I Just Called My Reps Again- Did You?

I don’t know if it makes a difference, but when I call my reps and talk to their staffers, I try to drag it out a little bit and be as polite as possible. After they answer, I ask them by the name they have just provided how they are doing and hope all is going well. Then I usually start with “My name is John Cole, and I am constituent of Rep. McKinley/Sen. Manchin/Sen. Capito and I live in Bethany, West Virginia. I was calling to ask where Rep./Sen. stood on the current Graham/Cassidy bill.”

Capito and McKinley’s reps would not tell me because they “did not know,” while Manchin’s staff t old me he was against it. With the latter, I said “Well that’s great to hear, and I would like to add my name to the list because I think it is a terrible bill and will hurt West Virginia and West Virginians,” and then give them my address and phone number in case they would like to reach me.

With Capito and McKinley, I said that “I would like to urge them to both reject the bill and vote no, because I think it is bad for West Virginia and West Virginians, and it is unfair and will hurt our people, who already have a tough go of it.” I then chatted with the McKinley rep about how weird it was to have him as my rep because I actually went to undergrad with his daughter and worked on her campaign to get her elected to the student board of governor’s (she won), and with the Capito rep talked about how my dad and I had both met her father Arch Moore on several occasions because my dad had been mayor for 25 years here and we went to Charleston a lot when I was a kid for grants.

And then at the end, to all of them, I tell them “I am sure you have had an awful couple of weeks, with a lot of angry people calling, so I hope you have a nice day and I really hope that your boss comes out opposed to the bill.”

I don’t know if it works, but I use my calm adult voice (the one that doesn’t say fuck every other word) and just try to be nice and to make it personal. I also insist that they take my address and phone number, so I can’t just be written off as a random but as an actual person who votes in their district. I know not everyone feels comfortable doing that, but I do, so I do it.

I’m going to try to figure out how to fax them all from my printer, because for some reason I have it in my head that those matter more. Also, I recommend writing down the staffer name and keeping it in a file so when you call back and get someone else, you can namedrop the staffer you spoke to and it will let them know you are concerned about the issue, have called before, and aren’t going away.

I also wore my fuck trump t-shirt while calling, but they don’t need to know that.

How do you all do it?

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Disingenuity

Lots of Repubs deliberately not getting the point…

MondayWednesday Evening Open Thread: Goddess Bless Nancy Pelosi

This is a very sensible position, per the Washington Post:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that single-payer health insurance is not a litmus test for Democrats and that she is focused on protecting health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to endorse “Medicare for All” legislation backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and instead called on Democrats to release a wide range of proposals to fix and improve President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. Her position on health care is the latest evidence that Democrats in the House are willing to ignore pressure from liberal factions aiming to drive the party further to the left.

“I don’t think it’s a litmus test,” Pelosi said in an interview. “What we want is to have as many people as possible, everybody, covered, and I think that’s something that we all embrace.”

Pelosi said that she would like a variety of health-care ideas to be vetted and analyzed by budget scorekeepers but that she thinks none of them will succeed while the ACA is under attack from Republicans.

“Right now I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said. “None of these things, whether it’s Bernie’s or others, can really prevail unless we protect the Affordable Care Act.”…

“Fortunately, I’m a progressive from San Francisco. I’m a liberal, and I have my own credibility on these subjects,” Pelosi said. “While we all share our values and priorities and the rest, I think Chuck [Schumer] and I are both strong Democrats.”

Both Democratic leaders have said they think it is their job to work with Trump where possible to pass legislation that meets the values of the party. Pelosi said it is her job to get bills passed.

“You can never satisfy everybody,” Pelosi said. “We don’t have a responsibility to get nothing done.”

I suspect there’s more than a few Democrats going to tell their angrier leftist voters (all 27% of them) that they would totally vote Single Payer for All Starting Yesterday, were it not for their mean legislative mommy who does not understand what The People Want. And that’s part of Pelosi’s job — being the mean mommy who won’t allow anyone to jump off bridges or go to the bitchin’ rave just because it’s a school night.

Apart from being grateful for legislators who see the wisdom in fighting for what’s possible instead of losing for what’s “best”, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

The Single Payer Argument You Rarely Hear

There are lots of reasons to adopt single payer (and personally in my dreams I’d have an NHS- just take the VA and use it as a base and expand), but one I rarely ever hear about is the impact it would have on innovation. I firmly believe that NOTHING could foster more innovation than people not having to worry about health insurance. I personally know at least a dozen people who are stuck in their jobs because they can’t afford to go without health care. People who would probably be better suited to different kinds of work, people who have ideas they would like to bring to fruition, and so on. With our current system of employer provided insurance, we have an artificially inefficient utilization of our greatest strength- people and their individual talents and skills.

It sucks.

Stupid Idea For David To Destroy

David’s post below got me thinking on single payer vs. universal coverage — I’m with David (and Elie). Don’t care how we get to health care for all Americans, as long as we get there.

So here’s my stupid idea: a move in stages.*

Stage one: Medicare For All Kids.  Same program, just for every kid up to the age of 18–or 26, to match current ACA practice.

The reasoning in my wholly non-expert addled brain being twofold: first, kids are, as a group, cheap to cover, so the financial lift here is presumably manageable.  Second: this has an aspirational frame that can be used to persuade.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take (I took) risks on my own behalf I would never have done had I my son to keep safe when I started my own small business.  I don’t know how many people have deferred or abandoned dreams because they couldn’t go insurance-naked for their kids.

That’s anecdata, but David Leonhardt made much the same argument way back in 2010 in defense of the bill that became Obamacare. Medicare For All Kids, presented as a way to unleash Americans’ entrpreneurial spirit, would be a proposition on which I think Democrats could go to town.

The next stage is to take the step that didn’t find our David’s 218-51-5 support in the last go-round:  Medicare (buy-in?) For All Over 55.  This is a form of public option, and it would expand the single-payer approach to more and more of those either utterly unable to take on health risk themselves (kids, the post-work elderly) and those whose age-adjusted risk is growing to the point where it threatens to become unmanageable.   Again, this would require persuasion, but the idea that older but not old folks who might face, say, a 2008-like crisis of employment should find a ready avenue to coverage is, again, a case that can be made (by a better political rhetorician than me).

That leaves 27-55 year olds on their own — or rather, within the existing Obamacare/expanded Medicaid universe.  But it establishes a template for a single payer form of coverage without requiring a wholesale change over of a system with tons of interested parties and rent-seekers eager to defend their turf.

So — to steal Ta-Nehisi Coates’ old line: talk to me like I’m stupid.

What’s wrong with a crabwise walk towards increasingly universal health care, along these lines or better ones? For both politics and policy, what would be wrong w. introducing, say a Medicare For All  Kids bill in this Congress, just to get that ball rolling?

David? Anybody?

*”We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Image: Edvard Munch, The Sick Child, 1907

Come On and Get the Minimum

So Max Baucus bravely came out for single payer in front of a crowd at Montana State, an act that requires roughly the same moral courage as demonstrating against GMOs in a Whole Foods, or waving a confederate flag at a NASCAR race.

I’ve always believed – ponies notwithstanding – that “Medicare for All” is better messaging. Other than that, I can’t generate as much anger or surprise as I’ve seen on the Twitter this afternoon over Max’s speech. Baucus, Obama and the rest of the Democrats pushed through Obamacare using their best judgment of what bill would pass. It passed, people’s lives are better, and the consensus that Democrats will run on in 2018 and 2020 is that we need to move beyond Obamacare to single payer Medicare for All. When even a wimpy blue dog like Max says so, you know the party is united on healthcare.

Paul Pillar Lets Loose On Nikki Haley

Paul Pillar is a former CIA analyst whose articles on current events are usually calm, measured, and logical. He brings his analytical skills to clarifying the issues. I highly recommend reading him regularly. I occasionally disagree with him, although I can’t recall a time when I thought he had something substantively wrong.

Nikki Haley’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute yesterday on the nuclear agreement with Iran produced a reaction from him the likes of which I’ve never seen.

Nikki Haley, whose foreign policy experience has consisted of these past few months as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, has assumed the role of chief public trasher of the JCPOA for the administration.

Laura Rozen, whom you should follow on Twitter, says that the State Department experts on the subject were not consulted for the speech. I’d like to know who wrote it. Stephen Miller seems like a candidate, with help from some think-tank people you may see me jousting with on Twitter. (Changed from Steve)

Pillar gives the background facts of the agreement while destroying Haley’s lies.

Haley lied when she said that the JCPOA “gave Iran what it wanted up-front, in exchange for temporary promises to deliver what we want.”  The truth is that Iran had to fulfill most of its obligations first—including disposing of excess enriched uranium, disassembling enrichment cascades, gutting its heavy water reactor, and much else—before the agreement was fully implemented and Iran got even a whiff of additional sanctions relief.  There is no correspondence between reality and Haley’s assertion that the agreement was a great deal for Iran but “what we get from the deal is much less clear.”  What we get is a cementing closed (even literally, in the case of the disabling of a reactor that otherwise could have produced plutonium) of all possible pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon.  This isn’t just a promise; this is major, material, already implemented change.

As they say, read the whole thing. It’s short, to the point, and accurate.