Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

Home of the This Is Not Normal podcast, Bill Scher columns and other liberal commentary

Month: March 2010 (page 1 of 2)

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Liberal-Corporate Coalition Edition

The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast Saturday at 12 noon on WHMP in Western MA. We analyze the ramifications of the historic health care vote, and if a powerful “liberal-corporate coalition” is brewing. Plus, Valley Advocate blogger Sarah Buttenwieser on liberal qualms with the final health care bill. And “Momtroversies” essayist Traci Olsen on being mean.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

Congress, we have more work for you to do

The great economist, Elizabeth Warren, was on the Bill Maher Show. She is kind and gentle, yet fiercely loyal to her principles. She’s been on the Daily Show a couple of times. Each time she makes a huge splash.
So, Elizabeth Warren, Harvard professor and Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, is talking with comedian Bill Maher. They’re talking about credit card companies and this new consumer protection plan. Watch the video below:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m12B5ruKiRc&hl=en_US&fs=1&]
Suddenly, as if awakened from a trance, Bill Maher hits on the central problem in America today. Somehow, we’ve made it legal for companies to deliberately take advantage of Americans. This is the fundamental problem. It is no longer about companies making money. It’s no longer about how good your credit is. Instead, it’s about how well you can read the fine print. Is there a trap in this contract somewhere? Where are the hidden fees?

I don’t think that anybody believes that a company, big or small, should not be allowed to make a reasonable profit for selling a reasonable product. I know all Americans believe that making a profit in this way is, well, the American Way. I don’t think that anybody wants to stop this. Not Democrats, not Independents and certainly not Republicans. But the unnecessary gouging or, as Bill stated, the usury must stop. Congress must act to protect Americans. If you miss a couple credit card payments, your interest rate shouldn’t go from 5% to 30%. That’s ridiculous. That becomes indentured servitude.

I’m not sure that we’re not looking at indentured servitude in the United States today. If you’re in your late 20s and went to college and graduate school, you may owe $50,000, possibly $100,000. Unfortunately, you may owe significantly more than this. What job can you get in which you can pay this off in a reasonable amount of time, 5-10 years? If you buy a house and a car, that will just put you farther in the hole.
Congress, are you listening? We, the American people, need you to fix this, now! This is an American problem. We need education to be affordable. I don’t need tax credits to go to college. I don’t want some super-duper scholarship. I want college to be more affordable for everyone. I want contracts to be readable. I want credit card companies and other lending agencies, including mortgage banks, to be held in check by reasonable regulations. I want regulations that are designed to protect the American people from fraudulent, amoral and downright asinine practices. Can you do this for me? Can you do this for us, the American people?

The Week In Blog: Frum’s The Word Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at Bloggingheads.tv featuring Matt Lewis and myself talking about the fallout from the new health care law, divisions on the left and right, impact on the Romney 2012 prospects and the AEI-Frum split. Watch it below.
http://static.bloggingheads.tv/maulik/offsite/offsite_flvplayer.swf

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Health Care Is In The House Edition

The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast Saturday at 12 noon on WHMP in Western MA. We preview tomorrow’s expected House vote on comprehensive health care reform. Plus, Michael Brooks on “smart power” foreign policy, John Sheirer on “2012,” and Sarah Lariviere’s Poetry on the Radio.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

Tackling The Right-Wing Health Care Spin: The Bill Dwight Show Podcast

Yesterday on The Bill Dwight Show, airing on WHMP-AM in Western MA I faced off with local GOP operative Isaac Mass about the pending health care. And I was able to put some persistent right-wing myths to rest about “government takeover,” the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the supposed “$1 trillion price tag.”
If you’ve been paying attention, you know private insurance will simply be better regulated, not abolished; the latest version of the health care bill strips out the unfair deals for certain states; and the bill will cut the deficit more than $1 trillion, not add to it.
You can listen to the segment by clicking here.
/sites/all/modules/ourfuture/1pixelout.swf

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: A Pleasant Conversation With A Conservative Edition

The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast Saturday at 12 noon on WHMP in Western MA. We analyze the healthcare endgame. Plus, we debut a new monthly feature, “A Pleasant Conversation With A Conservative” featuring my bloggingheads.tv partner Matt Lewis.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Also, you can click here to check out my appearance on The Matt Lewis Show, and as mentioned today, here is Matt’s interview earlier this week with Karl Rove.

Health-care reform – reloaded

Do you remember Morris Day, the lead singer of one of the ultimate party groups, The Time? From the darkness, Morris Day would shout, “What Time Is It?” The music would start blaring and the party was on. It is time for health-care reform. It is time for us to have a universal program which covers everybody. We are currently spending 16% of our gross domestic product on health care. Personally, I think spending $2.3 trillion on health care is plenty of money. We should not have to spend any more to get everything that we want. We want access to quality primary care providers. We want these primary care providers to give us better outcomes — a better quality of life and a longer life. We want to be able to go to the drugstore to pick up our prescriptions without having to leave our first born as collateral. If we have an emergency – if we are in a car crash or fall off a roof; if we have a heart attack — we want to be able to be taken to a quality medical center where we can be treated with compassion, dignity and with the latest medical techniques. Why can’t we make this happen?

Last week, we had the rare opportunity to see Republicans and Democrats sit down and discuss a single issue. For over seven hours, we got to see our political leaders argue over healthcare. Yes, there was some political posturing on both sides but one thing should be clear to all Americans. The Democrats have a plan and a passion for health-care reform. Republicans had no plan, but they definitely have passion for stopping health-care reform. From Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, not one Republican put together a thoughtful argument that would control the escalating healthcare costs, cover the 45 million people who live in the United States without health insurance, nor a plan that can be taken from Maine to Florida to California.

Democrats, for all of our passion, where is our spine? Democrats are causing me to reach for my Pepto-Bismol especially, those who cannot stand up for healthcare reform.People who follow politics, as I do, have seen for over a year that it is going to be nearly impossible to get 60 votes in the Senate to stop debate on healthcare reform. Therefore, the Senate would need to go to reconciliation to pass health care reform. I talked about this on my radio show back in February of 2009. This summer, Senator Jay Rockefeller made an impassioned speech for the public option. He said it was morally right. It was only a couple weeks ago he said that he did not believe that we should use reconciliation to get health-care reform passed. What? Didn’t he say it was morally right? Senator Rockefeller was 100% correct when he said this was a moral issue. We need to get health-care reform passed.
Meet 11-year-old Marcelas Owens. Watch the video:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfdsx1OHMfs&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b]
I would urge you not to fall for the same old cliches about our government. Government can do this right. We have to get this right. This is as important as landing on Normandy beaches on D-Day. If we want to have money for defense, homeland security, bridges and roads, education and green energy we have to control costs of health care now. Economists have estimated that health care will eat up 25% of our gross national product in 20 years if we don’t do something.
Finally, I’ve been listening to these talking heads on the Internet telling me that Democrats, liberals and progressives are not energized. Someone even suggested that we are depressed. Depressed? From what? I’m not sure who thought electing Barack Obama would be a panacea. I know that I’ve talked about the need for progressives to push harder with a Democratic Congress. We’ve seen Democrats in the past waiver and succumb to the whims of Republicans. We knew this would happen. Deep in our hearts, we knew this was going to be a huge undertaking. Just look at what we’re trying to accomplish – reversing 30 years of Republican rule and ideology (Clinton was the only bright spot). We are trying to reverse 30 years of giveaways to major corporations. We’re trying to put the American citizen ahead of big business. Even Democrats have bought into the ideology that the markets could fix everything. This is an idea that’s been pushed by the Republicans for decades. We have a lot of work to do. President Barack Obama has told us that this is not going to be easy. So, it is time for us to be fired up. Once we get health-care reform passed, we still have more work to do – create a green economy, create millions of green jobs, fix the Patriot Act and concentrate on lasting financial reform that will work for all Americans. We need to write and call our legislators. We need for them to support health-care reform. It is time to get busy.

The Week In Blog: No Massa Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at Bloggingheads.tv featuring Matt Lewis and myself discussing health care, the Massa resignation, and the Dodd financial reform bill. Watch it below.
http://static.bloggingheads.tv/maulik/offsite/offsite_flvplayer.swf

Nothing from nothing leaves healthcare reform?

The great pianist and songwriter Billy Preston once sang, “nothing from nothing leaves nothing.” Although as 15 to 16 months, I’ve seen the promise of health care reform start with single-payer then morph into some sort of public option which, if it is robust should be able to contain health-care costs. This is kind of what they House passed. The Senate, on the other hand, is one confusing mess. Senator Max Baucus was given the keys to the city. I’m not sure what he came up with. As chairman of the finance committee, he was in charge of coming up with a health care bill that was attractive to at least a couple of Republicans. Olympia Snowe and others were courted with sweeteners which seem to eat away at the core of health care reform. Senator Kent Conrad decided that he would introduce his own health-care legislation which was some sort of co-op. Although he sold this idea on the Sunday talk shows and pushed it hard for 6-8 weeks, thankfully (hopefully), it is died a quick death.

The public option is been tossed around like a medicine ball. In Junior high school we were asked to throw a medicine ball in order to build up muscle strength and coordination. Every other throw, the ball was dropped, kicked and then picked up and thrown again. This is exactly what has happened with the public option. What was once a robust counterweight to private health insurance has turned into something that states can opt in or opt out depending upon the whims of their legislature. Oh, and it seems that opposing healthcare is a great way to get on TV and increase your image/status like Bart Stupak.

I have stated both on my radio show and on this blog that health-care reform must include something that is cost-effective, portable and increases access to healthcare. Currently, we are looking at a health-care bill that seems to do none of this. Many progressives have decided that they cannot support this bill. They want something else done. I understand the sentiment. I find this whole process extremely frustrating. Democrats seem to be completely unable to stick to their principles and stand up for the middle class. It seems like the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats know what is right but can’t do it. Republicans have no idea what is right and won’t do it. BTW, President Barack Obama is leader come lately. Look I love this man but I’m telling the truth. Where was he in the middle of the heat of the summer when healthcare was taking the big hits? He needed to be out of front stating that we HAD to have a robust public option but alias, he wasn’t out there.
Here’s my problem. Washington seems to be controlled by big business. Lobbyists from K St. seem to surround the Capital like locusts. If we scrapped the health-care bill and start all over, how are we going to come up with a different outcome? We’re going to have the same politicians, the same White House and the same lobbyists. As a matter of fact, the lobbyists will be better armed to combat arguments they’ve already heard. They will probably be armed with more money. I’m afraid that starting over will leave us with a bill that’s even worse than what we’re looking at now — if that is possible.

We’re spending $2.4 trillion on health care every year (we spent that much in 2008). Isn’t that enough money? Why do we need to pay any more? Everyone agrees that insurance does not add any value to healthcare. Why is Washington cobbling the insurance companies? Their whole reason for their existence is not to improve health care or help doctors deliver better care or help increase access to doctors by patients. Instead, their whole deal is to simply make money. They make money by not paying claims.

$2.4 trillion is enough money to take care of all 300 million Americans. Combine Medicare and Medicaid and SCHiP and all of the state run programs into one program. Medicare for All! The government will set up a system to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies and medical device/product manufacturers. Premiums are paid out of our taxes in a graduated fashion. The more you make, the more you pay. Let’s extend patent protection for pharmaceutical companies by 2-5 years. Since the government is negotiating drug prices, pharmaceutical companies can recoup some of their losses through this mechanism. Doctors will be awarded for opening early and staying open late and on the weekends. This way, Americans can go to their physicians without having to take off from work. This increases access. Anyway, Medicare for All, at least for now, is a pipe dream. Right now, I’m good to try to work with my congressional representatives to try to get the best bill possible.
Billy Preston was right. Nothing from Nothing leaves nothing. The Senate is trying to sell us nothing and tell us it is something. They need to do better.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Reconcile This Edition

The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast Saturday at 12 noon on WHMP in Western MA. We discuss the prospects for health care to be finalized with a simple majority vote in the Senate, following the Republican obstruction of unemployment insurance. Plus, “Momtroversies” essayist Traci Olsen on figuring out Twitter and Glenn Johnson gives liberals a pep talk.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

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