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The Affordable Healthcare Act is a mind mindbogglingly complex Rube Goldberg Machine slapped together behind closed doors by Senate Finance Chairman Max Backus and Insurance Lobbyist Liz Fowler. They were guided in this critical operation on our healthcare system by their guiding principal: Harm no corporate profit stream. An approach that President Obama and Rahm Emanuel embraced,and promoted.

Now that oral arguments before the Supreme Court have concluded many court watchers think that the individual mandate will be struck down. It looks like Democratic Party's leaders choice of the timid Harm no corporate profit stream approach was needlessly complex and poorly structured for a federal program of this scale.

And all to preserve a superfluous and inefficient health insurance industry?

Poll after poll showed that the Public Option was popular with Americans. Rank and file Democrats were marginalized and reduced to the role of spectators in our own party.  We watched the spectacle of an Insurance Industry Lobbyist and her Senate Patron high-jacking Health Care Reform, turning it into the Rube Goldberg Machine that the Supreme Court now seems intent on throwing out.

The AHA's problems are direct result of the failure of leadership of our party's congressional leaders and President Obama on the most fundamental level. They put profits ahead of people, and that could conceivably set health care reform in this country back years.

If this doesn't lead to a serious examination of the role money plays in setting our Party's real agenda, I don't know what will.  

"Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." ~ Winston Churchill.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I stopped reading after this (0+ / 0-)
    ....and Insurance Lobbyist Liz Fowler.

    Right man, right job and right time

    by Ianb007 on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 11:35:16 PM PDT

    •  What would you call a former Wellpoint VP? (7+ / 0-)

      Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

      by Lefty Coaster on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 11:55:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Liz Fowler has spent most of her (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        andrewdski

        professional life as a public servant and spent 2 years at Wellpoint as VP of public policy.  She was not a Lobbyist for Well point.

        Right man, right job and right time

        by Ianb007 on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 01:01:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Max Baucus passing out thanks (7+ / 0-)

          where thanks were due:

          I wish to single out one person, and that one person is sitting next to me. Her name is Liz Fowler. Liz Fowler is my chief health counsel. Liz Fowler has put my health care team together. Liz Fowler worked for me many years ago, left for the private sector, and then came back when she realized she could be there at the creation of health care reform because she wanted that to be, in a certain sense, her profession lifetime goal. She put together the White Paper last November–2008–the 87-page document which became the basis, the foundation, the blueprint from which almost all health care measures in all bills on both sides of the aisle came. She is an amazing person. She is a lawyer; she is a Ph.D. She is just so decent. She is always smiling, she is always working, always available to help any Senator, any staff. I thank Liz from the bottom of my heart...
          They had their people in there from the beginning, writing it the way they wanted it written.
          •  But she was always smiling! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nada Lemming

            Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

            by Lefty Coaster on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 01:36:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  She has also worked for Pete stark (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            andrewdski, kurt, Cedwyn, We Won

            and Sen patrick Moynihan.  The fact still remains that she was never a lobbyist for Wellpoint.

            Since you are posting news articles

            "Anyone who tries to paint Liz Fowler as an industry front person is flat out wrong," said Rep. Pete Stark, Chairman, Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. "She worked for me when I chaired the Joint Economic Committee and I know her well. Yes, she worked briefly for Wellpoint. However, the other perspective on that time is that she gathered insider information there that is now being used to better regulate the insurance industry. Having Liz join the Obama Administration as they work to implement health reform is a real win for consumers - not the health insurance industry."

            Indeed, even progressive health care advocates insist that Fowler is far from a private industry shill -- even if that very industry once wrote her paychecks.

            "I worked very closely with her," said Michelle Nawar, director of legislation at the SEIU labor union. "SEIU worked very closely with her, and we have no doubt that Liz puts the interest of consumers first. One, she is a person of incredible integrity. The people critiquing her -- I'm not sure how many times they have talked or met her -- but those who have, know her passion is about getting affordable health care to every person in this country. Moreover, she is intimately familiar with how this bill was written."

            That's from Pete Stark and the SEIU

            Right man, right job and right time

            by Ianb007 on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 01:43:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  you just described a classic revolving door (3+ / 0-)

          between corporation and government situation. Odd that it always seems to be the corporations and not the public who benefits when this happens.

          Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 05:29:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  where is that (0+ / 0-)

          Lion doing the face palm picture when I need it?  

          Bless your heart.  

          "Democrats shouldn't assume they have our vote. They have to earn it." Oops! I changed my sig. Oh well, Markos said it better than I did anyway.

          by Nada Lemming on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 10:38:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  There would have been a mandate if the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alba, We Won, puakev

    public option had been included, no?

    Besides the point, since the villainous 5 would just have found another excuse to vote it down.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 11:49:35 PM PDT

  •  As a former medical underwriter it is hard (5+ / 0-)

    to get upset about a health care reform bill that caved to private insurance interests from the outset by giving up on the public option in favor of the individual mandate.  If this bill goes down in flames at the hands of the Supreme Court I can only hope it will resurrect the absolute necessity of the public option.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

    by John Crapper on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 11:56:30 PM PDT

    •  really -- the Republican House is going (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cany, We Won

      to approve a public option??????

      •  I hope you and I are working towards returning (4+ / 0-)

        the currently Republican House back to the Democrats in the upcoming election.  I would also hope we are working towards increasing Democratic Control of the Senate.  If this occurs we have the possibility to resurect the public option.  Could we please stop accepting defeat before the defeat has happened.  It is time to turn the pendullum back to progressive ideas and ideals.  

        If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

        by John Crapper on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 12:15:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can we please lose the butt fuck dumb term (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dumbo, alizard, We Won, Nada Lemming

          Public Option?

          I'm willing to give this health reform another go but the "public option" is dead framing. Let it never issue forth again.

          Medicare Option
          Open Medicare
          Medicare Choice

          Pick one. But FFS, kill the term public option. Burn it, bury it.

          •  thank you! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alizard, mdmslle, Nada Lemming

            i've been  saying that for a while.  the public option is so 2009.  done, over, fuggedaboutit.  it's history.  the next health care fight we enjoin will be for the whole enchilada of single payer, like you said.

            Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

            by Cedwyn on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 05:06:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The insurance companies really co-opted "public (4+ / 0-)

            option" by the end it was a completely useless term. What we need is Medicare for all. What was left of the "public option" was not as good as what we got with ObamaCare.

            I say if you want to start with goal instead of a compromise, say Medicare for all not public option. With Medicare for all people are talking about the same thing, and know what each other means.

            •  Even better (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lefty Coaster

              Start with socialed medicine.  And work back from there to medicare for all.  Otherwise they negotiate away, yet again.

              "Democrats shouldn't assume they have our vote. They have to earn it." Oops! I changed my sig. Oh well, Markos said it better than I did anyway.

              by Nada Lemming on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 10:45:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed - good point. I'll do that in all further (0+ / 0-)

            posts I make on this subject.  I'm really for the expansion of medicare.  Thanks for pointing this out.  One glass of wine too much last night!

            If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

            by John Crapper on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 08:44:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Well, they won't now. (0+ / 0-)

        They've dug a pretty deep trench for themselves on that one.  

        However, when we had the Senate and the House and the White House, and the subject hadn't already been too contaminated to allow any maneuvering, there might have been a window of opportunity.

        But you have a point.  We might all just have to shut up now and accept having to live within the current mess of a system.

    •  How I wish that were true. (0+ / 0-)

      But I think if this DOES go down the crapper, the whole game is over for a generation.  No politician will want to touch this radioactive mess for a long time.  The whole subject of health care reform has become irredeemably polluted.

      The window of opportunity came and it has gone, I think.  We'll have to wait for another Republican created recession/depression and then another newly elected Democratic president coming to fix things.  That could take a while.

      •  I disagree (4+ / 0-)

        You can't hide 50 million uninsured under the carpet along with 40-50 thousand deaths a year. That's what irredeemably polluted.

        Healthcare was and is a HUGE concern for millions of people and will continue to be until we finally deal with it in a rational way that isn't just about protecting profits for a few. We have the most expensive and least efficient system in the world.

        I really hate to read and hear defeatism like your post, because that's the the profiteers would like best. Give Up. We tried. It didn't work.

        Instead, my motto is:

        This Time, Let's Do It Right!

        (I do understand your discouragement - believe me, I've been there. We just can't give up. Think of Healthcare Rights as being like Civil Rights- it doesn't matter how long the fight goes on, we will prevail because our cause is just.)

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 01:36:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  To be more clear, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skyounkin

          I don't think we can do anything about it with the Democratic Party in the state it is now.  Not with this president, and these congresscritters.  I realize many will disagree with me, some will agree, but I really have lost hope that any remedy is possible while we are both facing opposition from the other party and the leadership of our own.  There's a path to a solution, it's just a very, very long one that will involve years, and some people dying or quitting from old age.

  •  paid lobbyists (6+ / 0-)

    need to be made

    illegal.


    What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
    -- Maslow ...... my list.

    by jamess on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 12:10:28 AM PDT

  •  And the worst part of all of this is that people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse, elwior

    will die.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 12:22:50 AM PDT

  •  The single quote that described the whole fiasco (8+ / 0-)

    to me was when Rahm was ruminating about how ungrateful business was to President Obama when he had  "preserved private delivery of healthcare"

    White House Works to Flip Anti-Business Rep

    Politico

    W.H. works to flip anti-business rep
    By: Ben White
    July 8, 2010 12:51 PM EDT

    In a Thursday interview, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel argued that rather than recoiling against Obama, business leaders should be grateful for his support on at least a half-dozen counts: his advocacy of greater international trade and education reform open markets despite union skepticism; his rejection of calls from some quarters to nationalize banks during the financial meltdown; the rescue of the automobile industry; the fact that the overhaul of health care preserved the private delivery system; the fact that billions in the stimulus package benefited business with lucrative new contracts, and that financial regulation reform will take away the uncertainty that existed with a broken, pre-crash regulatory apparatus.
    "Preserving private delivery" is the sine qua non for many neo-liberals and conservatives and is the concept that links them together. This concept also is major in the whole charter schools push, which isn't preserving private delivery of public education but is creating private delivery of public education.  

    The Private delivery thing is the same underpinning for those who want to turn Medicare into a voucher system.

    The public option was traded away very early on in private negotiations with the affected industries, a fact that the majority of the public and even apparently a lot of the Congress was unaware of. The public was basically played in the whole public option "debate".

    The mandate and the penalty were spun furiously to not be a "tax" while passing the bill, when clearly they were, simply because no one in Washington has the strength of character to allow the word "tax" to be associated with their endeavors, no matter how worthy the cause or the benefit.

    But, regardless of the placement of profit over public interest, a lot of good things were contained in the ACA and I would be sorry for the Act to completely evaporate, even though a lot of it has evaporated already, like the Ted Kennedy part that was going to provide home health assistance.

    I hope we manage to hang onto the high risk pools, the exchanges, the subsidies, the PEC banning, and the clinics even if the mandate is ruled unConstitutional.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 01:00:26 AM PDT

  •  Oh, but Lefty Coaster, you don't understand. (4+ / 0-)

    We HAD to have a Rube Goldberg machine because it's the only thing that can work!  Anything else is just NOT PRACTICAL.  That's why it's the only option that was ever worth supporting --  other than the tiny detail of it being DOA once it reached the Supreme Court.

    snark /off.

    I guess this puts a final and total complete end to all arguments against the public option that begin with, "But the only practical option is..."  Because the people who told us what was practical weren't very practical at all in the end.  

    If anybody wants to argue, well, yeah, sure, the law couldn't get past Scalia, curse his name, but it was STILL the MOST practical plan, because the others would have faced other insurmountable problems, we can say, "Maybe, but we'll never know now, because we never tried.  We only know that we tried YOUR plan, and YOUR plan failed because it was FLAWED and now we're screwed.   Try owning that."

  •  I think what is the most stunning (5+ / 0-)

    aspect of the last few weeks is how shocked and surprised so many non-Movement Conservatives, both pundits, legal experts, and office-holders inside the beltway alike, have been at the level of bad faith displayed by the Rightwing Justices on the Supreme Court.

    It's 2012.

    How can any Non-Movement Conservative at any level of American politics still be shocked by the Movement Conservative Right any longer?

    Anyone expecting Scalia, Thomas, Alito, or Roberts to have an open mind is being frighteningly naive or stunningly stupid.

    There was a lot of confidence on the part of many of those who strongly support the ACA that was clearly built on a foundation of wet sand. That foundation being the idea that there is good faith to be found on the Right. That established law would be their guide. That they wouldn't do something so toxic and destructive because it would be irresponsible, even dangerous. That if you pass their ideas, they can't possibly treat them like they found them while researching Karl Marx or The People's History Of Great Soviet Five Year Plans. Until they did.

    I could see the whole thing being a shock during the Clinton Impeachment era.
    I could see it being shocking to many still in 2000 when the Florida 2000 decision came down.
    But there were protests against Obama, claiming he was a tyrant, before he was sworn in.
    Everything Obama has done has been met with some form of GOP obstructionism or mass "no" votes.

    How can anybody in the middle or the middle-left, or the left, be shocked at what is going down?

    Its 2012.

    Even the biggest fuckwit on the Hill shouldn't be expecting that Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would be doing anything but what they are doing right now.

    But there were people, on our side, actually posting and saying out loud that they thought Antonin fucking Scalia could be a "swing vote" on the ACA. That's willful ignorance so impenatrable it's terrifying.

    The ACA is chock full of Movement Conservative ideas, and those ideas were left in place even when the GOP refused to support the HCR effort at all. At all. It has been bad faith, lies, and obstructionism all the way.

    And it was predictable. It's all happened before.

    The Dream Act. Cap and Trade. Their ideas. Adopted by the Democratic Party in good faith, suddenly "tyranny".

    The Heritage Foundation is arguing that their own policy ideas are Socialist, and the Rightwing justices sound like they have tri-corner hats on at a Tea Party rally.

    It's been a Movement grounded in bad faith for decades. Especially the courts. Even the Supreme Court. Florida 2000 was as blatantly partisan as the ACA hearings have been, but what has changed is that they have dropped all rhetorical pretense and theatrical decorum that went into the facade that they were being serious jurists and not movement conservative activists in robes.

    What is fucking gobsmacking is that a lot of people on our side still think that, if they adopt conservative ideas, the GOP will be forced by the almost unimaginable level of shocking intellectual dishonesty it would take for them to damn their own ideas as "Socialist".

    But here we are.

    Watching the entire Movement Conservative Right, including the Supremes of that movement, doing just that.  

    It keeps coming up over, and over, and over again in Democratic politics. Good faith simply doesn't exist in the Movement Conservative Republicans vocabulary, but let's have half the Hill pretend that it does.

    I feel bad for the President. I do. I'm a critic of many things Obama has done, but I truly believe we ended up with the Rube Goldberg Plan because the best and brightest in the Democratic Party really and truly still thought that, in the end, they were crafting legislation that would be legally bulletproof, and legally bulletproof  because it was so grounded in conservative free-market legal scholarship from the last 20 years.

    It's all on Kennedy's shoulders, and each and every day I listen to the various audio snippets I marvel at how he whips and saws in the wind depending on who is being the most forceful speaker at the time.

    Antonin Scalia is using Tea Party and 10th-er talking points from the bench of the most powerful court in the land. He sounds no different from Sean Hannity or Michelle Malkin. I think anyone who has listened to the audio recordings of his contributions to the Q and A parts of the proceedings can back me up and say that this in not hyperbole in the least on my part. Scalia could be a caller talking to Rush instead of a Supreme Court Justice.

    The ACA, no matter what the various criticisms from the liberal side of the party, of which I am one, was passed in good faith. President Obama passed a flawed bill because he calculated that a flawed bill was better than none at all, but the problem with that thinking is that its grounded in the idea that there is a shred of good faith and intellectual honesty to be found on the Right.

    There is not.

    All you have to do to turn something into "Socialism" is to have a Democratic leader or President embrace it.

    Even if the ACA survives, this should be a major wake-up call for the Democratic Party. I agree with the diariest that it should change a lot of minds about money, but also it should finally convince even the biggest skeptic that there is no good faith on the Right. That they would impeach Obama if they could, even if they had to make something up to do it, and worse, you couldn't count on the courts to intervene becuase they are stacked with Alitos and Roberts.

    Sean Hannity might as well be a conservative Supreme Court justice.

    If it's not a clarion call for a much more skeptical and combative Democratic Party, one willing to make partisan arguments to the public grounded in how bad Movement Conservative policy is, I don't know what it will take. The status quo of the Democratic Party is basically committing a kind of slow suicide and defending it as being better than slitting our throats. Well, I fundamentally don't see refusing to buy Rightwing talking points about ourselves as a basis for our longterm thinking and our ideological beliefs about what is good policy and what will and will not ever be possible as slitting our throats.  

    If the ACA is struck down, I believe the GOP should be made to own 100% of our fucked up healthcare system, and we should spend a significant part of every period of future Democratic governance on opening up Medicare to more and more people, each and every time we have the ranks to do so, until we have as close to universal coverage as we can get.

    The problem that I see, besides a zombie-like continuation of the Democratic Party in its Washington Generals role in our politics, is that a Court that could strike down the ACA, and on such specious ground, could probably not be trusted not to claim that Medicare, Medicaid, and maybe even Social Security, is somehow unConstitutional with one more Alito on the bench.

    Each and every year that the Democratic Party status quo remains the status quo out of fear of trying to do something more effective, all in the name of avoiding a Roberts court with 7 Federalist Society peers, is actually one more year closer to a Roberts court with 7 Federalist Society peers.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 02:13:24 AM PDT

    •  Correction: (4+ / 0-)

      I think what is the most stunning (0+ / 0-)

      aspect of the last few days is how shocked and surprised so many non-Movement Conservatives, both pundits, legal experts, and office-holders inside the beltway alike, have been at the level of bad faith displayed by the Rightwing Justices on the Supreme Court.

      My apologies, it only feels like this shocking display of hackery on the part of the Court Conservatives has been going on for weeks and weeks.

      I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

      by LeftHandedMan on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 02:16:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, this is what keeps me awake at night (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        semiot, skyounkin
        The problem that I see, besides a zombie-like continuation of the Democratic Party in its Washington Generals role in our politics, is that a Court that could strike down the ACA, and on such specious ground, could probably not be trusted not to claim that Medicare, Medicaid, and maybe even Social Security, is somehow unConstitutional with one more Alito on the bench.
    •  You should turn that great comment into a post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skyounkin, Val

      IMHO.

      Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

      by Lefty Coaster on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 08:39:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Its a 2009 video (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semiot, Lefty Coaster, skyounkin

    but it absolutely stands now - and Bill Moyers is beyond reproach.  The only media voice I trusted.

    Obama did not try to sell the single-payer option when he had a mandate from the voters and a super-majority.

    Here's a handy set of graphs explaining the numbers on both sides of the Uniparty.

    This is why they don't pass laws for US.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/...

  •  It's a matter that deserves a lot more discussion. (0+ / 0-)

    The President's obsession with Congressional bargaining may very well kill the ACA. If he'd been willing to straightforwardly call the Mandate a tax penalty (horrors!) there wouldn't be much to argue about. If he'd been willing to stick with the P.O. as a necessary component of the system, it could very easily have been structured (rhetorically and bureaucratically) to win SCOTUS' approval.

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