You’ve probably never heard of Section 1312, section D, of the Senate health care reform bill, since it would affect just a few thousand people at most. But symbolically it’s among the bill’s most important provisions. And it's worth mentioning in the days before (hopefully) final congressional voting begins. The provision would require that members of Congress and their staff get insurance through the new insurance exchanges, once they are up and running.
Pointing out the hypocrisy of Republican positions on procedural fairness is getting tiresome, I know. But I can't let this one pass. From Jay Newton-Small at Time: In the Senate, Dems are eyeing Tom Coburn and his promised “hundreds” of amendments warily. So warily that they're considering an obscure procedural tactic some Republicans are labeling the "nuclear option." Under reconciliation rules, debate is limited to 20 hours and only 51 votes are needed for final passage as the budget is immune to filibusters.
The insurance industry is striking back. Attacked by the Democrats, harangued by activists, and reviled by the public, insurers have launched a major public relations campaign designed to make one simple point: It’s not their fault that American health care is so dysfunctional. The proof, according to the industry, is in the numbers: Their profits account for less than 1 percent of what America spends on health care in a given year. And you know what?
Via Joe Klein, here's Rush Limbaugh confronting the increasingly likely enactment of health care reform: I'll just tell you this, if this passes and it's five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented--I am leaving the country. I'll go to Costa Rica. As Karen Tumulty notes, Costa Rica has actual government-run medical care. Maybe the Hawaii experience awakened Limbaugh's inner socialist?
President Obama yesterday gave a campaign-style speech on health care reform. And it's the best talk I've seen him give yet. (Like Paul Krugman says, where was this guy last year?) Here's the ending, although you might appreciate it more by watching the video. It starts at the 38:10 mark: It is hard. That’s because health care is complicated. Health care is a hard issue. It’s easily misrepresented. It’s easily misunderstood. So it’s hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There’s no doubt about that. But you know what else is hard?
It would be nice if members of Congress voting on health care reform thought more about what's good for the country rather than what's good for their re-election prospects. But let's not kid ourselves. Many Democrats are plainly spooked by the prospect of supporting a measure that, according to the polls, a majority of Americans don't support. Some of us have been arguing that the polls are misleading. Among other things, most people don't seem to know what's in the bill.
David Brooks thinks it. David Gregory thinks it. The Washington Post editorial page thinks it. And, what the heck, I think it. If health care reform passes Congress, the final legislation probably won't cut the cost of medical care as quickly as seems possible on paper. But would the legislation make a good start--as good a start as possible, given political reality? Brooks, Gregory, the Post, and plenty of other critics seem to think the answer is "no." I think they are nuts.
Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a Special Correspondent for The Treatment. The Washington Post has an editorial this morning that doesn't exactly oppose the President's health reform proposals, but gives the President a rap on the knuckles for not being more aggressive controlling costs. They are particularly aggrieved that the President proposes to delay the implementation of the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health plans to 2018. Count us among the worriers. The tax is key for two reasons.
When I was growing up, the filibuster was hardly ever used--except, of course, by the Dixiecrats (southern Democratic senators, racists mostly) and some conservative Republicans. When civil rights legislation was introduced by liberal Democrats, the right wing of the party would mobilize and stage real filibusters, senators often orating for a dozen hours at a time and then leaving the podium only for another recalcitrant. These legislators did not much disguise their intentions in procedural balderdash.
Passing health care is going to require convincing Representative Bart Stupak, or at least his would-be allies, to vote for the bill despite their concerns that it is tantamount to federal funding of abortion services. Slate's Timothy Noah has come up with a novel argument that might help. It isn't tantamount to federal funding of abortions: A central puzzle of the health reform debate is why Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., keeps saying that the Senate-passed bill allows taxpayer dollars to be spent on abortions. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says it, too.