Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Obsession

The Teabaggers are having a grand old time venting their collective spleen at every congressional townhall they can hie themselves to before the end of summer. The spectacle has captured the attention and the imaginations of newscasters everywhere -- including throughout the lefty blogosphere -- to the point where even President Clinton going to Pyongyang to rescue those journalists was drowned out.

The Teabaggers are the New Summer of the Shark. Or maybe it's Chandra Redux.

I actually harbor a bit of admiration for the Teabaggers, because they have at least got themselves off their ample duffs, got away from the computer and the teevee and got out of the house and got themselves down to the local food bank or community center or parish hall or wherever their rep (or somebody's rep) is holding forth and they are discommoding the powerful, disrupting business as usual, and OUTRAGING!!!™ calm and rational wonk types who delight in navigating the intricacies of Health Care Reform Legislation. It's all good.

Participatory Democracy, eh?

Now, of course the Teabaggers have been sold a bill of goods, and they are obviously and sadly being manipulated for the benefit of the Insurance Cartel, but despite that, they have shown themselves quite capable of making a stink and shutting down the kind of crap that Our Congress is trying to peddle regarding the so-called "reform" of health care coverage now wending its way through the hallowed halls.

And despite the fact that the Teabaggers are essentially deep in error about the details of what they are railing over, at least they have the moxie to rail.

Because light entertainment is a staple of the summer rerun season on the teevee, these loudmouths are dominating everything -- much as the Sharks did, much as Chandra did (not to speak ill of either, you understand.)

What fun, eh?

The fact that millions of people could peacefully assemble all over the world, could march and carry signs opposing the invasion of Iraq and be ignored by the major mass media, or that tens of thousands of people who turned out in a rainy-freezing Washington DC in January, 2001, to protest the inauguration of W were made to disappear, or that the continuing struggle of single payer advocates to even be heard in the "Health Care Debate" is consistently overlooked is beside the point.

The point, this summer, is the Teabagger rage, its astroturf character, and how deeply passionate all these ill-informed but very dedicated lunatics are. Entertainment!

The mind would reel if these... characters... will really have any effect on what emerges from the Congressional sausage maker. And I don't think they really will. Assuming that Congress is actually able to agree sufficiently to pass something -- and it looks like they will be -- my sense is that it will be basically a "universal" health care coverage mandate, requiring individuals to purchase private health care coverage with the premiums taken as a payroll deduction from every worker's salary. There will be no "public option" -- whatever that means -- in any rational sense, everything will be handled through the Insurance Cartel.

This will be very expensive and very inefficient, but it will accomplish two primary goals of the makers of this reform: "universal" coverage and restrictions on denial of coverage and payment for treatment.

The deal was essentially agreed to between the major stakeholders months ago. The outlines were set then. The Cartel will receive a huge revenue injection (almost all of which will be paid by policy-holders, not "taxpayers") through the individual mandate to have coverage, and in exchange, the Cartel will agree to stop their more egregious practices of denial of coverage and rescission. There. Done. That's it. Have a nice day.

Like Medicare Part D, this will actually be "something better than nothing." It will help many who now fret that they will go bankrupt if they get sick, or who can't get health insurance at all. Premiums will still be outrageous, but some sort of arrangements will be made for a "subsidy" based on income. In other words, no one will be expected to pay more than a set percentage of their income for health care coverage, and the lower your income the lower the percentage, until at some point your coverage is essentially free (as in Medicaid now).

This is not the dreaded "socialism" or "government takeover" of healthcare the Teabaggers are frothing over, it's not even a step in that direction, but it does modify the current balky and over-administrated system to -- finally -- cover almost everyone, for the first time in our history.

So what if it costs 30% more than it needs to and will still bankrupt the already bankrupted nation? That's a feature, not a bug.

On the other hand, all of it may fall apart after Labor Day, it's just all too difficult, or the Summer Shark may be followed by something too awful to contemplate (like the summer of 2001 was, we may recall.) You never know.

But for now...

Rage on, Teabaggers! Rage on!

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