We’re not in Kansas anymore

Some thoughts from the last round of public political theater – a morality play in four acts played out in the early spring of 2010 in Washington DC.

Act 1 – Bring in the Clowns
The country finally had to confront the real character of the Tea Party. What started months ago under the guise of a populist response to concerns about intrusive government, quickly morphed into an angry unruly mob. What started out as a media sponsored stunt to disrupt public meetings has grown to a radical conservative ethic that leaves no room for opposing views. Joe Wilson raised a lot of money and became a media darling for disrupting a Presidential speech by calling him a liar. Congressional Democrats had to run a gauntlet of racial and homophobic slurs, physical threats, and virtually every other form of hate speech imaginable. During the debate, Congressional Republicans came off the floor to lead the mob in chants of “kill the bill”. It got to the point where local police were concerned for their safety. The culmination was Republican Randy Neugebauer flinging the “baby killer” epithet at the most pro-life Democrat on the planet, Bart Stupak.

Act 2 – In Pelosi we trust
This was a tour de force for the majority leader. What she lacks in public speaking, she more than made up for in political skill. She leveraged her majority to pass a very controversial bill in the face of the most organized and powerful forces every aligned against a bill’s passage. For months, the Republicans have been winning the public opinion battle by painting the Democrats as unable to govern and unresponsive to the American people. Polls plunged and the Republican victory in Massachusetts was hailed as the beginning of a new age of Republican ascendency.

Passage of this bill demonstrated that those claims were hollow and gave strength to the Democratic argument that it is the Republicans who have been preventing the government from doing the people’s business. In another swift turnabout, she positioned the Democrats as the real party of the people. That’s because the Democratic party embraces broader spectrum of opinions than the Republican party. It may take a while longer to reach consensus, she said, but Democratic proposals are a better reflection of the diversity of the American people as a result.

Act 3 – Stupak secure
The real winner was Bart Stupak. He went three for three. He wielded his small coalition of pro-life democrats to extract a commitment from a pro-choice President to rigorously enforce the Hyde Amendment. This satisfied his backers in the Catholic Church. He delivered the votes to pass the Healthcare Bill. This made him a hero to those Democrats who don’t share his views on abortion. Finally, he delivered the most dramatic moment of the evening after the bill passed. Republicans made an impassioned plea to send the bill back to committee to add back the anti-abortion language that Bart Stupak had originally authored. This was a long shot attempt to peal off some Democrats who may have been concerned about casting what the Republicans were certain to characterize as a “pro-choice” vote. Stupak was the only person in that chamber with the credibility to call this maneuver out for what it really was. When he rose to speak, he condemned the Republican motion as politically motivated and passionately characterized the Healthcare Reform bill as genuinely “pro-life”, thus giving cover for any that might have been wavering. Thus he not only gained immediate forgiveness for his threat to scuttle healthcare reform, but re-established himself as a Democrat in high standing with the rest of the party.

Act 4 – There’s no place like home
The Republican Party now knows the risks of playing the wicked witch. The Democratic Party found their Dorothy in Stupak. His water bucket was full and his aim was true. The public are now witnessing the spectacle of opposition to healthcare reform melting away and perhaps the Republican party with it.

The Republicans bet the farm on their ability to defeat President Obama on healthcare. They sold their soul in the process. They embraced Tea Party radicalism. They bent the truth past the breaking point. They nearly ground the government to a halt a year. They unleashed a great tornado of fear and hate that continues to churn. But in the end, they failed.

As a result, it isn’t clear at this point what they really stand for other than more fear and hate. Fortunately that’s not what most American’s want. You can be sure that Democrats in November will point that out. That’s because at the end of the day, what the American people voted for in 2008 was hope for a better world rather than fear of a worse one. While there are still a lot of things to be concerned about, my sense is that the voting public is tired of being frightened.

I believe that this hope for a better world and a brighter future is still alive. This bill is the first substantive evidence from this administration of their commitment to deliver on that promise. My bet is the American people will reward this effort because we care about our neighbors and know that there is no place like home.

8 Responses to “We’re not in Kansas anymore”

  1. keith says:

    for the 12 million or so who really needed help i am glad for them. thats the upside. for those who have been denied because of pre-existing conditions, i am glad for them. this is a good day and will benifit them greatly….

    for the rest of us we will in the future all be on a gov’t controlled program. the genie is out of the bottle and there is no stopping it. for anyone to think this ends up anywhere else, is nieve.

    http://www.breitbart.tv/shocking-audio-rep-dingell-says-obamacare-will-eventually-control-the-people.

    Before I start, during the election health care for all was a moral imparitive. Are the dems now immoral because as they failed to cover everyone?

    Act #1 nice try…….in every crowed is a couple of comments that shouldn’t be made. no excuses from me though, they were out of place. you are painting the entire republican party with a few comments, most not heard or on tape. (there were camera’s everywhere why no footage?)

    Act #2 Pelosi actually said on Sunday night in the final speech of the debate “we are passing universal health care” care to comment on that? In this same speech she championed the bill and placed it right up there with “s.s and medicare/medicaid. two programs that are going bankrupt…. what geniuos that was on her part…i couldn’t believe what i was hearing.
    as to her ability as the speaker to get this passed, my goodness she had way more votes then needed in her own party!!!! think about what you’ve written Jeff. she got her side, with an overhelming majoirity, to pass a bill by just a few votes. i’m wondering how you find that significate…….

    #3 he sold his soul. (or he didn’t really have the right to life commitment that we thought of him) Sir Jeff, you’ve said for a very long time that the republicans were “using” abrotion to try and stop this bill. you said it had nothing to do with the bill. then obama tells bart he will sign an excutive order to insure that the hyde amendent will be held, Jeff why the excutive order?……..do they both know that an excutive order doesn’t do anything. you know that too. also as of this morning no such order has been signed that i’m aware of. they used bart…….but as it turned out they used a lot of people. how about dennis? all it took was a plane ride.

    #4 your comments here remain to be seen. a majoity of the country opposed this bill. i will agree with you from this context; “once the citizens know they can vote themselves shares from the public treasury, a domocrasy is doomed to fail.” As the cycle I last wrote about: where a nation puts themselves into a state of dependence. i don’t think that dependent nature/cycle will be broke……congratulations!!!!!

    We’ve just gone back to Kansas. we started this country to run from govt control……we’re putting ourselves right back into it.

    “FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS NEED” Al Sharpton said “Americans knew they were voting for a socialist”

    This is not a good thing, in fact its terrible. this will run a huge defficet and gov’t within a generation will control all heath care and all decisions. your world view will think thats a good thing, my won’t at all.

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    The majority of people not covered in this bill are illegal immigrants. When the baby boomers all retire in the next 20 years or so and there is suddenly a shortage of workers, our attitude about immigrants will change and we’ll cover them too.

    Here’s the tape. Feel better?

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=376769796902

    Here’s some more examples of signs at a number of tea party gatherings.

    http://politics.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978123887

    Here’s some more from the weekend.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/20/tea-party-protests-nier-f_n_507116.html

    This is free speech without a doubt, but it also expresses a particular radical right wing view of both the government and a threatened violent response if their wishes are not respected.

    As far as SS and Medicare, here are the facts.

    SS is not going bankrupt. As I have posted before, some very simple fixes which will likely go into effect in the next five years or so will resolve the current problem of more going out than is coming in. This is more right wing hysteria, but you can bet that when it comes to altering SS benefits for high income individuals, the Republicans will scream how it is class warfare and socialism.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/34941334/Will_Baby_Boomers_Bankrupt_Social_Security

    The Healthcare Bill extended the Medicare solvency to at least 2017. Extending Medicare beyond that is going to depend on how well we are able to further reduce the cost of care. That is going to require more government action to change the nature of the market from one where healthcare providers are paid for transactions to one where they are paid on outcomes.

    http://www.kjonline.com/news/separatingfact-from-myth_2010-03-23.html

    Not signing the exec order? Gosh you really are invested in these loony conspiracy theories aren’t you. The pro-life folks seemed satisfied with Bush’s executive order banning stem cell research. Why are they now so skeptical about Obama’s order?

    http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=45464

    As far as selling his soul, you again are listening to talking heads rather than doing your research. Stupak always said that he was only seeking to close what he saw were loop holes in the bill would have weakended the Hyde Amendment. Obama always said that his intent was that this would be abortion neutral – not better not worse. Isn’t this what happened?

    As far as those that oppose the bill, if you again did your research you would have found that 10% – 15% of the poll numbers were always from people who felt the bill didn’t go FAR ENOUGH. As many news organizations have pointed out, the poll numbers never got past 50%. When you include the margin for error, and those who wanted things like the public option, it was at least a split, if not a bias for action.

    The CBO doesn’t agree with you regarding the deficits.

    Also history doesn’t agree with you.

    The Republicans predicted disaster when Social Security was passed. They also predicted financial disaster and social disruption when Medicare was passed. These two programs have proven to be the most effective methods of reducing poverty that our government has ever created.

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2859

    Republicans also predicted disaster when the Clinton budget was passed by one vote.

    http://majorityleader.gov/docUploads/CBOVSGOP031810.pdf

    As far as Al Sharpton’s quote, did you read the whole interview or see it? Here’s a link.

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/jeff-poor/2010/03/22/al-sharpton-american-public-overwhelmingly-socialism-when-they-elected-pr

    It’s another example of misrepresentation. Sharpton said to the Fox commentator who suggested that the bill was socialism, that if that’s what Fox wants to call it, then the American people supported it when they voted for Obama because he was elected in part because he promised to deliver exactly the healthcare reform that was just passed.

    I can appreciate that you are upset.

    Reminds me of how I felt when Nixon invaded Cambodia.

    That certainly sent me into the streets to express my unhappiness.

    The difference is that this will save lives, reduce the deficit, begin the process of changing the healthcare system to a form that is sustainable, and ultimately force Republicans to participate in this government rather than simply obstruct it.

    I don’t know if we will still be corresponding as these things come to pass. All I ask is that you reach out to someone you know and share the fact that I was right.

  3. keith says:

    you were right?

    you said

    SS is not going bankrupt. As I have posted before, some very simple fixes which will likely go into effect in the next five years or so will resolve the current problem of more going out than is coming in. This is more right wing hysteria, but you can bet that when it comes to altering SS benefits for high income individuals, the Republicans will scream how it is class warfare and socialism.

    there is no logic too your thinking. if its not going bankrupt then why are you suggesting fixes? think about that Jeff.

    you wrote;

    The Republicans predicted disaster when Social Security was passed. They also predicted financial disaster and social disruption when Medicare was passed. These two programs have proven to be the most effective methods of reducing poverty that our government has ever created.

    Jeff both these programs are going bust. FACT….the s.s. statement, that we both recieved, says s.s in a few years will start paying out more then it takes in and can not gaurentte we will recieve the payout stated. that means bankrupt. if you and i cant agree on that then there is no sense trying to reach understanding or agreement on anything else.

    i’ll say this more clearly. i believe if one cant met his financial obligations, then one is bankrupt. you seemingly don’t agree with that.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Bankrupt – a person (or corporation) who becomes insolvent.
    Insolvent – unable to pay debts as they become due in the normal course of business

    When applied to SS, bankrupt means that SS no longer has the ability to cover the checks that it is obligated to issue to beneficiaries under the laws governing the program.

    Just like any other business, SS doesn’t automatically become bankrupt when on any particular month (or year) the amount of money it pays out exceeds the amount of money it took in. That is simply a loss.

    SS has been taking in more money that it pays out for quite a while because the number of employed baby boomers exceeded the number of retired greatest generation. SS used its surplus to purchase government bonds. Now that the baby boomers are retiring and we have high unemployment, SS has had to dip into its savings to cover its obligations. Unemployment is not a long term threat to SS. Baby boomer retirement is.

    If nothing is done, SS will eventually have no more bonds to sell and will become insolvent. But that date is a ways off in the future. The fact that it is a possibility, doesn’t make SS bankrupt.

    Instead, SS has to do what any other reasonable organization does when it finds itself in a changing market. It has to reduce its costs and increase its income.

    It will reduce its cost by increasing the age at which full benefits kick in or in some other way adding income levels into the benefit formula. It may also increase its income by taxing those benefit recipients who also have other substantial income. Finally it could also increase its income by raising taxes on those who are not receiving benefits, though this is the least likely path.

    Employed illegal immigrants actually help the SS system since they contribute but are not beneficiaries. Another solution would be to reverse our current anti-immigration policies as a way to boost SS.

    As I’ve said before, the scope of changes required to keep SS solvent through the baby boomer retirement period is not dramatic, but given the current climate, I’m sure they will be controversial.

    What will drive Medicare into insolvency is the rate of growth in healthcare costs. That’s why we need healthcare reform. We’ve taken the first step of getting everyone insured. We have to take the next step which is changing the business model so more money flows to physicians for outcomes, less money flows to insurance companies for transactions, and there are incentives for individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices.

    If we are successful in doing that, Medicare will also survive.

  5. keith says:

    thank you for defining insolvent……

    here’s a timely articule….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/business/economy/25social.html?hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1269601855-mHH4Wx9FpCqddeTmv6qZCQ

    paragraph #5;

    Analysts have long tried to predict the year when Social Security would pay out more than it took in because they view it as a tipping point — the first step of a long, slow march to insolvency, unless Congress strengthens the program’s finances.

    and the last paragraph;

    “Even if the trust fund level goes down, there’s no action required, until the level of the trust fund gets to zero,” he said. “At that point, you have to cut benefits, because benefits have to equal receipts.”

    In the articule the early 80″s are mentioned when greenspan had to act quickly to save the program…..from……insolvency.

    to a business the steps that articule talks about if applied to you and me, and you mention as “fixs,” commonly occur in chapter 11.

    why do you make this so difficult Jeff? i mean REALLY!!!!????? its really simple…..cant pay the bills if we keep going like this….A SECOND TIME!!!!!
    you remind me of nancy pelosi who said in her response to goerge bushs’ state of the union 2006 (i think) “s.s. isn’t going bankrupt, we’ll be able to pay 79% of benefits.” how can a conversation be continued after a comment like that? (im sure you’ll have an answer)

    your conclusion that the gov’t will yet again delay benifits, and raise taxes on “the wealthist amoung us,” come AFTER or to preculede the recognized event of……insolvency!

    FACT, which you’ve already discribed above, s.s. is going..headed toward…in the process of becoming……., “taken first step of a long, slow march to……………………… INSOLVENCY!!!!!!!! which i now know you understand to be;

    “Insolvent – unable to pay debts as they become due in the normal course of business.”

    I’ll tackle everything else you’re “right about” later.

    have a nice day my friend….and post more frequently…you’re my source of shaking off the day!!!!

    p.s. if we continue with these conversations at some point its all going to boil down to what you think the top marginal rate should be, how many should pay nothing at all, and how many you think should actually be paid by the govt……

    i’ll also have to get your comments on the cycle beginning in bondage and ending in bondage, by choice, a people experiance that i mentioned recently. also comments on “a nation is doomed to fail when the citizens learn they can vote themselves shares from the public treasury” will be anticipated. (currently 45% – 47% pay no fed taxes)

  6. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Let’s keep this simple.

    Is SS insolvent today? – NO!

    In fact, if you read the article you posted in more detail you would see that the interest that SS earned on its government bonds this year more than covered the short fall between income from payroll deductions and the benefits that were paid. The article also said that the fund will continue to run a net surplus for the next five years. At that point baby boomer retirement will begin to draw down the SS trust fund in earnest.

    Will it be insolvent at some point twenty years or so in the future if we don’t do something to change the funding and distribution model? – YES!

    There are two choices.

    1.We let it fail.
    2.We make adjustments so that it doesn’t fail.

    I propose that a majority of the people in this country are going to choose option 2.

    If we are able to muster the will to act sooner rather than later, the scale of those adjustments will be smaller than if we wait until the funds are nearly gone and all the baby boomers have retired.

    The other reason why sooner is better is because any changes that are made won’t be applied to those that are receiving benefits or may soon qualify for benefits. If we wait too long, the bulk of the Baby Boomers who are the root cause of the problem will fall into this category and the much smaller post Baby Boomer generation will have to bear an unfair portion of the cost.

    What I predict is that we will act during Obama’s second term and that the action will involve a combination providing incentives for those who delay taking their benefits and reductions for those who don’t need the benefits (through taxes or other means).

    We baby boomers are going to work much longer than our parents. We are, as a rule, healthier and better educated than or parents. We occupy the ranks of upper mangement. We own our own businesses. We associate work with self-worth. So incentives that make it more attractive for us to continue working rather than taking benefits will likely be quite effective.

  7. keith says:

    a very good friend is an “intellectual libral.” i am always amazed when he and others like him feel the need to explain in detail things that really don’t need to be explained; like everyone else is in kindergarden…you did this in your last post….i know what the articule says, i know s.s. today takes in more then it pays out. i merely said “s.s. is going bankrupt.” to which you said “it wasn’t.” none of the explaination or intellectual rambling is relevent as you too ended up at the same point without fixes s.s. is going bankrupt.

    i don’t believe for one second we will let it go bankrupt but that doesn’t change the fact that, as of today, as is, its going bankrupt, and for the SECOND TIME!!!!! (see atricule 1980’s)

    I brought it up only to show how ignorent nancy palosi is in championing healthcare reform and placing it right up there with two programs GOING BANKRUPT. really a silly thing to say when a great majority of americans believe this will cost too much and put us further in debt. see poll 3-30-2010 USA TODAY…(you even noted the heathcare bill extends the solvence of medicare to 2017 for crying out loud)

    ok so you agree you were wrong… as you said above , s.s. is not going bankrupt. you now agree that it is… so there’s one thing your wrong on fron your post…i just wondering who im going to reach out to to tell them you were right and about what.

    i’ll stay away from the hate speach and trading youtube vidios, extremests from both sides are guilty…..al gore screaming at the top of his lungs…he lied to us…he played on our fears!!!!

    “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” i wish neither side did this. both do…lets move on. dems wine about it way too much though. race was injected into the healthcare debate the morning after it passed. chris mattwees asked “is the right against it or is is because its a black president that they don’t like, or a women speaker.” how stupid. the right has NEVER liked it. it wasnt race in 1993 and its not race now. this is cheap on the part of many on the left.

    so you got your healthcare and a program that the cbo allowed for the double counting of money and one that isn’t paid for and the “wealthy” will be taxed more to provide for. dont ask me the detail of the double counting. i saw “fox sunday” with the young republican turk senator from wisc and the wessermen senate gal from fla and listened to him explain it….she was asked to respond to that assersion. her answer was a long rambling “this is the way we have long done this, cbo scored it correctly, its a perfectly acceptable way to do the accounting, the repubs have done this before.” that my friend is not an answer that disputes the facts. it just merely states, “its our turn, we have the majority, and this is what we want.” i’m ok with that but thats not change we can believe in.

    tax the rich…………………………..

    p.s. if we continue with these conversations at some point its all going to boil down to what you think the top marginal rate should be, how many should pay nothing at all, and how many you think should actually be paid by the govt……

    i’ll also have to get your comments on the cycle beginning in bondage and ending in bondage, by choice, a people experiance that i mentioned recently. also comments on “a nation is doomed to fail when the citizens learn they can vote themselves shares from the public treasury” will be anticipated. (currently 45% – 47% pay no fed taxes)

  8. keith says:

    Next up where you are “right”

    You wrote;

    Act 2 – In Pelosi we trust
    This was a tour de force for the majority leader. What she lacks in public speaking, she more than made up for in political skill. She leveraged her majority to pass a very controversial bill in the face of the most organized and powerful forces every aligned against a bill’s passage. For months, the Republicans have been winning the public opinion battle by painting the Democrats as unable to govern and unresponsive to the American people. Polls plunged and the Republican victory in Massachusetts was hailed as the beginning of a new age of Republican ascendency.

    Passage of this bill demonstrated that those claims were hollow and gave strength to the Democratic argument that it is the Republicans who have been preventing the government from doing the people’s business. In another swift turnabout, she positioned the Democrats as the real party of the people. That’s because the Democratic party embraces broader spectrum of opinions than the Republican party. It may take a while longer to reach consensus, she said, but Democratic proposals are a better reflection of the diversity of the American people as a result.

    You already agreed she was wrong to say s.s is not going broke….(imagine a speaker of the house not knowing that when a program can’t meet its obligations its not going broke!!)

    “political skill.” Obama gave her an overwhelming majority and she could pass a bill by a couple votes. really Jeff, political skill?

    Jeff, the republicans won public support because the public doesn’t like this bill or they dont like the cost and are concerned with what it does to the national debt. (I am already reading where the cbo is saying…well this costs more then that, etc. also i’ve learn recently that the cbo does not say what they think will happen, they only score what the BILL says will happen, big, big difference.)

    the republicans didnt and couldn’t do anything. the dems were ALWAYS in control of the process my friend, always. the bipartisane nature of the opposition says more to me then the dem only passage of this thing.

    the best thing that can happen is the repubs win the house and refuse to fund the parts of this thing that are nor good.

    Jeff, do you really find Nancy credible? just watch and listen to her. she has no credibilty. example….she walks out of a meeting a few years ago and doesn’t take questions because “she’s trying to save the planet.” realy. how about leading up to the 2006 elections when she promised to bring our troops home from Iraq. she, you and i knew she could make no such claim. i also haven’t heard her mention one word about bringing the troops home from anywhere since bush left office.

    i don’t want to be represented by bohnner or mcconnel or mccain or any other conservitive who can only say “lower taxes”….you need to step up to the plate and be able to support credible folks as well…..nancy is not…..

    wondering is this is one of the things you were “right” about? i think you’re 0-2 so far.

    tax the rich…………………………..

    p.s. if we continue with these conversations at some point its all going to boil down to what you think the top marginal rate should be, how many should pay nothing at all, and how many you think should actually be paid by the govt……

    i’ll also have to get your comments on the cycle beginning in bondage and ending in bondage, by choice, a people experiance that i mentioned recently. also comments on “a nation is doomed to fail when the citizens learn they can vote themselves shares from the public treasury” will be anticipated. (currently 45% – 47% pay no fed taxes)

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