Friday, January 29, 2010

Answering the Beige One...

This deals with another blog (the Savvy, The Extreme, the Idealist) I occasionally post on. It might sound repetitive to my three regular readers.

There was a quote in the beige one’s recent post that got my attention and I wanted to answer:

Mr. President, during the State of the Union address, you said that you didn’t choose to tackle the health care reform issue just to get a legislative victory under your belt. I believe you, but can you tell me how taking someone that is unemployed, or maybe is employed, but still can’t afford decent health insurance and making them buy some kind of policy from the very insurance companies that have screwed us in the past; how is this not capitulation? How do you go from the Public Option (and you did campaign on the Public Option) to trigger plans and not see that as dispiriting for the people who voted for you?

I must call up a post I made on here earlier today:

Reforming Health Care is more complicated than what the beige one is making it out to be in his statement. This is why the Democratic solution doesn't fit on an effing bumper sticker. Short of ripping everything up and installing a Single Payer Plan (which is my preferred choice – but good luck getting the votes for that in either chamber), you’re going to be surprised at what choices you have to do reform the system.

And by the way, I’ll get to the beige one’s unemployed dude in a minute. But to debate his point, I have to go to the beginning.

First, you start off with the concept of Universal Coverage. At its core, this is what we all want. Of course, since you want everyone to have access to the system, you have start with ending the ban on pre-existing conditions. This is just basic. Everyone loves this. It polls great.

But, if you end the ban of pre-existing conditions, what happens? Well, sick people who couldn’t previously get insurance will jump into the system, and healthy people will leave figuring (at this point correctly) that they can just buy insurance when they need it (i.e. when they're sick). If that happens, Insurance rates don't just rise, they skyrocket. (Krugman referred to this as an Insurance Death Spiral). If everyone in the Insurance Pool is pulling money out of the system, the Industry can't cover all the costs.

Not won’t, can’t.

So, to keep the healthy people in the system, thus keeping costs low, you have to force the Healthy People to buy insurance (yes, force). This is called a mandate, which everyone hates, and polls terrible.

The mandate is not Insurance putting a gun to our heads, and demanding our healthy citizens. This is just how Insurance works (Auto, Home, what have you). It’s all about managing risk. You have multiple Healthy people putting money into the system covering the one Sick person who takes money out. Doing that keeps our rates lower (though not non-existent). One day, those Healthy People will get sick themselves, but there will be other Healthy people covering them, so the cycle goes on.

Now, if people are made to by insurance, well...some of those people aren't going to be able to afford it (like The beige one’s unemployed guy), so you need to have subsidies to help those who can't pay for this crap, or increased access to Medicaid to do the same. Once you've taken that step, you pretty much have the bills that are wandering their way through Congress.

The lack of a Public Option is a loss, but there are parts of Europe (I think the Netherlands, hardly a bastion of Conservative thought) that have similar systems but don't have Public Plans. It's not a disaster if Health Care Reform doesn't have one. It's just infinitely better with one. It’s not pretty. It’s nowhere in the same good neighborhood of Single Payer (the best and truly cheapest way to fix Health Care), but given the fact that Health Care Costs will double in ten years, it’s our best shot.

And might I remind the beige one a little something about his unemployed guy. Sickness cannot tell, nor does not care when someone don’t have a paying job. If he or his family gets sick while he’s unemployed, he’s screwed, and the rest of us are going to have to cover him. At least with even the crappier Senate plan, he has options, like Medicaid.

This is also a basic sketch of the Massachusetts Plan, which also wasn’t popular when it passed, but try taking it away from them now.

All that mess...was just for one issue: Health Care Reform. Imagine that, multiplied a thousand times (given the thousand problems we have) where every Federal dollar spent has a lobby attached to it.

If I have a complaint about my fellow progressives, it is that they’re spending a lot of time with their heads up their arses, thinking everything is simple. “If he just did this, everything would work…”

No it won’t.

Leadership is never simple. Certainly not as simple as Liberals make it out to be.

And comparing everything to the New Deal?

My fellow Liberals may be many things, but experts on Roosevelt they ain’t (particularly at the Huffington Post where they quote the New Deal like it was the tablets Moses brought down from the mountain. Too bad none of them seem to a book on the the New Deal.)

I’ve been working on a project set in the Depression so I’ve been reading nothing but Depression stuff for the last year and a half. And let me tell you, the New Deal was horribly, horribly compromised from jump. In fact Norman Thomas (Socialist Party leader and Dennis Kucinich of his day, once compared the New Deal “cough drop for a case of pneumonia.” African-Americans were suspiciously left out of a lot of New Deal Programs. Farm Workers were cut out of the National Labor Relations Act just as sharecroppers were going on strike. FDR had a more favorable Congress (with an even bigger majority), but even then they bickered and guffawed about every little damn thing. The Supreme Court struck down a lot of the initiatives from the 100 Days, being about as ethical as the current Roberts Court. There were fears of open armed rebellion, not in the south, but in fuckin’ Iowa. And oh yeah, unemployment was at 25%, almost triple what it is now.

Roosevelt got some things he wanted, some things he didn’t. (He was, it is often forgotten against the creation of the FDIC). You have to look at the whole picture, and not just your imagined corner of it. It is the overall metric of FDR's Presidency that we judge him on, and judge him rightly. It has to be the same standard for Obama, or otherwise the Progressive movement is more full of shit than I feared.