Sunday, December 27, 2009

Benazir Bhutto

Today, we have something different than Healthcare to write about. I know Anya really wanted to write this post, but unfortunately she has college applications to do, so I’ll try and do this great lady justice. We wanted to do a sort of tribute to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister, because two years ago today she was assassinated in Pakistan.

Her history: Like I mentioned she was the first female Prime Minster of Pakistan and her party was the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), a party her father, Zilfikar Ali Bhutto, founded in 1967. The PPP’s “creed” is, “Islam is our faith; democracy is our politics; socialism is our economy; all power to the people.” The intent of the PPP was to make Pakistan a true democracy and get it away from military dictatorships.

Her father’s government was overthrown by a military dictatorship headed by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who was Bhutto’s chief of the army. Benazir was put under house arrest during this time and her father was imprisoned and then executed on April 4, 1979 despite the urge for clemency in the international community.

After his death she was first put under house arrest, and also was imprisoned numerous times. She was finally allowed to leave the country under Zia’s orders in January 1984; she went to London. While in London she was able to raise awareness in the international community about Zia’s regime and she also became the leader of the PPP while in exile.

On November 16, 1988 the first open election in more than ten years was held and the PPP won a majority bloc of the seats in the National Assembly. On December 2 she became leader of a coalition government at the age of 35 (the youngest person to become PM).

In 1990 her government was charged with corruption (she was never tried) and was dismissed so she became the leader of the opposition party. In 1993 her party won again and she was made PM again and was able to continue on with her goals. Then in 1996 the current president, because of corruption charges, dissolved her government and the Supreme Court upheld this decision.

Bhutto left Pakistan after this and then came back in 2007 to prepare for the 2008 elections. The day she returned, October 18, 2007, there was an attempt to kill her, but she was not hurt. On December 27, 2007 she was assassinated coming home after a rally.

It seems so crazy that in some places people are still dying for democracy and peace. We really should, by now, have a better way of handling things. We fought for our freedom and other countries need to do the same, but sometimes it feels like democracy won’t take in some places. People need to be able to overthrow their government if it violates the constitution, etc. (something I learned in Gov.) or else nobody would have freedom and governments wouldn’t be restrained at all. We are lucky Benazir Bhutto and her father were champions for democracy in Pakistan. We need to look to these people and see what they’ve done and make them examples: fight for peace and democracy; that’s their message.

Tribute image by Anya

Anya Thinks You're Tired of Hearing About Healthcare . . .

. . . But really hopes you're not. And she begs your indulgence for one more point. After this, we'll be going on to other topics, until the Conference Committee starts work on merging the House and Senate healthcare bills.

I've already given you more than an earful about the contents of the bill. Now, I have to say that I'm not very happy with the final vote, for several reasons. Actually, they all boil down to the same reason, but here goes:

  1. Party line 60-39 vote (main reason)
  2. Artificially imposed deadline (Christmas)
  3. The fact that very few senators have read the whole bill (kudos to those who, like Claire McCaskill [D-MO] who did)

Yes, I think the bill was too conservative. But no, I don't think a more liberal version could have passed. Yes, I'm unhappy that all of Reid's focus was on getting the whole Democratic caucus behind him. But no, I'm not sure I would have liked the bill better if there had been more Republican involvement. Yes, I think that the Republicans made themselves look a bit childish by scrambling for procedural roadblocks to throw in front of this bill. But no, I don't think they're the only ones to blame for the partisan sniping that has surrounded healthcare all year. Both sides hurled their fair share of nastiness around, and what was the result? I don't think anybody is really happy with this bill.

Our Constitution was written so that our government would debate almost everything and do next to nothing. In this case, it worked to well without working at all. Debate everything? Well, if they did that, we wouldn't see a final bill for twenty years, but communication between the two parties was sorely lacking here. Doing next to nothing? Well, the bill passed, so that is something, but it was pretty iffy there for a while

Let me tell you something, Mr. Reid. A party line vote on an issue this big is not a good thing. It makes our government look split and opens you, ostensibly the victor, to acidic attacks from the other side of the aisle. You might be proud of getting your sixty votes, but you should have tried for 61 or 62. There are moderate Republicans who wanted to be involved in this bill. Maybe you couldn't have come to an agreement with them. But you should have tried, and you shouldn't have had to "buy" the votes of anyone in your caucus with special benefits to their states (Nebraska, I'm looking at you). You just needed one Republican to give this legitimacy . . . and if you want my frank opinion, you could've gotten her.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Healthcare Redux: Ashley

I would like to take some time to address what Anya mentioned in her previous posts. I would like to amend my earlier statement that the government would be a business. This is because they wouldn’t be getting a profit from any insurance they would be selling; they would probably be using that money to pay for the people who can’t afford Healthcare. But, it just seems to me like private insurers, with some direction from the government, could go down a better path if there was incentive to do so. I suppose, to me, that’s how the government should act; they should get involved the least amount as possible. That’s just a truth for me.

I’ve already said my piece on why I don’t like the public option but it’s becoming clearer to me that I have no idea what will work. Could the public option work? Or would it throw off the delicate balance of government and the private sector and wreak havoc on private insurers and small businesses? What about the trigger option? Would it be effective? Or would it just keep things at the status quo because the insurance companies wouldn’t reform? And what about the votes? Will we ever be able to get a majority on this? Let’s take into consideration the makeup of the Senate. There are the people who wouldn’t vote for the Bill at all, even if Christ showed up to persuade them, there are people who won’t vote for it if it allows tax money to fund abortions and vice versa, there are people who won’t vote for it if it cuts Medicare, and vice versa, there are people who will always vote for it, there are people who won’t vote if it doesn’t have a public option and vice versa, and there are people who won’t vote for it if it has a trigger option, and vice versa. How can all these different people ever agree on one succinct Bill that is actually effective? Sure, they might come out with something, but it might be completely watered down, cost more than any benefits people could get from it, and god help us, it could make the healthcare system worse.

However, even though the bill isn’t turning out the way any of us thought, this is the way we are supposed to decide things: through thoughtful debate and discussion. If people can’t be persuaded on something, then maybe it’s not right for the country yet. Also, in something as important as healthcare, the majority should really consult the minority. Something as big as this should not fall on party lines, all Americans should be represented and included. Senator Mitch McConnell stated after the “victory” in the Senate for the Healthcare bill, “This debate was supposed to produce a bill that reformed health care in America. Instead, we're left with party-line votes in the middle of the night, a couple of sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line, and a public that's in outrage"(

To sum up my thoughts, I don’t know where Healthcare is headed and I don’t know what will or won’t be passed. It seems safe to say anything too controversial or “out there” will be cast aside, but who knows where we’ll be in the future. Some fundamental things I do know are: this should be debated fully and said debate should have both parties participate, the people in Congress should be listening to their constituents and making decisions based on them (after all, we’re the one’s this healthcare overhaul is for), and we should all be informed citizens and listen and read about what’s going on about this topic because we’re the future and we’re the one’s who vote. I know this brought up a lot of questions and hopefully we’ll find some more conclusive answers as we come into the New Year. I say keep-asking questions and eventually answers will materialize.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Am I a Bad Democrat?

Why, of course I was paying attention in AP Government today!  Whyever would you think I wasn't? :)  Anyway . . .

Is it bad for Reid that he has the "magic number" of 60 in his caucus?  Did it get his hopes up too high?  With 60, he might've thought that he could get a very liberal bill though without needing to compromise with the Republicans and that the more conservative Democrats and independents would fall in line just because of party loyalty.  In any case, when all is said and done, it would look very bad for Reid if the vote fell completely along party lines.  That would very quickly become the favored punching-bag for the Rush Limbaughs of the Republican party, who would immediately jump on Reid/Obama/Democrats in general for "forcing the bill through Congress", etc.

Anyway, going back to what was my main point.  I've been cheering for the negotiations going on in the Senate lately, especially surrounding what I see as the "big four": Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Ben Nelson, and Joe Lieberman, whose yay or nay votes are going to be absolutely critical when the bill in its complete form is debated on the floor.  Ultimately, I think we're going to have a better/more widely accepted healthcare bill because of it.

Obviously, I'm not happy with all the compromises.  There are places where I think we Democrats have bargained away too much, a la the public option being completely axed.  Honestly, I think private insurers have had their day, and squandered much of their goodwill on ineffective plans, discrimination against women, and obscenely high premiums in the name of profit.  But that's a topic for another day.  On the other hand, if Joe Lieberman wasn't willing to stand up and risk the anger of his Democratic colleagues and denounce the Medicare expansion, we'd have people ages 55 to 64 buying into Medicare while cutting the already underfunded program even more.

I suppose that's where I break away from the really liberal Democrats.  Well, that, and I support the trigger option.  I think a nonprofit corporation handling insurance with a "trigger" option for a plan with more government is a good idea.  Why?  Simple.  It comes from the center.  And . . . it has a really good chance of passing the Senate.  More than a straight-up public plan would.  It's a decent compromise which promises both bipartisan support (even if the only Republicans to support it are Snowe and Collins, it gives the bill more legitimacy) and improved healthcare (which is the most important thing, really).

But at the same time, I think that the liberal Democrats in the Senate have no excuse for not supporting the bill.  It's not going to be the best thing to come out of Congress, and it's not going to make everyone happy, but it's progress.  Howard Dean, the former DNC chairman, has said that the Senate should kill the bill and go back to the drawing board.  With all due respect to Mr. Dean, that is very five-year-old of him.  Opportunities like this for total overhaul only come around . . . well, much less frequently than Mr. Dean seems to think.  It was a fight to get the different committee bills written, it was a fight to get the bills reconciled, it was a fight to agree to debate the bill, the amendments are fights . . . and on and on.  The only things that will be accomplished by sending the bill back to the drawing board/refusing to pass the bill is we'll have wasted months of work, millions of Americans will still have little or no healthcare, and maybe there'll be even less chance of a bill getting passed.

So, at the end of the day, am I a bad Democrat?  No, I don't think so.  I've just got common sense, an eye for what direction the Senate's leaning on different issues, and a head full of Economics knowledge from last semester's econ class :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Views on Healthcare: Anya

Every good point needs a good counterpoint, and, well, I see this as a perfectly acceptable substitute for my AP Government & Politics course homework ;)

The healthcare bill is going to end up being one of, if not the most defining pieces of legislation when people examine Obama's first year in office.  It will also play a large part, I think, in the re-election campaigns that senators will be running next year.  So it only makes sense that everyone is paying very, very close attention to this particular bill.

I've realized a few major things from this healthcare bill.  One, is that I really, really, really want to be Harry Reid.  I want to be the guy (or, in my case, girl) who has to negotiate with all the different factions to bring together a bill into its final form.  I know it would be insanely difficult, but I think it would also be fascinating, rewarding, and fun.  Second, I'm really pleased that I predicted a lot of things in this bill as it stands now.  For example, the trigger option.  As soon as I heard Senator Olympia Snowe say that she supported a trigger option I thought, "the final bill out of the Senate is going to have a trigger option, because Reid is going to do almost anything he can do to get Snowe and Susan Collins to support the healthcare bill."

Way back when in late 2007 and early 2008, during the Democratic primaries, I was a starry-eyed fourteen year old going to Hillary Clinton rallies who heard "universal healthcare" and said "that would be amazing!"  Needless to say, my opinion has changed a bit since then.  Americans are far too individualistic to ever support a universal healthcare plan, or even, as we've seen, a public option run by the government.  Ashley says that's because the government shouldn't act like a business, but really, what if it doesn't have a choice?  And besides, and public option in a Senate bill would have, I assumed, taken the lead from the House bill and required the government to negotiate rates with insurance companies, providing for fair competition and affordable rates.  The government (through the Fed) already buys and sells bonds.  I know that it's a leap between bonds and healthcare, but would it be as big of a leap as people think?  In any case, our current economy, deficit, and the make up of the legislature make universal healthcare impossible.

But what about the public option?  I strongly support that.  In fact, I think it's necessary, because we've seen that private insurers can be . . . well, an epic failure.  And a majority of the population supported it too, in the latest polls I've seen.  Which brings me to another thing I've learned: at some point, it stops being about writing the best legislation you can and becomes all about counting votes.  Which explains the major compromises in this bill.  I can live with most of them, I've decided.  I really can.  I would have liked more government involvement, but at least we are not relying solely on private companies to care for the people.  And, with the trigger option, the government can step in if the need arises.

But what I just completely fail to understand is the Medicare cuts.  I mean, people on Medicare already have a hard enough time finding a doctor willing to treat them, because the doctors get so little money.  So now we're not only cutting billions of dollars out of the Medicare program, but we're also decreasing the minimum age?  Yeah, we're opening Medicare up to those people aged 55-64 who have no insurance.  Counterproductive.

So I want to leave you with one final thought.  The more conservative bill that came out of the House a few months ago cost more than the more liberal option did.  Now . . . what will happen in the Senate?

My Views on Healthcare: Ashley

Hello, it's Ashley. I know you probably got to read my opinions on the healthcare debate already when you read the conversation Anya and I had on Facebook that we posted earlier, however I wanted to present my views in a more succinct and deliberate way. There is a bias here, however Anya will be posting her opinions as well which serves to balance our blog out. I hope you are able to maybe read some new ideas you haven't heard of before and get a broader basis of knowledge on this complicated issue.

I personally was not originally on the bandwagon for a Healthcare bill; I suppose you could say I'm not really for one now either. This is not because I don't think Healthcare needs reformation, because it does. I think that Healthcare is way too costly now and this really shouldn't be. However, it is my own personal beliefs that if given the chance and opportunity, the private sector can fix many economic wrongs. The way we could do that is make the private insurers have to comply with anti-trust laws. This would aid in creating more competition in the market and therefore lower the prices. It's a basic economic principle: If you have more companies selling the same product (basically) the good is very elastic, meaning the insurance companies have to have low pricing to stay in the arena. And as already stated competition creates low prices, which is good for people purchasing Healthcare. Also, in the long run, fewer people would be dropped by their insurers for having illnesses, etc. because then bad word of mouth would spread about said insurance companies and they would eventually go out of business. On the flip side, why would we wait to take the long run when we could just have the government fix it? Well, I suppose the answer to that question lies in how much you think the government should interfere in our lives/the economy/the private sector. This is a simple way the private sector could take care of one of the main contentions with the state of Healthcare as it is now and it is a much more cost-effective way to do so. The proposed Healthcare bills would be in the trillions of dollars price range and the private sector option wouldn't cost as much, if anything. However, I don't think the private sector can make all the changes that are necessary to improve Healthcare, but it seems to be a good start and it seems to cover the main points of debate. Also, it seems like in the proposed healthcare plans the quality of care is not talked about much. What would this do to the quality of doctors we have and hospitals? A worry is that future doctors wouldn't have incentive to become doctors or current doctors would leave their practices because they wouldn't be getting as much money as they do now. I think we don't want the quality of our care to go down so we should pay the doctors what we're paying them now, or work something out that wouldn’t compromise the quality of our healthcare. They're already reluctant to see Medicare patients; do we want them to be reluctant to see all patients? This is just one thing to think about though. However, I have a firm grasp of reality and know all the things I have proposed are not going to happen, at least in this Administration. However, I think it's important for you to know both sides of the coin and not only understand the government Healthcare bill, but also how things could be done differently.

To talk about the actual Healthcare bill, I like the idea of the trigger option, which would apply to people not getting coverage from their employers. To my understanding that would mean there would be insurance exchanges, which are not run by private insurers or the government, however the government will watch over them to make sure they’re reaching standards, etc. I think a good analogy for it would be to say it’s like a Stock Exchange for Insurance plans, but it’s a non-profit organization. So substitute buying/selling stocks for buying/selling insurance plans. If these insurance exchanges aren’t effective, then that would trigger a government run public option on a state-by-state basis. The reason why I like it is because the insurance exchanges are like a third party, meaning the government isn't getting involved unless it's not working. That's a little more comforting than to think that the government will compete with private insurers. Some problems with the government competing with private insurers are that it might not be a fair competition, and also because the government isn't a business and it worries me when it starts to act like one. Business and governments are completely different and in my humble opinion, should not be mixed. So, if the government public option competes fairly with private insurance and the government doesn't try to take over Healthcare, then I’m somewhat okay with a public option. But for me personally, as stated before, I'd like the least amount of government in this as possible.

On a side note: I just wanted to express my awe of how Healthcare has evolved since last November and now. Last November, the words "universal healthcare" were being tossed around and that was an actual consideration for what our Healthcare system would look like. It seems like now the point of universal healthcare is moot. After the notion of universal healthcare was dispelled, then came the "public option". It started out as broad and then just got narrower and narrower until it disappeared, almost. It hasn’t totally been erased from the bill, but it's been severely diminished to the point that it's like a last resort. So, now the trigger option seems alive because it will generate the most votes by being unassuming and quiet. On other words, it doesn't ruffle many feathers. It's an interesting feeling to go from thinking there will be total government control of Healthcare to barely any. I guess that's what’s great about a democratic society, extremes are weeded out if the people aren't ready/don't want them.

A Healthcare Debate

We're so excited to give you guys the first real post on politics!  This is a transcript of a week-long conversation the two of us had on Facebook, about the Senate healthcare bill.  It's a bit disjointed in the beginning, but we decided to put it up so you could see how our thoughts evolved as we learned more and amendments were voted on.  We'll have a nice, neat summary of the Senate bill up once it's passed, as well as a summary of the House bill and musings on what we'd like to see in the final bill (expect some differences :D)

Anya: progress:

p.s. I just went thru CSPAN's list of senators on twitter & followed all of them o____O
Ashley: Stalker! No, just kidding. One has to be careful around certain Senators (if you catch my drift).
Ashley: So, what would this amendment do exactly? (Sorry, on iPhone and pages take a long time to load.
Anya: that’s so cool! I just updated my blog from my dad's iTouch :P anyway, to quote directly from the bill (since I suck at summarizing): "Nothing in this subsection shall [...] prohibit a plan or issuer from providing coverage for services in addition to those recommended by United States Preventive Services Task Force or to deny coverage for services that are not recommended by such Task Force"
Basically aimed at making sure there's more women's-health coverage.
Ashley:  Oh, ok. Well, sounds good in theory. However, every additional thing we add that's more money we're adding to the debt. Just putting that out there.
Anya: I know, I know, I’m cluttering up your wall with all sorts of stuff, but this is from a rather interesting article that I read on the healthcare debate: 

"There is no sane explanation for all this other than crass political calculation. On Thursday, Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat who’s up for election next year, introduced an amendment specifically promising that Medicare recipients would not lose any of their current guaranteed benefits. It passed 100 to 0. Meanwhile, Colorado voters were getting robocalls from John McCain warning that the health care bill was going to cut their “vital Medicare coverage.”

what. the. heck. Why must politicians resort to flat-out LYING?
Ashley: No, thanks for all the info. So, who's right?
Anya: well, the amendment says that Medicare coverage won't change. So I suppose the challenge now is to write the bill so that Medicare coverage doesn't change. I don't think either of them are right . . . YET. agree/disagree?
Ashley: I don't think Medicare should be cut, unless a perfect or better than perfect substitute is being offered. And cutting Medicare won't pay for Healthcare; it would be shifting funds from one area to another
Anya: EXACTLY. You’re still spending the EXACT same amount of money. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if we just thought of healthcare reform as "expanding Medicare to cover all Americans". I have no idea how expensive that would be/how feasible it is, but it would eliminate one HUGE area of difference.
Anya: by the way, sweetie, you should read this:
Ashley: I don't know how much that would cost either, but if it's less than the current proposed bill than I say go for it.
Ashley: Just read the website. I don't see how you can keep women from having an abortion if they're paying for their own healthcare! That seems unconstitutional to me, and I'm serious about that. I call upon the majestic and awesome powers of the Supreme Court to review this law.
Anya: I think we covered the Stupak amendment at school, yeah? Any other comments? To me, it basically comes down to the government restricting access to abortion if it passes. Unacceptable.
Ashley: couldn't find the results of the abortion vote yet...but I got to do some more reading on it. A senator from Mo. said, "You can't use private money in the private market ... and frankly I think that goes too far." That's just what I was thinking, but couldn't say correctly. This seems like it would be a Republican viewpoint, doesn't it?
Anya: anyway, from they tabled the nelson (abortion) amendment 54-45. "The Motion to Table is used to kill a legislative matter. An Aye vote in favor of the motion is a vote against the bill or amendment.” so YAY. My two fav republicans voted to table ... knew I loved them for a reason.

I’m a bit confused. Was the senator saying that the amendment was saying "you can't use private funds in the private market?". And was that mccaskill or the republican guy?

Anyway, I was looking at it more from a standpoint of, "that's too much gov't interference in my life". If u want a plan that doesn't let u have an abortion, there's private insurers that do that. If the gov't wants to provide the best plans to the most Americans, they'll leave as many options open as possible. This has pretty much already been decided ... roe v. wade / right to privacy & all that.
Ashley: Oh, sorry. Yeah, she was saying it's wrong that the amendment would say you couldn't use private funds in a private market. Who are your two fav. Republicans? (Olympia Snowe and...) And yay! I'm glad that was the outcome.
Anya: haha Susan Collins .... Maine has smart republican women :)

YES. Okay. that's what I thought. yeah, that's why she's the senator NOW and we're still the students. but just you wait 20 years .....

I think it's really funny that all the republicans who gripe about big government were supporting this amendment.

yeah BUT there's still the Stupak amendment in the House bill that will come back to haunt us when we start trying to merge the house/senate bills. AND there was an article in the LA times about how there's a possibility they're gonna drop the public plan from the final senate bill! that made me SO mad. you need a public plan. or a public plan with opt-out possibility for the state. or, if it comes to it & u really need votes, a trigger option like Snowe proposed for the finance committee bill would be okay (a start, at least)
Ashley: I know. How cold you complain about too much government and then tell people they can't choose what to do with their money. It just doesn't make sense. So, I guess I'm a real Republican and all those other people are just posers.

Yes, maybe someday we'll make it to the Senate, House, or even Presidency. I think we would have some endorsements from friends.

I am kinda okay with a public option if it can compete fairly with private insurers.
Anya: hypocrites. If all republicans were like you, I could TOTALLY deal with that :) in fact, I’d quite like it! 

haha yeah I think we'd make a pretty good president/vice president team, don't you? Either that, or we'll be the two insane old ladies on the Supreme Court bench in, like, 2080. or, by 2080, we'll have been the senators from California for like 20 years so no one even bothers to run against us anymore :P

hm, yeah, I think a public option could compete pretty fairly. I think that was the point of the part in the House bill, where the gov't would have to negotiate their rates with private insurers. I could see that working. But as far as I know, the senate doesn't have anything like that yet? Maybe I’ve just missed it.

oh, and an NPR article you might enjoy: 

as far as the abortion ammendment goes, there was this nytimes article here: it says "The Senate bill currently allows insurance plans to cover abortions but tries to separate private funds from federal money. It specifies that abortion coverage can only be paid for with private dollars."

i think that's how it should be. let there be the option of abortion, but keep the government out of it.

Anya: I know I just wrote to u like 5 mins ago but i found another article worth reading (because stalking senators on twitter is much more fun than my english essay)
That would be an interesting alternative, yeah?

  who called it?! ;)
Ashley: Yeah, I’m glad to bring some hope to you about the Republican Party. However, as you know, I am fiscally conservative. If I ever did run for office I don’t know who would vote for me. Republicans wouldn’t like me because of my views on abortion, gay rights, etc. But then Democrats wouldn’t like me because of my views on economics and things of that sort. What a bad place to be. I am definitely not black and white and people tend to shy away from grey areas.

Yes, I think that might keep competition fair, but the government has so much more power than private insurers, could it ever really be fair. Adam Smith would say let the entity that provides the best coverage at the best price win. However, he wasn’t much for government controlled anything. I wish I could just have a conversation with him, and with Keynes. That would be an amazing day! I agree with you. I don’t think the government should fund abortion, but if people are paying for it themselves then they should be able to do what they want. Isn’t that what Roe v. Wade is about…I mean, abortion is legal. So restricting people who can pay for it or pay for insurance and their insurance covers it from having an abortion is a complete violation of Roe v. Wade. Isn’t it? 

Thanks for all the articles. These are such interesting times! 
Ashley: You go Anya!
Yeah, that seems fair because then it wouldn't be exactly like the government controlling insurance. It seems like it would be more fair and there would be competition. However, I don't quite understand why it has to be non-profit. I guess they don't want it to seem like the government's a business, because it's not. That would be my one contention besides fairness with any sort of public option. Why is the government acting like a business when it clearly isn't? In a perfect world the healthcare plan would look like this: The anti-trust laws or whatever is restricting competition between private insurers would be eliminated, therefore allowing competition. This would cause the prices of healthcare to go down and it would be more affordable. 
Ashley: We already have Medicare and Medicaid. Maybe the government in this plan could make these two programs more effective, but it seems like it would take care of all the problems. This way would also be way more cost-effective. How much is this healthcare bill costing? And we are in a recession? Is the timing really right for the economy right now? But, that is never going to happen and I have (somewhat) accepted it. So, as long as the government doesn't take over all of healthcare and private insurers are not put out of business then I am basically okay.
Anya: I think that's why we should run on a presidential ticket together. I could attract the liberal democrats, u can attract the moderate democrats and some republicans, and who needs the rest, anyway :P. I think we need more people (like us) who are willing to look at the gray and say, okay, the democrats have a good point here but are just dead wrong on that issue, and so on. And besides, who knows what the political parties will be like in 20, 30 years? Remember when the republicans were the liberals? I think it could be fair if there's maybe a kind of regulation board? Was that in one of the bills? I think (hope) that the gov't people would know better than to take advantage of their position, because they know the opposition party would jump on that.
Hm, I think that the gov't could get out of that problem by saying, "Well, then go buy a different plan". But maybe some ppl couldn't afford it ... and my understanding of the Nelson amendment in the senate was that if you were getting _any_ gov't help with your healthcare then even if u wanted to get an abortion, you couldn't. It says it would "ban any insurance plan getting taxpayer dollars from offering abortion coverage". Which is WAY too broad!
Ashley: I agree. I think it's cool to hang out in the gray areas; people should do it more often. 
Yeah, I suppose if it were regulated closely things would be better.  That argument does make some sense because the taxpayers shouldn't be paying for abortion because not everyone believes in it and it kinda goes against religious freedom. That's where this situation becomes tricky. Because the government would be, essentially, a private insurance company, however it's still the government and has to follow everything laid out in the Constitution, etc. I don't know how to solve that debate; I guess it shows us why the government shouldn't be a business.
Anya: Well, aren't some of those bills like 400 pages long? I know sen. mccaskill said something about the healthcare bill ... oh yeah "If we printed the health care bill in regular size font it would be same length as Sarah Palin's book, but with more meat on the bone."
I definitely agree they should have picked their targets better the first time. It just seemed too broad to me and too many things were being proposed at once. However, I suppose that’s the point of an economic stimulus; to put jobs and money back into the economy at an alarming rate. I suppose that’s where the President and I disagree on fiscal policy. I’m all about the tax cuts baby! No, but I’d be extremely happy if the stimulus was working, however, at this present moment, it doesn’t seem to be. I really wish it was, I don’t like a sick economy. Yeah, and if his party doesn’t like it…well, he should just stop beating a dead horse and try something else.
Yes, they are very long, however, how would they be 100% sure on how to vote and what’s best for their constituents if they didn’t read the whole thing? I just would feel better and would be able to sleep more soundly if they did read the whole thing.
Anya: ok so right now health insurance companies are EXEMPT from anti-trust laws. So that has to go ... _now_. And I think both house & senate bills have that provision in them, so YAY :) yeah more competition = less cost. So, I’m a bit worried about the senate bill because, correct me if I’m wrong, but it's cutting Medicare spending while making the minimum age for uninsured people 55? That seems way counterproductive to me...

I think the public option compromise from this article:,0,7688557.story
 is the best compromise. It has a lot of good stuff, while at the same time it's probably gonna pass with at least the Maine republicans (I’m still pleased with myself for calling the trigger option. I knew it was gonna be in the final bill as soon as snowe said she wanted it :P)

wow, I think medicare/medicaid reform is a whole other topic, almost. They’re okay, I suppose, but when they pay hospitals, it usually doesn't even come close to covering the hospital's costs. Which is def. something to keep in mind... and as for timing, I don’t think we can afford to wait on this....
Ashley: Yes, I totally agree with you on that. More competition is a good thing. So, basically they would be adding more people to Medicare and then also cut it. That makes no sense whatsoever! They would need to expand Medicare in order to add more people to it. I really don’t think they should be cutting Medicare at all, why not try and reform it? Or is that suicide? I don’t know, it seems to me the people who need healthcare the most (the older generation) should not be having their healthcare cut. However, if there was a replacement option for Medicare that was better than Medicare…well, that’s an equine of a diverse tincture. 
Yeah, well will this new healthcare plan cover the hospitals cost? It must if we want to keep competent doctors, better facilities, etc. In fact, we’ll even need more doctors than we do now because more people will be going to the doctor’s office. That’s another point of contention I have with this plan.
Anya:  Yeah, I think that is the point of the stimulus, to try to help as many parts of the economy as fast as u can, but the stimulus bill _isn't_ working fast enough. I agree with what they're trying to do, I just think the timeline isn't that great. As for tax cuts, well, the question becomes, tax cuts for whom? Business or individuals? The wealthy or the middle class? Bush tried targeting his tax cuts at the really wealthy and the big corporations, and see how well that turned out....
Haha I dunno, I wish they would read all the bills but that's when it would be nice to have a 45 hour long day, too... 
Since when does politics make sense? Well, I think the Medicare part is just way to complex ... I really wanna see how they can make that come out well, because it just looks like a black hole of DOOM to me right now, to be honest. Reforming it would take soooo much work. I wonder if it's finally outlived its usefulness. We need something to help the seniors, but I dunno if Medicare is still the right answer. 
Yeah I wonder sometimes how much the legislators are thinking about the hospitals/doctors/etc. they seem so focused on making it affordable & covering everyone, and taking the insurance companies down a peg. 
This whole debate has just made me even more certain I want to be involved in politics....