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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

President Lieberman's Healthcare Non-Reform Bill

Over at, Nate Silver makes the case that the Senate healthcare bill isn't as bad as everyone thinks it is. And he makes a very good case. According to Silver, the Senate version -- as it stands now -- will save people a substantial amount of money.

These estimates are straightforward -- they're taken directly from the CBO's report on premiums for people at different income levels. A family of four earning an income of $54,000 would pay $4,000 in premiums, and could expect to incur another $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs. The $4,000 premium represents a substantial discount, because the government is covering 72 percent of the premium -- meaning that the gross cost of the premium is $14,286, some $10,286 of which the government pays.

One caution: this reflects the situation before the public option was removed from the bill. But, provided that the subsidy schedule isn't changed as well, that shouldn't change these numbers much.

OK, so the bill isn't awful. But that doesn't make it good. I remain unhappy with the bill and still contend that we can stop talking about healthcare reform now. The Senate bill, as it currently stands, represents a tweak to the status quo, not the redrawing of any maps. If this becomes the final bill, the United States will still be a nation without any actual system of healthcare delivery. We needed to build a new structure, but we're just put new shingles on the same old shack's roof. Will we improve healthcare coverage in America? Yes. But on the reform side, this bill represents a failure. It most definitely not reform.

The final kinda-sorta-reformish-lite provision to be thrown aside was a Medicare buy-in for people 55 and older. This was a good, but not great, idea (a great idea would be getting everyone on Medicare). And, of course, it was thrown out because acting-president Joe Lieberman vetoed it. Why? Because liberals liked the idea too much.

"Congressman Weiner made a comment that Medicare-buy in is better than a public option, it's the beginning of a road to single-payer," Mr. Lieberman said. "Jacob Hacker, who's a Yale professor who is actually the man who created the public option, said, 'This is a dream. This is better than a public option. This is a giant step.'"

Never mind that just three months ago, Lieberman himself suggested exactly the same sort of buy-in -- that was before progressives said they liked it. Lieberman's new excuse for his opposition was that it was too expensive, but he was careful to make that charge before there was any evidence for or against it. Everyone was still waiting on the score from the Congressional Budget Office, which meant that President Lieberman could make the charge without anyone being able to contradict him. "Someone must have given Lieberman a heads-up on that," wrote Ezra Klein, "as he's decided to make his move in advance of the CBO score, the better to ensure the facts of the policy couldn't impede his opposition to it." He wrote that Lieberman's sole reason for opposition was petty grudge-holding -- that Lieberman "seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals" for not being sufficiently supportive of his re-election campaign against the legitimate winner of the 2006 Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary, Ned Lamont.

This won't be the first time I've written this, but there is absolutely no reason why Lieberman shouldn't be done as a member of the Democratic caucus. This isn't going to end with healthcare, this is going to happen with every bill of consequence, from jobs to environment, so long as Sen. Lieberman is allowed to pretend he's President Lieberman. He will betray and betray and betray.

For his part, Joe's trying to get people worried that he's going to bolt the Democratic caucus and become a Republican. I think he should be ejected from the caucus in the most public and humiliating way possible -- preferably followed by a parade -- and I'm not the only one. If Lieberman decides to court Republicans to make Democrats nervous, he may find he's already worn out his welcome.

In any case, we probably won't have Lieberman to kick around for much longer. Through his twitter account, Nate Silver wrote:

Odds that Lieberman gets re-elected in 2012? 3:1 against? He might be the deadest incumbent since Santorum.

Let's hope so. America can't afford Joe Lieberman's fragile ego.


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1 comment:

limo hire said...

The health care reform is too expensive...