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Web Letter

I keep reading that the bad healthcare bill we're getting is better than the status quo because its deficiencies can be corrected as time goes on. This leaves me with one question and one concern:

What makes us think we can tweak this plan in the future any more easily than we could have affected the status quo down the line? With such gutless measures, with continuing endless wars,and with no end in sight to withering employment and collapsing incomes, I foresee the return of a brainless demogogue to the White House in 2012 in the form of Sarah Palin. For we seem to have elected a great orator and great compromiser to the presidency when what we needed was a great leader.

My concern with awaiting corrections to this health bill in the future is that people will keep getting sick and dying as time goes on, too, because they have no coverage they can pay for.

Martin Dodge

Chico, CA

Dec 28 2009 - 9:31pm

Web Letter

I could forgive Chris Matthews for labeling Mr. Dean crazy when he had that rant during his run for the presidency, butcalling him a demigod and replaying that stupid moment in the governor's past is really cheap.

James L. Pinette

Caribou, ME

Dec 27 2009 - 8:27am

Web Letter

Supporters of the Senate health bill state that it cuts down on the federal deficit by reducing expenditures to Medicare, a popular federal program that is currently headed towards bankruptcy. All federal expenditures come from the US Treasury. So how do savings from one federal program lower the federal deficit when those so-called savings are entirely spent on another federal program?

Democrats in Congress continue to impose economic servitude upon future generations so that those alive today can live better more healthy and comfortable lives.

The extent to which we as a nation are willing to finance our present comforts by deficit spending left to future generations to repay is the equivalent to economic child abuse. It is beyond comprehension. A decent people would not do this.

Not only must future generations pay for what we are unwilling to pay for ourselves, we are also soaking up their taxing capabilities that would be needed to see to their own needs, thereby making our treatment of them a double whammy.

Future generations are being taxed without representation. This is the mainstay of leftist thought in America at this time cloaked in the appearance of concern for the poor among us. But then why would a political thought that considers the unborn to be property to be disposed of when inconvenient or untimely treat differently those of future generations that make it outside their mothers' wombs? Nice job for a political party that condemns Republicans for being heartless.

What is now needed is an awakening among all responsible Americans who are liberal, independent and conservative--to reject selfishness. We need to be proponents of whatever set of priorities each group decides to put forth and let the body politic work its will, leaving the rest for people to solve themselves as they live their daily lives.

Whatever the outcome, we need to pay for what we decide to do for ourselves and allow future generations the same opportunity. As things now stand, there is nothing more we can do until we undo much if not all of the burden we have placed upon future generations. It's time to stop adding to that burden and start reducing it at least until the pain we inflict upon ourselves is equal to the pain we are willing to inflict upon our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Allen Dale

Winchester, VA

Dec 25 2009 - 10:30pm

Web Letter

In the Senate this fall, Joe Lieberman (love child) specifically mentioned that the positive "liberal" response to the expansion of Medicare as a replacement for the "public option" was his reason for abandoning his previous position in favor of it. It may be a third grade reason, but I believe Howard Dean is taking a hit for coming out negatively the way he did. If he were in favor of it, Lieberman or another would be against it now. We need to thank Howard Dean for his accurate response.

Jonathan Foster

East Hampton, NY

Dec 25 2009 - 7:31pm

Web Letter

Robert Scheer doesn't say who in particular is demonizing Howard Dean. I myself trusted Dean enough that my first response was to fire off an e-mail to the White House asking for some consequences to be meted out to Joe Lieberman (as Obama had argued to the Nobel Committee should be, in order to avoid the path to war, meted out to bad international actors).

But this was an incredibly frustrating week for activists trying to evaluate which way we should direct our energies on this bill. We are all in Howard Dean's debt, but I regret to say that his e-mail blast with its assertion about 30 percent of premiums going to CEO salaries and shareholder equity was all claim, no backing evidence. On the other side, it was also difficult to evaluate Paul Krugman's argument that, on balance, the bill should be passed, because the only bill available at the time, on Harry Reid's site and linked in the New York Times's cluster on healthcare reform, was the November 18 Reid amendment "in the nature of a substitute." But it preceded all the compromises we were all so upset about.

The way to stop the demagogues, I think, is to read the bill, and then do the math. Once I've taken a break to spend some time with my family, I'm going back to take a look at the bill. But the Reid amendment above specified an 85 percent medical loss ratio (85 percent of premiums go to medical services--not as good as we'd like to see, and not unqualified either, but on its face the 15 percent remainder constitutes only half of what Dean claimed), and back-of the-envelope math suggests that all those greedy CEOs whose compensation figures we carried on signs during this fall, $20 million etc., don't add up to even a small fraction of a significant figure in the $600 billion in premiums collected annually.

As Martha Nussbaum says, there is no judgment without emotion. I feel, and am acting on, the emotion, but am striving to couple it with rationality.

John Darger

Crystal Lake, IL

Dec 24 2009 - 7:20pm

Web Letter

I guess you are a little late to the party, Mr. Robert Scheer. Howard Dean said on Rachel Maddow's show last night that he supports the vote on the Senate bill but prefers the House version because it has a public option and is stronger in a number of key respects. When Dean was asked point-blank whether he would support a bill without a public option, he made it clear he would take whatever he could get, and try to improve upon it later by adding a public option as one of the options available on the exchanges.

All progressives who want a public option should be complaining to Feingold and Sanders to show some real leadership and rally fifty-one Democratic senators to pass a separate companion bill early next year using budget reconciliation that adds a public option or expanded Medicare as an option on the exchanges.

Progressives in the House could also push for other progressive reform as the "next" major reform effort like campaign finance reform in exchange for their support of parts of the Senate version to get healthcare passed and on the books. Do you really think Lieberman, Landrieu or Nelson take the call of the HMO or Big Pharma lobbyist if they no longer had to go to them for money to fund their re-elections?

These more savvy progressive efforts would be far more productive, impactful and enduring for the progressive cause than trying to blame or undercut the president.

Metteyya Brahmana

Santa Cruz, CA

Dec 23 2009 - 1:08pm

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