Worlds & Time

Thursday, September 10, 2009

RG's Account of President Obama's Speech

RG responded to President Obama's Speech last night, but he did get a few things wrong. Since this response is so long, I think I should post it here on my blog.

Obama's comments are the quoted text, RG's comments are in blue and mine are in red.


“But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.”

The bank bailout and the economic stimulus bill were passed under the Bush administration. All that the President has done is implement the measures taken by the Congress before he was elected.

Actually, the big economic stimulus bill and bank bailout were passed under the Obama Administration. Remember, $800 billion? And isn't your side accusing him of creating record deficits? How can he be creating record deficits if he isn't the one spending the money?

“I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

A nice piece of rhetoric (I mean it sincerely), but it reveals his ever-present arrogance. All the problems with health care will be forever solved by him and his administration? Wow!

Considering how little has been done for the last few decades, I suspect he means that he will be the last to implement necessary reforms, not the last to handle healthcare at all.

”There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”

That number seems to change a lot. I thought the President had said that there were 47 million uninsured people.

RG is simply conflating three different numbers here. Obama is talking about people with pre-existing conditions, that are two old, or facing substantial medical costs that are rejected by the insurance companies (in a way eerily similar to death panels). They may be able to afford insurance but are uninsured because the insurance companies don't want to pay.

There are other people who cannot afford coverage. There are a lot of children in this group.

The 47 million number that RG is talking about is the actual counted number of uninsured people in the United States. The people that don't have insurance because of one of the above reasons, a combination of the two, or just that they don't want it.

“And it’s why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it — about $1000 per year that pays for somebody else’s emergency room and charitable care.”

I don’t get it. I thought he liked it when people pay for other people’s health care.

It's quotes like this that illustrate why the right doesn't understand progressives or liberals.

”We know we must reform this system. The question is how. “

Ah, but who is the “we”? I think that is the bigger question. I tend to be very cautious whenever people say that “we” need to do something. In meetings where people say that, I always ask, “Who do you mean when you say we?” Often they mean everyone else should pay for their big idea.

Perhaps he was talking to the people in the room with him: the elected representatives of our government.

“But either one[, single-payer public insurance or individual, private policies,] would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have.”

No, it would disrupt their health insurance. Why does the president continually equate health insurance with health care?

Lots of people without health insurance still get health care.

First, insurance pays for ongoing healthcare costs for many people so any disruption in health insurance is also a disruption in health care. If you lose your insurance, you'll also lose your ability to pay for your prescription medications.

Second, show me the "lots of people" without health insurance who have cancer or diabetes or other serious chronic diseases that manage to get regular care. I very much doubt that they make up more than one percent of the 47 million uninsured.

“But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government.”

This is the same tired canard used by politicians on both sides. If it disagrees with my agenda, it is partisan. If it agrees with my agenda it is not.

Weren't you complaining about partisan spectacle yesterday, RG? Gee golly wilikers, that sure went away fast.

“Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics.”

Maybe. But the President said some pretty scary things in his speech. Again, it’s a politically motivated rhetorical device. When the Republicans want something, they try to scare people in one way. When the Democrats want something, they try to care people in a different way.

The President didn't say that your Grandmother would be killed if you didn't assist him in health insurance/care reform. That was Palin arguing for the opposite point of view. The President said that we have a moral obligation to fix healthcare in this country, something that apparently Christians like RG disagree with.

“Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise.”

Yes, but both sides have done so. Compromise does not mean, do it my way.

The Republicans have shown that they are unwilling to pass any bill even with massive concessions. However, the American people decided to put the Democratic Party in control of the country. They reached out and now that they've been rejected the Democrats should get down to business and fix things.

“Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge.”

I’m not sure what “political points” means. Is listening to the people who elected you scoring political points? Is being accountable to the citizens scoring political points? Is representing your constituents scoring political points? If so, I like it.

In this context it's obvious that Obama is talking about the scare tactics used by the Republicans, however I will say that fixing healthcare is one of the reasons why I voted for Obama. If he represents me and my fellow constituents (the ones that voted him into office) by overriding the Republican and reforming healthcare, I will probably vote for him again.

“Well the time for bickering is over.”

Does that mean that the Democrats will give in? Oh, he means that the Republicans should give in. Nothing partisan there!

So much for an end to bickering.

“It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance.”

Until they no longer have it and must resort to the government-run plan.

Some of the reforms that Obama talked about last night become relevant here. If the reform bill passes, then insurance companies couldn't just drop you for no reason for a pre-existing condition. If you like your insurance, this plan will allow you to keep it even if you start to cost the insurance company money and prevent you from becoming a victim of rescission.

“It will provide insurance to those who don’t.”

No it won’t. It will put even more people on government welfare rolls. A quicker, easier way would be to expand Medicare and Medicaid.

. . . RG supports the expansion of government agencies? Huh. I never would have guessed.

“And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”

I have not seen or heard about one measure that is aimed at cutting costs. Not even one. The plan will not cap salaries or fees. It offers no incentives for people not going to the doctor for minor illnesses or for going to a private practice instead of to the emergency room. The only thing that comes close to a cost-cutting measure is counseling people about how they can die sooner instead of getting ongoing treatment.

RG may be a bit hard of hearing. Expanding insurance will lead to fewer emergency room visits and less back end taxes on all Americans. The "public option" will only be self-sufficient. Obama specifically mentioned capping fees. And perhaps RG missed the part where Obama specifically referred to the death panels as lies. These plans will be based on other plans that have been shown to work.

“First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.”

Require, no. But it would make the government-run plan cheaper, which would entice many businesses and individuals to choose it.

It's possible that the government plan may be more expensive, especially if the insurance companies manage to remove the provisions that keep them from rescission or from dropping sick people. That will make a government plan more expensive medically, although the administrative costs will be lower.

“What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you.”

Until they go bankrupt or close up shop because they can no longer compete against a government plan that looks cheap because it is paid for with fictional dollars that our government churns out like a magical ATM machine.

RG fails to realize that countries with "socialized" medicine still manage to maintain private insurance companies. And they still make money even. However, instead of making billions of dollars rejecting the claims of dying middle class people they only make millions in profits. How sad.

“Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.”

Which is one reason that some of them will fold or close. They are not in the business to be nice. And they do not have fancy money-making machines like Uncle Sam. They are in the business to make money. They do it by gambling that people will not get sick. They do not make money by kindly agreeing to pay all medical costs for everyone with chronic or terminal conditions.

So what are people like me supposed to do? I don't make that much money and if I can't get insurance why should I work if all of my money is going to go to medical bills? I would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt if I didn't have insurance and when it expires I'm probably not going to be able to get it renewed.

People that are all healthy are not the people that need health insurance.

The really scary thing is that RG doesn't realize that dying people are depending on these companies and that "not being nice" means that people will die. Not maybe die but will die. That's why I think that healthcare/health insurance is not something that should be done privately. I disagree with a business that makes money off of people that are hurt and dying.

“We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.”

Why not? Should all our medical treatment just be free? Should doctors who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for their training and thousands of dollars more for insurance just give away their services? And who, again, is “we”? And, in this context, what does “should” even mean? Is there some written code somewhere that says that people should not go broke because of illness? For thousands of years people have done so. It is one of the unfortunate facts of life. It should be a good incentive to get a good education, work hard, get good insurance, and take really good care of oneself.

. . . I just need to repeat this. "Is there some written code somewhere that says that people should not go broke because of illness? . . . It is one of the unfortunate facts of life." That must be the fabled Christian compassion on display. Debtors prison was also a fact of life. Does that mean we should bring it back for the United States? People should not go broke because of an accident or illness. Where's the empathy?

Also, I should point out that getting a good education and working hard won't prevent the accidents like mine. People that run red lights don't necessarily check education and job before they plow into you.

”And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies — because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse.”

Some insurance plans already do so, because it saves them money in the long run. If not, individuals can pay for them out of their own pockets. How can the government tell a private company what kind of contract they can enter into with private citizens? Why don’t Obama and his rich friends open free preventative care clinics for people if he actually cares about this issue?

They have.

“We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange — a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices.”

That’s similar to what many Republicans want to do. Rather than have insurance companies restricted to particular regions, they want all insurance companies to operate freely across the country. It would bring health insurance premiums down and/or improve coverage. What Republicans do not want is for the government to be one of the participants in the exchange, providing unfair competition that will drive private companies out of business. That is the opposite of the way governments should treat private industry.

Unless that private industry operates unethically, and there is no way for a company that makes money on sickness and disease to operate ethically. There are some things that we shouldn't allow private companies to profit from, and this is one of them.

”If there are affordable options and people still don’t sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people’s expensive emergency room visits.”

Who is the “we”? It seems like “we” pay either way. Either through the taxes needed to fund the public health insurance option or with higher hospital bills. What difference does it make, except that one gives money to the government and the other gives money to a private company?

Well, one is definitely cheaper than the other. I guess RG doesn't care about reducing the cost that he'll have to pay in taxes.

Then there's that public option, which RG wouldn't have to pay for. Obama plans for it to be self sufficient.

“If some businesses don’t provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors.”

If you want insurance provided for you, don’t work at a company like that. I did once, and I got my own health insurance, and yes, it was expensive.

Lots of people don't have the same choices that RG had. I don't think he understands why Walmart is not most people's dream job.

”That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.”

That’s fair if people expect others to pay for their medical bills. If a person is prepared to pay for his own expenses or go without, it is not fair for the government to force him to buy insurance.

Whoa, going off talking points there. The insurance companies want everyone to have to buy insurance, and thus most Republicans are extremely pro insurance mandates. You have to wonder if RG supports Republicans that support these mandates.

Of course, weirdly, Obama is right that we should all be involved in this. It's weird to see a Republican with so little patriotism and community spirit. Maybe RG just doesn't realize that sometimes we do have to work together to improve this country.

Of course, it is really a way to push the government plan, since people will obviously choose it if they are required to have some kind of coverage.

Except it won't. Or we'll see, I guess, since RG probably won't believe it until he sees it.

“Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business.”

But he naively believes that (1) they will simply accept these new regulations out of the goodness of their hearts and (2) they will continue to make money under the new regulations and with competition from the government. (Or maybe he doesn’t believe it and is duping us.)

First, welcome to the concept of government. They will accept them because it'll be the law.

Second, yes. They will continue to make money under the new regulations and even with the competition from the government.

“In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up [for the public plan].”

That’s absurd! Hawaii thought the same thing when they instituted their government-run plan for children. About 85% of the people who signed up for it dropped their private insurance to do so, and there simply wasn’t enough money budgeted. Some of those people could already afford their own private insurance policy, but chose the free government plan. (Duh!)

I'll trust Obama and the CBO over RG on this one. Let's see who's correct.

”But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits, excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers.”

No government program operates that way. While the government is churning out money in one building, it is sucking it up with a huge vacuum cleaner in all the others.

[citation needed] Of course, things are already bad. RG just doesn't want to change anything.

”And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.”

How could the President personally see to that? Is it even his job? Besides what does “need” mean. That is the part that scares many people out there. Does a 75-year-old man need a new heart? Does a baby with severe birth defects need life-support in a neonatal unit? In a free market, you can still pay for those things yourself if you are able, or you can beg the hospital and doctors to treat you at a lower fee.

And those for-profit hospitals and doctors will say no. And that 75-year-old man, that baby, and many other people will die.

Because in a true free market, people die because they can't afford medical care. And the people that support the libertarian ideals support that, just like RG does.

Very sad. I can't just watch people die like he does.

“I faced a trillion dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for — from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy.”

His budget proposal, as widely reported, will have a deficit of around $9 trillion dollars over the next ten years. Why make a big deal of $1 trillion, if you plan to overspend by nine times that amount?

. . . Because the previous party was the "fiscally reponsible" party?

“The plan will not add to our deficit.”

How many times have we heard that before–from the Republicans and the Democrats? How can spending any money, even if it were only one billion dollars, not add to the deficit?

By cutting a billion from the wasteful spending in the budget at the same time?


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Groundhog Day

So, I got back to my old place a few days ago. It was the last trip before I was completely moved out, but really I was just there to clean up. All my stuff had been moved out.

But there was a package, an Amazon mailer, waiting for me on the stairs.

It was the Groundhog Day special edition. Which was on my Wish List, which was only linked from my Fark account. Someone apparently decided that they wanted to buy me a gift.

I've heard about that sort of thing before. People have been known to buy busty blond girls things online, and I'm sure some of the cute x-rate boys on various sites get presents. However, it's the first time that I've ever gotten something.

I don't know what prompted it, but it made me feel really good. Hopefully I said or did something special to the person that bought it because it made me very special.

So, thanks to Chris C. I very much appreciate your gift. I watched it today and enjoyed it. I'm feeling a bit under the weather it was lovely to have a movie that I love but haven't seen in a while.