Monday, December 14, 2009
As reported by CNN, it seems that Joey L has had a chat with his wife about how expanding Medicare to cover those 55 and older who do not have insurance will hurt their income from her health care lobbying. After some soul searching, they've decided that they aren't willing to risk that income, and that fucking Americans over is a much more palatable course of action.
Seriously, who is this guy kidding? Just put the R next to your name now and quit being coy. The soon-to-be ex-senator's paper-thin excuse (that's a lot of hyphens) is, and I quote, "We don't need to keep adding on to the back of this horse until the horse breaks down and we get nothing done." Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the argument in favor of reforming the current health care system. You know, the one that's going to collapse under its own weight in, I don't know, about ten years. Which would serve us right at this point. I kind of hope we don't do anything and it comes back to bite us in the ass. We obviously need to learn the hard way.
Let's first establish that expanding Medicare does NOT add things on the back of this so-called horse. The reason most of us pay so much money for health insurance is because you are paying premiums to cover the risk of your entire insurance pool. Yes, that means those of us, like me, who are comparatively young and healthy, are paying higher premiums than we need to to cover the asses of the just-shy-of-medicare aged folks who may or may not be getting their arteries scraped next week on our dime. Now, not even most of those will be eligible for Medicare because you can't get it at 55 unless you are uninsured, so a lot won't even change. All it does is take those high riskers on no or unaffordable plans and give them a new option. Its such a vanilla solution that you have to be a total prick to oppose it. However, theoretically, it puts the high risk patients on a plan that already exists to cover high risk patients and provides incentive for private insurers to lower the rates for the rest of us. Why would they follow through on that? I don't know, they probably won't because they like to make money, but that's the theory. Will it raise the cost of Medicare? Yes, in theory, by a very small margin that should by all rights be offset by the huge savings the private insurers will more likely than not try to pocket instead of passing back to us. So really, Lieberman is right, but not because the plan changes too much. He's right because it doesn't do enough.
Basically, its a plan that plays right into the Republicans' hands; it allows the private insurers a chance to slip even higher profits by us. And they STILL won't vote for it. That's the level of assholery we're dealing with.
Of course, in the long run, it would be beneficial because its one decade's worth of patients closer to covering all of us in a single payer system, and maybe that's what scares them. Another part of this current bill increases the bar for who can buy Medicaid. Yet another increases the age of dependents who can stay on their parents' plans to something absurd like 30 (I guess accounting for the WoW crowd who live in their parents' basements...no offense cause I'm a gamer too). And even another aspect had something to do with a government agency designed to regulate all this. So yeah, it does have its sneaky socialist aspects which can seem scary to old white men who remember when you were supposed to shoot anyone who claimed to be a socialist, the irony of them subsisting almost entirely on social programs at that age notwithstanding.
But the GOP isn't going to be happy until nothing at all gets passed, and they have Lieberman playing the role of inside man in their scheme now. It calls to mind the saying, "beware of the wounded animal." The GOP is cowering in the corner on three legs, but I'll be damned if you can't get within 20 feet of them without getting mauled right now.
As a quick aside, I love Mitch McConnell's quote in the CNN story on the bill: "We do not believe this bill, this nearly 2,100-page monstrosity, is real health care reform." Yeah, and people did not believe the world was round 600 years ago. Its like every time you turn around, the bill has grown another handful of pages all on its own, despite the fact that the Dems make huge cuts to it constantly. I'm setting the over-under of the bill's length by January 1st at 2,300 pages. I'll take the over.
So what's the end game here? Do we get a bill or not? And is it worth it? Well, we're going to get something, considering the Democrats are set on cutting as much of the bill away as it takes to get the needed votes. However, I think its safe to assume that it will not make things better at this point, and in fact might make them worse in the immediate future. But that's okay with me as long as there is a long term outcome that will be favorable. We have to face a fact here, and that fact is there is going to be a difficult period of time ahead for Americans and its going to last about 20 to 30 years. See, when the last of the baby boomers hit retirement age, we're going to be in the unenviable position of going through a couple of decades where the working class is outnumbered by the retired class. This isn't the boomers' fault. Its not like they all got together and said, "hey, let's all get born together so we can fuck the system for our kids and grandkids down the road." But that's what's going to happen. There is no model for a system that can produce more energy than it consumes; we are going to be faced with government programs that hemorrhage money for a while. That doesn't mean the system is broken. It just means the burden is unbalanced.
There will be people who try to imply that the system is broken and will try to have it demolished at that time, and it will be important to avoid that temptation. Its very easy to want to do what benefits you at the expense of future generations, and very difficult to inconvenience yourself for the benefit of future generations, but it is the latter that we must strive for. Its going to be a hard sell. And really, its starting right now. We have a situation where we need to secure the health of our citizens not just now, but for generations ahead, and the opponents are the shortsighted among us. They are those that do not consider or care about those that will come after they die. They care only about themselves. And that's what it comes down to; like all past arguments over government programs and all future ones to come, the health care debate is a fight between doing what is easy and what is right. However, we cannot do both.
In Congress, the motivations are more likely about doing what you think your voters want; let's not pretend that we have close to 60 heroes working for us there (or close to 40 if you are on the other side). They might be generally decent people, but they are political mercenaries at the end of the day. That's just how the system works. That's why, in spite of what the libertarian and anarchists crowds say, we must remember that we as voters do ultimately control what our country does and does not do; we control it by telling our congressmen and congresswomen what to do. If you voted in the last election and you write a letter to your representation, and everyone else does the same, they will listen. They have to, or else they lose their jobs. They are our employees and it works. If you live in Connecticut, where ever other member of Congress from your state does not have their heads buried up their asses, send Lieberman a note and remind him who his bosses are. The rest of the country will thank you for it eventually.
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