Democratic Consensus on Health Care?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Congressman Anthony Weiner continues to advocate from the left for a more robust overhaul of the health care system. Will Republicans be convinced, let along those within the Democratic party?


Congressman Anthony Weiner

Comments [82]

jane from hudson valley, NY

Thanks to Congressman Weiner. I wish he was my Congressperson. So wise and so articulate. I agree with all he says about health care for all.
Probably because I live in the Western Dutchess County, as Andrea Bernstein would say, the Upper-Upper West Side of New York.
I plan to write to A. Weiner on his web-site to congratulate him for actually making sense while speaking!!

Aug. 25 2009 10:11 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Try Maggie Mahar is an economist who has written an eye-opening book, "Money Driven Medicine." What she has uncovered is surprising to a lot of people on both sides of the debate. She really does call 'em as she sees 'em.

Aug. 24 2009 05:20 PM
mc from Brooklyn

PNHP's numbers have their problems too. A worthy organization, but still with an agenda.

Aug. 24 2009 05:10 PM
hjs from 11211

facts be damned. don't raise my taxes!!!
we don't even pay for our wars. more debt for bridges to no where & confederate welfare states.

mc, and I didn't even get to see the last comments before they were removed.

calls'em, with the CIA under investigation please let me know if u need help escaping to canadia

Aug. 24 2009 05:08 PM
mc from Brooklyn

I concur with hjs, though I respect your right to edit these boards. I think that there is room for many points of view, however, I think we did expose something really off. Too bad it can't be seen anymore.

Aug. 24 2009 04:43 PM
Nick Lento from NJ

Yo, "calls em".....I could put up a thousand part "comment" by quoting from the PNHP.ORG site.

The Heritage Foundation consists of a few high IQ right wingers who are skilled at putting lipstick on Sarah Palin.

The bottom line is that you can't win a policy debate that's based on facts and rationality....and that the only reason we don't have single payer is the way the insurance industry pays off the congress and the thousands of lobbyists and PR firms.

Further, much of the rage against even the piddly watered down Obama "plan" comes from racists and militia types who besasiccally hate theis country and would love to see our government fall so they could all be warlords with all the guns and ammo they've got stockpiled in their basements.

This goes way beyond health care atthis point. It's a test of our democracy and of our constitution.

We've already had one civil war against the racists and those who would tear this nation apart....and your side lost. Get used to it.

The Republican party, by linking their fate, to the crazy right wing radical haters, is signing it's own political death warrant. There's no future in hatred and terror.

And, if you're looking to spend a few hours actually reading and educating yourself about healthcare and single payer as the answer here's where you can go....

Aug. 24 2009 04:41 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Me too! :-(

Aug. 24 2009 04:32 PM
hjs from 11211

the topic was healthcare reform. to prove the point that anti-healthcare reformers are very loose with facts in general I pointed out the connection between birtherism and anti-healthcare reform. please reconsider your censorship. at 4 pm very few are reading the board, just us wonks. lies should be allow to be exposed, in the sunlight they die.

Aug. 24 2009 04:31 PM
hjs from 11211

oh boohoo. and i was having fun!!

Aug. 24 2009 04:22 PM
BL Moderator from Varick St. Studios

[[Moderator Writes: Folks, we've removed some of the recent way-off-topic comments. Please, try to keep the discussion productive to the conversation on the air (which had nothing to do with birth certificates). Thanks!
-BL Show-]]

Aug. 24 2009 04:20 PM
hjs from 11211

obama was never a lefty

Aug. 24 2009 03:17 PM
mc from Brooklyn

I read the Douthout piece. Though he sounds a little gleeful for my taste, he has a point in a way. He seems to think that Obama has changed since being elected. I disagree. I have long made the point that Obama is not a lefty, but rather a cautious, risk-averse partisan. He is acting just that way now. I have been very pleased at the level of education that he is showing since the election under the tutelage of Peter Orzsag and others. But I am dismayed by his and the administration's inability to give a clear message. I agree with Douthout that he learned too well from the Clinton failure, though I must say it seems he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Just look at how everyone talks about the "Obama health plan" when there is no such thing, just proposed legislation from the House and Senate.

Aug. 24 2009 03:11 PM
mc from Brooklyn

I'll check out the Douthat piece. Keep up the good fight.

Call's 'Em: I'm asking again (as hjs did) does the Heritage Foundation have an agenda? Why do you call him "Bama"? I would hardly call Weiner a stalking horse, though I agree, he does make some shaky claims as do your friends at Heritage. Obama's lefty creds propagated by the left and the right are greatly overblown, as the left is now finding.

What do you think is an acceptable level of health coverage for a US citizen and what do you think it should cost?

Aug. 24 2009 02:33 PM
hjs from 11211

they let u put up links. maybe that would have been more helpful.
do u think the Heritage Foundation has an agenda? cut taxes to zero maybe? just say no never maybe. not neutral. not factual
please remind me where was obama born?

Aug. 24 2009 01:50 PM
hjs from 11211

yes i am

Aug. 24 2009 01:44 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA


You know that I always welcome your comments. Unfortunately, the powers that be at WNYC seek to limit listener and contributor democracy by limiting calls to the show and the space and forum for discussion; therefore I had to post a very good article in pieces.

This is a great deal of scholarly material out there with the counter arguments to the many false claims that Obama's stalking horse, Mr. Weiner throws out there. You just won't hear about them on NPR because of its' strong leftist bias.

The Bama admin is using health care as a tool in a political power grab. It will not work and they will be out of power soon enough.

Enjoy the nice weather. PS - are you a contributor to the station?

Aug. 24 2009 01:41 PM
hjs from 11211

calls'ems is a birther. facts are not relevant to him/her. he's not here to debate. he's either working for the GOP/CIA/insurance company shareholders or his earth is 6,000 years old.

Aug. 24 2009 01:36 PM

mc (and hjs!),

About your note to "calls 'em", the question of whether it will cost money is what we are trying to address.

We need to look at overall costs. Right now, small businesses - the REAL engine of the US economy - are being strangled by health care costs.

And then we see that in Germany and France, where small businesses don't have to contend with the insurance companies (which don't treat them fairly) the economy is already recovering. A real recovery, not this fake-out we're seeing in the US.

So the cost issue needs to be looked at comprehensively.

Last note for now, on the issue of "the fight ain't over."

I remember how crowded the phone bank room got after McCain nominated Palin, and again after her incredible performance at the convention.

Democrats are lazy - until they see something that scares them. When we saw the behavior at the town halls, we saw an image of America that was entirely unacceptable under any terms: anti-science, fear-mongering, race-baiting, et cetera. And we mobilized to defeat that.

I sense that something similar to post-Palin nomination is happening now. We won that battle. I don't know if we will win this one or not. But we are rallying again, and without that, the possibility was nil.

I don't know if you read the Ross Douthat piece in the Times today, but THAT was dispiriting. At the same time, it was good in that it points in a direction where we can actually apply pressure.

Okay - Back to seminar planning! Hope to check in with you later.

Aug. 24 2009 01:31 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Don't give up now!

Aug. 24 2009 01:29 PM
hjs from 11211

it might be time to go if calls'em has come to shout us down

Aug. 24 2009 01:24 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Call 'Em: I agree that at its current rate of growth Medicare is not sustainable. Any reform that does not have Medicare reform at its core is not going to work. But the drug entitlement that you refer to sucks. 22% of beneficiaries hit the "doughnut hole" every year and most of them never emerge from it until after the benefit year has expired. There needs to be a fairer and less inflationary way to cover everyone at a level that is acceptable. What remains undefined is what is "acceptable" and how much should each person be expected to pay? Health care really is not a civil right because it costs money, however, I think it should be an entitlement in a civilized society the way education is right now. What do you think is "acceptable?"

Aug. 24 2009 01:22 PM
pielouka from upstate

I give up on America. It's that special combination of just too many ignorant people who consistently vote against their own interests, coupled with a political system that is corrupt and rotten to the core because of political donations and lobbyists.

You'd think that HealthCare reform was a no brainer, right?

#1 The costs are a major, and ever-increasing problem for both the country and many of its citizens.

#2 There's numerous examples of other states doing HealthCare cheaper and better.

So what gets in the way of a speedy yet thorough analysis and plan to remedy our problem along the lines of a more successful system in other states? See first paragraph.

Aug. 24 2009 01:17 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part IX - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

About the Authors and Footnotes:

Brian M. Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs and Curtis S. Dubay is a Senior Analyst in Tax Policy in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

[1]Curtis S. Dubay, "Income Tax Will Become More Progressive Under Obama Tax Plan," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2280, June 1, 2009, at
[2]Stuart M. Butler, "Senate Finance 'MedPAC' Health Proposal Needs Savings Guarantee," Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 2507, June 26, 2009, at
[3]The 50 percent figure includes the 39.6 percent top federal rate under the Obama budget plus the average of the top rates in all 50 states (including state and local income taxes), the 5.4 percent surtax, and the 2.9 percent Medicare tax. It accounts for federal and state deductibility and other federal adjustments. See Tax Foundation, "If Health Surtax Is 5.4 Percent, Taxpayers in 39 States Would Pay a Top Tax Rate Over 50%," July 14, 2009, at (July 14, 2009).
[4]This deals with net tax increases. A tax shift, such as capping the health care exclusion and cutting taxes elsewhere, would not necessarily be economically destructive since the total net tax burden would not increase.

Aug. 24 2009 01:17 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Needed to hear that--the fight is not over. I have been getting very discouraged. Glad that Healthy San Francisco is working for your friend and really glad to hear about your activities. Let us know if you post it on youtube.

I think that is a very fair statement about Calvinism. It is also the ethic on which NYC is based, showing its Dutch roots.

Calls 'Em:
Sorry, but I do not think the Heritage Foundation is any more reliable than Democracy Now. There is a role for both to play, but they both push an agenda. Anyone, including Obama who says that reform will not cost money is crazy. Of course it will cost money. But the course we are on is unsustainable. There are calculations that state that health care will consume 100% of GNP if we don't do something. If we are lucky, reform will slow the growth to inflation, rather than the 2 to 3 times it is now. I worked with a Canadian citizen over the summer. She says a middle class tax rate there is 55%. Where does Heritage get that the US rates are close to the top? Or do they use a moving definition of tax rate, only counting income tax?

Aug. 24 2009 01:14 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part VIII - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

Try Belt-Tightening

Its time for lawmakers to stop unaffordably expanding government. Over the past eight years, lawmakers have created a new Medicare drug entitlement, doubled the education budget, enacted a $700 billion financial bailout, and passed a second "stimulus" bill that cost $1.1 trillion--all on top of unaffordable entitlement programs in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Adding another colossal health care entitlement just digs the nation's financial hole deeper. It would add to a future of record debt, European-sized tax increases, and economic stagnation. Instead of dumping these costs on recession-weary taxpayers, lawmakers should tighten their belts and offset any new health spending with reductions to lower-priority programs.

Brian M. Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs and Curtis S. Dubay is a Senior Analyst in Tax Policy in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Aug. 24 2009 01:14 PM
hjs from 11211

asians do work hard don't they!

maybe i should have said the "so called protestant work ethic"

i'm just looking for an explaination to the craziness i've been seeing over the last 9 years. i see its roots going back many many years back to europe even.
what do u think?
even this "strict parent ideology" has a root

Aug. 24 2009 01:14 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part VII - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

Tax Hikes during a Recession?

In addition to damaging our international competitiveness, the surtax would surely worsen the recession. Not a single economic school of thought advocates raising taxes during a recession or threatening to do so in its aftermath. To call for a tax increase during the largest recession in 70 years is downright reckless.
The proposed tax increase would likely go into effect after 2010, yet many expect the economy to remain in a weak recovery at best 18 months from now. The surtax will threaten even a weak recovery if small businesses are facing a tax hike.
Furthermore, the negative economic effects would not wait until 2011. Small businesses typically plan investments, expansions, and new hiring years in advance. Learning that their tax rates will rise in 2011 businesses would immediately curtail investments and long-term hiring plans.
Overall, the higher tax rates on small businesses and upper-income families would rob the economy of vital investment dollars at a time when large budget deficits are already soaking up the economy's savings. This will result in less job creation and slower economic growth.[4]
Lawmakers will surely claim that a surtax of one to 5.4 percentage points is too small to harm the economy. Weary taxpayers must wonder if this is a case of the camel's nose getting in the tent. There is already a provision in the bill that allows the lower surtax rates to increase. How long will it be before the top rate goes up too? How high would they go? Small businesses struggling to make payroll during tough economic times would surely disagree that these taxes are too small to matter. Upper-income families may be better able to afford the tax, but the negative effects on savings, investment, and the overall economy would harm everyone.

Aug. 24 2009 01:13 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part VI - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

High Tax Rates Punish Incentives to Grow

Raising the top tax rates on individuals is especially damaging to the economy because these individuals are often the most productive in our economy, as evidenced by their incomes. They are also those most able to respond to higher rates by working less, shifting their compensation to more lightly taxed forms, moving taxable activity offshore, and retiring early.
These tax rates also fall on various forms of capital income, discouraging saving and investment on the one hand while on the other distorting the pattern of saving and investment toward more lightly taxed yet less efficient forms.
Small businesses typically pay taxes at the individual rate, so raising the top individual income tax rates is a hard slap at small businesses. The President and his congressional allies repeatedly--and correctly--praise small businesses as the job creators and great innovators in our economy, and they are right. Yet repeatedly in tax policy and elsewhere, President Obama has threatened to depress small businesses.
In the global race for capital, income tax rates that are higher than all but a few of the highest-tax countries will be a further hindrance to the ability of the U.S. to attract new investment, entrepreneurs, and businesses. The income tax creates perverse incentives driving business activity toward the Slovak Republic, for example, where it faces a 19 percent top income tax rate, or the Czech Republic's 15 percent, as compared to 45 percent in the lowest-tax U.S state.
Unless the U.S. keeps its top tax rate comparable to competitor nations like those in the OECD, it will continue to loose capital to lower-tax countries. Less capital will mean fewer jobs and lower wages for American workers.

Aug. 24 2009 01:12 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part V - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

Top Earners in High Tax States Hit Hard

In the six highest-taxed states, Oregon (11 percent top income tax rate), Hawaii (11 percent), New Jersey (10.75 percent), New York (8.97 percent), California (10.55 percent), and Rhode Island (9.9 percent), the top rates would be higher than all but Denmark among OECD countries if the Obama plan and surtax become law.
Under these higher taxes, families and small businesses making over $350,000 in every state would face higher top rates than 21 OECD countries--including France, Italy, and Spain. Even the nine states with no state income tax at all would have higher rates than these social democracies that are typically regarded as countries with punitively high taxes. Taxpayers in all 41 states that do levy an income tax would pay a top rate that is higher than all but seven of the 30 OECD countries.

Aug. 24 2009 01:11 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part IV - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

Higher Tax Rates Than France (Con't)

Then this 5.4 percentage point surtax would raise the average top tax rate in the U.S. even higher to above 52 percent.[3] This higher rate would then be higher than the top rate in Finland, Japan, Austria, and the Netherlands and higher than all but three countries in the OECD: Denmark (60 percent), Sweden (56 percent), and Belgium (54 percent).
Raising top marginal tax rates above most European countries is a horrible model for the U.S. to follow. European countries have chronically higher unemployment levels than the U.S. and persistently lower rates of economic growth. The U.S. will suffer from the same afflictions if it follows in the footsteps of European countries--and worse if it actually surpasses their punitive levels of taxation. Moreover, such a misguided policy will drive business and economic activity out of the U.S. and into other low-tax nations.

Aug. 24 2009 01:06 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part III - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

Higher Tax Rates Than France

Threatening to raise taxes is a sure sign that health care reform has gone awry, and this is underscored in the fact that the tax increases now under consideration are among the most economically harmful the Congress could consider.
U.S. tax rates are already among the highest among the industrialized nations. The average top income tax rate for countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is currently 42 percent. (The OECD is an association of the 30 most economically developed nations in the world.) The U.S. average top rate--when including the top federal income tax rate, the average of state and local income taxes, and Medicare taxes--is also currently 42 percent. This includes the current 35 percent top federal rate, plus the average of the top rates in all 50 states (including state and local income taxes), and the 2.9 percent Medicare tax. It also accounts for federal and state deductibility and other federal adjustments.
But if President Obama's proposal to raise the top two marginal income tax rates becomes law, the average top rate will jump to 47 percent. This would raise the top rate higher than the OECD average and, as can be seen in Table 1, put the top U.S. rate on par with Germany and Australia and leapfrog it ahead of Canada, France, and Italy.

Aug. 24 2009 01:03 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part II - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

Surtax Creates a Cascade of Progressivity

Under the House of Representatives' plan, families and small businesses earning between $350,000 and $500,000 a year would pay a one-percentage-point surtax on top of the top income tax rate. Those making between $500,000 and $1 million would pay a 1.5 percentage point surtax, and those making over $1 million a 5.4 percentage point surtax.
Currently, the top rate is 35 percent. But in his budget President Obama proposed raising the top two income tax rates from 33 and 35 percent to 36 and 39.6 percent. Families in the top 20 percent of income earners already pay 943 percent more income taxes than middle-income families.[1] The new surtaxes would extend progressivity at the top of the income spectrum and raise the disparity in taxes paid between middle- and low-income families and high-earning families.
Moreover, the surtax could rise even higher if certain savings included in the legislation do not materialize by 2012. In that case, the 1 and 1.5 percentage point surtaxes rise to 2 and 3 percentage points, respectively. So, if all the amorphous proposals to "bend the curve" do not pan out, then--presto!--up goes the surtax. Congress should ensure that savings are banked before rushing headlong into an unaffordable new, entitlement benefit.[2]

Aug. 24 2009 12:59 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Part I - Income Tax Surtax Should Not Fund Government Health Care Expansion
by Brian M. Riedl and Curtis S. Dubay (c) 2009 The Heritage Foundation -- WebMemo #2544

Congress is reportedly considering raising taxes by at least $540 billion over 10 years to fund President Obama's health care initiative through a "surtax" on top of the highest individual tax rates.
This should finally put to rest President Obama's implausible claim that expanding government health care benefits will save money, since policies that save money do not typically require painful tax increases to offset their cost.
The latest proposal would impose an income surtax of between one and 5.4 percentage points on families and small businesses earning over $350,000. This latest tax scheme would drive the top rates in the U.S. to among the highest in the industrialized world, leaving economic havoc in its wake. Congress should seriously consider the consequences of such a policy.

Aug. 24 2009 12:58 PM
hjs from 11211

thanks for correcting my misconceptions about the puritans calvinists connections. I guess I should brush up on my reformation history.
could I say the in general the "protestant work ethic" which has its roots in calvinism says only the strongest should survive? and that sharing does not help the weak?

Aug. 24 2009 12:55 PM


Thanks for the tip on Orzsag.

I rode my bike down to Jackie Speier's Town Hall in Montara yesterday to ask my group's CBO question. at least 80% of that audience was for p.o./s.p.

Our CBO point went over really well with a crowd made up of, among others, many experienced nurses and physicians. Yes, there were some astroturf people there, but they were well-behaved, and I think the savings question kind of got to the opponents of HC Reform who weren't astroturf. That's the way to get 'em. HCR is at its essence fiscally conservative. And that's the story that's not getting out.

mc, as you know, the numbers that support the savings from the p.o./s.p. are on OUR side. I don't need to tell you!

Our group is made up m.d.'s, nurses, scientists and countless small businessmen and parents. We're 1200 strong (this is why I never post on Brian's page anymore, I'm swamped.) I think I have heard almost every nightmare insurance story at this point.

Re your comment: One of our members belongs to "Healthy San Francisco." He is currently unemployed, and says the program is fantastic.

mc, we haven't lost this fight yet. And I've never met so many smart, committed individuals. No wonder you've been doing this for so long!!!

Thanks again for your inspiration,

Aug. 24 2009 12:47 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Your numbers agree with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Private companies have about 15% overhead including profits and public have half that much. But we are talking about 7% of the overall $2.3 trillion pie for both public and private. If we used only that 7% to cover the uninsured we would run out of money very quickly. We need to reduce the unnecessary and unproven procedures and treatments that are wasting about a third ($700 billion) a year. Unless we figure out how to do that we will always be in trouble. Unfortunately, even a mention of this leads to demagoguery and charges of "rationing." Very discouraging.

Aug. 24 2009 12:36 PM
mc from Brooklyn

So great to hear from you and so great to hear that health care workers are getting organized around this issue. I read a very interesting Op-ed piece in the NY Times yesterday about how the public option in San Francisco is working, more people are covered, no one is going out of business and people are happy. The public option not only is good for expanding primary and preventave care, but also, through its clout at the bargaining table for bringing down the costs of the actual care. I wish more attention was paid to this, and also to the models right here in the states, like SF and the co-op in Seattle and the Mayo Clinic and others that seem to be getting it right.

I am disappointed in the CBO on this issue, not sure where Elmendorff (sp?) is coming from. Peter Orzsag used to work for the CBO and really knows his stuff. Check out his blog at the White House Budget Office.

Aug. 24 2009 12:33 PM
bloomiegirl from Near Bloomingdale's

Oh dear, I forgot to thank Congressman Weiner for his support of single payer system. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Aug. 24 2009 12:26 PM


Out here in CA, we are organizing a seminar of physicians and economists to address what the CBO has refused to look at:

Specifically, the enormous SAVINGS that would accrue from the public option by expanding the group of people receiving proper primary (and preventive) care.

You were the person who made me realize that you can actually organize hc workers around this issue. (I wish I had your email - would love to hear more from you on this issue.)


Aug. 24 2009 12:23 PM
bloomiegirl from Near Bloomingdale's

Come on, folks, this is a no-brainer! How will we pay for health care reform and maintain the quality of American health care? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

A 2006 report by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance -- a staunch supporter of private insurance companies -- argues that administrative costs for Medicare are understated. Using 2003 statistics, CAHI calculates Medicare administrative costs at 5.2%. They admit that this number is two and a half times higher than the figure that is usually quoted, but let’s move on. CAHI calculates administrative costs for private insurance at 8.9%, of premiums, if commissions, premium taxes and insurance industry profits are excluded – about 170% of the Medicare figure. But when commissions, premium taxes and insurance industry profits are included, the administrative cost of private insurance as calculated by CAHI almost doubles, to 16.7%. Using CAHI’s numbers, switching to a single payer plan would provide a potential savings of 11.5% (16.7%-5.2%). Those savings can be used expand the current coverage. That’s how we can pay for it.

Calculating percentages can be misleading, so let’s look at one hard fact that is used an an indicator of the quality of health care throughout the world. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, our infant mortality rate is projected to be higher than that in Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Monaco, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland -- and twice as high as the infant mortality rate in Sweden, Japan and Bermuda.

We may pay more for health care, our health care system falls short of the mark, starting on the day we are born.

Aug. 24 2009 12:23 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Also, some parts of New England reality are not "progressive" the blue laws that are still on the books are directly related to its Puritan heritage.

Aug. 24 2009 12:20 PM
mc from Brooklyn

I would agree that modern Calvinists are "bible belters" however, the original commenter tried to make the case that the problem this country has with social greater good is because of its "Calvinist" roots. I think that is inaccurate.

Puritans are not Calvinists. Puritinsm along with Quakerism and some of the Pilgrims were sects that split off the Anglican Church because of disillusionment of that church and its use by the king for his own political gain. Calvinism has more in common with Presbyterians.

Aug. 24 2009 12:18 PM
hjs from 11211

what if we said to young doctors you work as a PCP for 10 years in poor urban or rural areas and we'll pay your student loans

would that help?

Aug. 24 2009 12:07 PM
hjs from 11211

i'm talking about today's heirs to the calvinist traditions, they live in the bible belt now. today new england is the most progressive part of the country. when did that happen?

ps puritans are calvinist

Aug. 24 2009 11:59 AM
walter from forest hills



Aug. 24 2009 11:55 AM
TG from Brooklyn

Thank you Congressman Weiner! I can't tell you how satisfying it is to hear someone in government unafraid to argue forcefully for single-payer. Its unbelievable that single payer has turned into this radical concept. How and why have the more left Dems let this happen?

I agree with the other writers here that Obama needs to let go of the bi-partisan approach and just work on the Blue Dogs and put forth his own bill. He's let Congress at it and now its his turn. And I just hope he keeps in the public option. Which hopefully in a few years could actually turn into single payer.

Aug. 24 2009 11:48 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Here is R.L. Dabney weighing in on the Five Points of Calvinism.
He is scornful of the history of Dutch Calvinism. Makes me think that the reputation it has now is due to current practice and thinking, which blows away the theory that this is some deep-seated historical reason for our greed.

Aug. 24 2009 11:42 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Not sure either, but I do think this state of mind is too often reinforced.

Also not sure if your characterization of Calvinism is accurate, at least as it was practiced in the early colonies. Certainly the Puritans did take a messianic stance, not so sure about Calvinists. The Dutch were more into commerce than anything else; I doubt they would let their religion interfere.

Aug. 24 2009 11:35 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I would be curious to hear WHERE in Canada your guest tried the GP and was told that there would be a 10-12 month wait. Canadian health care is largely a provincial matter, and it varies greatly from province to province. What's probably more important is the distribution of population and medical workers and facilities. It makes a big difference if one is in Toronto or in Nunavut. The country is (in many respects) underpopulated and particularly lacks medical workers of various kinds -- which is one of the reasons why they can be fast-tracked for permanent resident status. I am a Canadian permanent resident with a home in Alberta, and the medical care covers much more, much faster than my previous U.S. health insurance (which was excellent by U.S. standards) -- and I pay a lot less overall than I ever did the U.S. My employer also gives me supplemental coverage (for which I pay $0), which covers drugs, dental, some massage, etc., etc., etc. I have encountered problems with medical care in Canada, but NONE of them are related to the system.

Aug. 24 2009 11:34 AM
hjs from 11211


also there is a greed in this nation. not sure where that comes from. maybe because many gave up so much when they fled war, revolution, or famine they fear losing any more or maybe it's just the "fear of the other" taking? not too sure.

Aug. 24 2009 11:21 AM
hjs from 11211

no offense to your calvanism but, "Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland etc., provided universal care because..." they are intelligent and enlightened, they have added up the dollars and cents see that it’s the best way. our calvanist hold us back. they hate science and besides the end is near why plan for tomorrow? our fate has been written

Aug. 24 2009 11:05 AM
mc from Brooklyn


Also, one reason Long Island is part of NY and not Connecticut is because the British saw its commercial value and did not want it in the hands of those "crazies" the Puritans. Look at a map. Long Island geographically would make a lot more sense as part of Connecticut. Staten Island and Manhattan by the same token really should be part of NJ. Ain't politics grand?

Aug. 24 2009 10:57 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Right you are. I am decended both from Dutch Calvinists and the Quakers that they persecuted right here in the Dutch colony.

But are Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland etc., provided universal care because they are *not* Calvinist? Seems like a stretch to me.

Aug. 24 2009 10:55 AM
hjs from 11211

calvinism is at the root of many our problems here in the USA. don't forget your history after the puritans lost the english civil war the craziest came here. also keep in mind these people don't believe in science at all, "their" earth is only 6000 years old.

Aug. 24 2009 10:46 AM
Norman from Manhattan


General practitioners in the New York area make in the range of $120,000 a year.

Specialists in fields like cardiology make $200,000 to $300,000.

This can vary greatly depending on how greedy they are and how committed they are to treating people in need.

I think that New Yorker article by Atul Gawande about doctors in two towns in Texas gave some specifics, and a good idea of how the system works.

Aug. 24 2009 10:41 AM
Janet Jaidi from Bronxville, NY

Forgot to mention: for information about house members and senators, go to and check out the campaign contributions of our illustrious

Aug. 24 2009 10:41 AM
mc from Brooklyn


Wow! Guess that explain's the NYC attitude since its roots are Dutch Calvinist.

Sooo, the German and French systems exist because they are Catholic? What about the Swiss? Or the Taiwanese? Or the Japanese?

Aug. 24 2009 10:39 AM
Janet Jaidi from Bronxville, NY

I called this morning but didn't get a chance to ask the congressman why the President doesn't bring the "Dirty Dog Democrats" in line so this bill can pass, and why don't the news media bring out the fact that Senators Baucus and Conrad both take big campaign contributions from the insurance industry and pig pharma. They are holding up this important legislation for their own selfish interests. Why not do a story about them on public radio?

Aug. 24 2009 10:35 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Norman and Andy:
I believe he said Medicare payments, not Medicaid. And yes, they are low. My brother is a physician, he makes $48,000 at his family practice in Ohio, not exactly a princely sum.

I wish there was more study of models in this country and others that deliver universal care and control costs. Not all are single payer. Examples: San Francisco's public option, the Puget Sound co-op, Germany's health care system, Switzerland's France's, Japan's. Instead of screaming at each other we should be learning from folks who seem to be doing it right.

Aug. 24 2009 10:34 AM

many physicians are on a fixed salary with no cost of living increases, and no incentives for seeing a certain volume of patients - you'd be surprised

Aug. 24 2009 10:34 AM
Gerald Fnord from Pasadena,Ca.

The dominant ideology behind single-payer or just plain public health-care is that even people without money don't deserve to be sick or die when there is an extant and practical way to avoid this.

As such, it comes into conflict with one of the Murking ideologies, the one that says that if you're not earning money you are a (literally, it has its roots in English Calvinism) a Damned Loser and deserve every pain you get; at its worst, it even implies that contemplating the tortures of the damned is one of the pleasures rightfully enjoyed by the Elect.

It's no coincidence that, broadly speaking, WASPs predominate amongst the opponents of health reform, whilst Blacks and Hispanics (whose faiths tend to have a more flexible demarcation of the Saved and the Doomed) and Jews (who can't even be dependably counted-on to believe in damnation at all) tend to be on the other side.

(Italian, Polish, and especially Irish have tended toward the Calvinist P.o.V. in years recent; please see 'How the Irish Became White' for an explanation---basically, the IRish became the shock-troops for the WASP upper class, just as Chinese tongs use poorer Vietnamese F.O.B.s for theirs.)

Aug. 24 2009 10:29 AM
Norman from Manhattan

Yes, the doctor's auto mechanic makes more than he does on Medicaid.

But that's a Mercedes Benz mechanic.

Aug. 24 2009 10:28 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

What is reasonable pay for a physician? I'm guessing a rich doctor pays his auto-mechanic a nice hefty fee.

Aug. 24 2009 10:27 AM
D from Brooklyn

I am so happy that congressman Weiner pointed out not only the lies on the Republican side of this issue but the woeful misrepresentation of tax spending.

That said, in my opinion, Obama should just simply SIGN A BILL...I don't even understand why this is a debate!! It is clearly in the interest of the so-called Greater Good...
Does anyone think that when Canada or England began their National Health plans that there was no opposition??
Come On!!!!

Aug. 24 2009 10:26 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

I was on hold from the beginning of the show...and the call got dumped.

My point was, very simply, that the issue is not really one of policy....but of corrupt pay to play politics.

Any real policy discussion based on facts and rational argumentation leads to the conclusion that single payer is the only way to go.

The opposition can NOT win that debate.

The only REAL opposition comes from a totally corrupt and totally parasitic industry that is TOTALLY unneccessary and provides NOTHING of value.

So long as Obama and the "mainstream" Democrats fail to hold the insurance industry accountable...nothing will really change.

It's all about campaign contributions, lobbying and hundred million dollar PR campaigns that appeal to race hatred and all manner of right wing fanatacism in order to jinn up opposition to real reform.

We have an industry willing and able to politically TERRORIZE people into opposing real health care reform....why? Just to protect their trillion dollar profits.

Yes it really is that evil.

And if one of these hate filled crazies that honestly believes that Obama is trying kill grandma and/or that he's a budding Hitler were to take a shot at the president, it would be totally wrong...but in a perverse way, understandable!!!

The insurance industry and it's corporate cronies at AARP (did you know that AARP is now primarily an insurance company??!!!) etc is playing with fire in OUR house!

Aug. 24 2009 10:26 AM
doreendub from Queens

Personally I am totally for health care for all, as a human right. However I work with people who vote republican and here are their concerns, which I don't hear being discussed -
the small company that we work for was told by the health insurance co. already(!) that our costs will increase if a public plan is set up. Not sure why. Are they just scaring the co?
But the outcome of that is that our employer is talking of dropping our coverage as it will cost too much. I think the co. will benefit from this, even though they cry foul to the workers - as in "we are forced to do this". The employess will then be forced to take the public plan - they will have no choice - and they are afraid that the quality of that care will go down.

Aug. 24 2009 10:24 AM
Christopher Deignan from Middle Village

I went to the town hall meeting in Queens that Anthony Weiner had in Queens recently and he did a wonderful job. I lived for six years in the U.K. and it always makes me laugh when I hear comments about government bureaucracy because there was none, zero. I've lived in New York now for over 18 years and once spent 12 months fighting with Blue Cross Blue Shield over a $50 bill I knew was not my responsibility. We have a moral duty to our fellow citizens; the uninsured and the under insured. Aren't we ashamed that there are free medical clinics, designed for the Third World, in the streets of Los Angeles?

Aug. 24 2009 10:24 AM
Matt Sullivan from Rutherford NJ

Congressman - the opponents of the public option continually point to this increasing the federal deficit. The only direct retort I've seen was Barney Franke's townhall the other night (Fri?) on C-Span; he explained the program would receive a one time budget of $2Billion, the rest would be through tax contributions of participants.

2 Questions:
1) Do I have this right?
2) Why haven't the Dems taken this part of the argument against the public option head on as Franke attempted to?

Aug. 24 2009 10:23 AM
Dave Goessling from High Bridge, NJ

Yes, Obama needs to forget the Repubs and lean on the Blue Dogs. A majority of Americans voted for this. Time to get real and get tough.

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinon, not his own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Aug. 24 2009 10:23 AM
Norman from Manhattan


Canada paid $3,000 a year in taxes for its health care in 2004.

The U.S. paid $5,500 a year for its health care in 2004.

Would you rather pay $3,000 a year or $5,500 a year for health care?

Aug. 24 2009 10:22 AM
JR from Brooklyn

Thank you Congressman Weiner!! You speak for many of us!!

Aug. 24 2009 10:21 AM
Johnny S from Cranford, NJ

Listening to Democrats (and I'm one!) make weak appeals on behalf of a single-payer plan, I am more and more sure that Obama should support some minor improvements and run.

This is a political issue and the left is failing at making its case to the people.

Aug. 24 2009 10:21 AM
Norman from Manhattan

It's unfortunate that Obama threw away his trump card of single payer at the beginning.

It's unfortunate that Obama and Hillary took tens of millions of dollars from the health care industry in their primary campaign.

Aug. 24 2009 10:20 AM
Chuck Renaud from Brooklyn

Stop listening to racist uneducated white idiots at "town lynchings".

They are still angry a black person is president.

Stop putting them on TV and radio.

Aug. 24 2009 10:19 AM
Norman from Manhattan

It's a waste of time to debate health care with the Republicans, and a waste of time to talk about the horse race or public opinion.

The real issue is organizing -- how to organize progressives to support the public option, and single payer.

Aug. 24 2009 10:17 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Soon employers will not offer health insurance. Say’s Orrin Hatch 15 million?

Aug. 24 2009 10:17 AM
Norman from Manhattan

Paul Krugman said right after Obama's election that common ground was a sucker's game -- if Obama tried his bipartisan approach, the Republicans would take advantage of him to prevent any accomplishments at all.

Krugman has turned out to be correct.

Aug. 24 2009 10:13 AM
Chuck Renaud from Brooklyn

No more dealing with the Republicans.

It's obvious that they have no inclination to obtain a bipartisan bill.

Forget them.

Stay on point and get this done.

Most Americans are sick of waiting and can't afford to any longer.

Do your job.

Aug. 24 2009 10:06 AM

re: medicare for everyone -

Medicare is currently funded by all working people by having 1.45% of their gross income deducted from their paychecks. This 1.45% is not phased out when one earns over a certain amount.

As a comparison, social security is funded by all working people by having 6.2% of their gross income deducted from their paycheck, but this is phased out when one has earned almost 100K.

There has been talk of taxpayers or families who earn over 250K (this would be NYC middle class, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future) paying more income tax to cover those without health insurance. Why not raise the 1.45% or double it so that every American (or anyone who works on the books) who earns a paycheck pays for those who are without coverage?

Aug. 24 2009 09:32 AM
Karen from NYC

A friend of mine was diagnosed two weeks ago with advanced colon cancer. Years ago, she had a colonoscopy and was warned that, due to multiple polyps, she should have such screening every two to three years. Then she lost her employer-subsidized health insurance. When she next obtained employer-sponsored insurance, that plan had a high deductible and she was unable to pay for colonoscopies; she was supporting her family, including her chronically ill husband, and put their needs ahead of her own.

Earlier this year, her husband died. Despite her insurance, she was left with medical bills, and again was unable to prioritize preventive care.

Now she has late stage colon cancer.

When will this end? Everyone should watch last nights Bill Moyers Journal, at, and then tell President Obama that, if he thinks that the right wing is angry, he should listen to those of us who don't show up at public meetings screaming and carrying Hitler signs. The rational people are alot angrier, albeit less visible and offensive, than the nuts.

Aug. 24 2009 09:06 AM
Nancy K Clark from Hendersonville, NC

I've been an RN for 30 years, and a cancer patient for more than 5. I have two different cancers that are stage 4 (there IS no stage 5). I lost my health insurance in March. I qualified for SSD, (social security disability) but can't get health insurance. Our for-profit health insurance system prevents anyone with a "pre-existing" condition from getting insurance. A deniable condition can be something trivial.
Many people, my oncologist included, are unaware that SSD doesn't automatically qualify one for Medicare or Medicaid. There is a 5 month wait for your first SSD payment after qualification, then a further 24 mo wait to be elligable for Medicare. If you have a serious illness, that 2 1/2 year wait for health insurance will cause poverty and misery at best, and death at worst.
NC is a "red" state, and not a kind or generous one. I can't afford the states' high risk health insurance pool. It has huge premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, and doesn't even cover the medication that I take for breast cancer. I didn't qualify for Medicaid, but, based on my SSD payment, if I HAD qualified, I'd have been responsible for a $20,000.00 yearly deductible BEFORE Medicaid kicked in a penny! I've called staff at Sen Burr and Hagens' offices, and Rep Shulers'. 2 of the staff. None of them could help me.
One of my cancers appears to be progressing, based on a blood test that is doubling every time I've had it checked since April. To deal with it, I need a very expensive nuclear medicine scan, and, depending on what's found, possibly surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Without health insurance, it's unlikely that I'll be able to get care.
Also, I'm the only care-giver for my 85 yr old mother, who has Alzheimers' disease, a propensity to falls, and heart disease. How will she be cared for if I go down the drain from lack of health care?

Aug. 22 2009 05:43 PM
Veronica from Florida

If this country is truly a Republic, then the members Congress are the employees of the American people paid via money earned by the people. I propose that the "Chairman of the Board", the President, sign an Executive Order which states that until there is REAL comprehensive health insurance reform that the members of Congress health coverage is suspended with no retroactive feature. As has been said many times on this program, if you don't have skin in the game, there is no incentive to progress.

My second proposal is in additon to the above or as a separate proposal. The employees have better insurance than the employer, then there should be a one paragraph up or down vote. It should read, "the American people shall be entitled to the SAME health coverage as the members of Congress". In essence, that would be a public plan. How can ANYONE, Democrate or Republican, vote against that and still face the American people. What's good for the goose..........

Aug. 22 2009 02:52 PM

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