If you have "no place to go," come here!

How we know "The President’s Proposal" on health care really is Obama's baby

Sure, after a year's worth of health care back-and-forth, "The President's Proposal" is a twelve-page nothingburger of bullet points with no policy detail (except as... read on). Sure, the proposal is so über-pathetic that even the pathetic [a|the] [strong|robust|triggered]? public [health insurance]? [option|plan] isn't included, not even as a meaningless sop to help "progressives" get the next round of funding. Sure, women are treated as chattel. Sure, the CBO can't score it. (Remember how important that was?) And sure, this "initial offer" has a pre-compromised and capitulationist baseline that's so low it might as well have been set by Joe Lieberman doing the limbo.

But all that's standard operating procedure for Obama and the FKDP. How do we know that Obama gave this kabuki script his personal attention? Here's the tell:

Look to the wonk. We already know that Obama fancies himself a geek; what excites him about health care insurance reform isn't saving lives, or even money: It's electronic medical records.* Let me start by quoting this sentence from "The President's Proposal":

Fraudulent billing to Medicare and Medicaid programs costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

Millions! Just fancy! This from an administration, and a President, that's leaving at least $350 billion a year on the table by refusing to consider the only solution on offer that can actually be shown to work with evidence: Single payer.

And to save those millions -- that would be millions with an M, not billions with a B, or trillions with a T -- the "Proposal" spends many precious paragraphs of its twelve pages on a geek-type wonkfest of technical detail on -- yes, the standard Republican talking point -- "waste, fraud, and abuse":

Comprehensive Sanctions Database. The President’s Proposal establishes a comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid sanctions database, overseen by the HHS Inspector General. ...

Registration and Background Checks of Billing Agencies and Individuals. In an effort to decrease dishonest billing practices in the Medicare program ...

Expanded Access to the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank. Increasing access to the health care integrity data bank will improve coordination and information sharing in anti-fraud efforts. ...

Liability of Medicare Administrative Contractors for Claims Submitted by Excluded Providers. In attacking fraud, it is critical to ensure the contractors that are paying claims are doing their utmost to ensure excluded providers do not receive Medicare payments. ...

Use of Technology for Real-Time Data Review. The President’s Proposal speeds access to claims data to identify potentially fraudulent payments more quickly. ....

Study of Universal Product Numbers Claims Forms for Selected Items and Services under the Medicare Program. The President’s Proposal requires HHS to study and issue a report to Congress .....

Establish a CMS-IRS Data Match to Identify Fraudulent Providers. The President’s Proposal authorizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to work collaboratively with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ...

OK! Dense, geeky detail! This is sure one President who does his homework!**

Now, I know what you're waiting for. You're waiting for what "The President's [cough] Proposal" has to say about the health insurance companies. Will there be a comprehensive sanctions database for them? Background checks? A health care integrity data bank? Real-time data review? A Universal Product Number claims form? A CMS-IRS data match? I mean, my gawd! If Obama's going into all that detail to save millions -- with an M -- from Medicare, what will he do about the billions -- with a B -- from the insurance companies, who take thirty cents of every health care dollar, when Medicare takes only three cents?

Yes, I know what you're looking for; but I'm having a hard time finding it. I just searched the PDF for "regulation" -- nothing. OK, give me a moment here, I'm wading through all the stuff about what's goingto happen to get to the mechanisms that will make sure it does happen... "Enforcement" gets two hits, one for Medicare (above), the other for prescription drugs. Well, heck, I guess I'm just going to have to read the thing. From the top:

One essential policy is “rate review” meaning that health insurers must submit their proposed premium increases to the State authority or Secretary for review. The President’s Proposal strengthens this policy by ensuring that, if a rate increase is unreasonable and unjustified [as determined how?***], health insurers must lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions [like what? Reading a sternly worded letter?] to make premiums affordable [which means what?]. A new Health Insurance Rate Authority will be created [responsible to whom? Staffed how? Created when?] to provide needed oversight at the Federal level and help States determine [What on earth does "help States" mean?] how rate review will be enforced and monitor insurance market behavior****.

We don't know how "rate review will be enforced," so we're going to punt to a magic board? That's a proposal to have a proposal, not a proposal! Next:

Within months of legislation being enacted, it requires ... State insurance authorities to conduct annual rate review, backed up by the oversight of the HHS Secretary.

Oooh! Reviews! Backed up by unspecified oversight. I bet the insurance companies are terrified. And then there are the vaunted exchanges:

When the exchanges begin in 2014, the President’s Proposal adds new protections that prohibit all annual and lifetime limits, ban pre-existing condition exclusions, and prohibit discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals.

"New protections." Alright then.

OK, still reading... Page 4... Page 5... Page 6... Page 7.... Page 8.... Page 9.... Page 10... Page 11... Page 12. Yep, the "Health Insurance Rate Authority" seems to be it.

So, to sum up: Lots and lots of detail on cutting millions in Medicare "waste, fraud, and abuse." Virtually no detail on regulating billions in health insurance company revenue. And Republican talking points wherever you look. Say, that means it's Obama's baby too!

Like Yogi Berra says: "You can observe a lot by watching..." This is "the full PDF of the President's key improvements." I'll look at the "Titles" soon, but at first glance -- and I know this will surprise you -- they read like brochureware. There's lots of vaporous marketing prose on what will be, and virtually detail on enforcement or regulation. In other words, Obama's saying "Trust me."

And you know what "Trust me" is Democrat for...

NOTE * Granted, EMR probably also means a big payday for Google, and so a nice fat kickback to the rent seekers in the Democratic Party apparat. And, of course, another payday and kickback from Tufts Health Care CEO James Roosevelt, who was also -- wait for it -- the chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee in 2008.

NOTE ** Or has sycophantic staffers who know how to appeal to his tastes.

NOTE *** Note the rhetorical precision of "waste, fraud, and abuse," in contrast to the mushiness of "unreasonable and unjustified." Since insurance companies bring no value to any transaction they engage, what on earth is "reasonable" and "justified"? Who determines that? The same WellPoint official who wrote the Senate Bill on which "The President's [cough] Proposal" is based?

NOTE *** Can this possibly mean they won't regulate the terms of actual policies?

NOTE Ya know, if I had a suspicious mind, I might think that all these new Medicare databases would be used to cut care, instead of "waste, fraud, and abuse." But that would never happen. After all, we're dealing with Democrats here. Oh, and send them some money, wouldja? I keep getting email about that, and I don't have any more space in my hutch for commemorative plates.

NOTE And this part is truly weird. You know the 31 million number that keeps getting tossed around? I always that was due mostly to Medicaid expansion --- moving the opportunity to get medical care after losing all your assets, like your house, up the income ladder -- but no. Right in the first paragraph

"The President's [cough] Option" -- sorry, "Proposal" -- makes insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today. This helps over 31 million Americans afford health care who do not get it today – and makes coverage more affordable for many more.

It's a tax cut!? Are Republican talking points truly the only ponies left in the stable?

No votes yet


a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

Ha, I saw that one coming as soon as I read your title.

Egads, he's predictable.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

They are in fact being frramed as a tax credit, like the EIC.

And wait, there's more:

Families with income below $55,000 will get extra assistance; the
additional funding to insurers will cover between 73 and 94% of their health care costs.

This refers to copays, etc., I take it. Well, Ok, more bailout for the insurers! Yay!

(Helping to cover out-of-pocket expenses is a good thing, but absent meaningful regulation to make sure the insurers don't play their we-won't-pay games and absent any real cost controls, it's just a way of handing the insurers more cash and, like all the subsidies, politically vulnerable to future "fiscal responsibility" IMO)

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

is how the markets react to these proposals. Health care sector was pretty well flat today. Glaxo had a bit of trouble about Avandia (name? their diabetes drug that just happens to cause heart attacks which they've known about since 2006). Nothing to do with the Big Zero coming out of DC. They're not worried.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

It's the Baucus plan, plus an ovarian penalty, tax cuts and Dubya's "computerized medical records." .

Bold, progressive leadership indeed!

Submitted by lambert on

That's an Onion headline waiting to be born...

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

his staff will do it for him.

See! They ARE different!


cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

I had to mop up my monitor. Fortunately the keyboard was spared. Projectile!

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

Obama's just a sock puppet.

My husband just ask me "Who running Obama?" Other than corporations, banks, and pharma, is there one name that can answer that question? Surely Rahm is not that powerful!

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

is how, exactly, will any of the subsidies (and "tax cuts"?) be delivered? Through additional pounds of Medicaid-style paperwork/applications/tax credits?

This is another point in favor of single-payer -- no excluding or denying care because of hassles (or games) over paperwork. The people who the subsidies are aimed at are lower-income. People who may leave money on the table because they don't have the stamina or training (I'm thinking weasel-like lawyer training here) to wade through all the eligibility paperwork and "proof" (of income, presumably no one's going to get a subsidy just by claiming they make only $X a year). It's the same reason why using tax credits s*ck, because all those folks who can't afford their own accountant have to struggle through messing around with tax instructions and miss out on a lot of money. (hell, my taxes are simple -- pretty much no deductions -- and I still struggle each year). Not to mention, all the time people go without care while TPTB hold onto applications or reject them for pretend reasons. (as with Soc Sec Disability, where almost all applications are rejected the first time through and everyone knows they'll have to go through the appeal process, which takes months if not years).

nycweboy's picture
Submitted by nycweboy on

This, I think, is a key issue, and one that leapt out at me as well: the subsidy for premiums plan seems especially dense, and a real area where actual costs could zoom well beyond initial estimates; somebody, it strikes me, will have to eat the overhead... and part of me is beginning to guess they plan to stick private insurers with as much of it as possible.

In terms of the Medicare and medicaid fradu approach... good luck with that; you can't maintain 3% overhead and beef up fraud and abuse investigation services - that's one reason private insurers have such large Administrative costs (it takes an army of paper pushers to ferret out waste) - but there's going to be a lot of roiling over just what consitutes either "fraud" or "abuse". Obvious cases - you know, care to dead people, obvious hospital overbilling... these will be easy to spot. But when will Medicare say you had too many X-rays? Or who shouldn't be in the docs office every 25 days? That's where the line between what's fraud and what's, well, necessary become harder. Private insurers, obviously, just care about the bottom line. If that's where Medicare's headed... it's going to get ugly.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

... Obamaspeak.... but what does it MEAN????

The rhetorical fog machine... creates the marketing vapors... as you say....

So, my 15 issues on health care reform... what happened to these issues? Are they off the table? Ignored many? Buried? WTF????

Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

But I had hoped for someone who wasn't quite so far to the right of Tricky Dick Nixon. Hell, in some areas Obama is to the right of Ronald Reagan.

I'm beginning to believe that the man really wanted to be Senate Minority leader, and President was the consolation prize.

Submitted by jawbone on

LINK to blog page.

From the first:

...let’s look at what the President expects a family of four with an income of $66,000 to pay for health care. The premium contribution would be 9.5% of income, or $6270 for the basic plan with an actuarial value of 70%. If they wanted or needed a better plan, they would have to pay the full difference in the premium. At an actuarial value of 70%, they would also have to pay an average of 30% of all health care costs. This can vary considerably because of plan design in the form of deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, non-covered benefits, stop loss, out-of-network care exempt from stop loss, and other factors. If they either elected not to or were unable to pay the premium, they would have to pay a penalty of $1650, but then, of course, they would have no protection at all against potential health care costs.

I'm not sure whether this is accurate or what some of the terms mean, so would appreciate any explication.

The second blog by Andrew Coates MD urges we not resuscitate the "public option."

Submitted by jawbone on

age nephew raised in South Carolina, going to college there, ROTC member,

Long argument over Obama's health insurance plan. The kid was adamantly against it, came up with usual Repub talking points against, some of the logical reasons to be against it, etc.

After several emails they agreed to disagree, but the nephew added a PS, saying that if there were an extension of Medicare to everybody he'd gladly support it!!!

Friend still shaking his head. We figured it's right up there with people telling the government to keep its mitts off their Medicare.

It' was how universal health care should have been presented. Too damn bad Obama is so in bed with the BHIPs and can't see the win/win solution of...

Medicare for All...with a robust private option.

Submitted by lambert on

... that the legacy parties keep it off the table. (That was Kennedy's approach, remember, before he drank the Kool-Aid: Lower the age of eligibility progressively.) Got to keep the peasants fighting!

We hear this over and over again: "Medicare's not a government program." Well, what they mean by that is that it works, and government programs don't work, ergo, Medicare is not a government program. And our "progressives" snicker at that, and then call them teabaggers, instead of seeing the opportunity for good policy.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"Progressives" misappropriate Medicare to pitch their hardly-anybody-in, almost-everybody-out "public option."

Thanks, St. Dr. Dean!

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

What purpose does spending so much time on all the supposed fraud in Medicare serves? Just to sound geeky? Its not even geeky, just refurbished Bush policy with a more elitist twist. But I'm sure the Pibber brigade will throw down their PBRs and celebrate this wonderful piece of work.

We have to stop playing by their rules. . .

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

because people instinctively know that the real enemy is not public (the government), but private (the insurance companies), and that they currently do not have any real options with regard to health care, unless they are rich enough to buy private plans (which most are not these days).

There is no real definition attached to the words "public option," yet the public favors it because we know that our current system is broken.

I sure hope that PNHP shows up uninvited to that health care summit, or one of the Senators is brave enough to start filibustering about Medicare for All. That would be awesome!

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

the relatively well-off "creative class"/Obama demographic (who have health insurance through work) loves it because it gives the illusion of providing health care for those annoying working class/poor people, absolving them of any lingering guilt over the class war. By shouting and stamping their feet over the PO, they can fancy themselves warriors for the less-advantaged!

Submitted by lambert on

They love it for more pragmatic reasons -- and health insurance reform too, public option or no.

A portion of the rents that the health insurance companies will be guaranteed by the bill will be channelled into "creative" work like the incentivized "wellness" programs, colorful brochures and other marketing collateral, phone banks, web site development, and, of course, continued funding for access bloggers to defend this vital program from assault yadda yadda yadda.

MoveThatBus's picture
Submitted by MoveThatBus on

The supplemental insurance industry does very, very well along side Medicare. I see many jobs being created by a Medicare for All model, especially if the supplemental plans continue to be needed for people who are concerned about major health problems.

Medicare, currently, does not cover everything, which is why many, many Seniors have supplemental insurance.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Even the dogwhistles ("Cadillac plans") are evocative of the "welfare queen" shtick.

The problem is that people are getting too much healthcare! These low-lifes are clogging up our emergency rooms! It's the fatties with their bad diets that are the big problem! We need tort reform, so people can't sue incompetent doctors! Medicare = fraud! And so forth....

Everything but putting the vampire in the room-- for-profit health insurance -- out of our misery.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I just got off the phone with my pharmacy. The insurance company has decreed that a refill of my sinus prescription nasal spray shall only be allowed every 30 days, despite the fact that the dosage is "as needed." Thus, if I want to relieve my swollen eyes and face, and pounding head NOW, instead of next week, I need to pay cash.

WITH coverage, a little bottle is $75, which is already close to prohibitive.
WITHOUT coverage, the same bottle is $130.

My sinusitis will simply have to continue for another week!

As upset as I am, I can only imagine how I'd feel if this was medication I needed to live, and my insurance "death panel" decreed that I didn't need it till after I had passed on!

Yes, we certainly need to keep those drug prices from being subjected to nasty government regulation. Yes, indeed. Government BAD!!!

Submitted by Anne on

ask him or her to call the insurance company; why give the insurance company what it wants, which is for you to go away after they say no?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

As you can see, I have little experience in this area. Will give it a shot! Thanks.

MoveThatBus's picture
Submitted by MoveThatBus on

Neti Pot? I know many with sinus problems who swear by them....then, I'm also constantly looking for anything that will keep me and mine from using the Pharmacy.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I am like you and try to avoid the pharmacy, especially since my insurance changed again and the price of this spray shot up from $25 to $75!

Unfortunately, my problem is sinus swelling and pain, which the Neti Pot doesn't help.


Submitted by jawbone on

which is probably a good thing.

There is a pulsing irrigation machine from Switzerland which costs about $100 which my doc's physician's assistant tried at an ENT's ofice while she interned. She said it worked very well, but was a beast to sterilize so people who bought them tended to stop using them after awhile.

She said she could feel the irrigation saline solution going up into the sinus cavities above her eyes! She said it really helped her. I did wonder about solution perhaps moving infection from one cavity to another....

But the pots just work kind at a very low area of the nasal passages. Were no help for me.

Submitted by lambert on

Weiner, Welch to Obama: "Where's the Single-Payer Advocate?"

NOTE I just called Weiner's office and thanked him. 202.225.6616

Kick Baucus to the curb's picture
Submitted by Kick Baucus to ... on

So far, all reform talk has been about increasing subsidies. And when Obama talks of going after waste, fraud and abuse, he only means at the retail level. The real cost to us is at wholesale, the level of fraud that previous congresses participated in creating. We have monopolies in the supply chain and drug distribution. Obama's EMR will make that part - the monopoly - more efficient, a better monopoly. The cost savings are going to come from outsourcing EMR. The whole thing is an emergency rescue to the existing parasitic system that is complaining its host is weakening.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

It awes me the corruption above us. How long the addiction of greed and amoral profiteering has gone on and on and on. How far gone the corruption in America is.

And 3 out of 4 people are believing all the war softening for another war.. this time with Iran ... that is going on. Maybe if we are in another war they can cover their asses... or just do it cuz they can, they feel like it, they can go on tv and brag about how smart and gamesmanlike they are, sacrificing lives and lives and lives...addicted to power and... to make more money... or whatever evil people do, those who have no souls -- they aren't the majority in America by a long shot, but they are the ones in total control it would seem. It doesn't need to make sense, does it. Just be colossally anti-humanity. It is awesome how low and diabolical and heartless the soulless are.

And Venezuela... they gotta keep their eyes on them... cuz Venezuela.. well there is talk about power to the people.. and we all know how the US governing faux-leadership in charge REALLY feels about power to the people. Got to destroy that spirit. Maybe a tragic hurricane or something will help in shocking and awing vulnerable people... but if not there are ways.... covert or overt... the US controllers... they got their ways.. either conning the American people to approve of the impossibly unapprovable or using covert death squads.. but if they are US or Israeli death squads.. well we will pretend they don't exist... or call them something else... and anyway, our armed forces and the mercenary ones cropping up are just big ol death squads now anyway.

It awes me the DENIAL around us. But then the media lies non-stop and disinforms. But I am stunned by my own network who want to give Obama time to do the right thing. And this is the best he's got???????

Responsibility is the ability to respond!!!! This isn't a political game or shouldn't be.

Poor Obama may lose the election. But until he does he will try not to by selling out as many of us as is doable for the heartless pirates.

We are such a dysfunctional country.

The men who enabled and engineered grotesque torture of fellow human beings were just given a "pass" for poor judgment. POOR JUDGMENT??? They broke international law in the most vile and contemptible way possible... 100 people died from the torturing. Oooopsie. And these creepoids ... one is a judge, one is a professor at a famous college? WTF?????? And this poor judgment barely slap on the wrist. Yeah, with that kind of accountability... what rampant mafia behavior will escalate from this.

And yet if you, too, are not a corporate, political elite crony, belong to the mafia that is our government or cronied to it, you can suffer, die, starve, lose your home, go bankrupt, die in a gratuitous war, you are WORTH NOTHING to those who have power in this country.

45,000 American citizens at a minimum are dying each year prematurely from lack of health care. God knows how many are struggling and suffering and will survive maybe this year and be a statistic for a later year. Does Obama even have the moral conscience to wrap his mind and heart around that? I don't think so. Do our government leaders? No more than you can probably count on one hand with fingers left over.

As our leadership skates over this reality and busily brings comfort and protection to the avaricious rapists. Cronyism and collusion.

Populism is now attributed to anti-socialism, when our government has no conscience for the common good. So the mad-tea partiers run around screeching at the wrong enemy. Or maybe the right enemy for the totally wrong reasons, considering Obama. Calling Obama out for being too liberal? How insane is that, when he is such a sell out to real liberals. We are really in a surreal, Alice in Wonderland bizarro world. But this irrational mis-perception will hand over the government to the official anti-liberals from the hypocritical anti-liberals like Obama ... and sadly what Clinton was, in many ways, too.

Both parties sold out unforgivably.

Nader said this in 2000. And many liberals still can't forgive him. I'd say he was right. Kill the messenger. Cindy Sheehan is not cool, so angry. An angry woman shudder. She is trying to stop unjust war. Media leads America to ignore her.

Insurance companies... a racket... 30 cents of every dollar TAKEN OUT for no reciprocal reason and anyone with any clarity of mind can hear this and grasp it. And yet they are about to get an even bigger bail out as our Prez for his ego fights to pass anything, hopefully to con enough people he has done SOMETHING, and to keep the avaricious profiteers happy, though those addicts will resent any penny they can't get their hands on. And letting 45,000 of us die each year, why would they start caring now?

Evan Bayh protesting amorality of Congress. What a load of crap. Maybe if he had walked the walk he would deserve to talk that talk.

So, needed to vent. Thanks.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

This is the article.

US Super-rich Get Five Times More Income Than In 1995

By Andre Damon

Congressional Democrats have sought to place blame for falling taxes on the wealthy solely on the Bush administration’s tax cuts. But the IRS figures show that the effective tax rate on the top 400 income earners actually fell faster under the last part of the Clinton administration than at any later time.

The effective tax rate hit a high point of nearly 29 percent in 1995. By the end of the Clinton administration, the rate had fallen to 22 percent. The trend continued under Bush, with the effective tax rate falling another 6 percentage points between 2001 and 2007.

The Bush administration lowered the capital gains tax by 5 percentage points, to 15 percent, in 2003. But Bush’s policies were only a continuation of laws passed under the Clinton administration, when the capital gains tax was lowered from 28 percent to 20 percent for the top income brackets.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

I too was confused by this. In 1993 Clinton raised taxes, yes, in the upper income brackets in 1993:

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (or OBRA-93 Pub.L. 103-66, 107 Stat. 312, enacted August 10, 1993) was passed by the 103rd United States Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It has also been referred to as the Deficit Reduction Act of 1993. Part XIII, which dealt with taxes, is also called the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993.

It created 36 percent and 39.6 income tax rates for individuals.
It created a 35 percent income tax rate for corporations.
The cap on Medicare taxes was repealed.
Transportation fuels taxes were raised by 4.3 cents per gallon.
The taxable portion of Social Security benefits was raised.
The phase-out of the personal exemption and limit on itemized deductions were permanently extended.
Part IV Section 14131: Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and added inflation adjustments

So perhaps Libby is referring to this?:

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-34) reduced several federal taxes in the United States.
Subject to certain phase-in rules, the top capital gains rate fell from 28% to 20%. The 15% bracket was lowered to 10%.
Starting in 1998, a $400 tax credit for each child under age 17 was introduced, which was increased to $500 in 1999. This credit was phased out for high income families.
The act exempted from taxation profits on the sale of a personal residence of up to $500,000 for married couples filing jointly and $250,000 for singles.
The $600,000 estate tax exemption was to increase gradually to $1 million by the year 2006.
Family farms and small businesses could qualify for an exemption of $1.3 million, effective 1998. Starting in 1999, the $10,000 annual gift tax exclusion was to be corrected for inflation.
The act also provided tax relief for retirement accounts as well as education savings in the Hope Scholarship Credit and Lifetime Learning Credits. Some expiring business tax provisions were extended.
It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 5, 1997.

(Ironically, that last one was the first bill passed under reconciliation!)

So...cuts in capital gains tax rate and raising the bar for estate tax for "rich" people (that estate tax change really affected upper middle class people), and a lot of good for lower-income people, too? Not exactly Bush league, I'd say.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Are you saying undeserved by Clinton?

What about Clinton and deregulation, too?

You know my job was outsourced in India a number of years ago, and living in NYC I decided to email Hillary Clinton as my senator to complain and vent my stunned outrage. When I googled the name of the outsourcing contractor, there was a huge pix of a stage (I think in India) with the outsourcing exec shaking hands with Bill Clinton. It was one of those moments in time you go, WTF??? I thought the Dem party would be on my side in this.

I don't think my heart was in protesting to Hillary. I know, she was not him. But I lost heart.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

"Clinton and deregulation."

Most of the deregulation I remember happened under Reagan. (certainly not all, but a whole lot). Yet no one seems to recall that -- somehow it Clinton has become the original source of all Evil Deregulation. And Clinton is routinely tagged for the repeal of Glass-Steagal by the CDS gang, which passed Congress with an overwhelming veto-proof majority, as well as many other historical revisions. Not that Clinton was any angel (nafta), but he did push back against many of the worst Republican crappinesses, even after '94.

Also, this point came up previously, and after a bit of checking around, I came across this, which addressed income more than taxes, but it still related:

The income gap actually grew more during the Democratic Clinton administration than it has during the Bush administration.


But while the gap grew under Clinton as well as Bush, the administrations have responded to it in different ways.

In 1993, Clinton raised taxes on the very wealthy; in 2001, Bush cut them. The Clinton administration pushed a state-federal program to provide health insurance for the children of the working poor; this year, Bush twice vetoed a bipartisan bill to expand it, on grounds it would help families who earn too much to need it.

There was another difference about the Clinton administration as well: The rich gained big, but most everyone else did, too, federal income data show. Median income, adjusted to 2006 dollars, increased from $43,135 in 1992 to $49,163 in 2000. A rising tide lifted all boats.

(my emphasis). All of which, I hardly need note to this audience, is quite different from today's situation where the rich gained enormously and everyone else is just screwed.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I think and admit to being caught up in a second undertow of grief and horror over the COLLUSION and COLLABORATION of Non-Republicans in the massive government betrayal of the citizenry and many innocents globally with the oligarchy.

Yes, Bush, Cheney and company truly horrify. Truly. And Bill Clinton does not belong in their subset of upcoming hell, for sure.

But, the "fresh hell" before us, for us as liberals, is the amorality of our own representing party and our party leaders.

If we are going to play the game that Clinton (yes, Clinton wanting tide to raise all boats, but did he set us up in the long term ... and certainly his second term was filled with distractions of his and not his making but cost us as he played political chess for his own political survival ... and you can see how his globalization game impacted my life personally taking away MY JOB... which went to India but now I think it is being done by the Phillippines... since it is about finding the globally cheapest workers.. so screw India... and screw the Phillippines when they find cheaper. workers in yet another country..) or Obama are not as bad as Bush and let that be used to sabotage the momentum for rallying now, that would add further to our continued victimhood. Time to go into resourceful survivor mode and be demanding of integrity from both sides of the aisle. And demand accountability.

Republicans horrify and have sold their constituents out and we have recognized that for ages.

The Democrats, with their cronyism, did it using evil Repubs as cover in many cases, or in their own rationalizations and ambitions, the seduction of power and the blindness and deafness of being the elite.

Privileges of status and entitlement group think... they have become prostituted by the oligarchy and they call it free market cronyism. And we are so much chattel...

The few senators and reps who stand up for the actual citizenry are labeled as eccentrics, radicals, fringe leftists, or iconoclasts. Such a tiny minority. Maybe many have the potential...but where are they???? Are we not hearing of their efforts or are they stymied by the machine?

Gamesmanship has replaced statesmanship.

And we have very few in the media who speak truth to power left. Moyers. Hmmmm. Olbermann and Maddow most of the time. Who else on that short list? I know there must be some more..... please?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Got markedly less liberal after 1994.

The tax hikes on the rich and the more "pro-business" legislation were passed by two entirely different Congresses. One - majority Democratic, one - majority Republican.

It would be inaccurate not to note this, wouldn't it?

In Clinton's day, there was still a difference between Dems and Repubs. This is provable by the types of laws that got passed.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

were, IIRC, the price he had to pay to get the other aspects - the expansion of the EIC, the Hope Tax Credit, etc, - to pass.

And the capital gains tax cuts were phased in, I can't find the terms at the moment. They may still have been coming in during the first part of Bush's presidency, so it is hard to evaluate the claim Libby's source makes without more information I don't have time to find at the moment.

I'd also like to point out that the claimed changes in the effective tax rate on the top 400 do not exactly support the claim that it declined more quickly in the last few years of Clinton's term than during the first few years of Bush's. The rate of change seems close to the same. I'd have to look in more detail, and I do not have time.

But I still believe that it is not fair to say that Clinton betrayed us with these changes in the tax system. As a poor single parent putting myself and then my son through school, my life was made very much less painful thanks to policies in these bills. (I recall vividly the shock of the refund I got the year the increase in the EIC went through. I was sure they had misplaced a decimal point!)

The welfare "reform" still rankles, though.

Submitted by lambert on

... like Bill Clinton, could still deliver concrete material benefits to most of the American people; the equivalent of improved wages and working conditions in the political economy as a whole. And I believe that Clinton was a better politician, a better lawyer, and a better person -- a more moral and empathetic person -- than any of his political opponents. If the times were different, Clinton might have been a great president. As it turned out, Clinton was only the best president of my adult lifetime (which coincides with the Conservative ascendancy).

But this is 2010 -- 18 years after Clinton was first elected. And I wish that Bill Clinton's defenders would look around and see that conditions have changed. No neo-liberal can deliver anything any more; that's what the failure of the FKDP means (failure, of course, for all but the very, very rich). Neo-liberalism is at the end of the road. Whatever comes next -- a green world, (soft or hard) fascism, neo-feudalism, secession and warring states -- will be new and different. Clinton can't help us with that.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

I'm not sure whether that was aimed at me, or those who "defend" Clinton generally. Clinton can't help us with the current situation, it's true, but revisionist tales of what Clinton actually did/did not do certainly will not help, and probably do harm us now. Esp. not the exaggerated claims locating all current evil as originating with him (as bad as Bush, really?) Also esp. when they can't be backed up with links, or when they go unchallenged.

There are still some lessons that could be learned from the Clinton years. When he didn't back down, as with the government shutdown over the budget, he won. His approval ratings shot up every time he ran over the Republicans. The more they tried to plague him with faked-up scandals, the more popular he got. (to the point where there was finally evidence for a real scandal, it only made him enormously popular). It's perfectly possible that the damage the right-wing is rolling us all into might be at least mitigated if the FKDP were willing to take a stand on anything besides their self-interest. Of course, we don't know whether it would be mitigated, because no one's trying. And one of the covers for lack of action is that it's all Bill Clinton's fault; that 'triangulation' and 'bipartisanship' are identical; that Obama can hardly be expected to fight the Republicans when Bill Clinton created the world in Evil that the poor One has to overcome now. It's not the most popular cover, it's true, Bill has to compete with 11-dimensional chess and other logical contortions, but distorting Clinton's record only helps the FKDP hide their epic fail now.

As with Palin, let's give the made-up bad acts a rest, and concentrate (if we have to raise either one in discussion) on actual bad acts. There's enough to go around.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

What Valhalla said.