Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kill LieberCare or You Will Kill the Democratic Party

So sez Jane Hamsher:

Key quote:

What the President said in September:

They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime.

But while nobody was looking, Harry Reid slipped in an “arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year”:

A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer, prompting a rebuke from patient advocates.

The President Obama also said that “what ever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce cost for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill.” Not true either.

As we speak, Frank Lautenberg and Kay Hagan are destroying Byron Dorgan’s drug reimportation amendment by making a bunch of bullshit claims about drug safety. The danger of transferring drugs from a CVS warehouse in Canada to a CVS store in the United States? Zip. But they’re pretending that everything is coming from Chinese counterfeiters to keep something that could save the government $19 billion and the public over $100 billion from passing so the White House deal with PhRMA can be upheld. The Dorgan amendment could have been a way of honestly bending the cost curve, something the President campaigned on.

Instead, the “bend” comes from taxing middle class insurance benefits, which makes them worse. According to the CSM report released last week:

In reaction to the tax, many employers would reduce the scope of their health benefits. The resulting reductions in covered services and/or increases in employee cost-sharing requirements would induce workers to use fewer services. Because plan benefit values would generally increase faster than the threshold amounts for defining high-cost plans (which are indexed by the CPI plus 1 percent), over time additional plans would become subject to the excise tax,prompting those employers to scale back coverage.

The cost curve gets “bent” by making the insurance you have through your employer worse. Remember Harry and Louise? They killed health care reform during the Clinton administration by making this claim. Well, now it’s actually going to be true.

Congratulations, President Obama. This is the “win” you’ve been working toward. Joe Lieberman kicks the entire Democratic party in the teeth and you thank him for it. He writes the bill, and you go on national TV and have to misrepresent what’s in it in order to find anything good to say.

And Ben Nelson isn’t even done working his Bart Stupak magic.

If I wanted Joe Lieberman writing a health care bill, I would’ve voted for John McCain.

Howard Dean is right. Kill LieberCare.

Look, let's leave aside the fact that it "covers all Americans" by forcing them to buy unaffordable insurance from soon-to-be-monopolists, and is therefore an absolutely terrible bill to support in its own right.

Let's just look at the politics of this.

At best, the bill is a fixer-upper. Even the supporters admit that, when they say "pass something". They're claiming that once the initial foray is made, it can be built on as a foundation of policymaking. Were it something like the House bill, that might be true. Nothing in this bill is worth building on, so it isn't true.

That means that, come 2010 or 2012, it will have sunk in that the Dems have, somehow, made things worse. How do you think the public will react to that? How do you think the Republican machine will spin that? How will both react when the letters go out saying that you must buy insurance? How will they react when the first people start getting fined, and have their sob stories about choosing between unaffordable insurance and punitive fines played up for all they're worth in the press. How will they react when the Republicans start screaming about "government forcing you to buy health care?"

(Yes, that would be illogical of them. No, that doesn't matter. Rejection of logic is a strength of Republican messaging, not a weakness.)

I'll tell you what the public will do. They'll take one look at this, yell "THIS IS HORSESHIT", and turf out each and every politician who voted for it. It'll make the razing of the Dems in 1994 look like a gentle Victorian tea party. It may well wipe the Dems out as a party, if the Republicans get their act together between now and 2010. (Or, perhaps, 2012.)

Republicans can get away with creating terrible laws, because they have the messaging and funding to spin it away until the media gets bored and moves on. The Dems do not. They live and die by the quality of their governance and lawmaking. They showed no governance on this, and have made execrable law. They will have absolutely no defense or recourse.

Yes, dropping this will mean Republicans crowing for the next year. It may even mean losses in 2010. But I guarantee you that these will pale in comparison to what will happen to the party if it puts its stamp on this nonsense.

(Edit: Jon Walker at FDL explains how LieberCare will make existing insurance much, much worse, by adding an excise tax that discourages employers from offering better plans. Those with good plans will quickly be moved to mediocre ones; those on mediocre plans will quickly be moved to plans that offer sweet fanny adams. It doesn't just affect "cadillac" plans, as the hype suggests; because it isn't indexed, it will affect everybody.

Though, naturally, there will still be "cadillacs". Health insurance executive parking lots will be choked with the things.)

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