Health Care by the Numbers: What’s In It for You?

By Al Giordano

When it comes to the blogosphere debates over the health care bill, what is really at the core of the often bitter shouting match between the bill supporters and the bill killers on the left side of the Internets?

As this recent polling memo by the Mellman Group to Democratic US Senators demonstrates, it is a battle for the hearts and minds of a relatively small pocket of public opinion: the twelve percent of Americans who want national health care but believe the current bill “doesn’t go far enough.”

It is also a battle over who can lay claim to representing this constituency, which the bill killers mistakenly call "the base" (and therein lies their first tactical blunder: this twelve percent is not a monolithic bloc, many don’t consider themselves represented by anyone, and many don’t easily rally behind any aspiring leader).

The bill killers are essentially the 2009 version of the 2008 PUMAs, that whacky species of supporters of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign who, once Barack Obama won the nomination, shouted “Party Unity, My Ass,” and engaged in a summer-fall effort to convince Democratic Clinton voters to stay home in November or vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. They of course failed miserably, as the exit polls and hard results demonstrated on election night. Then, as now, both groups deny there is a racial component to their attack. Others of us can spot it a mile away. But there ain’t much use arguing about that because you either see it or you don’t.

Since everybody agrees that Senators and House members worship at the altar of the public opinion poll, the bill killers' gambit has been to convince that specific and relatively small twelve percent of the population to tell pollsters, on a yes or no question, that they “oppose” the health care bill, even though they support progressive national health care policies. Specific progressive policy proposals in the current bill poll much better on the merits:

Why aren’t progressive Democratic Senators, looking at the parade of public opinion polls citing supposed public opposition to the health care reform bill bolting from their support of it? It’s because they and their political consultants understand how to read beyond the over-simplified media coverage of polls. They may worship at the altar of polling, but they do know their god very well.

The more important number to them is what the polling will show next November and in even-numbered Novembers beyond, after the health care bill has become law and begins, step by step, to take effect over the next four years. Starting sometime in January the bill killers – like the PUMAs before them – will drift back into irrelevancy. The bill – like the 2008 election – will have already won the day, they will have lost, and public opinion will follow its self-interest more closely. And a great mass of that twelve percent of the population that might be called progressives against the bill will begin to weigh their opinions based on the actual merits of what the new law provides them. In sum, the question will become for most Americans: What’s in it for me?

Nate Silver, earlier this month, produced this bar graph, showing that the cost of health insurance to the average family of four earning $54,000 a year will be significantly lower once the bill takes effect:

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic went on to make a wider graph, demonstrating how much less expensive health insurance will become for five different income ranges. If you’re middle class earning, say, $80,000 a year, you pay less. And the poorer you are under that annual income number, you pay far less, indicating the truly progressive nature of what this bill accomplishes:

There has been considerable (and business-as-usual) “concern trolling” from bill killers and it goes like this: “We’re worried about the political impact on President Obama and Democratic legislators because the insurance subsidies don’t take full effect until 2014.” US Senator Paul Kirk, who fills Ted Kennedy’s seat in Washington, explained the other day, however, those aspects of this bill that will take effect immediately, most bringing significant immediate benefit to the people:

“…with all due respect to my friend Chairman Dean, he is just plain wrong. He states that few Americans will see any benefit under this bill until 2014. In fact, as early as 2010 the Senate bill will do the following:

"Establish a high-risk pool that will give uninsured Americans with a pre-existing condition access to coverage;

"Prohibit insurance companies from dropping coverage for Americans because they get sick;

"Prohibit the imposition of lifetime limits on coverage;

"Require insurance companies to report the percentage of premium revenues that they spend on medical benefits for their enrollees, and force them to rebate any excessive costs or profits;

"Require insurance companies to provide free preventive services;

"Require insurance companies to cover dependents up to age 26;

"Provide a discount on drug costs to seniors who fall into the Medicare Part D doughnut hole.

"Provide a tax credit to small businesses that provide health insurance for their employees.

"In these and other ways, the Senate bill is immediate and real reform."

And although the full subsidies will wait another four years to fully kick in, with the debate about whether to pass the bill or not soon-to-be-moot, more careful attention will be given in the media and by everyday citizens to the “what’s in it for me?” concerns. Charts like this one, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, will become more prominently displayed in the media and more interesting to the average citizen than the heated media circus over crossfires between political personalities:

The generous benefits down the line then become so close that the average citizen will be able to taste it. He and she will find out just how much less health insurance is going to cost them (and for most people, that really is a much, much bigger deal than to whom - the public or private sector - they will be paying their hard earned money).

People will also discover that those who have used the bill’s “non mandatory mandate” provision to scream “the bill will FORCE you” to do anything were grossly distorting and manipulating the facts to provoke fear and make a false portrayal. The "mandate" is this year's version of George W. Bush's "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. History will turn against its modern-day Judith Millers, as before.

And the fifteen minutes of fame that some of the bill killers enjoy today will become as extinct as the dodo or the PUMA, with considerable resentment about how they’ve behaved as what one commenter here called "footstompy douchebags" during this chapter in political history.

Once this bill passes – and this will be the most upsetting part of all for the bill killers, revealing the ulterior motives of many them – the President’s popularity numbers, and those of his party, will rise precisely at the start of the 2010 political season leading up to November midterm Congressional elections.

Their candidates will have all kinds of new and extra health care goodies (no ban on preexisting conditions, free preventive services, expanded coverage for young dependents, discounts on drugs for seniors, tax credits to small businesses, etcetera) to hand out to rank-and-file voters and campaign on.

(Republicans, in their opposition to the bill, are apparently much more conscious of this factor: they know that the Democrats will use the goodie-bag against them to win votes. That's why they don't buy the "concern trolling" either. If they did, they wouldn't be trying so hard to obstruct the bill, to the unsightly extreme of wishing aloud that Senator Byrd would croak before the roll call.)

The sky will not have fallen, but, to the contrary, if the sky is defined by popularity, it will rise markedly for the proponents of the bill. (And in early 2010, you'll actually have a yardstick by which to measure which side of this seemingly - but not really - internecine fight was right, and which was wrong, wrong, wrong all along.)

That’s why the progressive Democratic Senators and House members haven’t imbibed from the bill killer Kool Aid vat. They know politics. That’s how they got there. And they know how this is going to play out two, three and four steps ahead.

And the bill killers, like the PUMAs before them (and some, indeed, are the very same footstompers, I don't even need to mention names), will grit their teeth, their resentment simmering once again, and will go hunting for the next “issue” opportunity to vent their intense personal hatred for the president and to make future public claims for representing “the base,” which they evidently do not represent, and never will.



This chart is so awesome

that I am reproducing it again:

It is hard to take seriously anybody who claims to be progressive but does not want to see this come into being.


Can anyone provide a link to costs for single people w/o families? Every breakdown I see is based on the 4-person household.


@ Erik

Erik - I've been looking for the same kind of info. All I've found so far is that a single individual making $88,000 plus change or less (400 percent over the poverty line) will have his and her insurance subsidized by the government. As for how exactly those numbers play out, I've yet to see any charts or graphs.

But that's part of my point: Once the bill passes, that will become the big question on every person's lips: "How might this help ME?" And the media will be competing with itself to deliver that information fastest.

It's telling how little of that has been done already because the media (including bloggers) are more focused on the personalities, symbolism and politics of it all than they are on the actual merits. Another reason, really, to get this bill passed: so the focus can turn to what is really more important.

Atomic Concern Trolling

A bit of fun from TPMMuckraker, "Hail Mary: Racist E-Mail Doc Reaches Out To Liberal Critics, Quoting Dean, Greenwald, Ed Schultz":


The subsidies are for people between 133% and 400% of Federal Poverty Level. You can find the current numbers for the Federal Poverty level here. For a single person, FPL is $10,830 so subsidies would cover you if you make between $14,404 and $43,320.

If you make less than 133% FPL, you would receive Medicaid instead.

The 400% FPL is pretty generous! I make more than that, but not by a lot. For a family of four like I had growing up, 400% FPL is nearly $90,000! My dad is an engineer and we were always comfortably middle class but under this bill we would have received subsidies if my dad did not get a great health plan through his employer.

Great Post

Thanks for collecting some very informative graphics in one place.  You can be a bit -vitriolic- sometimes, Al, but you do know your shit :-P


We may have to rename them POMAs for their strong dislike of our black President.  POMAs true thoughts to themselves: "President Obama my ass".

Preach It, Brother Al!

I read a comment somewhere recently (, maybe?) by someone lamenting how President Obama had lost his mojo since taking office.


The man's on the verge of having health care reform passed on his watch!





I think some people have really naive fantasies about how politics works.  They seem to genuinely have regarded the President as a messiah who could wave his hands and magically usher in utopia.

I still think there's a good possibility that history will regard him as FDR 2.0.  But these guys can't see the forest for all the trees.

Time for Americans to put down their bottles of high-fructose corn syrup swill, and get some fresh air and exercise.  Maybe that would clear their heads enough that they can think straight again.

Not like that's going to happen though...

Call them "Manic-Progressives"

Its a term we coined over at John Cole's Balloonjuice blog.

Good to have you weighing in on the health care debate, Al.

Fun stuff

It's fun to have you back posting often, Al.

But I must reluctantly disagree with this part:

"And the fifteen minutes of fame that some of the bill killers enjoy today will become as extinct as the dodo or the PUMA, with considerable resentment about how they’ve behaved as what one commenter here called "footstompy douchebags" during this chapter in political history."

My view is that these people will not be taken to task for poor prognostications, just like no one remembers the bad predictions made by sports experts each pre-season.  Their fame will live on, no matter how undeserved.

"The bill killers are

"The bill killers are essentially the 2009 version of the 2008 PUMAs".

I don't think so. The PUMAs pretty clearly distinguished themselves from everybody else, and there certainly was a racial component to their rhetoric. If the "bill killers", as you call them had these feelings, they would have been more than evident during the campaign.

"They of course failed miserably, as the exit polls and hard results demonstrated on election night. Then, as now, both groups deny there is a racial component to their attack. Others of us can spot it a mile away. But there ain’t much use arguing about that because you either see it or you don’t."

You know what? I think there <i>is</i> reason to argue about that, because it's slander. I'm black, I've been black for what is getting to be quite a while now, and I don't see it. In fact, I've been struck by the <i>lack</i> of them using black people as political footballs/fig leaves/pawns in this little dustup. You, on the other hand... As I said in a comment on Jack and Jill Politics, I think you need to leave us out of this, because it absolutely stinks of offensive, insulting paternalism. It's not a matter of "either you see it, or you don't." It's a matter of "Either you're willing to use black people as political pawns for your own ends, or you're not", and it's obvious that you're more than willing. It's disgusting.

While I Have Private Insurance

What I like is the safety net aspect of this whole bill. I would, at the current income I have, fall under either the subsidy or Medicaid caps. The fact that I would be covered either way is a reassurance-and if my medical bills got really high, the Feds would hep me, is so important. This may help the economy in a way nobody is talking about: a lot of people want to retire, but have to hold out until age 65 because of insurance issues. If people between 60-65 have real medical coverage regardless of employer, some people may just take half-time to cover other bills, or early retirement if they can afford to do so otherwise. This should open up a few jobs. There is also the backlog of things not done because people can't afford to do them-that's work for medical personnel. As for the shortage, once the work increases, I bet a lot of retired doctors come back in at least part-time. Somebody has to do it, so they will find it quite lucrative to at least do Primary Care work. While I'm not counting my chickens, it looks like the bird is just about done and ready to serve.

Another useful graphic representation

can be found at The Wonk Room.  Thanks for this, Al.

Stealth move on PO?

Al and others - how possible do you think a stealth move to attach a 50+ no-strings-attached Medicare buy-in amendment from the floor to the next budget would work (thereby being able to sidestep a filibuster)?  I've been of the opinion that this might be the best way to get a foot in the door for single payer without threatening the passage of exchanges and the like that can't be passed via reconciliation.

I know it'd require Reid to okay it, but I could see someone like Rockefeller being able to pull it off if he wanted to.

Making the bill better

Thank you.

Assuming this bill passes, I'll be mandated to buy insurance at something approaching full market cost (or have the penalty taken out of my taxes). I'll need to budget this in while spending around half of my income on doctor-prescribed remedies, which the insurance companies consider 'experimental' or 'non-legitimate' and refuse to pay for, and which the government doesn't consider as a legitimate expesnse for the purposes of determining out-of-pocket medical costs.

I recognize I'm an outlier, and that my situation is not typical. That being said ... there are a lot more people in my situation than is typically acknowledged.

But my intent isn't to kvetch, I'm trying to look at this from a policy perspective.

So how do we get this Federally-mandated insurance to pay for beneficial things like alternative medicine, community-based health care, dietary supplements, and other sorts of other things that fall outside of the medical-industrial complex?


@ Erik Alternative Med. Industry has to change too

I too look forward to what Al has to say in response to your second post. However, I think that the Alternative Medicine industry will also have to agree to be regulated by the FDA and other regulatory agencies. Whatever their merits, they have fought off regulation for a long time. But this is ultimately an issue of everyone having skin in the game. And I can see there will be fights with the medical industrial complex, but Alternative medicine will have to expose itself to full sunshine. How those rules and criteria for judging the efficacy of Alternative whould be crafted, will be another debate altogether.

Just my $0.02

About This Graph and Poutrage

Is that the medical risk stays less than $10,000 for most of the pool. The subsidy will control out of pocket expenses hugely.  Without reform, the risk for everybody-regardless of income is $22, 500 at least. For someone making 90 K, that's a quarter of their income-affordable, but with strain.  For someone making 40k or less, that's half the annual income just for medical care-and when you lose half your income, it severely impacts the ability to pay other bills. Not to mention the other additional expenses incurred by an expensive illness like special foods, home health care, transportation and the like that aren't covered by insurance. No wonder medical bankruptcy is the largest category of bankruptcy!

Information for the poutraged: For those who are talking about how Obama could just ram something through if he were more like Lyndon Johnson, some numbers to contrast:

1964 Congress Senate 63-37 Democrat, 255-176 Democrat

1966 Congress: Senate 68-32 Democrat, 295-140 Democrat.

Three or eight more people really do matter, folks.  LBJ could afford a few defections with these numbers, letting more conservative or threatened Senators and Congresspeople off the hook on liberal matters that were dicey in their districts. If we had the 1964 numbers, or even better the 1966 numbers, the Health Care Bill would already be on Obama's desk to be signed Christmas Eve.

Contrast our numbers today: 58 D, 2 Independents, 40 Republican, 257-178 D.

Notice the numbers. Obama has 1964 numbers in the House, that enables him to easily pass one significant hurdle, but no margin for error in the Senate. It's a good thing that Obama has the skills he has to persuade, charm, and otherwise bring Senators together like he does. If he listened to the poutraged, health care would have died because someone would be so outraged that they opposed everything.

re: "footstompy douchebags"

May I suggest another term?

My kids have a toy called a stomp rocket.  I'm sure many of you have seen them.  Plastic hose, with a large, plastic pad on one end.  Slide a nerf rocket over the open end, stomp on the pad, produce a burst of air and the rocket rises quickly -- only to fall to earth a couple of seconds later.

I've had the term "stomp rocket populist" in my head for a while, because I see a lot of short-term stomping and screaming passing for activism, while Al has long pointed out that organizing is what produces long-term results.

Obama is trying to launch a political Saturn V.  A fleet of them actually.  Those big rockets rose at very slow speed, but steadily gained momentum.  They could push large payloads to the moon.

Health care for 30 million is a political moonshot.  "Kill the bill?"  Looks like a political stomp rocket to me.

WaPo Article

@ Al Girodano- Have you read this article in the Washington Post? I think this will be taken out of proportion.

This quote in particular is being beaten down by the Netroots:

Obama said the public option “has become a source of ideological contention between the left and right.” But, he added, “I didn’t campaign on the public option.”


So of course, this is not a continuous quote within the article and until I hear that come out of his mouth, I am not going to believe it. But I know for a fact that people will now confirmed that this is proof of him being a "sellout".


Waiting for more freakout!


@ Plantsmantx

Plantsmantx - You write, "you need to leave us out of this." Nope. You don't get to tell me what to say or not (and the same is true vice versa). Amazing how you jump to a (wrong) conclusion about what I meant by the "racial component." I'll tell you what I meant because I said it aloud in a recent posting before this one: When these self-appointed leaders of "the base" or "the progressive movement" think and talk about who that alleged base is made of, they're talking about college educated white folks.

One of the racial components - true regarding their willful not counting of Mexican Americans and African Americans, among others as part of "the base" they refer to - is that not passing this bill will disproportionately harm African Americans (19 percent of which don't have health insurance) and Hispanic Americans (30 percent of whom don't have health insurance). Whereas only 5 percent of college educated whites are in the same boat.

It is their willful blindness to minority sectors in US society that very much does indicate the racial component to their schtick. And I'm entitled to point that out with or without asking your permission first.

Truth is, if I don't point it out, someone else can legitimately call me out on silence in the face of white liberal racism, which, I repeat, is not exclusive to African Americans but is especially pointed these days at the immigrants from the country where I currently reside South of the Border. Damn straight it's my right - and my duty - to speak my mind on it!

"Truth is, if I don't point

"Truth is, if I don't point it out, someone else can legitimately call me out on silence in the face of white liberal racism"

Again, whether I agree with everything they say or not (and I don't agree with all of it), what I see is them keeping race out of it- not saying "but the poor black people" in order to achieve their own ends, and I see you doing exactly that. What you're doing it not that far away from racist whites do when they pretend to have some real concern for some black people, solely for the sake of those black people. I think you (or mayby it was BooMan) mentioned something about them taking their stance for "feel-good" reasons. Actually, I think that's what you're doing with the "but what about the poor black people" rhetoric. It's not for us- it's for you.

"It is their willful blindness to minority sectors in US society that very much does indicate the racial component to their schtick."

"Willful blindness to minority sectors", huh? Interesting. As soon as I read that, the President's response to the CBC's call for attention to the especially bad unemployment situation in our particular "minority sector" came to mind. Does that indicate the "racial component" to his schtick?

"Damn straight it's my right - and my duty - to speak my mind on it!"

Well, I don't know if it's your duty, but you definitely have the right to speak your mind on it, just as I have the right to tell you to keep your paternalism away from us, and to say I think you're using black people to smear them as racists...for YOUR ends, not ours. Show me the racism. Theirs, I mean.


@ Plantsmantx (again)

Plantsmantx - You disagree with me. I disagree with you. I also disagree with your characterization of what I've written. How you read it is entirely up to your interpretation. I see no point in trying to convince you otherwise. It's like we're having two different arguments that don't even cross each other. If you think I'm being "paternalistic," that's not my problem.


If there was ever a post that needed to be cross-posted at DK...this would be it.

It could hopefully wake some people up, and totally explode the heads of others.  Fun!  Thanks again for some sensable commentary.

"I also disagree with your

"I also disagree with your characterization of what I've written."

I think my characterization is pretty accurate. You called them "liberal racists" without any proof. That's a smear, and a rather sleazy one at that. In fact, you're telling me that the lack of proof of their proves that they're racist. Hate to break it to you, but I'm not mistaking that for rain.

I'm think this thing is a giveaway to the insurance companies, but I'm not a "kill the biller", so I can't say I'm on their side. I basically see this as being between you and them, and I think I have enough distance to make some objective observations. Your side claims they are overly emotional (where have I heard that before?), and it's all about ego on their part, but I see it as being about emotionalism and ego on both sides. The thing is, you and many of the commenters I've seen here are considerably more emotional and egotistical than the "other side". You and your side has chosen to smear them as being like "PUMAs" including the racism, not to mention suggesting that some of them actually are PUMAs, and not just like them. Which ones? Name names. You and your side has chosen to not just imply, but say outright that their opposition to Obama's policies is based on them not being able to handle the reality of a black President. On the other hand, I haven't seen that from the other side, and if I had, you better believe that I would have made this same kind of comment at FDL, or wherever. But, I haven't had to do that, because their emotionalism and egoism hasn't caused them to pull the racism card for their own purposes, and try to act as if they're doing on behalf of black people. They aren't using black people  as pawns. You, on the other hand... 

@Plantsmantx: you don't OWN black perspectives


I know you from Jack and Jill and your position on issues. It is you who seems to have a narrow view of what constitutes minorities in this country. There are so many minority groups here in this country, including poor whites. No one here is being paternalistic to African Americans.

Al is simply pointing out the myopia of those who would sacrifice the dire needs of those who CURRENTLY do not have access to this country's healthcare bounty, just so they can draw ideological lines in the sand against corporatism. Did they just wake up to the corporatist stranglehold on the system, even as they themselves are complicit in extending its ubiquitous reach? The Hamshers et al have health insurance. Large numbers of minorities and poor whites do not. Those are facts.

Do we sacrifice the latter category just so the Jane-come-latelys can wage belated high decibel battles? And by the way activists who have long been in the trenches of seeking social justice have shifted away from these pouting tactics to more sophisticated strategies that don't lose sight of the real lives at stake?


Oh yeah, the freakout has long past started. Debates over whether he did or didn't support a public option, how it's so horrible that the Senate bill passed, etc. Huffington's treated the passage like a tragedy occured. You know the drill.

It's sad that it's become a crime to have a little hope in our country. I can understand why not after 8 years of Bush, but we need something, now more than ever. And I also heard about the provisions that Senator Sanders put into the Senate bill that would help Vermont. The bottom line is saving lives, and I don't give a damn what ways are done, as long as they are done.

What many people on Kos fail to realize that even though politics is bad business, it is our game for now and we have to play it to our advantage. President Lincoln knew that when he put together Enancipation and when he was planning Reconstruction before he was killed (Bear in mind that it was leaving many people in the North and in the Republican party very angry over letting the South up gently). And President Kennedy too had to deal with conservative Democrats from the South that were constant roadblocks to Civil Rights reform, among other things. That's why Kennedy didn't start pushing the Civil Rights Act until June 1963. It's tragic that it took his death to finally get it through.

In my time, I have never seen anyone with such political skill as Obama. He's prone to missteps like anyone else, yes, but I also think he knows how to recover better than anyone, and to get THIS close to health care reform, bring the country back from the brink of financial collapse, and demoralize the GOP to where they've been reduced to the likes of Glenn Beck, Michael Steele and Sarah Palin, it's quite a feat. It takes a lot to keep on the offensive at midterms, but I wouldn't start mourning a GOP victory yet.

And yes, I do disagree on Afghanistan, but I do take comfort in knowing that there's an adult running it this time. I highly doubt it'll ever become anything resembling the work of Bush. And, if you ask me, if Bin Laden IS still alive, and we finally get him, it would be the ultimate F*** You to Bush. More than any trial of Cheney or whatever. I just hope we can bring them home as soon as possible and not a minute more than needed.

The whining and the impulsive tantrums on Kos and various other outlets are seriously getting old, and it feels good to be here, but I also understand Al's got priorities in Honduras as well, so where else can I go to go for more constructive (and hopefully pragmatically optimistic) discussion and blogs? I need all the positive karma I can get!

Brilliant analogy from the Wonk Room

@Allan Brauer

Thank you for posting the link to Think Progress Wonk Room charts.  Al's right when he says these charts are going to soon take over the debate.  Looking at the raw dollar savings from the Congressional Budget Office for the family of 4 @ 250% of poverty level, $60,458 is stunning.  The annual savings is $12,545.  That's a cool $1,000 a month in increased disposable income.  No wonder the Republicans are upset.

But back to the analogy from the Wonk Room.

Fixing something that’s broken is better than not having anything to fix. Buying a fixer-up home is more appealing than remaining homeless for the next 10 to 20 years. In time, you’ll be able afford to change the tile in the bathroom or fix the leaky roof patch, but for the time being you’ll have a place to sleep, eat, and keep warm. A newer house would have caused less problems, but it — like the Senate health care bill — was simply out of reach.

You're having an argument with yourself, Plantsmantx

Plasmantx - There's no rational discussion possible with you. You have your own drumbeat and way of looking at things and seem to view it all through that lens. Now you want me to name names: I do think Jane Hamsher has particularly acute racism problems. I could name other names too, but that's not my point. Because guess what? Everybody does! (And not just white folk. I'd say you ought to look at your own as well.) As Zizi notes, you don't get to claim to speak for all black folk anymore than I get to claim to speak for all white folk. Neither of us was elected to do that. And I would never use the term "us" in speaking to you the way you try to lecture me. I've been around the block. An asshat like you often shows up to claim to speak for those that did not elect you. To me, whatever your ethnicity, race, creed, sexual orientation, age, gender or planet you come from, its your words that count, not your demographics. Your crap might work on some but I'm inoculated through years of experience.

You're running your own show, with you and only you as its audience, with your own personal axe to grind. And I bore easily with people who talk at me instead of demonstrating a capability to have a conversation rather than a shouting match. Again, I didn't ask for your permission, and obviously don't think I need it, to point out my opinion that there are racial components to the white college educated blogger opposition to the health bill. And it has nothing to do with what words they use or whether they're a stupid as PUMAs in not shielding their gut emotions.

And I'm not doing it for you. I don't even know you. And never had you in mind when I expressed these thoughts. So don't make it about you. It's not.

Whitey on the Moon


A rat done bit my sister Nell
with whitey on the moon
her face and arms began to swell
and whitey is on the moon
I can't pay no doctor bills
but whitey is on the moon
ten years from now I'll be payin' still
with whitey on the moon ya know?

Gil Scott-Heron


On the thorny issue of racism, there is something to be learned from the video below, in the event you haven't seen it.

With a sense of humor about a subject of retail appeal, it proves that failure to consider a thing can have the same effect as intentionally overlooking it. That's the nature of institutional racism -- which can be played out via a failure to consider a specific population in the development and marketing of a technology or in the consequences of the priorities we set as as society in general.

Might not that argument extend to the health care debate as well? Gil Scott-Heron seemed to think so.



And though funny, the HP effect is no joke: see link.


@Zizi- I am familiar with Plantmantx from JJP as well. This poster has a very myopic view of plenty of things, especially concerning Obama. I have notice that this poster tends to be a pessimist and seek out the negative in everything that President Obama does. This person does not have a genuine argument.


As always, he/she doesn't formulate a clear coherent thought and uses strawmen within their argument to defend their somewhat delusional views about politics and legislation. So today, he/she must have woke up on the wrong side of the bed, read from the 'How to be a Pseudo Black Militant for Dummies" and decided to test the new learning material on Al Giordano. I am surprised the aspirational hive or cult of personality meme didn't pop up in the convo. He/She definitely doesn't speak for my black behind.


@Jonathan- I agree with you and the funny part is, that if you read the whole contaxt of the article, he quote has been competely miscued by the wankers on ThinkProgress. Tired of the sheer f$%kery of it all.





"I'm black, I've been black for what is getting to be quite a while now, and I don't see it. In fact, I've been struck by the <i>lack</i> of them using black people as political footballs/fig leaves/pawns in this little dustup. You, on the other hand... As I said in a comment on Jack and Jill Politics, I think you need to leave us out of this, because it absolutely stinks of offensive, insulting paternalism. It's not a matter of "either you see it, or you don't." It's a matter of "Either you're willing to use black people as political pawns for your own ends, or you're not", and it's obvious that you're more than willing. It's disgusting."


Here is what is disgusting Plantsmantx:

a) Your arrogance in assuming you represent black people in your racist insecurity. "Leave us out of it"? Are you a poor black person then? You probably have Health Insurance. And Al talking of poor black people insults you. You are the racist then because there are many poor black people just as there are poor white people and apparantly you find a dispassionate reference to poor black people an insult.

b) You dropping names to buttress your trollism. Did you think we would give you a pass merely because you post in a black blog? Your philosophy and politics are what count not your blackness. And in taking umbrage at a mere mention of the truth by a seasoned journalist like Al does not do your credentials any good.

c) If the PUMAS and Kill-billers you support so much are not racist how come they are trying to kill a bill that would change the lives of poor black and hispanic people quite significantly on the basis that this President did not do exactly what they told him. When have they taken such an extreme and petulant stand against any Democratic President before. And you are quite naive if you think they are silent about who this bill will help most significantly because they don't want to exploit blacks. Really? As a matter of fact, to simplify it for you, if they so much as acknowledged what good inpact this Bill would have on Blacks and Hispanics they lose their argument instantly that's why they can't touch that topic. I can't beleive you are so obtuse.

d) If you don't see the racism it just shows that blacks are human too and can be race blind and bad but to accuse Al of being a racist because he points out the racism of some liberals which we have pointed out ourselves in blogs like DKos repeatedly just pisses me off.

Finally you have a right to your  thin skin and lack of insight into social issues. You don't have a duty to point out racism among some loudmouth liberals because you are not in a position of influence to possibly 10s of thousands of people, but Al is. Your failure to see that just shows the total inadequacy inside your cranium.

By the way I am black and I am proud of it and I also fight uncompromisingly for "poor black people" alongside great white liberals who have fought alongside us for the longest time. Turning your fangs on Al like you did ought to bring you shame.


Jonathan Cohn charts - after tax vs pre-tax

Just curious, I presume the Annual Income (family of four) income numbers are before tax. And the Annual Premium and Out of Pocket payment numbers would be after tax. Not that it is a big deal, because the point is that people benefit greatly from the reforms in the legislation. But the percentage numbers are misleading if they are mixing before and after tax...

And some excellent news!

GOP bill killers blink, abandon stall tactics, and the final Senate vote on health care has been moved up to 8 a.m. ET on Thursday, December 24, Christmas eve.

This train is bound for glory...

And, I opine, that TIME ought to declare, as person of the year... Ted Kennedy.

"Al Giordano speaks for me!"

Hey Al,

Thanks for the excellent analysis you've done here.  I'm particularly proud of you for naming and shaming the hidden racism implicit in  the Bill Killers' vapid assumption that they represent "the base" of the Democratic party.

Re:  Plantsmantx' concern trolling comments: I've so got your back on this one.  All I've got to say is, PREACH, Brother Al, PREACH!

@Plantsmantx:  Don't even try to feign outrage on behalf of the black community in reaction to Al's brilliant analysis. 

Nobody elected you spokesperson for the race.  And before you try to "go there" by questioning my racial bona-fides, I should let you know that I am what /Chris Rock refers to as"blackety-black", and I grew up in grinding poverty as the youngest of 9 kids in a single parent household that was once homeless.  Much time has passed since I left the projects, but my world view is still completely grounded in that perspective.  And to quote some of the Daily Kos poutrage crew who were ready to primary Obama upon a word from Dr. Dean, Keith O, Kos, or Jane Hamsher, on the matter of this issue, "Al Giordano speaks for me!"

I've often wondered how far we could have gotten on this

if it had been framed more as a way to help rural/poor whites. Would people be more likely to reject these kinds of measures if they knew that it could help other members of their families, even if it doesn't help them directly? I'm left to believe that if the thought were that this could help my brother, sister, nephew, etc., there would be a lot less opposition. Few people would say, "I don't want my extended family to have access to healthcare."

Like you guys, I've definitely seen a racial component in the opposition of the bill on both sides of the aisle. Part of that has to do with the mythology of the rural poor that hurts them time and time again, as if grit, resilience or any of the other sparkling generalities pinned on them provides food or helps them keep their land. It does not, but through this mythologizing politicians can pretend that it's not these communities that need or are receiving help.

This is going to be two simplified observations, I've definitely seen it from progressive people who just cannot see how it benefits them to have a healthy and functioning working class or people who are economically disadvantaged. And that's actually one of the biggest complaints I have with the American system's emphasis on the Middle Class. The working poor and others usually get forgotten, because people who are working poor sometimes don't recognize that they are. So they lobby for things for the middle class, and wonder why they didn't receive the benefits. You know, because we have that huge issue here where everyone likes to pretend to be middle class, the richer than middle class and poorer than middle class.

And on the right, people seeing this as a "giveaway" or a "handout" to inner city (read brown and black) areas. Which is one of the underlying currents here, the belief that a) It's not really that much of an issue for people since they've never heard of it and b) I don't want my money to go to someone in some other place who is "too lazy" to pay for health care.


I wonder how many people would try to stop progress if it stopped being associated with "other people" and started directly being something that benefited someone they knew.


Al, Plantsmantx, everyone, is the intra-hostility necessary?

Al, thanks for your astute global-type vision about U.S. healthcare reform. Thanks to your political instruction and influence on The Field, and on Narco News, I understand more about the "greater-good" idea of governance and the analysis and actions that underly it, and in this healthcare reform moment in time, I've appreciated your efforts to portray the truer big picture. My own valid yet myopia-tinged white progressive viewpoint has been enlarged and is more forward-looking as a result. A big sincere thanks to you. Meanwhile, when and if appropriate, I hope everyone can drop the hostility-edged reactions and rejoinders long enough to savor what we all have been working for and/or hoping for, expanding the human rights franchise in the United States. It's okay when Democratic circular firing squads pop up. It's a great and informative way to release the frustrations that result from our different perspectives, experiences, and general levels of understanding of events and even life. However, as things of childhood are put away (I still miss my Lincoln Logs!), I hope to put aside my gnawing grievances toward people who disagree with me on both microscopic and macroscopic levels long enough to focus and work together for the greater good. I will, always, retain enough hard-edged passion to put up my political dukes for when the gloves have to come off, and there will always come that time at some point. Al, I'm reassured that your golden gloves will always be at the ready.

@jonathan and factPlusContext


@jonathan - My thoughts exactly. Nobody told me that Hope only had a shelf life of 11/4/08 to 11/4/09! Well written and I agree with every word you wrote.

@factPlusContext - that might be the best blog commentary smackdown that I've read in '09!   Seriously, it's frightening how people think that they can speak for a whole demographic group.  Hell, I have 11 brothers and sisters from the upper Midwest and we are white, well educated, middle to upper income city/suburban homeowners and we couldn't be more diverse in our political, social and religious views. However, that's not saying one can't generalize about the economics of a certain income group to say, for example, "all poor people of any race, shape or sex would benefit from the proposed legislation."


Goodbye to a wretched decade, hello to a better future

Al, I can't tell you how welcome it is to have you return in time to bring some sanity and perspective to the debate. The details you provide give context to what I have intuitively believed since August, that no matter how this played out, Obama would be all about extracting something truly progressive from the morass of this disgraceful debate.

While I held out some hope that a so-called public option in some form might squeak through, I was genuinely excited when the idea of an earlier medicare buy-in surfaced. It helped me realize that the devil is in the details, whether there was something you called a "public option" or not, and that there were other ways to get many of the things so many of us in this country want. Throughout the process, I've watched Bernie Sanders and I've watched Dean. To me, they are all about results (like Obama). What seems to have happened here to some extent is that IF the price of getting the conservadem outliers like Nelson, Lieberman, Baucus, Lincoln and Landrieu on board was to jettison whatever watered-down version of a "public option" remained, the PAYOFF would be to quietly plug up holes and loopholes, a process that's still going on and which I hope continues in conference.

This is a potent bill that represents many years' accumulation of the best ideas of Teddy Kennedy and others. To me, this is a patient's bill of rights on steroids, that, with the right adjustments, can quickly be established as a permanent foundation. Although it doesn't immediately spell the end for the insurance companies, it is the beginning of the end of business as usual.

This will pave the way for an awakening among a large majority of the population that we can now demand far more for far less. The neo-PUMAS have got theirs; how about taking on the insurance companies down the road when we have a broader, more representative group of Americans WITH COVERAGE who can join, and win, the fight?

@ Larry Piltz

Larry - I don't disagree with much of what you say but I have often quibbled - and do so again - with the suggestion that my differences with the rake-stepping, Chicken-Littleing, childrens' table-sitting, food-fighting, poutraging, footstompy douchebags of the bill-killer tendency constitute any kind of "internecine" struggle.

The word "internecine" infers that we're part of the same cause, movement, or organization. I am not. I would never join. And as I often say, I would never let that ilk near my own foxhole. The only question for me is what caliber of gun I should bring to their food fights.

The bill killers are, by definition, in the enemy camp. And I'll just go on record reminding that I have specifically, long before it became popular (as it is becoming today, thankfully), declared in this very online space, that I denounce, reject and shun the Hamshers, Sirotas, Greenwalds, and other aspiring "look at ME" bloggers by name, and would not consider them worthy allies even on something we might agree about.

Freedom of association includes the freedom of disassociation. I am not associated with with them. We are not on the same side. And on this health care bill, they are enemy combatants. Nothing internecine about any of it!


This will all be forgotten

After the bill passes, the bill-killers will be forgotten, just like the Pumas.

It would be nice to see the time line of the benefits moved up. This bill isn't amazing, but it's a nice step forward. The problem with the bill killer's is they don't know how to get what they want. They won't accept anything short of what they want and don't realize they can get there if they keep working step by step. They would rather destroy any bit of progress at all because they didn't get their way.

Some folks come just to pick a fight...

Jane goes on America's Radio Rwanda and I'm not supposed to see any hints of racism on the progressive left?!?!  Riiiiiight.

Good job on all the rebuttals to Plantmantx's silliness. 

Don't ever keep me out of it Al!



@Choppero (and Al)

Choppero: I hope you're right, but I'll wager today's bill-killer is tomorrow's ____ (the blank standing for whatever's the next big issue to accuse others of selling out on).

Al: "rake-stepping, Chicken-Littleing, childrens' table-sitting, food-fighting, poutraging, footstompy douchebags" is quite a mouthful, to which I can only add Groucho Marx as Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff in Horsefeathers singing:

I don't know what they have to say
It makes no difference anyway;
Whatever it is, I'm against it!

Great post, Al

Have missed your steady and reasonable sanity on the whole HCR issue, Al. To quote Dr. Suess, it's been muddled duddled fuddled and wuddled for months.

ps - I'm Black Irish (American), and Al speaks for me, too!

pps - providing some concrete proof of Hamsher's - at a minimum - racial tin-ear: the Lieberman blackface incident during the Ned Lamont campaign.

Call your congresspeople - they're getting Hamsherized.

Folks -

Call your congresspeople and give them a voice of sanity.  I called mine and said, roughly "please ask the congresswoman to support the bill, even if it doesn't have a public option - we need to get it to the president and move on.  The house public option was weak anyway, and isn't worth tanking the bill over."

I was thanked for finally providing a "sound and reasonable comment", and was asked whether I was a constituent (I am, but I'm not usually asked this).  That tells me that they are getting Hamsherized by folks from out of district screaming about public options and forming alliances with teabaggers and other nonsense.

Have Mercy!

Jane has teamed up with Grover Norquist.  SMDH

"Enemy camp"

"The bill killers are, by definition, in the enemy camp. And I'll just go on record reminding that I have specifically, long before it became popular (as it is becoming today, thankfully), declared in this very online space, that I denounce, reject and shun the Hamshers, Sirotas, Greenwalds, and other aspiring "look at ME" bloggers by name, and would not consider them worthy allies even on something we might agree about."

You're mistaken here, Glenn Greenwald isn't calling for the killing of the bill.

I actually find him to be one of the most rational voices in this discussion. Hamsher is an obvious idiot, but I abhor some of the demonizing occurring here and in other places.

FDA Regulation

I'm sorry, but the FDA is part of the health care industrial complex (for lack of a better term). Regulation is a way to keep business honest, but it can also be used to keep competiitors locked out of the market.


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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