August
11th 2009
Medicare for All: not so scary, is it?

Posted under: American history, European history

Ian Welsh at Open Left (via Corrente):  just get over it and offer Medicare for All.  He writes,

Ruling out “single payer” from the very start was an act of mind-bending incompetence on the level of disbanding Iraq’s army during the occupation of Iraq.  From a policy point of view “Medicare for all” provides massive savings, and we know it works because the equivalent policies have worked for every other nation in the world who ever implemented then.  From a sales point of view it’s much harder to demonize Medicare and much easier to explain it.  From a negotiation point of view pre-compromising is so stupid that anyone who has spent 5 minutes in a third world bazaar or taken even a single negotiating class knows better.

The current health reform “bills” are turning into a cluster[fr@ck] of epic proportions.  Scrap them, introduce Medicare for all, target  Senators who won’t vote for it with bone-crushing ads which ask why they want 22,000 American to die every year who could be saved for less money than the Iraq war cost; explain with nice simple pictures how much money they receive from the insurance industry and note that they are willing to let Americans die in exchange for blood money from the medical industry.

I know it’s difficult for Democrats to play hardball since they’d have to grow a spine, but perhaps, just perhaps, it’s worth it to save lives, end 70% of all bankruptcies and make sure people who are sick get the care they need?

Right on.  Especially the part about the “bone-crushing ads which ask why they want 22,000 American to die every year who could be saved for less money than the Iraq war cost.”  Maybe just skip the ads, and bring out the rubber hoses?  In an effort to avoid screams of “ZOMG!!!!1111!!! SOCIALISM!!!11!11!!!!!!!!!!,” President Obama and Congressional Dems are cooking up a Frankenstein Monster of a plan that none of them can explain clearly, so now we get screams of “ZOMG!!! SOCIALISM!!!” plus “ZOMG THEY’RE GOING TO KILL GRANNY AND L’IL SICK BABEES!!!”  Thus, we sail into the second decade of the twenty-first century with ghosts of the Cold War still driving our politics.  I thought it was boring and stupid way back in the 1980s, when East Germany and the Soviet Union still existed.  Now screaming “SOCIALISM!!!” is about as frightening as screaming “ZOMG WITCHES!!!”–and why isn’t anyone pointing this out?

What I don’t get is why anyone would ask Congressional Democrats (!) to set an agenda for anything more complicated than a Sunday afternoon ice cream social.  The President needs to set the agenda, and it needs to be a clear agenda with easily explainable fixed goals.  And a popular President shouldn’t be afraid of using his popularity to intimidate the hell out of anyone who isn’t on the bus with him.

19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Medicare for All: not so scary, is it?”

  1. Emma on 11 Aug 2009 at 8:16 am #

    The President needs to set the agenda, and it needs to be a clear agenda with easily explainable fixed goals. And a popular President shouldn’t be afraid of using his popularity to intimidate the hell out of anyone who isn’t on the bus with him.

    The President does have a clear agenda: re-election in 2012. Which is why the “public option” isn’t scheduled to begin until 2013: so nobody will know what a cluster**** it is until after the elections.

    IMO, the President is busy crafting “bipartisan” crap so that he can run on “blame the Republicans, not me” in 2012 after the massive fail of his policies. He doesn’t seem to get that the 2010 and 2012 elections will be referendums on HIM, not on somebody else he wants to blame for the problems he hasn’t fixed.

  2. Historiann on 11 Aug 2009 at 8:50 am #

    Emma, I get where you’re coming from, but I disagree. Obama isn’t that cynical. The problem is that he isn’t cynical enough. He appears to believe his own press, that he’s a uniquely unifying individual and that all of the forces of evil would be rendered ineffective with his magical awesomeness.

    I don’t get why people–the President included–really believed that his election was some kind of magical break from all of American history and especially from the last 60 years of American political history. I never thought he actually believed the lie his primary campaign promulagated–that the Clintons were uniquely divisive and that he would bring people together. But, apparently he believed it, which I think is amazingly naive.

  3. Emma on 11 Aug 2009 at 9:06 am #

    I don’t think it’s cynicism. I think it’s standard center-right politics. How does one explain the public option not starting until 2013? And, how to explain the President forcing House Dems to take family planning funding out of the ARRA in order to woo Republican votes (which didn’t materialize, anyway). Naivete? Cynicism? I choose neither. And I think we’ll see more of it when, for example, the President signs a health care reform bill with explicit anti-abortion language.

    I completely agree, though, with your comment about the magical thinking. Most of it, I suspect, is liberal/left white folks glad to get the monkey of racism off our backs by avidly cheerleading Obama.

  4. Shaun Huston on 11 Aug 2009 at 9:41 am #

    During the 2008 election I polled my students about “socialism” precisely because it seemed as if, yes, “Now screaming “SOCIALISM!!!” is about as frightening as screaming “ZOMG WITCHES!!!” But I was curious, especially since the Western Oregon student body is relatively conservative politically. From what my students told me, it does not seem that “socialism” is much of a epithet or object of fear for kids these days, begging the question of why it’s being revived. I suspect that many in the media aren’t bothering to note the datedness of this discourse because they are all Cold War kids of one kind or another, and “socialism” vs. “capitalism” fits neatly into the two-sides myth that shapes American news reporting. Of course, it’s worth noting that many of the people screaming about socialism probably are also afraid of witches, but they save that for protesting HARRY POTTER (or not; there has been at least one anti-health care “joke” that shows Obama as a witch doctor).

  5. Historiann on 11 Aug 2009 at 9:52 am #

    Emma–I fear you’ll be right about the abortion exclusion. Sigh.

    Shaun, that’s interesting. You’re right that the people who run the media are my age and older (40+), so the Cold War still shapes their view of the world, and their political rhetoric to a surprising degree. And, screaming SOCIALISM!! is a tactic that’s designed to exploit lower-information voters’ fears. Good call on the crossover between fears of witches and fears of socialism, though–it’s amazing that there are so many people who just want to go through life scared to death, isn’t it? Sept. 11, 2001 really brought that out in a lot of people, but it’s shocking to me that so many people are so fearful all of the time, and unfortunately there are some who will exploit that politically.

  6. Emma on 11 Aug 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Well, Rep. Dingell (not my rep) just authored an op-ed which purports to set forth the facts about the current health care reform effort, H.R. 3200, including that it “[w]ill not lead to government-sponsored abortions. An amendment was added in the Energy and Commerce Committee that explicitly states no public money can be used to fund abortions.” So, we’re already there. And if you are so poor you need the government plan – no abortion for you! Just like Medicaid and other government plans, BTW. I predict the next move will be legally classifying all birth control methods except for condom use as abortions.

    Please note that Rep. Dingell is a sponsor of, and I think authored, H.R. 676, i.e. the “Medicare for all” bill. But his op-ed says [b]nothing[/b] about single payer, Medicare for all, or H.R. 676. Indeed, the op-ed explicitly states that the current bill “[w]ill not lead to employers discontinuing health care coverage in favor of government coverage” — that is, this is a point Dingell makes in [b]favor[/b] of the current legislation. But, since your employer is free to “sponsor” your abortion, you probably didn’t want to be on the public plan, anyway.

  7. again, some more « Faux Populi on 11 Aug 2009 at 12:14 pm #

    [...] again, some more Ian Welsh at Open Left, via Historiann: [...]

  8. Emma on 11 Aug 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    I’m sorry to be an idiot, but I need to make a correction: John Dingell is my Rep and he did NOT write or sponsor HR 676. For some reason I got him confused w/John Conyers from Detroit. Oops.

  9. Historiann on 11 Aug 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    Dingell, Conyers, Dingleberries–wev. They’ve both been in congress representing Michigan for about 100 years each!

  10. Emma on 11 Aug 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    And I really am so sorry to be taking up this much space on your blog. I’m over the top about this and blah blah blah, I get that, but I think this is important to think about:

    Since government subsidies are going to be provided to (some) poor people who can’t afford insurance premiums, will insurance companies be precluded from offering coverage for abortions to those who are paying their premiums with government subsidies, i.e. “public money”? This language: “that explicitly states no public money can be used to fund abortions” makes me fear that will be the case.

    And, re: the “Medicare for all” thing, which I totally, totally support, we have to remember that Congress has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, except when the woman’s life would be endangered by a full-term pregnancy, or in cases of rape or incest. (Medicare currently only covers those over 65, so probably abortion was never an issue.)

    And note, that the abortion restrictions re: HR 3200 seem to be much more restrictive than the Medicaid restrictions. It seems that nobody is blogging about Health Care Reform specifically from this perspective. Again, sorry for taking up space here.

  11. Jay on 11 Aug 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    Shaun-

    You’re polling in the wrong region. “SOCIALISM!!!” does play in the South, where it translates to “giving money to the n******”.

  12. Jay on 11 Aug 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    and actually, “ZOMG WITCHES!!!!” would probably play down there too. Southern whites are not a bright bunch, on average.

  13. Historiann on 11 Aug 2009 at 4:12 pm #

    Hey now–no ad hominem attacks on people’s race or region of origin, Jay. There are foolish people everywhere of all descriptions, which is why we’re in the fix we’re in with health care in this country. The U.S. South hardly has a monopoly on racism–that’s a myth that Northerners and Westerners tell themselves to let themselves off the hook for their racism.

  14. Historiann on 11 Aug 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    Emma–great points about equal access to health care for all in this brave new world. I blogged a few months ago about the idea that the opposition to a single payer system, in which all Americans would be entitled to health care as a right of citizenship rather than as a privilege of belonging to a particular kind of family unit, might be rooted in their desires to extend “coverture” to women and children. But no, no one except the right wingers are talking about abortion or contraceptive rights.

  15. Jay on 11 Aug 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    It’s not really an ad hominem attack- is there such a thing as an ad gentem attack?

    While I concede that there are stupid, ignorant people in every region of the US, my personal experience is still that the word “socialism” has traction among Southern Whites that it doesn’t among other race/region combos. They use the word to mean government programs that benefit “other” people.

  16. Dr. Righteous on 11 Aug 2009 at 8:32 pm #

    @Jay & Historiann: Jay is right, socialism as a fear-mongering tactic plays down here in the sunny South. And it is a code word for welfare, which in turn is code for doing anything to help Black people (never mind that most of the people on welfare are in the first place, children, and in the second, white).

  17. Historiann on 11 Aug 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    I’d say it’s the same in the West. I don’t recall it having the same traction in the Northeast, but it might be that moderates and liberals are too numerous on the ground (relatively speaking, compared to the South and West anyway).

  18. Emma on 12 Aug 2009 at 9:11 am #

    The same fear mongering plays very well in the rural north, as well.

  19. Indyanna on 12 Aug 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Re socialism and Southern Whites: unless we accept James Carville’s characterization about Pennsylvania, viz. Pittsburgh on one end, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in the middle….Arlen Specter got earfuls yesterday of “Go back to Russia, read the bill, your law is dismantling my Constitution” from people in towns I drive by or through too many times each year. I think it’s more sub-regional than sectional or regional. The government-is-the-problem crowd is not used to being on the run during the last generation, they’re taking it hard, and certainly not minding their manners.