DeMint vs. Obama: Health care debate takes downward turn


Until today, the titanic battle over the future of health care in America was at least based in good grammar. Then I received this deeply troubling communication:

Thursday July 23, 2009

Dear Friends –

By now you’ve probably heard about the ongoing debate Senator DeMint has been having with President Obama on health care. Up until last night this debate, while spirited, was based on the issues.

Unfortunately, President Obama decided to turn the debate away from the issues by having the Democrat National Committee produce a patently false television ad accusing Senator DeMint of having “no plan” for health care.

We hope you will take a minute to watch our factual response in this short web video. Afterward please click here and give us your thoughts on health care reform. Thanks.


Team DeMint

PS. Please click here to watch the response!

Being a trained observer who gets right to the heart of the matter without delay, I immediately responded to the e-mail thusly:

Actually, it’s the DemocratIC National Committee. You can look it up; you’ll see I’m right.

You see, “Democrat” is a noun, while “Democratic” is the adjective form. Since it’s being used to modify “committee” here, you want the adjective form.

I expect to get a note of thanks momentarily…

Seriously, folks, I feel really bad because I haven’t kept up with the back and forth on this issue. About all I know is that it must be going badly, because it seems Jim DeMint is getting a lot of ink, and from what little I can tell, the senator’s goal is to make sure the president is unsuccessful in reforming our insane health care system. Correct me if I’m wrong on that, but that seems to be the main point — to make sure the president suffers a defeat (“Waterloo” was mentioned, I believe) on this issue of critical importance to the nation.

Y’all know that I’m not a detail man on this stuff, which drives detail-oriented folks like bud and Doug (from their differing perspectives) nuts. But this doesn’t seem to be turning on the details. More and more, it seems to be about “my side up, your side down.” If you’ll recall, Obama ran against that sort of garbage. And if he can’t overcome it on this issue, then you can pretty much say goodbye to his accomplishing much of anything. His adversaries know this. And they care far more about him failing than they do about details.

So it is that in the few moments I’ve had to think about the issue, I find myself rooting for Obama. Back during the election, I was critical that he didn’t want to do enough on health care. But he at least wants to do something, other that rely on the DeMint/Sanford formula of praying to the almighty market.

But set that issue aside. Folks, I supported John McCain in the recent election. But I know our country desperately needs an effective president. It needs leadership. So even if I were neutral on the health care issue, which I’m not (I may not have kept up with the details, but I can see which parties are at least trying to do some good), I’d be rooting for the president on this. The country needs for him to succeed.

78 thoughts on “DeMint vs. Obama: Health care debate takes downward turn

  1. doug_ross

    Here’s the bullet points from what DeMint’s bill would do — can someone post a similar list of what the Obama/Reid/Pelosi/Kennedy bill will do?

    DeMint – The Health Care Freedom Plan Summary:

    • Protects the right of Americans to keep their employer-based plan without having to pay additional taxes on those benefits.
    • Provides Americans without employer-based coverage with vouchers of $2000 for individuals and $5000 for families to purchase health insurance. The premium for the average private policy sold in the individual market in 2007 was $1,896 for an individual and $4,392 for a family (Source: eHealthInsurance)
    • Allows Americans with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to use their HSA funds to pay for insurance premiums, encouraging employers to contribute to their employees’ HSAs.
    • Creates a nationwide market for health insurance by allowing individuals to purchase health insurance plans in any state.
    • Provides block grants to states to develop innovative models that ensure affordable health insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.
    • Reduces predatory and frivolous malpractice lawsuits against physicians and hospitals.
    • Assures that every health care consumer has access to price information prior to treatment so they can make informed decisions about their care.
    • Repeals financial bailouts (TARP) to ensure that the plan does not add to the deficit.

    I’d add the following to that list:

    1. Ban all advertising for prescription drugs

    2. Prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone and establishing a cap on the cost of premiums any individual can pay

  2. Brad Warthen

    One bit of information that HAS seeped through to my consciousness — I seem to recall having read that the opponents of reform find they do well in polls when they warn voters that Obamacare would mean “bureaucrats… rationing” health care.

    Which makes me laugh. Right now, if they have private coverage, their health care is rationed by for-profit red-tape experts who make more money each time they say NO to you receiving treatment. If “rationing” means “limiting,” then the LAST person in the world you want making that decision is someone who has a vested economic interest in denying you care. This is so obvious that it stuns me that it wouldn’t be clear to everyone.

    Opponents are on far firmer ground when they argue that the government has insufficient motive to contain costs — in other words, less motive to “ration” your care. That’s why the recent projections that costs were underestimated were so damaging.

    But talking about “rationing” somehow being more threatening when a PUBLIC “bureaucrat” does it rather than a PRIVATE paper-shuffler is about as ridiculous as you can get. It’s yet another appeal to this sort of superstitious anti-gummint mumbo-jumbo that lurks in the American consciousness, and which DeMint and Sanford have built careers on, rather than rational argument.

  3. doug_ross


    So do you seriously think that under the Obama plan that Americans will be able to get whatever healthcare they want, whenever they want?

    Will I be able to try different cholesterol medicines every week for free? Will Viagra users be able to get that drug for free in unlimited quantities? If my kid has a cold, can I bring him into a different doctor’s office every day for a new diagnosis if I don’t like the one from the day before? If my knee hurts, can I go get an MRI every week to see how it’s progressing?

    There has to be rationing of some type. The best way would be if people treated healthcare like they treat other purchases – by having to make choices based on cost. That’s why high deductible policies would be best.

  4. Birch Barlow

    That’s why high deductible policies would be best.


    The less government or insurance company involvement the better, IMO.

  5. Jerry

    Where was DeMint’s plan when he was part of the majority party that could have passed it? I know he blathered about the democrats blocking reform but really don’t remember much of an effort put out on his part. It makes me doubt his sincerity in really improving things even though he did throw the word freedom in his plan title. A republic trick used in many ways. I have found his rhetoric disgusting.
    Yes there should be a good debate on this, talking about blocking something to hurt President Obama is not it. Health care is not about either man but improving a system that has some flaws.
    Why not just provide everyone with the tax payer provided health care that you receive senator?

  6. sc8

    Ah, so after much careful deliberation, Warthen decided he agrees with Obama, not DeMint.

    Good to see the “Unparty”… the party of ideas, not partisanship… is alive and well.

  7. Lee Muller

    The federal government has no Constitutional authority to provide medical care to anyone, much less to force people to buy insurance, businesses to buy insurance, or to set prices of drugs and treatment.

    This is Obama’s Marxist background and core beliefs on display.

  8. Randy E

    Doug, you are now championing a plan in which the government simply pays for people’s health coverage. FASCINATING position for a “libertarian.”

    Here are some more bulleted points to add to DeMint’s list.
    *Employers can now dump health coverage and the government will pick up the tab.
    *Big insurance boon as they collect even more premiums.
    *When the TARP funds run out we’re back to square one or the government keeps paying…hmmm, that does add to the deficit.
    *Costs are not addressed, the system is not fixed. The government continues to step in as more and more people are priced out of insurance.

    In summary: Doug, the “libertarian” supports DeMint, the hater of all things goverment or non-Christian, in a plan that simply has the government pay Big Insurance alot of money. That is a sustainable model? LOL, that’s TARP for Big Insurance!

  9. doug_ross


    Given the choice between the government doing its typical awful job of running things and sending money directly to the people to decide where to spend it, the natural choice of a libertarian would be the latter option.

    I’ll try and explain it in simple terms. Given consumers the choice of where to spend healthcare dollars means private insurers have to be competitive and offer services that attract those dollars. You know, sort of like why people pay for private schools when they can get public education for free.

    With a government run system, the incentive to run it efficiently is lost and we end up with Medicare – a system with artificially low payments and all sorts of fraud.

    When was the last time your insurance wasn’t paid for by taxpayers?

  10. Birch Barlow

    Forget solutions; does anyone want to give a reason(s) why health care is becoming increasingly more expensive in the first place?

  11. kbfenner

    “And they care far more about him failing than they do about details.”

    Uh, “his failing”–if you’re going to go Mr. Languageperson on us ‘n’ everything…

    and *I* have great health coverage and follow the issue carefully. Seems to me, if I were an influential blogger who was less secure on that front, I’d follow the issue more closely than you are. Just sayin’…

    It’s all well and good to be “Switzerland” sometimes, but sometimes you need to stand up against the “Nazis.”

  12. kbfenner

    Health care is becoming more expensive, in defensible part, because it can do so much more. MRIs and other scans, transplants, chemo, etc., cost a lot, and more and more expensive treatments become available.At some point, we will have to decide who gets what treatment. We cannot afford all possible care for everyone, regardless of what system we choose. I would hope for a rational process that allows a child who has a hope for a complete recovery to take precedence over an old person, say, even if it is my parent or other loved one, or me.

  13. SGMret

    Brad, first off, I was going to bust your chops a bit about the whole turning to Mr. Webster as the point of departure for your criticism of DeMint, but while I was eating breakfast thinking about it, KB beat me to the punch!

    She also makes a pretty good point about your “aw shucks, I’m just not a details guy” position. I would really expect a bit better from you, but, hey, I guess everybody has an off day once in a while.

    However, your defense of Obama, that we should all just get behind him and give him our support, because, well, “he’s the president and we really need some leadership and all” is absurd. (Ya think we all need to get behind Sanford and give him our support, because, gosh, he’s the gov, and we sure could use some leadership?)

    But then, to make matters worse, you criticize the people who oppose Obama’s plan as turning the debate into a “my side – your side” argument without any merit because it doesn’t address the very details that you say you don’t follow.

    And finally, you take that same “my side – your side” tactic and resort to name calling yourself when you describe the opponents of the Obama position, which you support, as possessing “superstitious anti-gummint mumbo-jumbo” attitudes.

    Brad, ol’ buddy, you can’t have it both ways.

    Having said all that, Doug gives us all a pretty good synopsis of the DeMint plan and challenges the supporters of Obama to offer up a similar summary of his plan. And what do the Obama supporters reply with?

    Well, nothing yet.

    You know, I do think the way we pay for health care in the US is broken; it has become essentially an unsustainable economic model which can no longer survive without some serious reordering.

    Costs are out of line with economic reality because the funding for health care is artificially supported by the insurance industry. However, doing away with the insurance industry is not possible because those same costs have risen beyond any sort of ability of average people to pay for out-of-pocket. I do not, believe, that the answer, though, is giving the power to manage the system to the federal government.

    One thing that Brad got almost right is his description of the bureaucrats involved. What he got wrong about that, though, is his assertion that trading the private bureaucrat for the government one will somehow be better.

    The government bureaucrat is motivated by inertia and stasis; he wants to prevent exceptions to the rule because the status quo in his interest. The corporate bureaucrat is motivated by profit to spend as little as possible. However, he will change if there’s more profit to be made.

    The key to rational reform is to bring the costs of medical care in line with the ability of average people to pay for it while reducing or eliminating the artificially high value that insurance payouts have caused. This must be done while retaining the profit motive of both the insurers and providers. Without that motive, the quality and quantity of the services will suffer; a potential consequence of any reform that is unacceptable.

    At least DeMint’s plan, such as it is, attempts to make reforms while still retaining the profit motives to insure quality. I haven’t seen any details for any plan from the Obama supporters that state what will be done, how it will be done, and why it will be better for the majority of Americans who already have health care.

    All I’ve seen and heard from the Obama crowd are slogans and promises that things will be better, if only we all just throw our blind support behind Obama. After all, he is the president, and you know, we sure could use some good leadership and all….

    Solutions are not statements of desired or dreamed for end states.

    You want my support? You better tell me what for.

  14. Lee Muller

    The reasons medical care costs are rising faster than other prices and incomes:

    1. Government mismanagement.
    Medical costs have risen fastest in the 58% of areas under federal control. In the regimens not under their control, prices have remained unchanged or have fallen over the last 30 years.

    2. The USA offers the latest, most advanced, most effective treatments, surgical techniques, drugs and devices in the world. Americans have the highest incomes, and good insurance to pay for the world’s best care.

    3. Most of medical expenditures are on the elderly, in extreme treatments which only prolong their lives by a few months. Socialist medicine in other countries denies such treatments, and socialism here will also deny them.

    4. 30,000,000 illegal aliens mooching care.

    5. Millions of Americans who can afford primary care but refuse to pay for it, and millions who can afford insurance but refuse to buy it. They abuse the ER and EMS services.

  15. doug_ross


    I agree with all your points except this one:

    “3. Most of medical expenditures are on the elderly, in extreme treatments which only prolong their lives by a few months. Socialist medicine in other countries denies such treatments, and socialism here will also deny them.”

    As Karen also mentioned there has to be some discussion in any system about how to use finite resources in the most effective manner. Speaking from personal experience, when my 80 year old father suffered a series of strokes while on the operating table two years ago, he ended up in a coma in ICU for two weeks when even the doctors admitted the BEST possible outcome would be that he would be blind and unable to speak or care for himself. He would never have accepted that fate. After a series of incremental “standard” procedures (dialysis when his kidneys shut down, tracheotomy when the breathing tube caused issues), we reached the conclusion two weeks later that was apparent even to an untrained person on the first day.

    The total bill for his two week stay in ICU was $125,000. Now, I realize those numbers are meaningless because Medicare never would pay anything close to that.
    There has to be some thought given to outcomes in the decisions that are made on what treatment to provide.

    As to point 1, “1. Government mismanagement.
    Medical costs have risen fastest in the 58% of areas under federal control. In the regimens not under their control, prices have remained unchanged or have fallen over the last 30 years.”

    I heard the other day a great example. The cost of Lasik surgery has dropped since it was first offered and the quality has improved. Much of the reason for that is that it normally is NOT covered by insurance so the market determines the cost and the providers have to differentiate on quality of service.

  16. Santee

    We’re again seeing comments about government doing “its usual awful job.” I have dealt with my own health insurance issues through my private insurance plan, one that is generally regarded as among the best. I have dealt with my mother’s health insurance issues, through Medicare. There is no contest. It is private insurers, not Medicare bureaucrats, who are slow to respond, obstructionist, and most likely to deny a procedure or medication (= ration health care) for their own benefit.

    The notion that retaining the profit motive insures quality is contrary to all of our national experience with private health care insurance. The insurers are not competing on the basis of quality. Instead, the profit motive insures an absurd run-around to get a routine prescription filled.

    One comment on this blog recommends high deductible insurance. That is an excellent choice for many people who have the resources to cover that deductible. It leaves out the many millions who don’t. Those people can’t be ignored, as they are now (no, ERs, are not an adequate substitute).

    Ultimately any health care system that won’t bankrupt us will require decisions about what should be covered, whether through private or public plans or a combination. That is true whether we do, or do not, insure those with lower incomes, the unemployed, and so forth. Those decisions are being made now for the benefit of CEO salaries and corporate profits. They should be made instead on the basis of maintaining a sustainable system of health care for all Americans. When that is in place, those who wish to have the option of tests and procedures that are not covered, and who have the resources to purchase additional insurance, can obtain supplemental insurance as is now done with Medicare.

    Many of the people who can’t afford insurance, and therefore medical care, are working very hard to support themselves and their families. Millions of others were working very hard until they lost their jobs, and their health care. The contrast with our Governor, who has felt free to lecture on the people of South Carolina on personal responsibility and unfettered free markets while treating his office as a part-time job with costly travel benefits (as far as anyone can tell, for the past 6 1/2 years, not just the past month), is striking. It is also simply an extreme example of a common situation. We have politicians who enjoy superb government-sponsored healthcare (Jim DeMint comes to mind) arguing against government-sponsored care for other Americans. A nation that wishes to remain economically and socially strong must solve this problem in a way that does not leave millions of American citizens out.

  17. bud

    Let’s step back a minute folks at look at this the way it should be looked at: Cost vs. Outcome. NOTHING else matters. All the anectdotal stories about someone’s uncle in Canada having to wait 6 months for this or that procedure are irrelevant. The big picture is what matters. The U.S. currently has THE most expensive medical distribution system in the world. And the overall outcome is a life expectancy ranking about 30th. It’s pretty obvious we’re failing on the only criteria that matters.

    The Demint plan is really no plan at all. Obama has him pegged on that one. It simply puts more power in the hands of the greedy insurance/pharmacutical companies. It’s the GOP at it’s worst and should be rejected outright. Thankfully the president seems to understand that much. It’s time to move away from the greed of unbridaled capitalism and move toward a future that includes a major government pay option available to all citizens. Otherwise we will only see cost continue to rise and our life expectancy ranking fall. It’s time to reject, once and for all, Republican healthcare.

  18. doug_ross


    The facts do not support your claims. Fraud in Medicare dwarfs any salaries made by private insurance CEO’s.

    Let’s hear some specifics of how you would implement a system. How would you pay for it? Does anyone besides the doctor and patient participate in the decision-making process on what treatments are provided? If I am happy with my current private insurance will I still be required to pay into the public health option for others? Will all government employees be on the same public health option or will we still see a multi-tiered system of haves and have-nots? Will the public option healthcare be available to anyone or U.S. citizens only?

    It’s the details that will kill the Obama bill. You can’t overhaul a system that has evolved over decades in a couple months.

  19. Lee Muller

    According to every serious study, by the insurance companies (who have the best data), the CBO, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and Census Bureau…

    There are only 7,000,000 Americans permanently without insurance due to true poverty or serious terminal illness as a pre-condition.

    The “47,000,000 uninsured” is a fabrication.

    15,000,000 of those are illegal aliens treated every year for free by hospitals, which is the primary cause of hospital bankruptcies.

    18,000,000 of those without insurance make over $50,000 individually and $75,000 as couples. They can afford it, but choose to buy new cars and take vacations.

    60% of those offered insurance at work, turn it down.

    Socialists and other backers of socialized medicine don’t care about costs, because they expect someone else to pay the costs. They want to freeload and use the money on vacations. These are low achieving people who don’t care if medical care is mediocre, like everything else in their lives, so long as it seems to be free for them.

  20. doug_ross

    Here’s one idea to remove significant cost from the healthcare system:

    If a pharmaceutical company wants to advertise its prescription drug on TV, radio, or print then it must agree to allowing it’s patent on the drug to be only five years rather than the current 15-20.

    Here’s a good short article on the problem with drug patents and a proposed solution:

  21. Lee Muller

    14.7% of Medicare and Medicaid was lost to fraud in 2007.

    24% was lost to waste, payment mistakes, and abusing billing by patients.

    Source: GAO audit 2007

  22. bud

    SGMret, If you want your buddy DeMint to be taken seriously then he should use proper grammar. Sure Brad gets carried away with this stuff; but at the end of the day DeMint only dilutes his message by calling the opposition party something that he knows is both incorrect and derisive. DeMint should stick with his message, and not act like a middle-school brat taunting his opposition. I could just as easily use the perjoritive Demented to describe the jr. Senator from South Carolina. But what would that accomplish?

  23. Lee Muller

    If all you can criticize is Demint’s choice of words, or “grammar”, then you have conceded his genuine criticism of the Democrats’ various proposals, all socialist.

    The Democrats’ attempts to rush through another 1,100 page law that no one has read, where every radical and every big DNC donor gets to put their hairbrained, selfish proposals into the stew, ignores not only the other 47% of Congress, but ignores the American people.

    84% of Americans are happy with medical care as it is now. They like their insurance or paying cash. But the 16% minority and some arrogant socialists in control of Washington dismiss the majority.

    It is obvious the Democrat plans cannot stand thoughtful scrutiny.

    All they seem to care about is that they have the power to destroy the free market and nationalize medicine in order to control individual liberty. They sweep aside the costs, the huge deficit spending, promise to “tax the rich”, and other such baloney.

  24. Lee Muller

    Lee Muller says:
    July 21, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    It is ridiculous to even discuss handing over more control of medicine to the federal government, when they have been unable to manage what they now control, like Medicare and Medicaid.

    Average family insurance plan costs $5,000.

    Medicare and Medicaid insurance costs $8,000 per person.

    Democrats’ Phase I plan to insure 17,000,000 people costs $12,000 per person.

    They don’t even play to trim costs, so Obama, Biden and Pelosi should be laughed at when they tout cost savings.

    Why can’t they reduce the cost, first, by 40% from its current level, to bring it in line with private insurance?

    Then they can come back and propose the next step. Until then, they have no credibility.

  25. jjwalters

    Obama is all “smoke and mirrors” on healthcare reform.No straight answers on how to pay for the 1 trillion dollar cost.Also I do not want the government telling me I cannot have my own policy.Ever country that has socialized medicine also has a privated system because the former is lacking in speed,quality,and/or technology.We have to stop Obama and Kennedy from ramming this plan down our throats.I am for a better healthcare system,for everyone,but a government run socialized system is a nightmare.

  26. bud

    From DeMint’s propaganda:

    “The Health Care Freedom Plan would allow every American access to health insurance and according to a study by the Heritage Foundation, would cover 22.4 million currently uninsured Americans within the five years.”

    Of course this is probably wildly optimistic. Still, only 22.4 million! His own plan only claims half the uninsured will become insured. And don’t you love the name of this thing: “The Health Care Freedom Plan”. The only thing this would free is peoples money from their wallet. Why would the poor even bother using the vouchers. It’s unlikely to really be enough to buy any sort of decent coverage. And they’d still be stuck with the absurd deductibles and co-pays.

    At the end of the day this is really not reform at all. It’s just a bit of re-arranging deck chairs so that big corporate medical providers can continue bleeding the public dry. Let’s look around the world and adopt a cheaper more effective approach that gives significantly longer life expectancy for half the cost. The American public deserves no less.

  27. Brad Warthen

    You pay for it with taxes, which you would pay instead of private insurance premiums. I’ve paid close to $600 a month now for several years (and if I keep Cobra past January, it will be more than $1,500 a month, including what my previous employer paid). I wish all that money had been going into something that I couldn’t lose as long as I kept paying. But it didn’t.

  28. slugger

    The people that think that this present healthplan as devised by Obama and the democrats is the answer to our health problems need to read the comments above by Lee Muller and Doug Ross. They are right. How do I know? I worked in medicine for 45 years. I had to see changes that put us where we are today all about Medicare and Medicaid governmental programs. Get the government out of medicine and it can be fixed with the private sector.

  29. Birch Barlow

    I wish all that money had been going into something that I couldn’t lose as long as I kept paying. But it didn’t.

    So tax employer-provided health insurance. Problem solved.

  30. doug_ross

    I think it is very interesting that we have yet to see anything even half as specific as DeMint’s bullet points provided by the Obamacare supporters.

    Do we really want to overhaul the healthcare system in this country without any sort of details besides “tax the rich”?

  31. SGMret

    doug_ross says: July 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm:

    “I think it is very interesting that we have yet to see anything even half as specific as DeMint’s bullet points provided by the Obamacare supporters.”


  32. doug_ross

    All I want is answers to simple questions:

    1) Will I be able to keep my insurance without having to pay any additional money for other people to be covered by the public option (assume I don’t make $1 million a year)?

    2) Will only documented US citizens have access to the public option?

    3) Can private doctors choose to not accept public option patients?

    The answer to all those question had better be “no” or the bill will be DOA.

  33. doug_ross

    For those of you thinking Obamacare is coming any time soon, here’s the latest in the bill trying to make its way out of the House:

    “Under the agreement, the Institute of Medicine would complete a study by September 2011 recommending changes in the current fee structure. The administration would have 45 days to submit the report to Congress, and it would go into effect unless Congress blocked it by the end of February 2012.

    Separately, lawmakers agreed to call for a second study by the Institute of Medicine to investigate regional differences in payments to Medicare providers, to be implemented in 2014.”

    That’s FIVE years from now, folks… This is all window dressing to make it look like they are doing something.

    Obama could do incremental changes immediately if he truly wanted to change the healthcare system.

    DeMint’s proposal seems to take effect immediately.

  34. slugger

    “Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others.”

    Ayn Rand

  35. normivey

    The President has vowed not to sign a bill which does not account for its own costs. The major provisions of any reform bill will likely include these components:

    •Allows citizens to keep their current coverage as it is
    •Creates a public health insurance option that is funded by its own premiums
    •Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage or limiting benefits
    •Reduces health related bankruptcies by capping out-of-pocket expenses
    •Increases competition among insurers by creating a Health Insurance Exchange from which consumers can choose plans
    •Reduces the doughnut hole in Medicare
    •Creates a commission to provide annual recommendations on reducing costs suggesting changes which Congress must accept or reject
    •Reduces costs by reforming the Medicare delivery system, encouraging wellness and preventative care, and using information technology to better manage and share information

  36. Maude Lebowski

    “Right now, if they have private coverage, their health care is rationed by for-profit red-tape experts who make more money each time they say NO to you receiving treatment. If “rationing” means “limiting,” then the LAST person in the world you want making that decision is someone who has a vested economic interest in denying you care. This is so obvious that it stuns me that it wouldn’t be clear to everyone…

    But talking about “rationing” somehow being more threatening when a PUBLIC “bureaucrat” does it rather than a PRIVATE paper-shuffler is about as ridiculous as you can get.”

    No one here, from the Ayn Rand libertarians to the so-right-biased-that-I-can’t-take-them-seriously Lee Mullers has addressed this realistically.

    I’m all for taking the private health insurance industry out of the equation AND for denying any health care to illegal immigrants.

    I guess what it comes down to is this: is health care a right or a priveledge for Americans?

    Government may not be the solution to all of our problems, but neither is the free market.

  37. SGMret

    Health care is not a right. No one is born with the right to health care.

    Government does not bestow rights, either, it merely protects them. So, providing health care is not giving anyone anything that they have a right to. It can only ever be a privilege, and therefore its costs must be balanced with the costs of all others.

    Health care may be something that we, collectively, decide to provide as part of “providing for the common good.” But it is not a right that requires no debate to establish.

    If we so decide, then the questions really are:

    How much health care is enough for the common good and how much is too much and therefore so expensive that paying for it does more harm than good?

    What, if anything, are you personally willing to give up in order to pay for it?

    Are you actually giving up anything for it, or are you only using the “tyranny of the majority” to forcefully take the costs from others for your own benefit?

  38. Lee Muller

    The same people who cry about insurance companies refusing to pay for some procedures under the contracts both parties signed, are clamoring for federal bureaucrats to deny them treatment, without any recourse.

    The same people who hate managed care by insurance companies cry for managed care by the government.

    What’s the difference?
    They expect to mooch their care off some other taxpayers under the government-run socialist system.

    Obama and the Democrats are appealing to the most base instincts of laziness, envy, self-pity and greed.

  39. bud

    Here’s where pragmatism should take over the debate. Folks like Muller seem obsessed with this notion that health will become “socialist” under the Obama plan. It’s ALREADY socialist and there is no proposal by anyone in the debate that would take away that socialist status. That debate was decided decades ago when laws were passed requiring hospitals to provide care regardless of a persons ability to pay. So one way or the other we’re going to have socialized medicine. What the debate is about now is how to make American socialized medicine efficient and effective.

    Then we have SGM launching into this diatribe on the constitution and whether health care is a right or a privilage. That too misses the point. Once again we’ve alread decided that everyone will receive health care. Whether it’s for the common good or it’s a right is not relevant. What we should now be focusing on (to repeat) is how to make it efficient and effective.

    Since the rest of the industrial world is both more efficient (as measured by cost) and effective (as measured by life expetency) then we should simply look around the world and borrow from what works elsewhere. Let’s make the American version of socialized medicine the most efficient and effecitve it can be. That should be the only consideration worth addressing.

  40. bud

    It’s interesting to me how folks can read the DeMint plan and actually say it’s a “plan”. It’s just more of the same with vouchers and a bit of window dressing to try and prevent a REAL plan from emerging. It’s really just a shame to continue the failure of Republican health care.

  41. Lee Muller

    Yes, our medical system is 58% under socialist control, and that is the part that is a dismal failure at delivering care and controlling costs.

    The solution is to unwind the socialism, all the way back to the 1930s, not to nationalize more.

    Canadian leaders come to the USA for serious medical care. That tells you all you need to know.

  42. SGMret

    Wasn’t a diatribe, bud.

    It was a response to Maude’s question, a question perhaps somewhat rhetorical, but still posed, and the implied answer (that health care is a right) is not one that everybody else here agrees with.

    Furthermore, we most certainly have not all “decided that everyone will receive health care.” And you saying it, does not make it so.

    The present debate is precisely about how much government health care should be provided and how. And in the context of how much we should pay for, that is, how much is necessary for the “common good,” the concept of “common good” is “relevant.”

    That is unless you seek no justification nor foresee any limits for government provided health care. In which case, you’ll never get my support.

    However, I agree that what we should be addressing is how we can make our health care system as efficient and effective as possible.

    That does not mean that I automatically agree (or disagree) that a solution must be “socialized,” universal, or even that it must be administered and controlled by the government.

    I, at least am willing, to consider the options and justifications: You, however, seem to have made up your mind.

  43. Lee Muller

    Once someone decides to let the government run their lives, they don’t have to do any more thinking.

    There is one answer to everything: “Let the politicians and bureaucrats have as much power as they want, so long as they tax someone else.”

  44. bud

    Sorry Muller, you’re wrong again. 100% of our system is socialized in one form or another. If you get injured you get treated. That makes it socialism.

  45. doug_ross


    Then don’t bother with insurance. Let me know how that works out for you and your family.

    Just read that Michael Jackson’s kids have been set up to receive monthly Social Security checks. If that isn’t a perfect example of a broken government system, I don’t know what is.

  46. Lee Muller

    Yes, bud, I am aware that we taxpayers are being milked by a federal system which mandates treatment for illegal immigrants, Obama supporters and other deadbeats.

    The solution is simple: repeal such socialism. Let them pay their own way, or stand in line at a charity clinic.

  47. Lee Muller

    Democrats in the House overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to require themselves to be on the socialist medical system their legislation imposes on the rest of America.

  48. Randy E

    Doug, you don’t even touch the gaping holes in DeMint’s “plan.” What you do offer I address below.

    “sending money directly to the people…natural choice of a libertarian” Really? Libertarians want the government to take money from tax payers and hand it over to those in need? Sounds like liberalism. I had no idea you and I were considering the same philosophy!

    “I’ll try and explain it in simple terms…” give money to “the consumers to decide…” First, this does NOTHING to address the skyrocketing costs that employers are forced to pass onto employees. Second, this is a boon for Big Insurance (big contributors to Demint).

    “With a government run system” It’s an OPTION offered through the government. If the government does a crappy job, people will opt for private coverage. Isn’t that the nature of a market based solution?

    “When was the last time your insurance wasn’t paid for by taxpayers?” What difference does that make? Is this simply an outlet for your petty vindictiveness towards public education?

  49. Lee Muller

    Democrats’ Health Hijack Plan:

    * You can keep your insurance, but you cannot change it.

    * No new private health insurance will be issued.

    * Income cuts for most doctors and nurses.

    * Midwives will be paid the same as OB/GYNs.

    * You will not be allowed to choose your surgeons.

    * Tests will wait on bureaucrat approval.

    * Some tests will be denied, to save money.

    * 8% tax on payrolls = 8% wage cuts

    * 5.4% on the rich, to be soon applied to everyone.

    * Medical care for all illegal aliens, as a prelude to amnesty.

    * Forced abortions of babies likely to be a “burden on society”.

  50. bud

    Muller, with the exception of the last false point you just perfectly described the current Republican version of socialized medicine.

    Insurance companies already deny changes in coverage based on pre-conditions.

    Workers already have few, if any, options to change their plan.

    HMOs already limit the surgeons (and other doctors) you can choose.

    Tests are already subject to bureaucratic approval of the HMO and are often denied.

    Folks already pay huge amounts for health insurance. 8% sounds like a bargain.

    Hospitals already provide healthcare to all, including illegal immigrants. It’s the law.

    What we have now is a socialized system that’s twice as expensive as Canada’s or Germany’s and we have far shorter life expectancy. Why not do something that will actually provide better coverage for lower cost? The DeMint (non) plan will not accomplish that goal.

  51. Elliott1

    I have a request for Senator DeMint. Please do not attempt to stop healthcare reform so the Republicans can defeat Obama in the next election. Just once, think of your constituents, the working-class people of SC who have been layed off from their jobs in textiles. About 1/4 of the adults I know in SC do not have health care. Most of these people want it but cannot afford it. Please accept that any bill passed is going to have some features you do not like. Everyone must make compromises. I will be much more likely to vote Republican again if our SC senators can work with a Democratic president and congress to pass a bill that makes health care affordable for everyone. I am still employed and have affordable health-care insurance, so I am one of the 75% happy with my health care. Like you, I study the teachings of Jesus. From my readings I cannot imagine Jesus saying, “Well, my health care is good and afforbable, so I am not willing to make any changes just so my brother can afford to go to the doctor. He should be responsible and have changed to anothher job before the textile mills closed. It is his own fault he’s uninsured.”

  52. Lee Muller

    It is just a BIG LIE that “America has shorter life expectancies than Canada or Germany (or Europe)”.

    FACT: People of all races in America have longer life expectancies and better medical care than their relatives have in their country of origin.

    While Americans have better healthcare and longer life expectancies than white Canadians.

    Blacks and illegal aliens drag down the health statistics in America (just as they drag down average incomes, education, and every other measure). But they, too, are better off here than in their nations of origin in Africa or Mexico.

    When I checked a few years ago, Columbia, SC has more MRI machines, CAT scanners and PET scanners than the entire nation of Canada.

  53. Lee Muller

    Let me straighten out some liberal nonsense:

    * BUNK: “Insurance companies already deny changes in coverage based on pre-conditions.”

    The market does not ration; it allocates scarce resources by bargaining. Your insurance policy is an agreement covering certain procedures. The insurer has a right to refuse coverage for procedures outside your contract.

    Rationing is what people do to subvert the market.

    * BUNK 2: “Workers already have few, if any, options to change their plan.”
    They have lots of options, and would have lots more, if the government did not restrict the free market.

    * BUNK 3: “HMOs already limit the surgeons (and other doctors) you can choose.”

    Only if you agree to that HMO plan.
    Buy another plan. If you buy your own insurance, you have lots of choices.

    * BUNK 4: “Tests are already subject to bureaucratic approval of the HMO and are often denied.”

    See answers above. Buy another plan. Remove the laws which restrict competition.

    * BUNK 5: “Folks already pay huge amounts for health insurance. 8% sounds like a bargain.”

    Every year, the government will raise the cost, and you will have nowhere else to go, under a fascist system.

    * BUNK 6: “Hospitals already provide healthcare to all, including illegal immigrants. It’s the law.”

    Repeal those stupid laws.
    You socialists create a problem, then use it as an excuse to make things worse.

  54. Randy E

    Here’s an example of the essential role of government.

    Currently, nationally regulated and most state regulated insurance plans do not cover autism intervention or treatment. Big Insurance would do NOTHING to address autism if not for government intervention. About 13 states have passed bills mandating coverage – including SC.

    The propaganda swirling around health care about “socialism” and government controlling the whole system is meant to score political points and nothing more. In truth, the proposal is to offer a public OPTION and create competition. It’s funny how the market approach is suddenly not acceptable.

  55. Lee Muller

    The causes of autism are unknown, and there is no cure, so it is impossible for actuaries to calculate the costs of coverage.

    It is not the role of the state to tell private insurance companies what physical diseases or mental disorders they must cover. And every time they do that, many insurance companies stop doing business in those states.

    Government provided medical care of any kind IS socialist. Working with private insurance and dictating what business with do is fascist socialism.

    For those of you who dislike managed care, the Democrats propose to contract with the largest HMO companies to run their socialist managed care.

  56. doug_ross


    What non-essential government spending would you be willing to give up in order to pay for autism treatment?

    Or do you think government should be continually expanded to include whatever cause a vocal minority deems important?

    There is a finite amount of money that the government can take from private citizens before America becomes a socialist country.

  57. doug_ross

    As an example of non-essential government spending see today’s front page story in USA Today:

    A $644 million dollar jobs program for Iraq that is being suspended because it is full of corruption and waste (sound familiar?).

    Our government thinks $644 million for Irawi jobs is more important than jobs for Americans, apparently. Or for the autism treatment you mention.

    All the money we need to do what is important and necessary for government exists in the coffers already.

  58. martin

    The CEO of Kaiser Permamente? was on NPR last week answering questions. His company is insurance, owns hospitals, employs doctors.
    He said the biggest expense in health care is Fees. His example, an office visit in Canada is $32 and in the USA, $120.

  59. Lee Muller

    The socialist Canadian system sets the doctors and nurses fees artificially low.

    That is why so many Canadian doctors and nurses seek to move to the USA and work.

    The largest component of office visit costs in the US is paperwork mandated by the federal government. Surgeons and anesthesiologists who do not accept insurance or Medicare, and just cash directly from the patient, are able to charge quite a bit less for their services, often 50% less.

  60. Randy E

    “…whatever cause a vocal minority deems important?” Sounds like democracy Doug or should the government ignore minority groups?

    Read my post again. Private insurance companies discriminate against policy holders who have kids with autism. If not for government mandating Big Insurance cover their clients, they would continue to get away with this. We’re not talking more tax payer dollars.

    Speaking of tax dollars, a common ratio of teacher to student with autism is 1:8 or effectively 2 to 2.5 times the amount for a typical student. Using cost analysis, this minority is costing a lot of money. This indicates some up front investement in prevention is warranted.

    Regarding “socialism”, according to conservatives, everything Obama does is socialism. The term is tossed around so often that it is now a parody of those who use it (see any post by Lee).

  61. Birch Barlow

    Regarding “socialism”, according to conservatives, everything Obama does is socialism. The term is tossed around so often that it is now a parody of those who use it (see any post by Lee).

    Only to the most absurd conservatives. They are the ones you should ignore, not respond to. But I won’t kid myself. (Most of) You “liberals” will respond to the absurd conservatives and (most of) you “conservatives” will respond to the absurd liberals. Let’s face it, American political discourse is two absurd groups hurling BS at each other meanwhile the rest of America is either ignored or too ignorant to give a damn. This country is headed down the tubes.

    Some days it makes me angry; other days, given the reality of the situation, it’s hard to care.

  62. Elliott1

    I agree. I voted for Obama but I like to read Republican opinions in order to get a broader viewpoiont. When Republicans attack ideas by singing, “Liberal, liberal liberal”
    and “socialist, socialist, socialist,” I know the comments will not contain thoughtful responses. It reminds me of elementary school when we chanted, “nanna, nanna, boo-boo.”

  63. Lee Muller

    Calling socialism what it is makes some of you faux liberals uncomfortable.

    When Democrats propose the same sorts of industrial policy boards and takeovers of the largest businesses in an industry like banking, automobiles and now medical insurance, why doesn’t that bother you?

    It is the same political model for economic control pioneered by Mussolini, then copied by Franco, Hitler and FDR – and they all failed miserably.

    From the replies, it seems most of you don’t know enough about the various forms of socialism or history to realize that that these are not new ideas, and that they have no place in America.

  64. Lee Muller

    Randy, what do you want us taxpayers to do for your medical and psychological problems?

    Just right you a blank check?

    Did you ever consider the free market solution would be for those planning parenthood to purchase a policy covering congenital problems? What do you have against that?

    You wanting something does not automatically entitle you to it, because it doesn’t obligate the rest of us to pay for it.

  65. Lee Muller

    Elliot, we ARE criticizing the specifics of the various Democrat proposals for government-controlled medicine.

    But a lot of their “plans” are simply vague notions, with no details. All we can do is note that the underlying philosophy is socialist, anti-business, and anti-individual.

    Obama has no plan.

    He has turned it all over to Congress for them to cook a giant, nasty stew full of payoffs for all the legislators and their lobbyists.

  66. Randy E

    Birch, what cooperation has Obama received from the GOP on major issues? DeMint (conservative) sees the health care reform issue as political gain (see “Waterloo” comment). The republican party CHAIRMAN uses the term “socialism.” A dozen GOP CONGRESSMEN are pushing the birther movement with a bill directed at Obama’s citizenship.

    This is a pattern in the party. It’s beyond the pale. Share with examples of elected GOP officials who have made a concerted effort at bipartisanship on major issues since Obama took office.

  67. Lee Muller

    Real Americans don’t want any cooperation with the traitors, in destroying our economy and our liberty.

    The reason the Republicans are out of power now is because they cut too many spending deals with the Democrats 2001 through 2006, running huge deficits for expansion of welfare programs.

    Now Pelosi and Obama are running deficits four times larger than the worst ones of the GOP.

  68. Birch Barlow


    The way you feel about the Republican Party is the way I feel about both parties.

    The spinning, lying, half-truths and ad hominem attacks that you see the Republican Party engaging in is what I see both parties engaging in.

    Neither is worthy of support. I wish that Americans would stop ruining the future of this country by supporting them.

  69. Randy E

    Birch, I’ll grant you that crap comes out of both parties. There’s no way the two are the same.

    In the health care debate, the GOP has brazenly called on stopping health care reform simply to undermine Obama – a concerted effort.

    In this past presidential election Obama addressed health care, poverty, education, and financial reform. McCain and Palin spoke of palling around with domestic terrorists, Joe the Plumber, and lipstick on a pig.

    W holds town held town hall meetings with hand picked partisans. Obama opens up his town hall meetings to everyone.

    The GOP talks up Obama as a “socialist” and question his citizenship. In fact, the GOP had formal efforts to change the name of the democratic party to the democratic socialist party and there’s a bill cosponsored by several GOP congressmen to question Obama’s citizenship. There are others who want a resolution to demand that Obama apologize to the Boston police.

    One party talks about ending poverty and another won’t even address the issue.

  70. Birch Barlow

    Birch, I’ll grant you that crap comes out of both parties


    I’m glad that we agree that the GOP chose not to reasonably debate the real issues in the last election and instead focused on Joe the Plumber, Ayers, and other BS. I’m glad we agree that they are not worth any support. You’re halfway there.

    Let’s not forget that the Democratic Party is the one who kept saying the Rush Limbaugh was the leader of the GOP. The leader. Seriously. They kept pumping him up. Any reasonable person would want to downplay that idiot as much as possible, not try to broaden his influence. How does that continue the dialogue with reasonable Republicans? It doesn’t. It does the opposite. The intent here is no different than “palling around with terrorists” comments.

    I’m glad you realize that the Bush White House handpicked partisans at town hall meetings. I’m sad you don’t realize that the Obama White House does the same thing.

    I’m glad that you are disgusted by the GOP name-calling that continues. I hoped you condemned the Democrats for doing the same thing to Bush — though I will say it was easier for them to get away with doing it to an enormously unpopular president — and the Republicans before that for doing it to Clinton. The issues continue to be marginalized when cheap political points can be scored with half-truths and pettiness lacking in reason.

    I hope you’re angry that the national debt wasn’t an issue to the Republicans while they were in power but is now. I hope you’re angry the national debt was an issue to the Democrats while they were out of power but isn’t now.

    Once we realize that they are both full of crap, there’s nothing left to do but do debate which is worse. And frankly when we’ve gotten to that point, it’s time for a third, fourth or fifth option.

  71. Lee Muller

    You need to learn what socialism is and why those who support it are either tyrants or dumb sheep, too, Randy.

  72. Randy E

    Birch, nice try but no cigar.

    Obama has probably had more press conferences to date than W had in 8 years. W was NEVER available to open questions from the press.

    If you remember, Obama was asked in one town hall meeting about legalizing pot. I’m quite sure that wasn’t high on his list of issues to address.

    The questions at the recent AARP meeting certainly weren’t manipulated:

    As far as dems calling W names, I’d like what formal steps they took to attack him that compare with the GOP sponsored birther bill.

    Regarding Limbaugh, that was certainly some political gamesmanship. But, when FOUR different GOP congressmen or leaders kiss Limbaugh’s ring after criticizing him, THEY empower Limblah.

  73. Birch Barlow

    Ok, I’ll try to take this point by point, Randy:

    Bush was NEVER available to open questions from the press? Never? Not like this? Or do you mean something different? If you do, please explain. Maybe he wasn’t. I won’t disagree that he was a horrible president.

    Obama’s town hall with the pot question. I absolutely remember that. That was the one where everyone voted for the questions online and a question about marijuana as a new industry was #1. #1. And all he said on it was he did not think it was a good idea. He gave no reason for his position, which is interesting because it would obviously grow the economy. They didn’t even read out the actual question. Just make a joke, laugh it off, give a quick answer to this #1 question and move on. Talk about being closed-minded. And then later Gibbs comes out for more bullshit with out explanation. Just “he opposes it and doesn’t think it’s the right plan for America.”

    Yes, I’m sure Obama does take some real questions. That’s effing his job. I’m glad he does it, but that’s the bare minimum.

    I am unaware of any legislation entered by the Democrats aimed directly at Bush. Yes, the Birther crap is disgusting. If your point was that the Democrats are godawful and not worth supporting and the GOP is extremely godawful and really really not worth supporting, then you made your point. Seriously, is this your standard for whether or not you will support a party? They can stoop and stoop and stoop until they stoop to the level of entering ridiculous legislation to drive fear of their political opponent; that’s too far? Honestly, you aren’t making a case for why the Democrats should be supported. You are making a case that the GOP is worse. And like I said before, at this point it’s time to leave both these groups of assholes behind and go in a different direction.

    Oh of course they kiss up to Limbaugh. They’re spineless cowards who won’t risk opposing a man with a huge conservative audience. They are full of it. But that does not absolve the Democrats of their political bullshit. It just goes back to my original point. Both parties are not worth supporting.

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