Thursday, August 06, 2009

Am I an “Anti-Reform Mobster”?

By now you have either read or heard the Democratic Parties attack on constituents appearing at town hall meetings to criticize their Representatives. Criticism is one thing Representatives don't like. On the official blog of the Democratic Party (titled "Kicking Ass") the DNC accused people who are critical of the government of the following:


  1. They are being funded and organized by out-of-district special interest groups and insurance companies.
  2. People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies

  3. Their actions are getting more extreme

  4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation

  5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on thuggish crowds.

My local representative is a Democrat and is holding a town hall meeting at the end of the month I want to attend. Am I an anti-reform mobster? Or am I a concerned citizen trying to voice my opinion and get my elected officials to listen to me? Let's look at each of the DNC points above.


They are being funded and organized by out-of-district special interest groups and insurance companies. This isn't true in the case of myself, anyone else I personally know attending these town hall meetings, or of Political Friends. However, at Political Friends, we are capitalists. Therefore, if any readers of this post have any connections to some sort of group that would be willing to fund this site let me know. You must be out of town (or an insurance company) and it must be enough money for me to do this full time. Otherwise, I am not sure it meets point 1 shown above. Oil companies may also apply as I write about Global Warming from time to time.


People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies. If people are afraid because of what they read in HR 3200, I don't consider that a lie; I consider it wisdom. Page 16 of HR 3200 would make it illegal for you as an individual to buy insurance from a private company after the first year HR 3200 goes into effect. You can go through the government as a middle man, but no more buying straight from the insurance company. I am not sure how this improves health care or health insurance, or makes it cheaper. But it is there in black and white. Here is the official bill, read it for yourself.



Their actions are getting more extreme. There is a chance that I am guilty of this. The first tea party I attended, I simply brought tea bags. The second one, I brought a camera. When I go to this town hall meeting, I think I am going to bring a voice recorder. If that is extreme, they have me. I haven't been anywhere near as extreme as some of the Democratic groups such as Code Pink.



Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. On the contrary. I have posted about this debate a number of times such as here, here, or here, just to point out three posts. Republicans have introduced their own health care reform. It 's listed as HR 2520, the Patients Choice Act, and weighs in at 248 pages as opposed to the 1100 pages on the DNC side. The Heritage Foundation has also listed a number of reforms it has been working towards. Far from shutting down legitimate debate, we are actively promoting it. I suspect the DNC is upset that this debate is occurring and that people are actually reading the bill it introduced.



Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on thuggish crowds. This maybe. Truthfully, the Republicans have been guilty of not listening to their constituents as well. It's time they started paying more attention. Also, consider the fact that the Republican Party doesn't have the ability to arrange these type of protests. They should be taking notes.


There are a number of health care and health insurance reforms I would support. One I won't support is a single payer health care system provided by the government. That is why I am going to my Representatives town hall meeting. The DNC may think I am an Anti-Reform Mobster. I like to think of myself as holding my elected officals accountable. At the end of the day, maybe that is what the Democrats (and Republicans) are really afraid of.


27 comments:

Brandon said...

Andy,

While I'm sure that many if not most of those attending the town hall meetings are interested in having an educational back & forth with their representative or senator, there is a clear, organized minority that has no interest in anything other than screaming out their partisan points.

A Florida representative had his car blocked in by protesters, the Health and Human Services secretary was almost shouted off the stage, and several conservative groups are coordinating opposition to any health care proposal.

If these types of protests are not stopped, then I'm afraid that more members of Congress will do what Rep. Colin Pederson does, and refuse to have town hall meetings with their constituents, which is going to hurt our democratic process. I agree with them that the health care proposals on the table right now are flawed, the Wyden-Bennett plan is the best option but isn't gaining any traction in the Senate, but using these disruptive tactics is childish and has no place in American politics.

Andy D said...

I think the easiest way to get these to stop is for Representatives to show they are listening to their constituents. People are mad because a lot of America doesn't like the Health Care Reform proposed in the House. They don't like to hear their Representatives say, like one Democratic Rep here in Georgia, that it just takes too long to read these bills.

pack04 said...

Andy it is odd to me that questioning the government and attacking the president with words and cartoons (joker faces) is now anti-American and non-democratic. While for the previous 4 years it was Patriotic to do so. Plus if insurance companies are the organizers behind this how is that any different than ACORN organizing people to vote for President Obama? Are you going to tell me that they did not use fear and stretches of the truth to get people out the to vote in November?

I also find it interesting that the democrats are not defending themselves from the attacks on points but rather attacking the people attacking them. There is a saying that says something along the lines of "if you can't rebut an arguement attack the attacker." Is that what is going on here? Somebody stands up and says the plan is bad and the responce back is "well you are a republican." well that is true but the plan is still bad.

Patrick said...

Pack04 et all-

Though I do agree with you that it's incorrect to mislabel the opposition to the healthcare bill as unpatriotic or illogically republican; but I do agree with Brandon. The point is that there is a difference between opposing the government, and preventing dialogue.

Sure, ACORN had some questionable practices, but let's go back to the national stage. When John McCain had his town hall meeting, do you remember the old woman who was scared of Obama being a Muslim? Talk about fear tactics. It went both ways and probably cancelled each other out.

Back to the point....In order to actually have the healthcare bill flaws pointed out on the national stage, why not have these things brought up at each town hall meeting until the entire county is aware. By shutting down every dialogue, it does nothing to help the cause for either argument.

Andy D said...

I think we can all list a number of groups that have no interest in increasing dialogue but only in shouting down their opposition. Code Pink, The Black Panthers, and ACORN have all been guilty of this, and in some cases have broken the law doing it. These three are Democratic supporting groups. There are probably some sort of Republican version out there, but I haven't come across it in anywhere near the capacity that those three groups have been working.


I created this site to further dialogue on issues. I don't support simply yelling to disrupt a town hall. As you can imagine, I have been watching as much of the town hall footage as I can come across, most recently with Rep. David Scott here in Georgia. The vast majority of what I have seen is voters trying to ask serious questions of elected representatives and those representatives being unable to handle the question. In Mr. Scott's case, he was insulted that people would even ask him about these health care bills. That is a serious problem and it's time for our elected reps (both Democrat and Republican) to be held accountable.

Patrick said...

Andy-

I agree with you that it's a problem with the lawmakers can't answer questions without getting offended that you actually may be bit smarter than them. My only issue is the violent few who disrupt the entire dialogue from happening.

Also, when I read the reform open letter from the Heritage, I realized that I'm reading basically the same argument everyone else in opposition to the current healthcare proposal uses. There are general principles, but not concrete solution. For instance, how exactly would families get control of healthcare choices from the private industry? Would we provide legislation to force the private healthcare industry to give individual families that option? Not very capitalistic.

Also, can you explain to me the difference in Congress' healthcare plan and a normal citizen? I haven't looked it up, so I'd like to know what choices they have that I don't. (Perhaps I'll be upset upon hearing the answer.)

Finally, I absolutely DO NOT think that State Governments are necessarily smarter than the Federal Government. Though State Government is supposed to be more in touch with it's citizens, our local governments are having the same "out of touch" issues plaguing the Federal System. (But if you think Perdue is doing a great job, that's your opinion.)

I would just like to see some concrete alternatives instead of using general arguments such as "families need to control the choices." Give me an example of how to accomplish this without nationalized healthcare, and then we have a legitimate debate.

As I see it, a way to drive down the cost of your private plan is by having a national plan with a lower cost. That plan must be comparable to what's standard in the private sector. This would drive out the cheapo insurance anyway, which preys on poor individuals who are actually trying to pay for themselves. The companies who offer more for slighly higher prices would still stay in business, b/c companies like ours value what we get for the money.

pack04 said...

Patrick I agree that these should be brought up at every town hall meeting until the country understands. It is odd than my rep yelled and pointed his finger in a very hostle manner when somebody asked why he supported the new health plan. That does not sound like somebody willing to explain things.

Andy D said...

First..there is nothing to say a State, Federal, or local government is smarter than the other. They are more accountable. It is much easier to talk to your local officials than to your state officials, and easier to talk to your state officials than the federal ones.

Second...the more I read of David Scott's answer, the more I am disappointed by it. He seems truly mad that constituents would dare to question him.

Finally..this is the second idea you have given me for a post. I will write a post describing some of the other ideas for health care reform. However, a government plan that competes with the private sector is a terrible idea. Why should I pay taxes to provide someone else with insurance? Why does the government need to provide insurance for anyone? A government option, no matter how tame, will eventually drive private insurance companies out of business. There are a number of good reforms that should be discussed, but a government option is not a good one.

Andy D said...

Pack

David Scott's office told me they are going to hold a health care town hall meeting at the end of the month. I am going, any interest in attending?

pack04 said...

Patrick you are kind of hinting at something here that I have a problem with for 2 reasons. You are kind of using the argument of "if our plan is bad just don't say no, come up with your own ideas."

First one is a little silly but Democrats are accusing Republicans of using the same talking points over and over again but yet their talking point is "come up with something other than no." Hypocritical.

The second reason is the one that gets me really fired up, so I am going to have to edge the line of Andy's moderation.

I don't have to come up with a new plan. That is not my job. I pay towards my representitive's $174,000 salary for HIM to come up with ideas. It is very annoying to see and hear congress people tell me stop saying no and come up with something better. My job is to say yes or no to their plans. Their job is to come up with legistlation. My job is not to answer these questions about who and how health care will be administrated. It is complete bull shit that when I do say no I get yelled at. They are not supreme dictators, thugs, mob what ever. They are suppose to listen to our voices and shutting down town hall meetings because they don't like the voices yelling at them is wrong.

Additionally, my local government is a hell of a lot better than my state and federal government. The main reason is I live in an area where I don't have dumb uneducated people voting for what sounds good (ie free shit for the poor at the cost of the rich and I'll let you vote on the flag), I have people that are educated and know what will work and will not.

Patrick said...

Pack-

Good points, but maybe I wasn't clear enough.

I am not saying that individuals must come up with a solution. However, I definitely think an individual could just have the right idea we need. We as Americans are excellent workers and inventors. So why is it not plausible to find a solution to the healthcare mess from a regular citizen?

You're right that we pay our public officials to come up with these solutions. There are also organizations who may understand the way to those solutions better than the officials. That's what I tried to convey. My comments were directed towards opposing officials and organizations who devote time and money to fixing these issues.

As for fixing the healthcare bill for the "heck of it," that's where I need to clarify. If you're in on the healthcare reform debate, you know that we all have one thing in common. We all know that healthcare in this country needs reform. Period. No official, commentator, or anchor on television, blogs, etc. has said that healthcare does not need reform. So when I state that we need alternatives, it's because we need reform. We shouldn't pass the healthcare reform bill just to pass it. We just need reformation.

Patrick said...

Andy-

I read some of the bill today, and I didn't find any thing on that stated that you must take the national plan after the first year. However, I did read that the employer-based plan must meet the minimum requirements of the national plan.

Please let me know if I misread something.

Patrick

Andy D said...

It doesn't say you must take the government option. The fairest reading of pages 16 to 30 I can come up with is that after "year one" you won't be allowed to buy insurance directly from an insurance company any more, you will have to buy it from the government who will buy it from the insurance company. It also says that insurance companies will no longer be able to sell to new policy holders.

pack04 said...

Patrick you mentioned something that got me thinking.

What health care reform do we need? I ask this because I hear people say we need it but they are never very clear on what exactly needs to be reformed.

Now before you mention 50 million without insurance please remember that I feel that health insurance and health care are two very different things.

I will also agree with you that one person out there might have the answer. What I do not agree with is the attitude of "well since you don't have another plan your voice saying no means nothing."

Patrick said...

Pack-

Here's why I think health care needs reform. I'm sure you have heard these things, but I'll play along.

Outrageous costs and inflated prices, red-tape, expenses to run the system due to both, no pay for performance (sounds tacky, but trust me, we need it), patient care are just a few things I believe need changing. I can write a whole post on these things, but I'll keep it short.

You know, it's ironic that people are bringing up this death panel business. In healthcare today, less people are insured due to prices they can't pay, so our premiums are increasing. People who have to use their insurances more often pay even more for premiums. Also, doctors can't afford to spend time with a patient b/c of all the paperwork that involves each visit. We're getting worse care for more money. Those who honestly need the insurance can't pay it, and are forced to suffer. Therefore, no money, no life. Interesting how no one calls insurance companies death panels......

If you are a capitalist, then you see nothing wrong with what the insurance companies are doing. The only thing is that its a cycle that will self-implode when no one but the upper class can pay for the services.

Andy D said...

I don't know Patrick. I agree with you on a few of your points, but not on others.

There are approximately 46 Million uninsured. There are a number of reasons they are uninsured. Most of them don't have anything to do with the cost of insurance.

Some of the issues you point out are worth discussing. How much of the time doctor's spend on paperwork is because of medical malpractice? How much of the cost of private insurance and the cost of treatment is because of super low prices dictated by medicare that private insurance has to then cover the remainder of?


I think this is a very detailed discussion that needs to be held. However, the Democrats and the President are trying to rush this through without this discussion. They would prefer to attack constituents that show up at town halls than deal with the issues they raise.

Patrick said...

You're right Andy-

This is a very detailed discussion and I knew my comment would not do it proper justice. Perhaps devote a post entirely to healthcare problems, and we can sort it out.

pack04 said...

Thank you for explaining to me why you think we need health care reform. I have sort of heard of some of those but mostly I have heard that I am a racist for not falling lock step in love with this health care plan.

You say outrageous costs and inflated prices. What do you think an open heart surgery for 3 bypasses should cost? I bet if you ask my father-in-law the $47,000 was every bit worth him still being alive.

I know it is said that the government does not want to run health care but how else are they going to control costs?

Are doctors going to take a pay cut? Are family members going to accept less damages for a mistake?

A 1200 page law is going to reduce red tape? That could be the funnest joke I have heard in a loooooonnnnnnnnggggggg time.


I look forward to intelligent debating on this issue. However, I feel that has not happened.

Patrick said...

Pack-

Are you saying that we are not having an intelligent debate on this issue? If you want to have an intelligent debate with someone who won't accuse you of being racist, bigoted, etc., then allow them the same respect when trying to understand the arguments. I have no problem debating the issues or listening to the other side, snarky comments are not the way to have a legimate debate. They do add humor sometimes, though. Just trying to clarify to whom that was directed.

Also, I'm glad your father-in-law was able to pay for his surgery. But what about those who need help from the insurance company that denies them coverage? It happens that some are denied coverage during life-saving surgeries such as transplants. Is that considered a death panel? Should be.

Also, I did not say anywhere that the current proposed bill is our answer to healthcare reform. I believe you are assuming I think it is.

Andy D said...

I think Pack was more complaining about the current debate in Washington, not here. I always conduct a fair and honest debate on these pages :).

Patrick, can you give me an example of someone being denied a life saving procedure? There are medical bankruptcies, where people have had procedures done without insurance, but I am not familiar with a case where someone needed a life saving treatment that they weren't able to get. If insurance wasn't able to cover them, where they still able to get the treatment?

Patrick said...

Sorry for the mix up Andy. I thought we were having a pretty good conversation here, so I was just making sure I understood correctly. As for the examples you asked about, here are a few.

I remember reading about Nataline Sarkisyan, the girl from California who took a turn for the worse when she was denied a liver transplant in 2007.

Here is a relativity new one I found. A woman who had a brain tumor was denied service this past May. She had initial consent to seek another opinion, but then denied coverage to have surgery through her new doctor:

http://www.wpri.com/dpp/on_air/local_wpri_street_stories_denied_life_saving_surgery_20090508_mds


This last one is an example of an insurance company maybe not knowing what's best for the patient, even when the doctor is telling them it is:

http://cbs5.com/local/cancer.treatment.denied.2.1007394.html

I can find more, you get the idea. At least in the last case, friends were able to help raise the money. I wish everyone had friends like that.

Seattle Dave said...

Andy,

First off, let me say I like the blog. I've read a couple threads in the past, but never really spent a lot of time here.

So, here I am, and likewise, here's what I'd like to say about this Anti-Reform "stuff."

Are you an anti-reform mobster if you are republican or democrat, attend a town hall, and ask intelligent questions looking for intelligent answers? Voice your concerns over what is being put on the table in DC? No

Are you an anti-reform mobster if you are republican or democrat, attend town halls with the idea of being disruptive, belligerant and hostile? Thereby blocking out the intent of people to gain information about this healthcare reform package, about how it affects them personally, financially, etc. Then yes, you are.

The first set of questions to your question, however, doesn't seem to be the modus operandi of the conservative political action groups and lobbyist firms in DC at the moment.

Now, i looked this up because I had seen an orginal copy of it from a friend of mine, who works in DC.

Here's the article with the copy of the document that is being sent out around the nation.

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/07/31/recess-harassment-memo/

I don't know anything about this site, but I can say that the document shown is real.

At it's most basic form, and I would hope any reasonable person would agree, it's deplorable.

Andy D said...

Dave, thanks for the comments. I hope you come back and continue to add to the debate.

I think I can agree with your two statements about whether you are an anti-reform mobster. I think we can also apply that to other issues and show that there are a number of Liberal groups that would qualify as "mobs".

I have heard a number of stories about this memo. The author of the memo vouches for it's authenticity. However, the guy that wrote this is an individual that started his own political action committee. He does comment on the Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity sites, but he is not an official employee of theirs. Think Progress used the logic that if he commented on their sites, he must be a paid staffer. Using that logic, you are a paid staffer of mine.

I think voters should go to town hall meetings and ask their representatives hard questions. If the Rep tries to dodge the question, the voters shouldn't accept it and should get the Rep to address the issue. I would say this applies regardless of the party of the rep or of the voter. I don't think voters should prevent other attendees from asking their questions, or from hearing answers to the questions. I think the vast majority of people attending these town hall events would agree with me.

Seattle Dave said...

Agreed 100% with you.

And if I'm a paid staffer, where's my check??? :)

No but seriously, and honestly, in the past 8 years, I think we can all agree that politics has gone to a whole new level in this country.

Frankly, I've lost a lot of faith in the system, as a whole. The 2 party system has always been flawed, fundamentally.

We're so polarized as a country, it borders on ridiculous. And frankly, those on the far right and those on the far left are doing nothing to help the process. At this point, they are just being disruptive.

If you are a reasonable person in this country, I don't think you can argue against health care reform. Sure, we can all argue specifics, but as far the basic question is concerned, it's needed to be overhauled for 20 years now.

And even though I am a capitalist at heart, IMO, health cares is the one thing that I believe shouldn't be driven by profit motives.

Greed is a strong emotion, as we've seen with our friends on wall street and in the major lending institutions over the past 8 years. Heck, I worked in that realm and watched good people make bad decisions based on return on capital, return on investment, etc.etc.

At some point, the market has to look at themselves in the mirror and start asking tough questions, such as, when is enough profit, enough?

But then again, this all goes back to a more fundamental conversation about instant gratification in our country. And alas, I'm way off topic now.

I'll start trying to stay up with your blog when I can. It looks like moderates could use a little voice here. :)

Andy D said...

I hope you do keep up. I always encourage moderates, liberals, and conservatives to weigh in here.

I am not sure I think political debate has reached an all time low. I would really have to think about that. For example, things were obviously much worse in the winter of 1860 as states started seceding from the Union.

I agree we need some health care / insurance reform. I am not sure it needs to be a top priority right this minute when the majority of Americans are satisfied with their health care. On the other hand, if we are going to have the debate, let's have the debate. Where is the tort reform discussion? Where is the discussion to allow companies to sell insurance across state lines? I think there is a very wide ranging discussion that should be happening here.

I also start to worry when we want to limit or remove profit from private companies. If these companies can't make a profit, why would they provide the insurance?

As you say, this is a wide ranging discussion. But keep coming back and we will have it over a number of posts.

Patrick said...

Seattle Dave-

You have another moderate here with you. Andy keeps trying to convince me that I'm conservative at heart, but I know better.

Andy D said...

I think you are a conservative and just won't admit it. It's ok, one day you will feel comfortable enough with yourself to live out in the open.