picture. The Big Picture is:

    1. Wealth is becoming much more concentrated in the United States.

    2. Income is becoming much more polarized in the United States.

    3. While a few are getting much richer, most are getting noticeably poorer.

    4. The vast majority of Americans are working harder for less pay, less job security, and fewer benefits.

    5. This is happening not through any inherent merit — see, e.g., the countless CEOs who get paid millions to run their companies into the ground, bankrupt their shareholders, and put their employees out of work — but through manipulation of the basic rules of the system.

    6. What it all adds up to is the system is working against, not for, average people.

    History teaches us that selfish exploitation of the many for the gain of a few goes only so far before the few get overthrown by one means or another.

  23. 27

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Lucy,

    If that were the goal the requirement would be catastrophic care coverage. It was offered as an amendment and shot down.

    No, the real goal is to make insurance unsustainable and try for single payer in 2 years. That way they can pretend they gave the private sector a chance, while really creating its’ demise.

  24. 28

    uptown spews:

    @11 I have the right to adopt a strategy of insurance appropriate to my age, health and employment status…

    You are correct, and the insurance companies should have the right to charge you accordingly for all those years you went uninsured. Something they can’t do now.

  25. 29

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Roger, you’ve finally understood capitalism. Congratulations!

    “History teaches us that selfish exploitation of the many for the gain of a few goes only so far before the few get overthrown by one means or another.”

    This is exactly what happens. And there are any number of ways of fixing it. You let the market rule, and eventually the poor can’t buy the products, wages go up and your problem is solved. Or you tinker with financial regs. For instance, require mortgage lenders to hold the note for 2 or 3 years. They won’t play russian roulette with notes if they’re the ones who lose.

    But destroy the whole system and start over? Do you really think that’s necessary?

  26. 30

    headless lucy spews:

    re 21: You and a lot of your fellow Conservo-heads have a philosophy that is mired in the mid-ninetennth century.

    “The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development.” Frederick Jackson Turner

    We no longer have a frontier where the disaffected can go to make their own way (unless you are a Crip, Blood, or banker.

  27. 31

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @25 “Don’t know.”

    If you don’t know, the answer is none.

    “My business is to make money by making a product people want (good housing) and making a reasonable profit on it.”

    Last time I checked, housing is the most unwanted product there is in our economy. With the huge overhang of unsold and/or foreclosed vacant homes sitting on the market, why on earth would we give anyone tax breaks to build more?

  28. 32

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 28

    They can and do. Insurance costs significantly less for a younger person. If I go without comprehensive health insurance until I’m 60, then try to get it the cost will be very high. By the way, I didn’t write that I don’t use preventive medicine. Only that I use it in a way best calculated to make the most of my money.

    That’s why it’s called a strategy. A person takes all these factors into account and responds according to his or her beliefs about their own best good.

  29. 33

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 30

    HUH?

    I must be missing something because I don’t see the relevance or indeed sense of this post.

  30. 34

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The BIG PICTURE is the system no longer works for vast numbers of Americans. In business, things that don’t work get changed. It works that way in politics, too.

    For decades, the ruling conservatives have told average Americans to accept whatever rich people and giant corporations doled out to them. When that didn’t work anymore for a growing number of Americans pressed by financial burdens on all sides and frightened of a future that kept becoming less secure, they changed the control of our government from Republicans to Democrats, with a clear mandate to Democrats to write a new set of rules.

  31. 35

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 31

    Actually, I had one of my best years last year.
    It’s called reading the market. I purchase, repair and sell homes at the end of the market no-one wants to admit is still doing okay.

    As for your mathematics and business lesson, you must have missed the point. I don’t know how many jobs were created because I don’t care. Not my problem. My problem is to make sure the houses I work on are done well and that the new owner has a good place to live. In so doing I gaurantee you jobs were saved in this area.

  32. 36

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    For starters, businesses should get no tax benefits whatsoever for creating new jobs in China, India, or Mexico, or for moving existing jobs to those places.

  33. 37

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Secondly, tax breaks given for job creation in the past should be taken away when those jobs disappear.

  34. 38

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Third, poorer quality jobs (less pay, fewer benefits, no job security) deserve less tax breaks.

  35. 39

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    @27. lostinaseaofblue 01/08/2010 at 4:06 pm,

    No, the real goal is to make insurance unsustainable and try for single payer in 2 years. That way they can pretend they gave the private sector a chance, while really creating its’ demise.

    Actually not. The real goal is to round up all Randroid glibertarians into FSA labor camps and give the government to ACORN and proceed into Stalinist paradise. You are obviously not up on your WINGNUT reading. For penance, watch Fox News for 72 consecutive hours.

  36. 40

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Fourth, why should business get all the tax breaks? Isn’t it time workers got something for working?

  37. 41

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @35 “I don’t know how many jobs were created because I don’t care. Not my problem.”

    Would you care more if the tax breaks you want for creating jobs were conditioned upon those who claim to create such jobs providing proof they actually created jobs?

    I don’t get a deduction unless I can prove that I actually paid the mortgage interest, property taxes, or whatever.

    Why should you get a deduction unless you can prove you actually produced the jobs you use as a justification for your tax breaks?

  38. 42

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @35 “My problem is to make sure the houses I work on are done well and that the new owner has a good place to live.”

    What a load of crap. Your problem is to sell the house by fixing things potential buyers can see, and maximize profits by cutting corners wherever you can. Have you ever once gone back to a buyer after the sale closed to find out if he’s satisfied with your work?

    When I had my 50-year-old tract house re-roofed last summer, the roofers told me there was no roofing paper on the roof. The original builder nailed the composition directly to the sheating. The roof had been leaking since the house was built, and I spent over $10,000 repairing dry rot and water damage.

    I don’t trust builders as far as I can spit, and I have no respect for them. It’s one of the most disreputable businesses there is.

    As for the tax breaks you think you deserve for creating jobs, the only people I ever see building homes or replacing roofs anymore are the Mexican immigrants you guys profess to hate.

  39. 43

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Actually Rog, there’s a simple solution to all your posts. Everyone pays the same flat tax, with a gradual reduction to none below some set income.

    No tax breaks for anyone. Just pay whatever the set rate is.

    The IRS could lay off 2/3 of its’ staff to seek honest employment. Businesses could lay of 2/3 of their office staff.

    All of this wasted money could go to whatever pet projects you folks can con the taxpeyers into supporting. The rest could go back to the private sector where it does some good.

  40. 44

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 42

    Yeah yeah yeah.

    I have an amazing mechanic. He’s honest, dependable and reasonably priced. I think it’s because he loves his job. Doesn’t mean all mechanics, or even most of them, are like that. But I can say that the number of bad experiences I’ve had are far outwieghed by the good ones with other mechanics.

    Are there bad contractors out there? Sure, and the bigger the development the likelier you are to see problems. The best QC carpenter in the world can’t be everywhere on a 500 home site.

    I don’t care about your opinion of me. It would have to have been based on some real experience to matter one little bit. My clients I care about, you I don’t.

  41. 46

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Fundamentally the difference between you folks and I has to do with our attitude towards government.

    I believe, as Justice Cordozo once wrote in an opinion, that I have a fundamental right to left alone by the government. (Feel free to correct source or cite, Rog, but I know the sense is right.) I have a duty to provide for myself and my family and don’t need or want the government to usurp that duty and priveledge.

    With good intentions most liberals believe the government is the best way of dealing with life. Bad meat or adulterated corn being sold to consumers? We need an FDA. And so on.

    This divide isn’t going to be crossed. Indeed, loudly vocal partisans on either side are necessary. They create for the silent majority some middle ground with which they can live. The partisans are unhappy, but they would be anyway.

  42. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    This bill isn’t a foot in the door for single payer. Single payer was never in the bill. And it was Democrats, not Republicans, who took out public option. Republicans didn’t provide a single vote to help America’s besieged working families.

    But if the future work economy visualized by Business Week comes true, I guarantee we’re going to have single payer someday. The vast majority of Americans are workers, not owners, and they will never stand for being relegated to a permanent serf class subsisting on piecework employment.

    When a system ceases to provide the greatest good for the greatest number, the system gets overthrown.

  43. 48

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    @46, lostinaseaofblue 01/08/2010 at 4:45 pm,

    Fundamentally the difference between you folks and I has to do with our attitude towards government.

    Right. Has nothing to do with not being able to think or write coherently.

  44. 49

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 39

    See 16. Liberals commonly say that any universal coverage is the wedge to force single payer.

    Don’t like the message? Talk to the sender in the White House, not me.

  45. 50

    uptown spews:

    @32

    They can’t and they don’t (at least in most states).

    Prices are set based on age, because you are more likely to get ill as you get older. If you’ve been off insurance and then buy, you’ll be charged the same rate, but be required to get a medical review to check for pre-existing conditions.

    Basically your strategy is to game the system. Not illegal, but if everyone does it, you end up with the mess we have now.

  46. 51

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 48

    Usual tactics for a certain class of kneejerk libs-
    I don’t like what you’re saying and can’t logically dispute it. I’ll resort to petty personal abuse and hope that you lack the clarity of thought to see that I didn’t answer your argument.

    Bravo Mike.

  47. 52

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @46 “I have a fundamental right to left alone by the government.”

    Like hell you do. When your actions affect others, society has a right to regulate you. And like everyone else who benefits from living in an organized society, you owe your share of what it takes to maintain that society. You wouldn’t have a business without publicly financed education, roads, infrastructure, and publicly regulated and supported markets. Housing is one of the most subsidized and socialized sectors of our economy; there’s hardly a mortgage that isn’t guaranteed by government in some way, and there’s isn’t a single homebuyer who isn’t getting tax subsidies to help support his homeownership.

  48. 53

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 50

    ‘Game the system’ is an attempted pejoritave, which causes me no shame.

    I gamed the system by obtaining a college degree. I gamed the system by working hard in my chosen trade and rising accordingly. I gamed the system by planning my financial life, instead of just letting it happen to me.

    Fine, call it gaming. I call it planning.

    And if absolutely everyone did it the mess would be fixed. People would look at their insurance premiums and plan a way to maximize their use of them. People would pay cash to the doctor for preventive care, and save accordingly. Doctors offices and insurance companies not having to process as many claims would result in greater efficiencies and savings. This has been proven in one Seattle doctors office. They offered a flat fee for a set number of visits for a family. Because they didn’t have to have 3 billing clerks this fee could be low. Patients loved it, and saved significant money. The state insurance board made them stop, claiming they were offering insurance.

    This kind of bureaucratic meddling and micromanagement is how we’re going to save money. I don’t think so.

  49. 54

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    There is a fundamental misunderstanding among conservatives of what “freedom” and “independence” meant to the founders of our country.

    These were very restricted concepts in the context of those times. Independence meant paying taxes to local governments instead of the king. And freedom meant, quite simply, being governed by local landowners instead of English lords.

    The freedom and independence our forbears fought for never came anywhere near meaning people could do whatever they wanted to. The social expectations and conventions of colonial America were rigid and firmly enforced.

    The slaves weren’t free. Women couldn’t vote. Neither could unlanded males, which meant the artisans and tradesmen who provided the community’s needs had no vote. If a man wanted the simple freedom to choose his own destiny and work for himself, he had to go to the untamed frontier that belonged to no one and was under no government, and wrest it away from the Indians.

    The modern conservative vision of social and economic organization would create a vast dependency of the many upon the few, with no right to choose those making decisions for your life and destiny, no avenue to address your grievances, and no accountability for their failures or the damage they inflict on others. They even want to choose your religion for you, and dictate you what language you must speak, and tell you how you must live. The only people with real freedom under such a system would be the ruling class.

    That isn’t freedom. It’s feudalism.

  50. 55

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 52

    First, if you don’t like it, take it up with the Supreme Court. This was in one of their majority opinions.

    Second, you’re right, in part. I don’t have the right to brandish a gun in public, but do have a right to own one. This is a balance we’ve chosen to protect an individual right (to own a gun) while protecting those of others (to reasonable public safety.) But the bar should be high that allows government intrusion. I have a right to risk and fail, provided I don’t ask others to bear the cost of my failures. The corallary is of course that they don’t get to share in my successes.

  51. 56

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @55 I already have. I spent a lifetime working for government enforcing the laws that have already been upheld by the Supreme Court you refer to so superciliously.

  52. 57

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @55 “I have a right to risk and fail, provided I don’t ask others to bear the cost of my failures.”

    Where have you been? Our entire economy has become a massive risk-shifting con game in which the object is to take all the profits and dump all the risks and losses on others. Anyone who says we have a functioning capitalist system is either lying or deluding himself. America long ago became a system of socialism for the rich and powerful.

  53. 58

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    Wrong Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny…

    There is a fundamental misunderstanding among progressives of what “freedom” and “independence” meant to the founders of our country.

    There, it’s corrected.

  54. 59

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    Wrong Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny…

    The modern progressive vision of social and economic organization would create a vast dependency of the many upon the government, with no right to choose those making decisions for your life and destiny, if you did you’d be fined by the IRS, with no avenue to address your grievances, and no accountability for the progressive government failures or the damage they inflict on others.

    There, it’s corrected.

  55. 60

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 54

    Distinguish between social requirements and legal ones, first. Yes colonial society was more restrictive. So? You could in theory break those conventions without being jailed or legally sanctioned for it.

    Also, the taxes were local because the framers of the Constitution feared and disliked large federal governing. The states and citizens of them explicitly had all rights not specifically given the federal government. Most liberals are at direct odds with this view.

    Injustices occur in any form of government. That’s why the Constitution is periodically amended to repair them. It isn’t perfect, and never will be, but it’s pretty good anyway.

    The last paragraph isn’t an argument. It’s propaganda not worth responding to.

  56. 61

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    Like hell you do. When your actions affect others, society has a right to regulate you.

    So Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny… If Puddy decides to skip purchasing health insurance because Puddy and family are very healthy, why does Nancy Stretch Pelosi think she has the right to fine Puddy $3500 to force me to buy an average policy costing $15,000?

  57. 62

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    They even want to choose your religion for you, and dictate you what language you must speak, and tell you how you must live.

    So Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny, move to Mexico and try speaking English down there. Move to Germany and try speaking English over there. Why does America have to print the election ballot in 8 different languages? Do other countries do that?

  58. 63

    Wunderlick spews:

    @14

    That’s not correct. Medical expenses are deductible to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). In other words, if your AGI is 100,000 and you incur 10,000 in medical expenses, you can only 2,500 (10,000 – 7,500 (100,000 x .075 = 7,500)) = 2,500.

  59. 64

    headless lucy spews:

    re 27: According to your market ideology, the free market shouldn’t need a second chance.

    It’s supposed to be self-regulating by magical market forces, even though the participants are greedy pigs with no conscience or scruple.

  60. 65

    Life in the slow lane spews:

    Two years ago spent 2 months in hospital, a month and a half in critical care, then 2 months on total bed rest. Cost me about $12 to $14 thousand. Best medical care that I ever had in my life. 24/7 excellent RNs. When I got to my bank finally, the balance had grown a couple of thousand.

    Last year I was in the US and had an appendectomy. I was in the hospital less than 18 hours because all of the damn chemicals were killing me, literally I could not breath. Called in a couple of months to get the bill, they could only give me the room charge, no meds, no CT, no RN nothing but a damn bed. $39,000+ for less than 18 hours.

    Screw reform, pack up and move to civilization.

  61. 66

    spews:

    If Puddy decides to skip purchasing health insurance because Puddy and family are very healthy,

    And if one of your family has a catastrophic accident or sudden illness you take him or her to the emergency room, the rest of us has to pick up the tab..

    Niiiiicce….

    force me to buy an average policy costing $15,000?

    You mean you don’t envision getting something cheaper from the “free market”? Is that how much that socialist health care from Seattle you get cost?

  62. 67

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    @51 lostinaseaofblue 01/08/2010 at 4:54 pm,

    Usual tactics for a certain class of kneejerk libs-
    I don’t like what you’re saying and can’t logically dispute it. I’ll resort to petty personal abuse and hope that you lack the clarity of thought to see that I didn’t answer your argument.

    Syllogism:
    All incoherent writers are incoherent thinkers.
    lost cannot write coherently.
    therefore, lost cannot think coherently.

    The answer to your silly Randroid glibertarian argument was made by leading Randroid acolyte, Alan Greenspan, on October 23, 2008.

  63. 68

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 65

    I’m assuming this to be a vignette comparing British or Canadian hospital care to ours. Real or imagined.

    In any case this is the story line, so far as I can make it out. You spent three and a half months at the hospital over a two month period. This is amazing medical care indeed! But it gets better. Full nursing, hospital bed, meds etc cost $14,000 to you. After all this your bank balance was magically higher than before you became ill.

    I call BS. Try agaian.

  64. 69

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 67

    Love to dispute your logic Mike, if there was any.

    See, to call something incoherent only works if it is. Otherwise it’s just you voicing an opinion, to which you’re entitled. Perhaps a remedial English course will help your incomprehension?

  65. 70

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    By the way, a properly constructed syllogism would go more like this.

    All incoherent writers are incoherent thinkers.
    Lost is an incoherent writer.
    Therefore Lost is an incoherent writer.

    You’re welcome. Anything I can do to help educate.

  66. 71

    hey right winger spews:

    lost in a sea of blue:

    seems like you’re ignorant, too.

    you said “the taxes were local because the framers of the Constitution feared and disliked large federal governing.”

    Apparently, you are ignorant of our constitution and how a small committee tasked with fixing the articles of confederation decided to go for a big, big, federal government that had the power to create federal taxes.

    they created an effective federal government, because they disliked the pernicious crazy dumbass effects of having 13 separate governments with only a national confederation of those separate state governments.

    so, your statement is directly wrong.

    Apologize at once for making this error.

    Btw to all right wingers: the UK Conservaitve Party has pledeged, again, to maintain their socialized health care. Seems like those voters like it pretty much. Even the Conservative Party is in favor.

    Seems like pretty much anytime some program is devised whether or not unemployment insuarnce, mandatory auto insurance, social security, etc., the right wingers cry and moan, but then when it is in existence, it is PROVEN TO WORK IN THE REAL WORLD and hundreds of millions of voters in these nations keep it, and conservatives then start saying things like “oh, well, government sucks but I agree, we shouldn’t eliminate medicare!”

    Then in the really funny thing happens. The right wingers agree the government should make you pay child support, should make you education your children, should create sewage systems, should have public power (haven’t been hearing cries for privatizing city light in seattle lately..) should keep medicare etc. etc. ad infinitum…..

    but they still claim to not believe in government programs and to only want an unregulated market solution.

    Wow. It’s the biggest mass of nonsensical contradictiosn you can imagine. It takes a real stupid level of brain power to hold such contradictory views. But people like empty suit obama and lost in a sea of blue are apparently on that level.

    Here’s another funny thing. They know on one level that the copays and exclusions like Goldy mentioned can bankrupt you. If you have a $500,000 treatment but have to pay copay of 20% and all drugs, well, you’re going banktupt. Result: your mortgage isn’t paid. You credit cards aren’t paid. Your bill at MAcy’s isn’t paid, etc.

    They all absorb those losses and pass them on to the rest of us in higher interest rates.

    Another form of hidden, stupid socialism, instead of honest open socialism. But it’s lost in a sea of blue and empty suit obama who want us to have those higher interest rates and who want that hidden, stupid kind of socialism. Half of all banktrupties are medical bankruptcies. This is a major engine of cost shitfing to the rest of us. Funny how the right wingers are in favor of it!

    The morons.

  67. 72

    hey right winger spews:

    hey puddybudlikes flying dutchman:

    I don’t know why you would want to be so ignorant you wouldn’t want to learn foreign languages.

    IF you’ve ever been to Mexico or Europe, you know, don’t you, that very many of the folks over there speak English quite well. They usually welcome your attempts to speak their language, which for most Americans are pretty pathetic, becuse our schools are so bad. The schools in Europe are far better, and the bright kids, pretty much all of them, learn English. As for Mexico they are so close to us and so many ahve worked here or work in tourism, many of them can converse in English. Pero Ud. Sr. puddy, usted es tan estupido que cree que hablar un idioma extranjera es una cosa mala. Que toneteria! Come es que pueda ser tan estupido, amigo? Nunca ha estudiada el espanol, el frances, el aleman? Nunca ha visitado al C.E.? Parece que usted es un gingo muy tipico, quin ignora las culturas extranjeras. Y ademas, no mame tanto, guey!

    Despues que haya aprendido cualquier idioma extranjera, podra Ud. volver a hablear con nosotros sobres la politica de idiomas. Pera ahorita, callese la boca, puddytonto.

    “Soy muy orgulloso de no saber ningun idiomas extranjeros!” que rico……

  68. 73

    hey right winger spews:

    @55 lost in a sea:

    you moron. you say “I have a right to risk and fail, provided I don’t ask others to bear the cost of my failures.”

    you seem really ignorant, dude. When you risk and fail you go bankrupt. The debts you wipe out, often including massive debts for health care, which you had put on your home eq line and your credit cards, get passed onto the rest of us, dipshit. You don’t have to ask for this…it just happens, moron. so shaddup with your pretense of greater responsibility and morality there isn’t one god damned cretinous right winger on this thread who, when they themselves are facing medical treatment and costs not covered in their health plans, that will say:

    “oh no, not me. I know that cancer operation will cost $300,000 and only 80% of ot is covered. You see, I can’t afford the 20% copay so I WILL CHOOSE TO DIE INSTEAD OF SADDLING MY PEERS WITH THE DEBT.”

    I haven’t heard of a single person, ever, who made that choice. Stop pretending you would make it, moron.

    You, like everyone else, will go ahead and get the treatment, live, and say “tough shit, I owe $100,000 now I can’t pay, too bad I ran it up on my credit cards and just owe them, or the hospital…..let them try to collect it.” That’s right moron. That’s what you and everyone else does. You don’t choose dying, over saddling us with your uninsured health care costs. What a lying liar.

  69. 74

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 71

    Try learning your history before pontificating on it.

    A federal government stronger than that instituted under the Articles of Confederation was put in place under our current Constitution. This was strictly limited by giving that government certain very specific duties and powers. ALL others devolve to the states and the citizens of them.

    The federal government, broadly, was supposed to fulfill functions necessary to a strong but limited executive. It is supposed to act when the states separately can’t do what is needed. A judicial system, national defense, arbiter of interstate disputes, and a few other roles are all that the founders envisioned. Jackson and Lincoln pushed these boundaries. Under both presidents the role of the federal government was considerably strengthened, some say in violation of the Constitution itself. For instance, it is not at all clear that any legal authority existed for Lincoln to wage war on seccesionary states.

    For the rest it can boil down to “I love having other people pay for the services my government provides. If we make it so that a tiny minority pay for the vast majority of government expenses we can make the government a cradle to grave nanny for weaklings like me who won’t face the real world. When this majority of thieves go to the ballot box they vote for the chief bandits, so that makes the theft all right.”

    Wow, with reasoning like that I’d hate to be you, buddy.

  70. 75

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Oh, I forgot. The biggest traitor in US history, FDR, expanded the role of the federal government outside any rational or long term workable boundaries. He was a thief, he was man who betrayed the Constitution after vowing to uphold it. In any reasonably honest society he would have been tried, convicted and jailed or hanged.

    This concludes todays’ US history lesson.

  71. 76

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Hey Right Winger,

    One last thing that might help you. There are psychiatrists who specialize in treating the kind of unwholesome rage you vent. Why don’t you use the insurance that your employer is paying for to seek the help you so desperately need.

    It would improve your reasoning abilities. It might help the spelling and syntax so damaged by your rapid fire, rage fueled typing. It might make you a happier person, but I doubt it. I’ve met people like you. If you’re not mad about one thing you’ll find another to get pissed off at.

    Talke care.

  72. 77

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    @70 lostinaseaofblue 01/08/2010 at 7:08 pm,

    By the way, a properly constructed syllogism would go more like this.
    All incoherent writers are incoherent thinkers.
    Lost is an incoherent writer.
    Therefore Lost is an incoherent writer.
    You’re welcome. Anything I can do to help educate.

    Thank-you.
    One last thing. Does the stupid burn as it comes out?

  73. 78

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 77

    A liberal wins one on a technicality. Congratulations. Don’t get used to it.

  74. 79

    ArtFart spews:

    @75 Right….and there was never a terrorist attack on the US while Bush was president.

  75. 80

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 79

    Let’s see. The argument appears to link an intelligence failure (something unintentioned) with the theft of taxpayer money intended to be given to other taxpayers (a crime.)

    But Art is usually more intelligent than that, so I’m sure I misunderstood it.

  76. 81

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    They usually welcome your attempts to speak their language, which for most Americans are pretty pathetic, becuse our schools are so bad.

    Meda pendejo, Where did Puddy say speaking a foreign language a bad thing? You are as bad as Steve, projecting crap all over. Yes Puddy is a Yankee while you are a cabron! Puddy asks why in America, where English is the language, does one have to print multiple language voter brochures. Puddy doesn’t ignore foreign cultures. Puddy been all over the world.

    愚蠢的右翼份子。你不理解問題。是無奈你是一名低能者。 Puddy hopes he got that right since Puddy isn’t that good.

    Maybe you know this… Kandıralı winger hakkı. Anlamıyor musun sorun. Bu çok kötü bir morones.

    It’s a friendly language. See ya!

  77. 82

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Babbling idiot @58 & 59: Howling at the moon doesn’t turn it into green cheese.

  78. 83

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @60 My point is there’s little resemblance between what the founders considered “freedom” and the merging in modern conservative thought of freedom and license.

    Of course, the GOP is not a conservative party, but that’s a whole different issue.

  79. 84

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @61 “So Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny… If Puddy decides to skip purchasing health insurance because Puddy and family are very healthy, why does Nancy Stretch Pelosi think she has the right to fine Puddy $3500 to force me to buy an average policy costing $15,000?”

    For the same reason the state has the right to make motorcyclists wear helmets: So you don’t become a burden on society if you miscalculate.

    When Rep. Jay Inslee held his health care townhall, he quantified the cost to insureds of uninsured freeloaders on the health care system: He said it adds about $1,300 a year to your premium costs.

  80. 85

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @61 (continued) When Rep. Jay Inslee held his health care townhall, he quantified the cost of uninsured freeloaders to the health care system: He said it adds about $1,300 a year to your premiums.

    That’s at least as socialistic — if by socialism you mean taking money from one person to and giving it to another — as anything proposed by the Democrats.

    It logically follows that Republicans who oppose mandatory coverage are the biggest socialists in the game.

  81. 86

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @71 “Seems like pretty much anytime some program is devised … the right wingers cry and moan”

    You’re right, they cried and moaned when the state enacted a mandatory helmet law, never mind that none of them had insurance and cracking their heads open on guardrails could cost the taxpayers millions of dollars for lifetime nursing home care.

    That was a classic case of risk transference: They get the thrill of riding a cycle with the wind blowing in their hair, and taxpayers get the risk of paying stupendous medical bills if anything goes wrong.

    Anytime wingers moan and cry, it almost always has to do with another of their freeloading perks being taken away.

  82. 87

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @71 (continued) There’s a little-discussed concept in economics that conservatives don’t think about very much and may not even be aware of. I called it “friction.”

    The term is very apt. We all know what happens when there’s friction in a machine or drivetrain; and we also know what to do about it: Add lubrication so it runs smoothly and easily.

    Well, economy systems can suffer from friction of various kinds, too. And when they do, it slows down the economic machine and creates inefficiencies. Uncertainty and unpredictability are two of the frictions that can have important adverse effects on an economy.

    Our current health care system is not only a major cost to business, but also a major source of uncertainty and unpredictability. It is very difficult for an enterprise manager to plan a five year project when there’s no way to know what your employee health care costs will be five years out.

    Employers increasingly are trying to deal with this problem by attempting to transfer health care costs and risks to employees. But this introduces a whole new source of friction to the economic wheels: When employees are demoralized, productivity and performance plunges.

    Most of the developed countries have state-run health care systems. Workers in those countries don’t worry about rising premiums, their employers dropping coverage, insurance coverage gaps, copays and deductibles, or whether they can afford to see a doctor if they don’t feel right. That enables them to concentrate on their jobs.

    America simply won’t be able to compete in a 21st century global economy with our rickety 20th century health care system. We either streamline, or die. It’s hard to imagine how any rational person could hold out for keeping a system that leaves millions uninsured and bankrupts the insured. Yet, that’s exactly what every single Republican in Congress wants to do.

    Why would anyone vote for them?

  83. 88

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @75 “The biggest traitor in US history, FDR, expanded the role of the federal government outside any rational or long term workable boundaries.”

    That’s pretty weak gratitude for the guy who saved capitalism and kept America from tipping into socialism or communism.

    There aren’t many people left who remember living through those times. The survival of capitalism was not assured at all. In fact, a majority of Americans believed capitalism wouldn’t survive the Depression.

    But FDR pulled it out of the fire. If you like capitalism, a bit of gratitude might be in order.

  84. 89

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @75 (continued) Let’s review what FDR did. He put the unemployed to work on public works projects. He created unemployment insurance and social security. He strengthened the right of labor to bargain collectively for wages and working conditions. For this, “lost” thinks he should have been hanged. “Lost” is clearly a nut, so why would anyone vote for the people he votes for?

  85. 90

    proud leftist spews:

    Hey, Roger and hey right winger, as well as MikeBoyScout, this thread has been a remarkable revealing of the arrogance of lostinaseaofblue. You boys kicked his ass. He, like Cynical, portrays himself as never having made a wrong decision in life. Most of us know that shit just might flow at us despite the decisions we might make. We understand that we are a community, a state, a nation. We stick together, support each other, and grieve together when such might be necessary. That is the social compact. What the hell happened that the right wing in our nation thinks that Glenn Beck makes more sense than John Locke?

  86. 91

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re Rabbit

    I’ll admit to going too far with respect to FDR. Worst president in American history, but he probably thought he was doing the right thing. After all the carping about partisan ranting I did it myself. Oops.

    Good post at 87. I can disagree with your conclusions but respect the thinking that got you there.

    The bottom line will always remain though that insuring every American will cost more. This isn’t ‘wingnut’ thinking. It’s mathematics. That will have to be paid for, whether we administer it as single payer or through the private market. And that means taxpayers and employers will continue to pay, only more than before.

    Re 90

    Even with the personal abuse this is an insightful post, also.

    A couple things you don’t take account of. I have miscalculated, had bad luck, and generally had to deal with the unforseen. The difference is that I consider this MY problem. You consider it societys’. I’ve said this before, nor have I ever claimed perfection.

    I don’t care for Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh any more than I do Kieth Olbermann or Ed Schultz. All of these people are more interested in ratings and royalty checks than the long term good of the country. They’ll say any lunatic and irresponsible thing to get a reaction and subsequent ratings.
    The social compact is culture specific. For China it means one thing. Here it means something else. I can agree that some activities are impossible to do as an individual. Defending the country, educating kids, protecting our cities from fire and crime, building and maintaining transportation systems and the list could go on. My problem is that by making the government capable of taking care of our needs we make it capable of taking our liberties. I frankly don’t know where the line is drawn. I just feel the left draws it too far on the government side of the equation.

    Have a good evening.

  87. 92

    headless lucy spews:

    re 91: You are so full of yourself. The only thing consistent about you is your bland self assurance and consistenthead up your ass blindness to what others are saying.

    Way at the beginning of this thread, I tried to clue you in to a source of your wrongheadedness by pointing out that your comments were mired in the sort of 19th century thinking that was based upon the reality that there was a frontier to escape to at that time.

    You often speak as if that escape from disatisfaction were still there.

    In short, your thinking is juvenile and mired in the past — and you don’t realize it. You have nothing to teach or offer to anyone on this blog.

    I mention Turner’s frontier hypothesis to you and the fact that you don’t seem to realize the import of it and your response several comments down is: “Huh!”

    You are not even sure what that means. Yet several comments down you are self-assuredly noting that ‘…maybe the whole problem is that we have diffeing philosophies!!’

    I see ypur Huh! and raise you to ‘Duh!’

  88. 93

    proud leftist spews:

    lost @ 91
    I believe in liberty completely; actually, more than you do, I think. I don’t draw the line “on the government side of the equation.” I know this won’t count with someone like you, but I’ve sued “the government” countless times. And, it isn’t about money. Sometimes, we must rely upon courts and juries to keep “our government” in line. We have a tripartite government. People on your side of the aisle hate courts, and you hate juries. Courts can deliberate. (I am not so naive as to suggest they are free of political influence.) That’s our history as a nation, as a great nation. Why do you folks hate the judicial branch?

  89. 94

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 92

    I’m unfamiliar with Turner and his hypothesis, but it sounds interesting. I assume at some point he further projects social problems caused by diminishing frontiers and the release valve they provide. At least this seems to be your point.

    I can’t say I agree or disagree with the author, because I’ve not read him. All I was saying is that much of what I’m inferring wasn’t stated in your post. Absent familiarity with the author it would be difficult to discern your point, or maybe I was just tired.

    Political debate over differing philosophical points of view isn’t the problem. It’s the solution. It’s arguments between convinced and sincere partisans on both sides that result in compromise, hopefully. Most Americans aren’t actively political, and that compromise serves their interests, the interests of the majority.

    Re 93

    More assumptions. Who said I hate courts? I don’t like litigousness for the sake of profit, but courts are the final resort for most of us when the law is out of line. They are the branch of government that curbs the others when they go too far. Juries are the way that our peers have to make sure that justice rather than law is served. I don’t know who you think hates the judicial branch, but it ain’t me.

    Now, I’m going to bed. Have fun.

  90. 95

    proud leftist spews:

    94
    The Republican Party hates lawyers, courts, and juries. Tonight, you seem to be offering an olive branch. That is not what your party does. In any event, goodnight, sweet dreams.

  91. 96

    spews:

    Goldy, I have a theory. And that is that you once applied for a job at the Seattle Times, but they didn’t hire you, and this is what now motivates you to write almost daily Times-bashing posts.

    Goldy, have you ever applied for a job at the Seattle Times?

  92. 97

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    Glad Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny stupidly went there…

    For the same reason the state has the right to make motorcyclists wear helmets: So you don’t become a burden on society if you miscalculate.

    And of course Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny, we all know helmets prevented accidents right? The state can choose to regulate motorcycle use because you choose to ride a bike. Sure you are 3X more likely to have brain injury from non-helmet use. Butt where does the state have the right to tell Puddy if he can breathe or not? And… as always Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny goes there without the facts.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data as evaluated by Gannett News Service demonstrate states without helmet laws have consistently had fewer motorcycle fatalities than states with mandatory helmet laws even though the NTSB asks peeps to wear helmets. So it seems freedom of choice reigns supreme again Herr Goebbels Dumb Bunny.

    States with helmet laws had over 58% of deaths while states without helmet laws had under 42% of the deaths. Butt Puddy knew this because Puddy has been a cyclist since Puddy was 21. Mrs Puddy likes to ride too!

    Staying dumb is your latest motto!

  93. 98

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    The Republican Party hates lawyers, courts, and juries.

    What a crock from the crockmeister him self Proud Goatist! It’s your party who uses the courts to thwart the will of the people. Just look at all the money being spent by the Dingbat Moonbat!s against Prop 8 in CA. The People voted and the Dingbat Moonbat!s lawyered up and are now in the courts.

    You are so full of it others attack you regularly Proud Goatist!

  94. 99

    Puddybud Likes Flying Dutchmen spews:

    You are so full of yourself. The only thing consistent about you is your bland self assurance and consistenthead up your ass blindness to what others are saying.

    headless looked in the mirror and projected his useless qualities on lostinaseaofblue.

    Par for the course.

  95. 100

    Spencer Hill spews:

    Healthcare should be a personal responsibility. It should not be provided by your employer paying for insurance. If we all had to directly pay for our healthcare with cash, HSA, or insurance and be reimbursed, healthcare inflation would be considerably lower.

    Most people want health insurance so they put in $5 for $100 of healthcare they receive – thats wrong. With exception of 3 years in the last 22 years of having my own insurance has insurance really worked. Those three years had two births and one tib-fib fracture; net effect probably break even after the cost of insurance that year.The other years were total losers.

    We all would probably be better off with an HSA and a catastrophic healthcare policy.

  96. 101

    hey right winger spews:

    health care should be a personal responsibility? you smoking crack cocaine?

    when people face staggering health care costs they NEVER say “oh yes I accept personal responsibility. So therefore since I can’t pay back the 20% copay I will run up on my cancer treatment, a 20% that could be $100,000, I will DECLINE THE TREATMENT AND KILL MYSELF THRU NOT GETTING TREATMENT. Because I am so personally responsible, I really don’t want to incur that debt that will be passed on to everyone else thru the magic of the market or insurance premiums or thru the bankruptcy system when I default on all my debts. Nope, instead, I will bravely die.”

    And you sir, are talking shit if you are telling us you would act that way. Really. Get a clue, dude.

    when YOU get your illness that puts you out of work for three years (thus eating up all your savings you personally responsibly amassed over 20 years) and requires half a million in treatment (which you personally responsibly covered thru getting insurance…but only to the tune of 80%…and only up to a limit for a given treatment….leaving you holding the bag for $100,000 or $150,000 that you CAN”T pay…) you are NOT going to say “oh stop this expensive treatment, I can’t afford it, I would rather DIE than incur treatment I can’t pay for.”

    So just drop the personal responsiblity shit, okay? It’s a myth.

    And take a look around the world. France, UK, Japan, etc. NO personal bankruptcies thru health costs…NONE. They socialize in advance, the smart way, so everyone gets treated. We socialize on the back end, via personal bankruptcy…the dumb way…and thru a system in which many don’t get treated …. all the nations with socialized medicine LOVE IT AND LOVE THE COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY APPROACH becuase there isn’t ONE of them that ever created socialized medicine and then rejected it.

    You right wingers can never answer why that would be, if it doesn’t work. You talk about airy fairy principles and free market this and government intrustion that, but all over the world, every nation that has socialized medicine LOVES IT and most have free elections and constantly ratify it and keep it and decide to keep it in every election. Becuase even the conservative parties come to love it and want to keep it because IT WORKS WELL.

    All your individualistic crap is defeated by FACTS on the ground in all these nations.

    You would thinkt hat for conservatives going with well tested programs and real experience is a virture. Instead of relying on airy fairy principles out of blue air….ideals that don’t work in practice….ideals based on a overly optimistic view of human nature that is unrealistic….turns out, it’s the right winger idiots who are the airy fairy idealists with their head in the clouds and it’s the liberals on this issue who have decades of real world experience to point to in about 30 nations …..the liberals are more conservative, really, the right wingers are the airy fairy idealists….

    funny, isn’t it.

    Kind of goes along with denying evolution and imagining that if you have gun laws you will descend into totalitarianism….you know, the way that France Sweden Canada Denmark etc. are all totalitarian states now? with all their gulags?

    REally these right wingers must be taking LSD. There’s no other explanation for their weird other worldly views.

  97. 102

    spews:

    lost @ 94

    Who said I hate courts? I don’t like litigousness for the sake of profit, but courts are the final resort for most of us when the law is out of line.

    My view of our courts is emphatically more positive.

    Our open markets are only possible because we have the rule of law and a fair and impartial judiciary. (Ideally, of course.)

    The overhead costs of courts, litigation, arbitration, etc. of open markets is far less than the alternatives of gray markets, black markets, and command economies.

    The result is our society is able to more efficiently conduct business and allocate the freed resources more effectively.

    Were we to ever get actual “free markets”, where there is no rule of law, no dispute resolution, no regulation, no recourse, we’d snap back to a feudal society. (Hint: we’d be the serfs.)

  98. 103

    spews:

    hey @ 101

    I was raised as a liberal Christian. Small stuff. Love God, love yourself, love each other. Help each other. Don’t judge. Don’t be a dick.

    I wasn’t aware of the prosperity Christian belief system. I had no notion that poor people were wicked and deserved their fate (cite: policies leading to Irish potato famine). I had no idea that illness was caused by sin.

    That bent belief system is widespread. One example: a Tony Robbins minions told me germ theory was bunk and that illness is caused by bad thoughts.

    As though I gave myself aplastic anemia (at 18), spinal meningitis, shingles, whooping cough, etc.

    Everyone is going to have a major medical incident. Everyone. They will be unemployed (unemployable), depressed, and need help.

    When that happens, should our society hold their head under water until they drown in debt, force them to declare bankruptcy, and tell them “Fuck you, you deserved it.”

    You and I don’t think so. We understand that we all do better when we all do better.

    I don’t know what mental defect causes trogs to blame individuals for their misfortune.

    Seeing how humanity is hard-wired for altruism, I suspect it’s a regressive gene, a pathology, or a conditioned response to abuse (addiction, violence).

  99. 105

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    @100 Spencer Hill 01/09/2010 at 9:16 am,

    Why would health care inflation would be considerably lower if we all had to directly pay for our healthcare or insurance with cash, or tax free HSA-s?

    We pay for post secondary education out of our own pocket and the rate of cost for that exceeds the CPI.

    Despite personally held religious beliefs in invisible hands the most cost effective and highest qualitative outcomes in health care have not come from so called free markets.
    The most cost effective and highest qualitative outcomes in health care are in countries with universal coverage.

  100. 106

    spews:

    lost @ 91

    I have miscalculated, had bad luck, and generally had to deal with the unforseen. The difference is that I consider this MY problem. You consider it societys’.

    Two things.

    Everyone gets a second chance.

    Not all fortune is the same. Some risks you choose, with the support of others (e.g. investors). Others are just a part of life.

    Say you start a business. It fails. Declare bankruptcy. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and then run right back up that hill. Our society permits this kind of “do over” because it’s better for everyone for the ambitious to try again.

    Say you get cancer. You’re unemployed. You have no income. Do you really think you should be crushed by debt, lose your house, your retirement savings, your ability to feed your kids, etc.? I think your life should hold steady until you can support yourself again. Maybe you have to give up the toys, like a big house, boss stereo, the daily latte. But illness shouldn’t make you a pauper.

  101. 107

    spews:

    Mike @ 105

    I’ve been reading about commercial capture and regulatory capture. Our current medical treatment system is a rigged game. (It’s not “healthcare”.)

    The free market cultists and personal responsibility nags willfully ignore economic reality.

    I’d almost be sympathetic to market-based notions if they bothered to come up with ways to empower consumers and maximize choice.

    Alas, such a system does not, cannot exist for healthcare. I can choose to not buy a latte. Or buy a cheaper car. When I’m sick, my two choices are taking it in the teeth or dying.

  102. 108

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    The free market cultists and personal responsibility nags willfully ignore economic reality.

    Spoken like a true ignorant socialist.
    When did you start hating the Constitution, Jason?

  103. 109

    spews:

    lost @ 75

    FDR actively redistributing wealth (downward), making a middle class.

    A middle class is the result of policy, not capitalism.

    Under capitalism, the rich get richer. Not a value statement, it’s just mathematics.

    Ever play Monopoly?

    Me, personally, I’m pretty happy that I’m middle class.

    What class are you? I’m guessing middle. Then you and I both should be grateful to the leaders who rammed progressive reforms down the throats of the wannabe aristocrats.

    Without FDR and his ideological successors, 99% of Americans would be dirt farmers, begging for more pudding.

  104. 110

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    @108 Empty Suit Obama 01/09/2010 at 12:30 pm,

    Don’t you think the economic benefit of slavery ensconced in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers should be restored?

  105. 111

    spews:

    empty @ 108

    You mean the pursuit of liberty and justice for all? Yea, I got that part.

    We had to memorize the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble, and identify all the major parts. I don’t remember all the words. But I’m fully aware of the decisions and sacrifices made on my behalf so that I can enjoy the life I now hold dear.

  106. 112

    spews:

    empty @ 108

    Democracy is the alternative to capitalism. Not socialism. And I am an unrepentant advocate for Democracy [sic].

    This the third millennium. Please try to keep up. You can do your SCA reenactments on your own time.

  107. 113

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    We had to memorize the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble, and identify all the major parts. I don’t remember all the words.

    Perhaps that’s your problem.

  108. 114

    spews:

    empty @ 113

    And you do?

    Take a care with your judgement. You risk being held to the same standards.

    Are you man enough?

    Or will you be found wanting?

    Please.

    Continue.

  109. 115

    headless lucy spews:

    re 94: Any 8th grade graduate who is ‘unfamiliar with Turner’s hypothesis’ definitely got a social promotion.

  110. 116

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Take a care with your judgement(sic).

    Why?

    Where in those documents you speak of would American’s be obligated to purchase from a public or private entity a service?

    You can’t produce one can you? More bullshit from a bullshitter, Jason Osgood.

  111. 117

    spews:

    empty @ 116

    Third millennium. Remember? Progress marches on. Please try. You’re slowing everyone else down.

    Did the Constitution say the government needed to provide emergency services? And yet here we are, with police, fire, and ambulances. Our govt also provides water and sewage. And lots of other things we’d be loathe to forfeit.

    What I find most enjoyable about our little exchanges is how you mock me, not my ideas.

    Where in all your bile is your notion for reducing healthcare costs?

    (Queue sound of birds chirping.)

    I think I offered before… Offer one idea, any idea, and I’ll buy you a beer. Just know that you’ll have to defend your idea. But I’ll play fair.

    You man enough?

  112. 118

    headless lucy spews:

    To be middle class is to be truly free. You are neither the ruler nor are you ruled.

    I learned that studying John Locke.

  113. 119

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Jason @ 117 obfuscates:

    Progress marches on. Please try. You’re slowing everyone else down.

    Just answer the question, dumbass.

    Where in all your bile is your notion for reducing healthcare costs?

    Tort reform. See? it’s not that hard if you think about it, Jason.

  114. 120

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    And yet here we are, with police, fire, and ambulances. Our govt also provides water and sewage. And lots of other things we’d be loathe to forfeit.

    Those are done at a local/community level. What you’d like to see is a bureaucrat in D.C. deciding whether or not you receive an operation.

    Please try to keep up with the conversation, Jason.

    As we all know, the farther away from the people you represent, the lesser the representation for the people.

  115. 121

    uptown spews:

    Those are done at a local/community level. What you’d like to see is a bureaucrat in D.C. deciding whether or not you receive an operation.

    Yeah, cause Medicare really sucks, compared to what the states offer.

  116. 122

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Yeah, cause Medicare really sucks

    Well, it is bankrupt isn’t it? Just like every other Federal government run program.

  117. 123

    spews:

    Little Empty Suited Dumbass is the perfect example of today’s right winger:

    Consumed by a bottomless hatred and rage towards those who don’t share his views. And who in their right mind would? Look at how he’s continuously fueled by right wing delusions: the existence of death panels, waterboarding isn’t torture, what else – Saddam was involved with 9/11.. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fool was a birther as well.

    It goes on and on…

  118. 125

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Consumed by a bottomless hatred and rage towards those who don’t share his views.

    Sounds more like David Goldstain than me. But then, you’re a confused soul with no job nor any education of note, so it is to be expected your ignorance would shine through with any comment you make.

  119. 126

    spews:

    empty @ 119

    Tort reform. See? it’s not that hard if you think about it, Jason.

    That’s a good boy.

    Now the hard part, defending your position.

    What jurisdictions implemented tort reform, specifically towards malpractice? What impact did that reform have on costs, patient care, or both.

    Hint: Google for “texas tort reform healthcare”.

    An intellectually honest person, not that I’m accusing you have of being one, would cite both the pro and con arguments, weighing the difference.

    Have at it.

    (Your free beer will be waiting for you at Drinking Liberally Tues 1/19.)

  120. 127

    spews:

    empty @ 122

    So let me get this straight.

    Medicare costs less and provides better healthcare than private insurance.

    So your argument against universal health care with a single payer, which would halve the cost per capita, is that Medicare doesn’t save enough?

    There’s probably some sort of ideological basis your “new math”, but for the life of me, I just don’t see how 2 + 2 = Fish.

  121. 128

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Now the hard part, defending your position.

    That’s mighty ballsy of someone that supports a ‘behind the scenes’ formation of a ‘healthcare reform’ bill, despite the president’s repeated calls for transparency in the proceedings. Like him, Jason, you’re less than honest.

    Read this and get back to me.

  122. 129

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Medicare costs less and provides better healthcare than private insurance.

    Are you denying Medicare is going bankrupt? A simple yes or no is sufficient to answer the question. Are you capable of that, Jason?

  123. 130

    headless lucy spews:

    re 119: “Medical malpractice payouts are less than one percent of total U.S. health care costs. All “losses” (verdicts, settlements, legal fees, etc.) have stayed under one percent for the last 18 years. Moreover, medical malpractice premiums are less than one percent of total U.S. health care costs as well. Dropping for nearly two decades, malpractice premiums have stayed below one percent of health care costs. Americans for Insurance Reform, “Think Malpractice is Driving Up Health Care Costs? Think Again,” http://www.insurance-reform.or.....hcosts.pdf.”

    For Conservobots like you, facts never penetrate your carapace.

  124. 131

    headless lucy spews:

    re 119: What do you think tort reform is — a different way to make English pastries?

    Once we have universal health care you can have all the tort reform you like.

  125. 133

    spews:

    lucy @ 131

    Exactly. Who would you sue?

    Their other boogieman, fraud, is also sharply reduced with a single payer.

    I’m amused that the trogs pass over dollars to pick up pennies. It’s all very principled, of course.

  126. 134

    spews:

    empty @ 128

    Your defense of tort reform is a single editorial, by a lobbyist, published in the Moonie Times? [*]

    Okay. I see what happened. Seeing how you’ve probably never written an essay, I’ll try to explain how this works.

    First you state your position.

    Then you cite data and arguments that support your position.

    Then you cite data and arguments that contradict your position. Then you must demonstrate how they’re wrong.

    Simply linking to e. boli conservative ideologues really isn’t enough.

    Now, I know you can do this. You want a good beer, right? Because, right now, all you’ve earned is a Kanokee. And it’d pain me knowing that your free beer was piss water. Just a little bit more effort, and you’ll earn a Bud. Really try, and you can get a Mac & Jack or Fat Tire.

    But I want to see real effort. You’re (obviously) not being graded on correctness. But I will reward sincere effort.

    [*] I’d think you conservatives would be saavy enough to put some distance between you and any guy who thinks he’s Jesus.

  127. 135

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    I applaud your principled opposition to civil society and your efforts to dismantle it.~ jason osgood

    Once again, those are local government entities. What does that have to do with the federal government determining whether or not you or your loved ones receive treatment or an operation?

    2 questions still unanswered by Jason Osgood:

    1-Where in the Constitution does is it obligate private citizens to purchase a public or private service?

    2- Is the current Medicare program that you like to highlight as a success going bankrupt? and is that already bankrupt system going to be unsustainable in maintaining with the baby boomer generation going into it?

    It’s little wonder you’ve lost your elections so far, Jason. You’re clearly not a deep thinker, merely a bullshitter.

  128. 136

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    You want a good beer, right? Because, right now, all you’ve earned is a Kanokee. And it’d pain me knowing that your free beer was piss water.

    Never heard of “Kanokee” beer, but I prefer amber ales myself.

    Just answer the questions @ 135, Jason. Quit deflecting. Do you have the balls to do this?

  129. 137

    spews:

    empty @ 136

    Says the Anonymous Coward. Heh.

    I think I see the problem. Your fundamental misunderstanding of, well, everything, leads you to ask really silly questions.

    #1 Our Constitution enumerates the rights of citizens, not of governments.

    #2 You fixate on “bankrupt” as though Medicare is operated for-profit. Is the Pentagon bankrupt? The Department of Agriculture?

    Start asking meaningful questions, you’ll get meaningful answers.

  130. 138

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    @ 137

    Still unable to answer the questions posed , eh Jason?

    For once in your life, answer the questions @ 135 with some integrity (though you’ve shown none here). I’ve dumbed it down to a “yes” or “no” in order for you to be at least have a shred of crediblity lett. What say you, Jasopn?

  131. 139

    spews:

    empty @ 136

    Actually, now you’ve got me curious.

    Why do you think this particular bill, where it requires citizens to buy insurance, is unconstitutional?

    Or is this just another winger talking point? All smoke and no fire?

    (Are you also one of those “income taxes are illegal” fruitcakes?)

    PS- I’m sorry my answers don’t satisfy your need to catch me in a trap. Keeping score here, you haven’t done so well yourself.

  132. 140

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Keep it safe, Jason. Just dont answer the questions posed at 135.It’s easier to have your head firmly planted in the sand, right?

    I’m sorry my answers don’t satisfy your need to catch me in a trap.

    Cowards like you never do like to deal with real questions, I understand that.

  133. 141

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @139 They think it’s “unconstitutional” for senators to use their votes as leverage to bargain for *ahem* Medicaid funding for their own states.

  134. 142

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    Dumbass @ 141~ So you agree that Ben Nelson’s deal is constitutional?

    You prove yourself to be more ignorant of the law with each comment you make.

    Keep it up, dumbass.

  135. 144

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The health care law will be passed, signed, and challenged. SCOTUS will upheld it, but that doesn’t matter. These stupid trolls still call the income tax, Federal Reserve, abandonment of the gold standard, and social security “unconstitutional” even though all of them were upheld by the court decades ago. It doesn’t matter how many times you wave Kerry’s medical records or Obama’s birth certificate in front of them; the tinfoil hat crowd continues to pick up microwaves from outer space that tell them otherwise. They believe what they want to believe, and that’s the end of it. It’ll take more energy than this solar system possesses to drag them into the reality-based universe from the antigravity hole they fell into.

  136. 145

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @142 (continued) It’s so fucking constitutional that even Bush’s wingnut court will uphold it, probably unanimously. Wait and see.

  137. 146

    spews:

    RR @ 141

    You’re a lawyer. (Clearly, from @ 137, I’m not. Govt’s rights are enumerated. Oops.)

    Do you understand the winger talking point that empty’s mindlessly repeating? (Working it like dog with a new chew toy.)

    From what I gather Sen Ensign introduced a stalking horse bill for the purpose of spinning the wingnuts up into a lather. Mission accomplished. (Too bad he didn’t show such concern when Team Bush was using the Constitution for toilet paper. We all remember the “It’s just a piece of paper” comment.)

    They have two arguments.

    First, the US govt can only do things which serve the general welfare. If taking care of all sick people isn’t in the general welfare, then I don’t know what is.

    Second, some nonsense about interstate commerce. I can’t make heads or tails of it. So, knowing the wingers just make shit up to instill fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD), my default answer is this bill is legal.

    But I accept that, not having any legal background, the meaning and interpretation of the legalese may be lost on me.

    Now I know what you’re thinking: Why bother? Empty’s just a bozo, ignore him. Right?

    Because these wingers love playing “gotcha” (see above) and we progressives need to be prepared to swat down all these specious arguments as they come up.

    Thanks.

    PS- I’m deeply amused that empty can’t say why this bill is illegal. That would require some independent thought. A bridge too far? Apparently.

  138. 147

    dave spews:

    @146 Now I know what you’re thinking: Why bother? Empty’s just a bozo, ignore him. Right?

    Good idea, Jason, find a little support cuz you’re not having much success on your own (your Medicare thinking is inept!). A little advice though: Roger Rabbit is not the best choice for a tag team partner!

  139. 148

    spews:

    empty @ everywhere

    You keep mentioning my campaign for Sec of State. Your fixation is weird enough that I think I should address it.

    You and my mother are the only two people who thought I had a chance to win. Even so, I’m sorry to have disappointed you.

    The truth is I’m just a regular guy. I believe votes should be privately cast and publicly counted. Crazy talk, I know.

    I was asked by the party chair to fill a hole. I also believe no Republican should ever get a free pass. Being the team player that I am, I stepped up, when no one else would.

    From your perspective, what’s worse: trying and failing (me) or not trying at all (you)?

    I already committed to supporting your campaign, should you ever decide to run. Doing so will change everything you think about politics.

    Do you have the stones?

  140. 149

    Emily spews:

    Jason,

    Just saw your blog. You wrote:

    “I have lots of meds. It physically pains me to toss the empties in the trash.”

    I’m curious what the meds are for?

  141. 151

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @146 “Do you understand the winger talking point that empty’s mindlessly repeating?”

    Yeah, sort of, to the extent there can be any logic to such things.

    Senator Nelson was the last Democrat holdout. To secure his vote, Reid inserted a proviso for the federal government to pay the cost of expanded Medicaid coverage in Nebraska.

    Several Republican state attorney generals, including our own Rob McKenna, signed a letter to House Speaker Pelosi asserting this proviso is unconstitutional “arbitrary” legislation, whatever the hell that is.

    Of course, our Empty Head friend is clueless about what the details of his side’s argument are. He merely squawks like a chicken on command.

    The irony is that Nelson says he asked for the proviso to help his state’s governor, Republican Dave Heineman. But Heineman disowned it and attacked the health reform bill, so Nelson has told Heineman he’s prepared to remove the proviso in conference “if that is your desire” — which means it isn’t even going to be in the final bill.

  142. 152

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    143. Roger Rabbit spews:

    @142 Of course it is, you stupid shit.

    That just proves how little you know about the law, dumbass. The SCOTUS will strike it down despite retarded leftists on the bench like Sotomayor, Ginsberg and Souter.

  143. 153

    Empty Suit Obama spews:

    From your perspective, what’s worse: trying and failing (me) or not trying at all (you)?

    You, of course, as I have no aspirations to run for office. I could realy care less what your political ambitions are. I just know that you lack the moral integrity to answer the 2 simple questions posed to you @ 135. Care to try again?

    Don’t ask the rodent for advice as he is clearly off his meds…

  144. 154

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Here’s the relevant portion of the GOP letter:

    “The undersigned state attorneys general … write to express our grave concern with the Senate version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act …. The current iteration of the bill contains a provision that affords special treatment to the state of Nebraska under the feeral Medicaid program. We believe this provision is constitutionally flawed. …

    It has been reported the Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s vote … was secured only after striking a deal that the federal government would bear the cost of newly eligible Nebraska Medicaid enrollees. In marked contrast all other states … would be reuired to allocate substantial sums … to accommodate H.R. 3590’s new Medicaid mandates. In addition to violating the most basic and universally held notions of what is fair and just, we also believe this provision … is consistent with protections afforded by the United States Constitution against arbitrary legislation.

    “In Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619, 640 (1937), the United States Supreme Court warned that Congress does not posses the right under the Spending Power to demonstrate a “display of arbitrary power.” Congressional spending cannot be arbitrary and capricious. The spending power of Congress inclues authority to accomplish policy objectives by conditioning receipt of federal funds on compliance with statutory objectives, as in the Medicaid program. However, the power is not unlimited and “must be in pursuit of the ‘general welfare.'” South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203, 207 (1987). In Dole the Supreme Court stated, “that conditions on federal grants might be illegitimate if they are unrelated to the federal interest in particular national projects or programs.” … It seems axiomatic that the federal interest in H.R. 3590 is not siply requiring universal health care, but also ensuring that the states share with the federal government the cost of providing such care to their citizens. This federal interest is evident from the fact this legislation would require every state, except Nebraska, to shoulder its fair share of the increased Medicaid costs the bill will generate. The provision of the bill that relieves a single state from this cost-sharing program appears to be not only unrelated, but also antithetical to the legitimate federal interests in the bill.

    “The fundamental unfairness of H.R. 3590 may also give rise to claims under the due process, equal protection, privileges and immunities clauses and other provisions of the Constitution. As a practical matter, the deal struck by the United States Senate on the “Nebraska Compromise” is a disadvantage to the citizens of 49 states. Every state’s tax dollars, except Nebraska’s, will be devoted to cost-sharing reuired by the bill, and will be therefore unavailable for other essential state programs. … Since the oly basis for the Nebraska preference is arbitrary and unrelated to the substance of the legislation, it is unlikely that the difference would survive even minimal scrutiny.” (Emphases added.)

    This letter paints with an extremely broad brush. I’ve italicized certain sections to emphasize just how much it relies on very broad generalizations without citations to supporting legal cases.

    The letter is far less than a legal brief. It cites only two cases. In any constitutional challenge to the health reform bill — and there surely will be several — the briefs will be hundreds of pages long, the court will write a lengthy decision, and a large number of cases will be cited and discussed. This letter is so sketchy, and its format so declarative, that it wouldn’t get a passing grade in a first-year writing class in any law school.

    Now let’s discuss the two cases cited in the GOPers’ letter. Helvering v. Davis is the case that upheld the constitutionality of Social Security, stating that welfare spending need only be for some common purpose. If anything, it supports the constitutionality of H.R. 3590. In Dole v. South Dakota, the court upheld federal legislation docking 5% of federal highway funds to states that failed to raise their drinking age to 21. This case is of interest because, in it, the court set forth a 4-part validity test when Congress places conditions on federal spending:

    1. The condition must promote “the general welfare;”

    2. The condition must be unambiguous;

    3. The condition should relate “to the federal interest in particular national projects or programs;” and

    4. Other constitutional provisions may provide an independent bar to the conditional grant of federal funds.

    In the Dole case, the first three points were uncontested. The state’s argument under the 4th prong was that the federal government sought to directly regulate the state in violation of the 10th Amendment. The court rejected this argument, saying the legislation only pressured, and did not compel, states to raise their drinking age.

    As you probably can see, the Republican attorney generals basically have flipped the arguments of both cases. They’re using a case that upheld a federal welfare program to argue that another federal welfare program should be struck down. And they’re using a case that said Congress can withhold federal benefits from states to argue that it can’t give federal benefits to a state. This is not an impossible argument to win, but it is a difficult kind of logic to argue a case with.

    Lawyers often use analogies to make legal points. The one that comes to my mind is this: If giving Nebraska extra money for their Medicaid costs is unconstitutional, then by analogy, every bill that funds a bridge or other federal project in a specific state also is unconstitutional.

    As a practical matter, if the Nelson provision does stay in the final bill, it will be easy to uphold if the Solicitor General can come up with any kind of colorable rationale for helping Nebraska in this manner. Federal laws simply don’t have to treat all states the same, and they’re not arbitrary so long as there is any rational basis for treating them differently. That will be easy to find.

    Another important point is that courts never inquire into the motives of legislators in voting for or against legislation under challenge. They determine the law’s constitutionality on its face. Why Congress, a state legislature, a city council, or other legislative body enacted it is irrelevant.

  145. 156

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Amazing that this thread is still going.

    But Empty Suit does raise a point only peripherally answered. Yes the court upheld income tax and the other things Rabbit mentioned. That doesn’t on it’s face make this bill constitutional. To require a citizen to purchase a product or face jail is dicey at best. Will it be upheld? Almost certainly. That elastic clause should be stricken from the Constitution as dangerous and expensive inadvertency.

    Jason, two things that occur to me. One, you claim fraud would decrease significantly under single payer. Fraud in medicare was estimated at 80 billion (with a ‘b’) last year. That’s 20% of the program budget and doesn’t even account for medicaid. Second, even liberals should be disgusted at the votes sold to the democrats by Nelson and his couterpart from Louisianna. That is corruption, call it whatever other name you like.

    Whether “providing for the general welfare” includes health care is questionable at best. It opens the door to unwarranted government intrusion into our lives. The general welfare could mean anything, and should be strictly limited to necessary government activity within the positive grant laid down by the Constitution.

  146. 157

    doggril spews:

    There is no issue that highlights the Republicans’ core philosophy of “I’ve got mine. Screw you.” than the current healthcare situation.
    You can’t honestly call it a debate, as long the stupids bring guns to public meetings, shout representatives down, disrupt town halls and march around with misspelled signs that parrot meaningless slogans supplied by their masters. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic, and if vulnerable people weren’t suffering.

  147. 158

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @156 “Yes the court upheld income tax and the other things Rabbit mentioned. That doesn’t on it’s face make this bill constitutional.”

    No, but the presumption of validity does.

    “To require a citizen to purchase a product or face jail is dicey at best.”

    Compulsion, per se, does not render a statute unconstitutional. If that were so, the income tax, military draft, and traffic laws would all be held unconstitutional.

  148. 159

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @156 (continued) “Fraud in medicare was estimated at 80 billion (with a ‘b’) last year. That’s 20% of the program budget and doesn’t even account for medicaid.”

    First of all, Medicaid has nothing to do with Medicare. They are separate programs with distinct funding sources. Medicare is an entitlement funded by payroll taxes; Medicaid is welfare funded by general tax revenues. The only thing they have in common is both programs pay for health care. In that respect, private health insurance also has that in common.

    Your figures of $80 billion and 20% are bullshit. They came from Fox News, which got them from GOP Sen. Tom Coburn — these are hardly objective sources.

    Using Coburn’s data, the percentage would be 3%, not 20%, which is on a par with the fraud rate in private insurance.

    It should also be pointed out that it isn’t the government that’s stealing from Medicare and Medicaid. All of the theft from these programs is being committed by the private, for-profit, sector.

    http://horsesass.org/?p=23684&.....ent-974845

    “Second, even liberals should be disgusted at the votes sold to the democrats by Nelson and his couterpart from Louisianna. That is corruption, call it whatever other name you like.”

    This is nothing but shrill partisan hyperbole. Legislative horsetrading is the stuff of daily politics. Give it a rest!

    And you certainly have a weird perspective on things. What disgusts liberals is American politicians behaving like Nazis — warmongering, kidnapping and torturing innocent people, systematically lying to the public about their activities, secretly violating laws and even the Constitution — Republicans are a lawless bunch, and we’re disgusted by it. But not a peep out of you.

    No, what we get from you and your ilk is bloody screaming over anything Democrats do — whether it’s health care, food stamps, extended unemployment benefits, you name it — that helps ordinary Americans struggling to survive in a Republican-caused economic depression that has reduced millions to poverty.

    Take, for example, GOP congressman John Linder: He thinks businesses shouldn’t pay taxes and poor people shouldn’t get food stamps. I don’t see how anyone who votes for someone like that can call himself a “Christian.”

  149. 161

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @157 They’re always willing to spend trillions of other peoples’ taxes to kill people in foreign lands, but they won’t spend a penny to help their fellow Americans.

  150. 162

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Reply as you like, Roger, I’ve got other things to do than keep this coversation up.

    But, for reference-

    I’ve consistently cried foul regarding violations of civil rights perpetrated by anyone. I don’t care if they put a ‘d’ or an ‘r’ after their names. We injure our cause by not giving detainees due process, cost what it might. Justice always pays dividends though the delay can be hell on poll driven politicians. I called Bush bailouts a bad idea, and do so for Obama bailouts too.

    I get that ‘ordinary Americans’ are struggling. Compassion sometimes takes the long view and lets them work through their problems though. Lessons learned in tough times tend to be the most indelible. My grandmother lived through the Great Depression, and talked about it periodically until her death.

  151. 163

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    By the way, ‘our cause’ means the American cause. This doesn’t mean the Republican or Democrat cause to me. It means that we do what we’ve always done best ; provide a level playing field and let the best person win.

  152. 164

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    “I’ve consistently cried foul regarding violations of civil rights perpetrated by anyone.”

    Not here you havn’t.

    “…provide a level playing field and let the best person win.”

    There has never been a ‘level playing field’ here. Level in some respects, skewed in others. That’s the rub.

  153. 166

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    “It opens the door to unwarranted government intrusion into our lives.”

    But unauthorized wiretapping, torture, unrestrained state power to determine who is an ‘enemy combatant’, endless war….well, I guess ‘general welfare’ can indeed mean anything.

  154. 167

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Jason,

    EsO’s questions at #135 are really mendaciously dumb, but I’d answer this way:

    1. Congress has the power to levy taxes, and thus citizens of the states are obligated to pay for a “public service”, i.e., federal programs as defined by the laws passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. Apparently EsO has some kind of deep seated objection to this process. Well, if so, fuck him.

    2. Medicare is a very successful program. It is the underlying ‘private’ cost structure that is driving the federal budget toward insolvency. Perhaps EsO advocates the dismantling of Medicare…perhaps you should ask the fucker if that is his opinion.

  155. 168

    spews:

    lost @ 156

    …you claim fraud would decrease significantly under single payer.

    Correct. But let me clarify, fraud would be decreased under universal health care with a single payer.

    #1 The accounting systems will be more simple, so far easier to audit.

    #2 With a capitation model, providers are rewarded for saving money.

    (RR’s point that fraud is committed by for profit entities against tax payers is keen. It’s a marvel that trogs get worked up about Medicare fraud, but remain mute over defense related fraud, which dwarfs all other fraud.)

    I work in healthcare. That has greatly informed my election integrity activism. The similarity surprised me.

    Auditing elections has been all the rage. I found some books on auditing healthcare, covering forensics accounting and explaining techniques. Since election auditing is completely new, I thought I’d learn how others do it. Too birds, one stone.

    In any human activity, there will always be the risk of fraud. But universal healthcare with a single payer is significantly less prone to it than our current system. (For the reasons above.)

    Second, even liberals should be disgusted at the votes sold to the democrats by Nelson and his couterpart from Louisianna. That is corruption, call it whatever other name you like.

    No one asked me if I support SB 3590. You’ve read my writings. You have to ask? Please.

    It opens the door to unwarranted government intrusion into our lives.

    That happened a long time ago. I could go on and on about our lose of privacy.

    You may not have noticed, but I was the guy campaigning to protect everyone’s secret ballot, while the imcumbent is busily outsourcing everyone’s voting records to cronies.

    I’m all about protecting individual’s privacy. And today, you have none. Zip. Nadda. Nil. No privacy. Whatsoever.

    Compare privacy protections in the EU and the USA. They have national IDs and universal healthcare. They also have consumer protection and privacy laws that we could only dream of.

    Paradoxically, having a national ID system is one of the tools that enables protecting people’s privacy.

    (It’s a geek thing. I can explain more over a beer. Briefly, with a single, stable, unique identifier, you can use encrypt people’s records. Because we currently don’t have that unique identifier, all records must remain plaintext, otherwise you’d confuse people. Sadly, the RealID opponents got it all backwards.)

  156. 169

    dave spews:

    Using Coburn’s data, the percentage would be 3%, not 20%, which is on a par with the fraud rate in private insurance.

    ??? Perhaps you could run through the numbers carefully and re-explain this comment. And you should read the article you cite more carefully. You are number challenged, that’s obvious.

    It should also be pointed out that it isn’t the government that’s stealing from Medicare and Medicaid. All of the theft from these programs is being committed by the private, for-profit, sector.

    The point being what, that this is a better kind of fraud? The fact is this “good” fraud has been going on for years at great cost to the program and taxpayers, and Medicare has been unable to stop it. That makes it a Medicare problem, you twit.

  157. 170

    spews:

    dave @ 169

    The point being what, that fraud is inevitable? The fact is this fraud has been going on for years at great cost to the program and taxpayers, and the Pentagon has been unable to stop it. That makes it a Pentagon problem, you genius.

    FTFY

  158. 171

    dave spews:

    @170

    Our long-term federal budget woes lay with our entitlement programs:

    http://www.cbo.gov/publication.....health.cfm

    not our defense spending. Obama’s ten year budget has very limited growth in DOD spending – hence the chart above. FYI, our defense spending does have its own set of problems INCLUDING fraud, so I’m not sure the relevance of point it out. I’m all for slashing DOD spending and our endless spending on lavish, politically-motivated weapons systems and overseas wars that bleed us as a nation.

  159. 172

    spews:

    dave @ 171

    Wrong answer. It’s easy to prove one’s point when you omit data contrary to one’s argument.

    Here’s a more correct chart.

    But let’s play along. We can probably both agree that healthcare spending is growing out of control.

    It’s really too bad we don’t have a way to halve healthcare spending while improving patient care.

    You know, like a major reform that would create one large insurance pool, emphasize prevention over treatment, and be easier to administrate.

    It’s just too bad we don’t have other examples, from other nations, to learn from. Say, for instance, EVERY OTHER industrialized nation in the West. Or even something domestic, like a well run, effective health service provided to every veteran.

    The opportunities are insurmountable.

    Whatever shall we do.

  160. 173

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @162 “Reply as you like, Roger, I’ve got other things to do than keep this coversation up.”

    Yeah, especially since you’re out of ammo and lost that argument.

    In the rest of this comment, you do exhibit an ability to think for yourself that our other trolls lack. I don’t agree with your conclusions on the subject of “compassion,” but at least you make an effort to reason your way to a conclusion. Which makes it all the more surprising that you swallowed Coburn’s/Fox’s propaganda whole without fact-checking.

    There is definitely a place for reasoned, fact-based conservative argument in the marketplace of ideas. I welcome such competition and we’re all the better for it: May the best ideas win.

    When bad policies prevail, too often it’s because there wasn’t a competitive debate of policy alternatives at a competent level. For example, as we are about to witness, reform is likely to emerge from the legislative process as weaker and less effective when the opposition to reform consists of nothing more than brandishing guns and shouting down speakers in public forums.

    I’m glad someone on the conservative side thinks there’s a problem with arbitrarily detaining people without due process. If you believe government never makes mistakes and only genuine terrorists will be rounded up, then it’s pretty easy to believe that liberals who insist on the rule of law are only helping the terrorists. I wonder how many of the wingnuts who take this position would be willing to give similar powers to local police or drug agents who might, for example, go to their address by mistake because they don’t know how to read a street map. It has happened, and will happen again.

    On the subject of compassion for the victims of the economic misfortunes built into our capitalist system, there’s plenty of fuel for cynicism in the bailouts of Wall Street and the banking industry — which I have defended — while Main Street, wage earners, and homeowners go under. Whether we like it or not, the financiers and bankers have their claws wrapped around the jugular of our economy, and if we let the financial system go under it would have taken the whole economy down. I believe Krugman and others are on the right track when they argue for breaking up the big financial institutions so that none of them are “too big to fail.”

    Welfare, food stamps, and unemployment benefits all create disincentives against looking for a job. But a capitalist system is simply incapable of keeping everyone employed all the time, and starvation or extreme hardship is too high a price to pay for the marginal (if any) additional economic efficiency you get by “punishing” the losers in competition for work with extreme privation. The mistake made by economic conservatives is that they focus on maximizing economic efficiency and output to the exclusion of all other values, including simple compassion. This single-minded focus on money is surprising in our predominantly-Christian culture, because it is antithetical to everything the Christian Bible teaches about what the role of money should be in our lives and in our moral relationships with each other. This goes to the heart of the difference between conservatives and liberals; most American liberals aren’t socialists, and liberals can be (and many are) capitalists, but liberals temper their practice of capitalism with the additional values of community (i.e., the notion that we’re all on this boat together) and compassion for the afflicted, less fortunate, and less lucky.

  161. 174

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @163 We don’t have, and never have had, a level playing field in this country and we’re nowhere near having a level playing field now. In fact, the gap between haves and have-nots, in terms of both share of the economic pie and political power, has widened dramatically during the last 30 years dominated by Republican rule. Not since the Great Depression has the ordinary wage earner been as powerless as he is right now. The Great Depression, though, took down workers and capitalists alike; that’s not the case in the recent restructuring of our society. The rich and powerful have done exceedingly, exceedingly well, and not just from an expanding economy, but clearly at the expanse of the vast majority of Americans. A political backlash to this was inevitable, and what you see now is only its beginning; the increasingly desperate and shrill counter-backlash from the right reflects the fact that the right innately understands that the pendulum is swinging the other way and it will be a prolonged and very powerful swing. We probably are witnessing the apogee of corporate and special interest power right now; America is in for a prolonged period of populism, during which the trickle-down that conservatives promised but never delivered will become a river of new protections and entitlements for workers and consumers. A primary driving force behind this new era of reform will be the young voters who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by overthrowing the status quo.

  162. 175

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @168 “Auditing elections has been all the rage.”

    Especially among trogs. And yet, as I pointed out in another thread, after years of anti-tax agitation from the right states are now so starved of revenue that one state (Hawaii) has decided to leave a congressional seat vacant for lack of money to hold an election. Yet we will hear no outcry from trogs for enough taxes to hold elections in the first place.

  163. 177

    lostinaseaofblue spews:

    Re 173

    @162 “Reply as you like, Roger, I’ve got other things to do than keep this coversation up.”

    Wasn’t trying to be rude. I have a business to run, family to take care of and all of the other business of life to deal with.

    There are conservatives who callously believe that profitability is the only goal, social consequences notwithstanding. Many many more believe that compassion ought to be subservient to public good. There are liberals who believe in the control that social programs give over people. These are the exceptions. The rule are the folks who believe, rightly or wrongly, in the political philosophy they espouse. They do this from a belief that their philoshical approach is best for society.

    I don’t know if you have kids. If you do I bet you didn’t raise them to escape the consequences of their choices. I imagine that punishment followed poor behavior, even if the punishment consisted solely of letting them live with the natural results of the behavior. That’s how liberals and conservatives alike approach behavior modification in kids. Somehow when the larger society is the topic this changes for liberals though. With sincere compassion for the plight of the less fortunate you would like to help people escape the consequences of their actions.

    This is poor parenting, all agree. It’s also social engineering resulting in a culture of permanent adolescence.

    I don’t know if compassion is served this way. I personally think not. I think the long term good of the larger society is served by government leaving people to deal with their own problems.

    So far as christianity goes the churches don’t do enough, I grant. Christ did preach charity, and one prominent christian writer says that you know if you’re giving enough if it causes personal discomfort. This is a private and personal choice, though. Forcing people to act charitably robs the term of all meaning and reward.

  164. 178

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @169 “Perhaps you could run through the numbers carefully and re-explain this comment.”

    I could, and I will, as you apparently didn’t understand the article you claim I didn’t read carefully.

    The article says, “In this item, we’ll focus on Coburn’s estimate that there is $80 billion in Medicare fraud annually. …

    The article then provides a figure from the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association — whose members include private insurance companies and government agencies — of $68 billion a year lost to fraud in the entire health care system; and then says,

    “Total Medicare outlays were $431 billion in 2007, or 19 percent of total national health care expenditures. If one assumes that fraud is equally prevalent in Medicare and other types of health care, that would make the Medicare share of the NHCAA’s $68 billion fraud estimate $13 billion. And $13 billion in fraud divided by $431 billion in total Medicare outlays would be 3 percent of total Medicare expenditures[.]”

    Coburn got his figures from a National Review article written by a guy named Malcolm Sparrow. If you read the article carefully, as I did, it’s clear that Sparrow worked backwards; that is, he assumed a 20% fraud rate and used it to calculate a dollar amount: “He thinks that as much as 20 percent of the federal health care budget is consumed by fraud, which would be $85 billion a year for Medicare. That’s pretty close to what Coburn said on Van Susteren’s show.”

    The article asks, “is the senator right?” then says, “It depends on whether you trust NHCAA or Sparrow.”

    So that’s what it boils down to. Nobody really knows. But Sparrow is an individual with limited investigational resources whose analysis is heavily dependent on conjecture, assumptions, and biases. NCHAA has organizational resources, and can draw on the databases of its insurance company and public agency members.

    One further point. Even if you use Coburn’s $80 billion figure instead of NHCAA’s estimate of $68 billion, and divide by $431 billon, you get 18.5% not 20%. You would be closer to 20% — 19.7% to be exact — if you divided Sparrow’s number of $85 billon by $431 billion. But Coburn didn’t say $85 billion, he said $80 billion. And these calculations require assigning the entire dollar value to the Medicare program alone, instead of to the health care system as a whole. It’s patently ridiculous to argue all of the fraud in health care is in Medicare, and none in private insurance. But that’s beside the point, because the $80 billion or $85 billion number — whichever you choose — is a derivative number anyway. Sparrow simply assumed there’s a 20% fraud rate in Medicare, and the dollar figures flowed from that. Thus, the 20% number is nothing more than one man’s unsupported assumption.

    In short, if you assume a fraud rate of 20%, then all the rest of your calculations will lead to a fraud rate of 20%, and that’s exactly where the 20% figure you so uncritically regurgitated on this blog came from — it represents nothing more than Malcolm Sparrow’s starting assumption.

  165. 179

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The sad thing about comments like mine @178 is that it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you expend debunking the bullshit posted by people like Dave, because they go right on believing and reposting their talking points.

    You can debunk them until the cows come out, and they won’t change, because they’re not rational people. Their politics comes from the gut, and they fix their factual beliefs and conclusions around the requirements of their ideology.

    You can’t argue with people immune to facts and reason. They don’t listen to anything you say, and they shout mindless idiocy back at you.

    So why do I bother to respond? Simple: We have enough mindless robots marching behind their Pied Pipers without letting them recruit more.

  166. 180

    busdrivermike spews:

    Lets do the math:

    $200 x 12mos x 20 years

    $48000

    Some rich bastard has made a bunch of money off of this system, Goldie.But that is ok with the Tea Party idiots that comment on this board, because they live under the delusion we have a free market system.

  167. 181

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @171 “Our long-term federal budget woes lay with our entitlement programs not our defense spending.”

    This is nothing but a value judgment reflecting your biases in favor of defense spending and against entitlement programs.

    Ordinary Americans get back valuable benefits from the taxes they pay for entitlements. Defense spending produces no return except for those holding defense industry jobs.

    If conservatives are truly concerned about the solvency of our entitlement programs, then they can help balance the books by voluntarily foregoing their own claims on Social Security and Medicare. That would certainly help stretch existing resources farther for those who truly need these benefits.

  168. 182

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The Republican entitlement plan is taking from workers and consumers, and giving to themselves.

  169. 183

    spews:

    RR @ 179

    I assume you’ve seen “Thank You For Smoking”.

    We’re not arguing to persuade. We’re arguing for the audience.

    Every winger talking point has to be batted down. We’re providing our progressive readers with the ammo to respond in their own lives.

  170. 184

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @177 “There are liberals who believe in the control that social programs give over people.”

    That’s a polemic which conservatives have talked themselves into believing. I’ve never met a liberal who was in it for control over others. I spent a lifetime working for government and helping run various regulatory and social welfare programs, and we always operated with specific goals in terms of social benefits in mind: Less consumer fraud, better quality health care, improved child nutrition, safer child care, and so on. Government bureaucracy is not free of self-serving careerists dedicated to feathering their own nests, but that’s a product of human nature, not political ideology, and exists with equal force in corporate culture.

  171. 185

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @177 “The rule are the folks who believe, rightly or wrongly, in the political philosophy they espouse. They do this from a belief that their philoshical approach is best for society.”

    It’s been my experience that most people arrive at their political orientation through association, not thoughtful analysis. In other words, if you’re born into a Republican family, you’re likely to be Republican. If your friends and business associates are Republicans, you’re likely to be a Republican. If you live in Seattle and all your friends are liberals, you’re more likely to be a Democrat than if you live in, say, Nashville, Tennessee.

    I was an exception. I grew up in a Republican community. I got involved in politics as a teen. In those days, I was a Goldwater conservative, and my first campaign experience was working for a Republican congressional candidate. All my friends were YAF and National Review types. Then I got out into the world, had my own life experiences, figured out where my own self interests lay, and flipped to the Democrats in my sophomore year of college — the first year I lived away from home. It was a rational decision, and the acute sense of injustice I’ve felt since I was a child (which perhaps resulted from a number of childhood experiences involving unfair treatment) — which also played a large role in my deciding to become a lawyer — was a major factor in it. The Democrats are simply better at social and economic justice. My values were not primarily monetary, but rather oriented to leaving the world better than I found it. That yearning has never gone away, and is why I spent my career in public service and am spending my retirement as an unpaid propagandist for liberal causes. Of course I don’t expect everyone else to share my values or views. We all should, however, be able to agree on a process for settling questions of public policy; and that process should have, at its heart, a devotion to getting the facts right and then reasoning through problems to rational conclusions. It is the departure by some from that process, in favor of a strategy of lying and grandstanding and demagoging, that concerns me as an old-school liberal in the 20th-century reformist mold.

  172. 186

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @177 “I don’t know if you have kids. If you do I bet you didn’t raise them to escape the consequences of their choices.”

    My child was an athlete whose childhood was spent training, competing, and associating with world-famous coaches and athletes. She had her own bank account and checkbook at age 10, and had full responsibility for hiring and firing her coaches and managing her athletic career by age 15. By the time she was 6 years old, she knew that if you don’t practice as hard as everyone else, you lose in competition. She owns a large collection of trophies and medals earned in one of the most difficult and demanding sports.

  173. 187

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @177 When I worked for the state, I met people who raped their own daughters. My job was to deal with a portion of the legal issues associated with that. That isn’t all I dealt with; I also dealt with death threats and needing police protection for my family. I, and my family, got some very good service in that regard from a detective named Dave Reichert, and notwithstanding our political differences and the fact I make fun of him on this blog for political purposes, he will always have my deep gratitude for that. For all my life, I’ve had to put up with ignorant people who think state jobs are easy and state workers are overpaid, and who resent every penny of taxes that people they don’t even know paid toward my salary.

  174. 188

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @177 “It’s also social engineering resulting in a culture of permanent adolescence.”

    I know plenty of adults who are permanently stuck in adolescence (they’re easy to find; just drive on I-5), and none of them needed the government’s help to get that way. This is one of those things that’s almost always self-inflicted.

  175. 189

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @177 “I think the long term good of the larger society is served by government leaving people to deal with their own problems.”

    There is vast historical experience that argues otherwise. Before the advent of modern liberal government life for most people was brutal and short. We’ve used government to improve our health, lengthen our lives, become more prosperous, and insure ourselves against life’s risks and hazards. Our forbears were rugged individualists because they had to be; and they, and succeeding generations, built a system of mutual support as soon and quickly as they could. You speak of government as though it were some sort of alien invader. In this country, our government is us, pooling our resources and acting in concert to make our earthly existence safer, more secure, and more prosperous. I don’t understand the mentality that opposes that.

    I wouldn’t give up the food stamp program, even though I’ve never used it except for one month immediately after I came home from Vietnam. I wouldn’t give up my veterans health benefits, even though I have too much income to qualify, because I want to know they’re there in case I ever become poor (say, for example, the state pension fund goes bust). I wouldn’t give up employment benefits or injured workers’ compensation, even though I’m now retired, because I want this generation of workers to have them. And I sure as hell won’t give up my Social Security or Medicare benefits after having paid into them for a lifetime. I want that stuff. So do the vast majority of Americans.

  176. 190

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @183 “I assume you’ve seen “Thank You For Smoking”.”

    No.

    “We’re not arguing to persuade. We’re arguing for the audience. Every winger talking point has to be batted down.”

    Precisely. This blog is a stage, and we are its performers. The world is not a logical place. If it were, it would not need this stage, and this stage would not need us.

  177. 191

    Dave spews:

    @172 Wrong answer. It’s easy to prove one’s point when you omit data contrary to one’s argument.

    Here’s a more correct chart.

    Your chart has absolutely nothing to do with the point regarding the long-term growth of entitlement vs. non-entitlement spending (including defense). It’s a breakdown of the 2009 fiscal data. And there isn’t a credible thinker on this subject around – including Obama – who is not making the same point. In any event, show us your long-term chart, YOUR version of the CBO chart, which you appear to disavow (fyi, Obama’s long-term budget projections are similar).

    Also, the chart you showed is from the War Resisters League. They urge people to withhold their taxes:

    “Protest with your money! Sign up at wartaxboycott.org. Refuse to pay all or part of your income tax. Whatever you choose to refuse—$1, $10, the 7% that pays for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or more — send a letter to elected officials and tell them why. Though illegal, thousands of people openly participate in this form of protest.”

    Are you just using their chart, or are you also taking a principled stand and refusing to pay taxes?

  178. 192

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @191 Long-term projections of entitlement revenue vs. spending depend entirely on economic projections, and everyone agrees those projections are highly conjectural. Anything more than a few years out is pure speculation. With rather small tweakings of economic growth rates, you can make Social Security show surpluses or deficits.

    Also, the demand for entitlements isn’t a smooth curve, because population growth isn’t steady over time. Within the 25-year horizon, demand is exceptionally high because of the Baby Boomer population bulge. This was anticipated decades ago and surpluses were accrued to deal with it; and lending those surpluses to the federal government probably made more sense than lending them to Enron, General Motors, or Bear Stearns.

  179. 193

    dave spews:

    @181 This is nothing but a value judgment reflecting your biases in favor of defense spending and against entitlement programs.

    You should have read the complete post. Personally, I favor slashing defensing spending and our military complex in general. I’m also against our endless wars abroad, including the war in Afghanistan – which you strongly support as I recall. My remarks regarding entitlement spending vs. non-entitlement spending have nothing to do with bias, but are merely a statement of generally accepted fact regarding our long-term budget problems. FYI, Obama’s long-term budget continues defense spending at a very healthy clip as a percent of GDP for years to come. Bending the cost curve of health care – not defense spending – was central to his campaign.

  180. 194

    dave spews:

    @192 Long-term projections of entitlement revenue vs. entitlement spending depend entirely on economic projections, and everyone agrees those projections are highly conjectural.

    Of course they do, but that’s what we have to go on, and I don’t think any credible thinker on this topic is making this argument. And that especially includes Obama.

  181. 195

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    continuation of @192: My main point, though, is that we don’t even get a rational discussion of these issues from the right.

    Some years ago, when Congress was debating Bush’s prescription drug bill, I listened to Rush Limbaugh rant for 90 minutes about how Bill Gates would be eligible. (What does Rush have against Gates collecting Medicare benefits? Doesn’t Gates pay enough taxes to deserve them?)

    Limbaugh focused his argument on one very rich man. In the entire hour-and-a-half, he never once mentioned the millions of elderly of limited means forced to choose between buying food or medicine who would benefit from this program; all he talked about was how unfair it is to pay taxes to provide prescription drugs to Bill Gates. It was the most dishonest thing I’ve ever heard on radio.

  182. 196

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @193 “You should have read the complete post.”

    I did read the complete post, in which you made it quite clear that you think “our long-term budget woes lay with our entitlement programs not our defense spending.” What you said about defense fraud and cutting some weapons programs was an aside, so I didn’t address it. I responded to your attack on entitlement programs.

    Your statement that, “My remarks regarding entitlement spending vs. non-entitlement spending have nothing to do with bias, but are merely a statement of generally accepted fact regarding our long-term budget problems,” is not the innocuous statement of fact that you pretend it is. In fact, it’s laden with value judgments, the foremost (although unspoken) of which is that Bush’s tax cuts for the rich should be preserved.

    We don’t have a spending problem, nor do we have a revenue problem; neither of these things exists independently of the other. We have a mismatch between revenue and spending. The spending problem goes away if you increase revenue; the revenue problem goes away if you decrease spending. Which a person opts for is a value judgment.

    You opted for blaming our budget woes on entitlements, and solving them by cutting entitlements. That’s the classic conservative value judgment.

    The classic liberal choice would be to narrow the deficit by raising taxes on those who got the benefit of Bush’s deficit-creating tax cuts.

    Both are actually false choices because Social Security and Medicare both have surpluses at this time. The deficit is in the operating budget, which those programs aren’t part of. The largest component of the operating budget is defense spending; and defense spending, unlike Social Security and Medicare, isn’t self-supporting with its own dedicated tax revenue stream.

    Those entitlement programs face potential deficits in the future, Medicare fairly soon, but that’s in the future and has nothing to do with today’s deficits. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be thinking about the future; of course we should. But addressing that problem has no bearing on today’s deficits.

    To get at today’s deficits, you must put today’s operating budget expenditures and today’s revenues on the table and look at how you might balance them, or at least narrow the gap. There are three possibilites: Cut spending, raise tax rates, or try to grow the economy to higher tax revenues. Policymakers almost always opt primarily for the third option, and they will this time, too.

    Deficits and public debt usually should be measured in relative terms, say, as a percentage of GDP. Right now, we’re fighting two wars and an economic depression, so it must be expected that spending and deficits will be higher than the norm; and that’s entirely consistent with historical experience. The current deficit and debt are on a par with the numbers from World War 2, a period of major crisis, and we now are again in a period of major crisis. These numbers will come down as the economy recovers from its worst collapse since the 1930s.

    Although a recession is generally not the time to raise taxes, a case can be made for letting Bush’s tax cuts for the rich expire. There would be little impact on consumer spending, because that’s money that wouldn’t be spent on consumption anyway. And it wouldn’t have any impact on production or job creation, because the economy is awash with idle capital and adding to the capital pool at this time will simply create more idle capital. Consequently, the surplus incomes of the very rich can be safely taxed without fear of idling factories or throwing workers out of work, because you’d be taxing money that otherwise would sit in short-term Treasuries earning zero interest.

    Cutting benefits to Social Security or Medicare beneficiaries would have no effect on the operating budget deficit. However, because these actions would increase the annual surpluses in those programs, it would reduce the unified budget deficit. But the main effect of this is simply to make the current deficit look smaller than it is, because those surpluses still belong to the trust funds; you’d simply be borrowing them to make the unified budget appear to be less in deficit, and that money eventually would be paid back to the trust funds and used for benefits, so there would be no real reduction in the operating deficit.

  183. 197

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @194 What credible thinkers do is plan ahead, recognize those projections are amorphous, and make adjustments as they go along. Everyone knows the best solution to the challenge of funding future entitlements is a vigorously growing economy. Therefore, the best policy options are the ones that promote economic recovery and growth. Many of the things advocated by conservatives — not bailing out a failing financial system, not using government stimulus spending to restart the economy, not funding unemployment benefits and other entitlements that put a floor under consumer spending, returning to the gold standard, and so on — would have the opposite effect.

    I wonder how many people realize that Social Security is depression insurance? Social Security has always paid every penny of benefits on time, independent of the business cycle. This latter point is extremely important. Those checks keep coming no matter what the level of economic activity is, or the unemployment rate is, and they tend to get spent immediately. That keeps consumer money flowing into the economy, and puts a floor under how far consumer spending can fall in an economic downturn.

    Economic historians now largely agree that the policies adopted in the 1920s — contracting the money supply, deflating currencies (which had inflated during World War I), tightening credit, and returning to the gold standard (which was suspended during the war), and cutting government spending — were exactly the wrong things to do and turned an ordinary recession into a depression.

    Based on everything I know about economics and economic history, Bush, Obama, Geithner, and Bernanke got it right when they used the government’s ability to control the money supply, borrow, and lend to rescue the banking system, stimulate the economy, and unfreeze the global credit system. Had they not done that, we would have experienced catastrophe instead of a close call. And it was a very close call indeed.

  184. 198

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    As far as my personal investing philosophy goes, I always put all my marbles in the circle when the market plunges. I’ll never be able to buy stocks more cheaply, and at the moment of maximum fear, I figure if this is truly Armageddon then my money isn’t going to be worth anything anyway. So, when the world appears to be collapsing, I buy stocks like crazy. It has always worked out in my favor, because it wasn’t Armageddon after all. I’m within 3% of recovering my entire paper loss from the 2007-2008 crash.

  185. 199

    xom spews:

    @196

    If you want to help address our deficit issues, Rabbit, let’s exit Afghanistan and cut spending there that is only going to grow in leaps and bounds in time ahead. Your position: let’s escalate with more blood and treasure. You’re totally out of step with liberals on this – speaking of “classic liberal positions” – and far closer to the right.

    “Everyone knows the best solution to the challenge of funding future entitlements is a vigorously growing economy. ”

    Really? How do you know this?

  186. 200

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @199 “If you want to help address our deficit issues, Rabbit, let’s exit Afghanistan and cut spending there”

    It will cost us more if we give Afghanistan back to Al Qaeda and they attack us again from there.

    “Really? How do you know this?”

    I read.

  187. 201

    spews:

    Recall the table which shows per capita health care expenditures by country (US dollars).

    Canada $3,173
    USA $6,096

    Given the choice, I’d HAPPILY pay $3,173 to our government to live a longer, healthier life. Schucks, I’d be SO HAPPY, I’d kick in another $1,250 to make sure the children and poor people also get healthcare.

    Why do the trogs insist that we pay almost double for less? How is the profitability of some extortion racket (aka insurance company) my problem?

    If the “free market” actually existed, wouldn’t we see some evidence by now? The trogs argue that private enterprise will reduce prices and improve service. Still waiting. Any day now, I’m sure. Meanwhile, the insurers continue to consolidate (just like media, banks, etc).

    Clap louder and Tinkerbell will fly. Throw more money at cronies and we’ll all get better healthcare, magically.

    So here’s the choices:

    1) Spend less and we all live happier, healthier lives.

    2) Continue to spend more, and insurance execs live happier, healthier, gluttonous lives.

    Hmmm. Tough choice.

  188. 202

    xom spews:

    @ 200

    Cost us? You want to send other people’s children to fight that war. This is not a war liberals support, and as those body bag counts escalate they’re going to become much more vocal. Jason Osgood up above posted a link to the war resisters league, and I assume he’s not only using their charts but refusing to pay his taxes, or at at least those that go to our wars as that group and others advocate. That takes courage, but it’s what you’ve called cutting and running elsewhere on HA. In fact, according to you, a good many readers on HA would be in favor of cutting and running from Afghanistan.

    Regarding this:

    “Really? How do you know this?”

    I read.

    I didn’t ask you whether you read or not but how you know:

    “Everyone knows the best solution to the challenge of funding future entitlements is a vigorously growing economy.”

    Anybody can come up that type of generalization and say they know it because they read. That’s BS. Give us some sources and provide a list of some of those you determined know this. In particular, give us a list of respected names who actually argue we can grow our way out of our entitlement mess.

  189. 203

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I’m beginning to think “lost” is Empty Suit Obama. The snarky writing style is the same.

  190. 204

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @201 “Why do the trogs insist that we pay almost double for less?”

    Well, they pay it too, so I think the answer must be they not only hate us, but also hate themselves.

  191. 205

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @202 “Cost us?”

    Yes, it will cost us — both lives and treasure — if we let terrorists use Afghanistan for training camps and as a staging area to mount another attack against us.

    “You want to send other people’s children to fight that war.”

    I don’t want anyone to fight any war, but this is self-defense.

    “This is not a war liberals support”

    That’s not on my list of criteria for supporting or not supporting any policy.

    “Anybody can come up that type of generalization and say they know it because they read.”

    Well okay, I was mistaken, not everyone knows that. You obviously don’t know it. That’s gonna have to be your problem, because I can’t solve it for you.

    “Give us some sources … provide a list … give us a list of respected names who actually argue we can grow our way out of our entitlement mess.”

    You’re not helpless, I’m not your fucking research assistant, and the economists I read don’t think there’s an “entitlement mess.” See, e.g.,

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12......html?_r=1