For those not currently watching C-SPAN, which is recommended watching at present, the Republicans are trying to turn the House of Representatives into a zoo in an effort to impede debate over healthcare reform. At present, they are interrupting every short speech by a group of Democratic women legislators. The Joe Wilsonification of the GOP continues...
Take a look:
Update [2009-11-7 11:28:7 by Jonathan Singer]: My old boss Congressman Earl Blumenauer tweets:
Dingell in chair!!!! Finishing what his Dad started 60 years ago! 45 years after his leadership enacting medicare. Sweet!
It's pretty remarkable that the man who presided over the debate over Medicare in 1965 is now presiding over the debate over today's healthcare reform proposal.
Update [2009-11-7 17:35:8 by Charles Lemos]: Augmenting Jonathan's post, there is more on this story at Think Progress.
Some in Congress seem to be suggesting that healthcare reform should be scrapped, or seriously curtailed, do to the poor state of the economy and the jobs market. The American people disagree.
Nearly six in ten Americans want Congress to continue working on health care reform bills that have been passed through various committees, according to a new national poll.
Fifty-nine percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say lawmakers should continue working on the legislation, a rise of 6 points since August. But only a quarter say those bills should be passed pretty much as is, with a third suggesting that Congress should make major changes. The poll also indicates that one in four say lawmakers should start from scratch and 15 percent want Congress to stop all work on health care reform.
The CNN poll also finds that a majority of Americans, 55 percent, support the public option.
Coming in the wake of an election day that can be read as hostile to the current Democratic agenda (even as Democrats swept the two races actually involving the Democratic agenda on Capitol hill, including one in a congressional district much of which has not sent a Democrat to Congress in more than 150 years) and on the eve of the historic House vote on healthcare reform, these numbers could strengthen the hands of those whipping for 218 in the Democratic leadership. Certainly little in these numbers would lead me to want to renege on my offer to wager on the results of this weekend's healthcare vote in the House (the benefits of which would go to charity). But we'll have to wait and see.
The cause of healthcare reform receives a huge boost today:
Today AARP announced its endorsement of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) and the accompanying Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act (H.R. 3961). The Association's support follows nearly two years of work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to craft a health care reform plan that meets the needs of AARP's nearly 40 million members and all older Americans. Among those needs are reforms that strictly curb insurance companies' discrimination against older Americans and Medicare improvements that strengthen benefits while protecting the program for future generations.
The American Medical Association endorsed the House Democratic leadership's health care reform bill Thursday.
It's "not a perfect representation of our views," but is close enough to warrant the support of the organization, AMA President Dr. J. James Rohack said.
Two days out for the forthcoming House vote on healthcare reform, I'm feeling more in more confident that the Democratic leadership will be able to round up the 218 votes in favor of their legislation. Still wondering, though, if Michael Barone or any of the other naysayers are going to be willing to take me up on a bet -- the beneficiary of which would be charitable -- that healthcare reform will pass through the House on Saturday.
Not a huge surprise, but the Republicans' healthcare amendment would do literally nothing to decrease the percentage of Americans without coverage, per the CBO (.pdf):
By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the amendment's insurance coverage provisions would increase deficits by $8 billion over the 2010-2019 period. [emphasis added]
I suppose the Republicans might try to argue that their proposal succeeds at stemming the growth in the uninsured, so to that extent at least their proposal doesn't do nothing. But it doesn't do much more than nothing.
According to polling from Bloomberg news, 61 percent of Americans believe it to be "critically important" to "[f]ind a way for those who are currently uninsured to get health insurance coverage," a goal just 8 percent believe to be not that important or a bad idea.
If the Republicans believe it to be good politics to line themselves up with the minority of Americans disfavoring efforts to decrease the proportion of uninsured in this country, then by golly they've struck gold. But if they were hoping to present some sort of alternative to the Democrats' efforts at healthcare reform, something that anyone -- whether Beltway pundits or voters around the nation -- could have taken at least somewhat seriously, they have more or less failed.
The bill is 230 pages long, compared with Democrats' 1,990-page measure. Unlike the Democrats' legislation it has no requirement for people to buy insurance and no prohibitions against insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
To get an idea of just how courageous this stance is by the Republicans, look at how massively unpopular their positions are:
Pew Research Center Poll. Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2009. N=1,500 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults).
"Now I'd like to ask you about some of the specific proposals being considered to address health care. Would you favor or oppose [see below]?"
"Requiring that all Americans have health insurance, with the government providing financial help for those who can't afford it"
Favor: 66 percent Oppose: 30 percent
"Requiring insurance companies to sell health coverage to people, even if they have pre-existing medical conditions"
Favor: 82 percent Oppose: 14 percent
The Republican stance on the mandate is only very, very unpopular, with under a third backing their position and two-thirds opposing it. At least here, the GOP commands the support of its base.
But you have to hand it to the Republican leadership. In their healthcare reform document, they take a position on pre-existing conditions that is held by just 14 percent of the country, with a whopping 82 percent holding the opposite stance. It takes real courage to step out in front of the cameras to face that type of polling!