Friday, October 30, 2009

Should We Be OK With The PhRMA Deal With White House? by slinkerwink

The deal that PhRMA made with the White House boils down to this---no drug reimportation from Canada, bars the government from negotiating drug prices, and allows pharmaceutical companies to keep extending their patents for biologics as was the case with the Eshoo amendment and the HELP amendment.

In the section on Big Pharma's concessions, "FOBs" refers to follow-on biological drugs. Democrats have pushed to make it easier to allow generic drug makers to produce cheaper versions of such drugs, an effort Big Pharma has resisted. The Senate health committee bill gives drug makers 12 years of market exclusivity, five more than the White House proposed.

Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Whitehouse are looking to round up votes on the floor for their amendment.

"I wasn't a party to any deal," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), telling HuffPost that he is cobbling together support for amendments that would bust the Big Pharma deal by allowing the government to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices and by limiting the amount of time biotech companies can have patent-protections.

The White House deal with PhRMA was defended rather enthusiastically by Senator Tom Carper:


And this is his statement below as transcribed from the video above:

I was not involved in negotiations with PhRMA but I believe that the administration was, obviously PhRMA was, and I presume this committee was involved in some way in those negotiations.

And what PhRMA agreed to do through those negotiations is to pay about
80 billion dollars over 10 years to help fill up half the donut hole. That's my understanding. And they are prepared to go forward and to honor that commitment. As I understand it, the commitment from our colleague Senator Nelson would basically double what was negotiated with PhRMA.

And whether you like PhRMA or not — remember I talked earlier today in our opening statements, I talked about four core values, and one of those is the golden rule, treat other people the way I want to be treated?

I'll tell you — if someone negotiated a deal with me and I agreed to put up say, 80 dollars or 80 million dollars or 80 billion dollars and then you came back and said to me a couple of weeks later — no no, I know you agreed to do 80 billion and I know you were willing to help support through an advertising campaign this particular — not even this particular bill, just the idea of generic health care reform? No, we're going to double — we're going to double what you agreed in those negotiations to do. That's not the way — that's not what I consider treating people the way I'd want to be treated.

That just doesn't seem right to me.

Senator Carper had opposed the amendment by Senators Rockefeller and Nelson that mirrored an amendment in the House that Rep. Waxman did in the House to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole by requiring drug manufactures to provide rebates for the overcharging of dual eligible Medicare and Medicaid recipients. After Senator Carper spoke up, the amendment failed and didn't get the votes needed to pass. And here's more from Ryan Grim:

The deal has indeed had an unusual history. It was announced in June, but details were withheld. When those details were reported over the summer, the parties to the deal said the deal that was outlined in a memo was not, in fact, the deal. Later, the deal was publicly debated and defended during the finance committee mark up. Andthe bill that Baucus unveiled contained the details of the deal that the parties had previously said had not been struck.

Drug makers, in their deal with Baucus and the White House, have offered to contribute $80 billion over ten years to the reform effort and $150 million to buy ads backing health care reform and Democratic candidates. Much of the contributions come in discounts to seniors for name-brand drugs. But drug makers set those prices to begin with. PhRMA argues that the drug industry is being squeezed dry and any more than $80 billion will cost jobs and potentially cost its support, PhRMA insists.

The House bill contains more in cuts from the pharmaceutical industry, as reported by Ezra Klein below:

Drug makers are also getting shellacked. They're looking at between $125 billion and $150 billion in cuts - almost twice the $80 billion they agreed to under the White House deal.

We don't know if the $125 billion and $150 billion in cuts in the House bill will survive the conference process. It's likely not going to do so, given indication from Senators like Schumer who are pressing against the Brown and Whitehouse amendment that addresses this issue on the Senate floor. Schumer defended the PhRMA deal by saying that it would have to remain in the entire bill, so the amendment by Senators Brown and Whitehouse likely wouldn't succeed:

"To me, $106 billion is very tempting," Schumer said, but added that the PhRMA deal has to be considered in the context of the entire package. If breaking the deal costs some Democratic support, Reid could find himself short of the needed votes.

"That's the hard thing. You can't look at any one piece alone. It's how they all interact with one another. So, that's obviously something I'd like to see there, but there are other considerations, not only on that, but on other issues as well," he said. "This has got to be one piece, and Harry Reid is the best weaver of legislative priorities that I've seen."

Some say that the deal with PhRMA was necessary in order to get the health insurance reform bill through, but in doing so, we signed away our right to have the government negotiate on our behalf for drug prices, and drug re-importation from Canada. That would've provided more savings for millions of sick and ill Americans. I remember what President Obama said during the campaign, and what was in his campaign health care plan:

Lower prescription drug costs. The second-fastest growing type of health expenses is prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are selling the exact same drugs in Europe and Canada but charging Americans more than double the price. Obama will allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S. Obama will also repeal the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies, which could result in savings as high as $30 billion. Finally, Obama will work to increase the use of generic drugs in Medicare, Medicaid, and FEHBP and prohibit big name drug companies from keeping generics out of markets.

And the ad that he ran against Senator Clinton during the campaign, calling her out on the cost of support for lobbyists from the drug and insurance industry:


Here we are now, with a massive giveaway to PhRMA by allowing them to give us $80 billion dollars in savings, and granting them the right to to hold their biologics patents for 12 years before allowing them into the market as generics for Americans to access:

But thanks to Representatives Anna Eshoo and Joe Barton, there will be no generic versions of these drugs.  At least not for 12 years, if the House health care bill announced today passes.  And because of an "evergreening" clause that grants drug companies a continued monopoly if they make slight changes to the drug (like creating a once-a-day dose where the original product was three times per day), they will never become generics. Instead of the Waxman-Deal amendment that granted much more reasonable terms to biologic patent holders, Speaker Pelosi chose the Eshoo-Barton amendment.  And we could all be paying for that choice for the rest of our lives.

The Eshoo amendment is one that will bring a high cost to the lives of patients like those with breast cancer. It's a bad provision that should be addressed, and one we need to CALL our lawmakers about today. We all should be very aware about the high costs to the deal made with PhRMA, and ask ourselves---are we okay with this deal?

If you're not okay with this deal, then please CALL your lawmaker in the House to ask them to address this issue in the manager's amendment by getting the Waxman-Deal amendment that granted much more reasonable terms to biologic patent holders in there. You can start by calling Rep. Waxman's office and asking him to address the issue of biologics' having 12 year exclusivity and the ever-greening proposal in the manager's amendment to the House bill.

CALL Rep. Waxman at (202) 225-3976

We'll keep on fighting for what is right, and please help support our work (since we do literally work for you guys) by donating to our fund at Firedoglake! Your donations go to our living stipends, expenses, and travel costs, including awesome tools like these. You also can follow me on Twitter @slinkerwink.

Also, please join our POP! push for the public option on Facebook.  

10 Fatcats Who Profiteered from the Credit Crunch from Businesspundit


Bankruptcy, foreclosure, repossession – just a few of the words that come to mind when we hear the phrase 'credit crunch'. But for a select few the global financial crisis has generated cash, acquisitions, bonuses and, er… $1000 garbage bins!? Take a look at Business Pundit's round up of the biggest winners (and one loser).

10. John Thain


So called 'most hated man on Wall Street', Thain directed the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America at a 70% premium and was destined to become president of global banking, securities, and wealth management before he was forced out. Having already received tens of millions of dollars in compensation, Thain had the cheek to suggest he receive a further $10m bonus for 'saving' Merrill Lynch. And only weeks later it emerged he had spent $1.2m in corporate funds on renovating two conference rooms – including $131,000 on rugs, a $68,000 antique credenza, $87,000 worth of chairs, a $35,000 commode and $1,400 on a garbage bin. Thain subsequently apologized for his lapse in judgment, and reimbursed the company in full. How gracious.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

9. David Einhorn


Einhorn rose to prominence as head of Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund trading in corporate debt offerings, before being accused of market manipulation in 2002. Realising the dire state of Lehman's balance sheet he started shorting their stock in 2007 when shares were around $40, prompting a temporary ban on naked short-selling. Analysts estimate he made upwards of a 90% return on investment – and, not content with his massive payday, he even found time to force out Lehman's CFO, Erin Callan, by going public with an embarrassing phone conversation between his analysts and her. In all fairness, she would have lost her job anyway.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

8. Sir Fred 'The Shred' Goodwin

Fred Goodwin

The former Royal Bank of Scotland chief came in for severe criticism in the UK for presiding over the loss of nearly $40 billion and leaving RBS 70% owned by the government – the biggest loss in British corporate history. Goodwin pre-empted rumors he would be fired by tendering his resignation, allowing himself to draw a pension of over $1m a year – nearly twice what he would have been awarded if he had been dismissed. Following prolonged media outcry and a campaign that included the vandalizing of his house, Goodwin's pension was reduced to just over $550,000 and he was allowed to withdraw a lump sum tax-free of several million. For many, in the UK at least, he typifies the way fat cat bankers have profited from their own mess.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

7. Bill Ackman

Bill Ackland - flickr Tracy O

The head of Pershing Capital cashed in on the global downturn by acquiring positions in Wendy's International, McDonald's and Ceridian, and pressuring these companies to improve profits by selling their real estate assets or corporate divisions. The resulting asset liquidation forced the share prices of these companies up, whereby Pershing sold their positions off for a profit. Nice work if you can get it.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

6. Warren Buffett


Billionaire investor Buffett, who warned of the impending recession, struck gold again after buying up shares in Goldman Sachs at the height of the credit crunch. With Goldman now booming again (and announcing record bonus payouts this year) the man they call the 'Sage of Omaha' is set to make a tasty $2 billion, with the further right to buy more shares over the coming years. And as if that wasn't enough, Buffett sold a $220m stake in credit ratings agency Moody's at double the price he paid in 2000, making him one of the global recession's great winners. Overall considered one of the good guys, despite his stupendous wealth.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

5. Emilio Botin


Dogged by scandal throughout his career, the head of Spanish banking giant, Santander, has built a reputation as a wily dealmaker during the credit crunch due to a string of daring takeovers. Alliance & Leicester, Bradford & Bingley and others have all fallen prey to Botin, allowing him to make Santander into Europe's second largest banking force. And all this profit has remained intact throughout the recession, as Santander escaped relatively unscathed due to their lack of investment assets. If he can go easy on the fraud, Emilio and Santander will be even bigger in the future.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$ (just check out that pose if you don't believe us)

4. Andrew Lahde

Andrew Lahde

Outspoken Lahde's California based hedge fund, Lahde Capital, made millions betting against sub-prime mortgage assets, earning infamy for achieving eye-watering return rates of nearly 1000%. In 2008 he quit finance thanking 'stupid' traders and 'idiots' for making him rich and publishing a bizarre letter urging the government to recognize the benefits of growing medical dope and telling bankers everywhere to bin their blackberries and go on holiday. His crazy letter has become an internet sensation, attracting support from hemp-legalization organizations and fuelling trade in Lahde fan-merchandise. Whatever next…

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

3. Jamie Dimon

Meltdown Executives

As current CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Dimon presides over what has become America's largest savings business as a direct result of the credit crunch – acquiring Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual during the downturn. Dimon himself is on course for a bumper bonus this Christmas, again, along with the rest of the JPMorgan employees, after the bank announced it had set aside $7.3 billion for staff payments in the third quarter this year. Looks set to make much, much more in the future.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

2. George Soros

George Soros -

The billionaire financier, philanthropist and democrat backer infamously 'broke the Bank of England' in 1992 by short selling the pound, netting over $1 billion on 'Black Wednesday'. This time round he has turned his hand to a less controversial money-spinner, penning the business best-seller The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means. Soros was one of the few who warned of the impending crisis, telling a Singaporean audience in 2006 that the markets were at their peak, and that global economies should brace themselves for recession and a possible 'hard landing'.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$ (for 'Black Wednesday')

1. John Paulson

John Paulson

Described as the 'world's biggest winner' from the credit crunch, Paulson earned himself a cool $3.5 billion by short-selling the US mortgage market – or betting that the housing bubble was about to burst. By September 2008 he had bet against four of the five biggest British banks, eventually posting a profit of over $450m – and this budding profiteer stands to make even more, having acquired millions of dollars worth of shares in Goldman Sachs and Regions Financial during the downturn. In an attempt to deflect accusations of 'profiting from the misery of others' Paulson donated $15m to a charity aiding those fighting foreclosure – a hollow gesture if ever there was one.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

And one who didn't profit from the crunch:

Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff

The former chairman of the NASDAQ exchange admitted earlier this year to being the operator of a giant Ponzi scheme – a fraud subsequently called the 'largest investment fraud in Wall Street history'. Although doubts were raised about his scheme as early as 1999, had it not been for the credit crunch, Madoff may well have gone detected much longer. The recession dried up his sources of liquidity and when investors sought to pull out some $7 billion from the fund, he was forced into giving himself away. As one commentator warned at the time: 'don't be surprised if other scams get flushed out in the coming weeks and months as the crisis deepens'.

Business Pundit Genius Rating: $$$$

Business Pundit Villain Rating: $$$$

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Images courtesy of: wikimedia, takomabibelot, Tracy O, World Economic Forum, Refracted Moments, Ethan Bloch

Daily Show Heckled, Attacked For Airing Interview With Leader Of Palestinian Nonviolent Democratic Movement from Think Progress

by Zaid Jilani

This past Wednesday, The Daily Show aired an interview with Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American peace activist and author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, and Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a leading figure in the Palestinian democratic and nonviolent movement for peace.

At the beginning of the interview, Barghouti told Stewart that he thinks the "Jewish people have been in the avante garde of struggling for justice…and democracy," and concluded that it was "natural" for Palestinians like himself and Jewish activitists like Baltzer to work together for a just resolution of the conflict.

Barghouti explained his experience as a Palestinian growing up under occupation. "It's Palestinians who have been subjected to the longest occupation in modern history and a system of segregation that is totally unjust," he said. This prompted a heckler from the crowd to yell, "Liar!" — the first heckling in The Daily Show's 11-year existence. Stewart responded by joking, "Apparently Joe Wilson is with us tonight." Watch it:

Following their joint appearance, Baltzer revealed in an open letter that "the show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. … The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired."

While some may feel that views like those of Barghouti should not be aired, the truth is Barghouti represents a Palestinian voice for nonviolence and democracy that is valuable to voice on U.S. airwaves. Despite the suffering he has endured living under occupation — he has been imprisoned and beaten several times for taking part in demonstrations and sit-ins — he has been a leading voice for nonviolent resistance and democratic reform, crafting his philosophy after that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Barghouti's many accomplishments include founding a leading health relief NGO, removing anti-Semitic programs from the Palestinian airwaves, and running as an independent presidential candidate offering a "democratic and independent 'third way' for the large majority of silent and unrepresented Palestinian voters, who favour neither the autocracy and corruption of the governing Fatah party, nor the fundamentalism of Hamas."

Baltzer is urging viewers who appreciate Stewart's fortitude in bringing them on to thank him and the producers of The Daily Show by using the show's contact form here.

"George W. Bush, on the other hand, inherited a country at peace and going through an economic boom. He left it in the midst of two wars and a crippling recession. If that doesn’t put him in the mix for Worst President Evar, I don’t know what does."


Chuckles "Chris Crocker" Krauthammer is tired of people being mean to his favoritest president of all-time, George W. Bush:

In the Barack Obama version, there are 50 or so such blame-Bush free passes before the gig is up. By my calculation, Obama has already burned through a good 49. Is there anything he hasn't blamed George W. Bush for? The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad — everything but swine flu.

Let's go through each of these one by one, shall we?

The economy went into recession in December 2007. This was on Bush's watch.

George Bush tore up the Kyoto Protocol and couldn't even bring himself to acknowledge that climate change was a problem.

The credit crisis? See when the recession started.

Bush spent eight years doing nothing to negotiate peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and gave Ariel Sharon a thumbs up to just about anything he wanted.

As for the deficit — well now that you mention it, Chuckles, Obama inherited that too. And look: when you couple an inherited deficit with the worst recession since the 1930s, you're going to get an even bigger deficit. If Obama had come into office and had decided to make deficit reduction his top priority, he'd be getting (rightfully) blamed for plunging the country into a second Great Depression.

And lastly, anti-Americanism abroad. Ah yes, I seem to recall a certain war that really inflamed those feelings. A certain unnecessary debacle in Iraq that was launched on false pretenses. Yes, that was quite sad. And which president launched that war? Oh, right. It was George W. Bush.

Now, I'm not one to say that Obama's every decision is perfect and must never, ever be questioned. He's clearly screwed us by continuing to shovel money to the banks and he's been a flat-out wimp on gay rights issues. But when you look at the sheer number of problems that he's inherited, you have to at least feel some modicum of sympathy for the guy.

George W. Bush, on the other hand, inherited a country at peace and going through an economic boom. He left it in the midst of two wars and a crippling recession. If that doesn't put him in the mix for Worst President Evar, I don't know what does.

UPDATE: Ruh roh:

Here's a somewhat surprising result from the new Fox News poll. Asked which president is "more responsible for the current state of the economy," only 18 percent say President Obama. Fifty-eight percent say former President George W. Bush. Nine percent blame both of them. Republicans are the only subgroup of voters who blame Obama, and only by a six-point margin of 35 percent to 29 percent.

Chuckles weeps.

Leaked House Ethics Doc: Dozens Of Members Being Probed from TPMmuckraker


A July House ethics committee report leaked to the Washington Post shows that over 30 members of Congress have caught the interest of the panel, including several top Democrats.

The 22-page weekly summary report, which the Post has not put online, was mistakenly put on a public computer network because a junior staffer was using software from home, the committee said in a statement (pdf).

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), an aide, and his son were interviewed by the committee as part of the investigation into his alleged financial misconduct, according to the document.

It also contains some potentially bad news for Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). The Post reports:

The Justice Department has told the ethics panel to suspend a probe of Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), whose personal finances federal investigators began reviewing in early 2006 after complaints from a conservative group that he was not fully revealing his real estate holdings. There has been no public action on that inquiry for several years. But the department's request in early July to the committee suggests that the case continues to draw the attention of federal investigators, who often ask that the House and Senate ethics panels refrain from taking action against members whom the department is already investigating.

A rattled Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chair of the ethics panel, took to the House floor last night to alert lawmakers to the leak.

The leaked doc also shows that the ethics panel tried -- and failed -- to obtain from authorities a recording of Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) talking to an Israeli operative, reportedly about the AIPAC spy case and her bid to lead the intel committee.

The Post notes in a separate story that fully seven members of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense are "under scrutiny" by the panel. They are Reps. John Murtha (D-PA), Pete Visclosky (D-IN), James Moran (D-VA), Norm Dicks (D-WA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).

While the paper cites the "over 30 lawmakers" figure, it does not list the members in question.

The leak came on the same day that the ethics panel publicly announced it is launching full investigation of Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Laura Richardson (D-CA). The Waters matter focuses on her alleged intervention to get bailout funds for a bank in which her husband held stock. Richardson allegedly failed to disclose real estate assets and got special treatment involving a foreclosure on her home.

Read the whole Post story here.

Late Update: Here's video of Lofgren speaking last night:

Democrats strip single-payer healthcare proposal from health overhaul from Raw Story Breaking News


sad kucinich Democrats strip single payer healthcare proposal from health overhaulA government-run healthcare program may become an "option" for those who don't have employer-sponsored healthcare coverage, but a government-run healthcare system will not.

House Democratic leaders quietly stripped a single-payer provision from the House version of the healthcare overhaul Thursday. The measure would have allowed states to set up their own state-run healthcare systems, where local governments would have become de facto health insurers for residents.

A Democratic aide told Roll Call that there was "consensus" to remove the provision, which was proposed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and inserted by a majority vote in the House Education and Labor Committee.

"The fact is, the majority of the Democratic Caucus agreed that the most effective way forward was through a competitive marketplace coupled with strong consumer protections and the choice of a public option," Education and Labor Committee spokesman Aaron Albright remarked.

Kucinich's amendment had been added to the bill in a bipartisan 27-19 vote in the Education and Labor Committee. While supported by liberals, the measure would likely have been a "poison pill" for the overhaul bill, where Democrats have struggled to round up votes for a "robust" public option.

Story continues below...

Kucinich said he was disappointed by the House leaders' move.

"Today, advocates of true health care reform were disappointed to learn that the Kucinich amendment was removed from the latest version of the health care reform bill," Kucinich said in a statement. "At the end of the day, states may be given the option to opt out, but won't be allowed to opt into a proven system that provides all of a state's residents with better health care.

"Many states are demanding single payer," he added. "The Lewin Group's financial analysis of the California single payer bill that passed the legislature twice found that 'the net cost of the program to state and local governments is a savings of about $900 million' in 2006 alone. There are also strong single payer movements in Pennsylvania , New York , Illinois , Colorado , and New Mexico."

Facing the intransigence of Republicans to support any version of Democratic healthcare reform, the party has had to cater to its conservative and moderate wings to round up the necessary support to get the bill passed. Concessions have generally involved the watering-down of attempts to create a government-run competitor to private insurance companies.

Kucinich said he could "only conclude" his amendment was taken out of the bill "because of pressure from the insurance companies," though moderate Democrats' resistance to such a wide-ranging proposal seems equally plausible.

"If a state wants better health care than can be provided by the federal government in the health care bill we are seeing today, the federal government should not stand in their way," the congressman said. "The removal of the Kucinich amendment constitutes yet another capitulation to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries who are already reaping billions of dollars from the bill."

Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom all have single payer government run healthcare plans. The United States' healthcare system -- where private insurance companies control the market -- is largely an anomaly among developed Western economies.

Howard Dean on Health-Care Bill: 'This Is Real Reform' from Crooks and Liars

 by Susie Madrak
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Look, I want single-payer, too. But this bill has a lot of things in it that will quickly offer substantial relief, and I'm not joining the wholesale condemnation. Even Howard Dean called it "real reform" tonight and said he'd vote for it.

There's some good things and some bad things. Actually, a lot of good - and you won't have to wait more than a few months for relief.

The bill keeps kids on their parents' insurance until age 27, there's a temporary insurance pool until the public option is operable, extension of COBRA benefits (still looking for details), steps to close the Medicare doughnut hole, a ban on lifetime coverage limits, and the end of rescissions, except in case of fraud. It also expands Medicaid.

The bill also adds a voluntary long-term care program (and if your parents have seen their insurance carriers crash and burn this year, you know what a blessing this will be). It also funds a temporary reinsurance program that subsidizes employers offering health benefits for retirees aged 55-64.

As Jane pointed out this morning, there's no requirement for generic versions of high-priced breast cancer drugs. In fact, the bill sweetens the pot for Big Pharma by extending patents on those drugs every time they make a minor change. (Like making an extended release formula.) Essentially, it's a monopoly in perpetuity. (And guess which netroots favorite voted for it? Rep. Patrick Murphy. He's got Big Pharma employing many, many voters in his district.)

Breast cancer survivors, organize! No one likes to be perceived as beating up on cancer patients.

Potentially bad: No Medicare+5. At first look, this means fewer savings - and thus, higher premiums. However, these rates will still be negotiated at a national level, and it does not preclude Medicare +5.

In a bill this complex and controversial, there are, of course, things that will make us swallow hard. From what I'm hearing so far, the subsidies are inadequate. As soon as I have concrete numbers, I'll put them up.

I'd say the subsidies are the single most productive focus for the netroots. Call your congress critter, tell him or her (or it) that the subsidies must be adequate - or else.

And if they say they have to respect the ceiling President Obama asked for, ask them why it doesn't bother them when they have to pay for wars - only health care. Tell them you will not pay more money for less coverage, that this is a deal-breaker for Democratic voters.

Send them a strong message.

UPDATE: Jamie at Intoxination cites Politico:

The House health care bill unveiled Thursday clocks in at 1,990 pages and about 400,000 words. With an estimated 10-year cost of $894 billion, that comes out to about $2.24 million per word.

I pulled out the calculator. How does this sound - $425.9 million per word? That's how much each of the 2,174 words in the authorization for the Iraq war has cost so far and the price keeps going up.

Wolf: Fed’s Secret Wall St Bailout Going Strong from The Big Picture

 by Barry Ritholtz

Martin Wolf:

By lending the banks money at zero interest rates, the FT's Martin Wolf says, the Fed is helping the banks recapitalize themselves. The banks aren't lending because they're still trying to recover from all the lousy loans they made three years ago (and because there aren't all that many folks to lend to). So there's nothing else to do with the money other than hoard it, buy safe Treasuries, and pay huge bonuses.

It's annoying to watch banks that would have collapsed a year ago now minting money at taxpayer expense. But that's the way monetary stimulus always works.

Well said.

CHART OF THE DAY: Cash-For-Clunkers MASSIVELY Distorted GDP


If anyone mentions the just-released 3.5% U.S. third quarter GDP growth, just throw this chart in their face. Cash for Clunkers clearly distorted the U.S. economic figures in an unsustainable fashion.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), motor vehicle output spiked a seasonally-adjusted 157.6% quarter on quarter. This is completely unprecedented. Vehicle output is clearly going off a cliff next quarter. The question will be how low can the blue line below go.

Next quarter, we won't just be returning to business as usual for auto output. Don't forget that Cash for Clunkers pulled future auto demand, ie. some of Q4 demand, into Q3. Thus Q4 is likely to be very weak since many people who planned to buy a car in Q4 probably took advantage of Clunkers and bought in Q3.

To put this into GDP terms, according to the BEA the spike you see below added 1.66% to the U.S. GDP growth figure reported. Thus without it, GDP growth would have been only 1.89% (3.5% - 1.66%) in Q3.

Now imagine if next quarter the blue line below goes down into negative territory as it did just two quarters ago. Next quarter, not only are we unlikely to get Q3's boost, but motor vehicle output data could subtract from GDP as well. So watch out for the cliff...


More Than 40% of President Obama’s Top-Level Fundraisers Given Posts in His Administration from


Via: USA Today:

More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found.

Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money from their friends, family members and business associates to help fund Obama's presidential campaign. USA TODAY's analysis found that 54 have been named to government positions, ranging from Cabinet and White House posts to advisory roles, such as serving on the economic recovery board charged with helping guide the country out of recession.

Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats. A separate analysis by the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats' union, found that more than half of the ambassadors named by Obama so far are political appointees, said Susan Johnson, president of the association. An appointment is considered political if it does not go to a career diplomat in the State Department.

That's a rate higher than any president in more than four decades, the group's data show, although that could change as the White House fills more openings. Traditionally about 30% of top diplomatic jobs go to political appointees, and roughly 70% to veteran State Department employees. Ambassadors earn $153,200 to $162,900 annually.


Swine flu vaccine shots eliminate wrinkles, bad breath and varicose veins, too (opinion) from

(NaturalNews) The propaganda push for flu vaccines has reached a level of absurdity that's just begging to be made fun of. Today, a flu vaccine story appearing in Reuters claimed that injecting pregnant women with flu shots would increase the birth weight of their babies by half a pound. That same story claimed flu shots are so healthy for pregnant women that they also prevent premature births.

It even quotes a team of experts who claim that injecting an expectant mother with a flu shot would reduce the hospitalization of her infants, explaining: "Flu vaccine given to women during pregnancy is 85 percent effective in preventing hospitalization in their infants under 6 months of age."

This conclusion was derived from a study of pregnant women in Bangladesh, by the way, and it didn't even use randomized, placebo-controlled study protocols, meaning the conclusions of the study are highly unreliable (more vaccine quackery).

Speaking of bizarre claims, another Reuters report appearing this week claims that statin drugs prevent flu deaths!

This story reports, "Patients taking statin drugs were almost 50 percent less likely to die from flu, researchers reported on Thursday in a study providing more evidence the cholesterol-lowering drugs help the body cope with infection."

How was this "science" conducted? There wasn't even a clinical trial at all. Researchers simply checked the medical records of people who died from seasonal flu infections and found that 3.2% of the patients who weren't taking statin drugs died from flu complications while only 2.1% of the patients who were taking statin drugs died. Since 2.1% is roughly 50% less than 3.2%, they leaped to the conclusion that "statin drugs prevent flu deaths by 50 percent!"

Flu shots prevent wrinkles!
When it comes to pushing drugs and vaccines, Big Pharma never misses an opportunity to misrepresent science in order to fabricate statistical support for some silly claim. Using the same statistical quackery as the drug companies, I could easily design a meta-analysis study that would find flu shots prevent skin wrinkles. And then, with a little help from Big Pharma it would be a simple matter to get some medical journal to publish the article. The mainstream media, for its part, would then declare, "Flu shots prevent skin wrinkles!"

But why stop there? Flu shots might also eliminate bad breath, too. Proving so would be an easy matter, too: Just take 100 people with various levels of bad breath, give flu shots to those with the freshest breath, then resample their breath levels following the flu shots. Voila! Those who got the flu shots have the freshest breath!

(Although this sounds incredibly stupid, it's exactly how some clinical trials are designed from the start: Certain groups are included in the study, or eliminated from the study, solely based on how well they will support the desired outcome...)

Send this "research" to Reuters, and you might even get a write-up: "Flu shots prevent bad breath, say scientists."

In fact, using the right study design, flu shots can be "proven" to prevent almost anything, including varicose veins, shyness and gray hair. It all comes down to how the study is designed from the start. With proper statistical revisions, virtually any substance can be proven to prevent -- or promote -- almost any health condition.

Clinical trials are a joke
That's because in modern medicine today, clinical trials are a joke. When a researcher sets out to create a study or clinical trial with a pre-ordained conclusion rather than an open mind, he can accomplish that in a variety of ways: By excluding study participants that don't fit his conclusion, by eliminating data sets from meta-analysis studies, by controlling the timeline of the study to end it before side effects start to appear, and so on.

That's why "proving" that a flu shot can improve erections, or function as a pharmaceutical face lift, or eliminate snoring is also a simple matter. Anything can be made to look statistically significant by a clever enough researcher.

Interestingly, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine sought to review whether published papers describing pharmaceutical clinical trials even bothered to mention the negative side effects observed during the trials. They found:

• 11% of the published studies mentioned no negative side effects whatsoever.

• 56% of the published studies distorted the reporting of negative side effects to minimize their impact.

• 47% of the studies gave zero data on the withdrawal of subjects from the study (this is how study participants get "kicked out" of the clinical trials when they threaten the desired outcome of the study).

What this analysis reveals is that clinical trials are often just mathematical window dressing for medical quackery. The way such trials are conducted today is merely a kind of numerical theater that's staged to invoke the illusion of science where none exists.

And keep in mind: The entire pharmaceutical industry is based on this! Clinical trials are the so-called "scientific evidence" the FDA looks at to approve drugs. Remember: The FDA conducts no clinical trials itself. It merely accepts the clinical trials conducted (and paid for) by the drug companies, and then it accepts that research to be honest and trustworthy!

This is how Vioxx got approved by the FDA. It's how Rezulin got approved. It's the reason Alli was approved as an over-the-counter weight loss drug even though it may be linked to liver damage. Big Pharma has used quack clinical trials to win FDA approval for some really dangerous drugs, and the practice continues today.

That's why it's so hilarious when pharma pushers question natural remedies, claiming "Natural remedies have no clinical trials to back them up!"

Why bother? Clinical trials, it turns out, prove absolutely nothing. They are simply the vehicle of quackery through which chemical pushers grasp for an illusionary foothold in the realm of fuzzy statistics. Having a clinical trial that "proves" a drug works doesn't mean the drug works at all; it merely means your company has a big enough budget to hire a sufficiently creative research team that can wrangle together the conclusions you wish to support.

To call any of this "science" is entirely laughable.

And oh, by the way, did you know that taking a flu shot improves your eyesight and gives you a tight bum, too? It's been proven in a clinical trial...

Sources for this story include:



LA Times:

Bachmann Backs Fundraiser; Speaker Likens Obama to Hitler, Says He Paves Way for Antichrist from The Washington Independent


The Minnesota Independent's Andy Birkey reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has thrown her support behind a Nov. 9 fundraiser in St. Paul for the Citizens' Council on Health Care, which bills itself as "a free-market resource for designing the future of health care." The fundraiser's top-billed speaker, Maria Anne 'Hansi' Hirschmann, is known for comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler and warning that Obama may "pave the way for a future Antichrist."

From The Minnesota Independent:

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Hirschmann has said, "Obama, like Hitler, is 'a charismatic leader who promises full pocketbooks.' Obama's pro-choice stands, she writes, resembles those of Hitler, who 'brought abortion to a systematic level and declared the killing of unborn babies a national duty.'"

Hirschmann also told the Gazette, "He could pave the way for a future Antichrist. Obama scares me because he has no record and people flock to him. Hitler also had no record, people flocked to him and both wrote a book. Christians laid flat and Hitler came to power, just like with Obama."

Tickets for the fundraiser are $75 in advance, $100 at the door.

Also of note, CCHC warns that "Genetic testing could be used for purposes found immoral in the Hippocratic medical tradition" on the front page of its Website.

Here's video of Bachmann encouraging supporters to attend the CCHC dinner:

And here's a promotional flyer:


Chinese-Made Turbines to Fill U.S. Wind Farm from


Maybe I need a Shame and Embarrassment category.

Via: Wall Street Journal:

A Chinese wind-turbine company, with financing help from Beijing, has struck a deal to be the exclusive supplier to one of the largest wind-farm developments in the U.S., a sign of how Chinese firms are aggressively capitalizing on America's clean-energy push.

The 36,000-acre development in West Texas would receive $1.5 billion in financing through Export-Import Bank of China. Shenyang Power Group, a five-month-old alliance, would supply the project with 240 of its 2.5-megawatt wind turbines, among the biggest made in the world.


Conservatives’ 25-year goal of ‘defunding the left’ revealed by ACORN controversy from Raw Story Breaking News


acorn raid Conservatives 25 year goal of defunding the left revealed by ACORN controversyWhen Michele Bachman crowed in September that the exposure of alleged illegal activity by the anti-poverty group ACORN was just the start of a campaign to "defund the left," she may have revealed more about current Republican strategy than she intended.

"Defunding the left is going to be so easy," Bachmann told the audience at a conservative conference, "and it's going to solve so many of our problems."

The Senate and House had just voted to cut off ACORN's federal funding in what CBS/AP called "a GOP-led strike against the scandal-tainted community organizing group" that followed the release of video showing ACORN employees apparently endorsing illegal activities, The bills passed by lopsided majorities, with many Democrats joining Republicans, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told a news conference, "We have to have our own scrutiny of an organization with an allegation of this kind against it."

The initial Congressional defunding of ACORN was scheduled to expire at the end of October, however, causing Bachman to warn a bloggers' conference at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, "This is the biggest trick or treat. On November 1 the prohibition will lift."

The Capital Research Center

Story continues below...

The idea of starving the Democratic Party of donations by defunding the progressive non-profits that form a central pillar of its support is not new. It goes back to at least 1981, when the Heritage Foundation published a set of over 2000 policy recommendations for the Reagan administration. According to SourceWatch, "One challenge, as Heritage saw it, was to counter the rise of its ideological opponents by whittling away their status as 'public interest' organisations and eliminating federal financial support for 'liberal' groups."

The Capital Research Center (CRC) was founded in 1984 by a former Heritage Foundation vice president to implement this agenda by uncovering the presumably questionable funding sources of progressive groups. CRC's central assumption has always been that "a unified, sophisticated and well-funded philanthropic elite is dedicated to imposing on us the doctrine of 'progressive' philanthropy, doctrines that would reorder our political, economic and cultural priorities."

The CRC selected ACORN as a favored targed long before almost anybody else had heard of the group. In January 2005, Bill Berkowitz, who regularly reports on right-wing organizations, wrote:

rsilogo Conservatives 25 year goal of defunding the left revealed by ACORN controversy"In mid-October of last year, the Center's president, Terence Scanlon, launched a pre-emptive strike against ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and its voter registration efforts. Scanlon cast a shadow over ACORN's reports that it had registered over one million new voters. He charged that because of irregularities, the organization was coming under scrutiny by lawmakers 'in state after state [where] allegations are surfacing that ACORN activists are padding the registration books'

"As a non-profit community-based organizing group, ACORN has been on the CRC's radar for several years. According to Scanlon, ACORN, with some 150,000 dues-paying members organized into 65 city chapters, 'is better known for public disruption.' Its so-called community organizing 'has relied on in-your-face confrontation,' including a 1995 demonstration targeting then House Speaker Newt Gingrich. 'In 2002 it burst into the Heritage Foundation to harangue welfare reform expert Robert Rector. Dozen of city councils and state legislatures have had to face angry ACORN protesters demanding higher minimum wages and more welfare entitlements. Banks have been pressured to change their lending practices or face ACORN charges of discrimination before regulators.'"

Currently, CRC senior editor Matthew Vadum -- who describes himself as "America's foremost expert on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)" -- seems to be carrying much of the weight of the anti-ACORN campaign through his blog, Twitter feed, and frequent appearances with Glenn Beck and other right-wing TV hosts.

Last May, Vadum told Beck, "ACORN is an immense crime family ... that has tentacles all though the United States, and now it's trying to spread to India and Canada and other places. ... They're engaged in racketeering. ... They break the law constantly."

"Something that needs to be explored is the roots of ACORN in the 1960s," Vadum continued. "It grew out of the radical welfare rights movement. And the idea behind that was that not enough people were on welfare and that you needed to pack the welfare rolls with as many people as possible in order to overwhelm the governments -- the various levels of government -- and cause social chaos. ... I guess you could say it was a Marxist-anarchist idea."

Vadam's latest entry at his CRC blog attempts to drag progressive filmmaker Brave New Films into his ACORN-related conspiracy theories. "Unwilling to admit it's an ongoing criminal conspiracy to defraud the people of the United States of America, ACORN has retained Bolshevik Brave New Films to do some of its dirty work for it," Vadam writes. "The leftist propaganda factory headquartered in Culver City, Calif., has launched a new website,, which is an effort to shoot the messenger. Fox is the only television network that has taken much of an interest in covering the ACORN scandal which some commentators say is bigger than Watergate. ... It's not known how much ACORN had to pay Brave New Films, a 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit, to shill for it."

CRC and its allies

For an organization whose mission is to expose the funding sources and organizational ties of the left, the Capital Research Center is ironically protective of its own connections. As a non-profit organization, for example, it is not obliged to report the names of its donors, only its total revenue -- which amounted in 2007 to about $2.5 million.

The CRC's tax filings similarly include the name of its officers, its directors -- who include former Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese III -- and its two highest-paid employees,
but the membership of its National Advisory Board has not been revealed since 2001. At that time, however, the board was heavily loaded with individuals tied to both the Reagan administration and the Heritage Foundation, as well as to various other right-wing publications, think-tanks, and legal foundations.

Although the evidence is skimpy, it suggests that many of the same people who were involved with CRC when it was founded in 1984 may have continued to be connected with the group and its ongoing agenda.

One of the more interesting names on the 2001 list is that of T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., a former Reagan adviser and president of the Intercollegiant Studies Institute (ISI). Although it is not well known, ISI is one of the largest recipients of grants from conservative foundations, having been listed a few years ago as second only to the Heritage Foundation.

Much of ISI's activity is carried on through its Collegiate Network, which creates and subsidizes conservative student publications on college campuses. James O'Keefe -- the young filmmaker whose sting operation allegedly caught ACORN employees endorsing illegal activities -- was the founder of one such publication when he was a student at Rutgers University.

O'Keefe had also received advice and a start-up grant to help launch the Rutgers Centurion from Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute -- which has been training young Republican dirty tricksters since the 1970's, ranging from Karl Rove to Jeff Gannon. Blackwell himself appeared on a "Defunding the Left" panel at the 2001 Conservative Political Action Conference, along with CRC president Terrence Scanlon.

Both Cribb and Blackwell have strong ties to the Heritage Foundation as well. Blackwell was a close associate of the late founder of the group's founder, Paul Weyrich, for over 40 years. Cribb is a good friend (pdf) of former Heritage president Edwin Feulner.

These multiple cross-connections again suggest that the goal of defunding the left has been carried along by a small, tightly-knit group of conservatives for over 25 years, and that James O'Keefe's sting operation against ACORN is merely the latest step towards that goal.

Dick Armey, FreedomWorks, and the Tea Baggers

The crusade to defund the left has not been limited to attempts to discredit progressive organizations. The so-called K Street Project of the 1990's, which was intended to steer lobbyist contributions more towards Republicans and to shut out Democrats, had the same objective. So did Jack Abramoff's courting of Indian tribes in order to cut off payments that had previously gone largely to Democrats.

Even calls for "tort reform" -- which are now being raised again in connection with health care -- are intended to prevent trial lawyers, who are often generous Democratic donors, from receiving a share of large settlements in personal injury cases.

Attacks on federal funding of liberal non-profits, however, are particularly attractive as a strategy because most conservative non-profits receive the bulk of their funding from corporations and right-wing foundations and not from the federal government.

In 1995, the new Republican majority in Congress took part in a particularly ambitious -- though ultimately unsuccessful -- attempt to defund the left. According to a May 30, 1995 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (which does not appear to be available online except through subscription-only sources):

"Congressional Republicans -- with the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas playing a key role -- are preparing a new budget-cutting assault on scores of government-funded nonprofit groups whose liberal views are considered a threat to the conservative agenda. ... The effort, referred to by conservatives as 'defunding the left,' is intended to take aim at what they consider advocacy groups that lobby for liberal social programs from which they receive grants and contracts."

The story went on to say, "Led by Virginia Lamp Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court justice, a special group of senior House Republican experts and staff members has been quietly working under the auspices of House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas. Their aim is to identify nonprofit organizations whose funding should be cut and to plan a strategy to end their grants or contracts with the government or the programs for which they provide services."

Thomas, who was then a policy analyst for Rep. Armey, later went to work for the Heritage Foundation. Armey himself left Congress in 2003 and became the co-chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy -- one of whose representatives had participated in that same 2001 "Defunding the Left" panel as Morton Blackwell and CRC's Terrence Scanlon. Armey's organization is now known as FreedomWorks and is the principal astroturf backer of the teabagger protests.

Muriel Kane is director of research for Raw Story.

Halloween Repost: Beck Vampire Remix from Pensito Review


To truly enjoy the vampire remix of the Glenn Beck freakout on July 15, you have to sit through the original broadcast. It's painful but it makes the remix so much funnier.

First, the real deal:

This guy needs health care, all right. He needs MENTAL health care.

And now, the remix:

Dean: Even the weakened House health care bill ‘is real reform’ from Raw Story Breaking News


howarddeansmiles Dean: Even the weakened House health care bill is real reformLawrence O'Donnell, substituting for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown, spoke on Thursday with former Governor Howard Dean about the relatively weakened version of health care reform that is now moving through the House of Representatives.

Dean's reaction to the House bill was, "It's not the best we can do, but it's a very good start."

Leaders of the progressive caucus had hoped to see a stronger form of the public option in the bill, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) asked on the floor of the House, "Is this the best we can do? Mandating private insurance? Forcing people to buy private insurance policies or pay a penalty? ... Only 3% of Americans will go to a new public plan."

'I don't disagree entirely with Dennis," Dean told O'Donnell, but he pointed out that "they were fighting uphill against a very well-organized opposition, which has trouble telling the truth, and against an incredibly well-organized health insurance industry, which has given millions and millions of dollars to some of the people who are going to have to vote on this stuff."

"The fact is, this is real reform, Dean emphasized. "That's all I really care about, is real reform. ... It's not the kind of reform that I would have loved, but this is pretty good stuff, and it really is going to make a difference."

Story continues below...

Dean, who served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009 and played a major role in securing the Democrats' current majority in Congress, appears to be thinking most strongly at this point about the possible impact of health care reform on the 2010 elections.

"The most important thing that probably needs to be changed in conference committee is more people need to get into this system before the 2010 elections," Dean remarked. "The only way to defeat all the things the opposition is saying that aren't so is to show them how the system actually works."

"It's going to be very good for a lot of people," insisted Dean. "The only way that we can show the country that the Republicans have just not been telling the truth for the last six or eight months about thiis bill is to actually have it put in effect. ... The one thing you've got to do is get as many people as you can, particularly kids, into the system."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Oct. 29, 2009.

Download video via

Soros calls Wall St profits “gifts” from state from Politics in the Zeros

. Anti-war, global warming, peak oil, progressive politics


"Those earnings are not the achievement of risk-takers," Mr Soros said. "These are gifts, hidden gifts, from the government, so I don't think that those monies should be used to pay bonuses. There's a resentment which I think is justified."

The banksters continue to siphon money from the rest of us, aided and abetted by a compliant, docile government.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Media advance GOP's deceptive claims of partisanship in health reform process

Media Matters for America

In the wake of the Senate Finance Committee's October 13 passage of a health care reform bill, the fifth such bill passed out of congressional committees this year, numerous media figures have advanced the claim that the bill and the process of crafting health reform more generally was overly partisan, and have blamed Democrats. But these charges ignore the numerous Republican amendments included in both Senate health reform bills, and turn a blind eye to Republicans Senators' refusal to negotiate on health care reform in good faith and to their efforts to bring about, in the words of Sen. Jim DeMint, Obama's "Waterloo."

Media claim health reform not bipartisan

IBD editorial: "Bipartisan Baloney." An October 14 Investor's Business Daily editorial -- headlined "Bipartisan Baloney" and reflecting on the Senate Finance Committee's vote to pass health care reform, which received the support of Republican Olympia Snowe -- declared that "[a]s predicted, the Democrats are using the vote of one very liberal Republican as proof their health care takeover is 'bipartisan.' It's nothing of the sort. But then, we're getting used to such exaggerations."

Ingraham: "You're about to have your entire health-care system changed by one party." During the October 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham said during a discussion of the Senate's health care reform legislation: "This crowd is the most partisan crowd I have ever seen in Washington. They said Bush was partisan? Look at what they are doing to a fifth of our economy with no Republican support. It's, it's mind-boggling. And everyone listening to this across the country watching this show, you should be outraged. You're about to have your entire health-care system changed by one party that's wildly unpopular right now. Unbelievable." [Fox & Friends, 10/27/09]

Halperin: Democrats "made a mistake not making this bipartisan." Discussing the Senate's health reform legislation on the October 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Time's Mark Halperin told co-host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough: "I agree with what you have been saying for months, which is they made a mistake not making this bipartisan, once they made the decision to do it with Democratic votes."

But Senate bills included numerous GOP amendments, reflected bipartisan meetings

Senate HELP bill: "161 Republican amendments accepted." According to a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee document about bipartisan aspects of the health reform bill the committee passed July 15, the final bill included "161 Republican amendments," including "several amendments from Senators [Mike] Enzi [R-WY], [Tom] Coburn [R-OK], [Pat] Roberts [R-KS] and others [that] make certain that nothing in the legislation will allow for rationing of care," and reflected the efforts of "six bipartisan working groups" that "met a combined 72 times" in 2009 as well as "30 bipartisan hearings on health care reform" since 2007, half of which were held in 2009. [HELP committee document 07/09]

Senate Finance bill included 13 amendments sponsored by at least one GOP senator. According to the Senate Finance Committee's document detailing the amendments to the Chairman's Mark considered, at least 13 amendments sponsored by one or more Republican senators were included in the bill. Additionally, Chairman Max Baucus stated in an October 13 opening statement to a mark-up of the health bill that the Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of six senators including three Republicans and three Democrats, "held 31 meetings to try to come to a consensus. We held exhaustive meetings. We met for more that 61 hours. We went the extra mile."

GOP Senators made clear they didn't intend to negotiate with Dems in good faith

Sen. DeMint: "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo." During a July 17 conference call organized by the anti-health care reform group Conservatives for Patients Rights, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) asserted, while discussing health care reform: "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

Sen. Kyl admitted "almost all Republicans" will oppose reform - even with concessions. Minority whip Jon Kyl (AZ) reportedly admitted August 18 that "almost all Republicans" will oppose Democratic health care reform efforts, regardless of the compromises Democrats might make in attempting to win their support. As The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen explained, concluding that Kyl's remarks should indicate that "bipartisan talks just officially died":

I think Sen. Jon Kyl (R) of Arizona, the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, said something really important this morning.

The Senate Republican whip, speaking to reporters on a conference call from his home state of Arizona, said that even if the Democrats do away with a government-run insurance option, the GOP most likely won't support the bill that's being written in the Senate

"I think it's safe to say that there are a huge number of big issues that people have," Kyl said, referring to Republican senators. "There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill."

Asked if he'd support a bill if it were deficit neutral, Kyl said Dems may find a way to pass reform without adding to the debt, "but that doesn't mean the Republicans will support it." Asked if he could tolerate a nonprofit insurance cooperative instead of a public option, Kyl added that a co-op is "a step towards government-run health care in this country." The Senate Minority Whip added that "almost all Republicans" are likely to oppose reform, even if it's the result of a bipartisan compromise.

So, bipartisan talks just officially died, right? There's no real ambiguity here -- a member of the Senate GOP leadership announced, publicly and on the record, that Republicans are going to oppose health care reform, no matter how many concessions Democrats make.

Sen. Grassley forwarded death panel falsehood. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley during an August town hall meeting forwarded the widely debunked falsehood that health reform legislation provides for "death panels," saying: "In the House bill, there is counseling for end of life [...] You have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma." Despite the utter falseness of his claim, the provision was subsequently removed from the Finance Committee's health reform bill.

Grassley admitted he wouldn't vote for his own bill if GOP remained opposed. NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd asked Grassley during an interview on MSNBC's Morning Meeting, "Are you willing to be one of just three or four Senate Republicans that support an eventual deal if you get what you want out of the Senate Finance Committee, and it's an agreed-upon deal with the Gang of Six and that's basically the bill that comes out of the Senate? Are you willing to be one of just three or four Republicans while 36 or 37, including the Senate Republican leadership as a whole, all being against it? Are you willing to be just one of those three or four Republicans?" to which Grassley responded: "Absolutely not. And I told the president that a week ago Thursday, and I told Max Baucus that over a period of three or four months." Todd went on to ask: "If you have -- if it's something you believe ... if you think this is a good deal, are you gonna -- and overall because of the politics of the situation you can't get more Republicans on board, you're going to go ahead and vote against it, even if you think it is a good deal?" Grassley replied: "Well, it isn't a good deal if I can't sell my product to more Republicans." As TPM Media's Brian Beutler noted, Grassley effectively "said he'll vote against his own bipartisan health care bill if it doesn't win the support of more Republicans." [Morning Meeting, 08/17/09]


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