Tag Archives: health care reform

11th Hour Chutzpah & Obamacare Exchange Enrollment Begins Anyway

1 Oct


18 times over the last 6 months, Senate Democrats have asked House Republicans to start a budget conference in order to work out differences and compromise on differences the two bodies have with respect to the federal budget and continuing resolutions to fund the government. 18 times over the last 6 months, House Speaker John Boehner has refused. A conference committee could only lead to compromise, and compromise is strengstens verboten in tea party dogma.

So, yesterday there was a grand theater, mostly orchestrated by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has insisted all week that Obamacare has been a failure,  despite the fact that open enrollment for the health insurance exchanges commences today, whereby the House sent the Senate a continuing resolution that would delay implementation of the individual health insurance mandate for one year. 

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in political science to figure out that the Republicans don’t really want the mandate delayed a year – if they were to secure a delay (which, on its face, sounds reasonable) – they get another year to demagogue what Obamacare is, and another year to sell people on a full repeal. Why, we might even get another 10 – 20 House repeal votes on top of the 40+ that have already taken place. Take Obamacare implementation into 2014, and the Republicans get a whole year to run on Obamacare repeal and get a fourth bite at the apple of undoing a law that was duly and legally enacted in 2010. 

The House refused to send the Senate a “clean” continuing resolution that contained no effort to delay Obamacare, despite the fact that Obamacare is unaffected by a shutdown. It was all for show.

Senator Reid held up a Medicare-related artifact

So, after several attempts to send the Senate an unacceptable continuing resolution, Boehner sought a conference committee with the Senate. If House Republicans were remotely serious about governing, rather than shutting down the government, they could have done this months ago. Weeks ago. Even days ago. 

So, as 800,000 federal workers get furloughed (which will adversely affect the economy), and after all of this utterly needless drama, the Obamacare health exchanges are up and running for open enrollment today for coverage starting January 1st.  If you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, nothing changes. If you have coverage through your employer, nothing changes (although you now have more consumer protections and wider mandatory coverage for preventative care). If you have no coverage, you can check healthcare.gov and find out what your options are. More specifically, go to http://healthbenefitexchange.ny.gov/ and find out what is available for you here in New York. 

Happy Obamacare day, everybody. Even the cretins’ shutdown-for-show couldn’t stop it. 

 

Independence Week: Roundup

2 Jul

Obamacare Roundup

1. Here’s a story from those leftist pinkos at Forbes, explaining that Obamacare is not a huge tax on the middle class, at all. In fact, it goes as far as to call that narrative a “lie”. 

2. In the wake of the Supreme Court holding that Obamacare is constitutional, support for the law has jumped.  Significantly, support among independents went up from 27% to 38% in just the past week. It was just a week ago that Mitt Romney was explaining that Romneycare (the conservative Heritage Foundation’s health insurance scheme on which Obamacare is largely based) was great for Massachusetts, but that its expansion to all 50 states was an improper usurpation of federal power. However, the Supreme Court just held otherwise. Oopsy. By the same token, people who dislike the law are somewhat energized now. 

3. It wasn’t too long ago – at least as far back as the debate over HillaryCare in the early 90s – that universal health care coverage was a bipartisan goal, we just disagreed on how to get there. Now that we have a constitutional statute that gets us about as close to universality as we’re likely to get, the Republicans are signaling that they no longer consider universal coverage as a policy aim. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says, in essence, that the 30 million people whom Obamacare would cover, and who would not be covered were the law to be repealed, can go to hell.  

4. Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans all pledge to repeal Obamacare. Did you know that 30 votes have been held in Congress since 2010 to repeal Obamacare? What’s one more going to accomplish? How many jobs will that create? And pay close attention to what Republicans say when asked, “with what would you replace Obamacare?” The answer is – nothing. They’d just maintain the pre-2010 status quo, with 40 million uninsured, skyrocketing costs, substandard care, and an untenable hodgepodge of private for-profit bureaucracies keeping people from their doctors and needed treatment, and separating them from their money – oftentimes rendering them insolvent. 

5. Paul Ryan, Republican Chairman of the House Budget Committee shat the following from his mouth

“I think this at the end of the day is a big philosophy difference. We disagree with the notion that our rights come from government, that the government can now grant us and define our rights. Those are ours, they come from nature and God, according to the Declaration of Independence – a huge difference in philosophy.”

The right to have access to health care is, at its core, a pro-life notion, isn’t it? Any politician who turns to Jesus or God, (and uses the Declaration of Independence, a document that has no legal effect in 2012), as justification to essentially leave millions of Americans with a choice between death or bankruptcy, shouldn’t pontificate about what God would and wouldn’t do. 

Carl Emails, WNY Yawns

6. Did you get emails from Carl Paladino threatening to “expose” former Senator Al D’Amato for being a “predator” because he’s aligned with people like Mark Grisanti and Joel Giambra, and because he supposedly helped Cuomo pass same sex marriage? So did I. I deleted them. Seriously, who cares what that person says? 

Fast & Furious: NRA Flip & Hochul Votes for Contempt

7. Last week, Congress held a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Of course, about 88% of Americans hold Congress in contempt, but that’s beside the point.  Many Democrats walked out during the vote, charging that it was just a witch hunt. Among the few Democrats who not only stayed, but voted in favor of the contempt order was Kathy Hochul (NY-26). I think the Fast & Furious inquiry is a load of nonsense, and a purely political stunt designed to harm the administration; politics as usual. What follows in blockquote below is what Hochul released to explain her vote, but answer me this: a lot of gun enthusiasts link Fast and Furious to 2nd Amendment rights. I don’t really get why, and since I’m not a gun fetishist I don’t particularly care. But the first thing an NRA type will tell someone who is in favor of gun control is that, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Yet, the entire focus of the Fast & Furious inquiry is about the guns that ended up in the possession of Mexican drug cartel members who then used one to murder a Border Patrol Agent in Arizona. A horrible crime, to be sure – but it was committed by a criminal. Is the NRA now standing “guns don’t kill people” on its head because it suits their political aim of attacking Obama? Shall we add an asterisk, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people* [*except in cases where the gun was purchased by the Justice Department in furtherance of an investigation into where Mexican drug cartels get their weapons, and one of those weapons disappears and is used in a particularly horrible crime, in which case the gun killed the agent, not the narco-killer].”

 “We can all agree that the Fast and Furious operation was ill-conceived and the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was an avoidable tragedy. Now, our objective must be to evaluate the facts and work to prevent such an event from ever happening again,” said Hochul. 

“At a time when our country is facing significant economic challenges, it’s disappointing that both parties have, yet again, become distracted by Washington politics.  The people of Western New York deserve a transparent government, regardless of which party is in control.  Congress has a constitutional responsibility to exercise appropriate oversight, and I believe Attorney General Eric Holder should fully disclose the documents requested and allow this issue to be resolved.”

What I see is a conservative Democrat staving off any accusation that she’s weak on the 2nd Amendment – an issue about which her opponent in November has proven himself to be somewhat weak. I also see a Republican congress that continues its singular mission of harming the President at all costs, even if it collaterally does harm to average Americans or the country in general. 

ECDC: GOOD PR, BAD PR

8. On Friday, the Erie County Democratic Committee sent out two press releases. One likened the execrable Chuck Swanick, who is incredibly running to return to elected office, to Mitt Romney, calling the two “peas in a pod”. Swanick’s a lot of things – most of them negative – but he’s nothing like Romney, even remotely. The second release was much, much better. Remember how Chris Collins ran for County Executive re-election by touting how, under his “leadership”, he’d extricated the county from the hospital business? Yeah, about that – 

In 2011, Collins campaigned on the promise that Erie County was out of the hospital business, but clearly he was mistaken. The troubling news that Erie County Medical Center will cost nearly $39 million this year alone, more than double the “fixed” cost that Chris Collins promised taxpayers in 2009, raises serious questions about Collins’ ability as a manager and executive.Erie County deserves a full explanation from Chris Collins over the creation of a deal that has come back to bite taxpayers to the tune of more than $38 million over three years.

That’s 39 million reasons why the county isn’t out of the hospital business, no thanks to the guy now running against Kathy Hochul to essentially gain what passes for a noble title in America, and also to obtain subsidized federal health benefits while denying them to his constituents, and to supplement his already ample income with taxpayer dollars in the form of salary, fringe benefits, and other legacy costs. Conservative!

 

Obamacare: The Mandate And the Taxing Power

29 Jun

Oftentimes, the federal government finds itself wanting to promote a certain behavior as part of a national program, but without the direct power to do so. By way of example, in the 1980s, the Reagan Administration decided that it wanted the drinking age to be raised from 18 to 21 nationwide. But the drinking age isn’t a federal, but a state statute. In order to persuade states to raise the drinking age, the federal government passed an incentive plan. If a state failed to raise its drinking age to 21, it would find itself with a diminution in federal highway funding. 

“The power to tax involves the power to destroy”, wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in 1819. With respect to the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, the power to tax also involves the power to build something. Under the law, beginning in 2014, Congress will require most Americans to obtain health insurance, or – if you don’t, you pay a fine to the government. The mandate was, ironically, a precondition set by the insurance industry, without which they would not be able to economically justify offering insurance to people with pre-existing conditions at no penalty.

The key part of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion yesterday reviewed the constitutional justification for that mandate to purchase health insurance.  Congress’ powers are specifically limited and enumerated in Article 1 of the Constitution. 

Roberts turned first to the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8), whereby Congress has the power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”  Roberts rejected the argument that the government could regulate the absence of commerce; you cannot regulate that which does not exist.  His analysis seems somewhat limited, however. After all, there is not a personal alive who isn’t engaged in the health care market now, or inevitably. Even if you’re not seeking medical care, you’re paying for others’. 

Right now, you and I (and everybody) are taxed to help pay for uninsured people’s emergency room visits. ERs can’t turn people away, and oftentimes the poor and uninsured use them for primary care.  Those hospitals seek reimbursement for the cost of providing those services through two Federal Programs, Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) and Upper Payment Limit (UPL)–that require a 50% local share match. So…instead of forcing the cost of health care provision onto the people who don’t have insurance, you (a taxpayer, or a person with insurance) are paying for them to get health care with both your federal and county tax dollars. 

Secondly, Roberts turned briefly to the “Necessary and Proper” Clause, also in Article 1, Section 8, it reads, “The Congress shall have Power – To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”  Roberts declined to go along with this, reasoning that…

Each of our prior cases upholding laws under that Clause involved exercises of authority derivative of, and in service to, a granted power. For example, we have upheld provisions permitting continued confinement of those already in federal custody when they could not be safely released…[t]he individual mandate, by contrast, vests Congress with the extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power.

And so, the last resort – the “in the alternative” argument – was most persuasive to the 5 members of the Court who voted to maintain the ACA mandate. The very first Congressional power enumerated at Article 1, section 8 involves the power to tax and spend. Roberts wrote that Congress’ mandate isn’t the issue – it’s the “penalty” imposed on people who refuse to purchase insurance. While the dissent argued that the government is semantically blocked from calling the “penalty” a “tax”, Roberts argued that the word “penalty” assumes some sort of fine for illegality. Yet the refusal to purchase insurance isn’t illegal – it isn’t a crime. It is merely a choice, and a person’s choice to opt to pay a tax instead of buying insurance is one that government can regulate under its taxing power. 

…the Government asks us to read the mandate not as ordering individuals to buy insurance, but rather as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product…

…None of this is to say that the payment is not intended to affect individual conduct. Although the payment will raise considerable revenue, it is plainly designed to expand health insurance coverage. But taxes that seek to influence conduct are nothing new. Some of our earliest federal taxes sought to deter the purchase of imported manufactured goods in order to foster the growth of domestic industry

Because Roberts invoked the taxing power, dumber pundits and lazy politicians have pivoted to calling it all – the whole law – a “huge tax”.  Perhaps they should read the law, and then read the Court’s opinion. It’s not a “huge tax”. It’s a mandate that you have health insurance. Chances are, you already have it – it’s not like you’re being forced to buy super-more health insurance on top of what you may already have. And if you don’t have it, you’ll have much easier and cheaper access to health insurance. And if you choose not to have any at all, then you’ll be assessed a fine, a tax, whatever you want to call it. 

The ACA’s “shared responsibility payment”  is a tax only on people who choose not to hold insurance. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant, mistaken, and/or lying. 

With the mandate in place, no longer will the person without health care get away with not paying hospital bills, and no longer will taxpayers be “mandated” to subsidize those choices. Instead, the person making the choice to avoid insuring himself will be assessed a tax in the eventuality that he becomes ill and can’t afford to pay his bill. Do you want the person without health care to be taxed, or do you want to continue to be taxed because they don’t have health care?

In the olden days, “personal responsibility” was a conservative talking point.  Now, we’re essentially codifying it through Obamacare – you’re responsible to get coverage, or for the consequences if you don’t. Now? 

The remaining portions of the decision dealt with (a) the Court’s analysis of whether the issue was ripe for decision (it is); (b) whether striking the mandate meant invalidating the whole law (they didn’t have to reach it); and (c) a provision dealing with the expansion of Medicaid, holding that States can reject federal funding and therefore not comply with the new rules. 

The misinformation and disinformation being spread over the last 24 hours has been simply mind-blowing. For instance, here’s a fundraising email that Republican congressional candidate Chris Collins (who, incidentally, never, ever has to worry about not being able to afford anything, ever, including health care) sent yesterday: 

Dear friend,

The Supreme Court has confirmed what we already knew – ObamaCare is nothing more than a massive tax increase that will hurt hardworking families and continue to act as a wet blanket on economic growth and job creation.

Today, I’m asking for your donation of $27 dollars to protect the residents of the 27th Congressional District from this massive tax hike and help end ObamaCare.

I need your help to stop Kathy Hochul and Barack Obama from raising taxes on thousands of Western New York and Finger Lakes families. 

$27. 

$27 is how we can protect our families in the 27th Congressional District from massive tax increases.

When I go to Congress, my first order of business will be to lead the fight to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with common sense solutions that protect seniors and don’t crush small businesses and cost us jobs.

$27 can get us there.

Whether it’s $27, or $5, $10, $50 or $100 – anything you can do to help us stop Barack Obama and Kathy Hochul from raising taxes and cutting Medicare by $500 billion is so important.  Will you consider donating today?

There’s so much at stake, and I need your help.

Sincerely,

CHRIS COLLINS

Congressional Candidate, NY-27

No, it’s not one side or another that won or lost – everybody won. Everybody will benefit from the implementation of Obamacare. It isn’t at all a huge tax increase, and the only reason Medicare funding goes down is because the ACA picks up the slack. Obamacare isn’t a “huge tax increase”, indeed it will help families by reducing the most common type of bankruptcy – ones brought about through medical expenses. Is this law a boon to insurers? Yes. That’s why many progressives didn’t like it much, and that’s why the law is something of a Frankenstein’s monster. But Obamacare, like its progenitor, Romneycare, is a fundamentally conservative idea. Because it’s been adopted by a Democratic President whom the Republicans are determined to ruin, it is now characterized as something it’s not. 

And make no mistake – the Republican drive to ruin Obama is so concentrated and driven, that it doesn’t matter what collateral damage there is to average Americans, or the economy. 

It’s not surprising to see a politician lie, but when mere puffery, (“I’m the best”), turns into brazen lying, (“I poop rainbows and spit unicorns”), you have to wonder what the politician thinks of the people who are going to vote for him. I heard some of our right-wing omniphobe media personalities liken the United States under the ACA to North Korea. There was heavy emphasis on “Hussein” yesterday, because “Hussein” is a foreign, Muslim name, and because somehow that correlates with socialism. Or something. I wish I was a professional psychologist so I could better analyze what was taking place.  Even Mitt Romney noted that the Court didn’t hold that Obamacare was a “good policy”. That’s jaw-droppingly dumb – Palin dumb. 

Requiring Americans to buy private health insurance from private corporations is socialist? Spreading the risk across most Americans so that health insurers can’t refuse to insure people with pre-existing conditions is like living in a Stalinist dictatorship with no market, no freedom, no food, no money, closed borders, and extensive gulags? How dumb. Almost as dumb as the many people who took to Twitter to decry the loss of America’s freedom and announce that they’d move to Canada, which has true single-payer socialized medicine. 

Set aside the crazies and the liars – Americans won today. The ACA – Obamacare – isn’t a perfect solution. No solution is perfect, after all. But it will make our health insurance in this country more affordable, with better coverage, and no longer will you live at the mercy of health insurance companies, fearing arbitrary rate hikes, lifetime payout maximums, or being barred from buying insurance due to a pre-existing condition if you change your job. This is good for people

Buffalo News’ Glibertorial Can F Off

20 Nov
Presidential Arrival
Image by WNYMedia via Flickr

The Buffalo News’ weekly Saturday editorial glibfest:

IT’S THE PRODUCT: Perhaps the most ludicrous argument being advanced by the president and Democrats is that the country’s rejection of policies like Obamacare is due to his failure to properly describe the programs and their benefits. Well . . . no.

If ever there was a failed concept to try to sell to the American people, this was it. Obama is as skilled a communicator as any president we’ve had. His presentations, in content and delivery, are unsurpassed. The truth is that the policies themselves have backfired. It isn’t how he said it; it’s what he did.

First of all, if it is the product, that must explain the ongoing, precipitous decline of the daily broadsheet in a one-paper town.

Secondly, what policies have “backfired”, precisely? “Policies like Obamacare” is what’s cited, but there’s no specificity here. Are we suggesting that the stimulus didn’t work? Perhaps it wasn’t as effective as sold, but there’s no doubt that governmental pump-priming of the economy helped bring about the last several quarters’ worth of economic growth, thus de jure ending the recession, if not in spirit.

The stimulus which, among other things, subsidized COBRA so that the unemployed could at least make an attempt at affording to keep their health care coverage? The extension of unemployment benefits so that people looking for work can continue to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their families in a jobless recovery? And what of this jobless recovery, eh? By Republican arguments, it ought not exist, since the rich have their much-beloved Bush tax cuts. And as we all know, a reduction in the highest marginal tax rate from 39% to 35% is the difference between socialism and capitalism; it is the difference between Stalin and Reagan; it is the very mechanism by which all jobs are created by the superwealthy. Odd that this hasn’t materialized.

And “Obamacare” – perhaps the Buffalo News is so flush with cash that the medical insurance-middleman status quo was working alright for them, but the system is unnecessarily expensive, comparatively inefficient, produces poor statistical results, and involves the enrichment of completely unnecessary middlemen who add nothing to the health care equation whatsoever. So, what President Obama implemented didn’t go as far as Hillarycare would have in the 90s, instead opting for what is, in essence, a Republican plan initiated in Massachusetts under then-Governor Mitt Romney.

But because it was Obama pushing it, the Republicans derided everything as a communard takeover of the entire healthcare industry by the federal government – a damned and contemptible lie. They blocked it every step of the way in keeping with their “we hope Obama fails, and our singular purpose is to make it so” obstructionism.

In the meantime, rescission is illegal, lifetime maximums are abolished, copays for well visits will be nil, and mechanisms will be put in place to make health insurance more affordable.

Unfortunately for everyone, the United States remains alone in the industrialized world by not guaranteeing health care as a right for all its citizens. Every other country had this civic discussion, and formulated a wide variety of solutions to make sure that health care is provided well and affordably. They all do it better and more effectively than we. The product? The product is that we picked a half-assed semi-solution to the health care issue, avoiding bringing about real change. This is thanks to the reactionary right wing of the Republican Party, which more or less opted out of governmental participating altogether over the past couple of years and is quite satisfied with the status quo.

To me, national Republicans are embodied in, and reflected by, incoming Congressman Andy Harris from Maryland – a physician who ran on a “repeal Obamacare” platform.

He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

Exactly. Have a great weekend.

Health Care Reform: How New York Benefits Now

22 Jun

This was posted to Twitter yesterday by Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27).

Health Insurance: Reformed

26 Mar

The Republican party chose a deliberate strategy to vote no on any health insurance reform from day one. The strategy was a plank of an overall “Obama must fail” platform; it became more important to score cheap political points than to participate in representative democracy. Had they engaged and behaved like a legislative opposition (with real power, in the Senate) ought to behave, a lot of what they wanted changed could have been changed. Maybe not all the way, but part of legislative leadership is the art of negotiation and compromise.

They did, however, have conservative Democrats participating, which resulted in about 200 Republican-backed changes to the law.

But compromise and negotiation isn’t what the Republicans wanted. They wanted Obama defeated. They wanted Pelosi defeated. They wanted – and fully expected – a massive, epic defeat not unlike Clinton’s in the early 90s. A defeat that led within months to Newt Gingrich’s failed “Contract with America”.

But it didn’t work out that way. Even despite Scott Brown’s election to the Senate, what everyone missed is that the Senate had already voted. The already-passed Senate and House bills just needed to be reconciled.

That was accomplished, finally, last night.

So, while the Republicans continue their attacks on this bill as being unconstitutional totalitarianism, know that it’s neither. When they say that this is a complete government takeover of the health care industry, you can laugh in their faces. Because it’s not. When they call it socialized medicine, ask them that they have a clue what that term means. Because it’s not. When they say that this will bankrupt the country, or that the cost is untenable, just say, “let’s wait and see.” Because it won’t.

When they say it will destroy America, turn and walk away. Because life’s too short to pay attention to that kind of dumb talk.

Those who suggest repealing this historic law are the ones who should be vulnerable. The opponents of this law should be worried about November.

  • You want to re-instate discrimination against pre-existing conditions?
  • You want to re-instate rescission?
  • You want to re-instate lifetime policy limits?
  • You want to keep ~40 million Americans uninsured, almost all of them in middle class?
  • You want to drop 21 – 26 year olds who are underemployed or still in school and on their parents’ insurance?

Well, then you run with that.

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Whom Do Those AGs Represent?

24 Mar

Here’s what the governor of Washington has to say about that state’s Attorney General filing suit to block Romneycare Obamacare. (Let’s keep calling that, k?)

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Republicans’ hatred for government means that when elected, they are pretty much fundamentally unwilling and unprepared to govern.

Aw, They Let Him Hold “KILL”

22 Mar
Chris Lee (NY-26)

What an unfortunate sign for Chris Lee (NY-26) to hold (click to enlarge)

Chris Lee (NY-26)

Chris Lee (NY-26) Pandering to the Tea Partiers (click to enlarge)

Holding “KILL” is like Teabagger Christmas. 

You stay classy, Chris Lee (NY-26).

Win.

22 Mar
This is a 2x8 mosaic of the dome of the US Cap...
Image via Wikipedia

The health care reform that passed the House last night won’t so much “destroy the country” as many Republicans claimed.  Yes, people were “frightened”.  Mostly because congressional Republicans were busy frightening them – about how this spelled the end of America as we know it.

My representative, Chris Lee, was on the wrong side of history last night.  A first-termer, he voted against a fundamental reformation of America’s woefully broken, $2TN annual health insurance system – changes that will have immediate positive effects.  The millionaire son of millionaires tried to deny to his poorer and middle-class constituents real help.  His lying Code Red emails and ridiculously inconvenient “telephone town hall meetings” reveal a doctrinaire, knee-jerk, Limbaughist conservatism that I thought he eschewed.

Congressman Chris Lee ill served his constituents last night.

Last night, I stayed up as late as I could to watch the votes and Republican maneuvering unfold.  Yes, Nancy Pelosi’s speech was rather fumfering and she has an odd laugh from time to time, but she substantively told the truth.

Before her, on the other side of the aisle, John Boehner gave an impassioned speech, pleading with the house to lead not based on principle, but on polls.  He crowed that there would be not one single Republican vote for the bill, omitting the fact that “Obama must fail” was and is their sole platform plank.   This despite the fact that the current bill, “rammed through” over the course of more than a year, contains at least 200 Republican amendments to it.  This despite the fact that the current bill reflects what the Republicans recommended as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s plan in the early 90s.

John Boehner also warned Democrats that they might lose their majority come November.  That underscores the fact that the concern his side of the aisle is driven solely by politics, not policy.  Yes, Democrats may be in some jeopardy.  But so might the Republicans.  In fact, in the long run, they will be the ones who will have to answer for their obstinant insistence on killing this bill, no matter how many concessions they extracted.

Public service is not about worrying about your electoral prospects, but instead voting your conscience and your principles.  Boehner’s speech was a huge, perhaps unintentional, reveal of just how superficial Republican congresspeople have become.

Meanwhile, we don’t have to wait another 16 years to take up health insurance reform.

When the Republicans moved to recommit the bill to add the Stupak amendment into the bill’s language (which the Senate would have rejected), one rep from New Jersey all but accused this bill as being a license for everyone – even men – to have abortions on demand on a daily basis.  The Democrats countered with a few minutes from Congressman Bart Stupak himself, who explained that not only did the compromise for President Obama’s executive order re-stating existing federal law do what pro-life forces wanted, but he re-stated the very real fact that the Democrats were helping not only fetuses, but all Americans from conception to death.

During Stupak’s speech, a Republican congressman yelled, “baby-killer!” at him.

Everyone’s dummied up as to who said it, but we’ll probably know today, and it’s clearly someone with a southern accent.  Surprise, surprise.  Earlier yesterday, Stupak was their hero.  Now that Stupak secured the pro-life assurance he needed, and voted for the bill, he was their mortal enemy.  Because it’s not about being pro-life for the poll-watching, phony congressional Republicans.  It’s about Obama losing.  It’s about November.

But despite the predictable, hateful, ignorant conservative outburst, today is an historic day.  President Obama’s remarks last night:

For the first time in our nation’s history, Congress has passed comprehensive health care reform. America waited a hundred years and fought for decades to reach this moment. Tonight, thanks to you, we are finally here.

Consider the staggering scope of what you have just accomplished:

Because of you, every American will finally be guaranteed high quality, affordable health care coverage.

Every American will be covered under the toughest patient protections in history. Arbitrary premium hikes, insurance cancellations, and discrimination against pre-existing conditions will now be gone forever.

And we’ll finally start reducing the cost of care — creating millions of jobs, preventing families and businesses from plunging into bankruptcy, and removing over a trillion dollars of debt from the backs of our children.

But the victory that matters most tonight goes beyond the laws and far past the numbers.

It is the peace of mind enjoyed by every American, no longer one injury or illness away from catastrophe.

It is the workers and entrepreneurs who are now freed to pursue their slice of the American dream without fear of losing coverage or facing a crippling bill.

And it is the immeasurable joy of families in every part of this great nation, living happier, healthier lives together because they can finally receive the vital care they need.

This is what change looks like.

My gratitude tonight is profound. I am thankful for those in past generations whose heroic efforts brought this great goal within reach for our times. I am thankful for the members of Congress whose months of effort and brave votes made it possible to take this final step. But most of all, I am thankful for you.

This day is not the end of this journey. Much hard work remains, and we have a solemn responsibility to do it right. But we can face that work together with the confidence of those who have moved mountains.

Our journey began three years ago, driven by a shared belief that fundamental change is indeed still possible. We have worked hard together every day since to deliver on that belief.

We have shared moments of tremendous hope, and we’ve faced setbacks and doubt. We have all been forced to ask if our politics had simply become too polarized and too short-sighted to meet the pressing challenges of our time. This struggle became a test of whether the American people could still rally together when the cause was right — and actually create the change we believe in.

Tonight, thanks to your mighty efforts, the answer is indisputable: Yes we can.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

If one family is no longer bankrupted by health care bills; if one person is no longer left destitute because his insurer rescinded his policy; if tip jars to help pay for someone’s leukemia treatments are no longer needed in corner stores, then we will have won a great and historic victory.

Massa’s Shock Disclosure: He Curses When Drunkedly Joking

8 Mar

Via Rochester Turning, Eric Massa (NY-29)explains what all the “sexual harrassment” fuss is about:

I have to come find out that on New Year’s Eve, I went to a staff party — it was actually a wedding for a staff member of mine. There were 250 people there. I was with my wife, and in fact we had a great time. She got the stomach flu, I went down to sing Auld Lang Syne. And with cameras on me — I’m talking three of them — filming me, I danced with the bride, and I danced with the bridesmaid. Absolutely nothing occurred.

I said goodnight to the bridesmaid. I sat at down at the table where my whole staff was, all of them, by the way bachelors. One of them looked at me and — as they would do after, I don’t know, 15 gin and tonics and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne — a staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid. His points were clear and his words were far more colorful than that.

And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and I said, ‘What I really ought to be doing is frakking you,’ and then tossled the guy’s hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where I shouldn’t be there.

Was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely.

Is that even remotely similar or comparable to, e.g., what Mark Foley did? Absolutely not. Top top it off, Massa went on the radio yesterday to allege that the ethics inquiry is politically motivated to push him out of the House in order to get final resolution on health care reform. Massa has been a no vote for anything not containing a strong and vibrant public option. He even suggested that he might rescind his resignation.

So, now that we know the genesis of the sexual harassment claim against Massa, I wholeheartedly condemn his drunken use of the word “fuck” to connote sexual intercourse with a man in a joking manner after a wedding reception.

In the meantime, I reiterate my earlier statement. I’m disappointed in his retirement, and saddened by the news that his cancer has re-appeared. Best wishes to him – a principled and honorable guy.