Coburn's Obstruction Wins the Day in the Senate

Early today Senator Tom Coburn, a member of the Grand Obstructionist Party from Oklahoma, objected to a request to dispense with the reading of an amendment offered by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont proposing a single-payer system. Though normally a courtesy that is almost always granted to fellow senators, the petulant Tom Coburn forced the Senate clerk to read aloud a 767-page amendment to healthcare reform legislation, paralyzing action on the chamber floor as Democrats approach their self-imposed Christmas deadline. It would have taken at least eight hours to read the amendment.

Senator Sanders has now withdrawn his amendment. From The Hill:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday withdrew his single-payer healthcare amendment after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) initiated a procedural maneuver to shipwreck the measure.

Coburn earlier in the day forced the Senate clerk to read aloud Sanders's 767-page amendment to the Senate healthcare bill in an effort to halt the healthcare debate.

Sanders, a self-described "democratic socialist," spoke on the Senate floor to announce the withdrawal of the measure.

"The day will come, although I recognize it's not today, when the U.S. Congress will have to vote to stand up to ... all those who profit every single year off of human sickness," Sanders said. "That day will come."

Sanders's decision to withdraw the amendment will stop the reading and allow debate to continue.

The amendment would have extended Medicare coverage to all who wanted it.

Their obsession with free markets, that aren't free, will destroy this country. To protect the narrow interests and profane profits of the insurance industry, they are willing to condemn thousands to an early grave. Their lack of empathy for the rights of the poor and their disregard for the decline in American living standards under their rule is beyond comprehension. Here's their record:

When Clinton left office nearly 11.6 million children lived in poverty, according to the Census. When Bush left office that number had swelled to just under 14.1 million, an increase of more than 21 per cent.

The story is similar again for access to health care. When Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million. By the time Bush left office that number had grown to just over 46.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million or 20.6 per cent.

The trends look the same when examining shares of the population that are poor or uninsured, rather than the absolute numbers in those groups. When Clinton left office in 2000 13.7 per cent of Americans were uninsured; when Bush left that number stood at 15.4 per cent. (Under Bush, the share of Americans who received health insurance through their employer declined every year of his presidency-from 64.2 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per cent in 2008.)

When Clinton left the number of Americans in poverty stood at 11.3 percent; when Bush left that had increased to 13.2 percent. The poverty rate for children jumped from 16.2 per cent when Clinton left office to 19 per cent when Bush stepped down.

It is probably pointless to note that the most effective healthcare programs in the United States are single payer systems. The best kept secret in the country is the healthcare provided by the Veterans Administration, a single payer system.  So extending a successful program that saves lives and cuts costs is a naturally an object of GOP disdain simply because it is government-run. Their love of free markets will kill us all.

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Running Around in Circles on Healthcare

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

You know, single-payer was taken off the table before the table was ever sat down at by anyone. Now, most of the focus on healthcare is centered around the Baucus bill which is equivilant to more Corporate Welfare and does not even include a public option. While some Democrats are showing disgust at some of us that are being critical of our party's leadership, I believe that at this time in this debate and to effect the debate on policies that will follow after the conclusion of the healthcare fight, critical voices are now needed more than ever. To me, it seems as if most of our leaders in our party are merely running around in circles trying to avoid the real solutions Americans need to solve our healthcare crisis.

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Running Around in Circles on Healthcare

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

You know, single-payer was taken off the table before the table was ever sat down at by anyone. Now, most of the focus on healthcare is centered around the Baucus bill which is equivilant to more Corporate Welfare and does not even include a public option. While some Democrats are showing disgust at some of us that are being critical of our party's leadership, I believe that at this time in this debate and to effect the debate on policies that will follow after the conclusion of the healthcare fight, critical voices are now needed more than ever. To me, it seems as if most of our leaders in our party are merely running around in circles trying to avoid the real solutions Americans need to solve our healthcare crisis.

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Words of Wisdom RE: Health Care

I had missed a post by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., in HuffPo the other day. It was called President Obama: Get Angry About Health Care Reform.

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Weekly Pulse: Healthcare Reform After Kennedy

By Lindsay Beyerstein, TPM MediaWire Blogger

One of healthcare reform's greatest champions died last night. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 77. During his 46-year career in the senate, Kennedy's name appeared on virtually every major piece of progressive legislation from civil rights to economic justice, to healthcare. Kennedy called healthcare reform "the cause of my life."

Jack Newfield of The Nation remembers Kennedy as the senate's fighting liberal, the "best and most effective senator of the past hundred years."

James Ridgeway of Mother Joneslaments:

We are left with weak, squabbling, visionless Democratic puppets and a President whose domestic reform policies are adrift--sliding towards the horizon with each passing day.

The loss is a blow to healthcare reform. Alex Koppelman of Salon notes that with Kennedy's passing, the Democrats have lost one of their most effective bipartisan deal-makers. Democrats will also be down a vote in the senate for the foreseeable future because Massachusetts state law doesn't allow for the appointment of an immediate replacement.

Naturally, with congress on vacation, wackos are rushing in to fill the media vacuum. Eric Boehlert asks in AlterNet why Republicans the only ones allowed to get angry about healthcare reform, or anything else. He notes that in 2003, the media decided that Howard Dean was too angry for prime time. During the Republican National Convention in 2008, SWAT teams were sent to raid the homes of suspected anarchist protesters. And yet, conservative demonstrators in Arizona are allowed to tote rifles just outside the security perimeter of a presidential event.

RNC Chair Michael Steele raised eyebrows by championing single-payer healthcare in an op/ed in the Washington Post framing the GOP as defenders of Medicare.

Odd that Steele has so much love for Medicare, but none for the nation's other leading source of government-run healthcare, the Veterans Administration (VA). This week, Steele accused America's other leading public insurance provider of encouraging veterans to commit suicide, based on a booklet published by the VA which explains living wills, advanced directives and other key concepts in end-of-life care, Rachel Slajda reports for TPM DC.

Progressives have been doing a great job debunking the death panel and death book myths, like this creative photo essay from TPM.  But we're scarcely addressing  the misconception that underlies them: The idea government-administered health insurance is inherently more prone to rationing than private health insurance.

Newt Gingrich and other prominent opponents of reform claim that a public option will restrict choices and deny care. What they don't say is that for-profit insurance is rationing. When your insurance company covers an old drug for your condition, but not a new one with fewer side effects, that's rationing. The company is restricting your treatment choices to improve its bottom line. When an employer or an insurer decides not to cover mental health care, that's rationing. The entire business model is predicated on charging people more and giving them less care so there's more money left over for the stockholders.

No health insurance can cover every treatment, no matter who runs it. But public insurance has two major advantages: 1) Public insurance tends to be cheaper to administer; 2) The tough choices about what to cover are ultimately in the hands of the voters, not health insurance bureaucrats with an eye on the bottom line.

The whole town hall concept is turning out to be a strategic blunder for the White House. The format makes legislators and the media sitting ducks for extremists and astroturfers who want to paint themselves as typical citizens. As Sandy Heierbacher of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation writes in YES Magazine:

[T]he town hall design sets the stage for activist groups and special interest groups to try to 'game' the system and sideline other concerned citizens in the process. As Martin Carcasson, director of Colorado State University's Center for Public Deliberation, recently pointed out, "the loudest voices are the ones that get heard, and typically the majority voices in the middle don't even show up because it becomes a shouting match."

How much more clear can the Republicans be? They are not interested in bipartisanship. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), supposedly the Senate's leading reasonable Republican on healthcare, couldn't even be bothered to rebuke a town hall participant who hinted about assassinating the president, as Raw Story reports.

If the Democrats want healthcare reform, they are going to have to go it alone. Let's hope they pass a bill that would make Sen. Kennedy proud.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about healthcare and is free to reprint. Visit  Healthcare.newsladder.net for a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws, and healthcare controversy. For the best progressive reporting on the Economy, and Immigration, check out Economy.Newsladder.net and Immigration.Newsladder.net.

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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