Friday 4 September 2009

"Hell No" to Snowe!

According to the Snowe plan, the public option only would go into states where more than 5 percent of the people can’t get “affordable” coverage, which for middle-class families would be 12-15 percent of their income. With median family income at $52,000, that’s $6,240 to $7,800 a year which, month by month, is about the size of an average mortgage payment, for people who can even afford to buy a house. And insurers will game the system – offer a $6000 or a $7500 package, just under the threshold, the year the trigger is about to go into effect, and then yank it off the table once the trigger period has passed. And people don’t even have to be buying it – the insurers only have to offer it. And add to that the fact that using the price as the yardstick tells you nothing about what’s in the actual policy – it could be a $6000 policy with so many deductibles, payoff caps and other restrictions that it’s effectively worthless. HELL NO!

The uninsured and under-insured are disproportionately in red states. In Georgia, for example, where state legislators were screeching that they intend to block any federal health plan from going to effect in their state, one third of Georgians under 65 are uninsured. So if we’re only using the public plan in under-insured states, effectively the Republicans are saying “We won’t approve health care for everybody, but we will approve health care for ourselves, at taxpayer expense!” Well, of course they would. And that money would disproportionately come from blue states, as all federal subsidies do. And this alone is a reason to say HELL NO!

According to CNS, a rightwing website, the trigger doesn’t kick in for ten years. CNS is unreliable, but if they’re right on this one – HELL NO! particularly with a deep recession and the real unemployment rate at 15-17 percent, and existing government-run programs are rapidly going broke. We don’t have ten years to wait.

At best, this trigger option would get one or two votes in the Senate. In the Senate it takes 50 Senators to pass a bill under reconciliation and 60 to pass it under normal rules. Switching to this trigger monstrosity would perhaps get Obama from 53 to 56, which is meaningless. And in the meantime, dozens of Democrats would defect, so it would be a net loss. If Obama wants this mess, he should at least sit down with Snowe and demand “Which votes can you bring to me with this? Bring those commitments to me and we’ll talk. And I mean enough votes to break the 60-vote threshold.” Otherwise…HELL NO!

The White House says the contents of his Wednesday speech are decided, even in advance of finalizing the negotiations with Snowe, so he won’t be saying “buy this trigger plan”. But if he won’t lay out specifics for either the trigger plan or the public option…what specifics will he lay out? He can’t just go up there and lay out a big pile of Vague again.

I’ll tell you one thing – Pelosi and the gang are now working with might and main to pass the public option on their side of the building, since all three of their committees passed the public option already (as the Senate HELP Committee also did). Let the Senate do whatever they’re going to do, and then see what happens in the conference report. In the meantime, keep banging away at the GOP lies and get the truth out there: remember that even after the worst of the August attacks, the American people still want the public option.

Is this just a big head fake by Obama? Or is his team just being clumsy?

No comments: