Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Battle Ready

Here’s some background for tonight; it’s the official beginning of the big national healthcare debate.

The House is scheduled to vote on Cap and Trade on Friday.

First, my liveblogging comment from the excruciating 2nd McCain-Obama town hall debate (I get into these things a little bit):

Obama just said, “Healthcare is a RIGHT”
And the CNN focus group monitor went through the roof with approval from the undecided voters.
This country is FINISHED. We cannot afford to put 50 million people on a healthcare plan now with the intention to put all 350 million on one inside of 20 years.

We are going bankrupt. It’s OVER!!

This country has an insatiable appetite for healthcare. This corresponds to our appetite for overeating, smoking, and nonstop channel & internet surfing that’s all part of this complete sedentary American lifestyle.

Cap and Trade probably won’t pass the House… this time, but why isn’t there a debate about it?

Here is the Office of Management and Budget charts for fiscal year 2008:



Now take a look at some of these recent happenings:

– Bloomberg didn’t report until June 17th about how June 6th was the first healthcare meeting of Organizing for America, a Washington-based group that aims to deploy volunteers to push Obama’s plan. It was one of thousands held across the country that day by the group, which is overseen by Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe.

– Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is being sold out of the boxes they’re shipped in 50 years after being published. An 1,100-page book that averaged pretty impressive annual sales of 185,000-200,000 copies in the internet age has sold over 200,000 copies already through April of this year.

– Obama’s net approval rating is showing the honeymoon period with the general public is ending.

– ABC is airing an hour-long primetime special from the White House featuring Obama answering questions about his healthcare plan tonight at 10pm EST.

That last item – the President in primetime explaining details of his most ambitious agenda to radically alter the course of American society – will be the Fort Sumter of the most heated domestic debate in 2 years. I will do a review/retro-liveblog of the hour.

Yes, we all know Obama has commented on healthcare before and there’s been debate in both houses of Congress already, but this debate is going to be waged between all of us as much as it will be between them. This isn’t some arcane legislation; this is $2.5 trillion that represents nearly 20% of our fragile economy. And there’s that pesky part that it affects the most intimate part of our lives regarding how we take care of ourselves on even a daily basis and how we get care for ourselves and families at the end of our lives. Let’s not forget maybe the most important aspect of the debate: what health care we may need to get immediately to save our own life. The hypothetical scenario that’s worked for our side that should continue to be used as an effective argument is when it’s an individual’s opinion (and his doctor’s) that heart surgery should be done tomorrow as opposed to the government’s opinion of a week… after next… after a month from now.

This is one of the big battles and we are on defense again. I’m predicting a similar grassroots campaign of relentless phone calls and emails from conservatives not seen since the immigration debate in 2007. The difference is instead of scattered street protests of mostly Latinos in large cities, the opposing side will be Obama’s grassroots volunteers on the ground and the internet in their own communities trying to sway opinion the other way in their own circles of influence. Let’s not underestimate the most organized and technologically advanced political force in modern American history.

If Cap and Trade becomes law it will increase the price of energy for consumers and businesses that will pass down the costs to consumers.

We are at the fork in the road, it’s not coming up, we are at it. And we can’t be Yogi Berra and “take it” like we’ve been doing for the last 30 years. Something has to give on that chart between Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Military spending.

That brown chart shows existing spending on healthcare (Medicare/Medicaid) and other means-tested programs (unemployment, welfare, etc.) of $919 billion. The other means-tested programs totaled $324 billion which leaves $595 billion for Medicare and Medicaid. There are estimates from the Congressional Budget Office of a $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion sticker shock for any healthcare program that would cover a significant number of people. Taking a lower estimate combines for nearly $1.6 trillion in healthcare spending by the government for a plan that won’t even cover everyone! Add in the $607 billion for Social Security and you have over $2.2 trillion in mandatory spending for 2010. By the way, that blue chart (the one that should dictate the brown chart, but doesn’t in this insane world) is going to be quite a bit smaller the next two years in this economy.

There is a vote on Friday for Cap and Trade legislation that will increase the price of everything for everybody.

Obama and Pelosi are determined to get some large measure of healthcare reform passed. This is a great opportunity for conservatives to rack up some much-needed victories on the ideological battles surrounding healthcare reform and maybe even win the war over this legislation. It will help us get our voice back with principle-based arguments that we can have in a high-profile forum to get people’s attention since we’ll be in a showdown with the President. And since my namesake is all about being touchy-feely, getting some public support for Republicans is sure to increase their lagging confidence and lackluster enthusiasm among the electorate. Similarly, Blue Dog Democrats – particularly the newer ones elected in 2006 and 2008 – can recognize who in the Republican party they can caucus with to stop reckless spending. To reduce spending, we need to support conservatives – many of them have a D after their names.

Something needs to be done about healthcare because it is a mess. Yet one can’t help but wonder how making access easier isn’t going to increase usage thereby spiking up costs. Can you imagine how much more we would all be hooked into the system if going to the doctor or hospital wasn’t on par with a trip to the DMV and a 3-hour Scientology “audit”?

The House. Is Voting. On Cap and Trade. Friday!

37 comments:

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