The health care reform fight is over. The Democrats have won, and the People have won. The votes in both the House and the Senate are there. But there will be two outcomes. The first is the final vote in Congress and signature of the President. The second is the vote in 2010. Anyone who has been seen to hinder this bill will see the door…without a shadow of a doubt…in 2010.
You see, the Republicans, in spending such enormous efforts to control the health care bill have forgotten one thing. The People. In 1993 and 1994, the problem and the will of the People was much less a factor. Today, the public overwhelmingly, 76%, want some kind of health care, long denied them by the arrogance and greed of the health care industry. Denied claims, pre-existing conditions, dropped insurance with no good reason, and rates that have increased in some cases by as much as 48% in one year have changed public opinion. The health care industry is justifiably the enemy.
The mob-rule attitude at town halls displayed a desperate approach. This bit of an interview with Right Wing commentator Larry Elder is more representative of the way the Republicans and their propagandists normally work. Listen carefully to what Elder has to say about stimulus and unemployment.
So what is the relevance of that little piece of tape to the health care legislation? Here’s the point. This is what the Republicans do and it is very difficult to identify, like a serious virus interwoven with your software programs. He sounds very rational. But he is wrong the same way that the GOP and the health care industry is wrong about the current legislation. They make a false premise and then they make a very rational case against it, hoping that you didn’t challenge the initial premise. Like the “death panels.” There were discussions with a doctor, available but not mandatory, with ill people of advanced age to see how they wanted to handle their affairs…their way…if they could not be understood. The Right Wing, to try to kill health care, tried to turn it into something sinister that didn’t exist at all.
Elder was monumentally wrong on both points. First, Henry Morganthau was unhappy with the results of what Roosevelt and he had done during the Depression, but it was not because the government did too much. It was because, as everyone now knows, it did too little. In fact, after a few years when unemployment went down to around ten percent, the Republican Congress finally blustered Roosevelt into trying to bring the budget into balance. Unemployment immediately shot up to 14% again and Roosevelt told the Republicans to stuff it, and immediately started back on more stimulus programs. But it was not until the huge expenditures made just before and during the Second World War that we began to realize that there had been basically no way, basically no money, in the private sector for investment. Even with our huge manufacturing capacity at that time, which we no longer have, there was not enough capital that banks would risk to stimulate enough activity to kick start the economy.
Even a conservative like Amity Schlaes, inadvertently stated that only a huge government intervention could kick start the economy. While blindly trying to make a political point for the Right Wing, she accidentally pointed out that it was the huge government intervention of expenditures for military equipment that changed everything. This is also what all the economists are saying, like Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke–plus hundreds of others–needs to be done today.
What about the second point..Reagan and unemployment? Interest rates and inflation and resulting stagflation and unemployment had been rampant for some time before Reagan was elected. As happens when no one in government will bite the bullet, inflation keeps climbing. But Paul Volcker stepped in and shut down the money supply, which created an immediate, if necessary, deflation and recession. Reagan backed him, but the problem was not a lack of capital, but too much capital chasing too few goods, which is the definition of inflation. Elder simply ignores this, and the fact that Reagan did not create jobs with a tax cut. Here’s what the tax cut did. The Reagan tax cuts reduced income to the treasury. To run the country, Reagan essentially borrowed money from the future. He just ran up a bill for the future. When he took office the national debt was something like $600 billion. When he left office the national debt was four times that amount, well over $2 trillion!
Reagan increased spending to stimulate the economy. He quadrupled the expenditures for the military, but not for roads, public buildings, bridges, education, retraining for laid off workers, or new ventures (as in the Clinton era.) Unemployment did go down, but by how much? Consider this: unemployment for Reagan’s 8 years in office AVERAGED 7.5%. Again, Elder is trying to prove a political point against health care and doesn’t understand or care about the truth of the economics. What happened (though I completely agree with Reagan that inflation had to come down) was exactly the opposite of what Elder described. While Reagan and Volcker watched companies lay off workers, interest rates were still in the 14% range and inflation still in double digits. When Volcker and Reagan shut down the money supply to end inflation, they increased the unemployment. In effect, they created a deflation in order to end inflation. Those are the unemployment figures Elder is talking about. So the typical Neocon talking point that reduced taxes increased jobs doesn’t work. It was big spending on aircraft carriers with money borrowed from the future.
The current mob-rule tactics of the Right Wing are not as typical of those of Elder. They demonstrate a certain desperation. There are no points to attack that are not popular with the American people. The disruption of these so-called town hall meetings by FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation, the Republican National Committee, by America’s Health Insurance Programs group, by the Federation of National Independent Businesses (a small business health insurance provider) and by the American Hospital Association has not worked. In a recent poll of Democrats, an overwhelming percentage, about 7 out of 10, say that they want the program and want it as soon as possible. Only a few Republicans say that they want it.
So the typical propaganda machine on Republican issues is getting through to Republicans but is making no difference to Democrats. This means that those Democrats in Congress who want to be nominated by their Party next time will vote for the bill. The GOP strategy was wrong. They could not influence the Democrats to fall for propaganda designed to have them call out for something against their own best interests. Any Democrat who is foolish enough to vote against the final version of the health care plan, which in all likelihood will be House bill 3200 in a slightly amended form, will feel a blow-back perhaps more forceful than any we have ever seen.
While it is true that some small percentage of the loonies who came out to disrupt the town halls may have some serious concerns, the numbers of those paid or promoted dissenters will pale in comparison to the strong number of organized Democrats, such as those who forced Senator Joe Lieberman out of the Party and will probably unseat him in his next election. In other areas, Democrats have simply organized and brought Independents into the tent to throw out long-entrenched Republican incumbents.
Why is this working for the Democrats? Everything lines up. The health insurance industry will not confess its guilt and surrender to a slightly less profitable business model. The damage to the public has been so huge that almost everyone, even those with currently good care, are either very scared of a future without reform or are at least very nervous about their own situation. Finally, the corrupt and pro-business, pro-wealth policies of the last 28 years, minus 4 for Clinton, resulted in a huge reaction in favor of the Democratic Party in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Health care is one of the major political promises the Democrats intend to keep.
Health care reform is not good news for Republicans. But worse news is what will happen if they are seen, as they already are by many, to be obstructing a program that the people want in favor of an industry that many people hate.
By the way…early August Harris poll….55% in favor of new program, 30% against. Follow up…would it be valuable to have more choice in health care 70% agree.
And finally–an example of the kinds of things we read every day that make us so confident….but still working hard.
“A new poll by a nonpartisan, D.C.-based research group finds truly overwhelming support for the public option. The kicker: The poll was bankrolled partly by previous opponents of health care reform, including one of the nation’s best-known insurance companies.
The poll — which was just released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a D.C. policy think tank — finds that a majority (53%) strongly back the availability of a public plan, while another 30% “somewhat” support it. That’s a total of 83% in favor of a public plan — a staggeringly large majority.
Even more interesting, guess who paid for the poll? From the release:
This survey was made possible with support from AARP, American Express, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Buck Consultants, Chevron, Deere & Company, IBM, Mercer, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Principal Financial Group, Schering-Plough Corp., Shell Oil Company, The Commonwealth Fund, and Towers Perrin.
Not exactly a band of raging lefties. The American Association of Retired Persons and Blue Cross Blue Shield were among the opponents of HillaryCare in the 1990s.”