Tag Archives: health care reform

Politics

Sarah Palin doesn’t suck on the Factor

Last week, Sarah Palin made an appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s show ‘The O’Reilly Factor‘ as part of her Going Rogue promotional tour.  Although I didn’t catch it live – fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) I don’t get Fox News – I did have a chance to read a ‘rush’ transcript of the interview.

Surprisingly, Palin wasn’t completely terrible.  She demonstrated a modest grasp of a variety of topical issues, from health care reform to Russia’s involvement in suppressing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  I don’t necessarily agree with her views, but at least she sounded as though she holds some.  Her ability to communicate them, however, was less impressive, and I’m starting to think that her limited vocabulary and inability to form coherent sentences is really what’s holding her back.  Have a look at this particularly interesting response:

O’REILLY: Do you think that [Obama] wants to change the country into an entitlement society?

PALIN: We’re going to see, depending on his cap and tax bill that he will no doubt support coming out of Congress, that the health care bill, whatever that’s going to cost us and whatever the answers are there to all of our questions about the health care, we’re going to see, if he decides that he can kind of shift gears, change course, and move us back to more of a free enterprise, free market principles that built up this country, then my answer to you is going to be no, he’s not hell-bent on changing the capitalist society that we are. But if he is stubborn about this, then my answer to you is going to be well, his actions speak louder than our words, and yes, he’s going to change our capitalistic society.

You get a rough idea of what she’s trying to say, despite her stunningly poor grammar and syntax.  If she learned to speak in short, declarative sentences, rather than meandering, scattered ones, Palin’s appeal would surely broaden.  To be fair, though, her recent extended Iran/Iraq flub suggests that perhaps her grasp of policy is indeed as weak as her opponents suggests.

Interestingly, O’Reilly was also less generous with Palin than I would have expected.  At a couple of points, he seems to question her responses, and presses her (if ever so gently) for clarification.  It’s hardly hard-hitting investigative journalism, but at least it’s not the obvious fawning Fox New seems to have a reputation for.  Here’s one such exchange:

O’REILLY: Honest, do you think he’s honest?

PALIN: I think that he has told us some things in the campaign. I think that he’s told us some things early on in his presidency that have not come to fruition. He was all about positive change, and I think a lot of Americans are believing that the change that he’s ushering in isn’t necessarily positive.

O’REILLY: Well, he says it is. I’m — you’re a conservative, so you don’t like it, but…

PALIN: How — positive in terms of creating debt for our children?

O’REILLY: No, but he says, you know what the arguments are. I mean, he says that, look, a lot of Americans can’t afford health insurance, the insurance companies are out of control, I’ve got to get them under control. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. You know, that’s his point of view.

PALIN: Let’s get the health care problems under control then. But let’s use free market, results-oriented, patient-centered solutions to do that. Tort reform, he’s not embracing any of those ideas. Getting rid of the waste and fraud that he insists today, if we would just get a handle on that, we could pay for this one point.

O’REILLY: Well, he says he’s going to get rid of the waste.

PALIN: Let’s do it right now then.

Awareness Featured Politics

The House passed a health care bill. Now what?

ObamacareOn November 8, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, by a razor-thin 220-215 margin.  It sounds good, but what does it actually mean?  Has free, universal health-care finally arrived in the States?  Have Obama and his cabal of socialist advisers pulled the wool over the eyes of an unsuspecting public and converted America into a full-fledged worker’s paradise?  Well, not really.  In fact, despite what you may have heard from any number of teabaggers (whose scare tactics seem increasingly desperate), comprehensive health care reform is hardly guaranteed.

It’s understandable that people are confused.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of objective, non-jargony information available on the internet, especially about a topic as complex as health care reform.

Of course, here at 4080 we’re all about that sort of thing, so here’s our attempt at a quick and dirty guide to the current state of the “Obamacare” agenda:

The Affordable Health Care for America Act

The bill passed by the House on Sunday has several key components:

  1. It would establish a Health Insurance Exchange.  A one stop shop for the uninsured, the Exchange would allow consumers to compare and purchase insurance from a diverse menu of health insurance options, including private plans, health co-ops and a new, public health insurance option.  Its proponents claim that by facilitating open competition, the Exchange would drive down prices and improve care.  Americans who are happy with their existing insurance may keep it.
  2. It would prevent insurers from increasing premiums or denying care based on “pre-existing” conditions.
  3. It would require every American to get insurance, either through their employer or own their own through the Exchange.  The federal government would provide “affordability credits” to make premiums affordable.
  4. Employers who choose not to insure their employees would have to pay a fee of eight percent of payroll.

For more information about the specifics of the bill, check out the House Committee on Education and Labor website.

You win some, you lose some

Democrats had to make some major compromises to push H.R. 3962 through the House, the most significant of which related to abortion funding.  As The Globe and Mail reports, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fervent defender of abortion rights, yielded to conservative Democrats and included a provision in the bill to prohibit publicly subsidized health insurance from covering abortions.”

The Democrats also worked hard to attract the support of moderate Republicans in an effort to make the bill seem like a bi-partisan initiative.  One Republican, Anh Cao of Louisiana (Update: on an interesting but likely unrelated note, Talking Points Memo points out that Cao is one of the only Republicans to have actually experienced a communist regime), did end up voting for it, but calling H.R. 3962 ‘bi-partisan’ because a single Republican supported it is like calling the L.A. Lakers ‘world’ champions because they play in a league with one Canadian team.

Next up, the Senate

The U.S. Congress is a bicameral legislature, meaning that a bill must be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate for it to become law.  So now H.R. 3962 heads to the Senate, where Democrats and their friends hold 60 of the 100 seats.  But a number of Democratic and Democratic-leaning Independent Senators have already indicated that they won’t support it.  For these moderates and conservatives, H.R. 3962 and its public option are simply unacceptable.  Joe Lieberman, for example, thinks that it will create a level of “debt [that will] break America and send us into a recession that’s worse than the one we’re fighting our way out of today.”

The filibuster threat

If Obama and his lieutenant in the Senate, Harry Reid, can’t muster 60 votes, the bill will likely succumb to a Republican filibuster. A filibuster is a technique in which one party extends debate on a bill indefinitely, preventing the Senate from voting on it.  A filibuster can only be ended with the support of 60 Senators.

Reaching the magic number

In the bill’s current form, securing the support of 60 Senators will be challenging, if not impossible.  It looks like progressive Democrats may have to bite the bullet and drop the public health insurance option.  While this might seem like a defeat to some, the bill would still represent the most significant reform of the American health insurance industry in several decades.

Clearly, the health care reform debate is far from over.  In the coming weeks, the Senate will debate the bill’s cost and implications, and Obama will likely continue expending valuable political capital to drum up the necessary support.  Whatever its outcome, the health care debate will likely be remembered as one of the defining characteristics of Obama’s first (and perhaps only) term.