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Blinded By Your Own Douchiness

I’m talking about John Schnatter (even his name is douchy), CEO of Papa John’s (barely) Pizza, as well as Darden Restaurants Inc (who own Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Longhorn Steak House) who have all said that they will be cutting their workers’ hours so that they don’t have to offer them health coverage, as mandated by ObamaCare.

Let me tell you the number of ways this is douchy. The most obvious, is that this is a PR nightmare. I believe that most Americans are good people, who want the people that prepare their food to be able to live a life that includes health insurance. I don’t believe that (with the exception of ideologues) most of us have a problem paying a few cents, or even a few dollars more for restaurant meals if that means providing health coverage to the employees that prepare and serve those meals. How do I know this? Because since 2008, restaurant patrons in San Francisco have been paying an extra 4% on each meal they consume, so that the restaurant workers in San Francisco have universal coverage. This 4% charge hasn’t made it any easier for me to get a table at The Slanted Door when I’m in town, so I’m guessing that San Franciscans aren’t eating at home because that 4% is overly burdensome. 

It’s also douchy because these announcements are clearly politically motivated. The announcements didn’t have to be made. They could have quietly implemented the WalMart model of two part time employees, rather than one full time employee in order to avoid providing any benefits at all. No, they want to make a last ditch effort to scare people into believing that ObamaCare is a bad thing.

But the douchiest part of this, is that it demonstrates how bad these people are at business. Remember what I told you about San Francisco and the added charge for health insurance? Well, a lot of restaurants in San Francisco have turned these surcharges into a profit center. They’re pocketing some, if not all of the money. Wayfair Tavern in downtown San Francisco collected almost $64,000 from it’s customers in 2010. They spent a little over $6,000 of it on health insurance for their employees. I’m not going to go into how they did this, since it’s not relevant to this post. You can click on the link in this paragraph to get more information on it. My point is that John Schnatter, who claims that providing insurance for his employees will cost consumers fifteen cents more per shitty pizza. If he weren’t so blinded by his own douchiness, he would have realized that quietly raising the prices by fifty cents for each inedible pie, would have increased his profits. This would have enabled him to buy another obnoxious castle, while treating his employees to doctor visits. It would have been a win/win, but he douchebagged himself into a lose/lose.

When people don’t have insurance, and can’t get full time hours, they leave as soon as they can so you create a fast-spinning revolving door of employees. As an HR professional, I can tell you that it costs significantly less to keep an employee happy than it does to replace them. In the high tech arena, the cost of replacing an employee can range between 60 – 200% of that employees annual salary. I’m positive these percentages are much lower in fast food, but I’m also positive that it’s cheaper to garner some loyalty and slow the spinning of that revolving door. You have to pay to add an employee to your payroll system, and then you have to pay to remove them. You have to pay someone to perpetually interview new employees, and you have to pay someone else to process the new hire and termination paperwork.

This whole thing is douchy, and it’s bad business. So I say boycott, boycott, boycott! And to the idiots who say that this will cause layoffs, don’t you think I thought of that? You can take your business to Little Caesars, who have no plans to fuck their employees because they never wanted to treat them humanely in the first place.  An increase in business at Little Caesars means more hiring of employees who will get the benefits they need. Laid off Papa John’s employees can get a better job down the street.


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Obamacare Couldn’t BE More Constitutional

Partisan, right wing, hack judges all across the country are ruling health reform unconstitutional. Specifically, they’re targeting the part of the bill that mandates that every American obtain health insurance. These rulings are comical, but I’ll get to that soon enough. I first want to start with my prediction on what will happen with health reform. Republicans have passed repeal in the house. This is meaningless and purely a ceremonial gesture to appease their base. They know it won’t pass the senate and they don’t want it to. Let me explain. We all know that the health insurance industry has spent a lot of money on political contributions to ensure that politicians (both democratic and republican) protect their interests. The provisions of the bill that have already been enacted have increased the number of subscribers of health insurance. Small businesses are taking advantage of the federal subsidies that are now available to them, and offering their employees insurance for the first time. Parents of twenty-something kids are adding their children to their policies because they now can. Insurance companies are seeing double digit spikes in new enrollments. Do you think that the insurance company overlords are going to let their republican subjugates take away all that new business? Fuck no! The part of the bill that sounds most egregious (mandates) is the part that insurance companies won’t ever, ever allow to be repealed. They’ll never, ever repeal the small business subsidies or mandates because they’re bringing in the cash, and at the end of the day, that’s all the insurance companies care about. My guess is that they’re going to have to subversively chip away at the parts of the bill that cost insurance companies money. You know, the parts that all Americans agree we want like disallowing rescission, or denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The republicans won’t be allowed to repeal the parts of the bill that they rail against. So if you’re worried about full repeal, don’t be. It will never happen. Now onto the idiot judges, dipshit state attorneys general, and any asshat that claims unconstitutionality in an effort to repeal the bill. Thanks to Tom Hartman for bringing this little gem to my attention. Turns out that the 5th congress of the United States passed a bill titled, "An Act For The Relief Of Sick And Disabled Seamen". This law required that privately employed sailors obtain health insurance. Here’s a little background. Even early on in our country’s history, it was obvious that trade with other countries was going to be instrumental in creating a strong economy. In those days, our ability to trade relied solely on private merchant ships. Since working on a merchant ship was dangerous work, seamen were getting hurt in such numbers, and with such frequency, that it was leaving shipping companies with a serious shortage of manpower. Enter; the federal government. In 1798, they passed "An Act For The Relief Of Sick And Disabled Seamen". This law did a couple of things;

  • It created The Maritime Hospital Service, which was a series of hospitals that were built and run by the federal government for the purpose of treating injured private seamen.
  • It mandated that maritime sailors pay 1% in taxes to pay for these hospitals. Those taxes were withheld by the ship’s owner and paid directly to the federal government.

Can you smell the socialism in the air? Oh, but it gets better. Members of the 5th congress that passed this law included:

  • John Langdon
  • Jonathan Dayton
  • William Blount
  • Richard Dobbs Spaight
  • John Rutledge
  • Abraham Baldwin

Why are these names relevant? Because they fucking signed the United States Constitution. The Vice President at the time, who served as President Of The Senate was Thomas Jefferson. Wanna know who the President that signed the bill into law was? That would be John Adams. What do John Adams and Thomas Jefferson have in common? They helped to write the freakin Declaration Of Independence. I think that they had a really fucking clear idea of what the founders intended. Let’s add another historically deficient asshat to this group, shall we? A couple of weeks ago, a North Dakota state representative (and asshat) Hal Wick proposed legislation that would mandate that every citizen of North Dakota purchase a gun, upon reaching twenty one years of age. He thought that he was getting cute by pointing out that mandating people to buy anything is unconstitutional. Wick maintains that he knows that his proposed legislation is unconstitutional, and that he’s just trying to make a statement about mandates. Wrong again, Bob. George Washington signed a bill entitled, "The Militia Act Of 1792". Wanna guess what provisions were in this bill? Read for yourself;

That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act.

That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder;

Ignorant and unoriginal Hal. Way to go!
 
This health reform issue will ultimately end up with the supreme court. That’s where it will get fun. What do you think the odds are that Scalia will advocate for his strict constructionist views on this one? They’re actually pretty good. Not because Scalia is actually a strict constructionist, meaning that he doesn’t believe that the constitution is a living, breathing document that was intended to be amended over time. He clearly isn’t, despite what he says. If he were a strict constructionist, he would never have argued for corporate personhood in the Citizen’s United ruling, since corporate personhood doesn’t appear anywhere in the constitution. No, he will whip out the strict constructionist routine because it enables him to serve his corporate masters. Remember, the insurance companies don’t want the revenue generating mandate removed from the health reform bill.
 
So if you’re worried about health reform being repealed, don’t be. But beware of your legislators quietly trying to strip away the really good stuff that we all want.

In the meantime, feel free to rub the founders’ real intent in the noses of any asshat that tries to tell you that Obamacare is unconstitutional.

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The Other Big C

I’m talking about Sharon Angle. She’s a cunt. I hate to use that word, but the English language doesn’t contain another, more loathsome word that I can use in order to be more accurate, so I had to settle for cunt.

She’s not just crazy, she’s a mean, nasty cunt. Everything she says when she’s not self-censoring, is complete bile.

Remember this golden oldie?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hudjhBtV8Nk[/youtube]

Yes Americans, your problem is that you’re just fucking lazy! You’re lazy and shameless. And Sharon Angle’s aim is to stop enabling you! Sure, we’ve always had unemployment insurance (much to her dismay) but in 2008, eight million of you just up and decided that you were going to take advantage of the unemployment insurance lavishness and give up the jobs you had. Never mind the fact that those jobs paid exponentially more than what unemployment insurance was paying you. Your laziness finally overrode your…well…I’m not sure what Sharon Angle thinks it overrode, since you’re all worthless leaches. I’m not sure what it is that she thinks kept you working for all of those years, but I’m certain that she doesn’t attribute it to anything good. There’s nothing good about you, fucking lazy bastards!

If Sharon Angle is right, you know what else we need to end? Health insurance. Because having health insurance will obviously entice you to get cancer! You’re nothing but a lazy, shameless abuser of the system so it stands to reason that you will get cancer, just to bleed Sharon Angle dry of every penny she has!

I sarcastically made that point last year, when I initially heard her remarks regarding the unemployed. But as Stephen Colbert has discovered, by looking at his significantly high percentage of republican viewers, it’s hard to parody the absurd. And here’s another gem from a few months ago that paralleled my “sarcasm”.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqxCCLr3Fa4[/youtube]

Yeah! Fuck the babies! Unless of course, you’re even thinking about aborting your rapist’s baby. In that instance, Sharon must step in to make sure that you don’t cruelly terminate that poor life. But once she’s done taking your free will away from you, you’re on your own if you need prenatal care. Fuck you, you leach!

Sharon, I don’t think that you fundamentally understand how insurance works. Let me explain it to you, you stupid bitch; we all get insurance so that we can pool risk. We all put money in, and then when one of us needs medical care, we take money out. If we all started deciding whose medical needs we’re unwilling to pay for, we end up with a pool that’s too shallow to meet anyone’s needs.

For instance Sharon, I’m not willing to pay for your hysterectomy and ongoing hormone therapy treatments. You were irresponsible when you decided that getting old was a good idea. You can do whatever the fuck you want with your beard; shave it, wax it, groom it and let it grow long, I don’t care. I’m just not paying to prevent you from having it. Fuck you, I’m not paying for that. And your husbands penis maintenance is out too. I’m not paying for the viagra that he needs, just to fuck you, and I don’t give a damned about any kind of prostate or testicular cancer he may get. Again, he just needs to be more responsible and avoid those things. I don’t have penis maintenance woes, so I shouldn’t have to pay for anyone else’s.

Honestly, this woman is so mean that it’s made her irrational.

But she’s not the only one. Did you see this charming speech by Mike Huckabee?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSM8MvqQeao[/youtube]

He’s supposed to be the pious theologian in the republican party? I have two main issues with Huckabee; he’s an idiot, and he’s too mean to ever actually know God.

Let’s start with the stupidity. His analogy is ridiculous. It’s predicated on the belief that if you’re sick, you’re dead. A better analogy would have been if you tried to buy life insurance on someone that passed away yesterday. The point of not letting insurance companies deny you for a pre-existing condition, is to make sure that you don’t die! Huckabee’s premise is that you’re as good as dead. Fucking asshole. Really, he’s just a giant asshole.

I don’t know which God he prays to, but I’m not familiar with any religious text that advocates for just letting the sick die, because they would cost too much if we didn’t.

These people are so fucking viscerally mean, that they can’t think straight. It’s not that they’re looking out for themselves. They’re not. They’re undermining their own self interest. They’re blinded by their nastiness. A person that is protecting their own self interest would understand that giving everyone access to affordable health care is vital to our country’s livelihood. Healthy people can work. They can contribute to our GDP. They can pay taxes. If they’re not being bankrupted by medical bills, they can buy homes which makes all of the homes around theirs worth more. This isn’t some convoluted argument, designed to confuse people. This is simple logic that should be obvious to everyone. Everyone that isn’t mean spirited, that is.

Teabaggers and republicans that perpetually believe that their pockets are being picked by the government in order to help other people are fundamentally mean. And that kind of mean supercedes ones ability to truly look out for themselves. Nobody is picking your pocket, because whatever is in your pocket was in some part placed there, on the backs of others. You didn’t make it on your own, regardless of how much you kid yourself. If you went to public school, used a road, ever drank tap water, or did anything in this country, it’s because we all paid for it together. Tax dollars flow from you, and tax dollars flow to you. Get a grip, haters.

I’m not a bleeding heart liberal. I’m the smart kind of capitalist. I understand that keeping people healthy costs a fraction of what dealing with them once they’re sick does.

Can you tell how bitchy these damned people make me?

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I Whine Because You Blow

In the past week, Joe Biden has joined the white house administration chorus in crapping on the democratic base. Here, watch;

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOlPVivrG8g[/youtube]

Buck up? That sounds familiar. Hmmm…where have I heard that before? Oh right I heard it from Obama here. I’ve heard this enough from the administration to now be able to decisively say that these aren’t gaffes. This is a mystifying strategy. I don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish, but I can tell you that the result is a division in the democratic party.

This happened on MSNBC yesterday:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6-d94s019s[/youtube]

I wasn’t watching it because I wasn’t home, but I was checking twitter from my iPhone. My twitter feed exploded with anti-Cenk tweets. I had no idea what was going on, so I had to wait until I got home to catch up. I watched the clip and agreed with most of what Cenk said (although a less red-faced delivery might have been more appealing). I listened to Cenk’s show later (The Young Turks) and heard him say that he thought all of those tweets were a concerted effort to astroturf (sometimes right wing media outlets will tell their fans to pile on a specific left wing pundit on a specific day) him. They weren’t. They were tweeted by members of the democratic base that I follow.

These people are active democrats that buy into the idea that the health reform bill was “historic”. They buy into the white houses’ narrative that the administration has delivered on “70% of the promises made in the campaign, in twenty short months”. I suppose that’s one way to look at it, but you have to overlook a whole lot in order to maintain that point of view.

Was the health reform bill historic? No. Was the fact that something happened with health care legislation historic? Yes, but only in that, the last time we reformed health care was fourteen years ago. When something occurs that infrequently, it’s not unreasonable to refer to it as “historic”.

I don’t believe it was historic because it didn’t fundamentally change the system. We all still have to buy our health insurance from private companies, and there is still nothing place to prevent them from gauging us with obscene rate increases every year. I’m not saying it didn’t help some people out. I know that it did. I see comments and blogs from people that have been able to obtain health coverage for the first time in years, every single day. I thoroughly appreciate the difference this reform has made, for the small number of people that it’s helped.

But let’s be honest, this bill wasn’t much more than adequate. It was the bare minimum that could have been passed, and still labeled a “win” for Obama. As lacking as this bill is, there would still have been one way that I would have been satisfied with it – if the administration had actually fought to get the best thing they could, I could have championed this bill. But they clearly didn’t. Does anyone remember President Obama’s moving speech, strongly advocating for a public option? Yeah, me neither. Does anyone remember President Obama strongly advocating for a medicare buy in? Yeah, me neither. Does anyone remember seeing a single republican standing on the senate floor, reading the phone book in an effort to filibuster the passage of the bill? Yeah, me neither.

I could have accepted this crapfest of a health reform bill if you had tried and failed. You didn’t. Don’t tell me to buck up. Fuck you.

Same thing with financial reform. This administration didn’t do a goddamned thing to regulate the derivatives market, which is the thing that every economist agrees, is the root of our financial instability. They didn’t even try.

I will buck up when, and only when you don’t fuck up. And I’m not a whiner, a retard, or a vicious part of the professional left that is trying to undermine you. I’m trying to make you better. If you wanted an uninformed, sycophantic base, you should have run as a republican. Oh yeah, and fuck you!

Even with this split between democrats that need to believe, and democrats that need to think critically, I’m positive that one thing will happen – we will all collectively show up to vote. Active democrats don’t sit out elections, any more than active republicans do. You know who’s not going to show up? Everyone else. The people that turned out en masse to vote for change in 2008 will not be there for you this time. And if you don’t start to deliver meaningful change in the next two years, they’re not going to show up for you in 2012 either.

The sycophants in the democratic party will show up because they feel that you’ve given them enough change that they can stay on board. Disgruntled democrats will show up because we realize that you suck less than republicans. You’re wasting your time crapping on your base. We’re going to be there for you one way or another, but no one else will. You’ve disenfranchised and demoralized everyone else with your half assed legislative “victories”.

This administration sucks at politics if they can’t figure that out. Pointing at your base and saying, “A HA! This is your fault!” when you lose in November is stupid, and it won’t help you get your shit together for 2012. This strategy makes Obama a lot like Bush in that, both love pointing the finger at someone else when they fuck up.

I whine, because you blow. And my whining is not the root of your problems. You blowing is.


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And So It Begins

The passing of health reform is barely a month old and we’re already getting a sampling of how the health insurance industry plans to respond. I first want to take a moment to pat myself on the back for (a month ago) predicting that things were going to get a whole lot worse over the next four years, before they got even a little bit better. Okay, moving on from my self flagellation.

I want to share a few health insurance stories from my friends over the past month since I’ve already shared my stories of corporate premium increases.

A friend of mine got his renewal options from Blue Cross of California a few weeks ago. I had braced him for a 30% – 60% increase since that’s what I’ve been seeing from Blue Cross for small business rate adjustments. He emailed me to let me know that his rates had gone down by $300 a year. I was naturally immediately suspicious. I had no doubt that the new plan was going to cover far less than the old plan, and that there were likely new stop losses written into the plan to limit Blue Cross’s exposure if my friend had the audacity to use his health coverage. He emailed me the plan summaries for his old plan, the new plan, and two “cheaper” options that Blue Cross offered his small group.

Blue Cross did exactly what I suspected they did. Some of the changes include:

Increasing the annual out of pocket maximum.

Capping the annual coverage for office visits to $750 per year. Think about that one for a second. Blue Cross is only going to pay out $750 per year (unless you experience a hospitalization) on a plan that collects $5,000 a year in premiums.

They included lab work in that $750 a year maximum reimbursement. Lab work routinely costs $500 – $800 for basic blood tests.

Blue Cross is no longer covering the cost of any medical supplies that you may need. So if you end up in an accident and end up needing a wheel chair, oxygen tank, or anything else as part of your rehabilitation, you’re shit out of luck.

Another charming change that they made last year, is that PPO subscribers can no longer go to their own physicians for annual physicals. They must instead, go to a Blue Cross clinic to be seen by one of their physicians. Appointments must be made 60 days in advance. Let me translate what this means. It means that Blue Cross couldn’t get most physicians to agree to administer preventive exams for the low-ball reimbursement rate that they offered. So what they did was to limit their subscribers to only having the option to see the physicians that did agree to their (very likely) absurdly low rate. Why would one doctor agree to do a procedure for a fee that most doctors refused to do it for? Because they’re trying to build up a practice! You no longer have the option of seeing an experienced doctor to do your annual exam if Blue Cross is your insurer.

Remember all of the stories in Sicko about people who had insurance, only to  discover that their coverage had huge gaps in it? Remember how all of those people who had paid their premiums their whole lives were forced into bankruptcy because of all of those gaps in coverage? Guess what? Those people are you. And if it’s not you right at this very moment, it’s going to be you as soon as your renewal happens.

A month ago, I predicted that by the time this health reform bill fully kicks in four years from now, that the average premium would be 60% – 100% higher than it is today. I stand behind that prediction because in order for insurance companies to meet wall street expectations, they’re going to have to cap coverage and increase rates.

As our coverage gets worse, we’re most definitely going to hear republicans blame health reform for the deterioration. This is a little bit like blaming a woman for her own rape, because she wore a short skirt. Passing a reform bill hasn’t created unabashed greed from our health insurance executives, it has simply created an urgency to accelerate their current practices.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’m not a fan of the reform bill that was passed. It simply doesn’t go nearly far enough. If they weren’t going to pass a public option in order to keep the insurance companies honest, they should have regulated the crap out of them immediately. They should have given federal regulators the sole power to make premium increases until the exchanges are set up.

Let me back up for a second to say that I’m not usually a proponent of this much regulation of private industry. For example, Chuck Schumer is proposing passing legislation to ban airlines from charging passengers for carry-on luggage. While I agree that charging passengers to carry on their luggage is obscene, I believe that the market can take care of this practice. As “discount” airlines nickle and dime their customers by adding nearly $100 in carry-on fees to every round trip flight, I believe that consumers will respond in kind by choosing other carriers or traveling by rail for shorter trips.

But health insurance is not a product that you can choose not to purchase. It’s a necessity of life. And we don’t have the option of going to another provider, because through years of mergers and acquisitions, and with no anti-trust laws to stop them insurance companies have created a monopoly. We have a total of seven insurance companies in the whole country. In this one instance, I say that we need to regulate the shit out of insurance companies. If they don’t like it, they can get out of the business of getting between us and our doctors. I for one, won’t miss them at all.

Yes this bill was gutless, in that it doesn’t go far enough. A public option is essential in order for us to control costs. I was never convinced that “medicare for all” would be sustainable in this country because of our steroid riddled food and our incredibly unhealthy lifestyles, but a public option to compete against private insurance companies is a no brainer. So I agree that this bill is wearing a skirt that is too short, and that we’re showing too much leg. But that doesn’t condone the rape that we’re going to continue to see from the health insurance industry. If you think that it does, your anger is horribly misplaced.

Health insurance reform is not your rapist. Your insurance company is.

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We Are Not A Divided Nation

Anyone that tells you that we are, probably has an agenda that ultimately isn’t going to serve you well.

Indiana University just completed a survey on health reform and came up with results that some may find surprising. You can see the study here.

Most democrats are going cite this study to point out that republican representatives are liars because republican representatives are going to point to one finding that, when taken out of context means exactly the opposite of what it actually means.

Let me break it down to show you what I read into the results.

Let’s start with the broad question of, “Do you support efforts to repeal the health reform legislation that was passed?” Here’s a graph that maps out the responses:



This graph tells me one very important thing; democrats are just as emotionally invested in the bullshit that their party feeds them as republicans are. This is a broad question that allows the subject to give an ideologically based response. In my opinion, the independents have it right. This bill is a mixed bag. On one hand, it does absolutely nothing to control the cost of purchasing insurance. On the other hand, it does eliminate waste in the medicare system and incentivizes more people to get insurance.

Something interesting happens when subjects were asked if they wanted congress to stay focused on health reform.



Virtually everybody agrees, regardless of party affiliation. This tells me that republicans don’t really want a repeal since they want to keep working on it, and that democrats aren’t as happy with the bill as they appeared to be in the first question. This is where Bitchy’s sunny optimism starts to come out. We AGREE!

Something even more interesting happens when respondents are asked, “ how important they thought it was for Congress to work on “establishment of a public option that would give individuals a choice between government provided health insurance or private health insurance?”. 67% of respondents rated this an important topic to address. 59% of those that favor repeal feel that this is an important topic to pursue. The majority of Americans want repeal because this bill doesn’t go far enough.



Once again, we basically agree regardless of party affiliation. When it comes down to it, Americans know what’s not working for them and they know how they want to fix the problem.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if republicans had joined in on the fight for a public option? I don’t know if it would have changed anything, given the fact that our representatives are clearly all serving their corporate masters first and foremost . But damned it, I wish we could have found out.

And while I’m on the topic of putting self interest ahead of ideology, let me make a point to democrats. You’re going down the same slippery slope of accepting any crap that your party puts in front of you. This is how things went horribly wrong for republicans. If you keep going down this road, your party will start to serve up nothing but crap. Republicans have been happy to accept the village idiot (Dan Quayle, George W Bush, and Sarah Palin) for three elections in a row now, happy to accept the idea that this is the best that republicans have to offer. How much kool aid drinking do you think you have to do before this guy becomes your democratic nominee for president?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZczIgVXjg[/youtube]


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Bitchy’s Strategy For The GOP

Not surprisingly, my advice centers around health reform. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this strategy of promising to repeal is going to be a disaster for republicans.

Let me first qualify what I mean by “disaster”. Historically speaking, the party that wins the white house loses 27.8 seats in congress in the following midterm election. Republicans could pick up as many as 50 seats this time around. I believe that they’re going to pick up around 20 seats. While that’s enough seats to declare “victory” and claim a “mandate”, it would in actuality be a disaster because it keeps them well in the minority.

Republicans are fighting a losing battle if their strategy is to run on repealing health reform during this election cycle. During the course of the next seven months, everything that is good about this bill will have kicked in. Closing the medicare prescription donut hole ensures that republicans will have lost the senior vote, which is their largest voting block. Allowing parents to keep their college students on their insurance plans wipes out that voting block. Losing those two demographics leaves the republican party crippled.

There’s not much they can do about the 2010 elections, but they can salvage 2012. By 2012, some of the ugly realities of this “reform” will have surfaced.  Republicans should instead change their tone to promise to fix the problems with the bill, while predicting massive premium increases. We are definitely going to see massive premium increases over the next four years. In the past week, both the CEOs of Aetna and Cigna have already promised that they’re coming. This bill does absolutely nothing to keep premiums down. My guess, based on my experience with corporate premium increases, is that 2012 premiums are going to be 40% – 60% higher than they are today. I’m not trying to be doom and gloom Bitchy, but that’s what I believe is going to happen. If republicans focus in on the problems with the bill, they can clean up in the elections after those problems materialize.

I want to say up front that I don’t believe there’s a snow balls chance in hell that republicans are actually going to fix the cost control problems with this bill. The only means of controlling cost is to force the insurance companies to compete with medicare. Nothing short of that will do anything to chip away at exorbitant premiums. If democrats ran away from a public option with 68% of democrats and 54% of republicans supporting it, there’s zero chance that republicans will make it happen. There is absolutely NO way to bring down costs while still maintaining a for-profit health insurance system. Trust me I’ve looked closely at health insurance systems all around the world. It can’t be done.

I have no idea what republicans can do, within the constraints of what they have become, to fix the problem. But actual solutions are meaningless in terms of winning elections. Republicans haven’t actually solved any problems for our country in decades. This is a fact that inexplicably hasn’t stopped republicans from controlling our government for the majority of the past 100 years.

Getting elected in this country isn’t about what you’ve done. It’s about what you say you’re going to do.  If republicans say they’re going to repeal health reform, they’re done. If they point out real problems with this health reform bill, they have a good shot at gaining power again.

On the other side, democrats have until 2012 to get a public option through. They definitely won’t touch the issue before November. I’m not very optimistic that they’re going to move in the direction of a public option at all, but if they do, it won’t be before the midterm election. They backed themselves into a corner with this bill. While they significantly strengthened their position for the midterm election, they insured that 2012 is going to be an unmitigated disaster unless they can fix this bill.

In the meantime, we need to keep the pressure up to get a public option through. Not because I give a damned if democrats keep control of congress, but because we desperately need meaningful health insurance reform. We haven’t gotten it yet. We need to keep the pressure on democrats because we have no chance of getting it under republican control. Trust me, if I though there was a chance of getting something that would help the average American out of the republican party, I’d be out there campaigning for them day and night. Our only hope is to come out en masse to let the democrats know that they’re in big trouble unless they fix the bill. And because democrats are historically obtuse, we need to spell out what those fixes need to be for them.

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Tilting At Windmills

I don’t know why I’m shocked by this, but the GOP is inexplicably trying to double down on health insurance reform by promising to repeal it. They have become Don Quixote.

There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that they’re going to be able to touch this bill for a myriad of different reasons.

First off, they’re going to get hammered if they try to run against this in November. By then, all of those elderly, overweight protesters that demanded that the government “keeps their hands off my medicare” will have evaporated. Why? Because all of those people will have avoided the medicare prescription donut hole that they’ve been grappling with for several years now. Every senior in America will be opposed to any candidate that runs on repealing this bill. Parents of college students are also off the table since their kids will have been on their insurance plan for several months by the time November comes around. If losing all of those votes isn’t bad enough, republicans are going to have some issues with their pharmaceutical and insurance company contributors. Those industries will never allow the huge gift that is this bill to disappear. If you think that United Health Care is going to walk away from 32 million new customers, you’re out of your fucking mind. They’re really going to have to make some appalling deals with these companies that will undoubtedly screw Americans more than the current bill does.

Republicans will be getting it from all sides if they keep going down this road. They lost and they have nothing to gain by revisiting this loss in perpetuity over the next seven months.

And then there’s the ridiculous state attorneys general that are trying to sue, claiming this bill is unconstitutional. They may not be aware of this, but our current president is a former constitutional law professor. I can understand how they may have gotten used to having a dumb president that doesn’t know anything, but that’s not what they’re dealing with anymore. Thirteen states have already filed suits claiming this bill is unconstitutional. See the story here. Let’s examine this list closely.

Florida   $1.02
South Carolina   $1.38
Nebraska   $1.07
Utah   $1.14
Louisiana   $1.45
Alabama   $1.71
Pennsylvania   $1.06
Idaho   $1.28
South Dakota   $1.49
Colorado   $0.79
Michigan   $0.85
Texas   $0.94
Washington   $0.88

Those numbers I have next to each state represents how much money those states get back from the federal government for every dollar they contribute. Only four out of the thirteen are known as “donor states”, meaning that they pay more in federal taxes than they receive. The other nine states receive more federal funding than they contribute. Not coincidentally, the states that receive more federal dollars than they contribute are very poor states that will benefit most from the medicaid expansion in this bill. These attorneys general are willing to screw their own constituents for what they perceive to be political gain. These guys are going to get SLAUGHTERED in the next election if their democratic opponent spells out what they’re doing.

This strategy is a total disaster for the GOP. More importantly, it’s a disaster for the American people since republicans are obviously going to continue to play politics rather than to govern.

PLEASE, GOP stop tilting at windmills and start getting involved in the legislative process! America can’t be ruled by one party!

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Fear And Loathing In San Francisco

For three years now republicans have painted Nancy Pelosi as loathsome. Not because of anything that she did, but because she’s an easy target.

Let’s face it, she’s not viscerally likable. To be honest, between the turbo charged blinking and the overabundance of plastic surgery, she’s just not that appealing. Republicans leveraged those unappealing qualities to make her the focus of their base’s hatred because until a few months ago, President Obama was far too popular to effectively target. So poor Nancy has been loathed for a few years now, simply for being in a position of power.

Republicans don’t like their women in power. They like them cute and cheerleady. Okay, they like their men to be cheerleaders too. They just like the cheerleading in general, but I digress. I can’t think of one smart republican woman that the party has put forward as a leading voice. No, they give us Sarah Palin. When John McCain picked her, he clearly picked her as the antidote to Hillary. The problem is that his antidote sent a clear message to women, that any dumb bitch will do.

If republicans are smart (I know, I know, there I go with my optimism again), they will have figured out on Sunday that Nancy Pelosi is someone they should fear. Health reform is a victory that belongs to her more than anyone else. She’s fought republicans, democrats, the senate, the president, and his chief of staff to make it happen. There are reports that President Obama wanted to scale the bill back (even further) after Scott Brown was elected in Massachusetts. Nancy refused to have any of that, referring to the president’s proposal as “kiddie reform”. She pressed on to fight for us when everyone else was ready to retreat. She one of a very few handful of tough democrats.

But beyond just being tough, she knows how congress works in a way that very few of our representatives do. When she announced that they were going to pass the vote by using “deem and pass” it wasn’t because she didn’t have the votes (Nancy doesn’t lose votes, look at the record), it was because she rightfully doesn’t trust the senate. Using “deem and pass” (as republicans have done hundreds of times), would have allowed the house to adopt the sucky senate bill while simultaneously reconciling the improvements to the bill. She was trying to bypass a lot of the reconciliation noise that I suspect we’ll be hearing this week. She wasn’t trying to be sneaky with “deem and pass”. She was being very smart.

Despite my early doubts, Nancy Pelosi has proven that she’s a force to be reckoned with. President Obama owes the (I predict) 8 – 10 point jump in his approval rating to her. And we owe the glimmer of hope that we have that health reform is possible to her.

Take heed republicans, Speaker Pelosi isn’t just a dumb liberal with San Francisco values. She’s going to go down in history as one of the most significant speakers this country has ever had. Sorry Boehner, no one will remember you for anything when you’re gone (much like Denny Hastert).

So don’t limit your feelings toward her to loathing. You should fear AND loathe her.

Bravo, Madam Speaker!

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Got Hope?

No, I’m not referring to the health insurance reform bill that passed last night. I do have to say, as an aside, that I didn’t appreciate being put in the uncomfortable position of being glued to C-SPAN for 10 hours, rooting for a shitty bill to pass because the alternative is much shittier.

I’m hopeful because of this.

I’m hopeful because David Frum and I don’t have much in common and yet, I find myself agreeing with everything that he said. Not most of what he said, but ALL of what he said. He’s exactly right. Republicans should have participated in the crafting of this legislation. Health insurance reform was a forgone conclusion, given the huge majority that democrats have in the house and senate. In the seven months between now and the midterm elections, republicans will have lost the vote of every senior that WON’T hit the prescription donut hole this year (that would be all of them). They will have lost the vote of every parent of a college student who, thanks to this legislation, will now have that child on their insurance plan. That’s a lot of votes to walk away from.

The republicans lost far more than they gained last night. They cemented the batshit crazy base that weren’t big enough to stop landslide victories for democrats in the last 2 elections. Good for you, Boehner! Your crazy base can now guzzle down the lithium they so badly need without fear of hitting the donut hole, so that they can live to fight another day to keep you in the minority.

Let me take a moment to go off on Boehner. Did you see him last night? He came off as the raving lunatic that he is. He was drunk, angry, and almost incoherent. America doesn’t relate to angry white (okay, burnt sienna) middle aged men anymore. He fundamentally believes that democrats have NO right to be involved in the legislative process. His disdain for democrats is irrational and impossible for most people to relate to. He and Mitch McConnell are both arrogant pieces of shit that have displayed nothing short of contempt for Americans, who voted overwhelmingly for democrats. When they talk about what the American people want, they’re forgetting the fact that they represent the MINORITY of Americans that voted for them. Hey Boehner, there’s a reminder right there in your title; house MINORITY leader! You bow down to Nancy Pelosi because WE THE PEOPLE say that you do. You would do well to remember that.

But getting back to Frum’s point, I wish that republicans had actively participated in the crafting of this bill. Look, if I had my way, we would have a system that allows every American to buy into medicare. Don’t go ape shit republicans, I said BUY IN meaning that I pay for my share of the premium cost of participating in medicare. I’m not so big on welfare programs that aren’t necessary. And as hard as I work to craft opinions that result from careful analysis of the facts, I’m acutely aware that as a human being, I am susceptible to ideologically driven tunnel vision. That’s why I need a rational opposition party to come at me from a different ideological perspective.

What we got last night wasn’t a liberal bill. It was an ideologically devoid bow to corporate America. This was SUCH a cave in to the insurance companies, that it makes a single payer system within the next 15 – 20 years a forgone conclusion. Health care costs will reach 19% – 20% of our GDP before these exchanges kick in four years from now because the insurance companies have four more virtually unregulated years to go to town on your premiums.

The biggest problem that we face in American politics today is that every single politician, regardless of party affiliation is working not for their constituents, but for the corporate interests that finance their campaigns. That being said, we were never going to get a good reform bill. But I would like to have seen republicans participate in the crafting of the final legislation.

We’re basically fucked until we start fighting for publicly funded campaigns. We’re doubly fucked in the interim, with one party completely removing itself from the legislative process. As it stands now, republicans are hoping to get elected by decimating the political process so that democrats seem less appealing than republicans do. I want a party that actively works at being a better choice. Don’t you?

I’m hopeful because one republican is starting to get it. I know that one isn’t much, but I’m a sunny optimist. I hope that one will turn into 20 million.

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