Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Okok -- since there's so much happening today, with the Gang of Six trying to "wrap up" their negotiations before the President gives his speech, the President giving his speech, libertarians self-destructing off in their no-government vacuum and the House of Representatives fighting the good fight etc. etc. etc., I decided I'm going to just keep updating this one entry, and then do a separate one tonight about the big address. All times are Los Angeles Standard -- so one hour here counts as one half hour in the Midwest, where folks are still hard-working, and fifteen minutes on the East Coast, where they have real public transportation and it makes everyone vastly more efficient. No matter where you are, today's a good day to make some noise by calling your senators or representative through HCAN. Even those that support the public option would probably appreciate an attaboy or a yougogirl.

9:44 AM: lots of unfounded speculation. Obama to Endorse Public Plan in Speech, according to "aides familiar with speech preparations". More interestingly, in the same article, Baucus is still meeting with the Gang of Six, setting deadlines and such, but any progress he could claim and any further draft proposals he could come out with at this point will be swamped by the President's speech. It's past the 10AM deadline he's set for 'feedback', but I doubt there will be more news on that front until tomorrow. I mean, the insurance industries aren't paying him to pass significant reform, after all. He's mainly a song-and-dance man.

Also, here's a Gallup poll on whether or not people want their representatives to vote for reform -- the country seems about evenly split, with about 1 in 4 undecided, the same proportions that we had before August. Of course, this poll falls into the trap that pointed out -- that nobody really knows what 'reform' means, and that support increases when you outline specific public option proposals.

Among those who are a bit more up-to-date on the debate, the American Medical Association has come out strongly for a list of sweeping reforms, but not the public option; the Times says that means that the "group has evidently concluded no powerful public plan will end up in the final bill."

12:04 PM: I was wrong wrong wrong -- Baucus came out in a big banner headline saying the "Time Has Come" for reform -- except that the time in his opinion is September 21, almost two weeks from now, and the reform is still the chintzy, industry-face-slurping, no-Republican-support crap he was peddling yesterday. After all that huddling and meeting and ganging and other backroom gunk, his basic conclusion is that "If there are not any Republicans on board, I will move forward in any event." Thank you, sir, for wasting a month of national time in undertaking negotiations that have failed entirely. I'm committed to this issue, and I think debate is necessary to pass a good bill, but there are some wars on, and we do have better things to do than wait around while you screw up in slow motion.

I'm starting to worry that the combination of Waterloo-wanting partisan politics and cheaply purchased Democrats are a voting bloc that is simply too big for a strong public option to surmount. Makes my stomach hurt. There's a woman who works at the Super Donut across the street from me with a lesion on her face, and it's kind of a Southeast Asian family-run place and I know nobody there has health insurance, or frankly the skills or experience to negotiate with for-profit insurers.

1:32 PM: Oh, wait, no public option endorsement: "Obama Will Stress 'Security,' Not 'Public Option' in Speech" according to a "senior administration official". So if you put the headlines next to each other and squint, today's breaking news is that "Newspapers Have No Idea What's Gonna Happen". Also, Sarah Palin had an editorial in today's WSJ. Her take is that common sense dictates that government-run health insurance, practiced by every industrialized nation in the world save the United States, will be an expensive failure. I just got curious as to what she meant by "common sense", looked it up in my household's two-volume Shorter OED, and what do you know? Big picture of Sarah Palin under the entry for "common sense".

6:11 PM: The egg-shaped surgeon from Louisiana just finished stumbling through his response. For me, the most surprising moment was when the President said that "I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it." and half the Republican party stood up and clapped, and half of them kind of looked around nervously. On a second view, the Senate Democrats (and those who caucus with them, coughcoughLiebermancough) who I consider obstacles to reform jumped up without thinking.

More on the speech later.

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