ChrisWeigant.com

Health Reform Post-Mortem

[ Posted Monday, March 22nd, 2010 – 16:39 PDT ]

A post-mortem, in the medical sense, is when you carve up a body to figure out why it died. But the term has migrated into the patois of American business, where (in corporate terms) a post-mortem is a meeting held after the completion of a project, where you review the course of the project from beginning to end. You look at what went right, and what went wrong, and then you try to improve the procedure for future projects, in an effort to avoid making the same mistakes over again. Now that fight for health reform legislation (in one form or another) is just about over, I feel it's time to take a look back, and identify some areas for improvement for the future Democratic legislation.

So, in no particular order (I jotted most of these down while waiting for the vote to be announced last night), here are a few problem areas Democrats need to work on so that (in future) we won't have to go through the same tortuous process health reform just did. I offer these up as constructive criticism, to strengthen the Democratic Party, President Obama, and the chances for enacting more of the "change" we were promised.

Before I begin, I need to define one bit of terminology, or one metaphor I'll be using. Like a pregnancy, I'm dividing the legislative process into trimesters here. The "early game" of passing legislation is defining it and writing it in the congressional committees. The "middle game" is getting it through the committees, and all the various votes necessary to pass both houses. And the "end game" is when the real bill is hammered out between the two houses of Congress, and the White House. Now, I'm not suggesting every piece of legislation should take nine months, since bills can move faster than that at times (although, with health reform, nine months would have actually been quicker). But enough of this defining of terms. Let's get on with the post-mortem-ing instead.

 

End the endless bipartisanship

President Obama actually believes in bipartisanship. He campaigned on it, and he bends over backwards to try to get Republicans on board. But, as we saw, this can lead to Republicans "playing" the president for time -- dragging negotiations out endlessly in an effort to kill them altogether. It's not just Obama who is susceptible to this tactic, either (remember the months of Max Baucus?).

Bipartisanship needs to be tried early, and very publicly. Bring in the television cameras and meet with Republicans in the early parts of the process. But let everyone know that there's a deadline for negotiations. Clearly state: "We've got to get something done, we'll do it with your help, but beyond our deadline, we will do it on our own."

There was entirely too much "middle game" -- which almost killed the health reform effort off entirely. This was due to nobody putting their foot down. Ideally, President Obama should be the one attempting to do so. Obama, and Harry Reid (for that matter), need to show some spine in the middle of the legislative game, so things don't get completely out of control (as they almost did last summer and fall, and then again in January).

 

Don't squelch Obama in the middle game

This White House apparently over-learned the lesson of Bill Clinton's health reform defeat. Clinton had big meetings on his own, wrote his own plan (with Hillary's help), and presented it to Congress as a fait accompli for them to rubber-stamp. They declined to do so, and Clinton's bill never even made it out of committee.

Obama figured he'd go the complete opposite route -- suggest to Congress a list of goals, and then sit back and let them do the actual drafting of the bill. Which included the early game, the middle game, and part of the late game. Obama's White House largely kept above the fray in the raging debates over different provisions and ideas. Maybe they figured that politically it was safer not to push any one proposal, because then at the end of it, Obama would never have to see anything he wanted "defeated" in the final bill. No political defeats, and at the end Obama could claim credit for the bill without the tarnish of unmet goals.

This is political cowardice, and it needs to be fixed. President Obama can keep out of the early game (it is, after all, Congress' responsibility to write laws), but when things bog down in the middle game, he's got to act as a referee and draw some lines in the sand. If things must be thrown overboard, it is a lot better to do it early and decisively than it is to let false hopes grow among your own supporters, only to be quashed at the last minute.

This also would have allowed Obama an opportunity to answer back all the town hall fervor (and lies), and not let them seep in to the public unchallenged. Since Obama remained aloof at this key juncture, with no particular plan of his own to champion, his opponents won the public "framing" debate, which led to a gradual slide in popularity for what Democrats were attempting to do.

 

Pay more attention to the polls

Of course, politicians always say "I don't look at the polls," but they all do. Unfortunately, Obama and his team didn't read the correct message from the polls. His slipping approval numbers during the health reform debate, and the slipping approval for the plan being hammered out was due to two major factors. The first was that the Republicans were winning the "messaging" war on the issue. Obama simply wasn't getting his message out, and neither were congressional Democrats, for the most part. Framing your message correctly helps you gain public support for your plan. Obama is reportedly going to do a public relations blitz in the next few weeks to "sell" what just passed to the public. But if he had done so in about September or October, it could have made a bigger difference.

The second major factor in the slipping support was not readily identified in most polls, because they simply weren't asking the right questions. Because a lot of people "against" the proposals in Congress were against them because they didn't go far enough. Supporters of single-payer and the public option just threw up their hands in disgust at some point along the way, and washed their hands of the entire mess. But the pollsters didn't have a box to check for "against it because it goes too far" versus "against it because it doesn't go far enough." This is easily rectified -- commission your own polls, and get them to ask the right questions.

Politicians shouldn't allow opinion polls to totally dictate what they should or shouldn't do with a piece of legislation, but they do need to understand the mood of the public in order to gain support for what they're doing, and to understand the consequences in that public opinion for compromising or not compromising on any individual idea. The poll numbers now show how the Democrats failed in this regard -- when pollsters ask whether people now support the bill or not, support is around 40 percent. But when pollsters ask about each individual item in the bill, support spikes upwards. This shows a failure of communication by the Democrats.

 

Stop picking fights with the base

It's not so much that the Democratic base or the Left didn't get exactly what they wanted, it was more the way it was handled. The White House -- Rahm Emanuel in particular -- and some congressional leaders showed open, naked contempt for the wishes of a huge amount of their own supporters. Even now, after legislation has been passed, many of Obama's initial supporters feel pretty downright ambivalent (or worse) about the entire process. These feelings wouldn't be as bad if occasionally Obama would have fought for specific goals against the Republicans, instead of dragging out the "let's be bipartisan" process long past when it had the chance to accomplish anything. And instead of always fighting so hard against his own party's base.

 

Toot your own horn

Instead of forever being defined by their opponents, Democrats have simply got to learn to play offense in the marketplace of ideas, instead of always joining the verbal battle in a defensive crouch. At the beginning of the process, define your goals and then repeat as a soundbite until everyone "knows" it is true: "We Democrats are for X, Y, and Z. Republicans are against these fine ideas."

Also, while Obama did do this at the end of the process, from the very beginning, personalize the storyline. Pick a poster child, and say you're fighting to make his or her life better. Republicans are fighting to keep her in misery. Paint this one with broad strokes, and make the Republicans play defense, for once. Define the Republicans as being "on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side of public opinion."

 

Inspire some fear

I've seen a number of articles over the past four of five months which make the point: nobody's afraid of Obama. This political calculus may have changed a bit, now that the House has voted, but the perception on Capitol Hill for the most part is that the White House will fold rather than fight for what they want in a legislative scuffle. Democrats aren't afraid of Obama vetoing anything, or afraid of Obama's ability to sway public support. Republicans aren't afraid of any negative consequences for opposing him.

Like I said, this perception may be changing. President Obama can claim a truly important victory now, and with all the arm-twisting of late, the White House may be gaining new respect among Congressmen. And if Obama's poll numbers go back up, it could also change the equation.

 

More Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, please

House Chief Deputy Majority Whip Debbie Wasserman-Schultz needs to be on television during any important legislative debate. A lot more than she is now. She is one of the best and most natural debaters the Democrats have right now. She is sharp, she is feisty, she is always prepared, and she knows what to say and how to say it. On a bad day, she is better than most Democrats in countering nonsense from Republicans, and on a good day she leaves behind her nothing but the tiny shreds of credibility of any Republicans who face her. When she's on top of her game, she can absolutely eviscerate opponents in interviews, on each and every point.

So. please, let's put her on the Sunday morning shows every chance we get.

 

No special deals

This one will be the toughest one to keep, because it truly is "business as usual" in Washington. Congress -- no matter which party is in control -- is notorious for such back-scratching deals as the "Cornhusker Kickback" (and all the rest of the cutesy names Republicans came up with). They happen all the time. It's how bills get passed. It's a fact of life on Capitol Hill -- from Democrats and Republicans.

But Republicans have shown how effective they can be in shining the spotlight of shame on the practice. In this case, they're blatant hypocrites, but they're also right. They've never done business any other way, but they still have a point about what a messy business it is.

Democrats, if they were smart, would loudly and publicly forswear such deal-making, and challenge the Republicans to live up to the same high standard. It takes away a powerful argument against your legislation, which is nothing more than a distraction from what you are trying to do.

I realize this one is likely asking too much of politicians, but it certainly would help in the court of public opinion to just voluntarily ban the practice. Or, at the very least, don't be so blatant about it when it happens.

 

Conclusion

President Obama, and Democrats in Congress, have achieved a very historic legislative victory. But I don't think anyone would say that it couldn't have been a better bill, or that the process it took couldn't have been improved upon.

Democrats have the rest of this year to get more of their agenda passed. But that is less than ten months now, and the election is even closer than that. In order to get anything done this year, things are going to have to move a lot faster than health reform moved. The pace has to be stepped up from "glacial."

To achieve this, define the goals earlier in the game. Forcefully defend these goals to the public -- make your own case, not your opponent's. Let Republicans know that there will be a time for bipartisan hand-reaching across the aisle, but that there's a window of time for such discussions. After that window closes, move forward anyway. Shorten the middle game. In the middle game, Obama needs to put his markers on the table instead of sitting it out. Get Obama out on the bully pulpit trail to get to the end game a lot faster. Fight for a few things which please the party's base (and don't insult them, even if you have to compromise). Swear off the deal-making. Communicate to the public better, and pay attention to the public's reaction. Make your case as best you can, and often. Tell the public why you're doing what you're doing, passionately. If you win the battle for public opinion, the battle within Congress will be a lot easier to win as well.

And, of course, more Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, please.

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

20 Comments on “Health Reform Post-Mortem”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am really well and truly getting tired of hearing what a "historic" moment this CrapCare debacle is...

    Let's face the facts...

    Waterloo was a "historic" moment.

    The Charge Of The Light Brigade was a "historic" moment...

    9/11 was a "historic" moment...

    And it's likely that CrapCare will do more harm to this country than a hundred 9/11s....

    Michale......

  2. [2] 
    Hawk Owl wrote:

    I have a Modest Proposal:
    Anyone who's going to throw around sweeping generalizations, slogans, and condemnations of either party on Health Care, should begin stating:

    1.) what sort of health insurance they have, 2.) how close they are to retirement, 3.) how many family members they've seen deal with a serious medical problems in the last five years.
    For example, 1& 2.) I am a retired federal employee, have both Medicare and Blue Cross as my back-up and am glad I do. Medicare has paid for thousands of dollars worth of testing after I had an apparent stroke.
    On the other hand, 3.) I lost my brother three years ago when he went for five years after losing his job, unable to get any medical insurance. He held on for years hoping he could get some treatment when he reached 65 and became eligible for Medicare. He died eleven days before then.

    I'm not going to sling around any adjectives, but would like to observe that an enormously high number of Americans go into bankruptcy after our Health Care Industry didn't "care" for them. Chris has cited the percentage of bankruptcies involved. I have forgotten it. Help me here, CW.

    I think only, that there are others out here, like me, who don't give much of a hoot about slogans; we just have given up on the corporate version of Health "Care."

  3. [3] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    1) Obama essentially applied nonviolence principles to the legislation. He was the polar opposite of the right-wing frame (NOT twisting arms, NOT bending rules, NOT being angry or dictatorial). On the other hand, the GOP had "NO!" and a tea party. Said Frankenstien-creation is what spit on members of Congress, called them "wetback" and "nigger," and did so carrying RNC-supplied signage.

    What era does that sound like, Chris?

    2) Obama actually did his own polling between Senate cloture and the Brown debacle. He was thus able to "pivot" on financial reform the day after Massachusetts. Watch: in six weeks, all we'll be talking about is CFPB and no one will be talking about a public option...until November, perhaps.

    3) I don't remember Obama picking fights with his base. Actually, I remember that last December there weren't 60 votes for reform with just liberals and progressives together. You needed Joe Lieberman or Olympia Snowe and you got them by stripping the public option out of the bill...which doesn't mean there will be no public option. In fact, with Grayson and Reid bringing it back I can count eight times the public option has supposedly died and been revived.

    4) It's worth mentioning that Obama and Rahm Emanuel wanted to go to reconciliation last November, but the Senate parliamentarian wouldn't let them. They may very well get permission to move forward on financial reform, given the new role of credit regulation in the safety of taxpayer debt. So if the GOP wants to stick up for banks these next six weeks, I say let 'em grandstand.

    5) Victory is the only god most Americans worship on Sunday afternoons. By November, key demographics will be buzzing about benefits from the health care bill, the economy will have improved, and the Republicans will have invoked class warfare without even trying. That's why even SOME Democratic courage to attack would be most welcome -- the GOP can undo themselves on C-SPAN providing fodder for issue ads. This November has potential for epic win and I hope progressive organizers seize this opportunity early.

    6) Obama really needs a win or tie in November. He's got a much slimmer majority than FDR or LBJ, which is why he's less able to deliver on reform.

    7) Wasserman-Schultz is great veep material and Obama should really consider replacing Biden in 2012 with someone of her mad skillz. Unlike Bush, Obama has no one to succeed him -- Biden's not presidential material, and she is. She has GOT to come out of the House or she'll never be able to run. The Age of Stupid must end.

  4. [4] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Great point, Osborne!

    Wasserman-Schultz would make an excellent President. Not to mention how it rolls off the tongue: President Wasserman-Schultz ... I love it

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    9/11 was a "historic" moment...

    And it's likely that CrapCare will do more harm to this country than a hundred 9/11s....

    So, in other words, Michale, you think that this healthcare reform bill is a historic moment, indeed!

    Well said, Michale! :)

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    HawkOwl -

    Here's the cite you're looking for.

    From June 9, 2009:

    "The statistics on this are staggering, and are a national embarrassment. A recent study showed that 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies in America are due to medical reasons. The majority of which were people who had health insurance."

    When they previously crunched the bankruptcy data, in the early 90s (or perhaps as late as 2000, I forget the exact date), only eight percent of bankruptcies were due to medical reasons.

    I always thought Dems should have LED with this fact, in every discussion, as "this is what we're trying to fix."

    Osborne -

    (2) You're right about that. I bet "Repeal!" isn't going to be nearly as good a campaign slogan as Republicans now think it's going to be.

    (3) I remember Rahm picking fights with the base. The words "fucking retarded" do spring to mind. And I believe that if Obama had come out in September and said "you know what, we don't have the votes, we're giving up on the public option" he would have gotten a lot of grief for it at the time, but the wounds would have healed faster than the way it played out. Just my take on it.

    (4) I missed that about Obama and Emanuel, but if you're right, it just puts more of the onus on Reid.

    As for the rest of it, largely agree with your analysis. Especially (5) - one year from now, nobody will remember all the "process" issues, but they will remember the victory.

    As for DWS, I had never heard of her before this debate began. But WOW she is really impressive when she speaks. She is NEVER afraid of saying "That's just wrong" or "you're lying" to Republicans, and then going on to quote some facts which prove her right. She's a fireball, and I hope she rises in party stature as well. Go get 'em, Debbie!

    :-)

    Michale, you're 1,000 quatloos down. Another grand when the Senate votes, as I remember it. Heh. That's what is historic, to me. OK, sorry, I shouldn't rub it in...

    -CW

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    HawkOwl,

    No one is claiming that our Health Care system is in serious need of some serious reform.

    The problem is, is that CrapCare is NOT reform at all in any way, shape or form.

    It's a 336 BILLION dollar a year entitlement to the Insurance Companies..

    Ya know?? Those same Insurance Companies that Obama has vilified?? They are singing in glee at the 30 million new customers they are going to have.

    That is, of course, assuming that CrapCare will survive all the court challenges, which is doubtful.

    I am simply astounded that such a gross constitutional violation of a bill is being lauded as the second coming around here..

    The ONE thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that CrapCare is... well.. crap...

    Ink,

    1) Obama essentially applied nonviolence principles to the legislation. He was the polar opposite of the right-wing frame (NOT twisting arms, NOT bending rules, NOT being angry or dictatorial).

    What planet are you on, Ink??

    Not twisting arms or bending rules?? WTF!?? Obama was ALL about twisting arms. Obama was ALL about flat out BREAKING rules. Not to mention all the backroom sweetheart deals he had to bribe congress with to get their votes...

    As far as not being angry or dictatorial? Again.. WTF??? You obviously didn't see Brett Baier's Obama interview...

    Liz,

    So, in other words, Michale, you think that this healthcare reform bill is a historic moment, indeed!

    Yes, Crapcare is a historic moment in the same manner that 9/11 was a "historic" moment..

    It's certainly nothing to be happy about any more than 9/11 was something to be happy about.

    CW,

    She is NEVER afraid of saying "That's just wrong" or "you're lying" to Republicans, and then

    Does she say it to Democrats as well?? If so, I wonder why we haven't heard her saying it over and over and over and over again in the last few weeks..

    Michale, you're 1,000 quatloos down. Another grand when the Senate votes, as I remember it. Heh. That's what is historic, to me. OK, sorry, I shouldn't rub it in...

    Looks like we may have a draw then.. Because CrapCare Redux is not making it out of the Senate to Obama's desk. Best case scenario (for Dems) is that it's bounced back to the House. Worse case is that it is simply ruled dead by the Senate Parliamentarian...

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    President Obama actually believes in bipartisanship. He campaigned on it, and he bends over backwards to try to get Republicans on board..

    There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Obama was ever interested in REAL bi-partisanship..

    If Obama really believed in bi-partisanship, he would have dropped CrapCare when it became apparent it would not pass without a whole bunch of angry arm-twisting and bribes....er... sweetheart deals for his political cronies..

    75% of the American people are against CrapCare.. The fact that Obama rammed CrapCare thru anyways simply proves that Obama is all about furthering the Left's agenda...

    Anyone who's going to throw around sweeping generalizations, slogans, and condemnations of either party on Health Care, should begin stating:

    Let's just say that, in my case, with my family, all the entitlements, goodies and free stuff that the Democratic Party is giving to the lower income families, it would be a big big boost for myself and my wife.

    For my children's sake, I am ecstatic that CrapCare passed.

    That's the only silver lining I can see. I will get to have ya'all pay for my children and my grandchildren care.. :D

    Granted the standard of care will go way WAY down..

    But, hopefully, once the GOP regain the majorities in both the House and the Senate, we can keep the few (VERY few) good things about CrapCare and put in some REAL reform..

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    20 Reasons Why CrapCare Is.... Crap..

    1. You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)

    2. You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).

    3. You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).

    4. Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).

    5. You are an employer and you would like to offer coverage that doesn’t allow your employers’ slacker children to stay on the policy until age 26? Tough. (Section 2714).

    6. You must buy a policy that covers ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

    You’re a single guy without children? Tough, your policy must cover pediatric services. You’re a woman who can’t have children? Tough, your policy must cover maternity services. You’re a teetotaler? Tough, your policy must cover substance abuse treatment. (Add your own violation of personal freedom here.) (Section 1302).

    7. Do you want a plan with lots of cost-sharing and low premiums? Well, the best you can do is a “Bronze plan,” which has benefits that provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to 60% of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the plan. Anything lower than that, tough. (Section 1302 (d) (1) (A))

    8. You are an employer in the small-group insurance market and you’d like to offer policies with deductibles higher than $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families? Tough. (Section 1302 (c) (2) (A).

    9. If you are a large employer (defined as at least 101 employees) and you do not want to provide health insurance to your employee, then you will pay a $750 fine per employee (It could be $2,000 to $3,000 under the reconciliation changes). Think you know how to better spend that money? Tough. (Section 1513).

    10. You are an employer who offers health flexible spending arrangements and your employees want to deduct more than $2,500 from their salaries for it? Sorry, can’t do that. (Section 9005 (i)).

    11. If you are a physician and you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder? Tough. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to use your claims data to issue you reports that measure the resources you use, provide information on the quality of care you provide, and compare the resources you use to those used by other physicians. Of course, this will all be just for informational purposes. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in your practice and patients’ care. Of course not. (Section 3003 (i))

    12. If you are a physician and you want to own your own hospital, you must be an owner and have a “Medicare provider agreement” by Feb. 1, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2010 in the reconciliation changes.) If you didn’t have those by then, you are out of luck. (Section 6001 (i) (1) (A))

    13. If you are a physician owner and you want to expand your hospital? Well, you can’t (Section 6001 (i) (1) (B). Unless, it is located in a country where, over the last five years, population growth has been 150% of what it has been in the state (Section 6601 (i) (3) ( E)). And then you cannot increase your capacity by more than 200% (Section 6001 (i) (3) (C)).

    14. You are a health insurer and you want to raise premiums to meet costs? Well, if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied. (Section 1003)

    15. The government will extract a fee of $2.3 billion annually from the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a pharmaceutical company what you will pay depends on the ratio of the number of brand-name drugs you sell to the total number of brand-name drugs sold in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the brand-name drugs in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2.3 billion, or $230,000,000. (Under reconciliation, it starts at $2.55 billion, jumps to $3 billion in 2012, then to $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018, before settling at $2.8 billion in 2019 (Section 1404)). Think you, as a pharmaceutical executive, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 9008 (b)).

    16. The government will extract a fee of $2 billion annually from medical device makers. If you are a medical device maker what you will pay depends on your share of medical device sales in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the medical devices in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2 billion, or $200,000,000. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for R&D? Tough. (Section 9009 (b)).

    The reconciliation package turns that into a 2.9% excise tax for medical device makers. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 1405).

    17. The government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018 (Section 1406).Think you, as an insurance executive, know how to better spend that money? Tough.(Section 9010 (b) (1) (A and B).)

    18. If an insurance company board or its stockholders think the CEO is worth more than $500,000 in deferred compensation? Tough.(Section 9014).

    19. You will have to pay an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any dollar you make over $250,000 if you file a joint return and $200,000 if you file an individual return. What? You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9015).

    That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes. It will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Like you need to ask. (Section 1402).

    20. If you go for cosmetic surgery, you will pay an additional 5% tax on the cost of the procedure. Think you know how to spend that money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9017).

    http://blogs.investors.com/capitalhill/index.php/home/35-politicsinvesting/1563-20-ways-obamacare-will-take-away-our-freedoms

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    LewDan wrote:

    Michale,

    Insurance is supposed to be a pool of people sharing risk based on the fact that not all will incur debts simultaneously and no one knows with certainty who will incur debt or the amount of debt, but, statistically it is possible to quantify the likely amount and frequency of indebtedness for a large enough group of people.

    Insurers used to be the managers of insurance pools and for that service were paid fees—until they decided they'd rather engage in fraud and theft instead of performing a service.

    The odds of a coin toss coming up heads or tails is 50/50, no matter how many previous coin tosses were heads or tails. The odds of any individual toss are always 50/50. Statistics can not predict individual outcomes with any accuracy.

    Insurers like Vegas casinos and state lotteries exploit peoples ignorance of that simple fact. "feeding a slot-machine 500 times does nothing to improve your chances of winning. Playing the same Lotto numbers every week does nothing to improve your odds. Having a "preexisting condition" does not mean you are a "higher risk".

    Insurers carve up the general pool into smaller "risk" pools, not to be fair or lower premiums for "low risk" policy holders, but simply as an excuse to overcharge and pocket the difference. Then, adding insult to injury, they deny benefits and cancel policies when claims are actually filed, not to "control fraud" but to perpetrate fraud. Because that's what selling a service you have no intention of providing is. Fraud.

    The mandate to purchase insurance, the ban on "pre-existing condition" frauds, ect. that you deride as "crapcare" simply say that we, as a nation, want and are willing to pay, for insurance. But we want actual insurance, not insurance frauds.

    I've no problem with Dems wasting a year in a fruitless quest for "bipartisanship," Republican voters deserved the chance, even if Republican leadership and the Republican party did not. And I've no problem with giving insurers the opportunity to remain solvent. Though, like the Republican leadership, I fully expect them to refuse to reform and eventually force us to abandon them and adopt single-payer public financing. But, not unlike Republican voters, their shareholders and policy-holders deserve the chance we're giving them.

    Yes its "crapcare." Its also stupid to allow others to speak, debate and have opinions—when you could simply ask me what's really right to begin with. But I'm also willing to tolerate the first amendment in the sure and certain knowledge that you'll all see the light—eventually. ;D

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    Lewdan,

    Once again, I freely admit that our Health Care industry and our Health Insurance industry is in need of some serious reform..

    I also point out (once again) that CrapCare does absolutely NOTHING to address this reform. In fact, it's a financial boon to those Insurance companies, giving them over 336 BILLION (Yes, with a B) dollars in new revenue...

    CrapCare is an Insurance Company's wet dream come true...

    So, WHY in the hell are ya'all so happy and excited that CrapCare has been signed into law???

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    And we have ANOTHER lie from President Obama...

    He signed CrapCare into law a mere 36 hours after it was forced thru by the House.

    This, despite a promise he made to allow the American public FIVE DAYS (count them... 1 2 3 4 5... FIVE DAYS) to read thru the legislation before he signed them..

    Where, oh where, is the BUSH LIED crowd now???

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    I'm not doubting you, but I don't remember the 5 day promise from Obama. With the state of my memory at times, this doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that I don't remember it. Got a cite?

    I do remember Pelosi (and quite possibly Reid) promising to post bills online 72 hrs before a vote. This is a new thing in Congress -- they've never done it before -- so there's not a lot of precedent, but largely they've kept to the spirit of the promise, if not the letter (last-minute tweaking is unavoidable, and the GOP learned quickly to complain that every single change didn't get 72 hrs, which is understandable since it would have given the GOP the tool to endlessly delay everything). Pelosi, in particular, has done a good job of keeping to this new 3-day "rule."

    OK, having said that, I have to descend into silliness here. Which has nothing to do with you. I just saw some cool html in a HuffPost article, and had to try it out here to see what happens. Not sure if I'll ever use it, even in comments, but bright green highlighting just looked cool enough to give it a whirl. OK, enough silliness, sorry for the interruption. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled comments....

    -CW

  14. [14] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Wow, it worked!

    For the curious, it's a "span" tag. To make the following work here in comments, replace the brackets below with angle brackets (characters above period and comma on a US keyboard), and it should work. But don't forget the [/span] tag at the end to turn it off.

    [span style="background-color: rgb(0, 255, 0);"]

    Woo hoo!

    OK, sorry, the silliness is now really officially over.

    :-)

    -CW

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    I'm not doubting you, but I don't remember the 5 day promise from Obama. With the state of my memory at times, this doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that I don't remember it. Got a cite?

    Oh, you KNOW I do... :D

    "When there's a bill that lands on my desk as President you, the public, will have 5 days to look it up online and find out what's in it before I sign it. So that you know... What your government's doing.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/03/23/flashback_obama_promises_public_5_days_to_view_bills_before_he_signs_them.html

    Now THERE is a Joe Wilson moment, if ever there was one...

    On a side note... Why the '[]' for that but the Greater Than/Less Than symbols for the attributes?? :D

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    DOH!!!

    CW, ya steered me wrong!! :^( heheheheheh

    Ya mind fixing my []?? :D

    Thanx

    Michale...

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    For the curious, it's a "span" tag. To make the following work here in comments, replace the brackets below with angle brackets (characters above period and comma on a US keyboard), and it should work. But don't forget the [/span] tag at the end to turn it off.

    Oh my god, what a maroon I am...

    That's what I get for not reading the fine print, I spose....

    My bust... :^/

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    THere you go -- fixed. Posting tags with the angle brackets sometimes causes them to disappear on certain browsers, so I always post tips with other brackets. I really need to get on Liz' suggestion to have a "commenting tips" page here...

    Gotta say, you're right about the 5 day thing, and though he could weasel by saying it was posted 3 days on House site, then he signed it 2 days later, I guess. His statement seems very carefully parsed to leave him this wiggle room.

    -CW

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    His statement seems very carefully parsed to leave him this wiggle room.

    But... But... WIGGLE room is how OLD Washington used to do things...

    Where is the NEW Washington??? :D

    On another note, you haven't had a Photo Caption piece in a while...

    Allow me to contribute...

    "We did it, Barry!!! We really fracked the American people, but good!!! This is a big fucking deal!!!"

    Michale....

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    grrrrr...

    I fracked up the HTML... AGAIN.....

    Here is the pic that goes with the above caption...

    http://mfccfl.us/temp/barryjoe.jpg

    Michale.....

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