Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

It was just last spring that America began hearing about the allegedly "grass-roots" Tea Party movement, which seemed like a joke at the time. Here’s what I posted in April 2009:

“Say what you will, this idea is such a pleasant diversion from screaming and hate mongering that I think we ought to encourage it and play along. . . . I propose that we Democrats reciprocate by giving conservative members of Congress a good “grounding” (as in the expression, “grounded in reality”). We could send coffee grounds to some of those who really need to wake up and smell the coffee!”

Now that we've witnessed ignorant and angry adherents of the Tea Party movement shouting racial and homophobic epithets at their duly elected representatives—not to mention deliberately disrupting the political process and threatening violence—it's not so funny anymore.

The increasing polarization of America—as evidenced by the sometimes ludicrous lies and shenanigans the Republicans used to try to defeat health reform—is no longer humorous. The rational among us seem to be at a loss as to how to stop it. Thus, I was intrigued by some constructive, down-to-earth solutions offered by Thomas L. Friedman in yesterday’s op-ed. Read it here.


Idna said...

Yes, there is more polarization in America than ever. Not surprising. We have the most polarizing president in history. Along with his Chicago thugs and Nancy Pelosi, they bought, bribed or bullied their way to a bare majority.The pathetic way they shoved his bill down the throats of Americans, 70% of whom were against their giant government takeover ponzi scheme, is bound to make decent citizens just a tad upset.

Citizen Jane said...

Hello, Idna,

Actually, the most recent Gallup Poll indicates that 49% of Americans like the health reform bill, while 50% are opposed to it--an amazingly good average at this point, considering that people have not yet begun to experience its many benefits. When individual components of the bill are polled separately, there tends to be overwhelming support for them.

Given the relentless barrage of lies, innuendos, and obstacles to change the Republicans have spewed out over the past year, it's heartening that so many people have managed not to be sucked in.

Idna said...

Hi Jane,
I looked at the mediamatters link that you provided. Media matters, whose stated mission is "to assist the larger progressive community in creating and disseminating progressive information and views." So I must take the information they put out with a grain of salt.

They use as their source, the well known, fair and balanced, Huffington Post to prove that "Three Out Of Four Physicians Nationwide Support Inclusion Of A Public Option."

Also, the article was way out of date, Sept. 2009 ... way before the current Obamacare Bill was even on the scene.

I will agree that 50% of the population are opposed to Obamacare. But you can't say that 49% like it. Real Clear Politics has a list of the major current polls. They show 50.4% against and 39.7% for. The remaining 10% must be clueless or just don't care. Here's a link: RCP Polling Data.

But why get bogged down with poll numbers? ... here's an up-to-date article discussing what the actual effect of Obamacare are starting to look like, ObamaCare Day One :Companies are already warning about higher health-care costs.

Citizen Jane said...

As a matter of fact, Media Matters calls out liars and manipulators of truth wherever they may be--on the right, left, and in between. There just happen to be a lot more of them lately on the right. (BTW, is "progressive" now a dirty word?)

It's interesting that you chose to ignore the Gallup Poll data I mentioned in favor of the allegedly bipartisan but very conservative-leaning RCP. Either way, you concede that no more than half the country dislikes the fact that health reform is now the law of the land.

Once people know how good it feels not to be afraid any more--afraid of getting sick, losing coverage, or having their premiums suddenly go through the roof--Americans will realize the extent of the lies and manipulation they've been subjected to by the General Opposition Party (GOP).

Idna said...

I did not ignore Gallup in favor of RCP. Gallup is included in the dozen or so major polls that RCP tracks. Seems to me to be much more reliable and complete information than just one poll.

Your last paragraph tells it all. "Once people know how good it feels not to be afraid any more ... " To me that's what this whole conflict is about. It's emotion versus an analysis of the situation with responsible solutions.

Most of the arguments from the democrats were based on emotional sob stories, while the Republicans questioned how this was going to work, how it was going to be paid for, how it was going to affect individuals, businesses and the economy. How is the emotional approach better than a logical analysis using information from past failed government run programs like Social Security, for example? (Headline today: Social Security will pay more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in this fiscal year, six years earlier than expected, the Congressional Budget Office reported.)Yes, THAT CBO which says we will SAVE money by imposing this new federal bureaucratic monstrosity.

Or let's take the example of Medicare. At its start, in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost only about $ 12 billion by 1990 (allowing for inflation). But in 1990 Medicare actually cost $107 billion. That's some great accounting!

Or look at the failures of the health care program in Massachusettes. Or the miserable shape European countries are in with their welfare systems.

Everyone agrees that improvements should be made. And the GOP put forth many good and responsible ideas ... which the dems totally ignored.

I guess emotional ideology wins every time if you can twist enough arms, bully and buy off enough politicians with bribes.

Citizen Jane said...

The Dems didn't ignore Republican ideas. The bill is full of them--ideas once proposed and supported by Republican leaders, until Obama embraced them. Here's a chart comparing the bill just passed and the 1993 Republican proposal:

As for the "failed" health care programs in Massachusetts and in European countries, citizens of those places would be amazed to learn they're in "miserable shape." Europeans have marveled for many years about how we can be so short-sighted and antiquated in terms of the lousy system we've had for so long (including the decade of Republican rule that included the Bush II administration). Our friends in France rejoice that we've finally moved into the 20th (not the 21st) Century:,8599,1974424,00.html.

Idna said...

Are we really trying to be like France? I thought people came to America because they want to get away from Europe.

But lets take a look at the wonderful French welfare state.
- Tax rates in France are different and generally higher than most other countries.
- Here's a sample:
•TVA (Value added tax - sales tax 19.6%)
•Taxe Foncières, Taxe d'habitation (Property tax and habitation tax)
•Income tax (up to 48%)
•Capital gains tax
•Social taxes (Social security, health care, etc.)
•Inheritance tax
•Gift tax
•Solidarity tax on wealth
•Corporate and Business taxes
•Assorted other taxes

-CSG (contribution sociale généralisée) is a tax which is specifically used to fund certain social security and health care costs. For most income and capital gains, it is set at 7.5%.

As the French social security system is in debt, another social tax was created to repay this dept. This tax is set at 0.5% and is known as CDRS (Contribution pour le Remboursement de la Dette Sociale).

France's taxation as % of GDP is 45.3% (5th highest in the world) In comparison, it's 29.6% in the U.S.

So by all means let's aspire to become France.

BTW -- Fidel Castro also applauds US health-care government takeover. But all is not perfect in the great People's Paradise of Cuba.

Cuba provides free health care and education to all its citizens, and heavily subsidizes food, housing, utilities and transportation ... The government has warned that some of those benefits are no longer sustainable given Cuba's ever-struggling economy, though it has so far not made major changes.

In recent speeches, Raul Castro has singled out medicine as an area where the government needs to be spending less. (I wonder if Michael Moore heard about this.)

Well you may want to embrace the French and Cuban way of life, Jane, but count me out.

Six said...

Who cares if France approves of soemthing we do? How about Hugo Chavez... who (along with Sharpton) celebrated our giant step towards a fully socialist government? I fail to how relevant it is that France is happy with us about something, although it does cause me to take a pause when Chavez does...

Six said...

On an mostly unrelated note, what do you think about California putting on the ballot the decriminalization of pot?

An interesting little twist is the 10th ammendment. Assuming the pot legalization passes (as it is polling to do so), California will likely argue with the Feds that on the grounds of the 10th Ammendment (The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.), the Feds do not have the power under the constitution to enfore thier law because California's law would trump it. A position Obama has indicated he respects in his call to not enforce Fed drug laws on Med MJ so long as people comply with the state law. Like most liberty/constitutionally minded people, I tend to value the 10th Ammendment and believe that Obama's attitude on that subject is proper - and over the last century or so this has sadly been an ignored item in the Bill of Rights.

HOWEVER, the interesting twist of the result of that argument is that what happens if a state passes a exempting thier citizenery against the Healthcare clause requiring the mandatory purchase of health insurance from a private company (which is on shaky legal ground itself). If CA was to go to the Supreme Court and have a ruling on the grounds of the 10th ammendment in thier favor on pot legalization, it really could cause unintended precident regarding healthcare reform... so odd that Republicans (main opposition to any form of pot legalization) then may be put in the position of arguing against the 10th ammendments powers on one subject, then for it on anther... same with Democrats just reverse on the issue...

Citizen Jane said...

Idna, I;ve spent many hours discussing health care with the French, both here and abroad. I have yet to talk with one who wasn't very pleased with their system--although many an American conservative have told me how awful it is. (I spent a day in Geneva a few years ago with a nurse practitioner who had been born in Canada and practiced for many years in France. All she wanted to talk about was the ridiculous health care problem in America, which she referred to repeatedly as "barbaric.")

As for Cuba, I wouldn't know. But unlike the U.S. and France, it does not have a democratic government that is (at least allegedly) of, by, and for the people.

Citizen Jane said...

Six, I must confess that you've touched on a topic about which I have no opinion--or perhaps a bundle of conflicting opinions. I can see moral and financial advantages to legalization of pot. Yet with all the havoc caused by alcohol, I'm not sure we want to unleash another intoxicant on the country. (Then again, lots of people use it anyway, and deregulation of the weed doesn't seem to be regarded as a problem in Scandinavia.)

You raise a very interesting legal question regarding states' vs. federal rights. I guess my attitude is that if the idea seems to be catching on beyond California, I'll study up on it.

Ace Bailey said...

This health care bill mirrors much of Mass' Romneycare. Even conservative think tanks approved of much of what is in the bill (see the AEI/David Frum split, and read Bruce Bartlett's comments).

As far as polls, our gov't doesn't allow for referendums. But if the right insists on trumpeting them, then we must look at the CNN poll saying the over 50% either approved of the bill or thought it wasn't liberal enough.

Idna said...

Ace, polls are funny things. Don't you wonder about the questions that are being asked? I looked up the most recent CNN poll that I assume you are referencing (March19-21.)

Opinion about the legislation:
Favor 39%
Oppose 59%
No opinion 2%

Oppose, too liberal 43%
Oppose, not liberal enough 13%

Here are some of the other questions:
From what you know of that legislation, do you think the amount you pay for medical care would increase, decrease, or remain the same if it becomes law?
Increase 62%
Decrease 16%
Remain the same 21%
No opinion 1%

From what you know of that legislation, do you think you and your family would, in general, be
better off, worse off or about the same if it becomes law?

Better off 19%
Worse off 47%
About the same 33%

From what you know of that legislation, do you think the federal budget deficit will go up, go down,or stay the same if it becomes law?
Go up 70%
Go down 12%
Stay the same 17%
No opinion 1%

So people believe that medical care will cost them more, their families will be worse off and the federal deficit will go up. Hell of a piece of legislation, don't you think? I thought this whole charade was because HC was too expensive and wonderful Obamacare would SAVE all kinds of money. People aren't buying it.

No wonder Barack is now in major campaign mode, racing around the country trying to sell this pile to the electorate.

Ace Bailey said...

I wasn't commenting on the other points in the poll--just wanted to point out that over 50% either approve of the bill, or think it's not liberal enough.

Another recent Gallup Poll, taken after the bill passed, showed that more Americans said the bill was a "good thing" than those who said it was a "bad thing". Apparently despite potential costs and other things you mentioned.

Sue said...

I thought some of you liberal and conservative readers might get a kick out of this that someone sent me over the weekend. I don't necessarily agree completely, but it does provide food for thought:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative reads this, he'll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he's "offended".

Idna said...

Sue, I LOVE it!!! And so true. I'm going to email it to all my friends right now.

Ace Bailey said...

Sue, that sure is funny. It's a good guide to what conservatives think of liberals.