What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 14, 2009

NetRoots Update

In case you hadn't heard, there was somewhat of a phone ruckus at NetRoots today. TPM has the story:

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) just told a crowd of skeptical progressives that he's willing to take up and dispel the death panel rumor with perhaps its most respected proponent: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

Specter said he'd call Grassley from back stage and tell him "it's not a death squad."

I was there. It was sooo cool. Let me flesh out the details. Specter was being questioned about whether he thought that Grassley was wrong when he said what he said about the government "pulling the plug on grandma." Specter said he was definitely wrong. (But we all knew that).

The crowd, I should say, was somewhat skeptical of Specter throughout the talk and there was some grumbling in the crowd when he said he'd talk to Grassley. Then Specter stepped right into it.

He said he'd call Grassley today.

At that point I saw a few dozen people in the crowd lifting up their cell phones - in a sense to offer them to Specter to make the call. A few people (including me) yelled out, "Call him now! Call him now!"

After stammering through a few words, Specter then said, "And to those who yelled that out, come back stage and watch me dial."

He was done only a few minutes later. That portion of the talk over (Congressman Sestak, Specter's challenger, was set to go on after) and Specter left the stage.

A couple dozen of us went back stage to watch Arlen Specter dial his cell phone and call Chuck Grassley. Unfortunately, he didn't get through to Grassley. But it was cool nonetheless.

And now Chuck and Arlen are tweeting at each other.

Photos to come...

1 comment:

jaywillie said...

Chuck Grassley is such a hypocrite.

Four and a half years ago, he was one of the Republicans who supported bringing the federal government between the marriage of Michael and Terri Schiavo, turning the whole affair into a national nightmare.

It was Republicans who gave Americans a glimpse of how truly horrifying it is when those in power abuse that power to involve themselves in a deeply personal, private matter.

Ever current Republican leader - Boehner, McConnell, Cornyn, Grassley, etc - supported the kind of truly egregious overreaching by the federal government that Republicans claim to oppose.

No Democratic health care measure even comes close to this kind of intrusion into the private lives of Americans.

In 2003, when Grassley voted for the prescription drug bill, he voted for language almost identical to that of section 1233 of HR3200. He didn't even care that his fellow Republicans came up with no way to pay for it.

Of course, we now know that Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin(who seems to lift from Gingrich a lot) supported "advanced directives," which is just a fancy way of saying living will or end-of-life consultation.

Newt was so supportive of such measures just a few weeks ago that he wrote in the Washington Post on 2 July:

"More than 20 percent of all Medicare spending occurs in the last two months of life. Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin has developed a successful end-of-life, best practice that combines: 1) community-wide advance care planning, where 90 percent of patients have advance directives; 2) hospice and palliative care; and 3) coordination of services through an electronic medical record. The Gundersen approach empowers patients and families to control and direct their care. The Dartmouth Health Atlas has documented that Gundersen delivers care at a 30 percent lower rate than the national average ($18,359 versus $25,860). If Gundersen’s approach was used to care for the approximately 4.5 million Medicare beneficiaries who die every year, Medicare could save more than $33 billion a year."

Hmmm...community-wide advance care planning...sounds a little like "communal standards."

Of course, none of them can tell you why they support an insurance company making your health care decisions for you. None of them can even be bothered to discuss. But the fact is "death panels" already exist and they were created by the private sector as a result of letting those only interested in profit margins run our lives and determine what treatments we can and can't have.

None of these conservatives can bring themselves to acknowledge the failure of the markets and private sector in addressing our health care problems. Obviously, since these people - despite mountains of evidence - believe that no matter what the markets and private sector businesses do, they can do no wrong.

One of the other great ironies of this debate is why conservatives are suddenly opposed to cutting wasteful spending from entitlement programs, like Medicare. Again, it's obvious - most of the wasteful spending comes in the form of subsidies to insurance companies, who certainly don't need with the kinds of profits they've pulled in over the last decade and will continue to make in the coming years.

And getting a Republican to go after corporations is like getting them to accept accountability for their mismanagement of the country under Bush or their role in creating 90% of our $2 trillion deficit.