By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
What would a government-led healthcare system that includes a public option look like? Thanks to a group of Democrats in the U.S. House, who introduced a version of their healthcare plan Tuesday, we know. It looks like a 14-year-old boy's bedroom or, to put it another way, it's a mess.
At more than 1,000 pages, the Democrats' plan is quite long, too long to believe that most members will read before voting on it. More likely they will depend on the analysis of what the bill does provided by staff and by stakeholders in the support of the effort to push the U.S. healthcare system—which represents more than 17 percent of GDP—down the slippery slope toward nationalization. It would come at an estimated cost of at least $1 trillion dollars—an amount roughly equal to the current budget deficit, which for the first time has passed that crucial benchmark.
And they are "hell bent for Texas" to get it done.
"We cannot allow this issue to be delayed. We cannot put it off again," Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, said Tuesday. "We, quite frankly, cannot go home for a recess unless the House and the Senate both pass bills to reform and restructure our healthcare system," the Associated Press reported.
According to the "back of the envelope" analysis currently circulating, the House bill includes a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires, a "gradual tax" beginning on individuals making at least $280,000 per year and a fee equal to 8 percent of total payroll for those businesses who do not provide healthcare to their workers.
At the same time, the bill sets the stage for rationing and, in the long run, an end to consumer choice in healthcare.
Never mind all that, though. The White House is ready to go to bat for the bill and will push for its passage, quickly.
"There's going to be a major debate over the next three weeks," the president said in Michigan Tuesday. "Don't be fooled by folks trying to scare you," he said, "saying we can't change the healthcare system." Which is Obamacode for: "Don't believe the people who are explaining to you why you won't like the healthcare reform we're giving you once you get it—even though there will be no going back."
Obama is trying to be first out of the gate in support of the bill. As the AP said Wednesday, the president's political organization is going on the air with 30-second ads in Washington, D.C., and on cable nationally. The ads will run in eight states and are targeting senators whom Obama thinks are weak on the issue. And, taking a page from the critics of national healthcare, Obama's ads reportedly feature private citizens describing the problems they have had with the U.S. healthcare system.
The ads will run in Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Ohio—all states represented by Democrats. In other words, a Democratic president is having an arm of the national Democratic Party—Organizing for America—run television spots to pressure Democratic members of the Senate.
Contrary to what the White House says, it sounds like it's not the Republicans who are the problem.