Fox News’ Chris Wallace Gently Pwns GOP Rep Mike Pence

The Republicans are in deep trouble if this is the best they can do.  Chris Wallace completely destroys Mike Pence with the airiest of follow-up questions on the stimulus and the cash for clunkers program.  Pence thinks he sees a light at the end of the tunnel with some “America’s starting to trust us” happy talk, but Wallace drops some devastating poll numbers on him.

The President’s approval rating is slipping from its previous highs, as many right wing blogs have noted.  However, it also appears that, despite Mike Pence’s delusions, the country isn’t ready, after 7 months, to toss the keys back to the guys who drove us into a ditch for 8 years.

Bonus fun: Pence on Healthcare

Public Option the True Test of President Obama’s Game

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This has seemed like a bad week for healthcare reform.  Congressional Blue Dogs are doing their damnedest to kill the public option, and the White House seeming to backtrack on their support of it.  While expressing strong support for it, Gibbs has consistently refused to draw a line in the sand on the public option, and this week, inched back a little.

If this were any other politician, I’d be throwing my hands up in disgust, because this is how these backslides start.  The obvious interpretation is that the White House is innoculating itself from the public option’s defeat.

In Barack Obama’s case, though, this isn’t so obvious.  I’ve spoken before about his unique political MO, likening it to the “rope-a-dope.”  In this case, I hope, he’s being more of a chess player.  Since I’m more of a Gnip-Gnop player, I haven’t got it all figured out yet.

It is important to note that my confidence in the President, to this point, is based on past performance, not magical thinking.  He’s a progressive in triangulator’s clothing.  I’ve been sure he was blowing it before, only to be proven wrong.

This time may be different, however.  He was right to determine that momentum was key to passing strong reform.  Already, this week, one poll is being used deceptively to claim support for a public option is slipping.  The spineless sellout Blue Dogs think they’re in the driver’s seat.  Opponents of the public option continue to pound the public with lies.  Now, it seems like the White House is sounding the retreat.

If Barack Obama is the chess player I think he is, he’s got a plan to rescue the public option from the Blue Dogs.  If I’m right, it will involve Rahm Emanuel and some blunt conversations about mid-term elections.

I don’t think that Barack Obama is a bad enough politician to take the disastrous hit of no public option when he’s got airtight majorities in both houses of Congress.  On the other hand, he likes for it to look like the other guy’s idea.

Either way, I hope the President knows that defying his base, and 76% of Americans, is not an option.  Time to use that powder.

Best Blue Dogs Headline Evah!

blue-dog

BLUE DOGS MAKE DEAL WITH DEMS

That’s HuffPo, making the distinction that should’ve been made long ago.

Senate Finance Committee 202-224-4515 Ask Them

Without a public option, the insurance companies get tens of millions of new customers.  What do the American people get?

Post their responses in the comments here.

While you’re at it, ask them about this:

“We’re going to get agreement here,” Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the Finance Committee chairman, said Monday. “The group of six really wants to get to ‘yes.'”

The group of six.  What makes them more important than millions of Americans?  Right now, it’s their positions as hostage-takers of the public option.  What will it be come re-election time?

Surprise! Anti-Healthcare Reform Horror Story is a Lie

Update: So, that Canadian lady in the commercial, the one who wants to keep at least 20 million Americans without healthcare?  The one with the life-threatening brain tumor?  Yeah, not so much.

Still, I found Holmes tale both compelling and troubling. So I decided to check a little further. On the Mayo Clinic’s website, Shona Holmes is a success story. But it’s somewhat different story than all the headlines might have implied. Holmes’ “brain tumour” was actually a Rathke’s Cleft Cyst on her pituitary gland. To quote an American source, the John Wayne Cancer Center, “Rathke’s Cleft Cysts are not true tumors or neoplasms; instead they are benign cysts.”

Well, surely, a Rathke cleft cyst can be life-threatening, right?

Mortality associated with RCCs is extremely rare. In a study conducted by Shin and colleagues, the mortality rate was 0%, and the recurrence rate was 19%.2 In the literature, recurrence rates typically are lower, commonly 5-10%; however, Mukherjee co-authors reported a recurrence rate of 33%.

So, there you have it.  The Republicans want you to put the future of your healthcare in the hands of a Canadian hypochondriac.  I suppose that’s marginally better than letting the Republicans handle it, but I think we’ll stick with the public option.

Healthcare PWN-age Video of the Day

This clip is actually a few weeks old, but it was emailed to me by a conservative who was in an apoplectic lather over Jane Hamsher’s attempted PWNing of Townhall’s Jillian Bandes.

As it turns out, Jillian PWNed herself. Check it out.

Hamsher plays a little bit of dirty pool here, using her own cancer survivorship to try and taze Bandes into submission,but in doing so, misses a better opportunity. Everybody’s got a story, and when you rest your argument on one, you legitimize whatever sob story the right wants to dig up. Since all the right really has are anecdotes and speculative fiction, this is a bad strategy.

In fact, she’s responding to an ad in which another cancer survivor does the same thing. We could trade horror stories all day long, and it wouldn’t do a thing to illuminate this issue for people.

Hamsher misses the big kill here, as Jillian Bandes delivers the perfect setup. When Shuster asks her who represents the “50 million uninsured,” Bandes torturously haggles him down to 20 million people.

20 million people? Using the best math available to the right, generously granting all of Bandes’ assumptions, that is the best they can do? Why didn’t Hamsher zero in on that? Who is representing the at least twenty million people who cannot get health insurance?

That is the real shame in this.

She misses another chance, as well, to challenge the contradictory assumptions of the right. They say that the public plan will be a deadly morass, yet they are convinced that private insurance companies will be unable to compete with it. What sense does that make? That’s like saying that cheap cans of shit will drive beef stew out of the market. It’s nonsense. Bandes also gets away without answering to the overwhelming public support for a government option.

There may be some grassroots opposition to the public option, but it seems to be coming from insurance companies and their best customers. Take it with a grain of salt, then get your blood pressure checked, if you can.

Fact Check: Republicans Have No Health Care Plan

While readers of this blog already know this, FactCheck.org provides confirmation that all the GOP has, right now, are a bunch of disingenuous talking points and lies. From Fact Check:

In the sunny wrap-up to the ad, the narrator describes “the Republican plan”: “If you like what you have, you can keep it,” he says. “Access to an affordable basic coverage.” But there is no plan around which Republicans have coalesced. Back in May, some GOP lawmakers offered a bill that would have cut the tax deduction that employers get for offering their employees health insurance plans, and given workers tax credits instead. But there’s been little talk of the bill since then. And Missouri Republican Rep. Roy Blunt was tapped to head a GOP health care task force in February, which was charged “with crafting Republican solutions to increase Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care,” but which so far has produced no plan and seems unlikely to do so.

Of course, Alex Castellanos’ RNC memo makes this abundantly clear.  When  I originally wrote about the memo, I declined to take on the individual, fake “policy ideas” in the memo because, well, they’re fake.  However, I’ve changed my mind.  Even though these ideas aren’t part of any GOP plan, you still deserve to know why they’re lousy. Continue reading

President Obama v Gang of Six: 7 People, 1 Spine

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I just wanted to, again, say “I told you so.”  Yeah, it annoys even me, but I can’t help it.  It’s like throwing seeds at a vampire.

Remember when I urged my pal, Lee Stranahan, to relax (while continuing his excellent work) about the President’s urging to stop attacking Blue Dogs on healthcare?  Refresher:

My friend Lee Stranahan’s apoplexy notwithstanding, I have a slightly different read on this, and on the President’s plea to Leave Britney..uh, Blue Dogs Alone!  (That’s not to say that Lee should ease up one bit.  He shouldn’t.)

On the “stop attacking Blue Dogs” thing, I believe the President was more concerned with the nature of some of the ads, and the possibility that liberal groups are arming Republicans to retake those seats.  It’s one thing to say “Senator Wusspants is not listening to the people.”  It’s quite another to say “Senator Wusspants has been bought off!”

Well, as usual, I was right.  The President has begun to train the Blue Dogs to keep their mess off the carpet by targeting their districts with healthcare ads:

Ignoring criticism – namely from Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid – that intra-party targeting was ineffective, Barack Obama’s campaign arm is expanding its health care ad buy into the districts of key conservative House Democrats.

The initial purchase was on national cable and in eight states with critical Democratic and moderate Republican Senators. Now the scope of the campaign is expanding… The ad will appear in the media markets that overlap with the congressional districts of 15 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Eleven of those districts belong to Democrats…

I don’t think Sam stressed this enough, so I will: this is a clear warning to obstructionist Democrats that they will be disciplined, and not just on policy matters.  The fact that there are ad buys in their districts means that there can be ad buys during Democratic primaries.

Hopefully, the Gang of Six is paying attention.  With public support for healthcare reform at a fever pitch, and Republicans throwing a sinkful of kitchen sinks at the effort, these six wallflowers had better get moving, or they won’t be invited back to the big dance.

Who will prevail in this battle of wills?  My money is on the President.  You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but watch him STFU when you take away his bone.

Updated:Duh! Healthcare Bill Doesn’t ‘Outlaw Private Insurance’

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Earlier today, Twitter was all a-Itself with news, courtesy of Investor’s Business Daily, that the House healthcare reform bill “outlaws private insurance.”  I knew, without knowing, that they were misreading the thing, but haven’t had the chance to run through it yet.  Luckily, the Heritage Foundation debunks them, while ladling on their own false alarmism.

To sum it up, IBD reads a passage, from page 16 of the bill, that describes a grandfather provision which they interpret as “making private health insurance illegal,” but fail to read a paragraph on page 19 that explains it further.  Non-grandfathered policies would be required to compete in health exchanges, alongside the public option.

The Heritage article still thinks this is going to ruin everything because of “teh regulations!”

In order to qualify as an “Exchange-participating health benefits plan,” all health insurance plans must confirm to a slew of new regulations, including community rating and guaranteed issue. These will all drive up the cost of health insurance. Furthermore, all these new regs would not apply just to individual insurance plans, but to all insurance plans.

The irony here is that the health exchange fixes a major flaw in John McCain’s plan from the 2008 campaign.  McCain wanted people to be able to purchased insurance across state lines, but that would have meant trashing or weakening important protections for consumers.  Without them, there would simply be a race to the bottom to provide the cheapest, crummiest insurance to those who can’t afford more.  From my story on the subject:

Saying that all McCain wants to do is “erase artificial boundaries” between states is like saying, “I don’t want criminals to roam the countryside, I just want to unlock their cells so they can compete for the best one.”

In order to allow such “competition,” companies would need to be exempt from state regulations, regulations that protect consumers from being denied coverage, or being canceled if they get sick, or from being sold worthless insurance that doesn’t cover anything once you read the fine print.

The notion that insurance companies can’t compete while consumers are protected is a frightening one.  There may be some that can’t hack it, but maybe they’re the ones who need to go out of business.

Update: I finally found a complete copy of the bill that my crummy connection would let me download, and it turns out that the IBD headline is even dumber than I thought.  On page 15, immediately prior to their “Oh, noes!” paragraph, is a clearly labeled intro that states that the section is simply a definition of “grandfathered coverage,” which is then referenced on page 19:

GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 (as defined in section 100(c)) if the following conditions are met:

That’s where IBD started reading, and stopped before they got to page 19.

More on this later.

Response to John Boehner’s Healthcare Chart/Where’s Waldo Puzzle

GOP House Leader John Boehner has just sent out his crummy healthcare propaganda chart, which he cleverly throws everything but the kitchen sink into.  Ha, ha, John, it’s a confusing mess! Score!  You suck at making charts!

boner

Now, it might be fun to get my own CD of clip art and make a comparable chart showing how our current system can be made to look like an even bigger pile of technicolor vomit, but I prefer a simpler approach.  Here’s my chart, John:

dosechart

Update: President Obama responds to ‘Public Option Cave’ Story

Update: I told you so.  Jump to the end for a statement the President released this morning, obviously in response to the WSJ article.

The Huffington Post is running the scare headline “WHITE HOUSE MAY CAVE ON PUBLIC OPTION,” linking toxraybanner this Wall Street Journal report that seems to have Rahm Emanuel begging Republicans and Blue Dogs to punch the public option in the face:

It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday.

“The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest,” he said in an interview. “The goal is non-negotiable; the path is” negotiable.

What the frak, Rahm?  Didn’t I just get done saying how you guys punked the Blue Dogs with the $611 billion HELP committee bill that includes a public option?

Coming, as it does, on the heels of President Obama’s urging that outside groups stop attacking cojone-free Democrats on the public option, supporters of the public option are not too happy with Rahm’s comments (or “Rahmments). Continue reading