The 39 Squishes


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

My apologies to Alfred Hitchcock for the wordplay on his brilliant adaption of "The 39 Steps."

No apologies are owed, however, to the 39 Democratic "squishes" in the House who voted for Rep. Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Health Plan Act.” Their defections were pointless. This Tea-Publican messaging bill will not get a hearing in the Senate, and even if it did somehow get a vote, President Obama has promised to veto it.

As Steve Benen observed, "[W]hat was the point of all of this effort? It boils down to Republican 'messaging' goals, which some party leaders consider more important than anything else."

So 39 Democratic squishes simply aided and abetted GOP messaging goals. With friends like these . . .

Andrew Rosenthal at the New York Times was unsparing in his criticism of the 39 squishes. Cutting the Heart Out of Health Reform:

It’s easy to be mad at President Obama over health care reform – the broken website, the confusing choices, his false promise that everyone could keep their current plans.

But it’s still hard to fathom why 39 Democrats voted for a bill in the House that would allow people to retain current, substandard individual policies, and renew them next year even if they don’t provide the basic coverage required by the Affordable Care Act. (You have to wonder, to start, whether they actually read the act before they voted for it, the same question I’d like to ask of Mr. Obama and his team. The changed requirements were in that law.)

Perhaps it was just a protest vote, a freebie based on the lawmakers’ certainty that the Senate will never take up or pass this ridiculous bill. But did those Democrats know what they were voting for this time around?

It’s impossible to accept the votes as a desire to fix the particular problem of people who got cancellation notices for individual plans.

For one thing, if those people could not get on the federal exchange, they might have been able to go to state-run exchanges but live in states where Republican governors refused to set them up. For another, the bill passed by the House today on a vote of 261-157 is not about providing a temporary fix. It is intended to cut the heart out of the health care reform program by allowing people to go on buying substandard policies next year.

Many of those policies are an illusion with catastrophically high deductibles and out-of-pocket spending ceilings. Take the insurance that the right-wing group Generation Opportunity was hawking last month. As Juliet Lapidos wrote here on Oct. 28, the $40.84 a month plan did not cover office visits for primary care doctors or specialists. It has a $10,000 a year deductible and if you ended up in the emergency room, you would have had to pay 20 percent of the bill after the deductible. The same applied to outpatient surgery and hospitalization.

There’s another word for that – bankruptcy.

It may well be that insurance bought on the new exchanges costs more, but it will provide real coverage.

* * *

So, if your Congressman is one of these 39 Democrats who voted for that mess today, you might want to ask why.

The press releases issued by Reps. Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema are masterpieces of sophistry and obfuscation of their support for this GOP messaging bill. Not all of us are low information voters who are not paying attention. We are not easily played rubes. Some of us have years of policy experience and fully understand and appreciate what is at stake in this battle for health care as a human right, not a privilege for the wealthy few, a battle in which you have demonstrated craven cowardice.

MSNBC's Chris Hayes delivered a brilliant must-see commentary – Get it together – on his All In program on Friday night. "No retreat, no surrender, no going back. The only way out is through."

UPDATE: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that Democrats in the House should focus on making the health care law work, not on their 2014 elections. "What's important about it is that the American people are well-served, not who gets re-elected," Pelosi said about Obamacare on NBC's "Meet the Press." Right on.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. But where are the strong, progressive candidates with the backing to run in a primary against them? For goodness sake, the ultra-conservatives have candidates crawling out of the woodwork, falling all over themselves for a chance to run, but nary a word from the other side.

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