by Jerome Armstrong, Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 11:11:27 AM EST
Sorry, that's the word that comes to mind when I read The Note (A Complicated Enemy: Obama Seeks to Vilify Health Insurers, Give Them $336 Billion Check) and its wrap on the HCR bill.
The framing of the bill has become so terrible in the mind of the press, that its no wonder that the poll numbers show an ever-declining support of the measure.
The negatives in this article:
Obama and Sebelius demand that the insurance companies justify their premium hikes.
Republicans counter that HRC would:
...would give the insurance companies millions of new customers required by law to buy health insurance... 336 billion over the next ten years. That money, ultimately, would have to go to... drum roll... insurance companies.
There are some very good things in HCR, such as the requirement of insurers to cover everyone, regardless of age, gender or pre-existing condition.
But Obama, as a candidate in 2008, compared with what his HCR looks like in 2010, just strikes such a raw reversal that I don't see any possible way that this is ever going to be a net positive after passage.
He was against the mandate, hammered Clinton on it, and now backs it fully.
He was for the public option, said he'd fight for it, and has now abandoned it.
He belittled McCain for proposing subsidies that go directly to insurance companies, but now that's the heart of the plan.
And yet that’s exactly what Democrats' proposal would do and why so many would prefer public insurance option to compete with the private market. Supporting the Senate bill will be tough for many liberal Democrats in the House.
The adminsitration realizes that the optics look terrible, so they come out with PR that attempts to put them on the popular side if the debate, with Sebelius calling out the Insurance companies through an HHS statement.
"If insurance companies are going to raise rates, the least they can do is tell us why.”
That's the hammer? And really, its not even a 'do this or else' type of letter, but rather, a letter requesting the info to "give Americans the opportunity to learn more and ask questions about rate increases that affect them." Better PR!
How can the administration PR's be helping Obama's credibility with toothless statements like this from Sebelius that beg to be mocked by the Republicans, and pointed out as hypocrisy by the media?
Okay, to wrap this up. There are good things in HCR (mostly looked over), but the big picture is a largely useless (and debatable as inaccurate) frame of benefits (30 Million people covered by subsidy), against the optic of a corporate giveway. This, alongside no Republican support at all, or among many activists the left (because there is not a public option), but that's not the worst of it.
The worst is that many who are pragmatic progressives in their backing of HCR really don't believe that this HCR is going to solve the big problems. Instead, that it lays the groundwork for the ultimate bigger failure that will come, and we can fix it better at that point.
Now, I find myself in this latter camp usually (given the electoral considerations of failure at this point), and its certainly not a good way for the framing of the bill to wind up. Obviously, the better frame of it is a smaller step toward the ultimate goal. But given the investment of time (nearly a year center-stage now), it can hardly be portrayed as anything other than monumental, by both the media and the administration, if it does wind up passing.
Moving from screwed to success is going to take a massive overhaul of the perception of the bill once it moves from Congress to the desk of the President.