Will You Embrace Extremism?

The tea party is becoming violently unhinged after the historic passage of health care reform.

Here’s the latest:

Someone smashed a window at the headquarters for Alaska’s Democratic Party in Anchorage this past weekend.

According to Alaska Dispatch, the police officer who inspected the damage called it a “smash and run.” The first pane of a double-paned window that was situated on the front and center of the building was smashed, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The damage extended from the top to the bottom of the window and the metal frame was also damaged.

Statewide party officer Dave Metheny told the Daily News that there were no leads but that the office had fielded calls from angry people before and after Congress’ vote on health care reform.

But don’t forget this:

Just hours after an historic vote in the House of Representatives to pass Health Care Reform, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords got her first feedback.  Early Monday morning, someone vandalized her Tucson office by kicking or shooting out a front glass door.

And this:

Authorities are investigating the severing of a gas line at the home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother following the posting of his address online by Tea Party activists.

The activists are upset with the Virginia congressman’s vote in favor of the health care reform.

And this:

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) issued a statement late Saturday saying that he was spit upon while walking to the Capitol to cast a vote, leading the Capitol Police to usher him into the building out of concern for his safety.

And these:

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) received racist faxes Monday in the wake of Sunday’s House vote approving health care reform legislation.

Clyburn, a veteran of the civil rights movement, told Keith Olbermann Monday that faxes sent to his office had racist images including a noose.

[…]

On Saturday, Tea Party protesters in a crowd backed by Republican lawmakers called Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) a “nigger”

[…]

Protesters in the same crowd called Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) a “faggot.”

[…]

An anti-reform protester called Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Tex.) a “wetback last week at a townhall meeting in his home district

And, from last year, don’t forget any of these either:

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Final Thoughts On Health Care Reform

As I’m sure as you all know by now–despite all of the right-wing sound and fury, despite all of the astroturfed protests and fauxtrage and multi-million dollar campaigns–health care reform has become the law of the land.

Reform isn’t  ideal–I would have preferred a bill with a strong public option, if not single payer.  But this was a major undertaking with a lot of competing factions that had to be placated.  In the end, it was still a very good bill that was very much worth passing, and it gives us a good basis for future reforms (and I”m hoping the absence of the right’s promised health care apocalypse will serve to undermine whatever hyperbolic claims they make about the next stage of reform).

While health care reform isn’t exactly popular, some more recent polling seems to show opposition decreasing and support increasing.  In that vein, I think that support for health care reform hit its nadir and is likely to increase over time.

Why? Because its easy to get people angry about a bill still under construction, a bill that nobody knows what it will end up looking like in the end, especially when that bill is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But now that reform has passed and will start going into effect, it will hard for people to believe the right’s misinformation because they’ll be experiencing the benefits of reform firsthand.

Republicans worked so hard to prevent this bill from becoming law because they knew that, once enacted, it would turn out to be politically popular.  Let’s face it, covering 35 million additional Americans, reducing the deficit, eliminating practices like discrimination based on preexisting conditions all while helping middle-class individuals and families to buy better, cheaper insurance are all very good policies.  The right sought to drown those good policies in a sea of misinformation, and they almost succeeded. But now that reform has become law, it’ll become increasingly difficult for the GOP to sustain such strong opposition.

That’s why I think the oft-rumored GOP campaign to repeal health care reform is a dud–who’s going to say they want to take health care away from 35 million Americans? Who’s going to say they want to repeal a bill that reduces the deficit? Who’s going to campaign on letting insurers deny coverage because of preexisting conditions and yank people’s coverage as soon as they get seriously ill?

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A Few Thoughts On Health Care Reform

First, Republicans will pick up seats in November. But can we all stop treating it as proof of some kind of Republican comeback or national opposition to health care reform? It’s standard for the party in power to lose seats in the first election after taking the White House.

It happened in 1994, 1990, 1982, 1978, 1970, 1966, 1962, 1954 and 1946 (2002 and 1974 were exceptions for what should be obvious reasons)–in other words, it’s a phenomenon that goes all the way back to the days of Harry Truman.

So the GOP will win seats this fall, but it’s not exactly the sign of a Republican resurgence–it’s just a normal cyclical phenomenon that has been part of American politics for nearly 70 years.

Second, conservatives keep pointing to the polls showing how unpopular health care reform is as reason why Democrats shouldn’t pass it.

But the entire conservative movement has been waging a year-long misinformation campaign on health care reform–they’ve spent a year lying to and scaring the American people.

So the question isn’t really whether or not the American people support health care reform, but if they even know what reform would do.

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Another Day, Another RNC Fail: RNC To Hold Fundraiser At Blackwater Compound

That’s the same Blackwater which has been accused of murder, illegal weapons smuggling, bribery, fraud (including using taxpayer money to buy strippers and prostitutes) and stealing weapons from the US military, among many other serious crimes.

You know that if the DNC held a fundraiser at, say, an ACORN office then heads would roll, careers would end and the right-wing media would launch a massive weeks-long national outcry.

And yet, almost nobody in the media is making a fuss over the RNC getting into bed with Blackwater.

And to think, ACORN was only accused of was giving bad tax advice.

Double standards much?

BREAKING: Democrats Will Use Reconciliation To Pass Health Care Reform (UPDATED)

Politico Breaking News reports:

Sen. Tom Harkin tells POLITICO that Senate Democratic leaders have decided to go the reconciliation route for health care reform. The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate.

It’s about time–if Democrats can pass health care reform within the scope of Congressional rules then they should.

And if any conservative tries to whine about this they should be reminded that–between 1995 and 2007 alone–the GOP used reconciliation 7 times.

And do you know what the most recent bill the GOP passed through reconciliation was? It was a health care reform bill, passed in 2005.

UPDATED: People should also remember that Congress won’t be passing the entire health care reform bill through reconciliation.

Health care reform already passed through the House and Senate–the problem here is that the House bill and Senate bill differ slightly.

So reconciliation will be used to, well, reconcile the two bills into one so that it can be sent to the President’s desk.

Just remember that health care reform has already passed through Congress–this is merely intended to iron out the differences between the two versions.

An Important Distinction

Reconciliation is a process, outlined in the Senate rules, through which certain kinds of bills can be passed by a simple majority.

The ‘nuclear option’ was a proposed change to Senate rules that would have eliminated the filibuster in all circumstances.

Why bring this up? Because Republicans are pretending that the nuclear option and reconciliation are the same thing–they’re trying to attack Democrats as hypocrites for opposing the nuclear option but supporting reconciliation for health care reform.

Sorry, Republicans, but words have meanings–you can’t just redefine them in order to smear your political opponents. Reconciliation and the nuclear option are not the same thing, no matter how often you lie about it.

UPDATE: And if conservatives try to claim that reconciliation is rarely-used or somehow unprecedented they should be reminded that–between 1995 and 2007–the GOP used reconciliation 7 times.

Most recently, the GOP used reconciliation to pass–wait for it–a health care reform bill:

  • 2005 – Legislation That Reduced Spending on Medicaid and Raised Premiums on Upper-Income Medicare Beneficiaries
  • 2003 – President Bush’s 2003 Tax Cuts
  • 2001 – President Bush’s Signature $1.35 Trillion Tax Cut
  • 2000 – $292 Billion “Marriage Penalty” Tax Cut (VETOED)
  • 1997 – Balanced Budget Act
  • 1996 – Legislation to Enact Welfare Reform
  • 1995 – “Contract With America” Agenda

[Emphasis mine]

The President’s Health Care Reform Plan

will:

  • Provide the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing costs for tens of millions of families and small businesses.
  • Cover 31 million currently uninsured Americans.
  • Create a health insurance market that will give tens of millions of Americans access to the same insurance choices members of Congress have.
  • Set policies to lower premiums and prevent abuse and denial of care.
  • End discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • Reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion in the first two decades.

Of course, I expect Republicans to oppose the plan. My question to them is, which parts specifically are you against? The middle class tax cut? The $1 trillion deficit reduction? Giving Americans more choices? Ending waste, fraud and abuse? Preventing discrimination based on preexisting conditions? What part of this, exactly, doesn’t sit well with you?

I mean, the right can gibber on and on about ‘socialism’ and ‘big government’ and ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies but–unless they can point to specific parts of this plan they oppose–that’s all just so much empty fearmongering.

We’re dealing with concrete proposals and detailed policies here — if the right can’t tell us which specific policies they oppose then they don’t really have a leg to stand on, do they?

UPDATE: And for anyone who tries to complain that the President’s plan doesn’t contain any Republican policies–guess what? You’re wrong.