A Hyperbolic Hatch Lays An Egg

Pass healthcare reform and we destroy the two party system. That's the charge Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is making today. To begin with, I am not really sure that a two-party system is worth saving if one of those parties is today's GOP. Better to go the way of their antecedents, the Know-Nothings and the Whigs, if all the GOP can muster is no after no while promising more tried and failed free market economic policies. To suggest that the GOP is a party of limited government and fiscal discipline flies in the face of an eleven trillion deficit that is a legacy of reckless tax cuts for the wealthy and even more reckless spending on perpetuating an empire that long ago lost its raison d'être .

From The Hill:

The healthcare reform proposals before Congress threaten the existence of the two-party system, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) alleged Monday morning.

Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes represent a "step-by-step approach to socialized medicine," will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues.

"And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,' " Hatch said during an interview with the conservative CNSNews.com.

"That's their goal," Hatch added. "That's what keeps Democrats in power."

That claim led Hatch to suggest that some Democrats are "diabolical" in their pursuit of health reform.

"Do I believe they're that diabolical? I don't believe most of them are, but I think some of them are," Hatch said. "Maybe diabolical's too harsh of a word, but the fact is, they really, really believe in socialized medicine."

If catering to needs to the American people is diabolical, then by all means call me diabolical.

Update [2009-11-2 19:22:29 by Charles Lemos]: Not to be out done by a United States Senator, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina today posits that passing health reform is a greater threat to our country than “any terrorist right now in any country.” More on this from Think Progress.

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A Hyperbolic Hatch Lays An Egg

Pass healthcare reform and we destroy the two party system. That's the charge Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is making today. To begin with, I am not really sure that a two-party system is worth saving if one of those parties is today's GOP. Better to go the way of their antecedents, the Know-Nothings and the Whigs, if all the GOP can muster is no after no while promising more tried and failed free market economic policies. To suggest that the GOP is a party of limited government and fiscal discipline flies in the face of an eleven trillion deficit that is a legacy of reckless tax cuts for the wealthy and even more reckless spending on perpetuating an empire that long ago lost its raison d'etre.

From The Hill:

The healthcare reform proposals before Congress threaten the existence of the two-party system, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) alleged Monday morning.

Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes represent a "step-by-step approach to socialized medicine," will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues.

"And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,' " Hatch said during an interview with the conservative CNSNews.com.

"That's their goal," Hatch added. "That's what keeps Democrats in power."

That claim led Hatch to suggest that some Democrats are "diabolical" in their pursuit of health reform.

"Do I believe they're that diabolical? I don't believe most of them are, but I think some of them are," Hatch said. "Maybe diabolical's too harsh of a word, but the fact is, they really, really believe in socialized medicine."

If catering to needs to the American people is diabolical, then by all means call me diabolical.

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An Investment in Their Future

Karen Tumulty and Micheal Scherer of Time have a very important article out looking at the influence of the drug industry in  the American political process as our current debate over healthcare unfolds.

To begin with the sheer number of the drug industry's registered lobbyists is mind-boggling. They number 1,228, or 2.3 for every member of Congress. And the drug industry's campaign contributions to current members of the Henry Waxman chaired Energy and Commerce committee have totaled $2.6 million over the past three years. But what's most stunning is this: in the first six months of this year alone, drug and biotech companies and their trade associations have spent more than $110 million -- that's $609,000 a day -- to influence our elected representatives.

Judging by the euphoria, that investment in their future seems to be paying off.

The return on that investment has been considerable, both in the House and in the Senate. "We've done very well," says lobbyist Jim Greenwood, a former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania who was a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and now heads the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). "We carried a majority of the Democrats and a majority of the Republicans in each of the committees, and by very clear margins."

The Time article is also remarkable in that it sheds light on competing interests of different healthcare-related lobbies and on the growing influence of the biotech industry. The Time piece looks at the battle over how much legal protection to give the manufacturers of a class of drug products known as biologics, drugs produced from living matter. Biologics are very expensive to produce and the biotech industry argued that they should be afforded 12 years of "data protection." That's seven years longer than the five that traditional pharmaceutical developers currently receive.

On the other side of the coin were the generic drug producers who were allied with the AARP, labor unions, insurance companies, health-maintenance organizations and health-reform advocacy groups, each for various reasons but generally under the realm of cost containment.

It should come as no surprise that the biotech lobbying group, the  Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which spent $7.6 million in its lobbying efforts in 2008 has so far come out ahead of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association which only spent $1.9 million in lobbying Congress in 2008. It should also be noted that it is Anna Eshoo, a liberal Democrat from bio-tech rich Palo Alto, who is leading the charge to protect the biotech industry. It should also be noted that the largest contributor to Representative Eshoo's campaigns is the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Makes you wonder whose side she is on?

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A Partisan Obama in San Francisco

The President came to San Francisco yesterday to attend a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee hosted by Speaker Pelosi at the Westin St. Francis. More than 150 people paid $30,400 per couple to have dinner with the President and another 900 paid between $500 and $1,000 to attend a reception and listen to the speech.

Those in attendance certainly got their money's worth because it was a hell of a speech. I love the partisan Obama, it's the bipartisan one that can give me fits. Granted that this was a speech to a partisan crowd but never mind the audience it is the content that matters. It is a speech that lists accomplishments - the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and lifting the ban on stem cell research to name but two; a speech that reminds one of the challenges we face that must be addressed; a speech that reflects on why we as progressives and as Democrats do what we do. The President spoke about the "huge gap between what America could be" and the America that is. The President reminded his audience that "things that are worth fighting for" and that there are "things that are worth grinding" out. Nor are we here just "to kick things down the road" and leave future generations saddled with unsolved problems. As the President noted "the status quo is unsustainable," and he urged us to come together because "now is the time to secure our future." He admonished the other side for sitting on the sidelines and not helping to mop up they created. All in all, a hell of a speech.

Below the fold the transcript of the speech.

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The President Praises Pro-Health Reform Republicans

In his weekly radio address, the President praised reform-minded Republicans. All five of them. Unfortunately for the President, none of those five sit in Congress.

From Agence France-Presse:

US President Barack Obama on Saturday praised Republicans who expressed support for his health care reform, saying it was time for Congress to "rise above" political posturing and pass his proposals.

"That is the spirit of national purpose that we must summon right now," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

"Now is the time to rise above the politics of the moment," he continued. "Now is the time to come together as Americans."

The President noted that this past week Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform.

Also speaking out in support of reform were former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Bill Frist as well as Tommy Thompson, a former secretary of health and human services under President George W. Bush, Obama said.

"These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution," Obama declared.

While I admit that I admire the President's never-ending willingness to reach out to the GOP, I question whether such an approach is ever going to meet with much success. In his address, the President blasted "some in Washington," who he said appeared to be "determined to play the same old partisan politics." If by "some" the President means all but one or two Republicans in Congress, then he has got it right.

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