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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The "I Will Not" Debate

The notion of August being a time to debate the specifics of the Democratic and Obama health care restructuring plan is something of a misnomer, since there is no single plan. The illusion is being created of a true debate, but in fact we are debating a moving and ill-defined target. We know some of the details in one of the House draft bills, and we know about the concepts being put forth by various committees and the administration.

But try to pin any of the politicians down at a town hall, and what you are likely to get is "I will not" do this or that if and when there is a bill on which to vote. These promises are important, and probably the best thing to come from the town halls.

Here are some excerpts from Arlen Specter's town hall held earlier today:
  • "I will not vote for a plan that has a deficit."
  • "I will not support a bill that gives health service to illegal immigrants."
  • "We're not going to add tax to companies that have health care. I will not support a Senate bill that has that requirement."
I haven't seen transcripts for other Senators or Congressmen, but I've heard plenty of "I will not" promises during newscasts. And don't forget Obama:
  • "So I just want to assure we're not talking about cutting Medicare benefits."
  • "First of all, I said I won't sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt."
Keep track of all these negative promises. When we finally know all the details of the Democratic and Obama plan, there will be precious little time to react. You will hear that "we debated this bill for a whole month." No we didn't, we only heard promises as to what would not happen.

Be ready for the final scrum, "the set of all-night meetings at the end of the Congressional summer session when all the different pieces actually get put together." The Democrats and Obama will try to push through some monstrously long, complicated, and obtuse health care restructuring bill with only days or hours between the final bill and a vote, as with the stimulus bill.

So arm yourselves with transcripts of all the "I will not" promises. It will be your best ammunition to prevent another stimulus-like fiasco on a much more grand and damaging scale.

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  1. The operative word is "not". As in "I will not support deficit legislation". NOT.

  2. Why would anyone care about the Democrats' lies now? No one ever cared before.

  3. It's a national tragedy that most Republicans refuse to take part in this discussion, especially in a constructive way in Congress.

    We have a national calamity on our hands with health care. We're hurtling toward national bankruptcy.

    Which Republicans will vote for beneficial change? Which of them have pledged to do that during these town meetings?

  4. @ Ed Darell

    Are you serious? The Democrats have a 79 seat majority in the House and 60 - 40 majority in the Senate. And they're what's holding back Congress?

    Several alternative plans have been offered by the Republicans, all of which were refused to be given serious consideration.

    Sen. Coburn (a Republican) has claimed to have "In committee, I gave senators several opportunities to accept language that would forbid this board [comparative effectiveness boards] from denying care. All of my amendments were rejected"

    But this "national calamity in our hands with health care," a calamity which has apparently existed for decades but can only be fixed with a 1000+ page bill allocating a trillion dollars forced through Congress in a few weeks, is somehow worsened by the Republicans in Congress?

    Is that what you're saying? I know this sounds snarky, but it's a serious question.

    We're "hurtling toward national bankruptcy" -- which the Dems seem to believe we can only spend our way out of with record breaking budgets-- and the Republicans need to get on board for this and "vote for beneficial change?"

    Seriously, are you being sarcastic?

  5. Dear Professor Jacobson,

    I have been following this issue rather closely. I have read as much seriously analysis, from lawyers, medical professionals and economists as I can find. It's a tough row to hoe.

    I even read portions of the bill(s) in committee. They are replete with references to other legislation, administrative rules and adjudicative findings. It is terribly misleading to describe this monstrosity as 1017 pages. To follow and understand the bill requires the reading of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, pages of dense legalese.

    I have about 45 years of experience in data processing - yes, I know there are more au courant and self serving titles. I am conversant with the mathematical basis of complexity and information theory. This mishmash is complex to the degree that it is impossible to understand. Technically it is np-complete. No conceivable computer can analyze it, much less the lesser capable human mind.

    This is a monumental swindle they are trying to pull off. You thought Bernie Madoff was a master thief? Welcome to the big league chillun.


  6. Worse, the final deal will be worked out behind closed doors in the House-Senate conference. The only way to be sure that really bad stuff is not in there is to deny Reid the 60 votes he'll need for final passage of a bill produced by conference. That will mean keeping enormous pressure on the half dozen or so moderate GOP and Democratic Senators whose support is crucial to reach 60.

    If Reid does not have 60, they may resort to "reconciliation" to pass something Obama can sign -- but that would almost certainly be a much-watered down bill with few provisions likely to inflame voters against the Dems in 2010 (since a simply majority bill would be purely along party lines).

    Consequently, the whole deal may rest on the two ladies from Maine, plus Specter, Nelson and a couple of other Democrats. Specter is an especially important target, since he's already in deep doo-doo in his bizarre race for an umpteenth term.