Many Questions

I have not done a good job of keeping my new year resolution to post at least once a week, but life is busy and exhausting – which is all an excuse.  So as spring fades to summer here in New England I am trying to revive by resolution.

So here are the questions I’ve been saving up.  I will likely write about some of them in time.

Will the Democrats lose control of the Senate because the Republicans have made it dysfunctional?  I mean how can they not confirm a Nobel Prize winning economist?

How in the world can Anthony Weiner think that no one thought he was lying all along?  And his credibility is shot not because of what he did, but because he lied about it.

Anthony Weiner leaves his New York press conference on Monday. | AP Photo

How can historians really defend Sarah Palin’s story of Paul Revere?  OK, we weren’t American’s back then, we were British and we were trying to protect our cache of arms, but Paul Revere rang no bells and he and the other riders told people the regulars were coming.  This had nothing to do with gun control or the 2nd amendment which hadn’t even been written.

When will people wake up and realize that Barack Obama has an extraordinary first two years as President?

Along the same lines:  Will the Democrats blow their Medicare advantage?  And will people realize that we can’t keep cutting stuff without raising taxes on those making over $300,000 or even $500,000 a year.  We extended those tax cuts once and I don’t see the private sector creating lots and lots of new jobs.

How can people believe that laying off all those public employees does not impact the rise in unemployment?

Will the Red Sox find consistency on the upcoming road trip playing the AL East contenders and at a minimum stay in contention?

Sox updates from Yankee Stadium

Can the Mavericks beat the Heat?  And how about Nadal?

I’ve broken the ice now and there will be more posts to come.

Bureaucracy and health care

I have to admit that when I hear people say they are opposed to the public option in health care because they don’t want their medical decisions made by a “government bureaucrat” my blood pressure begins to rise.  Who exactly makes decisions for those with private insurance?  A blue cross, healthsouth, wellpoint, or harvard pilgrim bureaucrat. 

When you call up and ask a question about your coverage does it matter if you get put on hold by someone who is a government employee or an insurance company employee?  Both enforce and interpret regulations.  After all one definition of a bureaucracy (OK it is definition #3 after people who work for the government) is “a system of administration marked by officialism, red tape, and proliferation.” [ Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary]  Isn’t this when companies deny you for a pre-existing condition – like having been pregnant?  I’ve always had private insurance and have been put on hold almost every time I call about a payment or coverage.

So brought to you by Congressman Anthony Weiner, are the names of the Republican Congresspeople who are on medicare, but oppose the public option.

Rep. Ralph M. Hall
Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett
Rep. Sam Johnson
Rep. C.W. Bill Young
Rep. Howard Coble
Sen. Jim Bunning
Sen. Richard G. Lugar
Rep. Don Young
Sen. Charles E. Grassley
Sen. Robert F. Bennett
Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch
Sen. Richard C. Shelby
Rep. Jerry Lewis
Sen. James M. Inhofe
Rep. Ron Paul
Rep. Henry E. Brown
Sen. Pat Roberts
Sen. George V. Voinovich
Sen. John McCain
Rep. Judy Biggert
Sen. Thad Cochran
Rep. Harold Rogers
Rep. Dan Burton
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Rep. Frank R. Wolf
Rep. Michael N. Castle
Rep. Joe Pitts
Rep. Tom Petri
Sen. Lamar Alexander
Rep. Doc Hastings
Rep. Cliff Stearns
Rep. Sue Myrick
Rep. John Carter
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Sen. Jon Kyl
Rep. Phil Gingrey
Rep. Nathan Deal
Rep. John Linder
Rep. Kay Granger
Rep. John L. Mica
Rep. Walter B. Jones
Sen. Jim Risch
Rep. Ed Whitfield
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner
Rep. Virginia Foxx
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite
Sen. Saxby Chambliss
Sen. Michael B. Enzi
Rep. Elton Gallegly
Rep. Donald Manzullo
Rep. Peter T. King
Rep. Ander Crenshaw

These are the 54 Republicans who don’t want government bureaucrats making health care decisions.

Joe Scarborough: convert to single payer?

Congressman Anthony Weiner appeared on Morning Joe last week to talk about health care reform.   Weiner, from New York, is a leader of the progressive caucus.  I find Scarborough an interesting character.  He is a former congressman from Florida who is a conservative, but in my opinion is more of an old fashioned Republican than most in Congress today.  He often scolds his fellow Republicans.  On the rare occasions I get to watch Morning Joe, I have found it very interesting.  But back to Weiner’s appearance last week.  The summary is from Leslie Savan’s account in the Nation which contains a link to the video.

Weiner, who recently warned that President Obama could lose as many as 100 votes on a health bill if a public option is not included, really wants single payer–Medicare for all Americans is his goal. What a crazy, way-out, reckless notion, Joe went into their encounter believing. But Weiner asked some simple, direct questions that no politician, much less Obama or HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, has managed to pose:

What is an insurance company? They don’t do a single check-up. They don’t do a single exam, they don’t perform an operation. Medicare has a 4 percent overhead rate. The real question is why do we have a private plan?

“It sounds like you’re saying you think there is no need for us to have private insurance in healthcare,” Joe asked at one point.

Weiner replied: “I’ve asked you three times. What is their value? What are they bringing to the deal?”

And then Joe sees the light

He even repeated Weiner’s points clearly: The goverment would take over only the “paying mechanism” of healthcare, not the doctors or their medical decisions themselves. His ears perked up every time Weiner mentioned that the nonprofit Medicare spends 4 percent on overhead, while private insurers spend 30 percent.

And Joe, who has been criticizing mob rule at town halls, seemed to appreciate the way Weiner counters the fearmongering over Medicare: After decades of railing against the program’s wasteful, “runaway” spending, Republicans have done a 180 and are now trying to scare seniors that the Democrats’ proposed Medicare cuts will come directly from their medical care and not, as is actually proposed, from wasteful, stupid practices in the system–like, as Weiner mentions, putting people into a $700-a-night hospital bed when all they really need, and often prefer, is a visit by a homecare attendant in the two-digit-a-day range.

And here is my favorite part

Maybe the real turning point came when Weiner asked, “How does Wal-mart offer $4 prescriptions?” Joe and co-host Mika Brzezinski looked as if they’d been thwacked by a hardback copy of Atlas Shrugged, and sat back to let the congressman explain it all to them:

They go to the pharmaceutical companies and say, “Listen, we have a giant buying pool here. You’re going to give us a great deal.”

Who’s bigger than Wal-Mart? We are, the taxpayers. Do we do that? No. Because we have outsourced this to insurance companies who don’t have necessarily as much incentive to keep those costs down because, frankly, they are getting a piece of the action.

Progressives tend to understand this stuff, but many conservatives won’t trust such logic, especially in the abstract, which is how most Dems have been communicating. But Weiner, aware that if you can’t visualize something it ain’t going to stick, argued with a specific, familiar visual–that of a successful, supercapitalist, and, as Mika might say, “real American” company. And suddenly, as the mote dropped from the MJ crew’s eyes, Weiner went from “scaring American citizens,” in Joe’s words, to instant celeb.

“That was SO great!” said Mika, as she and Joe asked Anthony to please, please come back soon, this week if possible!.

So let this be a lesson to all us who favor reform, President Obama included:  be concrete and be succinct