Thursday, December 31, 2009
On behalf of our organizations and the millions of people we represent, we strongly encourage you to oppose the “individual mandate” in the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009.” Our groups and members may disagree on what are the best solutions to our health care problems, but this unprecedented coalition of organizations from across the political spectrum agrees that forcing individuals to buy insurance from private companies under the threat of fines or jail is not the reform we need.
The “individual mandate” is a section of the bill that requires every single American to buy health insurance—whether or not they want it or feel they can afford it—or break the law and face penalties and fines. Consequently, the bill does not actually “cover” 30 million more Americans—instead it makes them criminals if they do not buy insurance from private companies. We hope you agree that it is unconscionable to force people to buy a product from a private insurer. This would effectively be a tax—and a huge one—paid directly to a private industry.
Enacting this mandate would be a major victory for the insurance companies at the expense of the American people. It should be no surprise they support the government forcing everyone to buy their product. Imagine how the hamburger industry would respond if the government forced everyone to have hamburgers for lunch or pay fines?
According to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, the average annual premium for single coverage is $4,321. If the 46 million uninsured are forced to purchase private health insurance at that price, then the insurance industry stands to bring in up to $200 billion in new insurance premiums per year. The Senate bill also includes an estimated $630 billion in corporate welfare for private insurance companies in the form of subsidies over the next 10 years, creating even less incentive than currently exists for private insurance premiums to be lowered.
To make matters worse, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that 19 million Americans would not buy insurance and as a result would be forced to pay $29 billion in taxes/fines. The Joint Committee on Taxation has made it clear that failure to pay these fines could result in jail time.
Given these fact, it is not surprising that a recent NBC News poll finds 57 percent of Americans do not want the government to create “a law that requires everyone to have health insurance coverage” and that only 38% of Americans favor the mandate, making it the least popular part of the bill.
The American people stand in firm opposition to the individual mandate. We stand with them. We hope you will, too.
Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, President
Democrats.com, Bob Fertik, President
Healthcare-NOW!, Katie Robbins, National Organizer
Matt Kibbe, President and CEO, FreedomWorks
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Tim Carpenter, Director
Campaign for liberty, John Tate, President
60 Plus Association, Jim Martin, President
Liberty Tree Foundation, Ben Manski, Executive Director
National Taxpayers Union, Duane Parde, President,
National Coalition of Organized Women, Consuela Sylvester, Ohio Director
Citizens for Health, Jim Turner, Chairman,
Competitive Enterprise Institute, Gregory Conko, Senior Fellow
American Association of Small Property Owners, F. Patricia Callahan, President
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation, Dane vonBreichenruchardt, President
Institute for Liberty, Andrew Langer, President
Santa Monicans for Safe Drinking Water Coalition, Gene Burke, Founder, Director
Alliance for Natural Health USA, Gretchen DuBeau, Executive Director
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Jane M Orient, MD, Executive Director,
Fairfax County Privacy Council, Mike Stollenwerk, Chairman
The Rutherford Institute, John W. Whitehead, President
Pain Relief Network, Siobhan Reynolds, Executive Director
American Policy Center, Tom DeWeese, President
Justice Through Music, Brett Kimberlin, Director
Velvet Revolution, Brad Friedman, Co-Founder
After Downing Street, David Swanson, Co-Founder
Project Vote Count, Mark A. Adams, Founder,
Democracy in Action (DIA), Dorothy Reilly, Organizer
Squadron13.com, Gordon Sturrock, Founder
Democracy for America - Tucson chapter, Richard Kaiser, Co-chair
DownWithTyranny.com, Howie Klein, Publisher
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, J. Bradley Jansen, Director
DownsizeDC.org, Inc., Jim Babka, President
Cyber Privacy Project, Richard Sobel, Director
Citizens For Legitimate Government, Lori R. Price, Managing Editor
Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition, Mike Hearington, Steering Committee
Doctor Patient Medical Association, Kathryn Serkes, Chair
Jane Hamsher Wednesday December 30, 2009 10:08 am
There is tremendous fear rising on both the right and the left that the announced intention of Congress — to force every American to pay tribute to private corporations, with no government alternative — sets a dangerous and frightening precedent with implications far outside the scope of health care.
If the health care bill written by the Senate is passed, middle class Americans will be mandated to pay almost as much to private insurance companies as they do to the federal government in taxes, with the IRS acting as a collection agency for penalties of 2% of your annual income for refusing to comply.
This is just one of many recent measures that has brought liberal progressives and conservative libertarians together to join forces in opposition:
- Democrat Alan Grayson worked successfully this year with Republican Ron Paul to pass legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, with 317 cosponsors as diverse as Dennis Kucinich and Michelle Bachmann.
- On December 3, the liberal Campaign for America’s Future wrote a letter to the Senate opposing the reconfirmation of Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke until such an audit has been conducted. The letter was signed by James Galbraith, Robert Weisman, Chris Bowers and myself on the left, and Grover Norquist, Phillis Schlafly, and Larry Greenley on the right. Financial blogger Tyler Durden and young organizer Tiffiniy Cheng joined them.
- Also on December 3, conservative Jim Bunning joined liberal Bernie Sanders in placing a hold on the Bernanke nomination until the Fed had been audited.
- On December 15, CAF again sent a letter to the Senate Banking Committee, asking them to delay the vote on the Bernanke confirmation until Audit the Fed received a stand alone vote in the Senate. It was signed by Matt KIbbe of Freedomworks, John Tate of the Campaign for Liberty, and Grover Norquist on the right, and David Swanson of AfterDowiningStreet, Dean Baker and Robert Borosage on the left.
- On December 21, a letter was written opposing the mandate in the health care bill. It was signed by Bob Fertik of Democrats.com, Howie Klein of DownWithTyranny, Brad Friedman of Velvet Revolution, Tim Carpenter of Progressive Democrats of America on the left and Grover Norquist, Jim Martin of 60 Plus Association, Duane Parde of the National Taxpayers Union on the right.
- On December 23, Grover Norquist and I sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an investigation into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s conflicts of interest before the White House could lift the cap on the commitment to them from $400 billion to $800 billion with no Inspector General in place.
The individuals on both sides of the political spectrum who signed these letters agree on very little, but they do share both a tremendous concern for the corporatist control of government that politicians in both parties seem hell-bent on achieving.
In 2003, the Democrats railed in opposition when the Republicans passed Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that didn’t allow for negotiated drug prices. And in 2006 when Democrats took over Congress, one of the hallmarks of their first hundred days was passing legislation allowing Medicare to do so, supported by both Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama. Of course, it had no chance of passing with George Bush in the White House.
Candidate Barack Obama said the ability to negotiate for drug prices would save $30 billion a year in medical costs. Yet when President Obama got to the White House, one of the first things he did was negotiate a secret deal with PhRMA that prevented drug price negotiations in exchange for $150 million in political advertising to help vulnerable Democrats in the House and in support of the health care bill.
In the Senate, Tom Carper said that because PhRMA had paid for the deal with political advertising, they were obligated to abide by it.
Jeff Sessions railed against the corrupt PhRMA deal that didn’t allow for prescription drug price negotiation. He didn’t mention that he voted for the 2000 bill without it, and when he had the chance to vote for it in the Senate in 2006, he voted “no” himself. Both parties are equally blameworthy — the only difference is who is in power and taking PhRMA’s money.
The PhRMA deal is one of many negotiated by the White House this last summer which formed the underpinnings of the health care bill. From then on, it just became a matter of which member was going to extract what deals for their votes, and who was going to take the blame for cutting popular elements from the legislation that the corporate “stakeholders” didn’t want.
As FDL’s Jon Walker wrote recently, if the ability to cut health care costs hadn’t been auctioned off to private corporations in exchange for political patronage, there would have been no government subsidy necessary to make insurance coverage affordable.
We are ceding control of the government to private corporations, not figuratively but literally. When the Senate Finance Committee bill was released earlier this year, the “author” was a former VP of Wellpoint. Liberals, conservatives and independents alike are all justifiably alarmed at what this represents.
It is tragic that health care for the poor is being held hostage to the corporatist agenda, a fig leaf to buy public support and disguise this bill for what it is. As blogger Marcy Wheeler noted in a piece called Health Care and the Road to Neo-Feudalism:
I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don’t understand is the nonchalance with which we’re about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.
Just as those on the libertarian right were demonized by the Republican establishment for opposing the Iraq war during the Bush years, so progressives on the left are being pilloried for “damaging the cause” by joining with Republicans to oppose these extreme measures. It’s ironic that the most virulent supporters of a President who ran on “bipartisanship” should reject it so vehemently when it becomes critical of the policies pursued by his White House.
This “right-left wraparound” is happening because politicians in both parties have become so unresponsive to popular sentiment: public support for stifling investigation of the bank bailouts just to protect the President are infinitesimally small, and fortunately Dennis Kucinich announced today that he would commence an investigation into the Fannie/Freddie bailout. But it’s a testament to the extreme nature of what is happening to our government that such traditional political foes could find common cause in opposing it.
It’s foolish to say that only those who agree with you on every issue are allowed to share your opinion when it comes to opposing something like the mandated bailout of Aetna — it isn’t necessary to achieve health care reform. As Jon Walker notes, removing the mandate would reduce the CBO score and its inclusion in the health care bill with no government alternative is unacceptable for moral, political and policy reasons.
As Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos said, “remove the mandate or kill this bill.” We’ve opened a “war room” at Firedoglake with information about calling your member of Congress to demand that this provision to bail out the insurance industry be removed from the health care bill before they agree to cast their vote in favor of it.
And nobody needs to pass an ideological purity test before they can use it.
Join us to oppose the mandate. Enter the war room.
12 Responses to “Right & Left Agree: Mandates are the Road to Neofeudalism”Leen December 30th, 2009 at 10:34 am
During campaign Obama said NO MANDATES, Hell that was the main difference between Obama and Hillary on health careOldFatGuy December 30th, 2009 at 10:48 am
Just a question, cause this is the second time I’ve seen the year 2000 being described as the year Medicare Part D passed. I’m pretty sure the Medicare Part D passed when George W. Bush was President. And George W. Bush didn’t even become President until Jan. 2001. I thought Medicare Part D passed in like 2003 or 2004.
“Freedom is a word a rarely use when I’m thinking” Bob Dylan. Well under all the snow jobs K street is putting out to the moneyed players is an Oligarchy that has grow quietly to global proportions. Until that dragon is slain we are the new fuedal society.In response to Leen @ 1
Leen making excellent support statements for Obama/Rhama criticisms Jane and many of us have made. We do want the president to suceed not sell us out to the Oligarchical interests. The corporate masses has gobbled up small businesses, the heart of American business, for 5 decades. That voice has been silenced and in place a powerful conglomerate that was the target of the old anti trust laws. We have like Jacob been sold.DanRockridge December 30th, 2009 at 11:14 am
Is “No mandate” the flip-side of the public option fight, or should we infer that those 8-16 house progressives aren’t going to fight for the PO?mostrolenk December 30th, 2009 at 11:18 am
another great blog Jane… as your new right wing friend, I appreciate your continued support for various transpartisan activities.
I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn about the many left/right coalitions that have been working these many years, many of which were formed during the Bush years.
Although liberals, progressives, libertarians and conservatives might not always agree (or agree much), there are a lot of common ground issues that we can ALL come together on including against corporate/state collusion. And when we come together, we get the chance to humanize the political process which can lead to even more cooperation, better debates (real debates on real issues) and perhaps new ways of thinking about issues.
It is the latter which in the end interests me the most. Politically, I favor a libertarian perspective since I think by maximizing liberty, we create more room for innovation, experimentation and even more fun (and less violence as the foundation for human relationships which is the cornerstone of libertarian philosophy i.e. voluntary cooperation and not violence or threat of violence) . But I will admit, that the libertarian frame work as its now popularly conceived has its limits and can benefit from other perspectives. The progressive critique of corporate power is one such perspective that I think needs to be integrated into a larger understanding of power dynamics. Yes, the state is a problem (its basis is force) and yes, large corporate institutions are problematic and yes, there are other institutions which also need to be addressed in terms of their negative effect on individuals, families and community life. As folks on the right would benefit from the ideas and perspectives from those on the left, I think the opposite is true as well.
Marcy wheeler and BMAZ have to know that a huge body of law has been created supporting the Oligarchy enabling it to do business Enron style. What that means is off the books debt can be hidden along with other financial tools to give investor the impression equity that does not exist is in fact real and supporting the equities that are traded globally. It is part of the corporate culture.
There is a huge debt in the capital markets that is surpressing growth. The fear that is causing on the hill is that more commitments are not doable.
It is more about who is getting the biggest slice of the pie. We are not players and get a shrinking share of the production. Americans produce more per hour each decade the percentage of the population that is employed is shrinking. Haves are getting smaller have nots are growing Homelessness and poverty have risen.
Isn’t who gets medical attention affected by these concerns?marcos December 30th, 2009 at 12:02 pm
We need to take the credit function away from Wall Street and create public credit. That’ll put an end to their feudalist designs right quick.mostrolenk December 30th, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Marcos, why limit your thinking to either public credit or Wall Street based credit? Are there not a dozen other possible options? If not, let’s create them.marcos December 30th, 2009 at 12:10 pmIn response to mostrolenk @ 10
Whatever, so long as they can in effect print money and achieve 30-40% ROI on credit products, that will suck capital from the productive economy.
There needs to be a public option or nonprofit option for credit and a requirement that public debt at the state and local level be issued as public credit.
The details of that need not be ironed out here.
Re, Neofeudalism: I admit that the term has caught on and makes the point, but I think “Neo-Serfdom” would be more accurate.
Jane, thank you for recognizing the need to capitalize on a “tactical convergence” between all populists, left and right, in opposition to mandates and a wide variety of other bad policies that are designed to work against the interests of the American people, as well as against their rights and their privacy.
Watching you on tv with a libertarian right now discussing marriage. RIGHT ON!
Transpartisan (associate/friend) Michael Ostrolenk of the Campaign for Liberty is in the news…. « Walt Roberts Explores…
Posted by Walt Roberts on 12/30/2009
Michael did a wonderful job presenting what it is to be “transpartisan” at the recent Engaging the Other conference. Now he is being referenced in a recent blog/article:
By: Jane Hamsher Tuesday December 29, 2009 1:14 pm
Read the whole article at the above link. Here is a blurb from the article and a take on a certain “demonization” dynamic in party politics. Interesting.
“With no place to go for refuge from corporatist entrenchment, populist opposition from the left and right will continue to have no choice but to work together in order to oppose it. No doubt the demonization for doing so from party loyalists on both sides who don’t want their control of the kleptocracy to be challenged will only get more fierce.”
This entry was posted on 12/30/2009 at 4:06 PM and is filed under Collaboration, Governance, Transformation, Transpartisan. Tagged: Civility, Divisive, Polarizing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Members of the Transpartisan Alliance that reside in the State of Arizona. Join us!
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Latest Activity: 5 hours ago
James Turner is a principal in the Swankin & Turner law firm, a founding member of Integral Institute, and its Integral Politics and Integral Business centers. He is also the host of “Of Consuming Interest” on the Progressive Radio Network.
Written by Corey W. deVos
In this third and final installment of James Turner’s dialogue with Ken Wilber, the look of a truly “trans-partisan” governance is explored in closer detail. In the first two parts of this discussion, the history of America’s two-party political system was carefully traced, having taken root in Alexander Hamilton’s “top-down” Federalist party (the first political party in the U.S.) and the “bottom-up” Republican-Democrat party, founded by Thomas Jefferson as a counterbalance to the Federalist ideology. Ken and James also discussed how America’s early political landscape has influenced today’s political scene, as the Federalist and Republican-Democrat parties slowly morphed into the political bodies we know today.
"The people in this society are not recognizing that their identities and their expressions are alienated from the political structures that are being held out to represent them. Representative democracy is not representing their unique human identity... they have been taught through the political process to believe that they have to pick one side or the other of their own value set."
In the first two installments, Ken and James explored the past and present of American politics, whereas in this section they look to the future of American governance, as they discuss what “trans-partisan” politics actually means, why it is so needed in today’s world, and how we might go about beginning to transcend the party lines.
As James mentions, there are millions of Americans who feel altogether alienated from the world of politics, unable to find their own unique combination of perspectives, values, and identities reflected in the representational options available to them. “They have been taught through the political process,” James tells us, “to believe that they have to pick one side or the other of their own value set.” But the trans-partisan impulse is to move beyond such intensely polarized politics, recognizing that many of our values and beliefs are often in conflict with each other—especially as individuals begin to approach an authentically integral value system, and capable for the first time of recognizing the importance of other preceding value systems. It is an extraordinarily complex world, requiring equally complex perspectives in order to make sense of it all—and as no political party in history has had a monopoly on truth or justice, we must begin to look to all possible political parties, past and present, in order to find and synthesize a new set of tools for a new century.
Here we can see the immediate value the Integral model has to offer: a comprehensive framework through which we can begin to understand the different values, motivations, and perspectives that exist in the world, all of which may be appropriate in certain historical and geopolitical and circumstances. In order to begin moving toward a trans-partisan civic in America, we must have an accurate account of the two major political parties, including such aspects as:
- stage-development factors (e.g. amber traditionalism, orange modernism, green liberalism, etc.)
- interior and exterior dimensions of human experience (e.g. the Left tends to attribute human suffering to unfair exterior social systems and circumstances, while the Right looks to interior personal motivation, family values, etc.)
- individualist and collectivist values (e.g. Libertarianism vs. Socialism)
There are several other important dimensions the Integral model can help us identify in the political arena, but when considering even just the three very general distinctions indicated above—considered by many to be revolutionary contributions to the realm of political thought—we can see that the future of politics will no longer be as black and white as it may currently seem. We must include values from all political ideologies—only this sort of comprehensive approach to governance can offer the degree of clarity and sophistication the world so desperately needs.