As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gangs Of Washington

Charles Grassley, having been kicked out of the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, has posted a flyer on the Senate's grey utility pole seeking out members for a new Hole-in-the-Wall Gang:

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Wednesday he's begun reaching out to other colleagues in both parties about reshaping the health bill through amendments on the Senate floor.

Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a conference call with Iowa reporters that he has had conversations with senators not on either committee handling health reform legislation about assembling a new bipartisan agreement.

"I've had discussions with senators that aren't on the committee that could possibly work with us to try to get back into a bipartisan mold," Grassley said. "I think, though, that it'd be very helpful for people who aren't on the Finance committee or even the HELP committee...would kind of take the bull by the horns themselves and try to coalesce around something that could eventually become more bipartisan."

Grassley, who said that the health care bill may "pull the plug on Grandma," tried to raise money in his own state to "defeat Obamacare" and claimed that it would have left Ted Kennedy without treatment, seems like the perfect candidate to lead a group seeking to improve the health care bill.

I'm thinking he may find some takers, though. The Senate Wanker Caucus can seat up to 60, depending on the policy. Witness, for example, Bill Nelson, trying transparently to preserve corporate welfare for insurance companies.

Mr. Nelson, a Democrat, has a big problem. The bill taken up this week by the committee would cut Medicare payments to insurance companies that care for more than 10 million older Americans, including nearly one million in Florida. The program, known as Medicare Advantage, is popular because it offers extra benefits, including vision and dental care and even, in some cases, membership in health clubs or fitness centers.

“It would be intolerable to ask senior citizens to give up substantial health benefits they are enjoying under Medicare,” said Mr. Nelson, who has been deluged with calls and complaints from constituents. “I am offering an amendment to shield seniors from those benefit cuts.” [...]

Mr. Nelson said he had received 56,000 telephone calls, letters and e-mail messages on the legislation since June.

Some of those callers have been mobilized by insurance companies.

Humana, one of the nation’s largest insurers, has urged subscribers to contact their members of Congress and register their opposition to the cuts. “Millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable,” Humana said in a recent letter to beneficiaries.

Medicare Advantage is quite simply corporate welfare and nothing else. The government pays private companies on the average 14% more than it would to produce the exact same coverage on their own, for no increase in quality, despite Nelson's claims. It's a pure subsidy.

Pair Grassley with the Nelson twins, a Lieberman, maybe a Mark Warner, and who knows? They could put the old gang back together.

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