Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Does Early Evidence Point to Success of ACA?

Early anecdotes, statistics, and honest assessments by small business observers all suggest that the conservative narrative against the Affordable Care Act is based more on what the conservative paradigm tells them the outcome should be--not what the outcome actually is.  Joan McCarter at Daily Kos has compiled some of the evidence:
There's more than just anecdotal evidence that the small business tax credit has spurred many more business to provide insurance to their employees. Last fall, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation reported a nine percent increase in businesses offering coverage, and the Los Angeles Times featured a story earlier this month reporting that "[m]ajor insurers around the country are reporting that a growing number of small businesses are signing up to give their workers health benefits, a sign of potential progress for the nation's battered healthcare system."
Even in a down economy with very high unemployment, being able to offer workers health benefits is a huge boon to small businesses. It is, incidentally, also good news for insurers, who've gained a lot of new customers. So the U.S. Chamber's zeal for repeal certainly isn't shared by the businesses they purport to represent, but apparently just those mega-corporations that actually comprise their membership. So the only conclusion that makes any sense is that the U.S. Chamber is operating on the basis of pure ideology, rather than what the average American business would want.
The insistence on repeating the conservative narrative sans facts has been politically and materially hazardous for organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has lost major corporations as members, as well as the cooperation of local chambers, because of its extremist ideology and unwillingness to objectively assess the economic effects of the legislation. In other words, people with genuine business and economic interests reject the conservative non-arguments for economic reasons. As Suzy Khimm writes in Mother Jones:
Angry about the lobbying behemoth's full-bore opposition to Democratic climate-change legislation, Apple, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, and a handful of other blue-chip corporations quit the Chamber. A few months later, about a dozen local Chambers of Commerce publicly broke away from the group, arguing that the national organization had swung too far to the right and no longer represented its members' views. Now, some of the same questions are beginning to surface over the Chamber's hard-line stance on health care. Since the new Congress has begun, the group has come out swinging against "Obamacare," boosting conservative claims that reform is killing businesses and the economy. "It's time to go back to the drawing board," said Tom Donohue, the Chamber's chief executive officer, at his annual address last week. "The Chamber was a leader in the fight against this particular bill—and thus we support legislation in the House to repeal it." Could another civil war erupt within the Chamber over health care reform? Given that full repeal isn't politically feasible any time soon, a repeat of 2009's defections seems unlikely, and the Chamber itself has begun adopting a more targeted approach to submarining reform. But when it comes to the Chamber's constituency outside the beltway, some local branches say they don't agree with the national Chamber's stance on repeal.
Neither the Kos nor the Mother Jones pieces weigh the evidence against the criticisms of the left (and remember--more people believe the ACA doesn't go far enough than believe it goes too far). We know the legislation doesn't go far enough fast enough, and that single payer would have been more fiscally responsible and successful in terms of the policy objective of universal coverage. But the news of the ACA's early success doesn't undermine those arguments, and it should serve to make the public suspicious of arguments from both the right and the center against single payer. If the Chamber, and its ideological constituency, can't get it right on center-right reform, there's really no reason to trust their dismissals of more progressive reform, should the opportunity to make that case arise in the near future (importantly: Many important groups never stopped arguing for it, and those groups simultaneously oppose repeal of the ACA).

Painful Becktal Itch

As Glenn Beck pathetically and enthymematically invites violence on yet another figure of the left, and Fox officials recite their usual denials and disclaimers, it occurred to me that no conservative I know personally (and having lived in Utah, Wyoming and California I know more than enough) will defend Beck in a conversation.  They won't proactively call him out, though.  They all say he's bad for their side, but they're either lying about their disposition towards him, or they're weak-willed in terms of trying to raise the level of conservative discourse.

So help me out, dear reader: Aside from a couple of right wing mediawatch sites, are any articulate conservatives--and/or conservatives you know personally--standing up for this death clown? 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

um yeah, about that alliance thing...

Concerning this so-called "progressive-libertarian alliance" ... anyone remember the story of "The Scorpion and the Frog" ? Why does that keep popping into my mind when I hear Nader reassuring us that Ron Paul, et al, only want to help us working folks?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When Bourgeois-Liberal Rhetoric Backfires

I had a feeling that the Democratic strategy to call on GOP members of Congress to give up their federal health insurance would backfire. And it has.
Looks like we've got another House GOPer who has decided to forgo the health insurance members of Congress enjoy -- because he says members of Congress should not support laws they don't want applied to themselves. [...] Dems, of course, have been demanding Republicans give up their insurance, in order to tar GOPers who favor repeal with the hypocrisy charge. But at this point, it should be noted that a surprising amount of House Republicans have now endorsed the idea by agreeing to do it themselves. Among them are Bobby Shilling, Mike Kelly, Joe Walsh, Daniel Webster, Sandy Adams, Frank Guinta, David McKinley, and Bill Johnson.
The reason they can do this is simple: Since most of these representatives range from upper-middle class to extremely wealthy, they can afford private health insurance. The rhetorical strategy of holding them to consistency might have worked if, say, the stakes were donning a uniform to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Democrats could hardly make such a demand when the vast majority of them have been complicit in Obama's continued occupation of those countries. But since the best options for providing affordable care to poor people were kicked off the table before the health care reform debate even began, and because it was the Democrats who were responsible for those manuevers, the center-right has nowhere to stand when their rich GOP colleagues call their bluff on federal employees' health insurance.

So as the House comes closer to finalizing their symbolic repeal vote, and a few (very few) principled Democrats remind the public of the tiny bits of common sense that the Act actually contains, the GOP has found another opportunity to strengthen their hand, without fear of genuine political opposition or reprisal. This is what happens when the only check against wealthy people without a conscience is wealthy people with an occasional conscience.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Sometimes when I get a message on my fax machine, I wonder: "Did little demons get inside and type it?"

Bill O'Reilly claims science can't explain the tides.
Apparently, Bill O’Reilly has never heard of the moon. In a debate Tuesday with Dave Silverman, head of the American Atheist group behind this, the Fox host tried to prove the existence of God by citing the unknowable mysteries of the tides. “I’ll tell you why [religion is] not a scam, in my opinion,” he told Silverman. “Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.”

Silverman looked stunned. “Tide goes in, tide goes out?” he stuttered. O’Reilly pressed on. “The water, the tide—it comes in and it goes out. It always goes in, then it goes out. … You can’t explain that. You can’t explain it.”
I am pretty sure Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists, Rastafarians, Pastafarians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Confucians, and Taoists can all agree that Bill O'Reilly is as stupid as a sack of nails.  Only the Moonies are likely to dissent.

yeah but

Yes, conservatives--yes, we do have some of the best health care in the world--& nearly a quarter of us can't afford to use it, tens of millions more would be financially wiped out if a family member got sick, & health care facilities are laying off workers because more & more people can't afford care. In this context, it's absurd to speak of repealing modest reforms OR being satisfied w/ said reforms.

Obvious to most people, but worth inscribing just to remind ourselves in a few years that we were right about this.
Anyone else think that nurse is kinda hot?