Right to the end, the Neoconservative Obstructionists in the Senate fought their hardest for the health insurance industry, trying to get every benefit they could and putting pressure on all Democratic Senators with any political vulnerability.
They fired salvo after salvo at health care reform. They said that the American People were basically ungrateful to the insurance industry for all it does for the American People. They said that the American People were foolish and greedy for trying to get around prescription prices by going to Canada to obtain cheaper drugs.
Before 8 a.m. on the morning of Christmas Eve, the Senate voted to add 31 million people to the rolls of those who now have some form of health care when they are in need. The health care lobby spent over $600 billion to prevent it. They not only hired every Republican Senator, they even persuaded several Democratic Senators that greed is good and the American People are merely numbers.
Once you decide that you are going to let people die, then it is easier to do it for money. You stop worrying about other people and you get paid for it. That reinforces the behavior.
The Republican Senators yesterday claimed that the amount of money that the CBO says would be saved, something like $130 billion, was in fact, a $300 billion deficit because of some conflict in the way the CBO reported the numbers. They knew it was a reporting error, but they were looking for straws in the wind. Senator Baucus, the expert on health care financing, came to the floor and demolished their arguments in about 2 minutes. So they moved on to the next objection. It is unconstitutional.
Then Senator DeMint, tried to make the case that having government mandates is unconstitutional and therefore the bill is unconstitutional. Wrong. Mandates are not unconstitutional. We have had them in many areas, including things like the military draft. So that argument was demolished. Every objection that the Republicans tried to hoist up the flagpole was shot down.
It is a “fiscal nightmare,” they said. The American People “don’t want this bill” they said. It will create more “death panels” we heard outside the Senate chamber.
Meanwhile, both Democrats and Republicans were gobbling up the health care lobby money as fast as they could get it into their pockets. Between January and September 2009, health care interests spent $600 million on lobbying Congress, television commercials and lobbying. $38 million, about the maximum that they could give, went to Congress in campaign contributions. It is less difficult to understand when you realize that the health industry profits in 2008 were $8.4 billion. That is less than ten percent of their annual profits. So they were able to pay their CEO average annual salaries of $14 million and still have enough to give big stockholders huge profits and still lobby against the American People.
The Republicans, who took us from $5.16 trillion in debt, more than $4.16 trillion of which was created since Ronald Reagan’s presidency and who created another $5 trillion since 2001, including $2.6 trillion in the last three years…now want suddenly to put on spending caps. It is wrong, they say, to extend the debt ceiling.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, says that our “reckless spending” (he refers to the 2009 budget left by President Bush) must stop. He refers to the $700 billion of which was a bailout Bush signed for banks and Goldman Sachs and AIG because of his negligence and another $500 billion was just the normal deficit that they had been running. That’s where the $1.2 billion deficit came from. Plus there are quite a bit fewer tax revenues now that, thanks to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Chris Cox, 16 million people now have no full time jobs.
Decide who is on your side. One Senator says that people should have tax breaks for saving, say, $25,000 and putting it aside in a savings account and then taking a high-deductible insurance policy that may cost as much as $15,000 for the family. That insurance policy will let you pay the first $10,000 and then 20% of whatever else comes, plus co-pays of $30 to $100 every time you go to a doctor and co-pays of $15 for every drug that is covered. Not all are covered.
Oh, and by the way, that Senator wants to make sure that if your surgeon accidentally kills your father, mother, wife or child, he or she cannot be sued for more than $250,000. Let’s see, does that encourage better or worse performance by surgeons? Don’t worry. It’s only your life.
The opposition Senator says, we’re going to give your employer a tax break if he gives you health care, sharing the cost reasonably with you. We’re going to offer you more opportunities to get cheaper health care by making the business more competitive. We’re going to brink Medicare down to age 55 and let you buy in at a reasonable price. And we’re going to subsidize health care so that the poor can have an improved version of Medicaid and raise the incomes under which people can get Medicaid to add many more people. Then we’re going to pay doctors more to take care of you and we’re going to add another 100,000 doctors over about ten years.
The first version is the Republicans who have voted in a bloc against every provision of every health care plan that has been proposed by Congress. They have done everything they could to stop you from having anything other than what the health care lobby wants you to have.
The second group is the Democrats. They just went through hell and had to make all kinds of concessions, even to some of their own greedy members, to get health care for almost all Americans. It’s not perfect, but now you have something you can count on at least.