And Why Not Take Away Congress's Health Care?

David Sirota points out that there’s been a hissy fit over this ad by Edwards.

Note that Edwards says:

When I’m president, I’m going to say to members of Congress and members of my administration including my cabinet, I’m glad that you have health care coverage and your family has health care coverage. But if you don’t pass universal health care by July 2009, in six months, I’m going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you.

Garance Franke-Ruta from Tapped and Joe Klein came out against it as “unconstitutional” and “horrible demagoguery”.

First thing, as David has noted, is that no, it’s not unconstitutional. Congressional health care is funded by the Legislative Branch Appropriations act. And yes, the President can veto that.

Not only did Joe Klein and Garrance come out against it, but so did the Clinton campaign.

Can you say “tin ear”? What about “elitist Washington snobs”? What really offends them, one suspects, is that it would take health care away from their friends, family and associates. The people of the bubble. Their people. My God, how cruel to leave someone uncovered!

Because it strikes them as beyond the pale, they went on the attack.

But I’m not seeing it. If ordinary Americans have to buy their own healthcare, why shouldn’t people making 6 figures have to? Especially when those same people have the power to make proper health care available to ordinary Americans. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

I’m betting that if there’s a poll done on this proposal the results will support Edwards.

Besides, all Franke-Ruta’s and Klein’s friends on the Hill have to do is vote through the appropriations bill in large enough numbers that the Pres can’t veto it. Since it’ll be under veto threat, and the issue will be known to the public, it won’t be the usual “vote ourselves perks because no one’s watching” bill. But still all they have to do is say “I’ve got mine, and I’m keeping it, to hell with all the uninsureds and underinsureds.” Since keeping their health insurance is so important to them I’m sure they’re willing to just vote accordingly.

In the last two years, two people I knew in the States died, who almost certainly would have lived if they had good health care or good insurance. But hey, they weren’t in Congress, so they could just go away and DIE as far as Congressmembers and their enablers like Klein and Franke-Ruta are concerned.

I wonder who else I know, struggling to make ends meet and with no insurance or lousy insurance, will die next. I really do.

Health care isn’t an urgent issue in Congress, because Congress’s healthcare is just fine.

No, I’m with David on this. Until I see a (reliable) poll saying that Americans don’t like Edwards’ proposal, my guess is that this sort of suggestion will go over just fine. And I won’t cry one damn tear if the folks who could give Americans healthcare, but won’t, lose their insurance.

But they won’t. You know it, and I know it. All this proposal does is highlight the fact that they live in a privileged bubble and that the reason they don’t even try to fix the problems of ordinary Americans is because they don’t share them.

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Ian Welsh

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  • and my thoughts at the time were identical to yours. The hypocrisy of it all is astounding…but it’s nothing less than what I have come to expect from the lizards we put in power, election after election.

    I hope Edwards makes this a huge, ongoing campaign issue…were it up to me, I’d vote for him on this alone. And if he does continue to hammer on this I think it will resonate with the electorate with far more impact than virtually anything else.

    I wish him luck.

  • I have to laugh at the phrase “horrible demagoguery.” It’s something on the level of Stephen Colbert’s sin of “liberal” reality, “horrible reality” or “horrible truth.” Never allow the reality of the situation to actually filter through to the common folk. I think what bothers the politicians about the metaphor is that it’s very much old style populist or dare I say Socialist. The elites have their own system of values and morality and economics, while the serfs, proletariat, commoners have the state’s or the church’s, or God’s (interpreted by the elites). At its core it’s revolutionary, but not metaphoric revolutionary. French Revolutionary. Russian Revolutionary. Chop off their heads or hang them by their feet in the streets revolutionary. It points out the utter sham that is American democracy and equality today.

    I forget which Republican probable pedophile it was but I remember that he was allowed to delay his exit from congress until after his term reached the point where he would get a pension. All those horrible “Socialist!” measures that are so damning to America and its economy, are so special and critical to politicians. They’re (their) well deserved perks, not socialist welfare state measures. It’s the “House of Lords” that the U.S. Senate was a copy of and all congress people so cherish.

    And even at its fundamental levels, the socialist perks that congress people get are in no way comparable to those average people that might have health care insurance or pensions. Do you think there’s a chance in hell that some senator will be told that he or she isn’t covered for some procedure? Do you think there’s a chance in hell or Congress that some politician will be told that the coverage for his or her child has reached its limit and that child and family will have to fend for itself? Do you think there’s a chance in Congress that the existing pension plans and health coverages will be dropped due to the budget deficit?

    Edwards’ words are considered “demagoguery” but the President of the United States of America can go to the warehouse where Social Security bonds are stored, open a file cabinet and pull some out and while waving some of those bonds in the air say, “See, they’re only paper.” That’s acceptable rhetoric? Not demagoguery. A promise from the nation state to its people that their life savings for old age might not be worth more than the paper it’s written on.

    Never in my lifetime has a “let them eat cake” society been so apparent in America. It’s the metaphor of “The Village” but without the least sense of parental concern of that flick and with the cold blunt lordly disregard and massive exploitation. Czar Nicholas cared more about the plight of the Russian people than America’s politicians do the people they are supposed to represent.

  • That’s the control of the public dialog, which the Clinton’s are and were very much a part of and helped foster, even as they were victims of a “village” outrage.

    Let’s face it. Saying you’ll take away their perks if they don’t act isn’t saying you’ll waterboard them till they vote for the people.

    Consider that in America today we have a government that reserves the right to waterboard people on the off chance that they represent a danger to that government but at the same time reserves the right to refuse to even appear before the representatives of the people to possibly answer some questions about their actions in government.

    That’s the reality of America today (ignoring the war for oil that benefits the very few and has killed hundreds of thousands and bankrupts the nation). Not that different from a totalitarian state. Torture or renditioning for “you,” no questions asked, much less answered, for them.

  • I must tell you that the liberty and freedom [of the people] consists in having of Government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having share in Government, Sir, that is nothing pertaining to them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things.
    — Charles I, 1649

    Our elites have clearly gobbled up the message that a subject and a sovereign are clean different things. They and we ought perhaps to notice the context in which it was said — Charles was on the scaffold. We can learn from history that a certain amount of populism is necessary health insurance for the elites.

  • The whole GOP agenda is demagoguery designed to push their hidden agenda, which the public would never buy if they were told the truth about it. Same with the codependent GOP lite Dem Establishment that enables them.

    The Left is not doing so well not only because it isn’t getting any press. Let’s face it, Noam Chomsky is just too wonky to reach Joe and Jane Sixpack.

    We need some good old fashioned fired-up demagoguing to rouse the rabble and light a fire under the peasants that will get them off their couches and reaching for their pitchforks. And saying it with a Southern drawl makes it even more effective.

    Go John. Give ’em a taste of their own medicine.

  • Of course, at that point, congress will just vote itself another COLA to compensate for the loss of health care coverage…

    Honestly, it’s pandering, in the sense that anyone in the Senate can easily afford health care, so it’s really only symbolic pressure.

  • If you don’t really have a shot at the top, just say what needs to be said.

    I’m starting to like Edwards even more as he does this. I think it is why people like Ron Paul too.

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

    Charles Darwin

  • doing taxes, so i know precisely what healthcare cost for my husband and i last year: $17,800.

    i don’t make $200,000 a year. $17,800 is a pretty decent chunk of my money, but it’s not enough that much of it is deductible off my taxes.

    although i’m increasingly disenchanted with edwards, and i doubt he would actually follow through with this if elected, i like the idea and appreciate him at least bringing it up.

  • Saying that Congress’ healthcare should be withheld until Americans have healthcare is the kind of meaningless dialogue I dislike in politicians. Tell me what you are going to do, not some drivel.

    It compares with the ‘issues’ of prayer in the public schools, hanging ten commandments on the wall, not burning a flag. So lets add Congress people get no healthcare until ALL Americans do. (Play appropriate sound bite music here). A distraction and not policy.

    I did find it curious that Kerry and Edwards had NO healthcare policy in 2004. Is that true??

  • unless you can get them to talk about it, and sometimes it means hitting them over the head to get them to pay attention. It may be a distraction for congress but can’t you hear the pubic applauding.

  • Hi
    I think John has a wonderful idea, I’m home recovering from surgry and even with great health care, my part of the bill will be 1000.00 plus some lost wages for 6 weeks. This isn’t bad at all, because if I was still self employeed this would be $35,000 and then some. I could never afford it then. Congress should have the same health care as the 40 million people that don’t have any. 0
    jo6pac

  • “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much…it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Looks like, if we’re to have the kind of government we want, we’re going to have to find rich people (like the Roosevelts) who aren’t divorced from the day to day reality the not-so-rich face every day (like the Bushes, the Hiltons, oh, I could go on and on…).

    Unfortunately, with the tradition and law surrounding the present election process, we need Rich People, since Poor People Are Ugly

    -5.75,-4.05
    Certainly there are things in life that money can’t buy, but it’s very funny–
    Did you ever try buying them without money?
    — Ogden Nash

  • but i will anyway, despite no link. someone had a poll up recently that noted that a majority of americans don’t want “socialized medicine.” iirc the number was around 65%. my only point is that decrying this “outrage” by edwards is the first step in a carefully calculated, and highly effective, discoursive campaign to walk americans away from what they really want, to something they don’t. it begins by convincing them that the only solutions to their problems are worse than the problems themselves.

    hence, terms like “horrible demagoguery.” oh, the horror! never mind kids dying from completely preventable/curable infected teeth and old people being put down like animals to save the family money. bad, naughty words lead to incivility which leads to crying rich people which leads to COMMUNISM!!!1! for some reason, (i think lack of decent public education, mostly) this works with enough people that the corporate mouthpiece/village press can go into pearl-clutching mode and rest safe in knowing it’s enough to kill this one as an electoral plus for edwards.

    question the (publically funded) comforts of the rich, and their courtiers? that’s just not allowed, in 90% of public discourse. and it’s mocked in the other ten percent.

  • there’s a bunch of posts where you posit that since they all say is more or less the same, we should all vote for Hillary. And who’s big on flag burning?

  • I think something happened between 2004 and his kick off in NOLA. Who runs to help the poor. No benefit in that whatsoever. He disappointed me on Iraq a few weeks ago but corrected his statement.

    But this is the break out moment. This has been said before but it has to be hammered again and again. We need national health insurance. We also need a candidate that truly turns on the plutocrats. Will Edwards embrace populism once and for all?

    Since I’ll probably never trust him, I’m not likely have a strong reaction to his efforts but I like this move. Hammer it again and again, read The Money Party 😉 and kick some serious ass.

    I spent 10 days in North Georgia in August, Zel Miller country. If Zel had popped in at the homes and gatherings I attended, he’d have been greeted by angry small business folks. Their critiques of Bush-Cheney were well thought out and devastating. They are Republicans no more. And that’s just Zel country. The rest of the country is ready also. It’s time to kick it in.

    If Edwards can’t be consistent, look for some predictible indiscretion of you know who to surface effectively ending HRC’s campaign … then a Gore announcement.

  • Is this really effective with anyone under 40? Under 30 it’s a “what’s that?”. In the 40-60 year old bracket I think it’s mostly “oh, THAT old thing, good thing it’s over and we can’t have a nuclear war any more”.

    Seriously, the US has gone so far to the right that I’m not sure the word “socialism” has much of a public meaning.

    Forget it, Jake – it’s AmnesiaTown

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