The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse
The promise of Obamacare was the right one [Oh? Why is leaving half the uninsured without coverage the right promise?] and the hope for extending healthcare coverage to the un-and under-insured a step in the right direction. Yet the unintended consequences will hit the average, hard-working American where it hurts: in the wallet. Currently a national dialogue is emerging by [sic] all political parties on the issue of income inequality. That is a debate worth having [Yeah, 'cause the 0.01% isn't just robbing us blind; it's trying to kill us!]. The White House and Congressional Democrats are “resetting” the domestic agenda following the negative fallout from the rollout [fallout from the rollout...] of the ACA. They plan to shift focus [at least until the election is over] from health care to bread and butter issues of income inequality that have eroded the American paycheck for decades.
This isn't as horrific as MoveOn propaganda, say. But Unite Here gives w-a-a-a-a-y too much credit to the Democrats -- indeed, the political class as a whole -- for acting in good faith; that's where all this crap about "a national dialogue" and "a debate worth having" comes from, though at least they didn't use the word "conversation." I'm also dubious about the "income inequality" frame, since it leads directly to flaccid, phony rhetoric like "bread and butter issues" and "the average, hard-working American." For one thing, as we know, "averages" are horribly deceptive; they conceal, for example, the degree of "inequality" the paper complains of. For another, what's wrong with "working class?"
Ironically [Ironically? Who's the audience here?], the Administration’s own signature healthcare victory [actually, the cliche is "signature domestic initiative] poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality. Yes, the Affordable Care Act will help many more Americans gain some health insurance coverage, a significant step forward for equality [why concede this?]. At the same time, without smart fixes, the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage
What the Fuck does "smart fix" mean? That language is an insider tell if ever I heard one. Maybe it means fixing the Cadillac plan issue, and throwing single payer advocates under the bus again? Just a thought. And while we're at it, who's the audience for this piece? Hipsters who appreciate irony? "The average, hard-working American" (paragraph one)? Or "the middle class" (paragraph two)? We know what Obama thinks a "middle class" job is: Amazon warehouse work. What do you think, Unite Here?
Honestly, this paper reads like it was written by two people. One wrote the wet-noodle prose above (and not very well, either). The other wrote the bullet points that follow: Read below the fold...
After the Congressional Budget Office predicted 7 million Americans would sign up for coverage, they downsized their estimate to 6 million when technical problems with the HealthCare.gov website slowed enrollment in October and November. And even though the website has been functioning well since December, those early problems have cast a large shadow over enrollments ever since.
More than 4.2 million Americans have already purchased marketplace coverage. But using the enrollment experience of the Medicare prescription drug program as a template, Avalere projects that 22 percent, or 1.2 million people will purchase marketplace coverage by March 31. That would bring total enrollment 5.4 million people.
And remember: Enrollments doesn't mean new enrollments; the administration decided not to collect that data. Anyhow, when you combine a product launch debacle with a crappy product, numbers like these are what you get. But it gets worse: Read below the fold...
Sawant, 41, is already helping reshape public policy in Seattle, the largest city in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
An economics instructor and one-time software engineer who emigrated from India in the 1990s, she defeated an incumbent Democrat by advocating the $15 hourly wage. Both of the city’s mayoral candidates embraced the idea. Since taking office, Mayor Ed Murray has given her a seat on his task force of business and labor representatives weighing how to phase in the higher wage -- more than 60 percent higher than Washington state’s $9.32 anhour, already the most in the nation.
Sawant has also rattled the business community, saying as chairwoman of the council’s energy committee in January that aproposed rate increase for the city-owned utility should fall on corporations rather than individuals.....
As a newcomer to the U.S., Sawant was struck by the extent of poverty in the world’s largest economy, and the lack of amenities even poorer places enjoy, such as mass transit.
And now the interesting part: Read below the fold...
Now, holding the Democrats accountable and dragging them kicking and screaming, whining and whimpering, to the left -- which is not necessarily the same as dragging the Overton Window itself left -- is not the worst idea in the world; and Atrios is, after all, my blogfather. So I took a look. Read below the fold...
[A]ccording to a new poll out from The Wall Street Journal and NBC, Bill Clinton has an approval rating as high as the pope's. Yes, both Clinton and Francis net a 55 percent approval rating. ...
This after NAFTA, Glass-Steagall, etc. As I keep saying, concrete material benefits matter; people look back on Clinton's era with nostalgia for the good times. [TROLL PROPHYLACTIC: Politically, it doesn't matter if they're wrong!] Read below the fold...
And by "medical arbitrage," I mean your ability to exit the brutal and hideously expensive U.S. health care
rental extraction device system in favor of more humane and more reasonably priced alternatives available elsewhere (Exhibit A: My teeth!)* Via Public CItizen:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Chapter published by WikiLeaks reveals that after years of negotiations, the United States still seeks to impose medical procedure patents on Asian and Latin American countries. All eleven other negotiating countries oppose the proposal. Medical procedure patents raise healthcare costs. Health providers, including surgeons, could be liable for the methods they use to treat patients. Essentially, except for when a surgeon uses her bare hands, surgical methods would be patent eligible subject matter under the U.S. proposal. While U.S. law immunizes certain care providers from infringement liability, the U.S. TPP proposal fails to include these safeguards, risking yet more serious consequences for TPP negotiating countries.
So like a method of doing root canal surgery would be patented by some troll in the US, and my Thai doctor's price would go up? And the troll skims it all off? They're fucking kidding, right? Read below the fold...
Here's what Adam Smith, the political editor of the Tampa Bay Tribune, has to say:
If I'm a Democratic House member in any competitive district in America or a Democratic incumbent senator up for re-election this year in a moderate-to-conservative state like North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Alaska or Louisiana, I'm waking up more than a little anxious about what happened in Pinellas County on Tuesday.
In Alex Sink, Democrats had a better-funded, well-known nominee who ran a strong campaign against a little-known, second- or third-tier Republican who ran an often wobbly race in a district Barack Obama won twice. Outside Republican groups — much more so than the under-funded Jolly campaign — hung the Affordable Care Act and President Obama on Sink.*
Sink and Jolly both tried to argue repeatedly that the race to succeed the late C.W. Bill Young had more to do with local politics than it did national. Nonsense.
More than $12 million spent on hundreds of TV ads and Lord knows how many direct mail fliers weren't talking about Pinellas recreation fees and bus routes. They were flooding Pinellas residents with mostly negative attacks about Obamacare and misleading charges about why Sink or Jolly should not be trusted on Medicare and/or Social Security.
Of course, if ObamaCare didn't suck, Sink the Democrat would have had a better shot. Read below the fold...
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Obama on "Between Two Ferns": He peddles the lie that ObamaCare is as cheap as a cellphone, and nobody checks the facts
WaPo's Alexandra Petrie writes a puff piece about how awesome it is that Obama went on "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis," but she doesn't do any fact-checking:
OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t have something to plug. Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?”
GALIFIANAKIS: Oh yeah, heard about that! That’s the thing that doesn’t work! Why would you get the guy that created the Zune to make your Web site?
Obama: Healthcare.gov works great now!
OBAMA: . . .  They can get coverage all for what it costs to pay your cellphone bill.
GALIFIANAKIS: Is this what they mean by drones?
This morning, on C-SPAN, the foundation of the national security state exploded.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, took to the Senate floor and accused the CIA of spying on committee investigators tasked with probing the agency's past use of harsh interrogation techniques (a.k.a. torture) [surely that "a.k.a" is the other way round!] and detention. ....
Feinstein said that the CIA appeared to have violated the Fourth Amendment barring unreasonable searches and seizures—and perhaps other federal laws and a presidential executive order prohibiting the CIA from domestic searches and surveillance. She confirmed that the Justice Department was on the case. She said she has demanded an apology from the CIA and an admission that the agency's search of the intelligence committee’s computers was wrong. "I have received neither," she declared. ....
This unprecedented speech by Feinstein has ramifications beyond the immediate controversy over the CIA search. It undermines the basis for secret government. ...
What was essential to decent governance on this front was the delicate* relationship between congressional overseers and the intelligence agencies. ....
[E]lected representatives have to be able to come to the public and say, "We're keeping a close eye on all this secret stuff, and we are satisfied that we know what is happening and that these activities are being conducted in an appropriate manner." If such credible assurances cannot be delivered, the system doesn't work—and the justification for allowing secret government within an open democracy is in tatters.
Which is where we are today. Feinstein, no firebrand, is in open war with the CIA. ....
Here is how she summed up the current state of play:
If the Senate can declassify this report, we will be able to ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted. But, Mr. President, the recent actions that I have just laid out make this a defining moment for the oversight of our intelligence committee. How Congress and how this will be resolved will show whether the intelligence committee can be effective in monitoring and investigating our nation's intelligence activities or whether our work can be thwarted by those we oversee.
What Feinstein didn't say—but it's surely implied—is that without effective monitoring, secret government cannot be justified in a democracy. This is indeed a defining moment. It's a big deal for President Barack Obama, who, as is often noted in these situations, once upon a time taught constitutional law. Feinstein has ripped open a scab to reveal a deep wound that has been festering for decades. The president needs to respond in a way that demonstrates he is serious about making the system work and restoring faith in the oversight of the intelligence establishment. This is more than a spies-versus-pols DC turf battle. It is a constitutional crisis.
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Your access to health insurance is still random, depending on what state you live in
Modern Health Care, at the end of a long piece on ObamaCare's enrollment figures:
Just over half of the enrollments through state-based exchanges were California residents. Some state exchanges—Maryland, Massachusetts and Oregon, in particular—continue to be plagued by technological problems and remain far away from reaching enrollment goals.
So, if you believe -- as Obama and the administration purport to -- that "coverage" is a matter of life and death, since without it, you may be denied life-saving care, then citizens in Maryland, Massachusetts and Oregon are being sentenced to death, randomly, just because of the state they live in. It's appalling. It's vicisously unfair. And it shows so vividly how willing the Democratic and Republican nomenklaturas are to throw people under the bus as long as "I've got mine!"* This huge injustice, affecting millions of people, is of no concern to them. It's not even an issue. Read below the fold...
Which explains why Obama went on "Two Ferns," eh? WaPo:
Contrary to the Obama administration’s expectations, fewer people chose health plans last month than in either January or December. And the proportion of young adults — a critical demographic if the marketplaces are to function well — did not increase compared with January.
And why would that be, one wonders?
In a conference call with reporters, administration officials said the smaller number of enrollments reflects the fact that February is a short month.
Thanks to all readers who helped me not to rationalize avoiding having that cracked tooth extracted -- the first night, when the clot was forming, was pretty weird, but all seems fine now; though clot management strategy dictates I not chew on that side of my mouth, and avoid crunchy things like fried insects, which are a delicacy here.* And as a bonus, when they took the tooth out, the radio signals went away! Read below the fold...