Senate Panel Rejects a ‘Public Option’ in Health Plan

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Booooo to Max Baucus, Boo to Bill Nelson and Boo to all other spineless Democrats who voted to get rid of the public option. Yes we knew this was gonna happen. Yes, we know they are on the take-all that lobbying money  was hard to resist.. Yes, we know , we know, but booo to them anyway. Well I guess all we can do is sit back and watch the movie..as we watch people vote against their interests..

D

Senate Panel Rejects a ‘Public Option’ in Health Plan

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/health/policy/30health.html?_r=2

Healthcare tableWASHINGTON — After a half-day of animated debate, the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday rejected efforts by liberal Democrats to add a government-run health insurance plan to major health care legislation, dealing the first official setback to an idea that many Democrats, including President Obama, say they support.

All of the other versions of the health care legislation advancing in Congress — a bill approved by the Senate health committee and a trio of bills in the House — include some version of the government-run plan, or public option.

But the Finance Committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, long ago removed it from his proposal because of stiff opposition from Republicans who call the public plan a step toward “socialized medicine.”

The committee on Tuesday afternoon voted, 15 to 8, to reject an amendment proposed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, to add a public option called the Community Choice Health Plan, an outcome that underscored the lack of support for a government plan among many Democrats.

Mr. Baucus voted no, as did Senators Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, , and Bill Nelson of Florida, joining all 10 Republicans in opposition.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who voted in favor of the proposal, said supporters of the public option would keep on fighting. He has offered a separate amendment to establish such an option.

“We are going to keep at this and at this and at this until we succeed, because we believe in it so strongly,” he said.

Advocates of a public plan say it would provide crucial competition for private insurers and that the larger goals of the legislation, to extend coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans and to slow the steep rise in health care costs, cannot be achieved without it.

The debate came as the Finance Committee resumed debate over the health care bill after a three-day weekend because of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

After the vote on Mr. Rockefeller’s proposal, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, was scheduled to put forward his own public option amendment and it, too, was expected to be defeated.

In the emotionally charged debate, Mr. Rockefeller railed against the practices of private insurers, who he suggested were largely preying on a defenseless American public. “They’re getting away with terrible things,” he said.

But Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, stepped in to voice his party’s fierce opposition to the idea of government-run insurance.

“A government run plan will ultimately force private insurers out of business,” Mr. Grassley said, adding that supporters of the public option were trying to open a back door toward a fully government-run, or single-payer, health system like those in Canada or England.

“Public option is a step toward a completely government run plan that they are hoping for,” Mr. Grassley said.

And he rejected assertions by Democrats, including Mr. Rockefeller, that the public plan would compete fairly because it would have to follow the same rules as private insurers.

“The federal government will not only be running the plan, it will also be running the market in which it competes with the private plans and that doesn’t sound like a level playing field to me,” Mr. Grassley said.

Democrats quickly rose up to answer the charges, including Mr. Schumer, who challenged Mr. Grassley to spell out his views on Medicare, the government insurance plan for Americans over age 65 and for the disabled.

“I just want to know what you think of Medicare, which is a much more government-run program,” Mr. Schumer said.

“I think that Medicare is part of the social fabric of America just like Social Security is,” Mr. Grassley said. “To say that I support it is not to say that it’s the best system that it could be.”

“But it is a government-run plan,” Mr. Schumer shot back.

Mr. Grassley, a veteran Senate debater, insisted that Medicare did not pose a threat to the private insurance industry. “It’s not easy to undo a Medicare plan without also hurting a lot of private initiatives that are coupled with it,” he said.

Mr. Schumer pounced. “You are supportive of Medicare,” he said. “I just don’t understand the difference. That’s a government-run plan and the main knock you have made on Senator Rockefeller’s amendment, and I am sure on mine, is that it’s government-run.”

The efforts by Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Schumer to add a public plan to the bill were really just a dress rehearsal for a fuller battle that will play out on the Senate floor in the weeks ahead.

Senate Democratic leaders, however, do not believe there will be sufficient support to add the public option to the bill.

Aides to the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, say that he will not include a provision for the public option when he combines the measures coming out of the finance and health committees.

Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Schumer and other supporters of a government-run plan will bring floor amendments trying once again to add it to the legislation.

And even when the debate over the public option is taken up on the Senate floor, most likely it will not be finished.

There is wider support for a government-run insurance plan in the House, where the Democratic caucus is more liberal. And if the House bill includes a public option, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated, the issue will ultimately be decided in a conference proceedings to reconcile the Senate and House bills.

As an alternative, Mr. Baucus included in his bill a proposal to create private, nonprofit health insurance cooperatives to compete with private insurers.

The Congressional Budget Office has questioned whether the cooperatives would really have much effect. And there are Democrats and Republicans on the Finance Committee who have proposed amendments that would strip the cooperative provisions.

The main architect of that proposal, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, said during the committee debate that it would provide “strong not for profit competition to the private insurers.” But he warned that hospitals in his home state would be devastated by Mr. Rockefeller’s proposal, which would initially tie the public plan’s payment rates to the rates paid by Medicare.

Many hospitals, doctors and other health care providers say Medicare rates are too low.

Mr. Conrad urged his colleagues to consider his alternative,. “We have gotten locked in a very sterile debate ,” he said.

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Roman Polanski and the Contradictions in Us All

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DaveyD-leather-225Everyone is talking about the arrest of   ‘famed’ director Roman Polanski as he entered Switzerland the other day to attend an award show where he was being honored. He was arrested for being a fugitive on the run from the United States and is likely to be sent back to face charges for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl 30 years ago.  Polanski is best known for directing films like ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. After he fled the country, he continued to shine by directing films like  The Pianist which won him a couple of Academy Awards, the Ninth Gate and Tess to name a few. 

Personally I shed no tears for Polanski. The crime he committed was heinous crime where there is no forgiveness.  As far as I’m concerned our government along with the rich and powerful in Hollywood gave Polanski a pass. He was given a wink and a nod when he fled to France. People somehow found a way to humanize him and make him a sympathetic  figure of sorts by noting how his beloved wife Sharon Tate was killed by Charles Manson. Hence him raping a 13 year old was somehow a result of that trauma.

For me, its hard not to look at Polanski supposedly escaping the US Justice system while that same justice system managed to track down and persecute Black Panthers and others who were part of the freedom struggle, all over the world.  It didn’t matter if any of those figures had experienced personal tragedies like seeing a loved one shot and killed by police. It didn’t matter that they themselves had been traumatized by oppression. At the time Polanski committed this rape, Panthers were being mercilessly hunted down by the FBI via their destructive cointel-pro program which among other things instructed agents to run all sorts psychological mind games on their BP targets.

Over the years we’ve seen local prosecutors be granted all sorts of resources to go after these freedom fighters 30 years after the fact even though the crimes they were accused of were highly disputable and in many instances dubious. Perhaps  government officials should’ve spent time and energy offering million dollar bounties for his return the way they did Asaata Shakur. Perhaps time should’ve been spent  securing Congressional proclamations of condemnation or making his extradition to the US a precondition to  a normalized or improved relationship between us and France.  We seem to have no problem insisting on such things at tax payer expense when it came to seeking out  Black and Brown folks fighting against injustice heaped upon our communities. 

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

What I find most disturbing is that after all these years what may have triggered Polanski’s arrest was him criticizing and accusing the LA District attorney’s office of gross misconduct. From the way it sounds, it appears that all it took to go after and finally get a seemingly untouchable Polanski arrested was a bruised ego. For 30 years the US Justice system could not grab hold of Polanski because he was hiding out in the south of France or the Swiss Alps. Suddenly he raises his voice against the state and they found a way to get him. Swiss Alps be damned.

This saga spells out a couple of things. Lesson #1– speak out against the state rightly or wrongly, and it is likely to hit back. There are lots of freedom fighters languishing in jails as political prisoners who clearly understand this lesson.

Lesson #2-, which I hope did not go over everybody’s head, is understanding the full scope and wide breadth of discretion that prosecutors seem to have when it comes to tackling crime. From what I can tell, there are no new laws in Switzerland that just sprung up allowing Polanski to finally be arrested. They were always in place, but for some reason even though Polanski had been to Zurich numerous times and even had a nice home over there, our government, in particular the LA district attorney just didn’t seem to have the political will or wherewithal to bring Polanski, a man who raped a 13-year-old to justice. That speaks volumes.

Y’all should marinate on that for a while. While you do that, ask yourself why the Pookies and Ray Rays of our community are doing 10 year bids after vigoriously being persecuted for non-violent crimes and drug addictions and white collar criminals who pillage and plunder you into taking substances are still free except for handful. Think about that while our prosecutors can’t find ways to bring brutalizing cops to justice but will suspend your license and issue an arrest warrant that they will hungrily pursue for unpaid tickets.

Yes, we know there are double standards, but we should not dismiss them and say ‘Oh well that’s how they be’ or ‘Oh well that’s how they do us-what else is knew?‘. My point here is that we should be well aware that there is lots of latitude and hence this should embolden us to fight even harder for people’s freedoms and to fight even harder to bring those who egregiously wronged us to justice. It should be more than obvious that no prosecutor’s hands are tied when it comes to doing what they feel needs to be done.

With that being said, we should also look at the contradictions within Hollywood. Here’s a town that is infamous for social persecutions and ostracization of ‘wrong doers’ and people who stepped on the wrong toes. Everyone knows that there are simply certain buttons you don’t push and certain people you don’t piss off least you suffer serious social and economic consequences. Hollywood is small town and stepping on toes is easy to do with dire consequences, unless you’re Roman Polanski who raped a 13-year-old..Now, call someone a pejorative name like ‘Faggot’ as did actor Isiah Washington and you can find yourself banished with your peers loudly condemning you. Not only will they condemn, many might not even work with you.

Unless your name is Mel Gibson and you are titan in your own right, you best not even think about saying or doing anything that is deemed anti-Semitic. You are likely to not be receiving any Academy Awards. You are likely not to be praised and forget about getting funding for your next film.

When you are a Polanski, you can get your esteemed colleagues coming to your aid petitioning the Swiss government and even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for your immediate release. You can have your fellow colleagues likes actress Debra Winger go before the world and declare your persecution and date with justice is a Philistine-like act.

When your a Polanski you can be spared a Bill O’reilly like tirade or a Glenn Beck tea party inspired witch hunt. Be Van Jones and curse at a Republican and its gloves our off and the pressure won’t let up until you leave town. Be Roman Polanski and we won’t have deep investigations trying to connect the dots..

Woody Allen

Woody Allen

And lets not get it twisted, Polanski not the only one who has done wrong or has raised serious questions in this regard. We still show love and admiration for film director Woody Allen, even though he was accused by his former partner Mia Farrow of molesting her seven year old daughter and as we all know he eventually wound up marrying his ‘step daughter’ Soon-Yi Previn. Allen is still admired and held up as being a pillar in the film industry.

I was tempted to ask the rhetorical question would any of us work for a director who raped a 13-year-old girl?  Would any of us work for someone who was accused of molestation and married his step daughter?  I was gonna ask that until I remembered  many of us would have no qualms in embracing Polanski and Allen. We would embrace them the same way we embrace accused molester R. Kelly. You remember him,  the guy who sings those dope songs like ‘Still I can Fly’ and ‘Step in the Name of Love’ ?  You remember R.Kelly the guy who somehow beat the charges levied against him, but there was no denying it was him in an underground widely watched x-rated video getting kinky and peeing on an underage girl? But hell if we can love Elvis Presley  who was with Priscilla at 14 and Jerry Lee Lewis who was with his cousin when she was 13,  I guess why trip off Polanski,  Allen and R Kelly right?  Our tolerance of such actions and activities says a lot about us as a society…At the very least it says we talk a good game about loving our children, but at the end of the day we do very little to protect them, especially if there’s money to be made.

Aaaah yes..ya gotta love the contradictions in us all….

Something to ponder

-Davey D-

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