Quote of the Day: John Kerry on Meet the Press

“I think it’s critical for people to understand what the Republican–how bankrupt, how fundamentally reckless their position is and has been.  And the fact is–I mean, let me go a little bigger here for a minute. Our country is challenged economically as never before.  You know, people talk about American exceptionalism and how there’s sort of this automatic for America.  Yes, we are exceptional, but we’re exceptional when we do exceptional things, when we behave exceptionally.  We’re not doing that today. We’re locked down into a gridlock status where other countries are racing by us.  I’ll give you an example.  Over the next 20 years, $600 billion is going to be invested in green technology and green energy.  New jobs.  New jobs that could be for Americans.  Ninety percent of that investment’s going to be in other countries, David.”–John Kerry on Meet the Press

Two more excerpts from the interview:

“The president of the United States came into office with a president who’d left him with a $5 trillion add-on to the debt of this country, an unprecedented financial crisis.  The fact is that the TARP that we passed that everybody hates–they hate the word, they hate the concept–it saved, it saved countless numbers of jobs in this country.  The Recovery Act saved millions of jobs in this country and brought our financial system back from the brink.  Wall Street ought to be singing this president’s praises.  We’ve had a 60 percent increase in the stock market in two years.  How often does that happen?  You have a $3 trillion increase in the net value of the Fortune 500 companies, $3 trillion increase in two years.  Under George Bush, in eight years, it only increased by several hundred billion.  You’ve had the Hire Act, the Republicans opposed it.  It created hundreds of thousands of jobs.  The Recovery Act, the Small Business Act.”

“Here’s what the president is doing.  The president is fighting to get unemployment insurance that they have held hostage.  This is the point. People need to focus in America.  The Republicans have been willing to hold unemployment insurance hostage to this bonus tax cut that has the least impact and adds to the deficit.  And the phony recklessness of their position is this, they’ve said for months, “We can’t give you unemployment compensation because it’s unpaid for and it will add to the deficit.” But yesterday they were willing to vote for a $4 trillion increase that wipes out everything the debt commission is doing, in order to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people. Now, the president’s prepared to compromise to get unemployment insurance, to get the work for pay tax cut, to get a child care credit tax cut, to get additional tax cuts that go to average people and will create jobs.  But he wants to do more than that, and this is the most important difference between us and them.  The Republican agenda is tax cut and cut spending.  We cannot cut our way to competition with these other countries.  If we’re going to be a great power, if we’re going to project in the world, if we’re going to put America back to work and be part of the $6 trillion market that is the new energy market of the future with six billion users, we need to invest in America’s future.”

Republicans Continue To Screw Doctors As Well As Our Patients

I find it increasingly difficult to understand why so many of my colleagues vote Republican. Yes, they are doing so based upon their perception of financial self-interest, and we just might wind up with a slightly lower marginal tax rate. However, this means little if there are massive cuts in Medicare payments (not to mention the many other ways Republican policies screw virtually everybody). The Republicans have already repeatedly played politics with the attempts to fix the flawed sustainable growth formula.

Republicans are threatening to continue this policy. Orrin Hatch, ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, is threatening to hold the “doc fix” hostage in order to pursue their opposition to health care reform. The plan is to only approve the continued Medicare payments without a massive cut if the money is taken from health care reform.

Republicans such as Hatch are threatening physicians, as well as patients, in two ways. Failure to pass the “doc fix” will result in lowering Medicare payments to the point where the payments would not meet physician overhead costs and doctors would be forced to stop seeing Medicare patients.Medicare patients would become like Medicaid patients, who frequently are unable to find doctors who will accept them and who often wind up in “Medicaid mills.”  On the other hand, if Republicans win by taking money from health care reform, we will continue the status quo of increasing numbers of Americans going without coverage and of insurance companies being able to deny coverage when they find it more profitable to drop a patient.

Update: Jonathan Cohn notes that, while the Republicans insist upon finding offset cuts for the “doc fix” (including the cumulative costs of not allowing the cuts to go through for several years) they see no need to offset the cost of continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Cohn estimates that the tax cuts cost about twice as much as the “doc fix.”