My letter to Brian Baird


I respectfully request that you endorse the robust public option and get on board with what would be a significant and meaningful improvement in the lives of ordinary Americans.

Your ideas about reforming the tax system and the health care system at the same time, as expressed in your recent Seattle Times op-ed, have found no traction nationally or in the district.

Now is the time to act. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Your friend,



  1. 1

    manoftruth spews:

    you must be stupid. lets see.
    if you’re retired and on medicare, your benefits will be cut under a public option.
    if you have gold plated insurance, it will be taxed.
    if you work, have no insurance because you choose that, you will be fined if you dont get it.
    tada…if you’re poor or dont work, you’ll get free government care..

    good choice, devoreberg.
    oy vey

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Yeah, we’re approaching the time when all Democrats will need to speak with one voice and vote in a solid bloc, because it’s clear Republicans aren’t going to contribute a single vote to public option, so there’s none to spare.

    I’ve been around a long time. I lived through the New Frontier, the Great Society, the Medicare debates in the ’60s, the civil rights movement, and a lot of other things. Republicans have always been against everything! They will go down in history as being against health care reform, too.

    The American people have made it clear what they want. I have no doubt that if we don’t have enough votes to get it done this year, America’s voters will make sure in next year’s elections that we do in 2011.

    No negotations with Republicans! No concessions, no giveaways, no compromises! Health care reform now! If they don’t like it, tough, shove it up their ass.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 “if you’re retired and on medicare, your benefits will be cut under a public option”

    Bullshit. That’s nothing but Republican propaganda, and everyone knows Republicans are liars.

  4. 4

    sarah68 spews:

    I shouldn’t even reply to this BS, but manoftruth, just what business is it of yours WHAT religion/whatever anyone is? You know what putz means? And schmendrik and a schlemiel? Well, guess what, your posts brought them to mind.

  5. 5

    sarah68 spews:

    And apparently your post asking whether Roger was Jewish was deleted. Perhaps my reply to it will be also so we can get back to healthcare.

  6. 6

    manoftruth spews:

    oh, i dont know sarah. just thinking of, for example, when mitt romney ran for president, and the scholarly time magazine had mitt on the cover questioning his fitness to be president as a morman. i guess its ok for some people to ask.

  7. 7

    sarah68 spews:

    Far as I know, Roger’s not running for President, so besides being idiotic, your posts’s a non sequitur.

  8. 8

    eridani spews:

    Public Option = Holy Roman Empire

    The traditional historians’ joke about the Holy Roman Empire is that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Once upon a time, the original framers of the public option proposal envisioned a plan that would be open to anybody, and very likely have more than 100 million enrolled—a really big and cheap risk pool which would drive prices down. All current legislative versions of the public option, unfortunately, are neither public nor options given that 95% of the public will not be allowed to take advantage of them. Our Democratic representatives have figured out by now that their base likes it whenever they act tough advocating a public option. Few of those people understand that the public option will most likely never be there for them. When they find out, I predict very serious political blowback.

    Why are so many on the side of health care reform are more interested in the idea of a public option than the actual facts about the proposed real legislation? Probably because it is an automatic reflex response against the Republicans and insurance companies who don’t like the idea, but please consider that they are taking this approach because it enables them to win no matter what happens. This is already becoming a close replay of 1993, when Clinton’s bill, written in secret by big insurance companies at Jackson Hole, was attacked by Republicans and small insurers. Of course the big insurers didn’t defend her and the legislation they had written—they preferred no reform at all, and the Clinton legislation was just a Plan B fallback in case it was forced on them. That is exactly what is going on in the current debate.

    Of course the public likes the public option idea. After all, this is the same public that overwhelmingly wants government involvement in health care one way or another, whether a comprehensive single payer plan or just taking care of all the people who don’t now have access to health care in some unspecified way.

    But the facts on the ground are this. The public is going to absolutely hate any of the bills being considered if they are actually enacted. For one thing, we have two election cycles to go through before anyone sees anything at all happen in 2013, during which the victims of a jobless recovery are going to see health care in this country go further and further down the drain. Yes, I know that forbidding discrimination on the grounds of pre-existing conditions comes into effect immediately, but that has no practical significance as long as insurers are allowed to charge whatever they want for such policies.

    Also, what people will experience instead is being forced under penalty of financial sanctions to spend 8-12% of their incomes to buy private insurance which at the basic level will only cover 70% of medical expenses. (Mandated private insurance in other countries using that approach is not only far cheaper, but also has minimal or no co-pays or deductibles.) They will still have insurance companies choosing their doctors and denying claims at will. Expenses will still be going up from an extremely high baseline, despite limits on the allowable percent increase per year. Those worried about deficit spending will be asking “We’ve gotten ourselves another trillion into national debt for THIS?”

    Older people are going to hate the mandated age discrimination. Younger people are going to hate having to pay anything when most aren’t going to see any benefits.

    How to get around this while our legislators insist on incremental reform? Very simple—just make the Medicare program that exists right now open to anyone. If there is concern about a big rush to the door, open the door in increments, starting with early retirees over 55 and the unemployed of any age. No set-up time necessary, since Medicare is a working system right now. The result will be a visible and good-sized minority who will counter any insurance company lies about reform with a really big fact on the ground. If anyone is thinking “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” let me just say this about that. In this case it’s the existent that is the enemy of the non-existent.

    Still, there will be problems even with an incremental approach that starts to pay off for people immediately. Clearly, those who volunteer to enroll in Medicare with be sicker, driving up costs without a commensurate input of funds. The cheapest and most efficient solution of all is still single payer Improved Medicare for All. If you are going to force everyone to pay into a health care system, why not the HR 676 system for $125/month instead of insurance “exchanges” for $400-$2000/month? The latter will wipe out large swathes of middle class discretionary income in return for nothing at all, not a good thing in an economy 70% dependent on consumer spending.

  9. 9

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    You forgot to ask Brian to make sure he clearly understands the COST and HOW HE IS GONNA PAY FOR IT.
    I guess that isn’t important to you, huh Jon?

    Look, once a “Plan” is finally put clearly on the table, it ought to be clearly vetted…not rammed thru and hope for the best.
    The best thing for Republicans is for the Dems to ram thru something unacceptable.
    Because it will be overturned after the 2012 election. It will be the #1 Election issue.

    How long do you think it’s gonna take to implement this “ROBUST” plan Jon??
    Think it’s gonna happen in a year??
    Go ahead and ram thru something UNSUSTAINABLE and with dire consequences.
    It will be overturned and you will be out of power.

  10. 10

    Ekim spews:

    Provda @1

    if you’re retired and on medicare, your benefits will be cut under a public option.

    Oh great defender of Medicare, there wasn’t a single Reprobate that voted for it in the first place.

  11. 12

    Ekim spews:

    The “health care” industry has been raising rates around 8% every year for decades. Now it has promised to raise rates %15 next year.

    The Rethug plan of doing nothing fixes nothing. It does,however make the fat cats even fatter at our expense.

  12. 13


    manoftruth at 1

    if you’re retired and on medicare, your benefits will be cut under a public option.

    No. The publoic option has no axctual impact on Medicare. It may reduce Medicare costs if, as hoped, the presence of a public option for younger people drives decreases the burden of cost shuffling.

    if you have gold plated insurance, it will be taxed.

    So you think untaxed income should be hidden as medical insurance? Lets see .. I want my insurance to cover holidays (for rest) in hawaii ..OK?

    if you work, have no insurance because you choose that, you will be fined if you dont get it.

    I thought you were a Reprican??? Don’t you guys believe in responsibility? Under CURRENT law if YOU do not pay your insurance and you need healthcare the TAXPAYER pays your effin bill when, as often happens, big bills force folks into poverty.

    tada…if you’re poor or dont work, you’ll get free government care..

    Gee. You must know about a plan lots bvetter thyan the ones proposed now.

  13. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 “your post asking whether Roger was Jewish”

    No, I’m nativist, but some of my best human friends are Jewish if that helps.

  14. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 I’m not running for anything, but I’ve spent my whole life running from things — peregrine falcons, unleashed dogs, cars, toddlers, what have you …

  15. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    It’s okay, Sarah. We personalize issues here, so I’m used to it. Whenever we debate public issues on this blog the total lack of principle, honesty, compassion, community spirit, and truthfulness on the part of our unpatriotic, anti-American, fascist trolls is ALWAYS a factor in the discussion. We deal with it in the same way that courts deal with aggravating factors in the commission of heinous crimes.

  16. 17

    X'ad spews:

    And be also advised that if you disagree with Cynical, you’re a hellbound atheist.

    HE’S Holy, the rest of us are condemned. HE is entitled to judge.

  17. 18

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Are you hellbound?
    How does that feel?
    There is something you can do about it.
    Would mean humbling yourself.
    Try it.

  18. 19

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Seems like these KLOWNS don’t like it when someone asks a simple question like what will it cost and how will we pay for it….and request that it be clearly vetted BEFORE we dive in.
    Why is that sooooooo difficult for the KLOWNS?
    No wonder they are bottom-feeders desperate to feed of the WORK of others.

  19. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 Valid points, but I need to correct an error, and I have an important point of my own.

    First, the popular belief that consumer spending is 70% of the economy is basically wrong. That figure is a government statistic based on a government definition of consumer spending, which includes government health care spending (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, V.A.). Also, many people equate “consumer spending” with domestic production, but the government figure also includes consumer purchases of imported products. What you think of as consumer spending is more like 40% than 70% (of GDP). Thus, the impact of discretionary consumer purchasing decisions on the overall domestic economy is far less than most people assume.

    Second, Lincoln freed the slaves in 1862, but 147 years later the struggle for black equality is still ongoing. The 20th century saw the creation of America’s social safety net, but that too, is still a work in progress. Health care reform that covers everyone, costs less, protects people from medical bankruptcy, and improves the quality of care likely will remain quite a few years away. A toddler learns to walk one step at a time and doesn’t become a sprinter overnight. The civil rights struggle eventually expanded from blacks to other minorities, to women (who, for most of our country’s history, were treated as inferior second-class citizens), and now to gays. To achieve great things, one must start somewhere, and then be patient and persevering.

    Your idealized vision of health care reform may not be fully realized in our lifetimes. Part of what we’re doing now is for the benefit of future generations. Medicare and Medicaid represent the “start somewhere” phase of the battle for a right to health care by all Americans. The Medicare and Medicaid legislative battles were extremely hard fought. That was more than 40 years ago. Now we’re trying to take the next step to get closer to universal coverage. Like the blacks who accepted their freedom in the 1860s, but faced another 100 years of lynchings, segregation, and discrimination, we should take what we can get now and continue working for achievement of the ultimate goal. It may take another 40 years. That’s still better than never.

    When your children and grandchildren look back on what we did in our time, 40 years from now, they’ll be glad we did what we’re doing. If you’re still around then, you’ll likely see a much better situation for health care consumers than we’ll have in 2013 or 2014, and certainly far ahead of what exists today.

    So, be patient my friend, and get yourself in a mental groove that will sustain you for the long haul. It’s important to be realistic about our legislative strategy, instead of throwing away the chance now before us by reaching for too much, too quickly. Let’s be smart and patient and persevering, not hasty and ineffective.

  20. 21

    Sludge Puppy spews:

    The pupster has to ask does any understand what Baird’s motives were for publishing this in the Seattle Times instead oa a paper in his district? Jus’ wonderin’.

  21. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 “You forgot to ask Brian to make sure he clearly understands the COST and HOW HE IS GONNA PAY FOR IT.”

    Are you stupid, deaf, and blind, or all three? We’ve made it very clear how we’re gonna pay for it.

    Just take a look at other countries that have universal coverage, better quality care, at less cost, and you’ll have your answer.

    The key elements in getting from here to there are no mystery.

    1. The 25% to 30% of our health care dollars the private insurance industry skims off the top is almost pure waste: Our experience with Medicare shows the administrative expenses of collecting premiums, processing claims, and making payments can be reduced to around 1%. We can realize gargantuan cost savings by eliminating the overpriced financial middlemen.

    2. Pay providers for outcomes, not procedures. That’s what most European countries do, and they get better health results. Oh, and their doctors live well, too.

    3. Make coverage universal. The insurance concept doesn’t work when only people whose houses burn down pay premiums. Spreading the financial risk of illness over the entire society makes it work for everyone. And because none of us know whether we’ll get sick someday, it’s a good deal for the lucky as well as the unlucky, because they get peace of mind and protection of their income and assets.

    4. Focus on prevention with appropriate investments in preventive care and incentives for healthy lifestyles. Tax the shit out of tobacco and alcohol to discourage health-destroying behaviors. Reinvest in physical education in our schools; we’re teaching kids to read and do math for life, and teaching them how to live healthy is just as important.

    5. Strengthen and enforce environmental laws and food safety laws that protect our drinking water, air, soils, and food supplies. Many cancers, for example, are caused by environmental exposures.

    Of this, I would say the first 3 are the biggies, or maybe I should say the biggest, but all are important.

    Now, I know this isn’t what you want to hear, Klown, but there it is. You asked, and that’s your answer. I understand that you’re on a totally different wavelength. That you want a system that allows people to get rich by screwing other people in unregulated “free markets” where the greedy have a free end to exploit the needy by pouring effluents into poor and politically powerless communities, by denying health care to those who lose out under our capitalist economic system, and so on. To which I say, fuck you, health care is a right not a privilege and I’m not about to let you and your ilk arbitrate who gets it (the haves) and who doesn’t (the rest of us). Just plain fuck you and your Ayn Rand, survival-of-the-fittest, greed-is-good mentality, Klown! F-U-C-K Y-O-U, am I making myself clear?

    Any questions?

  22. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @17 I’m not worried about him, I’m only worried about Her, and I know She doesn’t take orders from him.

  23. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 What we don’t like is answering the same question over and over because idiots ask a question and then don’t listen to the answer.

  24. 28

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @21 Well, my take on that is, Baird’s a Democrat and doesn’t want all of Washington’s Democrats mad at him after he sells us out on public option to keep the conservative assholes in his district happy.

  25. 29

    YLB spews:

    I saw the journalist T.R. Reid speaking at Townhall last night on TV.

    It was a good talk. He’s covered the health care systems around the world quite well in his book.

    Bottom line is that the free-market system which produces great outcomes in prices for widgets and a lot of services works TERRIBLE for health care.

    Catch his talk on-line at the Seattle Channel

    Here’s a good piece of his that sums up a lot of his writing:

  26. 30

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    22. Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 “You forgot to ask Brian to make sure he clearly understands the COST and HOW HE IS GONNA PAY FOR IT.”

    Are you stupid, deaf, and blind, or all three? We’ve made it very clear how we’re gonna pay for it.

    Smoke-and-mirrors and wishful thinking are not gonna get it done Rog.
    Rog tries to convince us he is going to squeeze 25-30% off the top because of Health Insurers HUGE PROFITS…even though Fortune Magazine showed the 2008 Profit Margin @ 2.2%….ranked 35th in Profit Margins just above the other evil empire OIL REFINERIES @ 2.1%

    Take a look at the list Rog.
    Your bullshit is sooooooo over the top, it is oozing out of every post at an accelerating rate!

  27. 31

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Rog shows the mindset of the LUNATIC LEFT…profits are bad. Profits are stealing. No profit is allowed. The guv’mint can do it cheaper as they have such an outstanding track record like our Washington Ferry System etc.

    Can you see the pattern here?
    Government is the best solution.
    No private industry.
    Government, Government….go Barry O!

  28. 32


    Mr. Cynical @ 31

    I’m disappointed that you won’t defend the policies you advocate. They’re not really beliefs if you can’t explain them to others. No, I think you’re just picking fights.

    But, hey, I’m a forgiving kind of person. Let’s skip the election administration issue for now. I have another question:

    In your liberal utopia, who pays for the courts?

    As I understand these things, being the big fan of de Soto that I am, the rule of law and an impartial judiciary are two cornerstones of capitalism (vs, say, the nascent plutocracy we have today). that makes intuitive sense, right? Imagine a contract dispute. How are things efficiently and fairly resolved without contract law and courts? So of course we need courts for our capitalistic society to function well.

    I ask you this question, you being the standard bearer of all things libertarian, because I’d like you to help me determine which of the allowable government functions (in the libertarian utopia) the courts fall under (if any): defense, infrastructure, or public safety.

    Again, I thank you for your time. I look forward to your response.

  29. 33


    Roger Rabbit @ 22

    Just to guesstimate, universal health care with a single payer would 1/2 (halve) our current health care costs.

    As you mention, such a system, by its very nature, would focus more on outcomes (health, well being) vs billing models. Prevention is much cheaper than treating diseases.

    The other biggie is eliminating the claims processing kabuki dance. That’s easily 1/3rd the cost of our current system.

    But I think there’s two more angles that aren’t widely discussed.

    In a single payer system, having checks and balances (double entry accounting) is SO MUCH EASIER. Simple processes means less opportunity for fraud and waste. (I’m currently studying auditing healthcare, fraud, waste, mismanagement, etc. )

    The last angle, which is little more than a hunch, is that healthcare providers and suppliers will be more profitable. The big idea in process improvement is this: eliminate waste (including fraud) to boost profits. This is pretty much irrefutable. The most profitable companies aggressively reduce all kinds of waste, including rework, inefficient processes, garbage, pollution, idle time, etc.

    Universal healthcare with a single payer is the most efficient (least wasteful) system available today. So it seems obvious to me that everyone will be making a lot more money.

    With one exception, of course. The insurers will lose out. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m okay with that.

  30. 35


    Hi Jon DeVore.

    I couldn’t make head’s or tails of US Rep Brian Baird’s opinion piece. And, really, whatever. Right now the only play is the public option. His poorly timed brainstorming is neither welcome or helpful.

  31. 36

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Jason @ 33–
    Jason GUESSTIMATES single payer would cost half! Stop the presses!!
    Based on what lunatic…your feelings?
    There is absolutely no basis for your guesstimate and you fail to discuss quality of that cheap care.
    You are dumb as a rock.

  32. 38


    Mr. Cynical @ 36

    Psst. I’ll bite at your troll baiting once you’ve answered some questions.

    Can’t defend your ideas? I’d hate to think you were all bark and no bite.

    You are dumb as a rock.

    You don’t know the half of it. This is me hoping there’s some substance to your words. Yes, I’m ever the optimist.

  33. 39

    less is more spews:

    Find this thread quite interesting, especially the ignorant trolls.

    About three or four years ago, the national blogs started getting trolls that could use spell check.

    About 2 years ago, the trolls could finally form decent sentences.

    Now the national blogs have concern trolls that are actually lecturing other writers about how to write a sentence or support a point of view.

    Ain’t it wonderful what all that money being pissed away on Homeland Security accomplishes?

  34. 41


    Mr. Cynical @ 40

    This is an opportunity to demonstrate to you how to defend one’s positions. Here a chart comparing the healthcare cost per capita by country.

    I know that you don’t consider facts relevant to policy debates, but please bear with me.

    The public option (etc.) will give a system most resembling Switzerland. They spend 2/3rds what we do.

    Single payer, which is the correct answer, as done in France and the UK, costs 1/2 of our system.

    (This took me 10 seconds to find using google. It’s easy to do your own fact checking. You should try it sometime.)

    I said “guesstimate”. We geeks usually say “YMMV”, which means your mileage may vary. There remain large unknown variables. This is what we call intellectual honesty. Because I couldn’t possibly know the final details of a none existent system, I can’t give exact figures. The best any honest person can do is estimate based on the available data.

    Let me give you a real world example.

    We don’t yet know how many Republicans need to be bought off (bribed) to enact reform. So even with reform, government may still be prohibited from negotiating prices with Big Pharma.

    The conjecture part, which I clearly noted, is that with single payer, healthcare businesses (with the exception of insurance), would be more profitable and that we’d progressively see greater improvements over time (which is hardly a controversial prediction, as progress marches on).

    See? That wasn’t so hard. I defended my position. With easily obtained data and simple logic.

    Now your turn. Man up. Defend your ideas. It’ll be tough at first. But I believe in you. You can do this.

    Who pays for the courts in your libertarian utopia?


    Well. You’re perilously close to being ignored like your compatriot Empty. None of us want that. So please don’t make me do it. The only fate worse than The Silent Treatment is being confused with pudge. And much as I disagree with you, not even I can be that mean spirited.

    Eagerly awaiting your response. Please. Continue.

  35. 42

    sarah68 spews:

    There will be no public option, except for one with “opt-outs” for the states. Reid’s lying down for that. How many states do you think WON’T opt out? Every state in this country is broke and doesn’t want to touch any health insurance plan that isn’t run by private insurers (i.e., not the state). The states would like to get rid of Medicaid (because they have to pay for half of it), and most of them are trying to get rid of their state-only insurance plans.

    As someone said above, this is indeed a replay ofr 1993, except its worse because the insurers have even more power now. You might think that desperate people would be rooting for reform, but actually they’re scared that what little they have will be taken away. The insurers haven’t had to do much work on that fear.

    Strange the difference between this site and Publicola, for example. I’m sure there are trolls there but their language is a bit more refined. There’s a lot to be said for refined verbiage. A whole fucking hell of a lot.