All posts by FDL Action

FDL Action Health Care Update: Friday (12/18/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Friday, December 18.

1. Jon Walker is concerned that Ben Nelson could get his way and gut “the single best remaining piece of reform, Medicaid expansion.” Walker concludes that “If using reconciliation is the only way to protect the Medicaid expansion, the decision to use it should be a no-brainer for every real Democrat.”

2. Jon Walker suggests that “if you are are going to tax ‘Cadillac’ plans, you need to index it to make sure it only ever taxes actual ‘Cadillac’ plans.” To accomplish this goal, Walker suggests “index[ing] the cap to roughly 165% of the average premium on the Federal employer health benefit (FEHB) exchange.”

3. Jane Hamsher points to a new poll indicating that 38% of Americans favor the individual mandate to buy insurance, while 51% oppose it. Hamsher adds, “When it appears in the ads of a Republican challenger who notes that the IRS will act as Aetna’s collection agency, I bet those numbers get dramatically worse.”

4. Jon Walker calls Ben Nelson’s latest idea – to make states “opt in” to health reform – “literally and completely insane.” C’mon, tell us how you really fell about Ben Nelon’s stupid idea, Jon. πŸ™‚

5. Jon Walker writes that “Ezra Klein has a new, strange, and incorrect defense of the individual mandate in the Senate bill.” Walker argues that “[t]he argument that removing the individual mandate would price unemployed people, like the reader, out of the individual market is not true.”

6. Jane Hamsher discusses “the impoverished left/right dialectic that dominates the media coverage of politics, and its inadequacy when it comes to discussing the dynamics of the health care debate.” It’s a fascinating discussion; here’s a sampling. “With unemployment at 10%, the idea that you can pass a bill whose only merit is that ‘liberals hate it’ just because the media will eat it up and print your talking points in the process is so cynical and short-sighted it’s hard to comprehend anyone would pursue it. It reflects a total insensitivity to the rage that is brewing on the popular front, which is manifest in every single poll out there.”  Good stuff.

7. Jon Walker goes after Ezra Klein again, this time for “[doing] the discussion on health reform a big disservice by making false claims about what could, in fact, start a race to the bottom in the insurance market.”

8. Jon Walker argues that the fact there is a “hardship waiver,” as well as restrictions on undocumented immigrants to buy insurance on the new exchange (“even if they were willing to pay full price with no tax credits”) both “undercut arguments for an individual mandate.”

9. Finally, I’ve got a state blog roundup, including lots of discussion about “Liebercare,” “Loserman,” and Jane Hamsher taking “a corporate conman to the woodshed.”  

This was a fascinating, sometimes infuriating, occasionally highly entertaining week in health care reform. Next week promises to be more of the same.  Stay tuned!

FDL Action Health Care Update: Thurday (12/17/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Thursday, December 17.

1. Jon Walker discusses “The Unholy Trilogy For Insurance Profits: Individual Mandate, Broad Age Rating, And Hardship Exemption.” According to Walker, “Forcing the young to buy coverage with huge government subsidies, but having a way to price the old out of the market, is in fact the health insurance companies’ dream.” Is that the way to keep them from running a 2009 version of “Harry and Louise,” to make their “dream” come true? Hmmmm.

2. Jane Hamsher reports on her MSNBC appearance this morning with Dylan Ratigan, at which time he made her argument for her, that “40 million new customers forced to buy your product with no competition and no regulatory body to oversee it is a pretty sweet deal.” For more, see item #1, above, on the “health insurance companies’ dream.”

3. Jon Walker continues his back-and-forth on whether or not to “kill the bill” with Nate Silver of In this installment, Walker accuses Silver of responding to his answers, “but only to a straw man, crib notes version of my answers.” Who knew that dueling, wonky, blogger diaries on the intricate details of health care reform legislation could be so enthralling? πŸ™‚

4. Speaking of exciting, I definitely recommend that you check out the heated exchange between Mary Landrieu and Howard Dean last night on Hardball. Jane Hamsher transcribes it, which is particularly cool given that it’s not easy to transcribe spittle flying around a TV studio. Heh.

5. Jon Walker responds to an article by Jonathan Cohn, which tries to “defend the individual mandate in this bill by claiming the Netherlands also has an individual mandate.” According to Walker, “The problem is the health care system produced by the Senate bill would be nothing at all like the health system in the Netherlands,” and he lays out exactly why that is the case.

6. Jon Walker reports that Ben Nelson “has rejected Harry Reid’s latest compromise on the abortion language,” and that Nelson “is trying to go for the full Stupak amendment.” Walker adds that “[w]e wouldn’t need to be worrying about Ben Nelson’s mountain of demands right now if they would just go with reconciliation.” So true.

7. Jon Walker rebuts one of the “better-sounding arguments for passing the Senate bill”, that “we can fix it later.” The problem with that argument, of course, is that Walker “can’t imagine there being a time anytime soon where the Democrats have more power.” Neither can anyone else, which is why they need to get as much done now as possible, on health care reform and on a whole host of other issues.  But they won’t get those things done if they keep letting John McCain’s Best Friend Forever pull a “Liebercare” on everything. Once again, if this hasn’t been stressed enough, it’s time to go to reconciliation and pass strong, progressive health care reform legislation now, not “later.”

8. Last but not least, do NOT miss Scarecrow’s post on the confrontation between Lanny Davis and Jane Hamsher on the Ed Show this evening. According to Scarecrow, “After just one round with Jane on the Ed Show, Lanny’s credibility was in need of a waaaambulance. He was last seen being wheeled out on Joe Lieberman’s gurney, on the way to the emergency ward.”  Ouch!

FDL Action Health Care Update: Wednesday (12/16/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Wednesday, December 16. We’ll call this the “Joe must go” edition.

1. Jon Walker writes about the “sad defeat of Dorgan’s drug re-importation amendment, which would have saved American consumers billions on their prescription drugs.”  Walker notes that “[a]llowing Americans to buy cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe was one of Obama’s campaign promise on health care,” and also that this is a “very popular, bipartisan idea that would actually help ‘bend the cost curve’ on our health care spending.” But now, it looks like it’s not going to happen, and that’s extremely unfortunate.

2. Jane Hamsher comments on the story that the White House is “very not pleased…with Dr. Dean speaking out about health care reform and this plan.”  The amazing thing is that the White House isn’t upset with Joe Lieberman for all the bad stuff he’s been doing, but is upset with Howard Dean for saying that we should scrap the current Senate bill, go to reconciliation and get a much stronger bill with public option, Medicare buy-in, etc.  It’s surreal.

3. Jane Hamsher reports on remarks by Sen. Russ Feingold, who said, “This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth.”

4. Jon Walker demolishes the “great big myth that reconciliation would not work for health care reform.” According to Walker, “That is pure nonsense,” as “reconciliation would still protect the guts of reform.” In addition, “provisions [not related to the budget] will only be removed if they fail to get 60 votes to wave the Byrd rule for those provisions.”  So why aren’t they doing this?

5. Jon Walker argues that the health care “bills could easily be redesigned to increase insurance coverage by roughly 30 million Americans at a fraction of the cost if we drop the massive giveaway to the insurance companies, and the individual mandate.” A new, revamped bill would contain “insurance market reforms,” “the House’s employer mandate and slightly increased small business tax credits,” “Medicaid expansion to 150%-200% FPL,” “Maintaining or expanding CHIP program,” and a “permanent COBRA expansion with subsidies.”  According to Walker, such a bill, “depending on design, should cover close to 30 million more Americans, and for less than a net cost of $500 billion” – “a fraction of the cost to the government (with a bill done through reconciliation), and without enriching the health insurance companies trying to kill real reform.”  Again, why aren’t they doing this?

6. Jon Walker writes that Bernie Sanders isn’t buying “the myth that reconciliation would not work for real health care reform.” Unfortunately, Harry Reid is buying it. Sigh.

7. Michael Whitney comments on “Jello Jay Rockefeller’s rant against Howard Dean on MSNBC this afternoon,” in which he asked, “So what do I do? do I take my football and run home and sulk?” Whitney’s punchline: “No, you’re going to kick it!”  Heh.

8. Jane Hamsher notes that Robert Gibbs never called Joe Lieberman “irrational,” as he essentially did about Howard Dean earlier today.

9. Jon Walker answer Nate Silver’s “20 questions for the ‘bill killers.'”

10. Jon Walker explains “How CBO Director Doug Elmendorf Wrote The Health Care Bill.”  In brief, Elmendorf put together a memo last May which “basically put the absolute limits on what Democrats would even attempt in health care reform.” According to Walker, “There is no real logic to it, he simply decided what he thought was enough regulation to make something part of the budget.” Somehow, given where we are right now, ending today’s health care update with the words “no real logic” seems highly appropriate.

FDL Action Health Care Update: Tuesday (12/15/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Tuesday, December 15. We’ll call this the “Joe must go” edition.

1. Jane Hamsher writes about the “manufactured outrage of Joe Lieberman” regarding criticism over “money paid to his wife Hadassah by the Susan B. Komen ‘Race for the Cure.'” Hamsher adds that “if Senator Lieberman is ‘deeply offended’ by the suggestion that his wife is a lobbyist, one has to wonder what he did for all those years when she was working for the biggest lobbying firms in Washington DC.”

2. Jon Walker comments angrily on the message from the White House that Democratic Senators should “do anything to pass a bill with the title of “health care reform,” even if that “health care reform…helps almost no one for four years, will not lower drug prices, will not slow down the out-of-control growth of health care costs, will make most Americans health insurance worse, will leave millions uninsured, provide no competition for the insurance companies, and not end medical bankruptcy in this country.”  Getting excited yet?

3. Jane Hamsher says it’s “time to hold progressives in Congress to their promise” to “do what they have repeatedly promised to do – vote against any bill that does not have a public option.” Hamsher urges everyone to “Call progressive members of Congress now and ask them if they intend to deliver on their promise to vote against this bill.”

4. Jon Walker argues that “Without the option of a government-run insurance entity or extremely tight regulations to guarantee everyone has access to quality, cost effective health insurance, an individual mandate is both immoral and bad policy.” Other than that, it totally rocks! (snark)

5. Michael Whitney asks for “help to run a TV ad in Nevada telling Harry Reid to be brave – or lose his seat.”. Specifically, the “ask” is for Reid to use reconciliation, to not allow Joe Lieberman to write the health care bill, and to “restore democracy to the country and the Senate.”

6. Jon Walker points out that “Joe Lieberman has never made a secret about his desire to bring down the public option,” and that “Harry Reid must have known this whole time that he would never get Joe Lieberman’s magical 60th vote on a bill with a public option.” The bottom line is that if “Reid had gone with reconciliation, Joe Lieberman would not be writing the bill as we speak.” So why didn’t he? Did he actually trust Joe Lieberman to do the right thing here? If so, all I can say is “wow, just wow.”

7. Jane Hamsher says she agrees with Howard Dean’s call to kill the Senate health care bill. Hamsher concludes: “If I wanted Joe Lieberman writing a health care bill, I would’ve voted for John McCain. Howard Dean is right. Kill LieberCare.”

8. Jon Walker notes that “While everyone has been fretting about Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson has remained an equally big hurdle to get 60 votes for cloture.” Believe it or not, even though Nelson “has already played a big role in removing the public option, preventing the bill from ending the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies, and possibly killing the CLASS long term insurance program,” he also wants abortion language that “will likely end up one of the biggest rollbacks of women’s reproductive rights in a generation.” In short, with Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?

9. Jane Hamsher reports that even though Byron Dorgan “had the votes to pass his drug reimportation amendment, which would have saved the public over $100 billion and the government $19 billion,” it’s not going to happen because…you guessed it, “Joe Lieberman says it can’t be part of LieberCare!”  So here’s the bottom line choice for the White House and Harry Reid: either tell Joe Lieberman to take a hike and go to reconciliation, or pass a watered-down health care “reform” bill without its best, and also most popular, elements. I believe this is what’s known in the vernacular as a “no brainer,” but why does something tell me the great brains in Washington, DC won’t be able to figure it out? On second thought, maybe it’s not their brains as much as it’s their spines, specifically their willingness to stand up to bullies like Joe Lieberman?

FDL Action Health Care Update: Friday (12/11/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Friday, December 11.

1. Jon Walker says that the “‘Medicare buy-in’ idea might not really be Medicare at all, it might in fact be fake Medicare, one which “would lack almost all the benefits of Medicare.” Walker adds, “A Medicare buy-in program that does not actually allow people to fully buy into real Medicare is a farce.”

2. Jane Hamsher writes that Harry Reid, “who is solely responsible for crafting the bill that he introduced in the Senate, decided that there should be a limit on lifetime benefits.”  Meanwhile, “Reid is also manipulating procedure to keep the Dorgan drug reimportation amendment, which would save both the government and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars, from coming to a vote.” Hamsher wonders why “Reid never uses the powers he has against Joe Lieberman.”  

3. Jon Walker believes that, “For the past few days, Obama and Reid have rather publicly fought against bringing down America’s health care costs.”

4. Jane Hamsher writes a letter to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, calling on them to “ask Hadassah Lieberman to step down as a ‘Global Ambassador’ for the organization in light of the inherent conflict of interest her continued presence brings.” Hamsher invites everyone to sign a petition urging the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to do just that.

5. Jon Walker writes that Harry Reid has “quietly gutted one of the most important consumer protections in the bill, the ban on annual limits.”  Walker argues that by adding the “‘unreasonable’ qualifier {Reid} added is a loophole you can drive a school bus through.” Jane Hamsher adds that the Department of Health and Human Services knew about this and even has been “quietly promoting” it for a while now.

6. Jon Walker reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has concluded that the “new excise tax on employer-provided health insurance will result in most people getting worse health insurance from their employer, insurance that covers less.”  Walker adds that if “this excise tax is the core of the plan to ‘bend the cost curve,’ it is a failure.”

7. Jon Walker argues that the “reason Reid dropped the annual limit from the Senate bill was to make his bill appear cheaper in the CBO score, and make insurance premiums appear lower.” “Of course,” Walker points out, “eliminating the ban on annual caps makes a mockery of the entire idea of ‘insurance.'”

8. Finally, Jon Walker has highlights of CMS’ analysis of the Senate health care bill. Overall, Walker concludes, “the report is a mixed bag,” with “very slightly higher” national health expenditures in 2019, but on the other hand it “shows a bad bill can still greatly expand insurance coverage without noticeably increasing our national health care spending.” Ergo, Walker concludes, “Imagine what could be done with a good bill that is not full of massive corporate give aways.”

FDL Action Health Care Update: Thursday (12/10/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Thurssday, December 10.

1. Marta Evry says that Rep. Bart Stupak’s New York Times op-ed is not harmless, as Stupak claims, but “would effectively ban reproductive choice services coverage in the exchanges.” According to Evry, “We  can’t let that happen. We just can’t.” Evry urges that everyone join a “One Voice for Choice” phone bank or start one of your own: “It’s easy, it’s fun, and best of all, you will make a difference.”

2. Jane Hamsher reports that Mike Stark of Stark Reports is “back up on the Hill for FDL, covering Congress.”

3. Jane Hamsher points out that Harry Reid claims he has no time for a House-Senate conference, but that he has time to attend a “$1,000 plus per plate fundraiser” this weekend.  Hamsher encourages people to call likely Nevada Democratic voters and let them know what Reid is up to.

4. Jon Walker says that the Senate health care reform deal is actually “less a health care deal, more an agreement on vague parameters for a possible deal.” As Walker notes, “It is always easier to reach agreement on vague ideas,” but as “with all things in this health care reform effort, it will all come down to details, details, and more details.”

5. Jon Walker believes that nobody should be “shocked when the Democratic base doesn’t turn out in 2010.” Walker asks, “Who would want to support a party” in which “a simple temper tantrum by Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, or Ben Nelson really cause the other roughly 300 elected Democrats in Washington to abandon every promise they made and every principle they claim to stand for?”

6. Jane Hamsher writes about Nancy Pelosi saying “that a bill without a public option is now possible in the House.”  Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, apparently isn’t going to be one of those votes, as he told Mike Stark that “what the Senate is doing is effectively emasculating an opportunity to have a public option.”

7. Jon Walker reports that Joe Lieberman, “the biggest champion of the health insurance industry in the Senate, will chair the committee that oversees [the OPM-run] ‘alternative’ to the public option.” Can we say “foxes and henhouses?”

8. With signs that the Senate health care bill might just “ping pong” straight past the House of Representatives without a full conference between the two chambers, a frustrated Jon Walker asks, “Why Don’t We Just Go A Step Further And Abolish The House?”

9. Jane Hamsher asks, “what kind of a platform we should ask Medicare for All candidates to agree upon?” Hamsher adds that “[i]f you’d like to volunteer to lead a search committee in your district for a single payer candidate, you can do it here.”

10. Finally, check out Jane Hamsher on the Ed Show as she  invites Progressives to recruit primary challengers for any “Democratic member of Congress [who] decides to support the corporatist agenda and vote for a health care bill that makes the insurance companies say ‘we won.'”

FDL Action Health Care Update: Wednesday (12/9/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Wednesday, December 9.

1. Marta Evry points out that it’s far too early to “fold up our tent and start our Christmas shopping early” with regard to protecting women’s reproductive rights in health care reform legislation. Evry notes that, “so far, One Voice For Choice is the only campaign going on out there that’s targeting the Stupak coalition of conservadems” on this issue. She encourages everyone to join a “One Voice for Choice” phone bank or start one of your own. Thanks.

2. Jane Hamsher says that “despite the fact that the country wants a public option, the President campaigned on one and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid both promised there would be one in the final bill, the woman who took $763,000 from health care interests for her upcoming Senate race is allowed to dictate what happens.” And that woman’s name is…you got it, Blanche Lincoln, who until recently claimed on her website that she supported “a quality, affordable public plan.” And if you believe that one, I’ve got some awesome, low-priced private insurance I’d like to sell you. πŸ™‚

3. Jon Walker writes that, at this point, “it is impossible to even evaluate this pile of vague ideas that may or may not be part of this ‘deal.'” Walker concludes, “Fancy names like ‘Medicare buy-in’ sound good, but it could easily be worthless subterfuge, just like the trigger. I recommend everyone stay very skeptical and hold judgment for a day or two until we actually know what we are dealing with.”

4. Jane Hamsher is incredulous that OFA is fundraising off of a health-care reform package that she sees as – to put it mildly – subpar.

5. Jon Walker warns Howard Dean that the “Medicare buy-in” he is talking about “might not at all resemble the Medicare buy-in that [he] wants.” Or it might. The main thing right now is to “wait until you hear details” of this plan; until then, “we are simply chasing vapor.”

6. Jane Hamsher urges everyone to sign a petition urging President Obama to “save the public option and make these statements more than mere campaign promises.”

7. Jane Hamsher reports that she contacted Physicians for a National Health Program to see what they thought about lowering the Medicare age to 55. The response was that it “only works if it is mandatory…Otherwise it becomes the place where all the sickest patients get dumped.”

8. Jon Walker asks, “Why Did Snowe Not Demand Giving Americans The Freedom To Buy Cheaper Drugs From Canada?” More broadly, Walker finds it “very unfortunate that Snowe decided to use her new-found power for evil instead of good.”

9. Jon Walker notes results from a new Quinnipiac poll indicating strong support for a public option, “even as Senate Democrats look to kill the idea.”

10. Jane Hamsher provides a timeline indicating longstanding support in the Obama administration for a “trigger,” stating that this is “something that Rahm Emanuel has been fighting for all along.”  

FDL Action Health Care Update: Tuesday (12/8/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Tuesday, December 8.

1. Marta Evry reminds everyone that doing a “One Voice for Choice” phone bank is “easy, it’s fun, and best of all, you will make a difference.” What more can you ask for? πŸ™‚

2. Jon Walker writes, “As a substitute for the public option, this OPM exchange is worthless, but I strongly hope this OPM exchange is structured to at least help fix the terrible, state-regulation-gutting “nationwide plan” idea.”

3. Jon Walker says that the “grand compromise possibly being discussed is frighteningly similar to my theoretical compromise, although it is noticeably weaker,” and that “Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and the Senate Democrats could have saved themselves lot of heart burn by hiring me four months ago.” Yes, but then what would they do with all the time they would have saved? Focus on the economy and jobs? Deal with climate change? Pass comprehensive immigration reform? Pass appropriations bills so that federal agencies don’t have to operate for months on continuing resolutions?  What ARE you thinking, Jon Walker? (snark)

4. Jane Hamsher asks rhetorically, “You Mean ‘We’ll Fix It In Conference’ Was Just BS?” The sarcastic answer? “No!”

5. Jon Walker explains how Medicare expansion can be “done right” (“Simply dropping the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 50 would help tens of millions of Americans, and be a win for progressives.”) or “done bad” (“Conversely, I can imagine a convoluted set of restrictions that would prevent the proposal from helping basically anybody.”).  Unfortunately, Walker concludes, “it sounds like the negotiations are much closer to the latter than the former.”

6. David Dayen reports that a motion by Barbara Boxer to table Ben Nelson’s anti-abortion amendment has passed with 54 votes. According to Dayen, “So the question becomes, what now?” Good question.

FDL Action Health Care Update: Monday (12/7/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Monday, December 7.

1. Marta Evry asks that you consider joining a “One Voice for Choice” phone bank or starting one of your own. As Evry says, “It’s easy, it’s fun, and best of all, it works.”

2. Jane Hamsher says sarcastically that there’s “[n]othing like having Joe Lieberman running the country.” Except maybe John McCain or George W. Bush running the country?

3. Jon Walker argues that “the new ‘alternative’ to the public option” is “nothing at all even like a public option.” Instead, “It is an OPM run exchange for current, private, non-profit insurance companies.” Great stuff, huh?

4. Jon Walker warns that “Sen. Debbie Stabenow is prepared to kill the public option to make Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln happy.” As I always say, anything to make Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln happy! (snark)

5. Jon Walker says that Sen. Ben Nelson’s anti-abortion amendment “is as close to the Stupak language as possible…it would have an incredibly long reach, and could make abortion coverage extremely rare in this country.” This must be stopped, hence the efforts of “One Voice for Choice”.

6. Jon Walker reports that “Senate Democrats are considering a possible early Medicare buy in for older Americans.” Walker believes this proposal on its own could have merit, but “without more concrete details about exactly what the proposal is, I will not really know if it has value.”

7. David Dayen believes it’s possible there might not be a conference committee for health care reform, “with the House expected to accept whatever the Senate passes.” Dayen believes this is ominous, particularly when one considers “the recent history of the credit card bill.”

8. Finally, Jon Walker agrees with the health insurance industry that if “the Senate bill ends up like I fear: no public option, no serious regulation on insurance, no real medical loss ratio, very low insurance standards, and an individual mandate the private insurance companies will have truly won.” Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

FDL Action Health Care Update: Friday (12/4/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Friday, December 4.

1. Jane Hamsher points to a new Mason-Dixon poll indicating that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid trails two potential GOP opponents.  This doesn’t make Hamsher particularly sad, to put it mildly, given that she believes Reid “is doing what he always intended to do – take the public option out of the bill.”

2. Jon Walker warns that “unless we do health care right, every private sector union will be dead in nine years.” The reason? “Manufacturing in this country will not expand or even survive as long as health care insurance is an ever-growing overhead cost,” which means “there simply will not be a manufacturing sector to unionize.” I’d add that there won’t be a healthy economy in general if health care costs continue to rise and health care expenditures make up an ever-growing portion of our GDP.

3. Jon Walker has Part 5 of his series on “what the Senate bill does better.”  In this episode, we’ve got the fact that “the risk adjustment mechanisms in the Senate bill (page 226 – 238) are slightly better [than in the House bill].”  Well, that’s something at least. πŸ™‚

4. Jane Hamsher announces that “Blue America is going to be working to get single payer candidates on the ballot in every Congressional district across the country.”  Also, “Tomorrow at noon ET, Blue America will host Jonathan Tasini, a long time single payer advocate who is running for the US Senate in New York.” That should be interesting, check it out.

5. Jon Walker writes that he has been “watching the debate on health care reform for the past five days, and it is amazing how much time and effort the Republican party has dedicated to defending massive government waste and huge corporate giveaways.”  Walker is talking, of course, about Medicare Advantage, “a network of private plans that the government pays to provide Medicare-eligible seniors with health insurance instead of covering them with traditional Medicare.” The problem is that “[a]s the result of a broken payment formula (put in place by the Republicans), the government overpays these private insurance companies by roughly 12%.” It’s a huge corporate giveaway, in other words, which certainly helps explain why Republicans are so enthusiastic about it!

6. I highlight an interview on Blue Arkansas with the founder of “Draft Bill Halter” to primary Sen. Blanche “No Public Plan For You” Lincoln.

7. Speaking of Blanche Lincoln, Jon Walker says that she’s trying to “shake her corporate shill image with [a] faux-populist amendment,” but that “it is unlikely that most insurance companies will even be affected by this amendment.”  Walker concludes, “Sorry Blanche, but no amount of meaningless symbolic amendments will change the fact that you are doing everything you can to defend the profits of the private insurance industry.”

8. Finally, Jon Walker predicts that the Senate “like all entrenched institutions, will only change when there is a crisis.” And, Walker believes, “[t]his is the perfect moment for the progressives to force the crisis needed to change how the Senate works.” Walker believes that if this doesn’t happen, it “will pretty much guarantee not a single piece of really progressive legislation is passed during Obama’s presidency.” On that cheery note, have a great weekend! πŸ™‚