Health Reform Passes House

The House health care reform bill has achieved the 218 votes needed for passage.

Elie Wiesel Condemned Anti-Semitic Messages At Right Wing Protests

I’ve often laughed at the idea that Republicans have any chance at being successful at picking up the Jewish vote. Here’s another example of why this will not happen:

Renowned author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel condemned several signs containing Holocaust comparisons and anti-Semitic messages at yesterday’s “House Call” protests.

One sign at the rally contained images of dead Holocaust victims at the Dachau concentration camp under the banner “National Socialist Health Care.” Another sign said that President Barack Obama “takes his orders” from the Rothschilds, a family of Jewish bankers.

Wiesel commented through his eponymous foundation’s Twitter account:

Elie Wiesel on the GOP Tea Party’s anti-Semitism and Holocaust comparisons: “This kind of political hatred is indecent and disgusting”

The signs also raised the ire of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), which yesterday slammed the signs and called on House Republican leaders who attended the event to condemn them.

The time has come for [John] Boehner, [Eric] Cantor, [Mike] Pence and other GOP leaders — especially those who were present today — to condemn these disgusting comparisons and anti-Semitism,” said NJDC President David Harris in a statement. “They must tell their base once and for all to cut out this despicable pattern of Holocaust imagery and rhetoric.”

Republican Spin on the Individual Mandate

I’ve been an opponent of mandates, hoping that the structure of health care reform had gone is a somewhat different direction. Even when the Republican Party technically agrees with me on a point I find their spin to be far too dishonest to tolerate. An example of this is the Republican press release entitled PELOSI: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail.

I would be far more impressed with Republican opposition to the individual mandate if that had been consistent on this matter. The Republicans, presumably following the wishes of their donors in the insurance industry, had supported the mandate until very recently. Their opposition to the mandate is purely a matter of changing their position at the last minute for political gain.

Besides this hypocrisy on the issue, they are also dishonest on the facts with this title. The aspect of going to jail comes from the ultimate penalty for not paying one’s taxes. By the same logic we could have written, “Bush: Pay for the Iraq war or go to jail.” It could also be said that many states have laws which require one to pay for auto insurance or go to jail.

The $15,000 figure is also erroneous. It both assumes that the cheapest policy would cost $15,000 and that there is no other option. They leave out the facts that there will be financial assistance available to pay for insurance, with some receiving coverage at no cost. Those making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for an improved Medicaid program. There will be a sliding scale of assistance for those making up to $43,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of four. Other provisions will make health insurance less expensive for many and will place caps on out of pocket expenses. There will also be the possibility to opt out if no affordable insurance is available.

The Republicans even admit in the press release that the penalty for purchasing insurance would be 2.5% of income. For most this would be far less than $15,ooo  In the end, by the time there is reconciliation with the weaker mandate in the Senate bill, the penalty will be far less. Current projections will be that it will be around $700 dollars along with the ability for many to opt out. As taxpayers do often wind up footing the bill when the uninsured wind up getting sick it is reasonable to have a fine to offset this cost to taxpayers.