Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Unprecedented Level of Obstruction

An Unprecedented Level of Obstruction: "

Faced with an unprecedented level of obstruction in the Senate, the President announced his intention to recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts. While the President respects the critical role the Senate plays in the appointment process, he was no longer willing to let another month go by with key economic positions unfilled, especially at a time when our country is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Many of these fifteen individuals have enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but have found their confirmation votes delayed for reasons that have nothing to do with their qualifications. It has more to do with an obstruction-at-all-costs mentality that we’ve been faced with since the President came into office. Because of political posturing, these fifteen appointees have waited an average of 214 days for Senate confirmation.

This opposition got so out of hand at one point that one senator put a blanket hold on all of the President’s nominees in an attempt to win concessions on two projects that would benefit his state. And another nominee’s confirmation was delayed by one senator for more than eight months because of a disagreement over a proposed federal building in his home state. When that nominee was finally given the vote she deserved, she was confirmed 96 to 0. When you attempt to prevent the government from working effectively because you didn’t get your way, you’re failing to live up to your responsibilities as a public servant.

To put this in perspective, at this time in 2002, President Bush had only 5 nominees pending on the floor. By contrast, President Obama has 77 nominees currently pending on the floor, 58 of whom have been waiting for over two weeks and 44 of those have been waiting more than a month. And cloture has been filed 16 times on Obama nominees, nine of whom were subsequently confirmed with 60 or more votes or by voice vote. Cloture was not filed on a single Bush nominee in his first year. And despite facing significantly less opposition, President Bush had already made 10 recess appointments by this point in his presidency and he made another five over the spring recess.

A few more numbers to put this in perspective:

These fifteen nominees have been waiting a total of 3,204 days or almost nine years to start their respective jobs.
Even the most recently nominated of these fifteen individuals has been waiting 144 days or nearly five months.
Jeffrey Goldstein was nominated to serve as the top domestic finance official at Treasury, a crucial position for fixing the economy and preventing another financial crisis. Goldstein has been waiting 248 days or over 8 months.
Jacqueline Berrien was nominated to serve as Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC currently lacks a quorum and cannot fulfill its mandate to protect American workers from discrimination. Berrien has been waiting 254 days or over 8 months.
Craig Becker and Mark Pearce were nominated to serve on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which protects American workers from unfair labor practices. The five member board has been trying to operate with only two members. Becker and Pearce have been waiting for 261 days or over 8 months.

The roadblocks we’ve seen in the Senate have left some government agencies like the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission impaired in fulfilling their mission. These agencies can now get back to working for the American people.

These nominees will remain pending before the Senate for what we hope will be the expeditious confirmation that candidates of their caliber deserve. But we also hope that this politically motivated gridlock comes to an end, because each day we dedicate to a strategy aimed at gumming up the works of our government is another day we aren’t doing right by the American people.

Jen Psaki is the White House's Deputy Communications Director


Friday, March 26, 2010

Something you won't see on faux noise

O'Keefe, others plan to plead guilty: "From NBC's Pete WilliamsThe four men arrested in January for their stunt to embarrass staffers in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) are prepared to plead guilty, legal sources say, in return for reduced charges.
Federal prosecutors today filed misdemeanor charges against the four. James O'Keefe, who became a media sensation last year for his videos involving ACORN employees, and three others were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses. Two of them went to her...(read more)"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Underlying Logic of Piracy

The Underlying Logic of Piracy: "


rush limbaugh set to leave the US finally!

Can't wait to see rush limbaugh leave the country! He promised he would leave the country if Heath Care Reform passed (though his being a republican, you are probably right to wonder if he will really follow through). He is a little confused though, he loved his health care in Hawaii (the closest thing to socialized medicine in the US) and he says he is headed to Costa Rica when he leaves (How soon rush?) which has socialized medicine.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


9: "


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9 -- that's number of states and the District of Columbia where there is still no specific law that makes it illegal for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence by citing the history of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. [Source]

In many ways, America's women are those struggling most under the health care status quo. We're uniquely impacted by gender inequalities ranging from being charged higher premiums just because we're women to insurance companies being allowed in some states to deny coverage because of so-called “pre-existing conditions” like being pregnant. In addition, we're often the ones looked to for handling the health care of others. Most mothers say they're the ones responsible for managing their families' care -- from choosing doctors to taking their kids to appointments to fulfilling family prescriptions. And many women also find themselves caring for a sick or elderly relative.

While women may be dealing with many of the hardships of our broken health care system firsthand -- women also have the most to gain from health insurance reform.

Take a look at the video First Lady Michelle Obama previously recorded to highlight health insurance reform from the unique perspective of women:

Today’s number -- 9 -- is the latest in our ‘Health Reform by the Numbers’ series, an online campaign to raise awareness about how we just can’t wait any longer for health insurance reform. You can follow the campaign on and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.

To help spread the word, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.

If you still have questions about what reform means for you and your family, tune in tonight at 5:15pm ET to get answers from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Previous Numbers:




3: "


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3 million -- that’s the decrease in the number of middle-income earners who obtained health insurance from their employers from 2000 to 2008. [Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation]
And 3 times -- is how much faster health care premiums are rising compared to wages. [Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]

It’s no secret -- skyrocketing health care costs are crushing families and businesses, forcing small business owners to choose between health care and hiring and forcing families to make hard spending choices because of rising out-of-pocket health care costs. While our broken health care system is hurting everyone, it’s the middle class that’s being hit the hardest. Yesterday, the non-partisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report showing that the middle class became uninsured at a faster pace than those with less or more income.

Health insurance reform will change that by giving American families and small businesses more control over their own health care. While in Ohio earlier this week, President Obama detailed just what health insurance reform means for America’s middle class:

For the first time, uninsured individuals, small businesses, they’d have the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves. Understand if this reform becomes law, members of Congress, they’ll be getting their insurance from the same place that the uninsured get theirs, because if it’s good enough for the American people, it’s good enough for the people who send us to Washington.

So basically what would happen is, we’d set up a pool of people; millions of people across the country would all buy into these pools that give them more negotiating power. If you work for a big company, you’ve got a better insurance deal because you’ve got more bargaining power as a whole. We want you to have all the bargaining power that the federal employees have, that big companies have, so you’ll be able to buy in or a small business will be able to buy into this pool. And that will lower rates, it’s estimated, by up to 14 to 20 percent over what you’re currently getting. That’s money out of pocket.

And what my proposal says is if you still can’t afford the insurance in this new marketplace, then we’re going to offer you tax credits to do so. And that will add up to the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history. That’s what we’re going to do…

Look, I want everybody to understand -- the wealthiest among us can already buy the best insurance there is. The least well among us, the poorest among us, they get their health care through Medicaid. So it’s the middle class, it’s working people that are getting squeezed, and that’s who we have to help, and we can afford to do it.

Today’s number, 3, is the latest in ‘Health Reform by the Numbers,’ our online campaign to raise awareness about why the time is now for health insurance reform.You can follow the campaign on and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.

To help spread the word, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.

Previous Numbers:


Responsible and Paid For

Responsible and Paid For: "

Cross-posted from the OMB blog.

Today’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of health insurance reform legislation reaffirms what we have said for the past year: that fiscally responsible health insurance reform is not only possible, but also is an important step toward long-term fiscal sustainability.

The new CBO estimate finds that health insurance reform will reduce the deficit by over $100 billion in this decade and by more than $1 trillion over the following 10 years. If enacted, this would be the most significant deficit-reduction package passed into law in over a decade. And it will begin to transform our health care system into one that delivers higher quality at lower cost, boosting the bottom lines of American businesses, families, and the federal government — all the while providing those with health insurance with new choices and a host of new consumer protections and expanding coverage to 32 million Americans.

By paying for itself and more, this legislation represents an important break from the way Washington has done business recently. In the first decade of this century, large, significant domestic policy initiatives—two tax cuts and a Medicare prescription drug benefit — were passed into law without being paid for, adding trillions to the deficit. That is why the President pushed for, and then signed into law, statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) legislation that holds policymakers to a simple principle: if you propose new tax cuts or entitlement expansions, you must find a way to pay for them.

Some have raised concerns that the health insurance reform legislation may have fallen short of this PAYGO principle. That is simply false. CBO’s analysis shows that the combination of the Senate-passed bill and the reconciliation bill will be deficit-reducing according to statutory PAYGO standards — standards that go beyond simple deficit reduction.

In particular, the overall bill — including the Senate-passed bill and the reconciliation bill combined—generates over $100 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade (and more thereafter). For the purposes of statutory PAYGO, however, certain of the bill’s savings are not counted: namely, the deficit reduction coming from increased Social Security payroll tax revenues and from the CLASS Act, a long-term care program. But even excluding these components the combined bills generate a net reduction in the deficit, and thus are fully compliant with statutory PAYGO.

The CBO score today should leave no doubt that we are operating in a new fiscal era — one where we abide by our commitment to pay for new initiatives and take steps to restore fiscal responsibility by reining in the single biggest driver of our long-term shortfall.

Peter Orszag is Director of the Office of Management and Budget


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


50/50: "


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If you’re an American under the age of 65, there’s roughly a 50/50 chance that you will find yourself without coverage at some point in the next decade.[Source]

President Obama first highlighted this staggering figure in a weekly address from this past September and detailed how, in our broken health care system, losing insurance can happen to anyone. At yesterday’s rally, the President reminded us of just how fragile the status quo really is:

Part of what makes this issue difficult is most of us do have health insurance, we still do. And so -- and so we kind of feel like, well, I don’t know, it’s kind of working for me; I’m not worrying too much. But what we have to understand is that what’s happened to Natoma, there but for the grace of God go any one of us. Anybody here, if you lost your job right now and after the COBRA ran out …

So let’s just think about -- think about if you lost your job right now. How many people here might have had a preexisting condition that would mean it’d be very hard to get health insurance on the individual market? Think about if you wanted to change jobs. Think about if you wanted to start your own business but you suddenly had to give up your health insurance on your job. Think about what happens if a child of yours, heaven forbid, got diagnosed with something that made it hard for them to insure.

For so many people, it may not be a problem right now but it’s going to be a problem later, at any point. And even if you’ve got good health insurance, what’s happening to your premiums? What’s happening to your co-payments? What’s happening to your deductible? They’re all going up. That’s money straight out of your pocket.

So the bottom line is this: The status quo on health care is simply unsustainable. We can’t have -- we can’t have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people.

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Today’s number – 50/50 – is the latest in our ‘Health Reform by the Numbers’ series, an online campaign to raise awareness about how we just can’t wait any longer for health insurance reform. You can follow the campaign on and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.

To help spread the word, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.

Previous Numbers:



1: "


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1 -- in every six dollars in the U.S. economy is spent on health care today. [Source]
If we do nothing, in 30 years, 1 out of every three dollars in our economy will be tied up in the health care system. [Source]

Yesterday, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute, non-partisan research organizations, released a report analyzing the cost of maintaining the status quo on health care. Here’s just a sample of what they believe we could be facing in the years ahead:

Families will face dramatically higher health care costs. Individual and family spending on premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs will increase significantly. Spending would jump 34 percent by 2015 and 79 percent by 2020.
Premiums will become increasingly expensive for employers and their workers. Premiums for both single and family policies would more than double by 2020, increasing from $4,800 to $10,300 for single policies, and from $12,100 to $25,600 for family policies.
Employers will see large increases in premium costs. Employer spending on premiums would increase from $430 billion in 2010 to $851 billion in 2020 -- a 98 percent increase.
Many small and medium sized firms would quit offering health care coverage to workers. As premiums nearly double, employees in small firms would see offers of health insurance almost cut in half, dropping from 41 percent of firms offering insurance in 2010 to 23 percent in 2020. Medium-sized firms would also cut offers of health insurance, dropping from 90 percent in 2010 to 75 percent in 2020.

It’s clear: the cost of doing nothing is too high. The time is now to reform our broken health care system.

Today’s number, 1, is the latest in ‘Health Reform by the Numbers,’ our online campaign to raise awareness about why the time is now for health insurance reform. You can follow the campaign on and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.

To help spread the word, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.

Previous Numbers:


Saturday, March 13, 2010


625: "


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625 – That’s the number of people who lost their health insurance EVERY HOUR in 2009 [Source:]

Losing insurance – it can happen to anyone. We’ve all heard stories – maybe you know someone who’s recently lost their insurance, maybe that someone is you. President Obama has heard those stories too:

There's the father I met in Colorado whose child was diagnosed with severe hemophilia the day after he was born. Now, they had insurance, but there was a cap on their coverage. So once the child's medical bills began to pile up, the father was left to frantically search for another option, or face tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.... Small business people -- I got a letter just this week from a small businessman. He said, "I don't know what to do. I've always provided health insurance for my families, but here, the attached bill, shows that the premiums have gone up 48 percent in the last year, and I think that I'm probably going to have to stop providing health insurance for my employees. I don't want to, but I don't have a choice."

These stories are wrong. They are heartbreaking. Nobody should be treated that way in the United States of America…

You can learn more about the family from Colorado in this video:

It’s time to reform our broken health care system so that American families and businesses can get the stability and security they deserve.

Today’s number – 625 – is the third in our ‘Health Reform by the Numbers’ series, an online campaign to raise awareness about how we just can’t wait any longer for health insurance reform. You can follow the campaign on and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.

To help spread the word, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.

Previous Numbers:




41: "


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41 -- that’s the number of leading economists -- including three Nobel Prize winners -- who sent a letter to President Obama and Congress yesterday urging the swift passage of comprehensive health insurance reform to curb skyrocketing health care costs. [Source]
41 -- is also the percentage of adults under the age of 65 who accumulated medical debt, had difficulty paying medical bills, or struggled with both during a recent one year period. [Source]

Laura Klitzka of Wisconsin is no stranger to the burden of crippling health care costs. In September, we had a chance to visit with her at her home in Green Bay. Here’s her story:

With comprehensive health insurance reform, we can finally control rising health care costs and bring relief to Laura and her family and the many other American families struggling to keep up with their bills. According to these leading economists, “the health care reforms passed by the House and Senate – with recent modifications proposed by President Obama – include serious measures that will slow the growth of health care spending.” If reform fails, they add, “the chances of reducing growth of health care spending in the future will be greatly reduced.”

Today’s number, 41, is the latest in ‘Health Reform by the Numbers,’ our online campaign to raise awareness about why the time is now for health insurance reform. You can follow the campaign on and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn.

If you’d like to help spread the word, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below.

Previous Numbers:



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recovery Act in Action, #3: Tracking the Ripples

Recovery Act in Action, #3: Tracking the Ripples: "

Editor's Note: In case you missed them, read Part 1 and Part 2.

Throw a rock in a still pond and you will observe many ripples.

Throw a Recovery Act program in a stagnant economy and you will observe many jobs.

Therein lies the lesson from our latest entry of the Recovery Act in Action, thanks to some truly thorough journalism by Robert Gavin of the Boston Globe.

Gavin looked at the ripple effects, or—if you want to be boring—multipliers, from $77 million in Recovery Act contracts awarded to Reveal Imaging Technologies (RIT), a manufacturer of airport security equipment in Bedford, MA.

RIT reports that thanks to the Recovery Act-funded contracts from the Transportation Security Administration, they’ve added nearly 40 jobs over the past year and they’re still hiring. They’ve expanded their plant capacity, more than doubling the size of their facility.

But what Gavin’s article shows is that beyond these direct hiring effects, there’s a lot more upstream and downstream job creation generated by this type of activity. So far, RIT has subcontracted parts of its Recovery Act projects to 21 other companies in 12 states “that make components or provide services for its advanced scanning machines.”

For example, an RIT subcontract helped reduce planned layoffs at a firm that assembles conveyor systems. Same with a machine tool shop, whose “metal cutting machines, silent several months ago, are humming again” thanks largely to another RIT subcontract.

I spoke to the owner of that machine shop, Jack McGrail. He told me that most of 2009 was pretty dismal and that if things didn’t improve he was going to have to let some folks go. Then, in November, the RIT order generated by the Recovery Act came in, and, as Jack said, “it saved me from laying two guys off and I was able to add one more.”

That’s one type of multiplier effect—the jobs created by firms providing inputs to the final product. But there’s another type that’s also important: the activity caused when people earn more and go out and spend it. Gavin picked up this kind of activity too by visiting Rebecca’s CafĂ©, a restaurant near RIT that reports a 15% increase in sales since RIT expanded its workforce.

The evidence around the RIT case supports something economists have known since Keynes taught it to us: the jobs you directly create through government spending at a time of recession are just the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, there are hundreds of thousands of teachers in classrooms and police on the beat, construction workers fixing roads, weatherizing and rehabbing buildings, engineers building out the smart grid and planning new high-speed rail lines, and much more. But as with RIT, for each one of these jobs, there are many others helping to supply materials and services to these firms and workers.

We’ll be throwing a lot more stones in the water in coming months, and I’ll be sure to keep posted on both the splash and the ripples.

Jared Bernstein is Chief Economic Advisor to the Vice President



8: "

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8 -- The number of people every minute who are denied coverage, charged a higher rate, or otherwise discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. [Source:]
8 -- The number of lobbyists hired by special interests to influence health reform for every member of Congress in 2009. [Source: Center for Public Integrity]

Ellen Linderman is a wife and farmer -- and one of those 8 people every minute that’s been discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. Here’s her story:

Ellen is a 61-year old farmer in Carrington, ND. She has had several difficult experiences with health care in recent years. Ellen was initially denied health insurance coverage a few years back when she and her husband (also a farmer) had to switch from the state employee plan to private insurance. However, since she had eye surgery less than six months prior to switching, she was considered high risk. The issue was eventually resolved but only after she went without coverage for several months. Health insurance reform would help people like Ellen who have a pre-existing condition and need to get insurance – insurance companies can't deny people due to a pre-existing condition.
Ellen and the hundreds of others like her who are treated unfairly because of a pre-existing condition are another reason why we just can’t wait any longer for health insurance reform.

Over the next several days, we’ll continue announce new numbers, like 8, to raise awareness about why the time is now for health reform. We’ll promote those figures here on and on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to help raise awareness, share this blog post with your family, friends and online networks using the ‘Share/Bookmark’ feature below."

Monday, March 08, 2010

Robert Creamer: Republicans Want to Vote Against Health Care Reform? Go Ahead, Make My Day

Robert Creamer: Republicans Want to Vote Against Health Care Reform? Go Ahead, Make My Day: "

Over the last several weeks various pundits -- and Republican talkers -- have fanned out across the airwaves to proclaim that Democrats face grave political danger this fall if they are so bold as to pass health care reform in the face of united Republican opposition.

For Congressional Democrats, the source of this advice should be enough to make it completely suspect. And in fact, history shows that just the opposite is true -- and many Republicans know it. Republicans do not win when Democrats are successful at making fundamental progressive change. They win when they stop Democrats from making fundamental progressive change.
As a progressive Democrat, I would be thrilled if every Republican votes against a health care reform bill that passes Congress and is signed into law by the President, since history shows they will pay a steep price for their united opposition to progressive change.
All you need to do is look at the last century of American politics. When has the modern Democratic Party been most successful? When it delivered on fundamental progressive change.
After Roosevelt delivered Social Security, the right of unions to organize, the regulation of Wall Street through the SEC, the reorganization of the banking system and FDIC, public works programs, and by massively increasing the share of taxes paid by the very rich, Democrats maintained huge margins in Congress and the Presidency for two decades. They also lay the foundation for the most robust period of economic growth in the history of humanity.
When President Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed Medicare and Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act and the War on Poverty - and later the Democratic Congress created the EPA -- Democrats had majorities in the House for three and a half decades that outlasted the conservative Reagan revolution of the 1980s by 14 years.
It wasn't until 1994 - largely because of the failure of Congress to pass the Clinton health care reform plan - that Republicans gained control of the House.
Why do Democrats do so well when they make fundamental progressive change? Because those policies benefit the vast majority of the voters rather than the tiny super-wealthy minority - the top 2% of the population - that are the chief beneficiaries of Republican status quo economic policies.
Ask any senior, or person with a disability, how they feel about Medicare and Social Security - policies that were passed by Democrats and opposed tooth and nail by Republicans. Even some Tea Party activists carry around signs that read: 'Hands Off My Medicare.' Ask most everyday Americans how they feel about child labor laws, or the minimum wage, or the Food and Drug Administration that protects consumers from unsafe food and medicines. Ask any consumer how she feels about the Federal Trade Commission, or federal laws that protect us from unsafe products. Ask anyone who breathes how they feel about laws that cleaned up our air and water.
Ask virtually anyone in America how they feel about public education - or a woman's right to vote.
All of these fundamental changes in American society were fought by the conservatives of the time, and once passed they all came to define the high political ground.

Americans are not disgusted with Washington today because of the bold initiatives it is considering. They are disgusted, in considerable measure, because it appears gridlocked and unable to deal with the problems confronting the nation, and their stagnant standard of living. They are tired of politicians who see politics as a 'gotcha' game instead of a way to deal with the problems and opportunities that confront their families. They hate the idea that their political leaders are in bed with Wall Street, the oil companies and the insurance giants - that campaign contributors have more sway than the voters.

They want decisive action to make fundamental change every bit as much as they did when they elected Barack Obama a little over a year ago.

When Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) said last year that Republicans could make the defeat of health care reform 'Obama's Waterloo,' he understood that it was great politics for Republicans to prevent fundamental reform, not the opposite.
If, once it is passed and signed into law, the Republicans want to campaign to repeal health care reform I say, go ahead, make my day.
As a Democrat, I love our odds if we can campaign against Republicans who voted against allowing ordinary Americans to have the right to buy the same kind of health care that is available to Members of Congress.

Something like: 'Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is happy to let the government pay for his health care, but Congressman Kirk voted against requiring that ordinary Americans be eligible to buy the same health insurance as Members of Congress.

Congressman Kirk may enjoy being an important Member of Congress, but when it comes to his health care, he should be no better than the rest of us.'

When Congressman Roy Blunt runs for the Senate in Missouri this fall, I can't wait to see ads like:'When it came to health insurance reform, Congressman Roy Blunt knew which side he was on. Blunt voted against reining in the power of health insurance companies to raise rates - by thirty nine ... fifty... even sixty percent.
He voted to oppose preventing insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
He opposed requiring that insurance companies spend at least 80% of our premiums on medical care instead of CEO salaries, lobbyists, exploding profits, and armies of bureaucrats that do nothing but deny claims.
In fact, Congressman Blunt stood up for the insurance companies every time he had a chance. Isn't it time we had someone who stands up for us?'
The pundits who are blathering on that passing the health care bill is bad politics for Democrats either don't know what they're talking about, or are running a deliberate misinformation campaign to persuade swing Democrats to vote no.
Democrats are already subject to whatever down side they will get for voting for health care reform. That isn't going to change. But if they pass the bill they will get a big up side for actually delivering change.
And Democrats in Congress can't be confused that the voters will 'punish' them for 'jamming the bill through' or other procedural issues. First, it is impossible to 'jam the bill through' with a majority vote. That's what we do in a democracy - a majority rules. We believe in up or down votes.
But just as important, no one ever votes based on 'procedural' issues - or even remembers them. Who knows or cares what procedures were used to pass Medicare or Social Security. What people care about is the impact policies have on their lives - not procedural bickering.
One of the reasons the public support for 'health care reform' in general has dropped is the focus of news stories on the procedural 'sausage making' of Congress. The voters still strongly support the components of reform, and those are the questions that will be issues in the upcoming election.
The fact is that when Democrats act boldly to pass fundamental progressive change, we win. That's why changing the Senate filibuster rule is fundamentally good for Progressives. Some say, 'Oh wait until the Republicans are in the majority, then you'll wish you had a filibuster to stop their policies.' The problem is that we are the party of change, and they are the party of the status quo. We win when we have the ability to make fundamental change. They win by stopping us. In addition, it turns out that when we actually make change, we don't lose our majorities.

Sunday's New York Times ran a story about Obama Senior Adviser David Axelrod. It was part of a continuing analysis by the media attempting to place 'blame' on various members of the Obama inner circle for the difficulty of creating fundamental change.

In general, I find these stories irritating for two reasons. First, they ignore the real reason why it has taken longer than hoped to pass health care reform, climate change legislation, financial reform and immigration reform: real change is hard to do. When you take on the wealthiest vested interests in America they don't just give up. They pressure members of Congress, they lie to the public -- they do everything in their power to stop reform dead in its tracks.

Second, these critiques generally rely on the opinions of a pundit chattering class in Washington that has never run a political or issue campaign, much less made fundamental change. These pundits are rarely held responsible when their predictions or analysis turns out to be completely off-base. And often they behave like the little schools of fish you see in the shallow waters at the seashore: the entire school turns on a dime - first going this way, then another - all as a group. Like the little fish, that kind of 'schooling' mentality may help them protect them within the safety of the pack - but it does nothing to promote accurate analysis or political insight.

David Axelrod is one of the most accomplished political and message strategists of our era. Along with David Plouffe, he crafted the best-run presidential campaign in American history. He happens to also be dedicated to fundamental progressive change.
Axelrod doesn't always get it right, any more than anyone who is actually in the arena trying to make change happen. But I'd trust our success at making that change - the strategy for making that change - to David Axelrod any time compared to virtually any of his critics.

The political problem facing Democrats in the Mid-term elections has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of leadership from people like David Axelrod. It has everything to do with actually delivering change.

In the next two weeks, Democrats in Congress must come together and pass health care reform.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: 'Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,' available on


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Weekly Address: What Health Reform Will Deliver – This Year

Weekly Address: What Health Reform Will Deliver – This Year: "

In this week’s address, President Obama describes how American families will have more control over their health care this year, after health reform passes.

Here are a few more points about how health insurance reform measures will benefit Americans this year:

Hold Insurance Companies Accountable:

Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all new plans;
Prohibit rescissions of health insurance policies in all individual plans;
Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs;
Establish a process for the annual review of unreasonable increases in premiums, requiring State insurance commissioners to work with the HHS Secretary and States.

Protect Consumers:

Provide grants to States to support health insurance consumer assistance and ombudsman programs to help consumers;
Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
Require all insurance plans to use uniform coverage documents so consumers can make easy comparisons when shopping for health insurance;
Establish an internet portal to assist Americans in identifying coverage options;
Prohibit insurers from discriminating in favor of highly compensated employees by charging them lower premiums.

Ensure Affordable Choices and Quality Care:

Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
Create a temporary re-insurance program for early retirees;
Require new plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
Facilitate administrative simplification to lower health system costs."