Thursday, January 28, 2010

What the hell was that, Comedy Central??

Watching Comedy Central tonight was painful. Both interviews, Jon's with Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen's interview with David Gergen were clueless. I've never seen either show this dumb before.

Though in truth, David Gergen was the problem in Colbert. Health Care is dead? I get this from the King of the Villagers?

And Jon's interview with Doris? I don't know who was more out of his depth. Jon or Doris (because she's supposed to be the expert, I'm leaning Doris).

This is not about them not liking the speech. In truth, both of them were favorable towards the speech, but want to see some action. That's a fair comment.

But, they also @#$%ed up some basic facts...facts I'm amazed that they @#$%ed up.

It boiled down to two errors: one Doris's, one Jon's.

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In discussing the Filibuster...specifically Goodwin's repeated demands for the Democrats to make the Republicans stand up and filibuster, drink nothing but milk and water, force them not to go to the bathroom, etc...was so wrong it made me wonder what she'd been doing for the last six months.

(And as an aside, I wretch every time she brings up LBJ. That's not an expertise thing. She knows LBJ quite well...too well, from what I understand. But it's just a rumor, so lets move on.)

She does know that legislation isn't getting killed by filibuster, but by cloture vote, right? I mean, this is kinda common knowledge.

The Senate rules are simple...though stoopid. The Senate in the course of passing a bill has...I think three cloture votes to end debate and proceed to a final vote. (Yes, these rules are arcane, but it's why I keep saying the Senate sucks). These cloture votes are traditionally just procedure, a check-box to move onto the next stage. There's nothing partisan about them, you're just agreeing to have a vote.

...but that was then.

Now, the Cloture Vote has been weaponized. It's been turned into a tool to block legislation. Don't laugh, I think it was the Democrats who weaponized it. The Cloture vote is now the substitute filibuster, and best of don't have to stand or keep talking to kill legislation. You just don't let it come to a vote, and the legislation just...dies.

It's still being called a filibuster, but it's really not. Thus it's thought of as a filibuster, and people complain about the Dems letting the GOP abuse it. I thought, given her relationship with LBJ, Doris was a little more familiar with how the Senate works. I shouldn't know more about the Senate rules than she does.

So whenever I hear people (like Doris) say we should just make Republicans stand up and filibuster these bills, it's all I can do to keep from laughing at them.

Doris, I ain't laughing at. I thought she knew better.

So, that was the major error. There was also a minor one.

Jon said that Obama needed to boil down Health Care to four basic things. "Oh yeah, Obama just should say one, blah, two, blah, three, blah, and four, blah..."

(Sorry, it's early in the morning. Comedy Central didn't put up the video last night, and so now I'm at work...wanting to squeeze this in before No time for a transcript. That's why I posted the video.)

Needless to say, Jon's four ideas would...kinda raise Insurance premiums.\

Actually, his ideas would take 'em to the moon, Alice, TOO THE MOON!

This is why reforming Health Care is more complicated than people think. This is why our solution doesn't fit on an effing bumper sticker. Short of ripping everything up and installing a Single Payer Plan (my preferred choice) this is what you gotta do.

You want Universal Coverage? Of course, you start with ending the ban on pre-existing conditions so everyone can get into the system. But, if you end the ban of pre-existing conditions, sick people 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. If everyone in the Insurance Pool is pulling money out of the system, the Industry can't cover all the costs. (I can type a short paragraph on the basics of insurance and risk...but honestly, do you me want to go there?? Didn't think so.)

So, to keep the healthy people in the system, thus keeping costs low, you have to force them to buy insurance...which is called a mandate, which everyone hates. (But it's worked, so far, in Massachusetts.)

Now, if people are made to by insurance, well...some of those people aren't going to be able to afford it, so you need to have subsidies to help those who can't pay for the crap. And once you've taken that step, you pretty much have the bills coming through Congress.

Thank you, Paul Krugman for that explanation...but his is

Okay, if Jon wants simple, I'll give him simple. If we do nothing, Health Care Costs double in ten years.

There. (Imagine me smacking my hands clean.)

That's all I have to say about tonight's shows. The basic idea Jon suggested that Obama needs better communication is spot on. Hell, didn't the President say that himself?

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people.

Look, I don't expect Jon to be a policy expert. He's a comedian first. But, he waded into the policy end of the pool, and its fair he get called out on it for being...frankly...wrong.

I love Jon. I love Doris. I love Stephen.

They just had a bad night.

David Gergen, I can do without.