Sunday, December 13, 2009

Health Care Reform: No Deal??

This one’s interesting. Do you remember the big deal last week to get the Baucus bill through the Senate? Yeah, that one. . . with the liberals “giving up” the public option and the moderates agreeing to destroy Medicare sooner by letting people as young as 55 into Medicare? Well, apparently, that deal may not exist. Curious.

The first clue we had that there was no deal should have been the refusal of the Democrats to release the terms of the deal, while simultaneously crowing about "the deal" to any microphone they could find. And as the week went on, and no details of the deal emerged, people began to ask questions. That’s when the most fascinating thing happened, the admissions started coming out.

First came Sen. Bob Casey, who told the New York Times: “Any big agreement is progress, even if we do not know any of the details.” Read that again. How can there be an agreement with no details?

Maybe Casey is just out of the loop, being from a small, backwater state like Pennsylvania. Let’s listen to Dick Durbin, the Number 2 Democrat in the Senate respond to John McCain’s demand for information about the deal, i.e. the legislation, they’re supposed to be voting on. Surely he knows the details:

“I would say to the senator from Arizona that I’m in the dark almost as much as he is, and I’m in the leadership.”
*scratches head* Really? Hmm. How can this be?

McCain followed up on Durbin's admission with the following:
“Isn’t that a very unusual process? We are discussing one-sixth of the gross national product; the bill before us has been a product of almost a year of sausage-making. Yet here we are at a position on December 12, with a proposal that none of us, except, I understand, one person, the Majority Leader, knows what the final parameters are, much less informing the American people. I don't get it.”
And Durbin, of course, denied this, right? Actually, no. “I think the senator [from Arizona] is correct.” But Durbin did try to shift the blame to the CBO, arguing that the reason no one knew the details was that they awaited the big, bad, secretive CBO’s verdict: “We may find that something that was sent over there doesn’t work at all, doesn’t fly.”

You think? How about these two problems you face. First, the Democrats are counting on $25 billion in phantom savings from “competition created by the public option” to reduce the overall cost of the bill. No public option, no phantom savings. That means they now need to find an additional $25 billion to make their phony numbers appear to balance.

Secondly, nobody likes the plan to expand Medicare. Old people are freaked out that their health insurance is about to go away. Hospitals are freaked out that they cannot afford this (they lose nine cents on each dollar of health care they provide under Medicare already). Governors claim it’s breaking their budgets. Even those socialists at the Business Roundtable are backing off this turkey.

Various senators don’t like the plan either. Said Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida (not to be confused with Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska), this deal is a “non-starter.” That’s a strange thing to say for a man who just made an agreement.

And he’s not alone. Ten more Democrats wrote a letter this week complaining that this compromise would make it harder for seniors to get treatment under Medicare because “provider shortages in states with low reimbursement rates such as ours will make such a program ineffective, or even worsen the problems these states are experiencing.” These ten were: Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Al Franken (SNL).

Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Olympia Snowe also criticized the proposal. Lieberman indicated that he was growing “increasingly concerned” with the proposal:
“I am increasingly troubled about the proposal. I am worried about what impact it will have on the Medicare program’s fiscal viability and also what effect it will have on the premiums paid by people benefiting from Medicare now.”
Nelson stated that this could be an intermediate step to a public option “which I do not like.” He further stated, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this thing does not become a viable option. I think it is going to be the lesser of the popular things, but I am keeping an open mind.”

Olympia Snowe was not as optimistic. “I have serious concerns. I just think that is the wrong direction to take.” She further stated that she could not see a way to even tweak the proposal to win her vote. “I can’t see it.”

Maybe there was no deal after all? It’s sure starting to sound that way.


StanH said...

It must be frustrating beyond belief for liberals, the trouble that they are having with healthcare…what fun. Perception is reality for Harry Reid and by declaring a “deal” he hoped that public opposition would soften accepting the inevitability of deathcare. Like we’ve said many times, something is going to pass, and whatever it is should be the first plank in the conservative platform for 2010.

Writer X said...

What a bunch of clowns. When they start referring to each other as "the senator from state X," you know something is fishy.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I think that "perception is reality" is the key to this. I think that they couldn't really come to an agreement and they are trying to use peer pressure to line up all the Democrats.

If all of their constituents are told that a deal is in place, that would put a lot of pressure on individual objectors to explain why there really isn't a deal and why they seem to be the only one standing in the way of THE DEAL.

It will be interesting to see if this works. Once again, the enemy for Reid is time. The longer he gives them, the more rats will bolt the ship.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, You're right, "Senate speak" hides a lot of evil.

Tennessee Jed said...

As long as it all results in no wealth draining socialist cost ignoring "free" healthcare for all of the Democrat Party special interest groups, I'm happy. Realistically, this has always been a tough issue and our side has rallied nicely to expose the details. Further, when you discount rino's and dino's in states where they have to hug the center to stay in power, this is still a fairly evenly split congress. So far, Harry Reid has not shown the smarts or the muscle to get what he and Obama so desparately want . . . something for the state of the union. I hope it remains that way.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'm with you!

What really interests me is that if Reid or Pelosi or Obama were at all capable politicians, this things (along with a dozen other liberal wishlist items) would have been done months ago. But they seem incapable of true leadership. Good for us!

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - as an aside, I don't know whether you actually got the chance to see Austin Citly Limits last night. The Decembrists led off with Crane Wife 3, the third part of their folk triology.

I will be the first to tell you both bands are not exactly mainstream, perhaps even avante garde. As such, their music is not always the most accessible. Explosions In The Sky can get far too bombastic at times, but at their best, they are ethereal and incredibly relaxing. I didn't care for the rolling around by members of Decembrists. Still, their music and lyrics are wonderfully rich and complex. Hope you had a chance to watch.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, It wasn't on here, but I'll keep looking for it. Our local PBS is begging again, so we got Christmas shows and then local interest shows.

Unknown said...

Andrew: This is a first for us. My post tonight also discusses this plan to bring the 55 and over crowd into Medicare. Like you, I have my doubts that it can ever pass, but I'm concerned enough about it to go into detail--just in case. Glad to see your article this morning. I needed to be reassured that the idea is crazy as I thought it was, and probably won't happen. LOL

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I look forward to reading it. I'm not certain whether this "deal" will ultimately materialize or not -- I'm just pointing out that this "deal" may not actually be a "deal."

If the CBO applies fake numbers (like the ones Reid undoubtably gave it), then I could see people lining up to support this after they hear this will cost nothing, cover everyone, save Medicare, and cure cancer all in one shot. If they apply real numbers, I would expect this thing to crash and burn and then they're back arguing about the public option.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Agreed. For those interested enough to see why this latest proposal could be the stealth creation of single-payer, they can immerse themselves in my magnum opus rant later today. Your comment on phony numbers from the CBO as provided by Reid is right on the money (your money, my money, and the readers' money).

patti said...

this administration is all smoke and mirrors. i fully expect lieberman to get onboard as soon as he gets his...

AndrewPrice said...

We'll see Patti. Today he was apparently making noises in private that he was going to filibuster. But, like you, I've learned to never trust a politician.

MegaTroll said...

I read yesterday that the Democrats are about to drop the Medicare buy-in, and we heard it hear first. Commentarama is great! Good work.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Mega, I saw that too. On Sunday we started seeing articles appearing everywhere that there really wasn't a deal -- right after they said this on the Sunday morning news shows. Then last night I saw two articles that said they'd dropped the Medicare buy-in, but I haven't seen any follow up on that yet.

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