If Not the Deficit, Then What?

Throughout the mad season of this past summer, the one thing that united the “tea party” movement — you know, apart from racism and conspiracy theories — was a concern for the deficit. Conservative commentators have gone as far as to peg it as the new conservative issue, despite the fact that Republicans have never helped the deficit, and the fact that Obama’s impact on it has thus far, comparatively, been rather small. With time, “the deficit” may have even become a rallying cry for a resurgent conservative movement, and a theme to unify Republican opposition to every move Obama made. Alas, it is not to be:

Reid made sure to emphasize a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the bill would reduce the deficit by $127 billion over the next 10 years, and perhaps as much as $650 billion over the 10 years after that. He also worked to reassure worried seniors that the bill will not weaken Medicare — in fact, he argued, it will strengthen it.

It’s hard to argue against a bill that expands health care coverage to 94% of Americans while shrinking the deficit. The Republicans now face a tough choice: find a new reason to oppose healthcare reform (“socialism,” perhaps?), or simply pretend the CBO estimate never happened? My money’s on the latter.

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14 comments

  1. I’m interested in hearing your current predictions for the liklihood of this passing with the public option still attached.

  2. There won’t be a mandate for all workers to get public funded insurance. But there will have to be some sort of public insurance with opt out for states. Too many Dems will be hurt in the 2010 election if there’s any other final bill.

    1. And how many Dems will be hurt if it is inccluded?

      1. The people who get it will be happy, the people who don’t won’t care.

        So I’d say little to none.

  3. I’m still confused how this is supposed to work… more healthcare, for more people, and it’s supposed to cost less? Don’t you have to pay more doctors and nurses wages and purchase more medical supplies if you increase healthcare?

  4. Steve,
    The argument rest in part on the notion that if more people aren’t paying high fees because they get their primary care from emergency rooms (they would be the uninsured), but instead putting more people into an insurance pool, the doctors woul dbe able to return to lower cost primary care instead of higher cost ER work. Or something like that.

    1. Generally, the uninsured don’t have to pay anything for emergency room care, so that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me… After all, ever since the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act was signed into law (by Comrade Reagan), it’s been de facto illegal for an emergency room to deny treatment based on inability to pay (or being an illegal immigrant) or to take any real measures to collect payment after treatment. I make no secret I believe that law should be repealed, but anyway… if the saving’s supposed to be because people will now have insurance and and be able to afford non-emergency-room treatment, but they only have insurance because it’s publicaly funded (whether by a National Health Service or by Subsidy, doesn’t really matter)… isn’t all that savings just an accounting gimmick? Sort of saying you’re saving on the sticker price, without addressing the actual cost of parts & labor? I mean, when you look at an Explanation of Benefits from an insurance company, there’s the Price for the procedure – then there’s the Fraction Of Price You Pay, the Fraction Of Price Insurance Company Pays, and the Fraction Of Price That Nobody Pays. Obviously, that third element isn’t part of the actual cost of the procedure/medication/durable medical equipment, but what you said makes it seem like all the savings would be based on reductions in that fraction of the price.

      Honestly, I don’t care much about the economics of it one way or another, since I’m opposed to the whole idea on philosophical grounds, but the whole “More people get health care, it’ll cost less” thing just seems odd to me.

      1. Arnold T Pants · ·

        Steve, you say that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act should be appealed. Have you ever considered the possibility of having acute appendicitis while you were between jobs, without insurance? It’s easy to deny care when it’s happening to someone else. Furthermore, you say that you don’t really care about the economics of it. So what, then, do you care about? What are your “philosophical grounds?” You’re not making a whole lot of sense.

        1. I believe the world is overpopulated, I believe life should be a privilege for the strongest and smartest only, I believe most of us have lives that are devoid of value or meaning and ultimately we’re all disposable. If I’m between jobs and don’t have insurance and get acute appendicitis, that sucks for me. Big deal. There is absolutely no reason you should care and there is absolutely no reason you should do anything to help me live. I’m not your friend, which means my life has no subjective value to you, and if I’m between jobs it means my life had no objective value to society at that time. So if I die, I die because I’m unworthy of the privilege of living. In that case, I believe it would be bad for humanity as a whole to 1) waste resources to 2) keep me around and 3) further the claim that flawed individuals have an inalienable right to life. I believe we don’t have any such right, and I believe that using up resources to try and secure that non-existent right is wasteful.

          Social Darwinism is not a popular philosophy (largely, I think, because it got hijacked by people who cared about irrelevancies like race and ethnicity instead of individuals’ imperfections) but it is a philosophy, and I tend to believe in it.

          1. Radio Lab had a good podcast series studying animal and human behavior and apparent altruistism, that helps the species, the individual, and the person receiving said help.

            http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2010/dec/28/blood-buddies/

            http://www.radiolab.org/2010/dec/14/one-good-deed-deserves-another/

  5. I believe the world is overpopulated, I believe life should be a privilege for the strongest and smartest only, I believe most of us have lives that are devoid of value or meaning and ultimately we’re all disposable.

    There is absolutely no reason you should care and there is absolutely no reason you should do anything to help me live. I’m not your friend, which means my life has no subjective value to you, and if I’m between jobs it means my life had no objective value to society at that time. So if I die, I die because I’m unworthy of the privilege of living.

    Steve,
    On the one hand I admire your honesty – I don’t know of anyone who is willing to stand up and firmly claim the Social Darwinist mantle openly anymore. That said, if this truly is your world view, I feel pity for you. You are missing out on how rich and vibrant life can be; you have lost all sense of humanity as community; your life story sounds miserable.

    1. Blerg, that’s the same argument against atheism that annoys me, and I’m not even an atheist. “You don’t believe in God so your life is miserable and pointless.” Nobody here but Steve (unless Steve has intimates who also post here . . .?) have any idea what Steve’s life is actually like.

      ~ John John Cool John

    2. Still, that sort of world view would make even Arthur Schopenhauer depressed.

      1. Well you’ve out-referenced me, so I dip my rapier to you.

        ~John,
        too tired to bother wiki’ing it.

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