Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And Now It's Even Worse

The one tolerable element of the Senate health care bill, expanding Medicare to people between 55 and 65, has been vocally opposed by Joe Lieberman. Apparently Medicare is a wee bit too close to socialized health care, so apparently it's only appropriate for people over 65. For some reason.

Everybody, including Harry Reid, thought Lieberman was being an obstructionist ass. Unfortunately, as the Huffington Post said, Lieberman won.

Joe Lieberman has forced his will on the Senate Democratic caucus and the nation as a whole. After the party reached a compromise last week to effectively drop the public option in exchange for allowing 55- to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare, that compromise is now in doubt.

Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, told Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday that he will block any bill that includes the buy-in. As the 60th vote needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, he can do that.

Following a caucus-wide meeting Monday evening, the measure was all but scuttled.
And why was it scuttled, when it itself was a compromise from the public option that the House passed and that progressives have been stating is a basic requirement of any bill?


Rahm Emanuel visited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his Capitol office on Sunday evening and personally urged him to cut a deal with recalcitrant Sen. Joe Lieberman, two Democratic sources familiar with the situation told the Huffington Post.

Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, has long been identified as leading a faction of White House advisers who have been pushing the Senate simply to pass any health care bill, no matter how weak.

His direct message to Reid (D-Nev.), according to a source close to the negotiations: "Get it done. Just get it done."
People in the know have been saying that the Obama administration no longer cares whether or not the bill is good, or even tolerable. That's fortunate for them, because everybody knows that the Senate bill is, at this point, absolutely intolerable. Without the Medicare expansion, it is literally nothing more than a billion-dollar handout to the health insurance industry. The protections against rescission are tissue-thin, the subsidies for the impoverished are weak at best, and the protection against collusion and regional monopolization is laughable. Becuase it forces Americans to buy whatever terrible insurance is offered to them, it is almost certainly worse than the status quo.

The Senators know it's terrible. Dodd said "It's always easier to envision the legislation that you want, than to pass the legislation that you need". Sherrod Brown said "I want to see health care reform. I want to see health care reform." Jay Rockefeller said "Can you just simply fail to govern because you couldn't get everything you wanted so you just opt out of it." Those are barely even talking points. They're babble. They're mush. They're reactions to the indefensible, forced upon both the Congress and the nation by one of its worst members.

And Lieberman didn't base this on principled opposition, as Ezra Klein said. At best, it was based on "torturing liberals", in Klein's words. But since Lieberman's wife has long-standing connections with the health care industry, it's quite possibly yet more featherbedding.

In any case, even if progressive Senators somehow think that this can end, House progressives have no reason to support this. They need to keep their Democratic support up or face primary challenges, and there is no reason for any Democrat to support any House or Senate member who would actually vote for this nonsense. Non-progressive House members would be wise to avoid it, too: they endure the greatest blowback from bad laws, and the blowback from something this bad will be tremendous. 2012 will be a bloodbath.

Lieberman doesn't care. Lieberman never cared. He didn't care when everybody was campaigning for him against Lamont, and he certainly doesn't care now. He never really give a rat's ass about the country or its interests. He's the worst kind of "Democrat", and the worst kind of American: the kind who would let the entire country burn just to feed his own vanity and greed.

(I won't even try to describe what I think about Rahm 'n co right now.)

So God Save America. Nobody down here will.

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