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« Union Astroturf in Portland for Town Hall | Main | Bribing Nebraska Not in the Budget for Christmas »

November 20, 2009

Two Thousand Card Monte

-Patrick S Lasswell

Fisking Representative Blumenauer on Health Care

Yesterday Representative Earl Blumenauer responded to my short note to him with a long defense of his playing 2,000 Card Monte with health care. Although we are used to Congress playing fast and loose with our taxes, we've never seen it on this scale of gamble with this large a paper shuffle. Hidden in that massive deck of law alterations and empire building is supposed to be a reward for everybody, and like any street hustler my representative is talking fast about how much I'm going to win. Only because Rep. Blumenauer is too much of a chicken to do so to my face (Rep. Blumenauer didn't risk actual Town Halls this summer, he had a telephone Town Hall), he sent an email. Since Rep. Blumenauer could be caught with a dead girl AND a live boy while driving an SUV through endangered species habitat and still get elected in Portland because he supports mass transit, fisking his excuses is all I can do.

“The debate over health insurance is not just about people currently without coverage. It's also about small business owners and their employees.”

Because small businesses thrive with massive additional government regulation? The small business software to keep track of this regulatory monstrosity is going to have greater hardware requirements than Windows Vista, and take weeks of otherwise productive time out for small business owners to figure out if they can stay in business.

“It's about the individuals who are losing their jobs (and health insurance) due to the ongoing recession, as well as people approaching the age for Medicare eligibility who want to make sure this popular, government run health insurance program is still around when they retire.”

Who created that recession exactly? Did it have anything to do with congressional practices of throwing money around like drunks at Mardi Gras towards unsafe loans? How will throwing more of other people's money around without sober reflection help us?

“Health care costs are spiraling out of control. This year, every insured American family will pay $1,017 in insurance premiums just to cover the emergency medical expenses of the uninsured. This "hidden health care tax," which totals approximately $42 billion annually, subsidizes the uncompensated health care costs of the uninsured and is a growing burden on the system as a whole.“

So we should instead spend $3,700 to get rid of this $1,017 problem? You didn't source your numbers, I ain't sourcin' mine!

“Without reform, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise $1,800 every year for years to come.“

Remember when you told us that without the stimulus unemployment would get so big, and then we got the stimulus and unemployment got two points bigger? We should trust your figures now because...

“Worse still, insurance companies will be increasingly responsible for health care decisions, limiting individuals' ability to make decisions about what care they receive. According to a recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, more than 45,000 Americans die every year due to lack of access to affordable healthcare. Without reform, this figure will only increase.”

So we should shift this all onto congress so that instead of insurance companies we can change being responsible for our health care decisions, government we cannot change will be. Or are you going to let Canada bid for our health care coverage?

“America's middle class deserves better. America's families need affordable, stable health care coverage that can't be taken away from them and that is why I was proud to join my colleagues in passing HR 3629, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Here's what the Affordable Health Care for America Act means to you:”

Always important to bring class warfare to bear when talking about socialism. So, how does the middle class fare under socialist rule? By the way, if the stable health care coverage can't be taken away, doesn't that also mean that it is an offer I can't refuse?


Because the government that brings us $1 billion dollar ships that were supposed to cost $350 million is so very good at lowering costs?


For values of “greater” meaning "lesser" and “choice” meaning "lack of choice.


As long as you do not have any quality now. Also, for values of "quality" meaning "not controlled by the government."


From congress? Like the fiscal responsibility we got with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Or like the fiscal responsibility we get in Rep. Murtha's district/feudal domain?


Wait, didn't you just say I'd have greater choice? How can I have greater choice and greater stability? While there is some truth to the notion that “Oh, we are so very screwed” is a kind of peace of mind, fatalism isn't what I'm looking for regarding my health!

“There are a lot of myths and outright lies about health care reform still being spread by people who want to keep the status quo. While it's important to have an honest debate about how much government should be involved, how we get the best value for our dollar, and what regulations are put in place to make sure the insurance companies don't end up gouging the American taxpayer, we need to reject the divisive tactics and rhetoric from those who have no interest in making our country healthier.”

If it was so important to have an honest debate about anything, why did you pass this bill out of the House late on a Saturday evening instead of in the middle of the week in the middle of the day?

“On that note, I want to take this opportunity to address some concerns I've heard and clear up some misconceptions regarding HR 3269:” “This bill does NOT raise taxes on low and middle-class families. A small surtax on millionaires will cover most of the cost of health insurance reform. Furthermore, this increase will not occur during a recession, but is set to be implemented in 2011, long after economists predict the recession will end. “

What happens if the millionaires use their money hiring better accountants than the IRS can afford to hide their wealth and income? Like they already do? Why haven't you gone to this well ever before? What if the millionaires leave and take their money with them? I have it on very good authority that many rich people do not keep their wealth in giant Scrooge McDuck vaults just so they can take money baths, although apparently your economists believe differently.

“This bill does NOT cover anyone who resides in this country illegally. H.R. 3269 specifically forbids federal dollars from going towards health insurance for undocumented workers.”

Unless it gets changed in conference committee. Or the wind changes. Or there are little codicils someplace that allow it that nobody's found because the bill is far too large for reasonable discussion.

“This bill does NOT create "death panels" or euthanize our senior citizens. The Affordable Healthcare for America Act simply allows Medicare to reimburse health professionals for a voluntary conversation about end-of-life decisions between a patient and a doctor, at the patient's behest. Like all Medicare benefits, this is a voluntary benefit! If patients don't want to discuss their health care wishes, they don't have to.”

Except for where it will, like cutting back on mammograms for women in their 40's which will increase deaths to save costs. And all the other ways it will because the economic criteria is based on remaining time of life available instead of need for care.

“This bill does NOT use taxpayer money to fund abortions. HR 3269 prohibits federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. This bill also maintains federal conscience protection laws and does not supersede state laws restricting abortion.”

Unless it gets changed in conference committee, yada, yada, yada...

“This bill does NOT exempt Members of Congress and other government employees from following the same guidelines as everybody else. Any health care plan used by a federal employee or elected official will be subject to the same reforms as all other private plans.”

So this means you've decided to go ahead and screw the troops out of their medical because going in harm's way is an excessive lifestyle choice?

“This bill does NOT cut Medicare coverage. This bill does include Medicare reforms designed to lower costs and increase efficiency, but NOT at the expense of caring for enrollees.“

Wait, I thought you just said that all health care systems would have the same reform inflicted on them.

“This bill does NOT abolish the private health insurance system in this country. Under the bill, patients would be able to keep their private insurance, and there would be no mandate to switch plans or join the public insurance option. This bill is all about giving people options and letting them choose the type of care that best works for them.”

So how is making private health care insurance utterly insolvent different from abolishing it?

“Since the start of this debate, opponents of reform have repeatedly claimed that the process has not been transparent, or that it has been rushed and the details of the proposed bill are not well understood. These claims are not true. Since 2007, the House has held 100 hearings on health care, and this year alone we have held close to 3,000 health care events in our districts. Three House committees have spent 160 hours in public hearings and markups of health care legislation, and much of HR 3269 has now been available for public review and comment for more than three months. The full text of the bill was available for Members of Congress, the media and all citizens to read and consider long before the vote.”

If that was true, why did you refuse to face your constituents, Rep. Blumenauer? Why won't you look us in the eye and tell us this? Why don't you dare come home and see the people who elected you in a public forum? Can you tell us you actually read the bill before you voted on it?

How transparent is 160 hours of public hearings for more than 2,000 pages of law? Did they really give serious consideration at a rate of 12.5 pages an hour? Why is this law different than street hustlers fast talking their way through the simple fact that they aren't standing on the corner for your benefit, but theirs? Why should responsible adults believe that the people with fast word processors who cranked out the massive text of this beast have our interests in mind more than the guys with fast hands shuffling cards?

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