Friday, November 6, 2009

Treasonous Behavior in Congress - Kucinich: Health Reform Legislation a "Bailout for Insurance Interests"

Our (sometimes I think only) representative in the Congress, Dennis Kucinich, provides the only real insight we have been offered for this horrendous attempt at health care reform. (P.S. When I first published this two days ago, it mysteriously disappeared from the intertubes. Just saying.) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Health Reform Legislation ‘A Bailout for Insurance Companies’

According to Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), the Democrats' health reform legislation is basically a sham.

Appearing on MSNBC's The Ed Show on Friday night, the House's most unabashed progressive condemned Democratic leadership for removing his amendment that would allow states to create their own single-payer systems. Then he called the entire legislative package "a bailout for insurance companies."

Under a single-payer system, like those in Canada and the United Kingdom, the government pools taxpayer funds to pay for citizens' health care and fees are not collected by health care providers. The Kucinich amendment would allow individual states an opt-in to such a system.

The amendment is missing from health reform legislation unveiled Thursday by Democratic leadership.

"Representative Kucinich was livid when he found out that his provision to allow states to create a single payer system was stripped," News Junkie Post noted. "Kucinich’s amendment passed the House Labor and Education Committee in July. 'No one gave me any rational reason,' Kucinich said. 'I can only assume the insurance company interests brought pressure to take it out. Otherwise I would have heard from someone.'" "The [committee] vote was 25 to 19, with support coming from an odd mix of liberal Democrats who support single-payer on its merits and conservative Republicans who want to preserve the rights of states to regulate themselves," The Washington Independent noted at the time.

"The removal of the Kucinich amendment constitutes yet another capitulation to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries who are already reaping billions of dollars from the bill," reads a statement from the congressman's office on Thursday.

Under the revised public option, "Pelosi and her team have proposed a plan that would not make payments for care based on Medicare rates ..." CBS News's John Nichols noted . "Rather, under the Pelosi plan, the rates be tied to those of the big insurance companies. That's a big, big victory for the insurance industry, as it will undermine the ability of the public option to compete - and to create pressure for reduced costs."

Speaking to liberal MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz on Friday, Kucinich continued his assault on the legislation.

"I think we need the support of the American people to say, look, you need that state single-payer amendment in the bill to make it credible," the congressman said. "I mean, what are people giving up already?

They're being mandated to buy private insurance. If you read the bill, the people are going to end up paying -- the insurance companies can raise rates 25 percent right off the bat, if you read the bill."

Schultz encouraged Kucinich to repeat himself on that point.

"It's on page 22 of the bill," he replied. "Right here, it says that rates shall be set at a level that does not exceed 125 percent of the prevailing standard rate for comparable coverage in the individual market.

Now . . . . It's very easy to understand what that means."

"It's not reform," Schultz insisted.

"It means a 25 percent increase, they'll have the ability to execute and since insurance companies have already raised rates for the last four years by double-digits, we can expect - based on the bill - another rate increase by the insurance companies."

Schultz called the bill a "sellout" to insurers because the bill only allows 11 million people into a limited government-run health insurance option, and includes a mandate for Americans to buy private policies.

"Maybe instead of a sellout it's a bailout," Kucinich responded. "Maybe what we're looking at here is another way that Wall Street's speculative engine can be fueled, this time with the help of the premiums of tens of millions of Americans."

On his Web site, Kucinich took his point further, calling the legislation "a bailout for insurance companies" that must be altered.

"The Kucinich [single payer] amendment has been added to H.R. 3200 in the Education and Labor Committee, the amendment would permit states to enact a single-payer health care system," the congressman's Web site claimed.

So, as this is not supposed to even take place for four years, what should we do? Flood the Emergency Rooms (as if they are not already at the bursting point)? Refuse to pay for insurance (as if millions have not had to adopt that course of action already)?

You choose.

For people like me, having no job outside of short-term contract jobs for the last decade and already having no access to any type of affordable insurance, there is no more choice here than there was before this major advance in health care reform - and, no, somehow I don't believe I'll be fitting into that 11-million government-run category (somehow).

From our friend at Politics Plus we learn the inside dope on those unorganized rightwing teabaggernuts. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the corporate front group founded in the 1980s by Koch Industries billionaire David Koch, worked closely with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to orchestrate the anti-health reform rally today. As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, AFP has been encouraging right-wing activists to board their buses — free of charge — to attend the rally. While AFP does not disclose all of its corporate donors, foundations controlled by David and Charles Koch provide millions in yearly funding, and David continues to chair the AFP foundation and preside over AFP’s annual convention.

ThinkProgress found at least a dozen AFP staffers standing at their designated bus drop off point near the Capitol, handing out signs, directions, talking points, petitions, and donuts to protesters. Many of the people who work at AFP are longtime Republican operatives, like Ben Marchi, the AFP Virginia director who previously worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee and for Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX). Victor Zapanta produced this video report of AFP staffers talking about their exploits at the rally today:

AFP STAFFERS: We have 25 buses just from Pennsylvania, New Jersey we probably have 5 or 6 from Maryland.

AFP STAFFERS: We have about 40 buses coming.

Watch the video.

David Koch’s AFP has a long history of marshaling “grassroots” support for GOP objectives. In the early 1990s, AFP, then known as Citizens for a Sound Economy, worked secretly with then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) to organize angry crowds following the Clintons as they touted their health reform bill. Industry money from health insurance, telecommunications, oil, and other companies has flowed freely to AFP over the years to help AFP promote an agenda of boosting the rich, stripping consumer safeguards, and maintaining corporate monopolies. Phillip Morris rented out AFP from the Koch family, contributing millions to the organization in exchange for AFP to build opposition to tobacco regulations . . . .

Suzan _____________________

13 comments:

One Fly said...

It's hard to win much when you don't cheat like the other side.

We don't know if a health bill will ever be law. When it does pass then it can be said a HCB has been passed. Until then we got squat.

I have expected nothing from the beginning except a very bad bill that continues to favor corporations.

Corporations and a few of the most powerful people control this as we have none even when we're supposed to. We've lost it and we ain't getting it back.

TomCat said...

Hi Suzan. Thanks for the hat-tip. I think that the House should vote on the Kucinich Amendment.

What we need most is publicly financed elections. Until the money is out of the system we shall retain the best government money has bought.

Suzan said...

One fly.

Sheesh! And I thought I was cynical.

I have expected nothing from the beginning except a very bad bill that continues to favor corporations.

Somehow I had thought such a large turnout for Obama was supposed to amount to some type of real change. Granted, he's still in the pocket(s) of Big Business, etc., but weren't most of us expecting at least a bone?

Thanks for your comment.

Now I'm going off to sob pitiously.

S

Serving Patriot said...

Suzan,

Thanks for this post. As One Fly says, you can't win when the other side rigs the game!

Also notable all day during the Teabagger frenzy was the utter lack of minority faces! It sure looked to me like all the "protesters" were old white people -- many of them fully eligible for Medicare! -- with the time (comfortably retired!) to participate in the astroturfed grassroots protest.

You can bet that the police/security forces would have been much more evident if a similar number of young and ethnically diverse folks showed up to "lobby" their representatives!

You know, kinda like Pittsburgh.

SP

Suzan said...

Too late for that voting on the Kucinich amendment (again), TC.

According to Dennis they already passed it and afterwards it was mysteriously deleted from the final bill.

We definitely have the finest bought-and-paid-for Congress that money can buy.

Love your blog!

S

What we need most is publicly financed elections. Until the money is out of the system we shall retain the best government money has bought.
________________

Suzan said...

And SP, you dog you.

So quick to the truth of the matter.

You can bet that the police/security forces would have been much more evident if a similar number of young and ethnically diverse folks showed up to "lobby" their representatives!

You know, kinda like Pittsburgh.


It's another testament to the dumbed-down educational system - except for these old codgers it really wasn't necessary to dumb it down anymore for them as they experienced it 50 years ago when they just weren't paying attention in class. Yes, Social Security and Disability are government socialized care programs, Grandpa!

Thanks for your comments.

Long live dissent!

(for a little while at least)

S

Also notable all day during the Teabagger frenzy was the utter lack of minority faces! It sure looked to me like all the "protesters" were old white people -- many of them fully eligible for Medicare! -- with the time (comfortably retired!) to participate in the astroturfed grassroots protest.

One Fly said...

Cynical I suppose so and I do not wish to make anybody sob but I do think people on our side are not looking at the facts and the results which there are none of in the last nine years. We settle for crumbs of possibilities that this or that may happen. Angry letters chastising the perpetrators of evil with threats that mean absolutely nothing because absolutely nothing has been done against these people who have committed some of the most treasonous crimes against our country and its history. This is all about accountability and the fact that those who make the decisions for our country need to be held accountable for their actions particularly if they have broken the law and not followed lawful procedures for doing so.

For some time now on my blog and with friends I have said and will continue to say that key players in government and business who are on our side have been threatened and that is one of the reasons we have a situation in our country we do today. That's a generalization this morning for sure but I do think bad shit is happening behind the scenes.

But what I want to touch on here is the reality of the past nine years. I do not wish to come across as a lefty nutter but I do wish people on my side would take a very close look at the reality of these past years, use a bit of common sense and start considering other possibilities. I will try to make this as simple and quick as I can.

These people starting with the invasion of Iraq did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted as often as they wanted to. You have the dark one saying he didn't remember 72 times just the other day. How many hundreds of stories are there of how these people circumvented the process for their own gains. How many times did they tell Congress to go fuck themselves. There is more than enough evidence in the public domain that shows these people are guilty of very serious crimes against our country. I think they are guilty but for sure there is enough evidence there that all of these things should have been investigated but were not then nor are they now nor will they ever be.

So what I'm trying to get at is that why weren't these people so blatantly open about these deeds then and now? And the answer is obvious that they knew then as they do now they were never ever going to be held accountable. Ever! And to me that shows me we have lost control for some time now our government and even with more than ample numbers in Congress to accomplish what needs to be done we for the most part get nothing. We've lost this battle and don't even have a clue.

Thank you Suzan for this post!

Suzan said...

We are so on the same team, "fly guy!"

I've been writing exactly what you've been saying for years now, knowing that money rules absolutely and that no legal actions will be taken against the obvious and admitted criminal lawbreakers (like the dark one you mention - who must be laughing in his pablum daily at his simultanearity with/to that figure of vast public fun about bad guys - Dark Vader - and the inability of anyone to do (or say publicly) anything against it and be taken seriously by those who report the news).

Our largest obstacle to real change comes from that vast created (on the backs of the world's poor and used) middle class that is loath to give up its fantasies of bigger and better in order to actually procure a decent existence with good jobs and healthcare provided by a decent government. Yeah, like those in Europe and Scandinavia for example.

Thanks for your wisdom. I can always use a dose.

S

You have the dark one saying he didn't remember 72 times just the other day. How many hundreds of stories are there of how these people circumvented the process for their own gains. How many times did they tell Congress to go fuck themselves.

. . . And the answer is obvious that they knew then as they do now they were never ever going to be held accountable. Ever! And to me that shows me we have lost control for some time now our government and even with more than ample numbers in Congress to accomplish what needs to be done we for the most part get nothing. We've lost this battle and don't even have a clue.

TomCat said...

Thanks Suzan. I did a little research. The single payer was not Kucinich's amendment after all. It was Weiner's. It turns out that Weiner voluntarily withdrew the amendment in the face of GOP opposition to change in any form. That was, in my opinion, a mistake, but at least it was not the dark conspiracy Dennis implied.

Suzan said...

So, Dennis was wrong about this passing the House Labor and Education Committee in July?

"The [committee] vote was 25 to 19, with support coming from an odd mix of liberal Democrats who support single-payer on its merits and conservative Republicans who want to preserve the rights of states to regulate themselves," The Washington Independent noted at the time.

Hard to believe as I just reread the links too.

I guess I'll have to look into this further.

And the point is moot anyway, as the bill is fait accompli without any true public option or single-payer provision available anywhere (so they say).

S

rjs said...

Why I Voted NO
by Dennis Kucinich

Suzan said...

RJS,

Great minds and all that . . . .

I just posted a response to Dennis' article on Information Clearing House's site.

He's a great man.

Worthy of our vote for President.

Thanks for your comments.

S

One Fly said...

thanks for the chuckle Suzan! I'm glad we have things in common like that. So the the house passed a HCB. From what I've seen it's not close to what was needed and it just don't mean shit cuz it is so far from being over.