Monday, January 25, 2010

Did Lies Change Health Care Reform Debate?

That's the question many are in a rush to answer in the wake of the Democrats losing their 60th seat in the US Senate. It's not that the public doesn't want this reform, the reasoning goes, it's that Republicans lied about reform and those lies are what turned the tide.

In light of this, let's review the history of the health care reform debate, and take a look at the lies it produced.

-There are 46 million uninsured Americans
-Democrats only want a public option, not a single payer. And the public option won't ever lead to a single payer system
-You will get to keep your current insurance if you want it even after the reform is passed
-We have a free market health care system in the US, and that is what is to blame for rising costs
-Preventive care drastically reduces total health care costs
-There are no sweetheart deals with the drug company lobbyists
-It will only cost a trillion dollars
-All the deal making would be shown on C-Span
-There would be no tax on so-called "Cadillac Plans"

Democrats lost the health care reform debate for two reasons: 1) Their ideas don't work 2) They lied about their ideas not working

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Was the Supreme Court's Decision a Victory for Free Speech, Or Did It Do Damage?

I'm not sold either way just yet. Though I lean towards thinking that if the government had less influence over the economy, then business would have less interest in wasting money trying to buy off government.

But here's a few quotes from Fox News that I'd like feedback on:
On Thursday, the Court overruled that earlier case and also part of a 2003 case involving BCRA, finding the earlier anti-distortion rationale to be “unconvincing and insufficient” to justify government censorship of political speech. Instead, the Court noted that ordinary people often need to pool their money into an organization they support, to use those pooled funds to get their message out about the issues they care about when elections are approaching. Rather than drown out the little guy, this option allows groups, be they Citizens United, the National Rifle Association, or the Family Research Council, to be a megaphone for the little guy, informing the voters of what’s at stake.
If this argument holds water, then the Court's decision would be seen as a victory for free speech, no?

Here's another:
Suppose that a company or a union can't take out radio or television ads supporting a candidate. It still has other options: It can produce a critical movie, such as "Hillary: The Movie," or publish a critical book. Authors making the rounds of radio and television shows during their book tours can help provide information that supports one candidate over another.

Indeed, when President Obama's Deputy Solicitor General, Malcolm Stewart, first argued the case "Hillary: The Movie" before the Supreme Court last March, Justice Samuel Alito asked him if the government could prohibit companies from publishing books. Stewart said that was indeed possible. "That's pretty incredible," Alito responded, and then he pointed out that most book publishers are corporations.

"If [the book] has one name, one use of a candidate’s name, it could be covered?” Chief Justice John Roberts then asked. And Stewart replied: “That’s correct.” “It’s a 500-page book, and at the end it says, so vote for X. The government could ban that?” Roberts asked. Again, Stewart said yes.
This makes it sound as though it's just another attempt to get rid of the Glenn Becks and Ann Coulters of the publishing world, who also just so happen to dominate the best seller lists. But perhaps more sinister is the realization that the law gives the government considerable power in determining what is "proper" political speech. And that's not something that either the Left or Right should be approving of.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Move On Tells Us the Magnitude of Scott Brown's Win

In the aftermath of Scott Brown beating Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race, pundits, both of the professional and the in-your-parent's-basement type, have been playing tug of war over what the election really means. Reading all these pundits simply shows that hindsight in this case seems to muddy rather than clear the waters. For that reason I went back to the archives and found this breathless email from, sent on January 8th, 11 days before the election, titled,
"Urgent: A Republican in Ted Kennedy's seat?"
Horror of all horrors! They said a Coakley loss would be "devastating", and that "health care could die, and the Republicans could block pretty much anything they want."

In order to avoid such a catastrophic outcome, Moveon invoked "progressive hero" Ted Kennedy's name seven times in the email. They quoted Kennedy's widow Vicki, who said, "My husband fought for healthcare reform for more than 40 years. Martha Coakley shares those critical beliefs."

Clearly Moveon saw this election as a referendum on health care. Clearly they thought that Massachusetts voters wouldn't dream of replacing a progressive health care reform icon with the very vote that could end the momentum of what is the closest the country has been to progressive reform in decades. Clearly, they were wrong.