"Immoral Villains!" sez Nancy "Queeg" Pelosi – UPDATED

Okay, I’ve decided that Nancy Pelosi (whose Native American name might be “Stands With An Angry Little Fist” ala “Dancing With Wolves”) is beginning to sound like a paranoid lunatic who can find a convenient villain any time she needs one, as Tom Elia points out here.

Thus spaketh The Pelosi:

“They are the villains in this,” Pelosi said of private insurers. “They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening. And the public has to know that. They can disguise their arguments any way they want, but the fact is that they don’t want the competition.”

Well, and why should they, considering Barney Frank -in an unscripted moment- has admitted that the public option will mean a government take-over of health care. And that will be true, even if the “public plan” starts to be called “the co-ops” instead.

But I digress. More Pelosi:

“… It’s almost immoral what they are doing,” added Pelosi, who stood outside her office long after her press conference ended to continue speaking to reporters, even as aides tried in vain to usher her inside. “Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure with pre-existing conditions, you know, the litany of it all.”

“They’ve been immoral all along.”
Gosh, it wasn’t so long ago we were being told that people in power had no business dictating morality to the rest of us. How quickly things change. By the way, please note, Pelosi doesn’t mind keeping campaign donations made by these immoral companies.

You know what might REALLY be immoral? Putting the health care of the nation in the hands of people who can’t manage a car buy-back program for ten days without going broke.

The Obama administration is telling lawmakers that its much-touted “cash-for-clunkers” program is already running out of money, according to three Senate aides familiar with the discussions. . .in the one week since it took effect, it appears to have run dry of the $1 billion allocated to it, aides said Thursday.

In simple English:

“Note that the program started on July 1, they only published the actual rules Friday and they’re still working out how to get the dealers their money. . .what’s essentially happening here is that car dealerships are giving $4,500 interest-free, unguaranteed loans to the federal government… and the determination of whether or not those loans get paid off is more or less going to be at the discretion of mid-level bureaucrats at the NHTSA.”

MMMhhmmmm, that’s just the sort of incompetent, inefficient nightmare bureaucracy
I want managing my health care! The billion-dollar program is already broke, even though the dealers haven’t been paid. And the White House is considering asking for “more money”?

Let’s take another look at that handy budget chart, and pity these poor dealers who are just trying to stay in business and keep people employed and have no idea when they’ll ever see a dime of their $4,500 advances paid back.

Please note: Pelosi is not the only one running around pointing the finger and shrieking “villain!” The Democrats are scolding their obedient-monkey-press. Bad, bad mediamonkies!

Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday blamed Capitol Hill media for setting an August deadline for health reform and Republicans for blocking the bill’s progress. . . . [Sen Harry] Reid said reporters created a fictitious deadline of a successful vote by the August recess, and downplayed the fact that the chamber won’t meet that mark.

“That is a deadline that you created,” Reid told a group of about 75 reporters. “It’s not like we don’t have a product. Significant progress has been made …

The White House, meanwhile, is pointing at poor Jake Tapper -one of the few newsmen willing to do more than drool in the presence of Obama- and crying “villain, damned scaring villain” for bringing up the possible unintended consequences of government-run health care. Never mind that the White House has used the rhetoric of panic, emergency, crisis and dire-circumstances for pretty much every new policy they’ve rammed on us for the past seven months.

Ah, well, we’re told that America likes the political theater of healing, and maybe cynics are cynics because they’ve been proven right so often.

After all, Senator Dianne Feinstein can have some annoyingly determined senior citizens arrested without much notice.

Senator Barbara Boxer can haughtily tell a Brigadier General to “call me Senator”, like an insecure kid playing dress-up, and then she can advise an accomplished African American businessman and veteran that another African American “would be proud,” to be testifying at her tea party, and still be called “senator.”

President Obama can spend years denouncing his predecessor for pushing legislation through without adequate review and then do a much more dramatic job of it, himself, with nary a raised eyebrow from the press.

President Obama can also win an election by saying noble stuff like this:

“The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States.” — Sen. Barack Obama, March 31, 2008

…and then spend his first 6 months in office maintaining every one of Bush’s extensions of executive power while bringing over 30 Czars (with more on the way) who are unaccountable-to-Congress (or to you and me) into his inner circle -one of whom is quite a creepy ghoul- and there is no carrying on about the immorality of it all, not in the press and -to their shame- not by many of the loyal opposition, either.

The president and his Secretary of State can put the weight of America behind their support of a power-grabbing socialist despot, over the constitution of a sovereign nation like Honduras, very few people are asking about it.

And the President’s Right-Hand Man? Aw, he’s got a doctor-brother, named Ezekiel, who is also an Obama adviser and Ezekiel says:

“communitarianism” should guide decisions on who gets care. . . medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia” (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. ’96).

Translation: Don’t give much care to a grandmother with Parkinson’s or a child with cerebral palsy.

He explicitly defends discrimination against older patients: “Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years” (Lancet, Jan. 31).

Remember when the people who thought such things were, like, nazis, and stuff? Big inhale here: I love the smell of re-worked morality in the morning papers!

But that does raise a really good question, though: Who is going to tell ill-but-beloved celebrities that they should go ahead and die, before anyone notices that some patients are more valuable than others in this “carefully crafted piece of legislation” – one that the legislators can’t even be bothered to read before they cast their “ayes”.

Oh, morality. Redefined, just like the ethics of the most ethical congress, evah.

Oh, villains, everywhere you look.

Oh, poor, paranoid Pelosi, just trying to protect us from the villains, the damned smiling villains! Frankly, I don’t think we need her help finding villains.

Quick question: Can Congress declare a mutiny? If so, could someone please impinge on some of Pelosi’s protective strawberry-scented air and expose her, once and for all?

Look! More Villains, damned filthy profiteer capitalist villains, wondering if their “friends in the White House” can’t help them out with a little price fixing.

Catholic Key: 1 Paraplegic Equals Half a Human…
Jimmie Bise: What if Obamacare is like Cash-for-clunkers?
Obamacare; we’ve only just begun
Obama’s selective memory
Stephen Carter: When Did Profits Become Evil?
Victor Davis Hanson: Our Angry Aristocracy
Dissent: No longer the “highest form of patriotism”, it’s now “unAmerican.”

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Bertha

    I am heartsick, yes. Surprised, no. How can anyone NOT be surprised at the direction of the governement health care plan? The Catholic Church and other folks warned that Roe v. Wade would inevitably lead to further denigration of human life. Many Americans, convinced that our unborn children were just “blobs” and “potential” humans, felt safe that born-real people would not be discarded like unnecessary trash. The right-to-life predictions of 1973 seemed so far fetched. The elderly denied care for their ailments? The value of handicapped citizens questioned? Terminal patients encouraged to end it all as soon as possible? Well, here we are.

  • LibraryGryffon

    The milage of the clunker for the CFC program is it’s original average estimate. So I have a 10 year old Mitsubishi that’s lost about 10% of its MPG, but CFC doesn’t seem to take age into account. So my old decrepit care won’t be eligible (now that they’ve alloted another $2Billion(!!) for the program.

    Can’t afford the repairs, can’t afford to replace it.

    My husband is retired Navy. I had to deal with Tricare as my primary during the Clinton years, and it was horrid. One of the reasons I’ve worked hard to get a good job so I can afford better. Anyone wanting to take that choice away from me better watch out.

  • newton

    Preach it, Anchoress!

  • Ken

    Anchoress, I apologize for never joking around. Sheesh. I can’t remember anyone else here taking the same tone in a debate, but I’ll take your word for it they do. And as to my not finding this a friendly place, I don’t find an unfriendly place either. I find it, as you indicated, a place for civil, i.e. respectful, if sometimes contentious, debate.

    “As to the rest, I am cynical, on and off, and I’ve admitted it and rued it”

    OK, I haven’t been reading you for long, so I just hadn’t seen that. And, OK, you’re completely cynical about Nancy Pelosi (I don’t entirely blame you). I’m completely cynical, as you know, about Sarah Palin. I’ll trade you Palin for Pelosi for 24 hours, and the most cynical person wins the fair-minded prize. I will admit not to praying for Palin’s good, but then I figure you guys have that covered.

    “And btw, that was a neat trick – you never did respond to my response to your assertion that Pelosi makes no money off the poor.-admin]”

    I respond to every argument I see in good faith, at least is I have something new to say. (I noticed today I missed one from Alia on the birther thread, but no one’s writing there anymore). Are you referring to this?: “[Yeah, cause heaven knows middle class people don't take vacations, dine out, drink wine (or, maybe pick grapes as grad students) or eat Tuna, for that matter (I do recall that Pelosi's interest in something regarding fish affected some sort of fishing law a few years back.)" Something about a fishing law? I don't know what I'm supposed to say to that.

    [No, I was talking about my point that the resorts, the dining establishments and the wineries all exist by the sweat of the working class who are often the poorest of the working class. And it might be noted that these folks (particularly the resort employees, from housekeeping to room service to bartenders and so forth) and the food service folks have been hugely hit by the recession and the double-whammy of President Obama, Maxine Waters and the rest demonizing the very sound business practice of taking good clients out to dinner, and on jaunts, or of taking their own business training "off site" as a reward for productive members. These participants are not all fatcats, you know. My very middle class husband occasionally enjoyed a three day trip somewhere, as a little perk for his excellent and hard work at his often-60 hours a week job, and the trip usually included training and the chance to relax and be entertained. Good for business, good for the hotel/resort/dining industries. These things helped provide jobs and stimulate the economy all around. Obama and the Dems in congress did a swift and early job crashing that industry and it is still not recovered, but didn't I read something about one of the gov't agencies just spending $700,000 at the Arizona Biltmore for a three-day jaunt to soothe the nerves of these executives? Ah, yes, I did. Thank God for the government - since they won't let private industry spend such monies without the threat of demonization, it's a good thing they have our tax money for the purpose. Am I cynical? Yeah, sadly. Hard to keep up! :-) See? That's a joke. Sometimes, we kid around, around here...friendly-like. And btw, no, I do not pray for Palin. I pray for Presidents. The rest of the politicians are on their own, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not particularly a Palin-ite. Like Camille Paglia, I think she's a woman with a lot of political talent, but she also made some mistakes and needs to do some work before she's ready to even consider a run for the WH. (Obama wasn't ready for the WH, either, and it shows.) I also believe that if Palin had a D after her name and hadn't given birth to Trig, she'd be a goddess to the Democrats, because she is everything the feminist narrative says a woman can be. But since she has that R after he name, and that "burden" of a kid, why...she must be destroyed. I do bristle at how she has been treated - the viciousness we saw from the left and the press last autumn was like nothing I'd seen in 40 years of politics-watching- and frankly if I ever DID see someone on the left treated as harshly as she is (besides Presidents who are in a different league all-together) I would defend them. In fact, I have done that in the past, even defending Hillary Clinton's cleavage from some right-wing prunes. There are lines that should not be crossed, and there should be some consistent standards as to how pols and their families should be treated. All of them got crossed or broken where Palin was concerned, and someday people on the left will be honest about that. But I think you have also been here long enough to see me suggest that there is the danger of a Cult of Personality forming around Palin that could rival the sick Cult we've seen around Obama. I am wary of all of them. -admin]

  • Elizabeth Anne

    Ken – I don’t know for certain but I’d be willing to guess the survey’s YOU’RE referring to are for active military. And I’ll happily say that the military runs the absolute best system out there – totally the ones you went if, say, you’re in a jeep that hits an IED, or if you get shot in a combat zone. But when it comes to the long term managed care provided to vets, it’s a nightmare.

    [Thank you, Elizabeth Anne, for validating my experience with long-term managed care to vets. I will not go into the plight of a family-member in long-term care -the details are painful and private - except to say my family had to repeatedly fight with doctors to give him rather simple (and inexpensive) care they would have preferred to withhold from him because by their measure, his life seemed pretty crappy. And he was in much better shape, for instance, than Terri Schiavo. He could move about in his wheelchair, eat, talk (limited), get jokes, enjoy music, magic tricks, parties and birthday cake and magazines and small hobbies; it was the life he had, and he was entitled to it, and he was further entitled to not have to justify his existence to a board of accountants. When you have had a doctor ask you if someone you love is really worth keeping alive, you understand where Obamacare is headed, and it chills to the bone. Numbers crunches do not take love, and the intangibles that the "unuseful" bring to our world, into consideration -admin]

  • Ken

    T, I agree that some people do try to game the health insurance industry, but a lot of those people are poor and are just trying to get by as well as they can. And others are just young and don’t think they need insurance yet for the routine disabilties that come with age, and then they get diagnosed with something big and they’re out of luck. All of which of course is one reason for requiring everyone to carry insurance, an idea conservatives don’t like.

    Conservatives don’t want bureaucrats denying them certain health care options, but then the AFL-CIO reports that “in 2007, the CEOs at the top seven for-profit, private insurance companies pocketed an average of $14.2 million in total compensation,” all the while effectively denying a lot of people those same options.

  • Ken

    Elizabeth Anne, thanks for telling me something I didn’t know.

  • Bender

    The milage of the clunker for the CFC program is it’s original average estimate.

    I’d like to get a new car, but my 2002 Ford Focus doesn’t qualify. Even if it did, any qualifying new car would be too expensive, even with the subsidy — I can’t afford to save that much. It’s hardly a deal to have to spend $20,000 to save $4,000.

  • Bender

    I can’t afford the “savings” of healthcare “reform” or healthcare financing “reform” either.

    Last year, I spent probably ten dollars on healthcare expenses (I bought a bottle of ibuprofen), which was entirely out-of-pocket. TEN DOLLARS. FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. And for that high level of care, I only had to spend an additional $1,200 or so on employee contributions to the heath plan provided by my employer (which contributed who knows how much extra), plus another few hundred dollars for the personal injury portion of my car insurance.

    Nearly every year of my life, my burden on the healthcare system has been ZERO. In other words, I’ve already been subsidizing others for a while now. And now Obama calls me selfish and wants to punish me with increased premium payments??

    Fine. Maybe I’ll start working toward getting my money’s worth then. Maybe I’ll start going to the doctor four or five times a year, rather than once every four or five years. And I won’t be alone, as perfectly healthy people (and your typical male) start flooding the healthcare system because they are tired of paying into it and getting nothing out of it. That will help reduce costs and increase quality and quantity of care, I’m sure.

  • T


    It’s not just the poor whoi game the system, it’s human nature; which of us would choose to pay for something if we can figure out a loophole to get the same thing for “free”? In fact, the poor already have access to govt support such as the CHIP Program and Medicaid; those more likely to game the system are those who could have paid but made the decision not to. As the knight guarding the Holy Grail said (in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) they chose poorly.

    Now I am admittedly a traditionalist and throughout my life I was never without health insurance except for a short time between jobs when I and my family had to be covered by the social programs I mentioned. And that was the only time in my life I haven’t paid for my own coverage. Why? Because having medical coverage for myself and my family is the responsible thing to do.

    Why, I ask, should my tax dollars be put to use just because some uninsured person chose to buy the BMW I could never afford because I was paying for health care? Or moreso, to cover someone who has put his health care money up his nose instead? To do that and expect government coverage is, in itself, is gaming the system.

    As for the salary of insurance execs; get off the class warfare carousel. As I mentioned above, they are responsible for their companies and for thousands of jobs. If they’re doing their jobs, then they deserve what they can get; if they’re not, that’s not the fault of the insurance industry. It’s because our corporate system has become too inbred; that can be changed, but no one is addressing that (but that’s another discussion for another time).

    I’m not a big fan of insurance companies or corporate culture, but not because I envy people their success. If you want to berate insurance companies, then do so after you speak to the widow who just received the life insurance check that she wasn’t cheated out of, or talk to the husband whose wife just had a life-saving hysterectomy at age 60. Why shouldn’t they deny that—she’s past child bearing years and doesn’t have all that long to live anyway? But they don’t deny that coverage because that’s part of the coverage the company obligated itself to in exchange for receiving the person’s premiums for all of these years.

  • Pam

    Did anyone else notice that all during SENATOR Boxer’s unfortunate (for her) encounter with the gentleman who is the head of the Black Chamber of Commerce, he repeatedly addressed her as “Ma’am”–and somehow SENATOR Boxer never even so much as hinted that he should address her as SENATOR!

  • Pam

    Me again. Regarding military medicine–I have spent my whole life, nearly 65 years connected to the military in some way or other. My Dad was a career officer, I put in 5 years in the Air Force and married a career Navy man. I have to say that the two times I needed surgery, I had absolutely fabulous care and I will be forever grateful. That said, the military also illustrates a major problem with “free” medical care, and that is, when something is “free” it tends to lose value in the eyes of the recipients. Waiting rooms at military hospitals are heavily populated with people who would not be there if they had to pay even the slightest fee for the service they were getting. People go to the clinic for such things as the common cold and expect all sorts of attention and medication. It clogs up the system and believe me, it’ll be a whole lot worse if the entire country goes to socialized medicine. I believe I got the great care I did because I really needed to be there. Some of those who complain (not all, but some) are people who basically wasted the hospital staff’s time and taxpayers’ money.

  • Ken

    Anchoress I note that it was ABC of the so-called in-the-tank-for-big-government mainstream media that broke $700,000 junket that story. But I really don’t see your point. I don’t see Obama winking at that sort of thing. As for business dinners and the like, rewarding clients and good employees is great if you can afford it. Otherwise, it’s best have to reward them in the form of contracts and paychecks, not taxpayer money.

    So Palin needs to do “some work” before she’s ready for national office — you do kid around, don’t you?!! But I’ve never bought the notion that Democrats want to destroy her because she lives out her pro-life convictions. I will grant you that some have been hypocritical it not viewing that as a feminist choice, but then the family values folks have been hypocritical in not criticizing her. As for the viciousness of the media and the leftwing blogosphere, I don’t read those blogs, so maybe they were vicious, but the press gave her what she deserved. She set herself up for ridicule as both a pretender to the vice-presidency and as a whiny, narcissistic, self-declared pit bull.

    Yes you did say you’re wary of the Cult of Palin. I’m not sure how well the Cult of Obama is holding, but it doesn’t hurt it that he’s such a likeable guy.

    Does Pelosi own businesses that pay lousy wages? If they’re not living wages, I agree she deserves criticism for it. But is she denying them health care?

    “[“Liberals have always held that personal affairs should remain personal affairs.” – well, that’s nonsense.

    Did you forget John Kerry and John Edwards outting Dick Cheney’s daughter as a lesbian (as though that was a bad thing) or the whole movement to “out” gay republicans?”

    How does that make them inconsistent for attacking corporate greed? And what else did actively gay Republicans deserve?

    “Liberals have disallowed pub owners from deciding whether or not they may cater to a smoking clientele.”

    I think that’s going too far, but their argument is that the people working there are being exposed against their will, i.e. that smoking in public is, well, smoking _in public_, and as such not a private act.

    “And as for Bush’s “flat out unconstitutional” moves, which ones of those, exactly, has Obama rescinded and saved us from?”

    You can look that up. Obama has gone back to military tribunals in some cases after reviewing that program, but they’re legal now. They weren’t when Bush began them.

  • Ken

    T, of course I agree that it’s not only the poor who game the system, but a lot of folks make too much for Medicaid but have trouble affording insurance.

    And I’m not into class warfare. I don’t begrudge the guy who got rich selling imported caviar at prices I can’t afford. The guy who makes umpteen times more than his struggling employees — employees who may work just as hard, who may be using the gifts God gave them to as full an extent as he does — he’s another story. That guy could try a self-imposed Jubilee Year.

    “But they don’t deny that coverage because that’s part of the coverage the company obligated itself to in exchange for receiving the person’s premiums for all of these years.”

    I don’t follow. They’re to be praised for keeping their side of a legal bargain?

  • Ken

    By the way, T, I’d be interested in seeing you and others here respond to Paul Krugman’s NY Times column today, the one entitled “Health Care Realities.”

  • T


    You wrote:

    “I don’t follow. They’re to be praised for keeping their side of a legal bargain?”

    You miss the point. This indicates that you either really don’t understand the situation, or you’re trolling and baiting me. I believe the latter, so I’ll comment this one last time. Then, you’re on your own.

    The point is NOT that insurance companies should be commended for keeping their part of the contract. That’s what expected, but there are many justifications for excluding such a surgery from the contact in the first place. They don’t do that! And do you know what? You know that; that’s how I know you’re trolling.

    It’s all a matter or managing risk. The company takes certain risks; one is that it will have to pay for some care that they would rather not pay for. Liberals, on the other hand, criticize them for not paying for a pre-existing condition, a risk that is predictable and that they should not take. This latter is like driving across a bridge that has been condemned and closed to traffic. You know what you’re going to get.

    You also wrote: “I don’t begrudge the guy . . . who makes umpteen times more than his struggling employees”

    In fact you do! Umpteen times? Struggling employees? Your language evinces your envy. And what liberals totally ignore is the fact that the man who now makes the umpteen dollars is very often the one who takes the risk in the first place.

    Now let me relate a parable that even you might understand. When Columbus sailed the Atlantic, just about every learned person on earth already knew the earth was round. Columbus didn’t prove that. The reason that people didn’t cross the ocean was because they believed that there were sea monsters. Well, Columbus left and returned. When the first guy does it, he was lucky. After 20 ships do it, people start to think that maybe there aren’t sea monsters after all. After 100 ships do it, everyone knows that there aren’t any sea monsters.

    The point? Read carefully now, Ken, and slowly. The first sailors who took the risks became the colonial rulers; the most recent hundred. who faced no risks, became the colonists (Thanks, again, to Lester Thurow).

    The first sailors get all the glory and go down in history because they are the one who took the risks and had the most to lose. So, too, in business; Jobs and Wozniak built a computer empire from their garage because they took a risk when computers were large, room sized vacuum tube machines. Bill Gates took a risk because IBM believed that all of the profit was in the hardware and he saw a different future. Both of these visions worked out to the tune of vast fortunes for their visionaries, but it didn’t have to work out that way. All three could have just as easily been anonymous mid-level employees for some company.

    Insurance companies take these risks all the time. They can’t avoid them and they know that; their job is to manage those risks so that they can pay the necessary claims while still meeting payroll, paying off loans, and rewarding investors with dividends. The fact that they piss off people like yourself is just an added bonus.

  • Ken


    I’m really sorry you think I’m trolling, but you have me wrong.

    You write that “there are many justifications for excluding such a surgery from the contact in the first place. They don’t do that! And do you know what? You know that,” but I don’t know how you know what my experience with catastrophic prohic health claims is, and just today I read, in the Krugman column I asked your reponse to, that “Horror stories are legion: the insurance company that refused to pay for urgently needed cancer surgery because of questions about the patient’s acne treatment; the healthy young woman denied coverage because she briefly saw a psychologist after breaking up with her boyfriend.”

    And I don’t know how “umpteen times” and “struggling employees” indicates envy on my part. Does it indicate envy on the part of rich liberals who make the same arguments? You don’t know me or my history. I consider myself a very fortunate guy, and I had a physical today for a lousy 15 bucks.

    And I agree that to the Wozniaks and Gates’ go the spoils. But which insurance company head today came up with the concept of selling insurance? And which insurance company head today doesn’t know that if he takes a risk and it fails and gets him fired, he won’t have a golden parachute?

    “The fact that they piss off people like yourself is just an added bonus.”

    I’m sorry you feel that way. I was really enjoying our discussion.

  • John Bey

    Concerning healthcare, this week we marked the 44th anniversary of the creation of the Medicare program. With former President Harry Truman — a strong advocate for national health care — at his side, President Lyndon Johnson signed the program into law.

    Today, we hear strong echoes of that debate: inefficient and costly government. Putting the government between the doctor and the patient. Socialized medicine.

    Although Medicare now is widely seen as a successful program for helping Americans access health care, it was very controversial when it was passed. The same arguments against health care reform today were made then. Some leaders from Bob Dole to Gerald Ford fought the program and voted against its creation.

    Before Medicare was enacted, 44 percent of seniors were uninsured and, of those that had insurance, most had coverage only for hospital care. Before Medicare, seniors had limited choices for their health care. They could deplete their savings, seek assistance from their children, look for charity care, or forgo the medical care they needed.

    Within 11 months after President Johnson signed Medicare into law, almost 20 million Americans had enrolled in the program. Medicare has virtually eliminated uninsurance among older Americans, and today fewer than one percent of those age 65 or older lack health insurance.

    Today, Medicare covers 44.1 million beneficiaries with an overhead of approximately 2 percent. Medicare’s low administrative overhead and efficiencies of service have helped Medicare’s costs grow at a slower rate for the past five years than private health insurance for the same benefits, despite seniors’ higher need for services. While Medicare may not be perfect and every year the government makes some changes, it has been a godsend for millions of seniors. It provides basic, affordable, universal health care to a population abandoned by private industry decades ago. We can and should make improvements to Medicare, especially as health care — technology, practices, the role of pharmaceuticals — has evolved.

    This year, we are debating the next stage of health reform that would fix the broken health insurance system. Some have voiced concerns that America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, the health care reform legislation currently being considered by the House of Representatives, would weaken Medicare. In fact, the opposite is true. Our legislation would benefit seniors by strengthening this successful program.

    The bill would eliminate the doughnut hole in the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Each year many senior citizens face the Medicare doughnut hole and are forced to pay their drug costs after Medicare reaches the limit of what it will pay. The legislation would provide them with immediate relief, by cutting brand name drug costs in the doughnut hole by 50 percent and ultimately eliminating the doughnut hole (too slowly, I think, but nevertheless really eliminates it). The bill would eliminate co-payments and deductibles in Medicare for preventive services, to ensure diseases are treated at the earliest stage and to keep people well. The legislation goes further to create new Medicare incentives to encourage physicians and hospitals to coordinate medical care and therefore eliminate duplicate tests, x-rays, and labs.

    By passing the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, we would provide stable coverage that cannot be taken away. The bill would ensure Americans always have a source of coverage even if you are in between jobs, lose your job, or your job doesn’t provide it. It would ensure families have stable health costs that won’t threaten their finances. Americans would not have to worry about leaving the hospital with bills too big to pay because their benefits have run out. Moreover, the bill would set an annual cap on out-of-pocket health expenses in order to eliminate cases where one disease forces a family into bankruptcy. (It is worth noting that 60 percent of family bankruptcies involve a major health expense.)

    This week, it is instructive not simply to commemorate the creation and success of Medicare but to remember the long struggle that led to this successful program. The program is so successful that some do not even think about its operation by our government. One American wrote a letter to President Obama saying, “I don’t want government-run health care. And don’t touch my Medicare.” Another told one of my Congressional colleagues at a town hall to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

    More than 40 years ago, Congress and the president were right to enact Medicare.

    I predict that more than 40 years from now, today’s cries of “socialized medicine” and today’s political chatter about who is benefiting from the debate will have faded. Instead, it will be noted that we did the right thing by finally ensuring that all Americans have health care security, a goal that has eluded our nation for a century.

  • Stephanie

    Wow are there a lot of comments!
    Cash for clunkers- well, the program did as intended, if it went broke. Dealers and the car companies knew what the limit was-and part of the reason behind suspending the program is so that they don’t go on accepting cars after all the money is spent. It was only ever possible to fund 250,000 exchanges, so if the gov’t is saying “wait- we’ve exchanged the 250,000 already” then they’re doing the responsible thing.
    Veteran health care-my father in law has been using it for decades, and has been very happy with it. I’ve read a few commentators who have had good experiences, and a few who’ve had bad, so it’s hard to make a conclusion based on ancedotal evidence, as you suggest in your comment to Ken (where you state that your family member’s experience invalidates anything he can come up with- first long admin comment, I think)
    As far as preexisting conditions, this is a hard one. I know of one boy who was denied coverage for a pre existing condition- he’d had insurance, even the same insurance, his whole life, but then his dad changed jobs, so it was a new contract. His dad had to pay 800/month to cover just him for 3 years before he would be covered for anything- and then, that condition would never be covered. Some states do provide assistance to cover those with high risk-a collegue went without insurance in his 20′s cause he thought he didn’t need it, discovered he had a chronic disease, and got insurance. Later in life when he was uninsured again, he found a state sponsored high risk pool he could join, enabling him to get a personal policy for his wife and kids for less than the cost of COBRA. So in some places the state does already help (this was Oregon, I believe).

  • Andrew Batten


    OK, I just have to ask–How can something (in this case, military tribunals)go from “flat out unconstitutional” under Bush to “legal now” under Obama?

    If Obama decrees that we all have to worship Ba’al, would that too be “legal now”?

    If something was a violation of the Constitution on January 19th, I would have assumed it would still be on January 20th. Guess I didn’t get the memo.

  • Ken

    Andrew, the Supreme Court invalidated the tribunals in 2005 and then Bush went to Congress lobbying for a redesigned practice and got a bill through. In other words, they aren’t the same tribunals.

  • T


    Having re-read our series of posts I still suspect that I was being baited, so I will not continue commenting, but that was no excuse for writing in the tone that I did.

    Please accept my apology for my snarky and condescending attitude in my previous post.

  • Ken

    T, it’s not like I’ve never adopted that tone online myself. Apology easily accepted. Or as the kids say, no problem.

  • Anglican Peggy

    John Bey,

    Wow. I may be wrong but I have seen a lot of arguments for govt health care and yours sounds just a wee bit canned. Where did you get that from? Is your “mission” to go around posting it at conservative sites?

    Anyway, I wanted to reply in a general way to the idea that if a little of something is good then a lot more of it will be just as good as well as the corollary argument that superficial similarities between events in the past and in the present means that the same outcome can be predicted.

    Medicare took only a minority portion of the population out of the private insurance market. The new plan will take a majority of the population out of it and that is just for starters. The private insurance companies won’t be able to compete for long with the so-called “public option” and before long will be priced out of the general market eventually making that public option the only one for almost everyone.

    I say almost everyone because private health care will then become priced too high for the average person to afford it ie only the richest people will be able to afford it. So we will have a situation where only the haves will have access to the kind of care that millions of average people can now afford. Instead, the average person will be equally subject to the same bad utilitarian coverage as everyone else.

    Our current system allows for more people to have access to coverage with all the bells and whistles than ever would have access under a single payor system* For the minority that cannot be covered or for those whose medical bills exceed their coverage, certain reforms esp some kind of government back stop is more in order. If the government could step in only when absolutely necessary in order to provide some relief for the overburdened or some kind of re-insurance for the insurance companies so that they would be more willing to take higher risks (someone above mentioned state programs which do this very thing) This seems like the plan that would not only preserve the health care that many of us already have, it would also cover the exceptional cases.

    And the entire argument for universal care is really an argument from those exceptional cases. We should do something about those cases but enacting a complete overhaul is truly a case of extreme overkill for our situation which will only result in most of us losing the great coverage that we currently have.

    (and do not even try to suggest that the private companies can lower their prices to government levels and still be able to both stay in business and provide the same coverages as before. The public option is nothing more than a stop gap trojan horse on our way to single payor via market forces.)

  • Anglican Peggy

    Re: my post above. Just be aware that I accidentally hit the submit button before I was completely finished editing it.

    But its really a switch from the usual. More often than not, even though I know should use Word instead, I compose a long post in the combox and spend a lot of time on it only to lose the whole thing before it sees the light of day. So I guess I should be happy that didn’t happen this time! ;-)

  • Ken

    Anglican Peggy, when I hear someone say that a public option will price private insurance out of the market, or make it unaffordable to most people, I always wonder how that would happen if governmental care turned out to be as bad as the naysayers predict it will be. Surely you don’t think everyone’s going to jump gov. coverage all at once. Won’t there be a long period in which people can compare? And if most people compare and switch to gov.
    care, won’t that mean gov. care is the better option? And if the quality of gov.care then declines, won’t there be companies around, or companies that can be created, when people switch back? I mean competition is good right? There is no political will for single payer, so the public option won’t replace the market, it will compete in the market.

    You write that you wish “the government (w)ould step in only when absolutely necessary in order to provide some relief for the overburdened,” but isn’t that just what it’s trying to do?

  • Jim

    We all know what “tort reform” means at this point, i.e., stripping juries of their Constitutional authority to award damages based on their good judgment and the evidence. It’s not insignificant that while insurance companies and their lobbyists propagandize for “tort reform,” they never agree to cap their own profits. Only damages awarded by a jury can be capped, not their profits. The inequity of this scheme is obvious.

  • cathyf

    As far as preexisting conditions, this is a hard one. I know of one boy who was denied coverage for a pre existing condition- he’d had insurance, even the same insurance, his whole life, but then his dad changed jobs, so it was a new contract. His dad had to pay 800/month to cover just him for 3 years before he would be covered for anything- and then, that condition would never be covered

    Stephanie, this particular problem was solved on July 1, 1997. As of that date, insurance companies were required to cover pre-existing conditions in as long as the person was covered for that condition in there previous insurance(s) and the coverage had never lapsed.

    This situation is a fascinating example of the application of game theory to economic questions. Here is the situation: Before 1997, all companies had to exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage. This meant that people who had a family member with one of these conditions would become trapped in a job where they were no longer a good fit, even if some other company wanted to hire the person. The companies (who are the insurance co’s customers) desperately wanted their insurance co’s to cover the conditions, and kept demanding it.

    The problem is this, though. If only one insurance company would accept people with preexisting conditions, then all of the people who were covered by that one company would still be “trapped” but all of the people covered by other companies would have the option of moving to the one company. So what would happen over time is that these people would flow out of the other companies and into the one company, which would make their costs higher. This would mean that all of the other companies could afford to lower their premiums, while the one company couldn’t afford not to raise theirs. Which would drive the one company out of business — and, among other things, leave all of the collected pre-existing condition people without insurance or the ability to ever be insured.

    On the other hand, if all of the insurance companies simultaneously had to cover pre-existing conditions, then by the law of averages, as people shift around, the number of expensive pre-existing conditions moving in to a plan are balanced by the numbers moving out. So in this case the insurance companies would be able to supply a valuable service greatly demanded by their customers basically for free to them.

    So what happened is that the insurance companies got together and lobbied Congress to pass the law, effective July 1, 1997, which required everyone to cover pre-existing conditions simultaneously. This is a canonical example of the specific type of problem where everyone can be better off if they all do something simultaneously, while if only one party does that thing the one party will be destroyed, so no one individual can be the first one to do the thing. In this very specific class of problem, which is quite unusual, government can in fact make everyone better off by forcing everyone to do the thing simultaneously.

    The problem with this example is that people look at this case, where you have a peculiar situation, with peculiar characteristics, and take it as “proof” that whatever government does in any and every situation will have a positive effect.

    The pioneer in studies of these kinds of peculiar situations is a guy named Mancur Olson, and the person who did the most important work in the field is a guy named Russ Hardin. (I took a class in college from Hardin, and we used Olson’s seminal work The Logic Of Collective Action as the textbook.) The most important idea from Collective Action work: there are very specific cases where people band together and subject themselves to some particular coercion because they are all better off than if they did not do so. But once these people create this structure, it is a constant danger to them and to others because the collective that they form has enough power to branch out from their value-creating activity into stealing and cheating and all of the more or less gangster behaviors. (As those of us raised in Catholic religion classes would say, all such collective activity is an “occasion of sin” just waiting to happen.)

  • Stephanie


    This insurance company in question was Blue Cross. The Blue Cross coverage was provided at the first position by the Blue Cross of Rhode Island, at the second position it came from Blue Cross of TN. In both cases, claims were paid b y Blue Cross of TN (but in the first, they then billed RI). That is how the preexisting condition was able to be excluded, although coverage had never lapsed. Now you may be right and my friend could have fought- but that takes money, which he did not have.

  • Anglican Peggy

    Ken, oh so that is why Walmart failed to kill off all the mom and pop shops on Main Street! The people didn’t choose crappy no-frills products at cheap prices.

    No wait! The super-competitor with all the buying power and chock full of disposable products won out over the pricier competition until there was no option left for anyone who still wanted to shop at those stores. (BTW I am not anti-Walmart or anti-market at all. Just noting a fact here that they demolished their competition and reduced choice.)

    You are right, it will take time but it is not entirely up to consumers. I wonder how many of those mom and pop shops decided to cut their losses and go out of business before they lost everything? Or how many attempted to compete with the buying power of Walmart and lowered the quality of the products they provided? (Isn’t this in fact what Obama actually predicts as a desirable outcome? Doesn’t he think that private companies will bring their prices down? But with their higher cost of operations, they would also have to lower their quality to the same standard as the public option.)

    Yeah, I think this is also the same thing that happened to American manufacturing vs China. Now even if you would prefer to buy American that option isn’t available, particularly for every day items. I searched for a week for the last set of flatware that I purchased to find a set made in America. I wanted one made in the US because I still had the remnants of a set I had bought for my first apartment at a very affordable price. The pieces I still had were still in great shape 15 years later (The other pieces walked off as opposed to falling apart). I wanted to buy another set made in America because I had purchased other sets made in China over the years at a similar price and I had none that lasted. When I did finally manage to find a set made in America, I had to pay much more than the umpteen other options that were made in China.

    I am sure that i am not alone in my preference to buy American whenever I can not only for the quality of the products but for patriotic reasons. But 99% of the time, I either can’t find that option or I can’t afford to spend the extra money. The turnover happened long before I was ready to switch and I would bet it happened before most American’s realized what was going on. In other words, it doesn’t take everyone having to choose the so-called “public option” (which as I said is a trojan horse) to destroy the private option for most people. It won’t even take a majority of people switching to Obamacare to price private health care out of the reach of average people. Once you have one super-competitor in the market, it won’t take long to put most of the private competitors out of business and the ones left will charge much more for what will then be a premium service provided by companies specializing in it. In order for these companies to compete with each other, they will have to offer better and more exclusive services than the next company until only rich people will be able to afford the private option. I wouldn’t doubt that most of these premium private options will stop offering anything like the basic coverage found in the, by that time, only option for average people. Average people will ultimately be forced into the public option like it or not and regardless of the level of quality.

    You know kind of like those shops that replaced the mom and pop stores on main street, the boutique stores that I, and I’ll bet a lot of people on this board, most times can’t afford to shop in.

    I’ll repeat. The system that we have now allows more people to have better coverage than a system which will inevitably end up as effectively single payor for people with average incomes. This is because the free market is allowed to operate without a government super-competitor. The private companies, who are answerable to both their investors and to their customers to grow the premium money that they collect, are forced by that condition to keep costs at a level that most average people can afford.

    And you have to be kidding if you think that the government plan is only backstop to insure the exceptional cases. I can’t even believe you would try to put that forward as a true statement. Our government is planning on becoming a competitor in the insurance market which is a far far cry from what I propose which would be some kind of measure which would only take affect in exceptional cases after the limits of private care had been reached, a safety net only for those who need it only when and if they need it.

  • Ken

    No, Anglican Peggy, Wal-Mart hasn’t prospered at the expense of smaller operations with only no frills products at cheaper prices, nor would they if that’s all they had. I bought a coffeemaker there a few months ago and I had about a dozen models to choose from. And when I’d wanted something really high end, there are plenty of places I could have gone.

    People don’t choose where to shop solely on the basis of price, but on the quality of goods and services. And that leads back to my original question: why would people jump ship except for a better deal? People of average means are going to be priced out of a lot of options anyhow, if we don’t alter the system we have now.

    You also don’t factor in the fact that companies with large market share and high profitability may choose to cut corners, but don’t have to do so. In this case, each administration and each party will have incentives to keep the quality of care as high as possible, incentives like human decency and the desire for reelection.

    Finally, your notion that the public option is intended by “our government” as a trojan horse to destroy the heath insurance industry is simplistic, sounds like regurgitated propaganda, and seems to presume bad faith and even deviousness on the part of the people who are pushing it. In fact, the people pushing a public option come from many walks of life. Some want single payer, and some don’t, and even the ones that do are capable of changing their minds if a limted public option works badly.