President Obama was re-elected last night with an impressive margin in the electoral college. The popular vote margin was much narrower, but it looks like he’ll be over 50% with roughly a 2 point margin.
I’ll have much more to say about this, but most of us will acknowledge that this was a very important election. The pundits liked to mock both campaigns for not discussing big issues, but that truly missed the point. Both sides offered very different paths for our future, and most voters understood the profound differences.
With an Obama victory, his signature accomplishment from his first term, health care reform, will now be fully implemented. Mitt Romney would have either repealed or gutted Obamacare, but now the notion of universal health care will be cemented as part of the social compact. We’ll all have to wait and see how Republicans react to Obama’s victory, but hopefully on health care we’ll see a shift away from a reflexive attempt to overturn Obamacare to constructive negotiations to improve it and cut medical costs in general. We’ve heard Republicans pontificate for years about malpractice reform. Perhaps now we’ll actually get some constructive proposals.
We may have a continuation of the political wars, but now we know that any deal will have to be more balanced than the GOP plan of just hacking away at spending on the elderly and the poor. We’ll see how that plays out.
It will also be interesting to see if some conservatives will break out of the right wing media bubble. Conservatives were told to ignore the poll numbers that pointed to an Obama victory, and that the “real” numbers would lead to a Romney landslide. These projections were pure fantasy, just like the Romney/GOP budget numbers that claimed you could miraculously balance the budget by slashing taxes. We live in a divided country and many on both sides are guilty of just listening to their own partisan news sources, but the dogma and partisanship on the right has become absurd. Even respectable pundits like George Will and Micheal Barone drank the Cool Aid and ended up looking just as clueless as partisan hacks like Dick Morris with their predictions of the Romney landslide.
Finally, conservatives and Republicans need to stand up to the lunatic fringe. You can’t encourage the crazies on your side, and then lament when idiot candidates like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin say stupid things about rape and abortion. You can’t cater to the haters who demonize illegal immigrants and then complain that you got crushed by the Latino vote. We’ll see if there’s anyone in the GOP who has a spine. Chris Christie is an obvious candidate as he’s called out the crazies before, but now he’s on serious probation with the right for saying something nice about President Obama. Perhaps Marco Rubio can help on that front. We can expect serious fireworks within the GOP as they hash out these issues. If they don’t work it out, I’ll be happy to see them forfeit the Latino, African American, Asian and much of the female vote in future elections.
Yesterday was a good day for those of us who want universal health care coverage. It was also a good day for those of us who think CNN and Fox both suck. The video below from Politico mashes up some of the funniest reactions to the Supreme Court decision and the massive fail by CNN and Fox News.
After demagoguing 9/11 for the past decade and constantly talking about the heroes of that terrible time, the Republicans blocked benefits for 9/11 first responders. Many of the have become seriously ill and some have died due to what they had to breath while responding to the terrorist attack. Jon Stewart lets them have it.
Early yesterday morning, Valerie and Rob Shirk corralled their 10 home-schooled children into their van for the 2 1/2-hour drive from their home in Connecticut to Boston, arriving just in time to hear Sarah Palin denounce government-run health care at the tea party movement rally on Boston Common.
They thought it would be a learning opportunity for their children, who range in age from 9 months to 15 years old and who held up signs criticizing the government for defying the “will of the people.’’
“The problem in this country is that too many people are looking for handouts,’’ said Valerie Shirk, 43, of Prospect, Conn. “I agree with the signs that say, ‘Share my father’s work ethic — not his paycheck.’ We have to do something about the whole welfare mentality in this country.’’
Okay — that’s fine. There’s a legitimate argument that we should cut government spending.
But wait, there’s more…
The couple, who rely on Medicaid for their health care, were also upset about the nation’s new health reforms.
When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.
“I know there’s a dichotomy because of what we get from the state,’’ she said. “But I just look at each of my children as a blessing.’’
How is this level of hypocrisy even possible? Shirk knows “there’s a dichotomy” considering at a rally protesting health care reforms while at the same time she’s accepting government-run health care, and she explains it away by saying that her children are “a blessing.”
She talks about personal responsibility, yet she can’t stop herself from having more children even though she freely admits that she and her husband can’t afford it. She rails on those who are looking for handouts, yet she’s happily takes those handouts!
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kans.) told a group of local Kansas reporters on Wednesday, that opposition to the president’s health care package had been driven by knee-jerk partisanship and urged Congressional Republicans to get on board a version of reform.
* * * *
“Sometimes people fight you just to fight you,” he said, according to The Kansas City Star. “They don’t want Reagan to get it, they don’t want Obama to get it, so we’ve got to kill it…
We’ve also seen an AP poll today that shows a rebound in President Obama’s approval rating and the approval for health care reform, along with a score from the CBO that shows the Senate Finance bill would actually reduce the deficit by over $80 billion, which would give plenty of negotiating room for liberals who want to expand certain parts of the bill.
Ezra Klein has an excellent summary of the health care debate and where it currently stands. He does a great job of separating the actual policy debates going on in Congress from some of the silly issues being argued by the public.
Anyone who wondering why health care premiums are exploding just needs to take a look at the insurance industry.
Schumer pointed to the profits of the 10 largest insurance companies — which shot up 428 percent between 2000 and 2007, from $2.4 billion to $12.9 billion — as a reason health care reform is needed.
The insurance industry has not been playing ball on reform, and now Senate Democrats are getting fed up.
With other industry groups pledging savings to help pay the cost of health care reform, Senate Finance Committee Democrats slammed insurers for holding out — and threatened to impose new fees on the industry that could cost it as much as $100 billion.
The Finance Committee members are currently hunting for hundreds of billions of dollars to help finance reform, and with the hospital and pharmaceutical industries having pledged $235 billion, the senators said it was time that the insurers paid their share.
“We need the insurance companies to step up to the plate and be part of the solution. Most of the negotiations so far, the insurance industry has been at the table but you can only sit there at the table with your arms crossed for so long,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Schumer and Sens. John Rockefeller (D-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) pounded the insurers, who they portrayed as unwilling to help pay for reform even while they have enjoyed exploding profits.
“The insurance companies are the people who are just rapaciously, greedily and unstoppably making money by underpaying the patient, by underpaying the provider and by overpaying, therefore, themselves,” Rockefeller said.
We’re seeing a new urgency from the White House and other Democrats on the health care reform issue, and it’s refreshing to see them ratchet up the pressure on the insurance industry.