Monday, August 24, 2009

The Weekly Strike-8/24-8/30

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. I apologize for a few days without any entry, we too are enjoying a bit of summer down time. Please read up on some of our previous entries and leave comments!!

THE WHITE HOUSE: Not only is Congress on recess this week, but the President has just embarked on a week long vacation, the first of his Presidency. He is staying at an estate on Martha's Vineyard until next Sunday with his family and a few close friends. This might be a good chance for the President to let the health care debate simmer down a little bit. I hope it also proves to be time for the President to reflect on his strategy on pursuing health insurance reform, and make changes as necessary. We don't expect him to make any public statements (barring any unforeseen events), but we look forward to seeing him rested and invigorated come next week.

Just because the President is on vacation doesn't mean that the forces opposing reform will quiet down. In this morning's Washington Post, RNC chair Michael Steele wrote a dangerously misleading and nihilistic op-ed, ostensibly outlining the GOP's new "Seniors Bill of Rights." The party that opposed Medicare, and relatively recently threatened to shut down the government if it wasn't substantially cut, now apparently opposes the Obama plan because it includes "cuts to Medicare." Of course, the bills do no such thing. They aim to cut inefficiencies in the system that will have no impact on the services seniors receive. By the way, I'm surprised after all this time that Republicans would want to stick their necks out and defend socialized medicine, aren't you?

Steele also refused to repudiate the "death panel" lie. He says exactly what the bill actually does, which is to cover end-of-life counseling under Medicare, but he makes an unsubstantiated claim that this could lead to "rationing" because "while nonthreatening at first, something that is quite normal for a family to do becomes troublesome when the government gets involved." Of course he didn't provide any evidence, just an anti-government ideology taken to an illogical extreme. He gives the same nonsensical "analysis" of comparative effectiveness research by saying, without any justification whatsoever, that such research could actually lead to "rationing based on age." The research is designed, as anyone with any remote knowledge of health policy would tell you, to give doctors advice as to which treatments are most effective.

Steele himself has admitted that he "doesn't do policy," so I think it would be better for everyone if he kept these fear mongering, nihilistic musings to himself.

At least Democrats are falling in line, right? Wrong! "Independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman said yesterday that Congress should scrap the whole bill and approach these issues incrementally. The recipient of government-funded health care said on CNN yesterday that we can institute some insurance market reforms, but that when it comes to extending insurance coverage to all Americans, "there's no reason we have to do this now." Meanwhile, Mr. Thorn-in-the-side himself, Senator Kent Conrad, said that it is inadvisable for Democrats to use reconciliation (a budget procedure that allows bills to pass with 51 votes instead of the usual 60), and it is also not a good idea to split the bill in two, as discussed last week. He says that the bill must cost "substantially less" than the $1 trillion it costs right now. Of course Conrad has no understanding that cuts would actually affect real people. Should middle-class Americans not get a needed government subsidy to afford health insurance because Kent Conrad got sticker shock? Once again, Democrats continue to undermine their own party and their own President.

Looking on the bright side, it appears that there will be fewer town hall meetings this week with members of Congress, so we don't have to see crazy protesters constantly on cable news. Maybe this period of "benign neglect" can help us regain control of the dialogue on this issue when Congress returns in two weeks.

That's it for us this morning. Because the week is expected to produce little in terms of political news, posting will be light. See you this evening!

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