When Romney questions Obama’s achievements, remember what the Congress did to most of his proposals.
No Congress has ever done to a President what the Republicans in the Senate and the House have. Given the House’s Republican majority and the Senate’s need for 60% of votes to avoid filibuster, the President has been a victim of politicians who put their party ahead of the needs of Americans.
Take a look:
And if you listen to Romney accuse Obama for not making enough happen, wonder why he is not aware of the stance taken by his fellow Republicans in elected office.
- NYT: Exits of centrists weigh on Congress (msnbc.msn.com)
- I imagine that Romney will accuse Obama of not having created jobs… (underthelobsterscope.wordpress.com)
- Behind The Obama Implosion (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Ex-GOP Sen. Larry Pressler on supporting Obama: “Veterans very offended” by Romney (salon.com)
- Analysis: Romney would lean on Congress for tax code overhaul (news.yahoo.com)
“All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.—
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”
– Grover Norquist
So, who runs the Republican Party anyway? This guy holds no office and doesn’t speak at the convention. So why is he so important. Why do all these dumbos sign his goddam anti-tax pledge?
That I have no answer for. I wonder if Romney does.
- Grover Norquist: Fear of Tax Increase Will Turn Vote to Romney (usnews.com)
- Grover Norquist: Killing the American Government with a smile on his face (freakoutnation.com)
- Grover Norquist Calls George H.W. Bush A Liar (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Norquist says Ryan would leave ‘large footprint’ in Romney administration (thehill.com)
- GOP Congress Members Have Private Audience with Pope Grover, Seek His Blessing (crooksandliars.com)
- George H.W. Bush: “Who the Hell Is Grover Norquist?” (crooksandliars.com)
- Norquist Meets With GOP To Discuss ‘Extremely Helpful’ Pledge (huffingtonpost.com)
- Ryan Would Play ‘Similar’ Role to Cheney, Norquist Says – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
There are only about 40 days left in the Congressional season before these champions of non-accomplishment go out to lie and buy their votes. Yet what they should be doing is getting the Middle Class jobs, not waiting to see if Romney is elected.
In Las Vegas, today marks a protest of appointed U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) to get him to support H.R 5542, the “Bring Jobs Home Act.” Heller has been focused on by the AFL-CIO. Heller, along with the Republican Party, have never voted for any Job Bills proposed by President Obama or the Democrats in congress, and it’s not likely that he or his Party will start now.
The Bring Home The Jobs Act would end a tax benefit for companies that move jobs overseas and, instead, would add a tax credit for companies that move jobs back to the United States. The bill would also prohibit the first group of companies from receiving federal grants or guaranteed loans.
The AFL-CIO is also promoting the “United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act” that would make public the names of companies that move call centers overseas (H.R. 3596.)
The Democratic Party in both the House and the Senate have backed Bills in the past that would end corporations from receiving a tax break for creating jobs overseas, while giving a tax credit if they create jobs in the United States, but the Republican Party stopped them with a no vote in the House and a filibuster in the Senate.
Of course, wasting time on repealing an unrepealable Health Care bill was worth the effort for Boehner and his Bozos.
And what is their job strategy based on? This:
- Congress Fiddles as Crises Loom (thedailybeast.com)
- Rep. Van Hollen: Health care repeal vote is ’empty political gesture’ (cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com)
- Health care repeal effort: Worth the time? (cbsnews.com)
- NV Women Respond to Heller Campaign’s “A Woman’s Place is in the House” Button (nvrdc.wordpress.com)
- Even Republicans Are Dissing Appointed-Senator Heller (humboldtdems.wordpress.com)
Congress creates a new achievenment record…achieving nothing.
“It’s another recess week for our lazy leaders… By the time the Republican-led House returns next week, members will have been working in Washington on just 41 of the first 127 days of 2012 — and that was the busy part of the year. They are planning to be on vacation — er, doing ‘constituent work’ — 17 of the year’s remaining 34 weeks, and even when they are in town the typical workweek is three days.”
– Dana Millbank
And we pay these people?
“Tomorrow’s victories will be built from the embers of defeat. Of this I have no doubt. How do I know this? I started my career in 1967 and since then, I have lost a total of eight times. Indeed, when I was elected to Congress in 1996, it was on my FIFTH try.”
There has been speculation that Kucinich may try to gain a seat from Washington state after losing in a redistricted election in Ohio. To that end, he has taken up speaking in the west coast state where the filing deadline for candidacy is May 18th.It is also easier to get on the ballot in Washington, without petitions or other expenses and complications getting in the way.
A Congressional candidate in Washington state must only pay 1 percent of the annual salary of a House Member as his filing fee and declare his party affiliation. A group called Washington Citizens for Kucinich knows how simple the requirements are and feel it is best if Kucinich makes a decision to run by the end of April.
The new 10th district, which he would run in, is a safe Democratic seat.
- Kucinich back to Washington State (politico.com)
- Kucinich: Washington’s political guest returns (seattlepi.com)
- Rep. Dennis Kucinich to headline WA forum on Social Security (ssworkswa.org)
- You: Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich hailed by colleagues after primary loss (latimes.com)
- Congress Loses Its Most Liberal Member: Dennis Kucinich Was Defeated In Ohio (businessinsider.com)
According to CBS News:
“One bill, Republican Del. Bob Marshall‘s House bill 1, would define personhood at conception and “provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth.” The second bill requires that women be required to undergo an ultrasound procedure prior to having an abortion.
The personhood bill, which passed by 66-32 in the Virginia state House, does not ban abortions, the legality of which are protected under the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. It would, however, make illegal certain types of contraceptive measures, including emergency contraception. Women’s health advocates say it could also open the door to banning birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUD).”
This means that the unborn child, at every stage of development, has rights. For instance, at fertilization, any and all fertilized eggs may have the right to be tax deductions, thus shorting the state on money from taxes. And of course there are many more ludicrous circumstances.
It is the second bill which will cause the most anxiety to women. This bill has as
“its requirement that some women undergo a transvaginal ultrasound probe, which is considered more physically invasive than other procedures.
While the bill does not explicitly mandate the use of transvaginal ultrasounds, many women would inevitably be required to undergo them; in the early stages of pregnancy, that procedure is often the only form of ultrasound that can detect a fetus’ heartbeat.
Republicans argue that the ultrasound bill will protect women from complications during abortion procedures, and that providing a woman with the gestational age of the fetus is crucial to her “informed consent” to have an abortion.”
This is, of course, only a procedure designed to scare a woman away from an abortion, even if she has been illegally assaulted and become pregnant or if there is a medical danger in the pregnancy. Since, without her permission, any invasive technique is no better than rape itself.
Republican Governor Bob McDonnell (who looks like he’ll be the mighty Mitt’s choice for Veep) is expected to sign these bills when they hit his desk, making Virginia the first major bastion of Sexual Fascism.
An amendment designed to require the woman’s right to give permission for the invasive exam (promoted by a Democratic delegate) was voted down by 100% of the Republic delegates.
Ladies, get in the car and head for the border… and don’t look back
- Virginia Advances Anti-Abortion “Fetal Personhood” And “Transvaginal Ultrasound” Bills (thefrisky.com)
- Women Beware: Republicans Will Probe Your Privates (duanegraham.wordpress.com)
- Va. GOP Demands Invasive Vaginal Ultrasound Procedure Before Abortion (littlegreenfootballs.com)
Out of almost 4000 comments on the Facebook page, 2 kept popping up that I agreed with:
2. Get a new show for Laurie showing off his tremendous musical skills… a great situation comedy like Fry and Laurie used to do in Britain.
I hope it goes out with a bang!
After much deliberation, the producers of House M.D. have decided that this season of the show, the 8th, should be the last. By April this year they will have completed 177 episodes, which is about 175 more than anyone expected back in 2004.
The decision to end the show now, or ever, is a painful one, as it risks putting asunder hundreds of close friendships that have developed over the last eight years – but also because the show itself has been a source of great pride to everyone involved.
Since it began, House has aspired to offer a coherent and satisfying world in which everlasting human questions of ethics and emotion, logic and truth, could be examined, played out, and occasionally answered. This sounds like fancy talk, but it really isn’t. House has, in its time, intrigued audiences around the world in vast numbers, and has shown that there is a strong appetite for television drama that relies on more than prettiness or gun play.
But now that time is drawing to a close. The producers have always imagined House as an enigmatic creature; he should never be the last one to leave the party. How much better to disappear before the music stops, while there is still some promise and mystique in the air.
The producers can never sufficiently express their gratitude to the hundreds of dedicated artists and technicians who have given so generously of their energy and talent to make House the show it has been – and perhaps will continue to be for some time, on one cable network or another.
The makers of House would also like to thank Fox Broadcasting and Universal Television for supporting the show with patience, imagination and large quantities of good taste. The Studio-As-Evil-Adversary is one of the many clichés that House has managed to avoid, and for that the cast and crew are deeply grateful.
Lastly, the audience: some have come and some have gone, obviously. This is to be expected in the life of any show. But over the course of the last eight years, the producers of House have felt immensely honored to be the subject of such close attention by an intelligent, discriminating, humane and thoughtful – not to mention numerous – audience. Even the show’s detractors have been flattering in their way. Making the show has felt like a lively and passionate discussion about as many different subjects as could possibly be raised in 177 hours. The devotion and generosity of our viewers has been marvelous to behold.
So, finally, everyone at House will bid farewell to the audience and to each other with more than a few tears, but also with a deep feeling of gratitude for the grand adventure they have been privileged to enjoy for the last eight years. If the show lives on somewhere, with somebody, as a fond memory, then that is a precious feat, of which we will always be proud.
Last week we put in 3 offers on the same property (we went down, they said no, we went up. they went down-but not enough, we went up to our limit, they accepted our (that shows we have credit and can afford the purchase.)
Now we are just waiting to hear that they have reviewed the letter and we have the property. This is a foreclosure and we are dealing with the company that owned the mortgage, but, unfortunately, they are in Texas… 2 hours behind us. We have been hoping to hear from them all day, but so far our real estate agent hasn’t called with the good news.
This is our chance to own a little “farmette” (as Elly calls it) where we (read “she”) can garden, raise chickens and a couple of goats and have plenty of room for our dogs. The House is not the passive one we wanted to build, but, if we get it, we are going to seal it up some more and look into solar power. Also, with the 4.5 acres, we may have room to subdivide, build our passive house on 2 acres of the lot and sell off the existing house and 2.5 acres that are left. There are all kinds of possibilities.
Now we just need the phone call.
Found this info on the amount of time Congressfolk actually work in Politicus.USA:
House Republicans are scheduled to work even less in 2012. The House GOP has given themselves a schedule for next year that will have them in session for just 108 days. They will only be in session for six days in January, eight days in April, and three days in August. The House will be in session for exactly 13 days between September 10 and the 2012 election. With an average salary of $174,000,each member of the House will earn $1,611.11 for each day that they are in session.
- House GOP to Americans looking for jobs: ‘Gone Fishing. You’re on your own.’ (yubanet.com)
- House Democrats say GOP wants too many days off – The Associated Press (news.google.com)
- House Democrats say GOP wants too many days off (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Congress pledges to work all weekend to solve Deficit Problem. I pledge to stop laughing as soon as I get off the floor.
We know for, what is now, a fact that the children in control of the House are going to pound their hands and feet on the floor to avoid compromise and the Democrats in the Senate, without seeing what the House may pass, has already vowed to vote against it.
John Boehner seems more concerned with shifting control of the Tea-Party loaded House back to his office… this, of course, he does by promoting Tea-Party principles… and Harry Reid and friends are working hrd to make sure Republicans are responsible for the Economic cesspool we are in.
President Obama seems to be staying on top of the fray… but that doesn’t mean anything is being accomplished. Then, there’s the possibility of the 14th Amendment brou-ha-ha to come into play… although Obama is indicating it won’t.
Rich and Greedy folks like the Koch Brothers are sitting on their money piles and holding off any attempts to get them to pay their fair share. Control freaks like Grover Norquist are waving signed copies of the no-tax pledges that have gotten Republicans to sign over their heads and yelling “small government” (as we continue to pursue our role as World Policeman at a cost of Billions of Bucks a day.)
And now they have indicated they will work the weekend in Congress to solve the problem… something they have not been able to do in their string of regular 3-day weeks (gee… they have to travel on Mondays and Fridays.).
I no longer wish to pay congressional salaries unless they actually come to a positive compromise. Nor do I think we should support their staffs. And if they don’t come up with this compromise.. and protect the lower and middle classes… in time for the August 2 collapse, they should be ejected from their offices as well. Let them sit out in the rain predicted for Saturday and figure out how they are going to justify their jobs.
- Boehner Debt Ceiling Bill Faces House Vote (huffingtonpost.com)
- Is the Obama White House too politicized? Plus, is tax pledge helping or hurting debt talks? (politico.com)
- Debt Plan Gimmicks Are Go! (reason.com)
- Dems pounce on Norquist tax comments (politico.com)
- Call To ACTION: No Super Congress! (my.firedoglake.com)
- Did Grover Norquist blink on tax cuts? (cbsnews.com)
- Grover Norquist: Did anti-tax activist blink on Bush tax cuts? – CBS News (news.google.com)
- This Is How The Debt Deal Might Happen (businessinsider.com)
- Reid debt ceiling plan comes up short (money.cnn.com)
- As the final deadline gets closer, the parties move further apart (independent.co.uk)
- Reid Pledges to Kill Boehner Bill (politicalwire.com)
- Debt-ceiling vote: Can John Boehner win it? What if he can’t? (slate.com)
- Boehner’s debt plan up for significant House vote (cnn.com)
They cut funding for HIV tests, cancer screenings, birth control, and more, putting millions of women and families at risk. We can’t let it go unanswered. It’s time for you and me to stand with Planned Parenthood.
- I Stand With Planned Parenthood (benjaminste.in)
- The Evil Men Do (feministphilosophers.wordpress.com)
- House Votes to Stop Funding Planned Parenthood: What This Means for You (self.com)
- Planned Parenthood Speaks Out on GOP Attack – The Root (news.google.com)
- House Votes to Strip Planned Parenthood of Federal Funds (slog.thestranger.com)
I’m on a borrowed machine this morning and it’s going really slow… I can’t wait until my computer comes back from the repair shop (Monday, I hope. Wednesday at the latest)… but this gives me a few minutes to post.
The snow is falling lightly outside. I don’t know how much we’re going to get, but it won’t be any where near the amount my daughter Cassandra and her family are getting in Connecticut. They’re having a pretty bad winter up there… West Virginia seems to be getting away with a mild slap on the butt.
Monday the Republicans in the House won’t be in session, but Tuesday they are coming back strong with their Health Care Repeal plan. They seem to be ignoring completely what this will add to the deficit, or the millions of Americans who will automatically lose health insurance if it becomes law. Since the bill was passed the number of people who work for small businesses who have received health care through their employers has increased over 50% (due to the discounts these employers get because of the Health Care Bill), yet these insurees could immediately lose their insurance if a repeal is passed.
What are Crybaby Boehner and his idiots thinking? Is making a political act to show that they are anti-Democrat and pro-TeaParty really this important to them? If it is, then their policy is truly America be damned.
It’s time to start a massive letter writing Campaign to our Representatives making sure they realize what the facts are here. I know I’m going to start going after my Rep, Shelly Moore Capito (R – WV) who tends to vote for most things not in our best interests. I am ready to campaign heavily on getting her out of office in 2012 if she doesn’t change her ways.
I’ve got to give this computer back to my wife now, so I hope you all have a nice day.
- House to take test vote on health care repeal – USA Today (news.google.com)
- Question of the Day: Do You Agree or Disagree with the Republican Plan to Repeal Health Care Law? (abcnews.go.com)
- Sebelius, Democrats in full-throated defense of health care law (boston.com)
- Repeal effort defines GOP House debut (msnbc.msn.com)
- Democrats mount health plan defense (boston.com)
- Analysis: Health care repeal will cost $230 billion (cnn.com)
- Blue Dogs won’t help GOP with health care repeal (washingtonmonthly.com)
I guess I don’t either. I spent an hour or so watching them debate the START treaty this afternoon… actually debating an amendment or two which are NOT going to get on the bill (they’ll be voting on amendments at 3:00… that’s when I’ll turn it on again)… and was amazed at how frightening it is to have politicians control nuclear weapons. I had to turn the TV off while Senator Kyl was trying to find things to blame Obama on in this treaty… and, of course, to complain about being forced to work when they should be home celebrating Christmas.
Will they get this through by tomorrow or Tuesday? We’ll see. The Republicans are great stallers here and want to take up as much time as possible (and there are some judicial appointments that are taking up space in the Senate minutes as well) and perhaps we will have to leave until the January term begins and the Dems have less Senators and no control on the House. As Driftglass told Bluegal on their on-line broadcast Wednesday, the Republicans are hostage taking thugs that will use all kinds of crap to make important legislation either die or get watered way down. They hold our security hostage and the Dems and Obama are knuckling under. Do you hear the alarm going off?
I didn’t notice if Manchin has shown up today, but I’m not sure it matters. I hate to say it, but I think everything has been pre-decided. We’ll find out when the votes are over, but I don’t think we’ll be surprised.
- McConnell Will Oppose START Treaty, But Two Top Lawmakers Predict Passage (politicsdaily.com)
- Parties at Odds on START Treaty Support (online.wsj.com)
- Senate Republican Leader to Oppose Missile Treaty – New York Times (news.google.com)
- McConnell: I can’t support START; Update: Deal reached on budget (hotair.com)
- Senate votes down McCain amendment to the START treaty (cnn.com)
- Senators clash on arms treaty as pressure grows (reuters.com)
- In letter to Senate, Obama says New START pact won’t limit missile defense – Washington Post (news.google.com)
- US Senate rejects bid to kill Russia treaty (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Obama invokes Reagan to push START treaty (reuters.com)
- START Treaty Wins Backing of GOP Senators Snowe, Collins (politicsdaily.com)
- Congress rushes to finish bills before holidays (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
I don’t know if any of this stuff is really believable. I watched a gloomy couple of hours of debate this morning when the Republicans held off any changes in the Obama-McConnell Tax Cut extension, keeping Democratic changes from coming into play. Now I’m watching as all the amendments proposed by Republicans and Bernie Sanders get voted down (they need a 2/3 majority under these rules), which, I think, it was previously agreed upon.
I guess they will then put the 61 votes necessary behind the Bill as written (and complain about how they HAD to do it… especially from the Democratic side)… and then it will go to the House and go through the same kind of brouhaha with the same results.
I wish I felt that the main motivation here wasn’t “vote for it now so we can go home for Christmas” or some other pathetic excuse. But it seems pretty clear that this will be a day cheered on by the rich, who will make out like bandits for the next couple of years. Sanders’ amendment, which is currently being voted (down, I’m sure… there’s no way it can get the 67 Aye votes necessary) which would remove the tax cuts from the top 2%. As I watch them muddle around on the Senate floor I am more and more aware that this is a crowd of rich people… many who became rich by becoming Senators. Why would they vote against themselves?
And then there’s my Senator, Joe Manchin, and Joe “the sleeze” Lieberman who are voting NO with the Republicans on taxing the rich.
This is going to be even more fun in January when there are more Republicans in the Senate and a Republican Majority in the House. We might as well give our country to the Chinese now and get it over with.
For the last hour and a half I have been attempting to get my younger dog, Byron, back into the house. He wriggled his way off his leash when we were coming back from a walk and now he’s running around the neighborhood.
Has this happened before? Yes… but we try to avoid it recurring since he gives us such trouble getting back into the house. Our other dog, Nestle, can be lured by dog biscuits or by opening the car door and saying “Let’s go bye-bye.” Byron likes to run in large circles… come back to the door and wait till you come out to get him, and then run away again with a big laugh on his Rottweiler Mix face.
So my final solution is to leave the front door open and c0me upstairs to the living room (2nd floor of our town house) and wait until he gets so thirsty he’ll come in for his water bowl. It always happens eventually. Meanwhile, I have to keep Nestle on his leash or he’ll run out the front door looking for Byron. The problem if Nestle, my old Lab Retriever (10+ years), forgets what he’s doing, wanders off and gets lost. I have to drive for blocks to find him, and then he’s happy to jump in the car. Byron never likes to hang out with Nestle if they both run off… something you think my older dog would remember… but he doesn’t. Nestle stays by the window, at the end of the leash, and watches for the escapee.
Wonder of wonders! as I write this Byron has tiptoed up the stairs and is heading for his water bowl… excuse me while I run downstairs and close the front door.
Dogs! The children of our old age!
- Boehner appears to be on board with Obama tax plan (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Forget Boehner: Mitch McConnell Threatens Tax Bill Filibuster In The Senate (businessinsider.com)
- McConnell breaks with Boehner, will fight middle-class tax breaks (washingtonmonthly.com)
I’m giddy with excitement. Bones and House both have new seasons starting this month. The PR guys at the Network have put out their promotional pics:
“The Republican leads of 6, 7, and 10 points this month are all higher than any previous midterm Republican advantage in Gallup’s history of tracking the generic ballot, which dates to 1942. Prior to this year, the highest such gap was five points, measured in June 2002 and July 1994. Elections in both of these years resulted in significant Republican gains in House seats.”
“Democrats have argued that there’s still a lot of time before voters head to the polls in November, and they say that further public discussion of what they’ve accomplished since President Obama was inaugurated will close the gap for the Democrats by Election Day. But Republicans say that it’s what the Democrats haven’t accomplished — namely, putting a big dent in the nation’s unemployment numbers — that will tilt things heavily in the GOP’s favor when all is said and done this year.”
… while I was off picking up my son at Reagan National Airport yesterday and my wife was at a meeting. Of course, I didn’t discover it until this morning (he carefully hid his donation behind the washing machine closet door which was ajar). If you don’t catch him right when he is doing it, trying to teach him an object lesson is useless.
Here’s a clip. but the whole article is worth reading:
This was put out less than an hour ago. You can go HERE and read it all.
And they must know they have the votes because the House will vote on the Senate bill first before it considered a separate package of reconciliation changes. That means there will be no “deem and pass” and one of the big Republican complaints is now nonexistent (let’s see what they go after next.)
And now I’m watching President Obama as he addresses the House Democrats (Harry Reid introduced him, a guarantee that the Senate is ready to vote the Reconciliation bill in.)
Here’s the list that has added their names to the four who wrote the letter I reprinted yesterday (bottom of article):
Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Roland Burris (D-IL)
Al Franken (D-MN)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
With the four originals, the number has grown to 18 by my count. If your Democratic Senator is not listed here, give them a call. They should be here.
Also: 119 House members are in on this… check the list HERE.
It is time to get the word to Harry Reid that Reconciliation is the method to employ here and forget about the 60-vote Republican Naysayers.
Just received a fine e-mail from Chuck Schumer (D-NY) adding himself to the list. It’s only going to go up from here.
If you want to find out who the 11 players are among the Senate Democrats, GO HERE and read the whole article.
(and I know… Joe Lieberman is NOT REALLY A DEMOCRAT!)
And to give you a sense of the call for reconciliation from the Progressives, this letter went to Harry Reid yesterday:
Dear Leader Reid:
We respectfully ask that you bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.
There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach – its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.
A Public Option Is an Important Tool for Restoring Fiscal Discipline.
As Democrats, we pledged that the Senate health care reform package would address skyrocketing health care costs and relieve overburdened American families and small businesses from annual double-digit health care cost increases. And that it would do so without adding a dime to the national debt.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that the Senate health reform bill is actually better than deficit neutral. It would reduce the deficit by over $130 billion in the first ten years and up to $1 trillion in the first 20 years.
These cost savings are an important start. But a strong public option can be the centerpiece of an even better package of cost saving measures. CBO estimated that various public option proposals in the House save at least $25 billion. Even $1 billion in savings would qualify it for consideration under reconciliation.
Put simply, including a strong public option is one of the best, most fiscally responsible ways to reform our health insurance system.
A Public Option Would Provide Americans with a Low-Cost Alternative and Improve Market Competitiveness.
A strong public option would create better competition in our health insurance markets. Many Americans have no or little real choice of health insurance provider. Far too often, it’s “take it or leave it” for families and small businesses. This lack of competition drives up costs and leaves private health insurance companies with little incentive to provide quality customer service.
A recent Health Care for America Now report on private insurance companies found that the largest five for-profit health insurance providers made $12 billion in profits last year, yet they actually dropped 2.7 million people from coverage. Private insurance – by gouging the public even during a severe economic recession – has shown it cannot function in the public’s interest without a public alternative. Americans have nowhere to turn. That is not healthy market competition, and it is not good for the public.
If families or individuals like their current coverage through a private insurance company, then they can keep that coverage. And in some markets where consumers have many alternatives, a public option may be less necessary. But many local markets have broken down, with only one or two insurance providers available to consumers. Each and every health insurance market should have real choices for consumers.
There is a history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation.
There is substantial Senate precedent for using reconciliation to enact important health care policies. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which actually contains the term ‘reconciliation’ in its title, were all enacted under reconciliation.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Norman Ornstein and Brookings’ Thomas Mann and Molly Reynolds jointly wrote, “Are Democrats making an egregious power grab by sidestepping the filibuster? Hardly.” They continued that the precedent for using reconciliation to enact major policy changes is “much more extensive . . . than Senate Republicans are willing to admit these days.”
There is strong public support for a public option, across party lines.
The overwhelming majority of Americans want a public option. The latest New York Times poll on this issue, in December, shows that despite the attacks of recent months Americans support the public option 59% to 29%. Support includes 80% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and even 33% of Republicans.
Much of the public identifies a public option as the key component of health care reform — and as the best thing we can do to stand up for regular people against big insurance companies. In fact, overall support for health care reform declined steadily as the public option was removed from reform legislation.
Although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public’s perception of it. The Senate has an obligation to reform our unworkable health insurance market — both to reduce costs and to give consumers more choices. A strong public option is the best way to deliver on both of these goals, and we urge its consideration under reconciliation rules.
Michael Bennet (D-CO), U.S. Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), U.S. Senator
Jeff Merkley (D-OR), U.S. Senator
Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Senator