Red State Swindlers

In Jonathan's post on the deal struck by the Democratic leadership in the Senate to secure the votes necessary for cloture, Jerome pointed to sweeteners that the Senator Ben Nelson extracted. Among them was a deal in perpetuity that will fund Nebraska's Medicare spending. While Medicaid is usually paid for with a mix of Federal and state funding, Senator Nelson has secured for his state quite the subsidy. Here's the justification:

You'll find a number of states that are treated differently than other states. That's what legislating is all about. It's compromise." - Harry Reid on behalf of Senator Ben Nelson, The Swindler from Nebraska

After I stopped laughing and composed myself, I am still incredulous over this remark. No, it's not compromise. It's highway robbery. It is a legalized swindle, an extortion most foul. It is populous blue states subsidizing sparsely populated red states who instead of thanking us for our generous grants hold us hostage to their petty demands. They deny us the options we seek yet expect us to pay for their programs.

As Paul Krugman noted recently in the New York Times, "states that vote Republican benefit from federal government redistribution far more than those that lean Democratic." Nor is this a new development. Blue states have been picking up the tab for red states going on two decades. We pay out and yet we pay the price of their intransigence.

Paul Krugman cites the work of Gary Richardson of the University of California, Irvine who recently wrote in the The Economist's Voice that while Republicans campaign against redistribution of wealth, they govern by redistributing money from Democratic states to Republican states.

In 2004, the average Alaskan received $1.84 in federal benefits for each $1 he or she paid in federal taxes. The Republican presidential candidate, George W. Bush, received 62 percent of the vote.

Now consider the state of Massachusetts. In 2004, the average resident received only $0.82 in federal benefits for each $1 paid in federal taxes. Yet less than 38 percent of all voters pulled the lever marked George W. Bush. And this was not an effect of John Kerry's candidacy in particular. Four years before, when his opponent was Al Gore, Bush received only 33 percent of the vote.

The pattern holds true across all 50 states: In 2004, the 28 states in which George W. Bush received more than 50 percent of the vote received an average of $1.32 in federal benefits for each $1 their citizens paid in federal taxes. In contrast, the 19 states in which George W. Bush received less than 50 percent of the vote received an average of $0.93 on the dollar.

In 2005, Paul Krugman found that blue states subsidized red states to the tune of $90 billion per year. The red states secure this largesse because in the Senate the smallest 26 states in terms of population, which are mostly red, have a majority despite accounting for only 17.8 percent of the US population as of the 2000 US Census. A minority continues to thwart the will of a majority. My patience with red state swindlers is, frankly, at an end.

Update [2009-12-20 9:12:8 by Jerome Armstrong]:I concur, but please, lets not make this something that Nelson alone has done. With this agreement made by Reid and the other Democrats, this Senate bill has reached a level of corruption that is unacceptable. This isn't compromise, its bribery. I have to hand it to Harry Reid though, he figured out a way to get me to agree with Andrew Breitbart. Now, Breitbart's populism may be rightwing conservative, preferring the government do nothing rather as opposed to our progressive populism that wants government to help others, but the outrage is shared and shouldn't be looked over just because it has a D next to it.

Update [2009-12-20 17:15:41 by Charles Lemos]: Many of you are overlooking my main point. You are not getting a return on your investment. Those of us who live in blue states are being held hostage by red states senators. To the tune of $90 billion + a year, we subsidize their lifestyle and yet we are denied the options we seek.

If you go by population, the GOP is overrepresented in the Senate. I did the math. They hold 40 percent of the seats but the states they represent hold just 35 percent of the population. That 5 percent difference is 5 Senate seats.

And when you look at the power of the 26 least populated states who constitute a majority in the Senate and then find that those states hold just 17.8 percent of the population combined with legislative outcomes that thwart the will of the majority time and again, you have a recipe for disaster. And this ratio is increasing getting worse perhaps not dramatically but it is increasing. I went back and ran the numbers for 1960 when we first had 50 states and then the least 26 least populated states had 18.4 percent of the population.

There are more people in San Francisco than there are in Wyoming and SF isn't a large city. They get two senators and we get a sliver of two senators that we have to share with 35 million other Californians.

Those of you who believe that this is the first step to single payer or some broader reform are likely deluding yourselves. There is no reason to believe that the stranglehold that a minority now possesses can be somehow ameliorated. In fact, we are probably at our peak of power and yet we are stymied. When 70 percent of Americans want a public option and they are denied this by a bizarre coalition of the whole entire GOP caucus in league with Democratic Senators largely from red states (the sole exception being Connecticut's Joe Lieberman) then I think the scope of the problem is evident. If this is the best deal that a super majority can come with up, then it is time to admit that the United States is fast becoming a failed state.

You and I are being held hostage and we are effectively powerless to change this reality. To expect a different outcome based on the experience of the past 20 years is simply not logical. The stranglehold that red states have in the Senate is likely going to increase, not decrease. There are now 11 Democratic Senators from states that voted for McCain compared to 8 GOP Senators from states that went for Obama. Nor am I sure that we can hold seats in states like Nevada, Illinois, and Delaware. The political reality is that the Democratic party is probably at the peak of its power for the foreseeable future and yet we arrive at legislative outcomes that fly in the face of long-held Democratic principles.

I will oppose this bill. This is a gift for insurance companies. It enhances their power, not lessens it and given that the course of history in the country over the past 40 years has been one of increasing corporate power and our inability now to stem that tide, there is little reason to believe or to hope that in the future we may yet correct the gross liabilities in this bill.

Update [2009-12-20 19:24:23 by Charles Lemos]: Let me amend that last paragraph. My inclination is to oppose the bill. I am open to persuasion.

Tags: Federal Redistribution of Wealth, Senator Ben Nelson, US Healthcare Reform (all tags)

Comments

87 Comments

Re: Red State Swindlers

Shocking! Unbelievable! Unprecedented!

by QTG 2009-12-20 04:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Pretty much, yea. But what's interesting, even if you want to argue that this sort of bribery, or what you call compromise, is what occurs regularly, two things:

First, this style, this "culture of corruption" is exactly what Democrats ran against and promised not to do.

Second, it doesn't happen without an echo any longer. This is the sort of outrage at an example that ignites a firestorm of revolt. Thanks to the internet, it's easy for a populace to read the exact language that creates this sort of exemption, and keep the story going.

I'm sure, if it were the Republicans doing this sort of thing, you'd find your convenient outrage.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

On the one hand, the Democrats have been hammered from the (far)Left for not doing whatever was necessary (including the use of Bush-era tactics) to steamroller the process - routinely called wimps, sellouts, and worst of all 'compromisers' (meaning 'appeasers'). Now, using tactics as old as politics itself - the exact opposite becomes the hammer.

But I'll have to say, that tactic also has a long tradition!

by QTG 2009-12-20 04:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

What tripe and utter bs. No wonder you post under a pseudonym.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

 You deny that strong-arm tactics up to and including the nuclear option of changing the Senate rules on filibusters have been advocated here? OK.

by QTG 2009-12-20 05:22AM | 0 recs
Who first suggested the Nuclear Option?

Twarnt Democrats. IOKIYAAR.

by Bruce Webb 2009-12-20 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Reading the link to Breibart, Nelson secured tax exemptions for Mutual of Omaha and another Nebraska insurance company.

Unreal.

You're right, it is a culture of corruption. Our predator state.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 04:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

the move from plutocratic (influence of money) to kleptocratic (money redistributed from the lower classes to the money class) started last year.

by bruh3 2009-12-20 10:48AM | 0 recs
But what is the answer?

You know, Jerome, I agree with you here...this is beyond the pale (and what drives me doubly crazy is that not only is this ethically disgusting, reid is horrible at it to boot, reminds me of that movie 'ruthless people,' when bill pullman shouts 'i'm robbing you').

As a disclaimer of sort, yes I was a fervent Obama supporter and am not wholly disillusioned yet. While I enthusiastically supported Obama, I never expected anything more than a center-left president whose election would be a good moment for America and who would disappoint me quite often, but also wouldn't continue the dangerously rightward trend of this country. Maybe I'm a fool, but I don't think he has, and as a recently laid off person (who's quite on his feet anyway), I have tangible proof of helpful progressive actions which Republicans would have opposed.  

However, while I've seen you over the last year bash Obama (and clinton too), the entrenched Democratic power structure, etc., and anyone with whom you disagree, post-CTG, I have yet to see any suggestions as to what we should do to change this (if i've missed them, i apologize).  Wailing about it here does very little (echo chambers work both ways). Not voting, volunteering, contributing Dem may work in theory, but the ultimate result will be that the Republicans will have many years of power to make things even worse.  I ask this not as an attack, but as someone who first started reading blogs in 2002/03, someone who looked up to you as one of the more intelligent movers in the political world. While you may not care about what one insignificant lurker on your blog may think, your tenor of the past year or two has dampened my view, but that's neither here nor there. Honestly, as someone whose opinion I respect, I'm curious to know what you suggest as the best method for a progressive to be heard. Yes, you've written a book, and been involved in many campaigns (a hell of a lot more than i've done, although i've dipped my toes in the latter), but a lot has changed and a lot has been said since then.  I'm listening, and as someone with too much time on his hands, will take it into account.

by thurst 2009-12-20 05:18AM | 0 recs
Outrageous!! Demanding Single Payer!

Wait a minute, WTF am I saying? Nelson demands that Medicaid for HIS state moves in the direction of Universal Single Payer and PROGRESSIVES are crying corruption?

No I am not happy about the means but have no issue with the end. If the price of admission to Single Payer is paying off Landrieu or Lincoln on future legislation by extending Single Payer to their poverty level citizens and so build up national Single Payer from the bottom up what's our bitch? Nelson just opened a door he may not actually perceive.

100% federal funding of Medicaid means state legislators no longer making trade-offs between school funding and health care for people in poverty. That's a bad thing why?

Eyes on the prize.

by Bruce Webb 2009-12-20 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Outrageous!! Demanding Single Payer!

Actually the only trade-off is between tax cuts and more tax-cuts.

NE, earlier this year passed one of the largest tax-cuts in it's history, pushing it's budget into the red. Thus the concern about the medicaid liability, only 7% of which would be funded by the state anyway.

That said Blue states have always subsidized the Red states. We are the engine of the economy.

by vecky 2009-12-20 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Outrageous!! Demanding Single Payer!

Yea, I mentioned that irony in my last post about it, which Charles linked to, when I tagged on Jonathan's post.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: But what is the answer?

Hey there, I appreciate the perspective.

Look, I didn't enjoy the last 2 years either, feeling like a voice in the wilderness, when everyone was saying Obama was different from Clinton (he's not and I'm glad you see it); and trying to convince others that criticism was a key factor in organizing for progressive change (rather than just expecting Obama to do the right thing). Look what that's got us. Anyway, its past that point.

I am in the Accountability Now coalition. If Bill Halter runs against Lincoln Blanche, we will heavily advocate for that primary. I also will be advocating for any progressive in a blue CD to challenge an entrenched Democrat that's been voting wrong. So, in direction, the next steps are the primaries. I'd like to see AN involved in about a dozen races through the netroots.

For the GE, I'd like to support a bunch of candidates that run against entrenched Republicans. I think '10 is anti-incumbent. I am not interested in helping Dems that have been voting wrong. Feingold, Grayson, Fazio.. those are the ones at the top of my list to help.

We are launching the new MyDD asap. Its at launch.mydd.com right now, pending integration with breakingblue.com, which will integrate the blog with Facebook, Twitter & Google. Next up will be to integrate it with Netroots.com which will have the next generation of tools from which grew out of organizevirginia.com and seiuaz.org, that were done earlier this year. Much more activism here on the way.

But yea, I'm pretty frustrated with the political landscape, and have been pissed off in posts here a lot. but that doesn't mean I'm not doing anything about it elsewhere or preparing for something new here.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: But what is the answer?

One thing I want to know...is Obama really the problem (he seems to get what is going on) or is the Admin the problem (they seem to be trying to dance to any tune they can)...or is it the established Dem/Rep system and the two parties in particular?

I bring this up because I have been hearing a whole new type of commentary from both Republicans and Democrats in the form of...social libertarianism, if such a thing is possible.  The idea is smaller Govt, more responsability on the individual, but the smaller Govt. we would have would focus on educating/lifting up the less responsable to being more responsable.  It is a wild idea, not quite sure how the thing would pan out in reality.

And there is simmer outrage at corporate america.  If they are not carefull, there could be some nasty shocks for them even in this crappy economy.  Greed is now being looked at as a socially expensive and undesirable thing.  Not sure how a Goldmann Sachs or a Bank of America survives in this climate.

Is Obama waiting to see how the '10 elections come out, to see what his political base will be for the second half of the "game"?  Are we seeing the transformation of the conservative Dems over to a more openly progressive Dem agenda? (Keeping in mind that one states/voting area's conservative is another's liberal...imagine a Sen. Franken from...Utah...Ha ha ha.)

by Hammer1001 2009-12-20 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: But what is the answer?

Obama's was an 8 year plan from the get go, but I can't imagine this is what they dreamed up for the first year. So whatever they  are built on, needs some sort of overhaul.

Social libertarianism does sound in line with the populist energy, and I think it could be along the lines of what's next, in terms of the possible realignment forces at work, but I can't imagine how it could personify.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

I'm just sick of the whole thing.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 04:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Honestly

If all the threats to 'not vote for' and 'not support' any Democrat who votes for this 'turd' are actually carried out, the Democratic Party will split into factions as has the Republican Party. If the 'turd' passes in the Senate, every last one of the Dem Senators be among the 'impure'.

Is that the work being advoated here? Seriously?

by QTG 2009-12-20 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

How exactly is this any different than LBJ handing out judgships or other appointments to get votes?  Or the pork that is constantly handed out to secure passage of essentially every major piece of legislation?  

Is this how things should work?  No, not ideally.  But it's not new and, candidly, I don't think its the same thing as Duke Cunningham or Bob Ney taking kick-backs that lined their own pockets.  Most significantly, since there's nothing against the law with what Nelson did.  

I know you guys don't love this bill, and I respect that.  But arguing that this process has been any worse than the norm, let alone that voters will actually care about it, strikes me as quite the exaggeration.    

by HSTruman 2009-12-20 05:38AM | 0 recs
Interesting read

It begins in 1957, with Johnson as Senate majority leader, engineering passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, a feat generally regarded as impossible until he did it.

"To see Lyndon Johnson get that bill through, almost vote by vote," said Pultizer Prize-winning LBJ biographer Robert Caro, "is to see not only legislative power but legislative genius."

One key to Johnson's success was that he managed to link two completely unrelated issues: civil rights and dam construction in Hells Canyon in the Sawtooth Mountains of America's far northwest. Western senators were eager for the dam, which would produce enormous amounts of electricity. For years the advocates of public power and private power interests had fought to determine whether the dams would be built by government or private companies.

Those favoring public power were generally liberals from the Northwest states; they were liberal on civil rights as well, but they had no large numbers of African American voters in their states to answer to, so a vote against civil rights would not hurt them very much. LBJ brokered an agreement that traded some of their votes to support the southern, conservative position favoring a weak civil rights bill. In return, southerners would vote for public power at Hells Canyon.

The article goes into more interesting details, including how LBJ told liberals to shove it on a major part of the bill for them.

http://www.archives.gov/publications/pro logue/2004/summer/civil-rights-act-1.htm l

by ND22 2009-12-20 08:08AM | 0 recs
The Johnson Treatment 1957

It wasn't all about promising goodies. Johnson 'explaining' something about the proposed Civil Rights Act of 1957 to the Senator from Rhode Island

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_fjW71B3WLTQ/Sp 1ETNlLK6I/AAAAAAAAASM/B1HG0ZLjqEc/s1600- h/Johnson+Treatment.jpg

by Bruce Webb 2009-12-20 08:40AM | 0 recs
IIRC

the "treatment" he gave to Senator Green was to shut his fucking liberal trap and line up New England liberal votes. Green was opposing the bill because it wasn't liberal enough.

just sayin' lol

by ND22 2009-12-20 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

I just told you how it was different below. That might be all well and true about LBJ, but there was also no transparency back then either. How many people actually saw the language before it was even voted on?  How easily was that compromising angle shown thorugh blogs and new media?

If you don't understand how the transparency of the internet changes the way that you have to act to govern, and will be held accountable for those actions, you'll learn by losing.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 10:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

I didn't see any other responses to me, so apologies if I missed something . . .

I understand that things are different today than under LBJ, but I don't think people vote on issues like earmarks or horse trading.  If they did, John McCain would be President and we would have gotten slaughtered in any number of races last cycle.  Out and out corruption matters, certainly, but someone like Nelson  holding out for goodies isn't going to hurt him or anyone else, in my opinion.  If you can point to a race where that kind of action mattered, I'm certainly open to changing my mind, but I can't think of one.  

by HSTruman 2009-12-20 02:54PM | 0 recs
Such is the curse of the Senate

where a Senator from Nebraska has the same amount of power as a Senator from California.

by ND22 2009-12-20 05:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

You know, it's fine for someone like Breitbart or Michelle Malkin to claim that this is the most corrupt piece of legislation in the nation's history.  I expect that kind of rhetoric from them.  But I don't expect folks around here to act like they just woke up and discovered for the first time that politics involves horse-trading.

Maybe the bill sucks and will ruin the country, what do I know.  But if it's a worthwhile bill and it will help people, I could give a crap that some people in Nebraska are getting a little extra help.  In fact, I hope every state starts pressing to get the same deal as Nebraska on Medicaid.  I would love to federalize Medicaid funding, because I hate for the poor to suffer the impact any time there's a state budget crisis.

You know, if this post were about Nelson's abortion language and how it represents an unacceptable sellout of women's rights, I could at least understand the sentiment.  But these other provisions are just money.  If that's the price of helping a lot of people, who really cares?

by Steve M 2009-12-20 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Amen.  If we could have traded more pork for fewer substantive concessions, I for one would have been extremely supportive.  As I think Matt Yglesias suggested, perhaps we should have suggested some Lobster subsidies to Senator Snowe, instead of dropping the public option.  

by HSTruman 2009-12-20 07:16AM | 0 recs
Lest we forget

Bernie Sanders scored, what? $10 million for Community Health Centers?

PORK! CORRUPTION!

by ND22 2009-12-20 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Lest we forget

That will be one of the best investments the government has made in a long time.  God bless that corrupt Bernie Sanders is all I can say!

by HSTruman 2009-12-20 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Steve,

That's the point you're missing. Other states won't get that right that Ben Nelson secured for Nebraska. If Boxer attempted to do this for CA, it would have been voted down. You're right. It would be great to federalize Medicare but do you really think the GOP is ever going to allow that?

You're not seeing the pattern. Look at the link in the post. The study based on electoral map from 2004 but the point is rather clear. The money flows from blue states to red states is substantial and it derives from the composition/make-up of the Senate reflecting an institutional problem. We are either bribing the rural states or we are being extorted by them.

It's not just "money", it's corruption.  This is no different than the Bush-Cheney Energy Policy or the Farm Bill. We have a syndrome of no Corporation Left Behind and where every piece of legislation becomes a let's make deal that serves you and me but the national interest.  

Look, I am not the only saying that Senate is dysfunctional. Krugman, Friedman, Alter, Chait, Greenwald are also making similar arguments. Hell Senator Merkley said it two days ago.

At the very least we need to reform the filibuster. It's killing the country.

I'll point something else out to you. Since 1961 majority leaders have come from Nevada, Tennessee, South Dakota, Mississippi, Maine, West Virginia, Tennessee, Montana. There's a reason for that, it's reflective of the fact the Senators from the larger states are so overwhelmed by constituent needs that they can't hold leadership positions but the repercussions are that it further limits the interests of more diverse urban America. The last majority leader to come from a top tier state was LBJ when the country was a vastly different place.

More. The US Senate is very odd body in many other respects. It is the only legislative body in the world that permits its members to engage in unlimited debate and an unlimited opportunity to offer amendments, relevant or not, to legislation under consideration.  These two aspects of the Senate are having an increasing detrimental effect on the caliber of legislation that is coming out the chamber. Nelson's amendment runs 383 pages alone.

My argument is not about extending Medicare to Nebraska it is about the dysfunctional nature of the Senate that makes it a petri dish for corruption unlike any other legislative body in the industrialized world and even across much of the developing world. The corruption is systemic and endemic.

When LBJ was Majority Leader there weren't even 100 lobbyist in DC. Today there are 20,000+. Now you're a lobbyist, you need to effect an outcome. Your BFF is going to be a Senator from a state like Nebraska or Montana because buying them off is cheaper and they wield more power. Do you see the argument that I am trying to make?

We have an institutional problem in the US Senate and the Nelson amendment is reflective of that.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 10:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Ben Nelson actually asked a low price. Didn't Mary Landrieu get 200 million in extra funding for her state?

None of this makes me not support the legislation. I am solely focused on the people this will help, myself included. Passing legislation this important has always been an ugly thing to watch. Our system has many flaws.

by Lolis 2009-12-20 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

So the ends justify the means? This bill is corrupt, this bill is crap....it also defies everything Obama said it would be in terms of open government, transparency and the like. Its politics as usual. My vote for Obama was a waste. It wont be repeated.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-20 06:40AM | 0 recs
Sure ok vote for Huckabee then

get disappointed by someone new!

by ND22 2009-12-20 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Sure ok vote for Huckabee then

okay, well if your happy with out corrupt government than keep voting for these people....and shut up when it doesnt go your way because the people repeatedly elect disappoint you.....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-20 07:32AM | 0 recs
I dunno

if I were poor and living in Louisiana and Nebraska and badly needing Medicaid, I'd be thrilled with my corrupt government right about now.

shut up when it doesnt go your way because the people repeatedly elect disappoint you.....

so far I've pretty much gotten my way, so I'm not complaining.

by ND22 2009-12-20 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: I dunno

Really.....wow, says alot abotu your level of expectaton and satisfaction...

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-20 07:50AM | 0 recs
Ditto

by ND22 2009-12-20 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

I say it again and again.....these people are corrupt to the core. They need to be removed from office by the power of the vote. So next election, dont vote the incumbents back into office. Until we start booting them from office, they wont get the message. When they can no longer feel certain of being relected term after term, they will perhaps start to do what the american people want and need. Last election.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-20 06:37AM | 0 recs
and replaced with what?

someone else who is corrupt?

by ND22 2009-12-20 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Yeah, the people of Nebraska should totally vote Nelson out of office for getting them more Medicaid funding!  If that's corruption, I bet they want more of it.

by Steve M 2009-12-20 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

 Really, though. Now, there's only 49 more States to go. That's progress.

by QTG 2009-12-20 07:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

You ignore the point, which is that these people are inherently corrupt....of course your used to having your head in the sand......

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-20 07:30AM | 0 recs
and I'm sure

just electing a new people will change that...all of our new Senators and Congressmen will shit ethical rainbows and burp rose-scented morals.

by ND22 2009-12-20 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: and I'm sure

Thats not what I said nimrod. But repeating the same stupid mistakes makes and expecting a different outcome makesd one pretty stupid. If you keep electing the same aholes, you get the exact same result....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-20 07:49AM | 0 recs
Of course you forget

something like 1/3 of Congress changed in the past two election cycles, so we haven't been electing the same assholes, just different assholes.

by ND22 2009-12-20 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

There is nothing "corrupt" about getting more benefits for your state.  That's part of the job description.

"Corrupt" would be if Nelson was bargaining to get personal benefits for himself or his family.

by Steve M 2009-12-20 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Who other than Ben Nelson is corrupt? He dosn't care about re-election anyway, having just assured himself of a highly paid board of directors job at Mutual of Omaha (wasn't he CEO there before?).

He's fairly typical of all conservative polls IMO.

by vecky 2009-12-20 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

You can replace the entire Senate but the outcome would be the same.

It is the rules of the Senate + the nature of the composition of the body that dramatically overrepresent small and largely rural states + the insidious effects of lobbying.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 10:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

I have been against this bill since the Liarman capitulation, but medicaid aid to Nebraska is not the part I get upset about.

I can't get riled up about more money for the poor.

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Federal Funding of Medicaid

I think I'd be more upset if I were less convinced that Nelson's the one who's onto something: the Federal government should own Medicaid. If we were serious about reform - which, really, has been proven wrong over and over in this process - we'd have made a more serious effort at fixing healthcare for people in poverty, which would probably include admitting that state administered Medicaid programs are largely (poorly funded) failures, and we'd spend more, and make it federal, to be sure that there's consistent policy across the states.

Instead the bills in the Houes and Senate cynically "expand" Medicaid coverage to either 133% or 150% of poverty by pretending that a) current funding covers everyone under 100% and b) that states will pay, as they do now, to fund the system, even as it expands. Pretty much every Governor said that's absurd, so Congress  - again pretending - said okay, we'll pay some of it, for a while... and then you have to. And Nelson managed to hold out long enough to be able to say that, really, paying for Medicaid ought to be done federally.

If progressives are serious about "single payer" that's what single payer is: the federal governement, not the states, funding government run programs... which is what Medicaid is; indeed, an even larger absurdity in the whole "public option" debacle is that a mechanism for "public option" existed all along in Medicaid, but many well educated progressive activists knew better than to suggest that, because Medicaid is so fraught with poor management, bad payment history, and substantial fraud.

If we were serious about reform... we'd be looking harder and more comprehensively about helathcre for people in poverty, and seriously asking why the feds don't simply take over Medicaid. The problem with this deal isn't Nelson; it's that he's right - and doing it for everyone would be the expensive, necessary fix we should have pushed for all along.

by nycweboy1 2009-12-20 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Federal Funding of Medicaid

I have to say, that is one hell of a good point, and a hell of a good point of view.

Maybe the progressives are keeping all the conservatives busy with the noisy stuff while quietly putting some of this in...

by Hammer1001 2009-12-20 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Federal Funding of Medicaid

I would like to point out in the canadian system Health Care (Single payer) is run by the states with dual funding (the feds help out with transfer payments).

Granted Canadian States are a lot less dysfunctional than many American ones...

by vecky 2009-12-20 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

in unrelated news,

"insurance companies' stocks reached a 52-year high on Friday after this so called reform bill got its 60th vote."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/20 /scarborough-health-insura_n_398520.html

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

btw, error alert. it's 52-weeks, not 52 years.

there insurance company's stocks were not higher 52 years ago.

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 08:21AM | 0 recs
in fairness

a lot of stocks have been hitting 52-week highs lately. The stock market itself is sitting around 52 week highs.

by ND22 2009-12-20 09:18AM | 0 recs
Devil in the details

I am suspecting a lot of those investors (like the overwhelming majority of the blogosphere) have not sat down and analyzed the impact of a mandated 85% MLR.

WTF is an MLR? Well you can bet the execs at the private for-profit insurance companies are wondering how all their hard work to water down and then eliminate this provision blew up in their faces at the last minute.

http://www.mydd.com/story/2009/11/11/162 455/58

This diary actually misstated the state of affairs at the time but is relevant to what we know about the current bill.

by Bruce Webb 2009-12-20 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Devil in the details

It's 85% for the small group market, and 80% for the individual market.

and unfortunately, even that is not for sure:

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2009/12 19/all-hail-the-almighty-cbo-and-its-cr ippling-of-medical-loss-ratio

"The CBO said "jump," and Harry Reid said "how high." The new MLR set by the manager's amendment are exactly the limits the CBO said they should be:

85% for the small group market and 80% for the individual market. This change was not made for policy reasons. This change was not made because it was best for the American people. This change was made purely for PR reasons, so the CBO would not make some absurd claim that all private insurance was part of the federal budget and make the CBO score look bigger.

Unfortunately, the new MLR regulations have a potentially serious loophole.

   ``(d) ADJUSTMENTS.--The Secretary may adjust the rates described in subsection (b) if the Secretary determines appropriate on account of the volatility of the individual market due to the establishment of State Exchanges."

This subsection appears to give the Secretary of HHS the power to unilaterally eliminate or gut even this very low 80% MLR requirement."

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Devil in the details

Hopefully it will be strengthened in conference, 80-85% is about where MLR is now so this bill merely arrests the decline rather than improving it.

And I thought the small group and individual markets were being combined.

by vecky 2009-12-20 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Devil in the details

ok, lets say that they come in at 78% instead of 80% for individual plans. and that's according to the numbers the Insurance companies report.

do you think that Congress will then find the willpower to come up with a public option? Do you think the Gov. will seize the Insurance companies?
giant fines?

Or do you think it is likely that the lobbyists will get the Secretary of HHS to issue a stern warning but let it slide?

See, this is the problem. Many of the things in this bill that sound good are not very easily enforceable. With this bill, you have to assume that the Insurance Monopolies will play nicely.

That's one of the main reasons why some of us stopped supporting this thing when first the PO and then the Medicare Expansion were dropped. Those are the things that stood a chance to work.

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 11:26AM | 0 recs
In what world

does anyone think any Congress would ever just randomly seize the entire insurance industry and nationalize it for no good reason except they think it shouldn't exist?

That would actually be Communist lol.

by ND22 2009-12-20 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: In what world

that's my point.

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 03:02PM | 0 recs
If we passed a bill with a public option

I don't think Congress would find the willpower to do THAT.

A public option will come if the situation necessatates one...those of us who assume the bill will fail will find if that's true, a public option will become the new "moderate" thing to do.

There were elements of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that were unthinkable in 1957.

by ND22 2009-12-20 05:19PM | 0 recs
Re: If we passed a bill with a public option

Umm, the situation ALREADY necessitates it.

SO I think you are being incredibly naive

and btw, they tried passing Medicare a few times and kept scratching it and starting over before it got passed. That's what should happen here.
 

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 08:10PM | 0 recs
Actually

Wilbur Mills killed it once and it was dead until the Democrats gained a Senate seat in 1964, then it passed, but only after LBJ allowed part of it to be drafted by a Republican.

If Democrats had lost seats in 1964, Medicare would've probably been dead permanently.

If we were slated to gain more seats in 2010, you'd be right, but we're not.

by ND22 2009-12-21 03:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

The intransigence and conservatism of Red State voters is directly tied to their greater poverty, especially rural poverty(i.e. poverty in the absence of the substantial mitigating infrastructure found in population centers), and also to greater wealth stratification.  It's incendiary to say so, but Red States are further behind than progressive regions, and are in need of more help, much more help in fact than they already get.  Remember that Reconstruction wasn't ever finished, and that it goes unfinished to this day.

by Endymion 2009-12-20 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

I would also point out that where are most of the uninsured? The Deep South - all Red states. This bill largely helps them anyway.

by vecky 2009-12-20 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

by JJE 2009-12-20 10:09AM | 0 recs
You're complaining that poor Nebraskans

Have had their health care fully funded by the federal government.

Really?

You know, of everything one might dislike about the compromises that the Senate has made with conservatives to get to 60 votes, I can't believe the issues that "progressives" have picked: expanded Medicaid funding, the requirement to buy insurance, the tax on expensive plans, the tax on plastic surgery - really?  

I don't know why anyone who is upset with that would be surprised that the agree with conservatives - clearly, there isn't much difference between you if you consider those to be the most outrageous parts of the bill.

It's as if we're determine to make ourselves seem as elitist and petty as possible, arguing against elements of health care reform that are absolutely necessary (like, say, the individual mandate or increased Medicaid funding) or are, if not necessary, at least neither harmful nor unpopular (like, say, taxes on policies and procedures that are at best inconvenient for a tiny minority of the population).  It's as if we've decided to undermine not only the compromise we dislike but the foundation of any health care reform.

While I can agree that it is inappropriate for a state to have power disproportionate to its size due to the nature of the Senate, the seniority of the Senator, or any other factor other than merit, arguing that in the context of a Senator who secured HEALTH CARE FOR POOR PEOPLE is cruel and stupid.  Every Senator should be so "corrupt."

Honestly.  Make yourself fucking useful and argue that the bill is bad because the subsidies are insufficient, because Medicaid should have been expanded to 150% of poverty, SOMETHING SUBSTANTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE, not something petty and destructive like this.

by Drew 2009-12-20 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: You're complaining that poor Nebraskans

No I am complaining that the citizens in my state are denied their rights while I subsidize the lifestyles of red states.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: You're complaining that poor Nebraskans

There is no red or blue states. There is the United States.

Boo-ya!

by vecky 2009-12-20 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: You're complaining that poor Nebraskans

If this continues, there won't be a United States.

There are those who have predicted the breakup of the US before 2050. Paul Saffo comes to mind.

The paralysis of our politics is an issue of concern. Japan and Thailand are two countries that have had similar imbalances between rural and urban sectors. The former has lived through a 20 year economic malaise and the latter is now considered a failing state.

There is no guarantee that there will forever be a United States.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 04:26PM | 0 recs
Grind your partisan axe

On an issue other Medicaid funding.  Really.

Your argument is incoherent.  You're pissed that Ben Nelson used his leverage to secure money for his state; you're pissed that your state subsidizes another state; you're pissed that blue states subsidize red states; you're pissed that the Senate isn't democratic; you're pissed that the health care bill doesn't have a public option.

Mix those together, and you get your sad, sad little diatribe against poor Nebraskans getting health care.

May I suggest holding your fire for a situation where the anti-democratic nature of the Senate DOESN'T help poor people?  

by Drew 2009-12-20 05:06PM | 0 recs
Must be nice to troll-rate

Comments you disagree with, Charles.

by Drew 2009-12-21 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Mr. Lemos, the last time I checked my civics books, and I admit it has been a while, the US Senate was SUPPOSED to be the chamber of the minority, where population is not equally represented.  That is the HOUSES function.

So you are basically complaining that Senate is working as designed.  ok.

I get your point, but if this is going to boil down to you being pissed that you are paying to "lift all boats" but not getting any return, from your point of view, then you have a personal score to settle here, not a political one.

by Hammer1001 2009-12-20 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

No,  the Senate is meant to be the place of equal representation between the states. It was also not intended to be a place where specialized money interests would go into the state from across the country to capture specific states due to their money influence. They are suppose to represent the interest of their state. Not like Baucus did of representing insurance interests or Lieberman who has done the same.

It is  also not  supposed to be more representation for some parts of the country. And it certainly was not meant to override the House, which is what the president until last week was pushing until people pushed back against that. Go back to read some o fthe papers written regarding the set up of the Congress of the time.

by bruh3 2009-12-20 02:48PM | 0 recs
What?

It is  also not  supposed to be more representation for some parts of the country.

Except that it was, because even in 1790, a resident of Delaware had more representation in the Senate than a resident of Virginia.

One Senator for something like 29,000 Delawareans vs. one Senator for something like 345,000 Virginians.

by ND22 2009-12-20 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: What?

The ratio  between largest and smallest in 1790 was 11 to 1 now it is 70 to 1.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 03:48PM | 0 recs
That's very true

no argument here.

But an 11-1 ratio still gives one population more representation than another, which defeats bruh's point that the Senate was never meant to give one area more representation than another. It clearly was from day one.

by ND22 2009-12-20 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: What?

To add a different color to Charles point, to understand just how much the structure is gamed to favor a) the two dominant parties and b) the status quo of corporate conservatism, one has to look at the House.  

The issue of status quo politics is partially made apparent with the way the Senate is run including several Senators voting against the will of their constituencies on economic issues.  However,the issue of maintaining status quo power is made much more clear in the House.

The House numbers are kept artificially low for almost a century. There is no reason that the House has to be 435 votes. The reason it is kept that way is simple- smaller districts mean other parties and non-status quo movements need a smaller number of voters to win.  To prevent that foot hold, you keep the numbers higher.

The intent was for House members to represent under 100 thousand people. House members now represent 700,000, which means one needs a lot more money to run and win a district.  One needs a bigger party to gain a foot hold into the House.  It also means that the population as a hold is less represented by the House than at any other time in U.S. history.

This is part of the reasoning why I believe DC does not represent the American public outside of the memes of DC's bubble. The other issue is that structurally more and more it is specifically designed not to be responsive whether through the capture of small state Senators by corporate interests or artificially low House numbers.

Here's a NY Times article on the subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/us/pol itics/18baker.html?_r=1&hp

Each of these moves- from what was contemplate for the Senate (versus how the Senate is actually run) to artificially low House of Representative numbers- is advantage for the status quo.

by bruh3 2009-12-20 04:34PM | 0 recs
Huh?

I never even mentioned the House? I'm not arguing with you about the size of the House. Personally, I've always thought it should be enlarged, but there are problems with that too...it creates factionalism and large parliaments have created a lot of problems around the world.

That said, the only point of yours I refuted was that the Senate wasn't meant to give one area more representation than another...and you respond by babbling about the House?!?!

by ND22 2009-12-20 04:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Huh?

My mistake. I treated you like someone who was really interested in the subject rather than trying to score a political point. Let me know when you are ready to grow up a bit because right now you are acting like an immature child.  For the record, I was providing an analogy of why and how the system has come to become favorable now to corporate conservativsm (Charles having answered your specific question) in a broader way than just one example of how the status quo in DC works to reinforce itself. Rather than being smart enough to pick up on the wider point, I see you choose the childish response. And thanks, by the way, for regurgitating what you read in the  link I provided.

by bruh3 2009-12-20 05:18PM | 0 recs
That wasn't what I was discussing

I was merely refuted you point that the Senate wasn't originally meant to be unfairly representative. I couldn't care less about the rest of what you have to say.

by ND22 2009-12-20 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: That wasn't what I was discussing

Charles answered your question above. I saw no reason to repeat his response because he already said what I would have said. That you are only here to score debate points like some high school student snipping at others is abundantly clear since I made that point clear in my first paragraph in my first response to you. If you did not care about the additional points, you would not have responded to it. Yet, more child like emotional behavior.

by bruh3 2009-12-20 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

The purpose of the Senate was to "cool" popular passion. But it has frozen legislation. UHC has a been goal since 1944.

You might also note that in 1790 there were no such beasts as lobbyists. And if you look in the Senate where the obstacles/obstructionism is coming from it is from Senators that represent smaller states. That's because you can buy them for cheaper.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 03:55PM | 0 recs
You are all missing the point

The most important thing in this bill is that there is now universal health care - either free Medicaid for the lowest income (and not subject to asset tests), which would include temporarily unemployed folks, or SUBSIDIZED insurance plans that will be on the order of the FEHPB.  The fact that there is not a public, Medicare-for-all plan now is really a minor issue w/r/t health care - it is a very big deal for the term solvency of the country, but that is a different matter.

Now, everyone will have a regular plan, just like folks that are with large group plans with large employers.  There will be no more tricks like underwriting denials or recisions.  There still may be some tricks like somewhat junk insurance, but I tend to think that those types of plans will be quickly uncovered and hammered out of existence.

The only question now is whether as a country, or as individuals, we are getting our money's worth.  For most folks, the difference in actual out of pocket costs between the discarded public plan and the private plans will be ZERO - why? because of the maximum cost of plans as a function of income (i.e., with subsidies making up the rest), most folks would be over the limit of the public plan cost, so the fact that there is more expensive private plan is irrelevant.  Sure, there are some folks that have relatively high incomes who will get screwed.  But not most folks.

The entity that will get hit for spending more for the private vs. the public plan is the federal government.  I can forsee this becoming a big wedge issue for the Republicans, as the anti-tax, anti-deficit Teabagger crowd begins to wonder why the federal government is wasting money so that insurance companies can remain viable.  Remember, a lot of Teabaggers will be getting used to having insurance - just like they have become (after 44 years) defenders of Medicare.  This is the ultimate non-religious fault line of Republicans - the anti-tax, anti-immigrant crowd vs. the corporate welfare, wink-wink open borders fat cats.  Get out the popcorn and enjoy the show!

by swampwiz 2009-12-20 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: You are all missing the point

" There will be no more tricks like underwriting denials or recisions."

Incorrect.

They did not put in any way to enforce the ban on recissions.

We all went over this in another post.

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: You are all missing the point

they are repeating talking points.

by bruh3 2009-12-20 05:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Red State Swindlers

Can someone tell me why Landrieu and Nelson can get millions for their states, but Joe Lieberman can't get his a dime for long suffering Connecticut, the largest red state subsidizer per capita in the nation?

Kind of proves that it's all about him. This should be a commercial against him in 2012.

by ctman1638 2009-12-20 06:49PM | 0 recs

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