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Lincoln, Lieberman, Landrieu, and the Insurance Man from Nebraska

November 24th, 2009 · No Comments · Health Care, Politics

Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country run by liars, thieves and toadies? We live in what was once the richest country in the world. And then came those 9 terrorizing words: “I’m Ronald Reagan, and I’m here to help.” And he did. And so did his friends. Since 1981 they have helped themselves to just about everything that this country once held dear: the public lands, the manufacturing jobs, the control of the military and the CIA, the banks, the media, the distribution of energy, and last, but definitely not least, the distribution of wealth. Since Reagan took office until today, the wealth of the average citizen has steadily gone down and the wealth of the top 1% has skyrocketed.

The idea is simple. The government, since FDR, has provided services to make life better for the average American. Things such as, but not limited to, Social Security and Medicare have built floor, even if a wobbly floor, under the lives of our citizens that means some small measure of security for those unfortunate enough to have no pensions or private health care.

Reagan came along and brought with him a group of people advocating what was not only illogical, “voodoo economics” as the Phi Beta Kappa from Yale, George H.W. Bush called it but up to that point considered reckless and a little bit nutty. The point was that you can somehow improve people’s lives by letting them keep more of their money. In other words, instead of pooling resources to cover someone who may be elderly but has lost his business and needs help with both some monthly cash to survive and a minimal amount of health care, we would expect that person to carry on with no help at all. Artists and writers and musicians and others of both artistic and independent occupations would simply go back to the old system of begging from charitable institutions. But that was just the beginning.

Neoconservative Grover Norquist’s idea that following Reagan’s principles to their logical extension, that is, to reduce government to a size where we can “drown it in a bathtub” became the organizing principle and the mantra for the Right. Keep cutting taxes and that will force government eventually to cut services. If it does not we will have huge deficits. And of course, since Reagan we went from manageable debt to $2.14 trillion, then, by the time Bush’s idiot son came into office, it was already $5. 16 trillion, and then “Bush-lite” in the head increased the deficit to over $11 trillion.

In 2009 alone…Bush’s last budget, the one we are on right now, was over $1 trillion. And it may not have included the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama increased that amount by about $400 billion with the stimulus, which has thus far identified about 800,000 jobs created with about a third of the Stimulus spent thus far.

So when people say that the Republicans under Bush and Cheney “looted” the government it is metaphorically true and may be literally true. We should be conducting investigations. Of course there are a lot of investigations we should be conducting and we are not. Of Tom DeLay. Of Senator Ensign of Nevada. Of Dick Cheney’s sweetheart contracts issued to Halliburton, the company of which he was not only chairman and from which he had earned $44 million by helping them obtain government contracts prior to his Vice Presidency but also from which he had the effrontery to continue to draw paychecks while Vice President…an unheard of violation of ethics! And this was an order of magnitude worse because it was, in fact, the Vice Presidency, which should be beyond any suspicion of political patronage.

So what does this have to do with health care reform?

The common Republican refrain is: it costs too much. Well, the President has said that it must be revenue neutral. It must be covered by some kinds of taxes. So far as we know the program will be paid for by some relatively small taxes on the rich, by some changes in the way Medicare services were set up by the Bush Administration and by premiums, just the way other health insurance services are paid for. The difference is that, with these controls, over time this plan will bring down health care costs by as much as half. Which means better health care at much lower costs than we are paying now.

Through the Herculean efforts of Nancy Pelosi, Stenny Hoyer, Jim Clybourn, George Miller, Henry Waxman and many, many other Democrats, the American people have, been left—on the doorstep of the Senate—with a health care bill that will change American society forever for the better.

If the bill from the House of Representatives serves as the basis for health care legislation, we will all have, lower costs guaranteed because a public entity will be available at a low cost as an alternative to private insurance. Consequently, what no one is saying, is that public health insurance will operate much the same way as Medicare only better. Remember that Medicare is only for those over 65. The new health plan will encompass all ages up to 65 and so its costs will be much less than Medicare.

Will it drive for-profit health insurance out of business? Not for a while and undoubtedly only some firms, if any. If companies still want gold faucets on their private jets and $12 million a year salaries for their CEOs, then maybe they will go out of business. The public option management team will not have any of those things.

Other provisions of the bill will expand competition among health care companies, driving the costs down to realistic levels. Still others will guarantee participation, payment of invoices, no concerns about pre-existing conditions and no terminations after a patient has signed up.

On the other hand, there will be many benefits. Reduced drug costs. More family practitioners, American doctors from expanded chairs in the medical schools. And there will be subsidies or actual exclusions for small businesses and guaranteed fees for larger business that will be lower their costs and allow them to realistically plan for health care costs. As one example, in some circumstances a company pays the government a fixed fee of something like $750 per year. Their employees can then choose their own public or private health care option.

That brings us to Lincoln, Lieberman, Landrieu and the insurance man from Nebraska…Senator Nelson.

Lincoln has raised $4.13 million as of September 2009 for her next campaign for Senator. She probably has more than that now. She has made it clear that she does not like the public option and may not vote to shut off a filibuster against it. She will need all $4. 5 million because she will have a strong Democratic opponent in the primary who will not need $4.5 million or even a million to beat her. Maybe she is looking to take the $4.5 million into retirement with her. Here’s what some Democrats are already saying about her on the tube.

Nelson of Nebraska’s case is different. He has called a public option to lower insurance industry costs a “deal breaker.” Why would he say that?

His campaign contributors are large insurance companies who count on him because…he is a former CEO of an insurance company as well as an advocate for the health insurance business in the health care reform debate. He has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business (a small business services and health insurance provider) by the Chamber of Commerce and by AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Any questions? He’s in bed with the insurance companies with the covers up to his eyeballs. He’s out to screw the people of Nebraska. Especially small and medium-sized farmers and independent small businesses, who, with this bill, will finally emerge from under nerve-wracking and sharp edge of fate that has been hanging over them for years.

Senator Ben Nelson has received over $2 million dollars from health insurance and other health related industries in campaign contributions.

Senator Joe Lieberman is well known for his views, also funded by the insurance companies despite the fact that the people of Connecticut are staunchly behind the President and seriously want substantial health care reform with a strong public option.

He has received over $5 million from the sector that includes insurance as a big component and he has received another $925 thousand from the health industry. So Joe is heavily into the health and health insurance people and they want him to fight for them against the people. Thus far, he has not. But he says that he will not support a public option, calling it a government takeover of health delivery services. Of course, the tip off as to his real attitude is that he knows perfectly well that a public option is not a “government takeover.” So there you have that. He is on the take from the health industry.

Mary Landrieu is just a political coward and a typical Louisiana politician. She will hold up anyone or anything—insurance company—convenience store—anyone who has some cash in the till who can help her get reelected. She is in an area that is very vulnerable to the messages of the nutcases on television, like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, guys who will lie and promote racism one after the other as hard and fast as they can.

On the real dollar side of the equation, Landrieu has been criticized by Liberal groups for accepting $1.6 million from health and insurance groups. If she does not vote to end debate on the Reid health care bill, there will be more than enough critics who will say that she is in the pocket of the health insurance industry, which is also mounting huge campaigns in Louisiana, a very vulnerable area for health care reform.

So there we are. Vital votes from people who are all deeply involved with the health insurance industry. The People need their votes. They need to know how important it is to the People that we all have their votes, and not merely the health insurance industry.

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