Thursday, January 21, 2010

The skies are Brown over Massachusetts

*I'm about to get political, for those who are apolitical or consider blogging to be an escape from things like politics may want to skip this post. However, please keep in mind my tone is more informational/analytical and less confrontational-- I leave the confrontational politics to the pundits on CNN, FoxNews, and talk radio*

I know the recent election of Scott Brown to the US Senate throws a monkey-wrench into the current health care reform bills. And I also know that a lot of mis and disinformation about health care has been put out there by BOTH sides.

Regardless of where on the political spectrum you fall, most Americans believe there is a need for health care reform. That includes both Democrats and (despite the insinuations of the Democratic leaders in Congress) Republicans as well. The difference is largely in the approach of how to reform health care.

In the days leading up to Brown's Massachusetts victory, Rep. Steny Hoyer, was suggesting that the House should pass the Senate bill as it's "better than nothing." This is an idea I take serious umbrage with. This is my health, your health, our collective health that we're talking about. And if our government is going to reform health care I sure as hell don't want them settling for "better than nothing."

Much of the criticism of the current bills is tied to a belief that it's unconstitutional-- how you may ask? Largely due to the 10th Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The argument against the current bills (both the House and Senate bills) is that there is nothing in the Constitution giving the government the power to intervene in health care... that being said there's also nothing in the Constitution preventing individual states from coming up with their own health care plans (like Massachusetts has already done-- which is either a resounding success or a glaring failure depending on who you talk to).

Incidentally Massachusetts current health care plan has been cited as a reason for why Brown beat Coakley. The federal plan is modeled after the Massachusetts plan (incidentally that plan was put in place by then governor, Mitt Romney-- a Republican). Those in Massachusetts who don't like "Romneycare" (as it has been billed) certainly don't want the plan spread nationwide and even many who DO like Romneycare don't necessarily want it spread nationwide because it's been shown that the federal plan is more expensive than the existing state plan. Thus their costs would be going up.

As many of you know, I listen to a bit of talk radio on my morning and evening commutes. Out of curiosity last night on my evening commute I chose to listen to progressive talk radio host, Ron Reagan (the son of a much more conservative former president) to get the liberal spin on Scott Brown's recent election win in Massachusetts.

What I heard was a certain level of disgust and disdain for our Democratic Congress. Apparently the mood on Capitol Hill over Brown's election is one of relief. The idea being, "Now we don't have to fight so hard for health care. When it doesn't pass we can just blame it on the Republicans." There was a general tone of frustration over the general mood of defeat and resignation that now exists in Washington in light of Brown's election.

Progressives are generally hardcore bleeding hearts. They WANT the public option they want a lot of the things in the health care bill that had to be taken out for the Senate to get their 60 votes and they're frustrated with Congress for not putting up more of a fight. They're pissed that Congress was so hell-bent on getting those 60 votes they haven't even attempted "reconciliation" which would forego the need for 60 votes and the bill could pass with a simple majority instead.

Another interesting point that was discussed on Reagan's radio show was a complaint of Obama's failure to effectively communicate the message of health care reform. I find this interesting because many Republicans have the same complaint of George W. Bush's handling of the War in Iraq (and to a lesser extent, the War in Afghanistan)-- ineffective communication of the message (the reasons why we went to war, etc.)

For those who are still befuddled over how the Democrats could manage to lose not only a senate seat, but the one held by Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion, for over 40 years (and by his brother, John, before that) in Massachusetts-- one of the most liberal states in the Union, I believe The Wall Street Journal put it best. The Democrats in Congress misread the results of the 2006 and 2008 elections as a shift in ideology. In reality it was merely a shift in party. The ideology of a majority of Americans is generally centrist or slightly right of center. That hasn't changed.

In 1994 Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress with the Contract with America. The trouble is that the Republican Congress initially elected in 1994 breached that contract. I may be wrong here, but I believe most Americans still like many of the principles put forth in that contract... Principles that BOTH parties are guilty of not only ignoring but blatantly disregarding-- things like fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability.

When was the last time the US Congress exhibited any of those principles?


The Phoenix said...

The Far Left is going to drag down the Democratic party, and give up any gains it made.

I think nearly all Americans agree that something needs to be done. Healthcare costs keep going up, and it is the #1 cause of foreclosures in this country.

I think as long as insurance companies have pure profit as its motivation, you see much change. I do believe insurance companies are going to have to give up that margin (and there IS room in there, as I sold group health insurance a few yrs ago). Also, healthcare product vendors' profit mark up is astronomical (I know this too, because I sold IV pumps and disposables to hospitals too).

Finally, tort reform is vital. $140,000 for liability insurance for just ONE neurosurgeon is blasphemy.

Dantallion said...

As always, your analysis is really interesting.

Putting all the reasons why Mr Brown won, and what it really means, my greater concern is this: Once again, nothing is going to get done.

The US seems, with each passing year, to get more deeply entrenched in a position making the passage of ANY domestic policy law near impossible - with the far left and the far right at the front of the parade, twirling their batons. Congress is inert.

Government needs reform. Ban lobbyists, reform campaign finance, and make lawmaking transparent to the public so that everyone sees which lawmaker was where. That might be a start as far as getting things moving again.

Until then, I'm afraid gov't will remain crippled.

Perplexio said...

The high cost of malpractice insurance is what has driven many many doctors out of Illinois.

Socialized medicine can't work in the United States. I've read the problems inherent in the UK's NHS. Due to quotas and being underpaid (or unpaid in some cases) by the government many doctors are switching to practice and no longer accepting national health. Therefore more patients fewer doctors and many of the doctors that are still under NHS aren't taking new patients because they just don't have the time. I read about one town in Wales, a dentist went into work one day and saw a line around the block. He got to his office and found the line was for his office. He'd put an ad in the paper saying he was taking new patients!

I really don't believe the fast food/instant gratification/ADD culture of the US would tolerate such conditions. Just because it works for the UK and Canada (and even that is debatable) does not mean it will work here.

Perplexio said...

Dan: When he was first elected, Obama spoke of greater transparency, of restrictions forbidding the hiring of former lobbyists into government positions. He said that the congressional debate over health care reform would air on C-Span-- it did not (much of the discussions happened behind closed doors and Republican congresscritters were barred from participating). He said he wanted bi-partisanship-- any Republican ideas were summarily ignored by the Democratic majority in Congress and didn't even cross his desk. And he granted exceptions to allow for the hiring of former lobbyists into his cabinet.

I heard a great line on conservative talk radio-- "The transparency in government is so great that it's invisible."

If Obama had actually followed through on any of his post-innagurual measures to make government more accountable his popularity would be considerably higher. I don't think Obama is the villain many on the far right make him out to be. I do believe he wants what is best for the country. The trouble is, I think his expectations are seen through rose-colored glasses. Does he really expect to change the culture of corruption that has been ever-growing for over 200 years to go away that easily? Did he really expect Congress to suddenly be okay with some semblance of accountability just because he said so?

Voice of Doom and Gloom said...

"The argument against the current bills (both the House and Senate bills) is that there is nothing in the Constitution giving the government the power to intervene in health care..."

Couldn't the same argument be made for education? For the EPA? For OSHA? There must be dozens of departments in the federal government that could be removed by this same logic.

Perplexio said...

Voice of Doom and Gloom: Technically, yes, to all of the above. The EPA, OSHA, and many of the other federal regulation boards/committees/organizations are technically unconstitutional. It's not that they shouldn't exist and constitutionally there is a way to get around it-- cede control of those organizations from the federal to the state governments.

The founding forefathers, in their infinite wisdom understood that with as geographically diverse population as we have the laws of one region may not make sense for another region. The laws of one state might not translate to the needs of another. I believe there's also a greater vested interest when regulatory bodies are kept a bit more local. If people within their own state are asked to keep an eye on the environment (the EPA), or construction issues (OSHA), they tend to better understand the specific issues related to their organization within their region.