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The Last Democratic Hurrah?

8:28 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

The House has passed ObamaCare with applause and clapping. But it will be the last Democratic hurrah for decades. The bill dooms the party come November and will dog them for many elections thereafter.

The final House vote was 219 to 212 so Obama brought in the Stupak 7 with his pledge to sign an Executive Order pledging no federal funds would be used for elective abortion. That a Democratic President would sign such an order is in itself an abomination, that a Democratic president who campaigned on womens rights is, well, an Obama abomination. See KarenM’s diary, running simultaneously here at FDL, on his campaign promises. That is shocking but expected given the dismal failures and lies of this presidency.

But while the party is celebrating now, come November they will be crying and pleading for support from anyone and everybody. A mandated sellout to the insurance industry just isn’t going to hack it with the American people and it will become more and more apparent over time that this is not real reform but propping up a sick, for profit, insurance industry. The reliable, nonprofit, nonpartisan website www.pollster.com shows Obama getting failing marks on health care reform: 52.1% disapprove of Obama’s job performance on health care, only 40.7% approve. This will only get worse once the people find out what’s in the bill. As one pundit told the New York Times:

“But once people discover that their Medicare taxes are going up, that there are deeper cuts in Medicare Advantage, that there are court challenges to many provisions, and that the process of getting it passed created a portrait of corruption, it won’t sit well.”

It hasn’t sat well so far and we still don’t know all the details of this murky bill. The Democrats slavish capitulation to the antiabortion group led by Stupak doesn’t portend well.

Like everything Obama has done so far, this is make-believe reform that is really designed to make people believe that change has arrived. But it hasn’t. The change will be for the worse. Obama’s already pulled the same deceptive stunt on us with the wars, the bailouts, unemployment, the "closing" of Gitmo and just about everything else. Social security "reform" will be next.

But Obama’s gig and that of his Democrats will be up in November. Impeachment proceedings against Obama in the new Republican dominated House will likely start early next year coupled with widespread investigations of the administration.

Pay back time is coming soon for the Democrats so you’d better celebrate today.

Line-by-Line analysis of Obama’s Pa. Healthcare Speech: He Lies Repeatedly!

11:13 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

This is a line-by-line analysis of President Obama’s healthcare speech in Pennsylvania of March 8, 2010.

In his speech, Obama lies about the cost savings involved (off by only $.868 trillion–that is $868 billion). He lies when he makes it sound like Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for the costs of the health care mess (in his own words: "how many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid?")thus showing what will soon be at the future of his list of "things to do" (cut entitlements). He also lies when he says his administration considered all possibilities for reform ("Every proposal has been put on the table"). Not so. Obama never entertained single payer at all.

His transcript (from the White House) is followed by my comments:

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Pennsylvania! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. This is a nice crowd. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, what a wonderful crowd.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!

THE PRESIDENT: Love you back. (Applause.) I am — I’m kind of fired up. (Applause.) I’m kind of fired up. (Applause.) So, listen, we — this is just an extraordinary crowd and I –

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) I want — there’s some people I want to point out who are here who’ve just been doing great work. First of all, give Leslie a great round of applause for her wonderful introduction. (Applause.)

Looks like Obama is back in campaign mode. Hasn’t even bothered to change his approach.

Somebody who’s been working tirelessly on your behalf, doing a great job — the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius is in the house. (Applause.)

Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy to know that this nit wit, Sebelius, has been working "tirelessly" on our behalf. Doing what, besides pandering to the health care industry?

Your senior senator who has just been doing outstanding work in the Senate, Arlen Specter is in the house. (Applause.)

The guy who spent how many decades as a reliable Republican vote? Who stood behind Richard Nixon? Whose opponent is a progressive?

Somebody who rendered outstanding service to our nation before he was in Congress, Joe Sestak is in the house. (Applause.)

Makes it sound like his work in the House hasn’t been all that good! For somebody who is supposed to be clever with words, he isn’t.

It’s even better to be out of Washington, D.C. (Laughter.) First of all, the people of D.C. are wonderful. They’re nice people, they’re good people; love the city, the monuments, everything. But when you’re in Washington, folks respond to every issue, every decision, every debate, no matter how important it is, with the same question: What does this mean for the next election? (Laughter.) What does it mean for your poll numbers? Is this good for the Democrats or good for the Republicans? Who won the news cycle?

That’s just how Washington is. They can’t help it. They’re obsessed with the sport of politics.

Insider Obama, who has been in Washington, D.C. since what, 2004, plays the outsider card. The Spawn of the Devil, appointed and kept in office by Obama, isn’t obsessed with the "sport of politics"? Not straight talk from the supposed Top Dog.

But out here, and all across America, folks are worried about bigger things.

Maybe the first truthful thing Obama has said. Trouble is, much of it has happened on his watch, and on the watch in which Democrats have controlled the Senate and Congress since 2006.

They’re worried about how to make payroll. They’re worried about how to make ends meet. They’re worried about what the future will hold for their families and for our country. They’re not worrying about the next election. We just had an election. (Applause.)

No mention by Obama about the chief concern of the country: joblessness. Nor any mention about his efforts to create jobs, because he’s fumbled the ball on this for 14 months.

They’re thinking about retirement.

No mention here about the concerns of many Americans that Obama and his Democrats have entitlements in their focus. (See Obama’s remarks at the inauguration of the Hamilton Project in 2006) when he saw "entitlements" as a problem while standing in Bob Rubin’s shadow.

Despite all the challenges we face — two wars, the aftermath of a terrible recession — I want to tell everybody here today I am absolutely confident that America will prevail; that we will shape our destiny as past generations have done. (Applause.)

No mention here that it was Obama himself who expanded the wars, twice escalating in Afghanistan last year. Or that we have troops fighting in 5 different countries. Or that the Defense Department budget he asked for is 8% higher than W’s.

But that only happens when we’re meeting our challenges squarely and honestly. And I have to tell you, that’s why we are fighting so hard to deal with the health care crisis in this country; health care costs that are growing every single day.

Obama’s been fighting "an honest" fight on this? He’s talking about "health insurance reform". He’s the guy who promised to hold all meeting on health care reform in public and televise them live. He’s the guy who broke that pledge. He’s the who met behind locked doors in secret with leaders of the insurance companies and afterwards talked of "insurance reform", not health care reform. He’s the guy who denied those meetings happened until the New York Times broke the story. This is honesty and transparency?

The price of health care is one of the most punishing costs for families and for businesses and for our government. (Applause.) It’s forcing people to cut back or go without health insurance.

Notice his goal: health insurance, not health care reform. But Mr. President, to whom is that more helpful, the insurance companies or the people?

The young people who are here, you’ve heard stories — some of you guys still have health care while you’re in school, some of you may still be on your parents’ plans, but some of the highest uninsurance rates are among young people.

Completely misleading. Most of the young people without health care insurance don’t want it or need it.

And the insurance companies continue to ration health care based on who’s sick and who’s healthy; on who can pay and who can’t pay.

So that’s why Obama’s plan focuses on private insurance? If its rotten, why build on it? Dennis Kuchinich listened to Obama’s health care address to the Joint Houses of Congress several months ago and accurately said: "It’s the wrong approach. It’s a sell-out to the insurance companies." Obama continues his line of b.s. here.

And that’s why we need to pass health care reform — not next year, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, but now. (Applause.)

So what’s the excuse again, Mr. President, for many of the features of your plan not taking effect until well after you leave office?

Now, since we took this issue on a year ago, there have been plenty of folks in Washington who’ve said that the politics is just too hard. They’ve warned us we may not win. They’ve argued now is not the time for reform. It’s going to hurt your poll numbers. How is it going to affect Democrats in November? Don’t do it now.

Obama pretends he’s a fighter and the patsy crowd loves it.

Every year, the problem gets worse. Every year, insurance companies deny more people coverage because they’ve got preexisting conditions. Every year, they drop more people’s coverage when they get sick right when they need it most. Every year, they raise premiums higher and higher and higher.

Just last month, Anthem Blue Cross in California tried to jack up rates by nearly 40 percent — 40 percent. Anybody’s paycheck gone up 40 percent?

Tell us again, then, why you want private insurance as the basis for your plan, and not the simpler and more cost effective extension of Medicare to everyone?

I mean, why is it that we think this is normal? In my home state of Illinois, rates are going up by as much as 60 percent. You just heard Leslie, who was hit with more than a hundred percent increase — 100 percent. One letter from her insurance company and her premiums doubled. Just like that. And because so many of these markets are so concentrated, it’s not like you can go shopping.

Could the answer be, Mr. President, that the insurance companies know they have you and your administration in their back pocket?

See, these insurance companies have made a calculation. Listen to this. The other day, there was a conference call that was organized by Goldman Sachs. You know Goldman Sachs. You’ve been hearing about them, right? (Laughter.) So they organized a conference call in which an insurance broker was telling Wall Street investors how he expected things to be playing out over the next several years, and this broker said that insurance companies know they will lose customers if they keep on raising premiums, but because there’s so little competition in the insurance industry, they’re okay with people being priced out of the insurance market because, first of all, a lot of folks are going to be stuck, and even if some people drop out, they’ll still make more money by raising premiums on customers that they keep.

Can you explain, Mr. President, why you have so many top advisers in your administration from Goldman Sachs? Or why they were your biggest campaign contributor both as a Senator and for the Presidency? Better check out some of Matt Taibbi’s articles, Mr. President. Here Obama pretends he’s acting independently of Goldman, rather than being owned by them.

How many years — how many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid?

Ahh! Obama perhaps unconsciously, states his REAL concern, and the real concern of Goldman Sachs. He makes it sound like Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for the state of the health care mess, rather than private insurance companies and politicians like himself. This is complete bull shit.

So what should I tell these Americans? That Washington is not sure how it will play in November? That we should walk away from this fight,

Obama pretends he’s actually fighting for average Americans, not for the insurance companies and Goldman Sachs.

We have debated health care in Washington for more than a year. Every proposal has been put on the table.

A blatant lie. Obama himself and his administration took "single payer" off the table from the get go. He also abandoned "the public option" early on. This guy lies.

On one side of the spectrum there were those at the beginning of this process who wanted to scrap our system of private insurance and replace it with a government-run health care system, like they have in some other countries. (Applause.) Look, it works in places like Canada, but I didn’t think it was going to be practical or realistic to do it here.

Obama must have thought: Damned crowd applaued at the wrong time! Again, Obama never seriously considered this option, and doesn’t here either.

So the bottom line is I don’t believe we should give government or insurance companies more control over health care in America. I believe it’s time to give you, the American people, more control over your own health insurance. (Applause.)

So why the mandate? Why the fines and prison terms if you’re giving people "control" over their own health insurance, because you’re not. Lying again, Mr. President.

This year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. (Applause.) This year, they will be banned from dropping your coverage when you get sick. (Applause.) And they will no longer be able to arbitrarily and massively hike your premiums — just like they did to Leslie or Natoma or millions of others Americans. Those practices will end. (Applause.)

If this reform becomes law, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to their customers starting this year — free check-ups so that we can catch preventable illnesses on the front end. (Applause.) Starting this year, there will be no more lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care that you can receive from your insurance companies. There’s a lot of fine print in there that can end up costing people hundreds of thousands of dollars because they hit a limit.

The same old campaign boilerplate without any details. But the devils in the details here. Misleading at best.

Number two, second thing that would change about the current system is this: For the first time in their lives — or oftentimes, in a very long time — uninsured individuals and small business owners will have the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves. (Applause.)

Note the word "private" Obama uses; in fact, it’s the PUBLIC options that politicians have that are so good. And the Congress critters get lots more money to pay for additional private insurance, something not available to lots of American’s under Obama’s plan.

Now, the idea is very simple here, and it’s one — (audience interruption) — I’m sorry, go ahead. (Applause.) Let me explain how this would work, because it’s an idea that a lot of Republicans have embraced in the past.

Because Obama is essentially a Republican. The politician he revered was not FDR but Reagan, as he himself says in his autobiographical writings.

Because the wealthiest among us, they can already afford to buy the best insurance there is; the least well off are already covered through Medicaid. It’s the middle class that gets squeezed. That’s who we need to help with these tax credits. (Applause.) That’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)

Yup, that’s a Republican idea, about the only thing this guy fights for.

So I’ll give you an example. We’re going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies that currently go to insurance and pharmaceutical companies. (Applause.) They are getting billions of dollars a year from the government, from taxpayers, when they’re making a big profit. I’d rather see that money going to people who need it. (Applause.)

Very, very misleading. Obama himself took one of the best approaches off the table: importation of cheaper drugs from abroad.

We’ll set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance. They’re going to have 30 million new customers; there’s nothing wrong with them paying a little bit of the freight. And we’ll make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of Medicare, just like everybody else does. (Applause.)

Notice the lack of detail? How much of a fee? Who’s going to oversee its collection and enforcement? Penalty provisions, if any? What’s to guarantee it won’t last longer than a few months, if implemented at all?

So the bottom line is this: Our proposal is paid for.

This remark should be coupled with Obama’s following:

Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next decade because we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely. (Applause.) Those aren’t my numbers. Those aren’t my numbers –they are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost.

A lie, a big one. The Congressional Budget Office estimated savings over the next decade of only $132 billion, not $1 trillion. So, Obama overstates the Congressional Budget office projects by the better part of a trillion dollars, as one analysis of his speech notes:

That part is true. The budget office does keep score of what things cost. More precisely, the budget office projects what things cost or save over a given period of time.

But the budget office did not say the Senate health care bill would save $1 trillion over the next decade. Not even close.

It estimated the bill would save $132 billion from 2010 to 2019, leaving President Obama’s "next decade" estimate $868 billion short.

That’s some rounding error.

Back to Obama and yet more promises.

It would lower prescription drug prices for seniors. (Applause.) It would help train new doctors and nurses to provide care for American families and physicians assistants and therapists. I know there are — got great programs here at Arcadia. (Applause.) I was hearing about the terrific programs you have at Arcadia in the health care field. Well, you know what, we’re going to need more health care professionals of the sorts that are being trained here, and we want to help you get that training. And that’s in this bill. (Applause.)

Where’s the chicken in every pot in this happy, Frank Capra like scenario?

Finally, my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions — families, businesses, and the federal government. (Applause.) As I said, you keep on hearing from critics and some of the Republicans on these Sunday shows say, well, we want to do more about cost. We have now incorporated almost every single serious idea from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care — ideas that go after waste and abuse in our system, including in programs like Medicare. But we do this while protecting Medicare benefits, and we extend the financial stability of the program by nearly a decade.

Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next decade because we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely. (Applause.)hose aren’t my numbers. Those aren’t my numbers –they are the savings determined by the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress for what things cost.

Obama’s off by only about $800 billion: so give the Commander in Chief some leeway? They ARE his numbers.

Now, think about it. I think — how many people would like a proposal that holds insurance companies more accountable?

That’s like making pit bull terriers more accountable. How about a proposal that makes them completely superfluous and unnecessary, like single payer?

The United States Congress owes the American people a final, up or down vote on health care. (Applause.) It’s time to make a decision. The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand. And we need all of you to help us win that vote. So I need you to knock on doors. Talk to your neighbors. Pick up the phone. When you hear an argument by the water cooler and somebody is saying this or that about it, say, no, no, no, no, hold on a second. And we need you to make your voices heard all the way in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

Weak. Obama perhaps hasn’t seen the poll numbers showing the American people already overwhelmingly don’t like his plan. If Congressman in the Democratic party are smart, they’ll vote against it, or be cannon fodder come November.

That’s what Mitch McConnell said this weekend. His main argument was, well, this is going to be really bad for Democrats politically. Now, first of all, I generally wouldn’t take advice about what’s good for Democrats. (Laughter.) But setting aside that, that’s not the issue here. The issue here is not the politics of it.

But the issue IS political, Sir. Obama shows he doesn’t understand the nature of American politics. Political parties are there to express differences, that is their historic purpose. Why pretend their is a bipartisan, nonpolitical middle way? That hasn’t exactly worked for you, has it Barack?

Yes, it’s hard. It is hard. That’s because health care is complicated. Health care is a hard issue. It’s easily misrepresented.

As you, Mr. Obama, misrepresented in your speech on both costs and on the history of how the bill as it is came to be: you did NOT consider all options, contrary to your words above. Please stop pretending you are not a politician.

So let me remind everybody: Those of us in public office were not sent to Washington to do what’s easy. We weren’t sent there because of the big fancy title. We weren’t sent there to — because of a big fancy office. We weren’t sent there just so everybody can say how wonderful we are. We were sent there to do what was hard. (Applause.)

What’s your excuse again, for abandoning most of the plans and policies you ran on again then?

So I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know how passing health care will play politically, but I do know that it’s the right thing to do. (Applause.) It’s right for our families. It’s right for our businesses. It’s right for the United States of America.

When any politician, especially this accomplished liar, tells you he’s "being honest": look out!

What he really means it’s good for insurance companies and it’s good for politicians like him because those insurance companies will then be forced to handover lots of money to political hacks.

Let’s seize reform. It’s within our grasp.

This is reform? Recall again what Dennis Kucinich called it: "the wrong approach. A sell-out to the insurance companies." Once again, Obama was given a prime-time shot to explain his health "insurance reform" proposals but failed to provide any compelling reasons or details for anyone to support him. He misled, he obfuscated, and yes, he lied.

Obama’s actions remind me of the delightful movie that was made out of Agatha Christie’s "Witness For the Prosecution". At the movie’s climax, the inimitable Charles Laughton (as the British barrister Sir Wilfrid Robarts) accuses the testifying Marlene Dietrich (as Christine Vole):

"The question is whether you were lying then or are you lying now… or whether in fact you are a chronic and habitual L I A R!

Fearing Senate Loss in Mass, Dems Threaten to Impose Senate Bill on the House and the Nation

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Planning for a loss in the Massachusetts Senatorial race, the Obama administration intends to impose the Senate version of health care on the House with no changes being allowed. Isn’t that pretty much what Obama has wanted all along?

From Charles Babbington of the AP:

A panicky White House and Democratic allies scrambled Sunday for a plan to salvage their hard-fought health care package in case a Republican wins Tuesday’s Senate race in Massachusetts, which would enable the GOP to block further Senate action.

The likeliest scenario would require persuading House Democrats to accept a bill the Senate passed last month, despite their objections to several parts.

The Senate version, after all, squares more closely with what Obama really wants than the more liberal House version. The Senate version, for instance, covers fewer people (94% of Americans vs. 96%) and the Senate version includes the tax on "Cadillac health plans" that Obama really pushed all along. This path would also allow Obama to push through the far less progressive Senate version WITHOUT ANY CHANGES WHATSOEVER made by the members of the House:

The newly discussed fallback would require House Democrats to swallow hard and approve the Senate-passed bill without changes. President Barack Obama could sign it into law without another Senate vote needed.

…"The simplest way is the House route," a White House aide said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because Democrats have not conceded the race to Brown.

Is there any question that the House of Representatives is really dead, killed off by our supposed democratic party and by its leader, Barack Obama who would rather deal with just the House of Lords?

Repulsive DLCer Lanny Davis, meanwhile, makes it apparent that the Rahm Obama faction of the Democratic party is really putting a gun to the head of all Democrats. Vote for Coakley or you get this:

If Democrats lose in Massachusetts, it will simply mean Democrats and President Obama need find a new center to enact health care and other progressive legislation – meaning, they must sit down with Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch, John McCain and other GOP Senators with long records of bipartisan legislating — and moderate Democrats Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and others –and create a new health care bill that can command broad bipartisan support.

That’s right, the DLCers still believe they can deal with Olympia Snowe and Orrin Hatch, even John McCain, and indeed maybe they can because their mindsets are closer to those GOP’ers than they are to democrats from the democratic side of the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, spinmeisters from the White House keep blaming Coakley for "running a bad campaign" while the fault really lies with Obama and all of his broken promises. Get this, she was criticized recently for not having campaigned (or run campaign ads) in the five days surrounding Christmas Day! I mean, who would have watched them? Who would have attended a rally on Christmas? Today, a New York Times article written from the perspective of seeing Obama as Superman coming to her rescue, talks of Coakley’s "flailing candidacy". The article makes little or no mention of the underlying reasons why any Democrat running today would have trouble: high unemployment, government bailouts of banks and Wall St., and a health "insurance" bill designed with mandates to bailout insurance companies.

Robert Kuttner, a progressive who has pretty much given Obama a pass until now, seems to be waking up to Obama’s faults now. In a hard hitting article over at Huffington Post he says:

As a resident of Massachusetts, in the last two days I’ve gotten robo calls from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Martha Coakley, and Angela Menino, the wife of Boston’s mayor — everyone but the sainted Ted Kennedy. In Obama’s call, he advised me that he needed Martha Coakley in the Senate, "because I’m fighting to curb the abuses of a health insurance industry that routinely denies care." Let’s see, would that be the same insurance industry that Rahm was cutting inside deals with all spring and summer? The same insurance industry that spent tens of millions on TV spots backing Obama’s bill as sensible reform? If voters are wondering which side this guy is on, he has given them good reason.

Either way, the Massachusetts surprise should be a wake-up call of the most fundamental kind. Obama needs to stop playing inside games with bankers and insurance lobbyists, and start being a fighter for regular Americans. Otherwise, he can kiss it all goodbye.

R.I.P.: The United States House of Representatives, born on April 1, 1789, deceased 2010.

R.I.P. The Democratic Party born a long time ago, died under Rahm Obama in 2009-2010.

R.I.P.: The United States House of Representatives, b. April 1, 1789 d. 2009?

7:51 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

The United States House of Representatives, over 200 years old, is dead. Long ago the Founding Fathers saw the House as the most vital of the three branches of government: its powers are outlined first in the Constitution (Article I, Sect. 2) before those of the Senate and the Executive. The Founding Fathers, who knew well the power of the purse, gave the House the exclusive power to originate "All bills for raising Revenue" (Article I, Sect. 7). Under the same document, it alone has the sole power of impeachment (Article 1, Sect. 2).

But times change, and the House of Representatives–often at the consternation of the citizenry–frequently refused to exercise its powers. Witness its failure, along with its partner chamber, the Senate, to exercise its war powers and instead place those powers in a War Powers Act that the Executive can use almost at will. Witness its failure to cut off spending for unpopular and undeclared wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan. As in other areas, "use it or lose it" and the House never seemed to want to "use it".

Recall in the last months the syphilitic efforts of the House to deal with the Nation’s most pressing domestic problem: health care reform. Instead of robust debate by members of the House, they by and large capitulated to the demands of a few of their leaders and to the Executive and his henchman, Rahm Emanuel. Instead of 435 members working together in public with the nation’s best experts on this problem so as to deal with this problem, they instead met behind closed doors with lobbyists and interest groups in deliberations that often excluded both the public and many of the leading authorities on the problem. Even then, they did what they were told by a few of their leaders like Nancy and Stenny who were acting pretty much on orders of the Executive Department upon whom,in theory, they were supposed to be a check and a balance.

The real action occurred not in the House but in the Senate. To be more exact, it happened in a Senate Committee chaired by one of the leading enemies of a public option who coincidentally was also one of the largest beneficiaries of the insurance and pharmacy industries. Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Harry Reid, and above all, Joe Lieberman were the individuals in our Congress who worked together with the Executive and his Rahm to screw the public and to aid the insurance industry moguls.

To be sure, the "Senate version" (really the Nelson-Baucus-Reid- Lieberman bill) will have to be "negotiated" with the House before final passage and signature by the Executive. But just as "dead men don’t talk," dead institutions don’t negotiate very well. Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, perhaps mistaking the movements of rigor mortus for real life in the House, issued this warning to the cadaver this past Sunday:

"It is very clear that the bill, the final bill, to pass in the United States Senate is going to have to be very close to the bill that has been negotiated here. Otherwise you will not get 60 votes in the United States Senate"

Translation: if the House shows a pulse at all, I’ll vote against anything it proposes in the Senate and everything will go down in flames. The same point was driven home by the all-powerful Joe Lieberman:

"I hope there will be no attempt to reinsert a so-called public option in any form in the conference report. That would mean that I would not be able to support the report, and I want to support it. I believe I’m not alone in that opinion among the 60 who supported the bill last night."

Leaders of the lifeless institution, the House of Representatives, seem to want to hasten the institution’s death. One insider, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.- is reported as saying:

I think there’s not going to be a conference committee. I think (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi is going to try to put down her foot and force this bill through the House the way it came out of the Senate."

Much the same point was driven home by Glenn Greenwald in an interview with Amy Goodman over at Democracynow:

I think it’s extremely clear that this bill is not going to get better in reconciliation between the House—or in conference between the House and the Senate, because the senators have already said that the House has no right to make changes, or they won’t have sixty votes in the Senate. So I think it’s going to stay the same.

Pelosi remains alive and kicking but most of the other members of the 435-member body seem housed (pardon the bad pun) in the intensive care ward. Surely that is what both the leading lights (or should it be "lites"?)of the Senate and the Executive, Barack Obama, want because the Senate bill gives the farm away to the insurance and pharmacy industries which has been this administration’s plan all along.

Here’s the ever perceptive Greenwald on how Obama sold out:

…the President got caught engaging in these agreements that were negotiated in secret with the pharmaceutical industry to do things like ban the re-importation of drugs from Canada, which was a central prong of the Democratic Party’s reform efforts. When it came time to try and get cheaper drug products for Americans, he agreed that there would be no negotiations for bulk prices with the pharmaceutical industry, when the government is the largest purchaser of those products, which Obama and the Democrats had been criticizing the Republicans for having done.

And you clearly saw that the President, while making public statements being in support of the public option, all along was working against the public option in private. Rahm Emanuel spent all year long saying that there would be no public option in the ultimate bill. They had—they were touting triggers from the very start. And it was clear that the healthcare industry was quite satisfied with the way in which this was proceeding, and that’s why they barely campaigned against it at all. They sent huge amounts of lobbyists to safeguard their interests, because they knew that the final product would not include a public option.

…And so, if the President was not behind the public option from the start, I don’t see any time in the near future when there will ever be real competition that’s permissible with the private health insurance industry. That’s what this bill has done, is it signaled to industry, generally, that the approach of the Obama administration will be to strengthen and give them even more of they want—of what they want, give them even more political power, in exchange for some very small concessions that he can then tout as progressive progress.

/p>

Some members of the House, well-intentioned, no doubt, appear oblivious to the fact that the House of Representatives of which they are part is dead and that their role has essentially been nullified by our current Democratic President, his henchmen, and by their own Speaker of the House. Here’s Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) puffing up hope that there is still life in the House to a largely clueless public that isn’t aware that its obituary was written long ago:

Washington D.C. – Today, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement responding to the Senate’s vote to end debate and pave the way for final passage of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”

“Last night’s vote in the Senate should be applauded for what it was:
an affirmative statement by that body that comprehensive health care reform legislation should not be held captive any longer by a select few.” “As this legislation moves towards its constitutionally mandated reconciliation with the House of Representatives, I also want to make it clear that, in my mind, this bill does not adequately address many of the problems that plague our current system. Without material changes, this legislation will be reform in name only.”

“In order to pass the House of Representatives, a final health care bill must provide universal affordability and competition to the American people. Additionally, it should be financed by those with the ability to pay and not by working class Americans lucky enough to receive quality health coverage through their employers.”

As evidence that Congressman Conyers has not been paying attention to what has been happening in Washington, D.C., and especially has not been watching the actions of his own party’s leader, Conyers additionally had this to say:

“I look forward to working with the Senate and House Leadership to ensure that the final health care bill address these core principles of affordability, competition, and progressive financing.”

“Lastly, I am troubled that some Senators believe that the House must accept the majority of the concessions embodied in this Senate bill. My message to the these Senators is this: Just as it took compromise to pass your bill last night, so now will it require additional compromise to successfully reconcile your legislation with the House. The Constitution established a bicameral legislature so that neither body would dominate the other."

Beautiful words from Conyers which echo the sentiments of the Founding Fathers. Beautiful words, however, seem to be the hallmark of the Democratic Party these days and they are most often not matched by beautiful deeds. As New York Times columnist Frank Rich pointed out in a thoughtful and perceptive column recently, the "hagiography business", as he calls it, seems enshrined in America today with the country witnessing a horde of flimflam artists, con men, and shysters all who are adept at using words and images skillfully. Frank Rich noted that Americans keep being fooled "by leaders in American life, over and over". Rich’s column ostensibly deals mostly with Tiger Woods but it is clear from Rich’s final paragraphs that his target is bigger than a sandbagging golfer:

Though the American left and right don’t agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger’s public image — a marketing scam designed to camouflage either his covert anti-American radicalism (as the right sees it) or spineless timidity (as the left sees it). The truth may well be neither, but after a decade of being spun silly, Americans can’t be blamed for being cynical about any leader trying to sell anything. As we say goodbye to the year of Tiger Woods, it is the country, sad to say, that is left mired in a sand trap with no obvious way out.

Will Conyers’s hopes be realized or is he too caught in the sand traps of American life? Will the lower branch of the Congress, as he indicates, actually stand up so as to prevent its being dominated by the Senate? For the good of the nation, one hopes so.

But I noticed one tidbit of information that might affect Congressman Conyers’s ability to take a resolute position. It seems that Conyers’s wife, Monica, who served on the Detroit City Council, received bribes. She’s been arrested, plead guilty, and awaits; sentencing on March 10th. That’s quite a Damoclean sword hanging over the Conyers family and Rahm knows how to wield swords effectively.

We will see in the next few days whether there is any life left in the House of Representatives. Let’s hope that as in a Charles Dicken’s plot, the ghosts of the House past rise up and inspire those in the present to redeem themselves.

Quixotic Hope that a Better Healthcare Bill will Emerge From the Sand Trap of Final Passage

8:38 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Many people seem to expect, and some politicians including many at the White House, are encouraging the view that a better health care bill will emerge after the Senate bill "moves on" and the process enters final passage. This is a quixotic hope: the White House long ago trumpeted that it would accept any bill and hail it as a "victory". In fact, that was pretty much the White House approach to the Copenhagen results which it hailed as a giant step forward while others saw it as an abysmal failure. To be able to pass both houses and meet the White House’s approval, any health care bill that emerges will likely be watered down even more than the present Senate version.

The attitude was pretty much summed up by a story in the Miami Herald under the headline, "After Senate Action, search will begin for real health care bill":

The Senate began its final, frantic steps toward passage of historic health care legislation on Sunday, as lawmakers and interest groups began turning their attention to the difficult battles over abortion, taxes and the public option that lie ahead.

The Senate early Monday morning is expected to cut off a Republican-led debate on the Democratic-authored $871 billion health care overhaul, a crucial step that will move the package close to final approval in that chamber later this week.

Once that happens, probably Wednesday or Thursday, the bill will have to be reconciled with the version the House of Representatives passed last month.

Lest anyone place too much hope in this process, remember who the participants will be in the conference, or negotiating group. Senior lawmakers from both houses, the Senate and the House, will meet under the close supervision of the White House to hammer out the final bill.

That means hapless Harry Reid and people close to him (likely Max Baucus and Ben Nelson, among others) will sit down with Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer with Rahm Emanuel coordinating everything. Recall that Rahm and Obama have not been friends to real health care reform and have been talking about insurance reform for months. Recall that Rahm and Obama took single payer off the table months ago, presented the "public option" as a Trojan horse kind of compromise, and then abandoned even that as a "sliver". Recall that Obama campaigned on a promise to "hold all health care meetings in public and televise them live on C-SPAN" a pledge he almost immediately broke. Recall that instead, Obama met behind closed doors in secret meetings (and denied this had happened until the New York Times broke the story) with insurance company moguls.

So the process of final passage will see Obama and Rahm meeting behind closed doors in secret with Harry Reid and Max Baucus and Ben Nelson and Nancy and Stenny and some people are excited about this? Hopeful that somehow the "true" Obama will emerge and bring with him "real health care reform"?

Forget it, it ain’t gonna happen. Obama and this White House have a proven track record of catering to the needs of the insurance-big Pharma industries, as do Max Baucus and Harry. Real health care reform could have easily been achieved by simply extending the popular, successful, and cost effective Medicare system to others, in phases if necessary. The fact that this course of action was never seriously considered by any of these major players should tell us what the outcome will be as the bill takes final shape. Instead, we’ve seen what Bill Moyers described as:

"the sheriff is firing blanks and powerful Democrats in Congress are in cahoots with the gang that’s pulling the heist…Raw money, mounds of it, buying politicians and policy as if they were futures on the hog market.

>

Why is this happening when almost every poll indicates the majority of the American people favor an extension of Medicare and favor single payer, not only a public option? Why is this happening under a Democratic presidency and a Democratically controlled House and a Democratically controlled Senate? Why is this happening a year after real health care reform, not a sham, was the key issue of the presidential election campaign?

Money and power. Big Pharma and the insurance companies have boatloads of money. Obama and Rahm long ago realized that killing off or even hobbling the insurance industry would kill off the golden goose that gives to Democrats and Republicans alike. As Dennis Kucinich aptly summarized Obama’s address to Congress last September: "it’s the wrong approach. It’s a bailout of the insurance industry."

Howard Dean has called out this pig gussied up to look like reform for what it really is:

If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health care reform.

Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.

Dr. Dean explained the reasons that anything that emerges during the end game of the health care bill will likely be worse than the current Senate version:

In Washington, when major bills near final passage, an inside-the-Beltway mentality takes hold. Any bill becomes a victory. Clear thinking is thrown out the window for political calculus. In the heat of battle, decisions are being made that set an irreversible course for how future health reform is done. The result is legislation that has been crafted to get votes, not to reform health care.

That’s pretty much what news reports indicated was the White House position months ago: Obama would accept any bill that emerges, no matter how bad, and declare it a victory (as he has done with climate change at Copenhagen). That’s the Obama modus operandi: pretend that you are in favor of change, trumpet the process with lots of publicity, but in reality undercut any real reform and change from happening while gleefully accepting as "reform" the denouement which most often is the exact opposite of it.

Sad but the "change" President seems to be more the "cosmetic change" President. Public relations seems to have replaced reality. Frank Rich, always perceptive, has written a wonderful column over at the New York Times about how widespread flimflams, successful ruses, myths, con artists, what Rich calls "the hagiography business" have become in current day America. Rich’s starting point is Tiger Woods, who made himself out to be a symbol of efficiency and virtue, and was aided in the process by an incompetent and often collusive press corps. But make no mistake about it, Rich’s real target is bigger even than the Tiger:

As cons go, Woods’s fraudulent image as an immaculate exemplar of superhuman steeliness is benign. His fall will damage his family, closest friends, Accenture and the golf industry much more than the rest of us. But the syndrome it epitomizes is not harmless. We keep being fooled by leaders in all sectors of American life, over and over. A decade that began with the “reality” television craze exemplified by “American Idol” and “Survivor” — both blissfully devoid of any reality whatsoever — spiraled into a wholesale flight from truth.


This can be seen in the increasingly urgent political plight of Barack Obama. Though the American left and right don’t agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger’s public image — a marketing scam designed to camouflage either his covert anti-American radicalism (as the right sees it) or spineless timidity (as the left sees it). The truth may well be neither, but after a decade of being spun silly, Americans can’t be blamed for being cynical about any leader trying to sell anything. As we say goodbye to the year of Tiger Woods, it is the country, sad to say, that is left mired in a sand trap with no obvious way out.

True health care reform, to borrow Rich’s metaphor, is now in a sand trap, perhaps a sand trap far removed even from the course we originally began play on. Sadly, our leaders see the only way out of the sand trap in illusions, trickery, and lies.

Expect lots of hacking in the next couple of days from them during the final shaping of the bill. Expect headlines and stories from a complicit and mostly bought-out media about progress. But if Frank Rich is right–he often has been–we’ll see less change that we can believe in and more shams, spinning, deception and flimflams.

Obama Calls Lieberman “Brother”and Why Not?

6:48 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

It’s not just Joe Lieberman. It’s not just Max Baucus. It’s not just Harry Reid. It’s not just Rahm Emanuel.

Barack Obama worked together with Joe Lieberman to kill any real health care reform. The AP today reports the following:

By Monday, Lieberman headed Reid’s list of senators who must be accommodated. Democrats circulated a videotaped newspaper interview from September showing Lieberman saying he supports the idea of a Medicare expansion. Lieberman said in a statement later that the details of the bill had changed since then and so had his opinion.

The White House got involved, and by nightfall, the Medicare provision was out. And Lieberman sounded like he was back in.

At a private White House complex meeting with Senate Democrats Tuesday, Lieberman said Obama greeted him warmly.

"He said ‘hello, how are you brother?’ It was a good conversation," recalled the senator… ."

That’s right, a warm White House greeting to Joe Lieberman and "hello, how are you brother?" from Barack Obama. Surprising? Not really.

Recall that when Barack Obama arrived in Washington, D.C. in 2005 as a Senator from Illinois that he chose none other than Joe Lieberman to act as his "mentor". This was widely reported by the New York Times and the Hartford Courant newspapers.

Recall too that Barack Obama stood by Joe Lieberman in Lieberman’s campaign fight against the progressive, Ned Lamont. Obama campaigned for Lieberman and raised money for him.

Recall too that Barack Obama protected Joe Lieberman from having his Senate chairmanship and other privileges stripped away.

Joe and Barack go back a long way, almost as long as Barack goes back to Bob Rubin and Goldman Sachs.

From the very beginning, Obama has acted to prevent real health care reform. Recall that in February of this year, he called a White House conference on health care reform and FAILED to invite even one speaker for single payer. Recall that Obama and Rahm put together a weak substitute, the so-called "public option", as a rival to single payer and then Obama even ran away from that.

Recall that Obama made a pledge when running for the presidency to "hold all health care meetings in public AND to televise them on C-SPAN". Recall that Obama broke that pledge earlier this year and met in secret behind close doors with the heads of major insurance companies. After those meetings, Obama began talking about health "insurance reform", he called the "public option" nothing but a "sliver" in a speech in Colorado, and in September, he spoke to Congress about a mandated system of insurance that Dennis Kucinich described as "the wrong approach, a sell-out to insurance companies."

Recall too that Obama originally wanted the tax dodger Tom Daschle as his Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide over "reform". Daschle, of course, is completely owned by insurance and drug concerns having taken more money from them than anyone. Recall too that after Daschle’s nomination flamed out because he failed to pay taxes, Obama turned to Max Baucus as his spear-carrier for his programs. We all know who owns Max Baucus, don’t we?

So there is a clear trail from the onset of Obama’s presidency to indicate that he never wanted true health care reform. In the same way, there is a clear trail left by Obama that shows he is no progressive, not even a liberal Democrat. Clue #1: Obama’s volte face on FISA (telecom immunity) where Obama did exactly what he promised not to do. Clue #2: selection of the old warrior, Senator "Credit Card" Joe Biden to be his VP. Clue # 3: Obama’s choice of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Clue #4: Obama’s choice of many old faces in his administration (breaking his pledge to bring new blood to Washington). Witness W’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates being retained and most of W’s general being promoted by Obama. Clue #5: failure to prosecute wrongdoing in the Bush administration and Obama’s "look forward not backward pledge. Clue #6: Obama continues and goes beyond George W. Bush in many policies including state secrets, forced renditions etc. Clue #7: Obama fails to support the few progressives he has chosen in his administration. Clue #8: Obama elevates Sonya Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, a former prosecutor who George H.W. Bush had made a federal judge. Clue #9: about the only promise Obama hasn’t broken is the one he made in regard to escalation in Afghanistan. And he broke even that promise since he pledged to escalate with "2 brigades" that total less than 8,000 men. Instead, he escalated in February with 21,000 troops and again in December with 30,000 more. Clue #10: Obama’s long series of events propping up Wall St. and enriching Goldman Sachs while giving next to nothing to Main St.

So Barack Obama has every reason to call Joe Lieberman "Brother". They are political soul mates. They agree with each other more often than not on issues. And both of them care about the same for a progressive Democratic agenda:

Merde!

Remember Joe Lieberman was Obama’s Mentor in the Senate

10:05 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Those who are up in arms over Sen. Joe Lieberman’s "veto" of the extension of Medicare should remember this. When Sen. Barack Obama arrived in Washington, D.C. in 2005, he selected as his mentor none other than: Joe Lieberman.

Here’s David Sirota writing about this, after discussing Obama’s stab in the back of the progressive Lamont in Connecticut and his stab in the back of the progressive Christine Cegelis (Obama backed Duckworth) way back in 2006:

Although Obama said such high-profile primary endorsements were rare, a similar controversy arose a few weeks later. Just as Ned Lamont’s antiwar primary campaign against prowar Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was gaining momentum, Obama traveled to the state to endorse Lieberman. Like the Duckworth endorsement, Obama’s move was timed to derail an insurgent, grassroots candidate. To progressives this may seem surprising, given Obama’s progressive image. But remember, according to the New York Times it is Lieberman–one of the most conservative, prowar Democrats in Washington–who is “Obama’s mentor in the Senate as part of a program in which freshman senators are paired with incumbents.”

Other sources, including the Hartford Courant, reported that Obama chose Lieberman as his mentor.

Given that Barack Obama has really fought against a public option almost from day one and instead has talked about "insurance reform", and given the fact that Obama chose the DLCer Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff (who was engaged in pressuring Harry Reid to drop the expansion of Medicare alla Lieberman), and given the fact that Lieberman was Obama’s mentor, what’s the surprise here?

Neither Lieberman nor Obama are progressives or working for true health care reform.

Line by Line Analysis of President Obama’s Healthcare Speech

11:36 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

I didn’t watch President Obama’s speech on health care for a very simple reason. The President is an enormously gifted rhetorician (not just a speechmaker) and he uses imagery, timing and delivery as well as or better than most modern presidents. In my opinion, only JFK and Reagan in recent times at communicating their ideas. (Note, I’m not talking about their policies and I despised Reagan’s intensely). Then there are the powerful TV images of our politicians gathered together in our beautiful national capital. All of these things sway one’s mind. I am seeking a more logical and dispassionate reading of the President’s speech to see what it portends for our country. I’m taking his speech word for word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph as presented on the New York Times website which presumably got it from the Office of the President. I’m also a lawyer so this fits in nicely with my training.To make it easy, I’ll stipulate the pages on the New York Times website and I’ll bold or blockquote (for longer passages) the President’s words.PAGE 1

:"When I spoke here last winter, this nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month."

Fair enough, but Obama set himself up for the obvious rejoinder: has the situation really brightened that much? However, the President nimbly notes this in the next paragraph with this:

we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them; until those businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes.

Ah, yet more promises.

But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.

The reality that this ignores is that the country is slipping more and more into two societies: those with jobs, those without (or underemployed); those with health care, those without; those above the poverty line, those below (and increasing each year). For millions, we are already at "the brink" or beyond. The quotation also ignores the fact that many leading economists think the action was not bold enough (a good overall criticism of this administration).

A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.Our collective failure to meet this challenge – year after year, decade after decade – has led us to a breaking point.

A nice tribute to Dingell by the President (who is an excellent politician) but it also underlines exactly how divisive this issue has been and why strong leadership is required.

Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer.

Obama segues from a very poorly laid call for the basic human need to provide health care to everyone (not articulated much at all in this speech; no moral basis laid) to insurance. Here is the tell-tale hint that what follows will be mostly about insurance and insurance reform and NOT health care reform.

We are the only advanced democracy on Earth – the only wealthy nation – that allows such hardships for millions of its people.

A nice but VERY vague statement. It may appear at first glance that Obama is talking about the moral imperative to provide health care reform to all: but what he really is talking about is the need for all to have insurance (given the placement of this statement which next talks about "coverage") which is a far different thing.

But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too.

This section shows why it is really necessary to READ Obama’s speeches in addition to or instead of watching them. It appears, once again with "the problem that plagues the health care system" that he is talking again about a larger moral imperative but HE IS NOT. Rather than building a strong moral basis for this, he again talks about: insurance.

One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones…

First of two examples (without giving names; very impersonal here and not very effective, in my opinion) of the breakdown in the present INSURANCE system. NO EXAMPLES at all given of the need for the country, as the richest nation on the earth, to provide as a matter of course, health care to all. Again, everything is couched in terms of insurance reform. PAGE 2:

Then there’s the problem of rising costs. We spend one-and-a-half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it.

Obama quickly shifts to cost (which he spends more time on than human suffering by far).

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined.

More verbiage on costs and what it means to taxpayers. And a very ominous link between costs (an obvious evil) and "skyrocketing costs" of Medicare and Medicaid. Frankly, I find this appalling talk and at the age of 63, very threatening too. To me, it seems Obama is much more concerned about cost than health care treatment for all. This speech has little if no heart in it.

Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close.

Wrong, completely wrong. No mention of interest on past debts, no mention of the huge military-industrial debt and the ongoing wars that have cost trillions, no mention of bailouts to Wall St. and the banks that in the past year dwarf spending on health care. A very simplistic and misleading analysis here.

There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada’s, where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everyone.

On the left? Does that make everyone in Canada a leftist? Very dismissive and misleading talk about single payer which it is clear the Obama administration never considered and NEVER WILL.

On the right, there are those who argue that we should end the employer-based system and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.

An equally dismissive and simplistic painting of the "right". And obviously, Obama intends to PORTRAY himself as a centrist by demonizing both sides (but in reality, his plan seems to me to be REACTIONARY: that is, it furthers and even strengthens the hold of insurance companies on coverage as we will later see). Obama has a knack at portraying himself as a centrist when this plan will do much to enrich insurance and drug companies.

But either one ["left" or "right"] would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have. Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t,

Again, hugely simplistic and completely dismissive of single payer. It doesn’t work elsewhere ("it makes more sense to build on what works")–I guess he hasn’t heard about Medicare or about the UK system? Would not this plan too "disrupt" what currently exists? And if the system is as broken as he said it is, why not have a completely different approach? Neither logical or historically accurate.

During that time, we have seen Washington at its best and its worst.

True. But more worst than best, true? Note again that Obama sets everything up in terms of dichotomies: right vs. left, best vs. worst, "reform" vs. no change. This is very simplistic and misleading but allows him to come in as our savior and his false claim that he represents the center.

And there is agreement in this chamber on about eighty percent of what needs to be done, putting us closer to the goal of reform than we have ever been.

Sorry, Mr. President, 80%? And what is the goal here: 100% agreement? You don’t need that, you need only a majority of votes (some might argue 60%).

Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

More bad analysis and more false dichotomies (charges vs. countercharges, ideological camps). A complete failure by this President to understand there is a widespread disagreement on this issue. He also portrays those who disagree as "unyielding" as "scare tactics" and as "robbers". Obviously, Obama wants compromise and those who do not compromise are bad guys. To him, the Progressives are the worst because they stand for something.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.

Nice sounding fight words but what’s the fight for? It’s for compromise. It’s for more profits for big drug and insurance companies. This also ignores the political reality: the GOP does NOT HAVE to compromise, has NOT compromised and likely will not in the future.

The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals:It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.

A horrible way to introduce a plan. He did it in cold, bureaucratic, calculating "cost" terms like an insurance salesman would. And what is the plan: insurance based.

Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan:

Very slippery statement. Not–"here are the details of my plan"– but here "are the details that EVERY AMERICAN NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT this plan."And who judges that? Well, let’s see how detailed this is.PAGE 3:

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

Fair and simple but is it true and accurate? Many of these plans are provided by employers and with a change in the system, there may be a change in coverage too. Here’s how one analysist looks at this:

OBAMA: "Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have."THE FACTS: That’s correct, as far as it goes. But neither can the plan guarantee that people can keep their current coverage. Employers sponsor coverage for most families, and they’d be free to change their health plans in ways that workers may not like, or drop insurance altogether. The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the health care bill written by House Democrats and said that by 2016 some 3 million people who now have employer-based care would lose it because their employers would decide to stop offering it.In the past Obama repeatedly said, "If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period." Now he’s stopping short of that unconditional guarantee by saying nothing in the plan "requires" any change.He’s dropped the "period."

SOURCE: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HEALTH_CARE_FACT_CHECK?SITE=WIMIL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULTBack to the President:

And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.

Sounds nice and plays into Obama’s overall cost-cutting theme. But is it true? Who’s going to be paying for these tests, and are they limited to "breast cancer and colon cancer"? What about dental exams? What about prostrate cancer exams? What about overall general health exams with follow-ups? Are these in the Obama plan? Again, very short on specifics and long on assurances. Here’s an analysis of this that demolishes the cost-cutting argument put forth by Obama:

OBAMA: Requiring insurance companies to cover preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies "makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives."The facts: Studies have shown that much preventive care – particularly tests like the ones Obama mentions – actually costs money instead of saving it. That’s because detecting acute diseases like breast cancer in their early stages involves testing many people who would never end up developing the disease. The costs of a large number of tests, even if they’re relatively cheap, will outweigh the costs of caring for the minority of people who would have ended up getting sick without the testing.The Congressional Budget Office wrote in August: "The evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall."That doesn’t mean preventive care doesn’t make sense or save lives. It just doesn’t save money.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HEALTH_CARE_FACT_CHECK?SITE=WIMIL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULTBack to the President:

Now, if you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or change your job, you will be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you will be able to get coverage. We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers.

Very little detail provided about this insurance exchange: who will run and regulate it? Won’t that cost money too? Will it be done on a national level? What happens to state insurance commissioners? And might this not be a step backward (since some states really do have good plans now?)? Ah, but look at this: insurance companies will have a crack at "millions of new customers." Here’s why I think this plan is REACTIONARY: it looks back, to a failed insurance industry and wants to expand it. It is an ahistorical approach that fails to come to grips with the FACT that the marketplace has failed and that the institution of insurance does not benefit the society as a whole.

This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It’s how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance.

Sorry Mr. President but you’re completely wrong. All 565 members of Congress get "affordable insurance" because they lump together? No, they get it because they want it and the politicians have rewarded themselves with the best coverage available at the lowest cost (like they should for the public at large). Here the President ignores the reality that single payer does work, it works for people in the government.

For those individuals and small businesses who still cannot afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange, we will provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on your need.

No details provided at all.

And all insurance companies that want access to this new marketplace will have to abide by the consumer protections I already mentioned.

That would be denial of coverage for preexisting conditions. He talks in plurals ("protections") but in fact has listed only one protection. But what other details? And who/what is going to oversee insurance company compliance? What if any, will the penalties be for noncompliance? Max Baucus will set the penalties?

This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right.

NOTE: This is so outrageous I bolded it. In other words, no real change for 4 years making nothing effective, no change until 2014 (well after the President’s relection campaign is over). Translation: Nothing happens until I’m outta here. And why does it take 4 years to do this, to "do it right"? Medicare could be extended now, it’s simple and it’s affordable. It could be done in STAGES for the timid.

In the meantime, for those Americans who can’t get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill. This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it’s a good idea now, and we should embrace it.

Very short on specifics. Where is the line drawn? What does "low-cost" mean here? What does "if you become seriously ill" and what an odd placement of this phrase for a lawyer. And John McCain’s ideas are the "change we believe in"? PAGE 4:

That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.

A complete flip-flop from Obama embracing a position he campaigned against. I guess he forgot all the reasons he adduced to rebut Hillary who had made this argument hers. Here’s some analysis of Obama’s 180 degree change on this:

In his speech, Obama endorsed mandatory coverage for individuals, an approach he did not embrace as a candidate.He proposed during the campaign – as he does now – that larger businesses be required to offer insurance to workers or else pay into a fund. But he rejected the idea of requiring individuals to obtain insurance. He said people would get insurance without being forced to do so by the law, if coverage were made affordable. And he repeatedly criticized his Democratic primary rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, for proposing to mandate coverage."To force people to get health insurance, you’ve got to have a very harsh penalty," he said in a February 2008 debate.Now, he says, "individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance."

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HEALTH_CARE_FACT_CHECK?SITE=WIMIL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULTYet another indicator that the president will say and do anything, that promises really don’t seem to mean much to him.

While there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined:

The understatement of the century about details but now he claims "a broad consensus" while a minute ago it was 80%. And if the "broad consensus" exists why so much opposition? Why put everything off for 4 years?

The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

Including some of the politicians that you mention warmly in this speech (like Grassly).

And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

I guess health "insurance" reform doesn’t extend to "deviants" who might need abortions. Yet another capitulation to the right-wing and what a horrible way to frame this argument. Here Obama politicizes health care.

So let me set the record straight. My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75% of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies.

And how exactly will this bill stimulate more insurance competition? Will Joe Blow tomorrow be able to compete with Prudential? The president doesn’t seem to get that consolidation in insurance is the watchword (as it is in banking, airlines, newspapers etc.). A completely myopic read on the American economy.

Insurance executives don’t do this because they are bad people.

Oh really? Where have you been Mr. President? Have you seen Sicko? What about those two examples of denial of coverage you gave in page 1? Again you see things in false dichotomies: good people vs. bad people. Could it be that the entire insurance business, based as it is on profits, leads to people acting in selfish "bad" ways? And isn’t that a great reason for abandoning (and not embracing) an insurance based system of health care?

Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable.

Obviously true. And insurance companies have been Rahm’s good friend, and provide money to Blue Dog Democrats and to the administration. What would your good friends Max Baucus and Tom Daschle do without them?

But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear – it would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.

Obama approaches the public option as if it was venereal disease. Why only 5% when polls show more than 50% of the people support it. This number also doesn’t square with Obama’s 30% or so without insurance–wouldn’t they also naturally turn to the public option? Obviously, Obama pulled this number out of a hat.PAGE 5:

Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don’t like this idea. They argue that these private companies can’t fairly compete with the government. And they’d be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they won’t be. I have insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects. But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits, excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers.

Wrong analysis, Mr. President. Insurance companies and their allies oppose a public option because it will show they are no longer necessary. A good public option will force them from the field. And very short on specifics on finance. If the present system is so wasteful, why not scrap it?

It’s worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I’ve proposed tonight.

Wow! What a dismissive statement, "it’s worth noting" that your administration has done nothing to bolster this.

To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it.

A patronizing and false statement. Progressives’ goals have been to extend health coverage (not insurance coverage) to all. It is not only clear that Obama is not a progressive, he does not understand what progressives stand for or their history.

The public option is only a means to that end [make coverage affordable] – and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.

Ugh! The watered down public option is seen only in terms of insurance coverage. And Obama’s "ultimate goal" is unclear. It should be affordable health care for all but this is not something Obama talks about, for him it’s all about insurance reform.

And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.

More evidence that the president is not reality-based and clings to the false hope of bipartisanship.

But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.

Pure political pap. In legal terms, an unenforceable promise. And given Obama’s history with promises, what’s it really worth?

Part of the reason I faced a trillion dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for – from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy. I will not make that same mistake with health care.

But you added to the deficit with a $2 trillion bailout of banks and Wall St. and by expanding the wars. Notice Obama is not holding health care reform to the same standards as the defense budget, which he has never questioned, ever.

Second, we’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system – a system that is currently full of waste and abuse.

Pure pie-in-the-sky. And if the present system is so wasteful, why not scrap it?

That is how Medicare was born. And it remains a sacred trust that must be passed down from one generation to the next. That is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.

Fine, but why not an outright pledge that benefits will not be reduced too?PAGE 6:

And we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.

And on the 7th day… . A biblical ring here but what bullshit! After all, such a commission would cost money too! Or will these people serve gratus?

Now, because Medicare is such a big part of the health care system, making the program more efficient can help usher in changes in the way we deliver health care that can reduce costs for everybody.

Coming after a pledge to "protect Medicare" this sounds ominous.

We have long known that some places, like the Intermountain Healthcare in Utah or the Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania, offer high-quality care at costs below average. The commission can help encourage the adoption of these common-sense best practices by doctors and medical professionals throughout the system – everything from reducing hospital infection rates to encouraging better coordination between teams of doctors.

A sales pitch for coops without using the term? They haven’t worked, Mr. President, do your homework.

Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.

Even scarier. Hold on to your benefits, Seniors!

Much of the rest would be paid for with revenues from the very same drug and insurance companies that stand to benefit from tens of millions of new customers.

An admission that this plan is a bonanza for insurance & drug companies. And just imagine how hefty the fees Max Baucu$ & friends are likely to impose. And this idea furthers the powers of lobbyists like Tom Da$chle. Kosacks, if you cannot see that the Obama "plan" is a sellout to the powers that be, you need new glasses.

Finally, many in this chamber – particularly on the Republican side of the aisle – have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care.

Tort reform? Now the question is not whether Obama is a Progressive, it’s whether he’s a Democrat. Here Obama is embracing McCain’s brand of right-wing Republicanism, again.NOTE: This post was written in a slightly different form earlier as a diary over at DailyKos. Page references and text are to New York Times publication on their website:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/us/politics/10obama.text.html?pagewanted=7&_r=1