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February 17, 2010

Bayh-partisanship = Giving your seat to a Republican

In this week's Pulse we look at the implications Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) decision not to seek reelection. As an incumbent, he could have easily won another term. But Bayh says he's fed up with partisanship in Washington. So, he's quitting and handing his job to a Republican. Blue Dog bipartisanship in a nutshell.

Maybe the Senate Democrats will snap out of their stupor and resolve to do something with their dwindling majority before it's too late. They're scared because they're unpopular, but they're unpopular because they're too scared to pass anything.


Don't read this incorrectly.

They're unpopular because they're a bunch of partisan, corrupt criminals.

Just as the Republicans are unpopular because they're a bunch of obstructionist, partisan, corrupt criminals.

Allowing senators to sell their votes and cutting special deals with the thugs who run big unions has not endeared the Dems to the majority of Americans.

Obama embraced a policy which hurts union workers: to tax the hihg-premium health care plans they negotiated with management.

Then Obama agreed to delay that tax for union workers for five years.

Obama didn't do unions a favor.

He agree to hurt unions a little less than he orginally planned.

He put union workers on a preferred platform to the 90% or so of workers who don't belong to unions. The action was discriminatory on its face.

The union workers negotiated for the health insurance plan over pay increases.

The other workers didn't.

The five year delay is to give the unions time to negotiate pay increases, in expectation of the high-premium plans being ended.

The other workers didn't

You don't know that their employers did not grant these tax advantaged health benefits in lieu of taxable wages etc esp in stupidly high tax states like NY.

If the unions had a problem in negotiating changes, he could have stretched out the implementation of taxes on all Cadillac plans ( if such taxes were desirable at all )

There was no need for the discriminatory treatment - done to a group ( unions ) that had contributed heavily to Obama. This was a payoff for a small minority of the workforce

About 1/10th of the Democratic Senate is actually opposed to most of the actual Democratic Party agenda, for ideological, financial, and political reasons.

Those like Bayh which do what they can to slow, misdirect, or fail to promise to vote for cloture aren't scared -- they're just doing what they want to do. Frankly, many of them don't care that they might end up in the minority, because, then, they'll always be the "bipartisan" Democrats willing to vote with the Republican majority whose agenda they often back anyway.

Some employers without any union workers chose "these tax advantaged health benefits in lieu of taxable wages."

But the workers there generally aren't working under a five year contract.

Unions negotiate five year contracts, and it would have been disruptive to end benefits which are part of the contracts in the middle of the time the contract is running.

Which unions are you talking about, Eric? In New York, the public sector unions negotiate every 2-3 years.

In the real world, those workers who don't have unions would probably have their Cadillac plans eliminated with no commensurate increase in pay. Especially at a time when the federal and state governments are attacking business with new and old taxes as much as they can.

So, you guys are OK with disrupting the lives of everyone else, just not the 10% or whatever the percentage that belongs to unions. You're special!

Equal treatment for everyone, union or not.

Alon Levy -

OK, thanks for correcting me.

The Phantom -

I'm against the tax on high-premium plans. The Senate passed it. The House passed a Millionaire's Tax in their health care reform bill instead. I like the House HCR bill much more than the Senate HCR bill.

The tax on deluxe plans is strange - you would think that they wanted to encourage employers to provide better coverage plans with lower deductibles. This was an unnecessary fight

And it is well noted that there was no real tort / lawsuit abuse / junk science in the courtroom reform in any of the bills. This is a driver of higher costs and unnecessary tests and it was never addressed by the bunch of lawyer / gangsters in the House and Senate.

This has been a bad faith effort from Day One.

All of the chicanery-or-whatever happened because the American political system as a whole cannot deal with the real issue. The real issue is how best to phase out private health insurance and/or institute some form of monopsony or monopsony-equivalent in health care.

The real issue is how best to phase out private health insurance...

...which coexists with universal health care in every developed country that isn't the US or Canada.

But we all knew North America is special. It can't possibly do good social policy - it has to be punitive for the sake of showing seriousness.

Oh bullshit

Switzerland has a system of regulated private insurance that works great

The UK has the big BUPA private company that has huge numbers of users, who don't want to wait forever and a day for National Health to get to them

I am sure that there are many other private insurance plans outside N America - it can coexist with a national plan

Switzerland may have private contractors providing insurance, but the system is so regulated as to be a monopsony-equivalent. Their private insurers basically a second tier of collectors. Might as well be rid of them in North America.

Phantom: private insurance in the UK is tiny - if I remember correctly it covers 11% of the population. It's not like in France, where more than 90% of the population has add-on insurance, which is obtained through the same public and private mechanisms as in the US. The difference is that French add-on insurance only has to pay what the single-payer system won't, so the premiums are very low by US standards.

Honestly, I don't see Canada as a good model to follow. On most public health issues - obesity, teen pregnancy, infant mortality - it's only marginally better. On a couple, such as cancer survival, it's worse. The only public health issue where Canada shines is smoking, and there the US shines as well - so much for the notion that American life expectancy is low because of unhealthy lifestyles. (Granted, the thinktanks that peddle this notion spent decades arguing smoking doesn't kill... but now they pretend they didn't say anything of that sort.) Britain's public health is even worse than Canada's, though at least Britain has low health care costs as an excuse.

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