Camille Paglia on Health Care Strategy and Protest

I probably would have ignored Camille Paglia’s column in Salon if not for this line:

Ever since Hillary Clinton’s megalomaniacal annihilation of our last best chance at reform in 1993 (all of which was suppressed by the mainstream media when she was running for president), Democrats have been longing for that happy day when this issue would once again be front and center.

I sometimes feel like I’m the only liberal who believes health reform failed in 1993 not because of the Harry and Louise ads but primarily because of Hillary Clinton.

Paglia is also very critical of Obama’s handling of health care reform. At this point I think some of  her criticism is valid, some is not, and some is just off the wall. There is nothing totalitarian, as Paglia claims, in the White House asking for help by sending in examples of false claims about health care reform in order to provide fact checking. It is not as if they are asking for names and rounding people up. (This  is also not unprecedented. As I’m also on a lot of  conservative mailing lists, during the 2004 campaign I often passed on examples of false claims being spread to my friends in the Kerry campaign if I thought they were not yet aware of them so they could prepare responses.)

As for her less outrageous criticism,  before we can judge Obama’s strategy on health care reform we need to see whether or not it turns out to be successful. After all, much of Obama’s political strategy is to do the opposite of Hillary Clinton. Clinton tried to write health care legislation in secret and insisted on doing it her own (megalomaniaca) way. In response Obama is doing it out in the open and leaving the details of legislation to Congress (sort of how things were originally designed in the Constitution). He did try to rush the legislation too quickly  but the misinformation campaign from the right wing shows why this was desired.

If health care reform does pass, then in retrospect  Obama’s political moves which are now being criticized will be seen as genius.

Pagilia also shares my criticism of Nancy Pelosi and other liberals who have been attacking those protesting health care reform. Rember, protest is patriotic.

Update: Outside links to this post have brought in a lot of comments repeating the usual right wing misinformation.

I am not going to waste time on this post responding to the ridiculous claims that the bill will lead to “death panels” as this was recently reviewed in several posts including here, here, and here.

Nor am I interested in any of the whining that Obama supported a single payer plan in the past but now says he doesn’t. Obama has made it clear that in the past that a single payer plan was his preferred plan if starting from scratch, but the realities are that we must work with our current plan.

Sure, Obama is trying to some degree to cover himself with both supporters and opponents of a single payer plan. All politicians do this on many issues. The real issue is not what Obama’s personal views are now compared to what they were in the past but the plan which is now on the table.

For conservatives who think there is a plot to sneak in single payer: the White House has been pretty strong in rejecting the idea of a single payer plan and the proposed laws bend over backwards to try to appease the insurance companies.

For liberals who are upset that Obama is not pursuing a single payer plan: there is no chance of this passing. All the current opposition to the current plans would be greatly intensified if those who are satisfied with their own insurance, along with those who are paranoid about government plans, were really to be forced to join a government plan.

Many other issues related to health care reform are discussed in other posts here in the health care topic.

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32 Comments

  1. 1
    Mark says:

    You’re too far gone to see what’s really happening. There’s no right wing misinformation. Citizens are reading directly from the bill and asking direct questions of lawmakers related to information contained in therein. These are independents, the elderly and many other middle Americans that care enough to show up and fight for something that is absolutely trying to be taken from them. The White House and the other liberal leaders in office have a distinct agenda to wipe out the private sector and will do so at any cost. Collecting names and emails is a disgrace too. If you can’t get by on the merits of the bill and you don’t have the decency to read it before you show up and speak to your constituents, you shouldn’t be in office. The misinformation, liberal rhetoric and mean-spirited attacks won’t service to advance this agenda. They poked the bear in the wrong spot this time.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    No right wing misinformation? There are numerous false claims, such as that this is a government take over of health care, socialized medicine, anything like the Canadian or British systems, there will be death panels, people won’t be able to buy private insurance, and many more. While I am sure there are many people with legitimate questions, and there are certainly legitimate areas to disagree with the bill, the right wing has concentrated on spreading misinformation and many are trying to prevent people from getting legitimate information at the town halls.

    There is no agenda to wipe out the private sector at all. Under the health care reform bill more people will be covered by private insurance than are now. Nobody is “collecting names” as you said. Reviewing email which spreads false claims in order to debunk them is totally legitimate, especially when the main strategy of the right wing is to scare people with misinformation.

    Get by on the merits of the bill? That is what they are trying to do. In order to do this we must discuss what actually is in the bill and get past all the lies being spread by the right.

    Of course anyone who begins a comment with “You’re too far gone…” is the one who is too closed minded to acknowledge what is really going on.

  3. 3
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Actually, Ron, I agree with you about the way Hillary totally mishandled the health care reform attempt in 1993. I think the very worst thing to do was have the First Spouse (who is not an elected official, but merely the person who happens to be married to the president) take such an aggressive lead on a legislative issue which was not part of her purvue in even the remotest sense. The next very worst thing was how badly she flubbed it once the first mistake had been made.
     
    I’m for single-payer (or even outright socialized medicine), as you well know, and I generally supported the basic principles of Hillarycare. There’s no denying, however, that she was, personally, one of the biggest reasons health care reform failed to pass in any form.
     
     

  4. 4
    Eclectic Radical says:

    So that makes three of us. 🙂
     

  5. 5
    battlebob says:

    Adding to what Ron said…
    There is nothing being taken from the elderly. If that were true then AARP would not be supporting the bill.
    The right-wing response is designed to stop reform at any cost as long as Obama is thwarted. There are a lot of points to discuss which thanks to the right-wing is not happening.
    In the end, the right will come out of this being tagged again with being out of touch with reality. If anything, this could lead to more seats being picked up by Dems; especially if real nut-cases like Palin continue to get center stage.

  6. 6
    dude says:

    Sorry Ron Chusid…I just had to report you to the white house for disseminating fishy information about obamacare.  Shame on you.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is difficult to absolutely say “nothing is being taken” from the elderly or anyone else. The point is that what is taken is so mild as compared to the overall benefits of the plan. The main cuts to Medicare are reducing the subsidies (corporate welfare) paid to Medicare Advantage companies. For the most part this will mean lower profits for insurance companies but will not affect the elderly. This would not affect people in the government Medicare program at all. Some people in Medicare Advantage programs might see a difference but this is a minor change compared to the benefits of health care reform.

    There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. There are costs to health care reform. The point is that when the plan is examined honestly, as opposed to listening to the right wing misinformation, the benefits well outweigh the cost.

  8. 8
    battlebob says:

    I think the cost angle is not discussed enough. The costs per person will probably go down, but with more people being covered, the overall cost will go up.
    If there is any kind of a wellness portion, costs will certainly go up in the short run as folks finally see a doctor.

  9. 9
    Nancy says:

    We cannot let the obstructionists prevent the health care/health insurance reform this country so desperately needs!

    Please sign this petition to have paid health care removed from our representatives in Congress until such time as they reform health care – to include a strong public option – for ‘we the people’ who they are supposed to represent. Then spread the word to anyone and everyone you know!

    http://www.petitiononline.com/PubOp676/petition.html

  10. 10
    steve says:

    Paglia posts a hard-hitting assessment on Obama’s mis-steps from a liberal perspective. This is no doubt why her article is generating so much heat.

    Ron, what you are calling ‘mis-information’ could also be reasonable conclusions that people are drawing from the implementation of the bill. It is really so far a stretch for you to see that once a competitor with no cost or profit limitations enters the market that the result would inevitably be to dominate the market? It should be easy for you to appreciate that employers might be very happy to unload this benefit since their employees always have the option of getting into the government-run program? And, with the increased use that such a program would experience … that it would naturally limit costs by limiting access?
    There are so many small actions that could be taken that would cause substantial reform within the existing system … why it is necessary to revamp the whole thing? Remember, most Americans like their current coverage arrangements. Small steps include:
    – permit inter-state ownership;
    – permit individual tax deductions
    – increase HSA tax benefits;
    – cap medical malpractice damages;
    – increase funding (currently approx. .01%) to stop Medicare fraud.

  11. 11
    Paul A'Barge says:

    “There is nothing totalitarian, as Paglia claims, in the White House asking for help by sending in examples of false claims about health care reform in order to provide fact checking”
    It may not be totalitarian, but dude it is so hypocritical it boggles the mind.
    You people are the ones who worked themselves in to a lather over the prospect of Islamist terrorists having their telephone calls tapped when they called one of their cohorts inside the USA.
    Now, you want to warehouse the names and email addresses of people who criticize Obama’s government run health care? And all of a sudden, “it’s not totalitarian”.
    Do you really believe yourself?
     

  12. 12
    Russ in NC says:

    Hello there Nancy.  Health care / health insurance reform this country so desperately needs, you say.  I say the opposite. What this country so desperately needs is the Status Quo.   I am one of the 47 million people without health insurance.  Why is that? Same reason I choose not to buy life insurance and car insurance and liability insurance.  I am a healthy and fit fellow. I don’t need health insurance and until the insurance industry offers low-cost high-deductible catastrophic policies I am willingto take my chances.  This is America and I am an American who believes I am responsible for me and you are responsible for you.  Stop shoving your socialism down my throat.

  13. 13
    Jose says:

    My mind was “opened” by the CBO(Congressional Budget Office, director appointed by Democrats). President Obama’s honorable attempt at reforming healthcare to increase coverage and cut costs will cost 1 to 1.8 billion. President Obama has repeatly stated that in order to save our econmy long term we “must reduce” healthcare costs. The legislation now in Congress simply does not do that. The CBO in testimony to the Senate “killed” healthcare reform by simply pointing out that what the president has said about the proposal is simply not true. Please, open my eyes again, what am I missing?

  14. 14
    terry dudas says:

    AARP denies supporting HR 3200 or any other bills floating around Congress.  Could they be lying also?
     
    BTW, I think Paglia scored a bullseye in the first section of her current Salon remarks.  Paglia is one smart lady.
     

  15. 15
    Mike says:

    As far as I know, the AARP has not officially come out in support for the plan.  From what I have heard, they have concerns.

  16. 16
    JohnR says:

    Yes, there are some hysterical and innacurate claims from the Right and yes, some of the people at the Townhalls were intentionally disruptive and should have been removed.

    But this misses the key point that voter support (proven by polling data) for Obamacare started to tank well before any of this started. It started when CBO clearly stated that not only does Obamacare fail to bend the cost curve down…it adds trillions to the national debt. And this on top of Obama’s plan to triple the national debt in 10 yrs.

    This entire debate over Rep slanders and the Townhalls is merely an attempt by Dem strategists to fire up their base and divert attention from the appalling fact that they can’t get enough Dem votes in the Senate to pass it.

  17. 17
    Ron Chusid says:

    Re the AARP:

    The AARP has not endorsed any specific plan. They have been strong supporters of the principle of health care reform being advocated by Obama. It only makes sense that they do not endorse the plan yet as various bills are now under consideration in Congress and we do not know what the final bill will look like. Complicating matters, one bipartisan proposal in the Senate Finance Committee is harmful to Medicare beneficiaries and I would not be surprised if the AARP opposes this should its provisions become part of any bill. (At least they should oppose the Senate Finance Committee proposal).

    While the AARP has supported health care reform, they are also under less pressure considering that the majority of their members are already covered under a single payer system (Medicare). Health care reform is more important for those who have not reached Medicare age.

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jose,

    “Please, open my eyes again, what am I missing?”

    You are missing a couple of important points:

    The way the CBO scores savings they can only score savings which are quite definite, and do not include those savings which will come about as a consequence of the advocated changes. Therefore the savings are considerably underestimated.

    You also fail to consider the benefits. In the worst case scenarios in which savings are well under what the Obama administration predicts, the government would wind up paying less than 10 percent more per year than it is paying now. Even if we have to pay this much it is worth it to have a society in which almost everyone has health care coverage and people do not lose their coverage because they become sick, they lose their job, or they decide to change jobs.

    Finally you are missing the fact that our current system is collapsing. Remaining with the status quo is not an option.

  19. 19
    Ron Chusid says:

    Russ in NC,

    You might not think you need health insurance but many of the 47 million who are uninsured (as well as millions more who are under-insured) do not feel this way. Plus, you might be healthy and fit now, but should you develop an unexpected medical problem you will also likely go into bankruptcy. That’s not to mention the large number of people who are already insured who still wind up in bankruptcy due to medical problems as a consequence of our current insurance system.

  20. 20
    Ron Chusid says:

    Paul,

    “Now, you want to warehouse the names and email addresses of people who criticize Obama’s government run health care?”

    Hell no, we don’t want that. Present any evidence this is occurring and I will oppose it. Lacking such evidence my suspicion is that this is yet one more case of conservatives loving to play the victim, along with imagining conspiracy theories against them. But if you can demonstrate this is happening, I will agree with you in opposing this.

  21. 21
    battlebob says:

    The VP of AARP public policy was on CNBC this morning and gave luke-warm endorsment of the bills in Congress. It was more of a rant against the right wing lies that Obamacare will affect old people badly. The AARP web-site indicates they do not support any bill yet.

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    steve,

    “It is really so far a stretch for you to see that once a competitor with no cost or profit limitations enters the market that the result would inevitably be to dominate the market?”

    I thought that conservatives thought that the market was so much more efficient, and that the government is totally inefficient. In such a case, why should private business fear a government entity?

    UPS and Federal Express are not being driven out of the market by the US Post Office

    While these aren’t the best of days for the broadcast networks, it is not NPR which is presenting them with competition.

    Opponents of health care reform love to quote the CBO’s numbers on cost savings (ignoring how their methodology underestimates savings which cannot be coded). Strange you never seem to mention that the Congressional Budget Office has also disputed conservative claims that the public option will drive out competition from private insurance. It is predicted that more people will be covered by private insurance if we have health care reform than there are at present.

    Besides, it is looking very likely that the public option will be dropped. If that is the case will conservatives then support the bill? (I doubt it.)

  23. 23
    Ron Chusid says:

    John R,

    It is not the CBO report but all the other scare stories which are affecting the polls. The CBO report is a poor reason once you consider how the CBO is unable to score many of the projected savings.

  24. 24
    The Radical Middle says:

    Why 177 Billion dollar “Medicare Advantage” funds should go for the uninsured who are below age 65? Why my FICA taxes should pay for it?
    Why WH made the “80 Billion= 150 million Ad deal” with Pharma lobby?
    This is called Reform?
    Camille Paglia and Ruth Marcus were absolutely Right !

  25. 25
    Christian Prophet says:

    A very good article which points out some of Ms. Paglia’s inconsistancies can be seen at:
    http://spirituallibertarian.blogspot.com/

  26. 26
    Ron Chusid says:

    I am not going to waste time on this post responding to the ridiculous claims that the bill will lead to “death panels” as this was recently reviewed in several posts including here, here, and here.

    Nor am I interested in any of the whining that Obama supported a single payer plan in the past but now says he doesn’t. Obama has made it clear that in the past that a single payer plan was his preferred plan if starting from scratch, but the realities are that we must work with our current plan.

    Sure, Obama is trying to some degree to cover himself with both supporters and opponents of a single payer plan. All politicians do this on many issues. The real issue is not what Obama’s personal views are now compared to what they were in the past but the plan which is now on the table.

    For conservatives who think there is a plot to sneak in single payer: the White House has been pretty strong in rejecting the idea of a single payer plan and the proposed laws bend over backwards to try to appease the insurance companies.

    For liberals who are upset that Obama is not pursuing a single payer plan: there is no chance of this passing. All the current opposition to the current plans would be greatly intensified if those who are satisfied with their own insurance, along with those who are paranoid about government plans, were really to be forced to join a government plan.

    Many other issues related to health care reform are discussed in other posts here in the health care topic.

  27. 27
    Ron Chusid says:

    Radical Middle,

    You have it backwards. Why should people’s FICA taxes go to extra subsidies to the Medicare Advantage plans, which primarily go to increase insurance company profits? The point is to reduce these subsidies so the money can be used to make Medicare not sustainable.

    The details of any deals with Pharma remain murky (more here). It is inevitable that there will be negotiations between the White House and all players in health care if anything is to get passed. Obtaining savings on drugs is an important part of health care reform.

  28. 28
    fauxpopuli says:

    #9, “Remember, most Americans like their current coverage arrangements.”
    Do they really? I keep hearing this but I don’t know what it’s being based on. A few hundred very loud, very angry people showing up to a given townhall certainly don’t represent “most people,” and opinion polls continually show that the public is overwhelmingly in favor of changing our current system. Anecdotally, most of the same people who’re now forwarding me spooky emails about the evils of Obamacare have complained in the not-too-distant past about how horribly broken the current system is, and I suspect I’m not the only one experiencing this.
    I get that lots of people who are ginned up by politically-motivated lies are opposed to what they think is being proposed (I’m still shocked that there are grown men and women who believe this “death panel” nonsense btw), and I get that there are honest (though less widespread, vocal, etc) concerns about cost and bureaucracy but what is just ludicrous to me is this premise that Americans just love HMOs. Nobody seemed to feel that way until the healthcare ball started rolling, which brings us back to the disinfo if you ask me.

  29. 29
    fauxpopuli says:

    Oh and of course conservatives and health care opponents and etc. are digging the Paglia piece. She’s parroting their talking points, even getting into the paranoia over “totalitarian” fact-checking as has been pointed out.

  30. 30
    Ron Chusid says:

    The same polls which showed people supporting health care reform also showed that most were happy with their own coverage. Of course they don’t realize the risk of not receiving the coverage they expect until it is too late.

    Back during the 2004 election I handled questions in the health care section of Kerry’s campaign forum for a while. Obviously many had their minds made up but there were a fair number of questions from people who I think sincerely wanted to know more about Kerry’s health care plan. A very common question was whether they could keep their current coverage if they wanted–which goes along with Obama also making a point of the fact that if they are happy with their employer’s insurance they can stick with it.\

    It is amusing to see so many conservatives suddenly agreeing with Paglia. It is a shame it is over such a nonsense argument.

  31. 31
    myrna hamilton says:

    There is so much campaines out there that are advocating aganist the new health care bill. Many of them will not at nothing to lie, and use propaganda to create fear and unrest in society to prevent competition in health care. The health care system as it stands today has been ruthless in its dealing with their clients while many of us continue to pay hundreds of dollars and get less than what we deserve. many of us are denied for perexisting conditions. I dont understand why many people can not see through their lies. Lies such as Obama the antichrist, hitler, death panels and the list goes on and on. What is see is the desperation of insurance companies to continue their corupt system. Only this time it is being challenged by the government. A challenge that can be matched on their finicial level. I support the new health care bill even though I am currently on a private plan. There are hundreds of people in the country who will benefit from a public option in health insurance and people like my self will continue to work to help make this happen.

  32. 32
    cathy haws says:

    I am a single mother and I work as nurse in a nursing home. My current employer provides a health insurance plan which is still costly after weekly deductions from my pay check and in addtition, some of my cares are still dictated by my health insurance. I hear so many opposition towards this bill and not enough of people who I know are out there affected by the constriants of their health insurance. The situation concerning the health insurance coorpertion has become almost an emergency to its reform. There are hundreads of people out there affected by it and it is time that they speak up and stop allowing these propaganda ads thrown out there by the health insurance to make people fearful of this much needed change in health care.

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