by Pulp Cutter
I currently live in Mass, grew up here, and have spent about half my life here.
Regardless of who wins, IMO the fact that it’s even this close indicates a major sea change in the US electorate. Mass elects plenty of Republicans in-state (e.g., 4 of our last 5 governors), and the election of a highly-regarded one – e.g., Bill Weld – to Kennedy’s seat would not be surprising to me. That a lightweight like Brown is running so strongly says more – a LOT more – about how angry people are with Democratic policies.
It isn’t just that Brown is weak. His positions on the issues are out of synch with most Mass voters. He supports a stronger military (Spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined isn’t enough? Who’s defending here, and who’s actually on offense??). He is very weak on reforming the decades-old shift of taxation from corporations to individuals. His business background is from the same ‘ship jobs overseas’ mentality as Mitt Romney. He’s against gay marriage. And most obviously, he’s against the healthcare plan. He is for reproductive rights (except late-term abortions) but otherwise his positions are diametrically opposed to how the Mass electorate has voted recently.
So, again I argue his strength in the polls has more to do with Mass voters anger with the Democrats, or with the voter’s current situation, than it does with any characteristic Brown possesses. And for Mass – the only state that voted against Nixon in ’72, the first to legalize gay marriage, and still probably the most left state – for Mass to be supporting Brown to take Ted Kennedy’s seat has to be seen as a monumentally-strong signal to the Democrats.
I would be delighted, and quite comfortable, if that anger had to do with the Democrat’s corruption. That corruption revealed in them standing idly by while 23.7 trillion in bad debt and liabilities is transferred from WallSt, onto the taxpayer. That shown in a ‘financial reform’ package that is reform in name only, institutionalizing ‘too big to fail’. and putting the banks in charge of regulating themselves. Or even that the anger was about the insane amount of deficit spending we’re doing, even beyond the WallSt liabilities we’ve taken on, evident in Obama’s pledge to “spend our way out of this mess”.
But it’s not about corruption and spending, in fact, my sense is that the average voter believes a miraculous cure of the fianancial sector has taken place. The anger is about the healthcare plan. A sizable chunk of the swing voters have apparently bought the thinking, trolled so many times before, that a govt-run healthcare system will result in poorer care, rationed care, a huge and ballooning price tag, and somehow a step change forward toward socialism and away from the American ideal.
And that’s what’s deeply disturbing, personally, and saddening. The resistance to the healthcare plan was framed, publicized, organized and paid for not by libertarians but by the healthcare administration companies, insurers and pharmas. For example, “Conservatives for Patients Rights”, who was the main force behind the town hall meeting bustups, was largely-funded by Richard Scott, CEO of Columbia HCA, who pled guility in the largest Medicare fraud case in US history. Scott’s agenda clearly has nothing to do with patient’s rights.
The charges that the healthcare bill is some new vital blow to the Constitution, and that the Democrats are closet socialists, were at the forefront of conservative opposition (at least that opposition which was the most vocal). How is this socialism? Socialist countries take private property and hold it publically, for the ‘workers’. What we have is corruption or feudaliam – sucking every dime possible from the public’s wallets, into the big corporation’s pockets. Yes the govt currently owns big shares of automakers and financial institutions, but only to configure them to avoid losses on the part of the investment banks, and channel more money to those banks. That govt ownership certainly is not to the benefit of the workers in even the meanest, most controlling sense – these institutions continue to shed employees as fast as possible. Moreover, how is what is essentially a $750 dollar tax credibly presented as some notable, new, vital danger to the Constitution – in the face of what the Patriot Act and related executive orders did to the Constitution (started by Bush and the GOP but only stengthened by the Democrats)?
We needed healthcare reform and I agree with Bob Dole that a good healthcare reform package was available. The rest of the G20 spend half what we do on healthcare, with at least as good results. This is because US clinicians are paid nearly twice what they are elsewhere. Similar higher costs exist in adminstration, insurers and pharmaceuticals. (Robert Wood Johnson and Kaiser have good studies out on these issues, as do numerous other sources.) The other G20 countries get their costs down by having a public monopoly, which allows them to muscle down salaries and other costs. That monopoly is justified because they see healthcare as an essential human service.
I believe a good healthcare reform package is no longer possible. The current package has been modified, discarding every aspect that was in favor of people, and keeping every aspect that allowed more leverage for the companies to suck more money out of Americans for their healthcare. (I’m assuming most accept this assertion, and so am not tabulating them here, but would be happy to.)
Congratulations, America – you got what you asked for. Hope you like it. The American public has pushed the healthcare plan exactly where Richard Scott and his buddies wanted it to go. The public has insisted on a plan that allows providers to bill the your asses off, while sucking an even bigger hit from the public treasuries. Free enterprise is GREAT – particularly if you’re a provider of an essential service AND can count on govt to cut out your competition (generic pharmas, etc.) when necessary. You suckers! Those Europeans with their healthcare monopolies are stupid – particularly if you’re a US healthcare provider.
Healthcare costs are increasing at 10% annually. How long do you think your employer is going to be able to afford to keep your family enrolled? When you lose coverage, who’s going to fix things for you? Reforming healthcare is now considered as much a ‘third-rail’ in American politics as altering social security.
Impossible though it might seem, the American electorate has outdone their stupidity in supporting the Iraq invasion – joined now by a chunk of the Mass electorate. And that’s what Brown’s strength in the polls means to me, regardless of Tuesday’s outcome.
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