Calling Their Bluff

overthetop_mainTom Sullivan sends this along –
Matt Yglesias posted about this earlier today and one of his commenters describes a delicious scene that I’m really sorry I missed:

You missed the most interesting amendment that Wiener offered. While I was watching the health-care markup on Thursday night (because I’m a policy nerd and I think that sort of thing is fun), Anthony Wiener offered an amendment to repeal Medicare. It was, by his own admission, intended as a political trap to force the Republican members to vote for single-payer health care. It was a hilarious debate to watch.

Wiener observed that a lot of Republicans had been warning direly about the dangers of socialized medicine and government interference in the health-care market, and so offered “the amendment they’ve been waiting for” to give them the opportunity to vote to end the scourge of single-payer health care in America. As a counterpart to the now-famous Republican flow chart of Obamacare, Wiener had a nice simple chart demonstrating how Medicare works (with just 3 boxes: patients, providers, government). There was also a poignant moment when everyone paused to honor John Dingell, who actually voted for Medicare 44 years ago (and is now on crutches and looking rather feeble).

The Ranking Republican, Joe Barton of Texas, made some nonsensical and indecipherable distinction about “government-mandated” health care versus “government-run” health care, and said that Republicans support the Medicare because it is in the former category (if that’s true, they sure ought to be supporting the current House health care bill). Wiener asked if the Republicans would support a public plan if it looked like Medicare, and Barton dodged the question. Later Barton hit on the semi-coherent response that Medicare only pays 80% of the cost of treatment, so the private insurance market has to pick up the slack to ensure that doctors and hospitals stay solvent. My understanding is that that’s completely false, but at least it sounds coherent.

The debate on Wiener’s amendment got pretty heated, with Rep. Steve Buyer calling Wiener an “intellectual smart-ass” and Wiener calling all the Republicans hypocrites (with good reason, though). Initially, Chairman Waxman not amused by the amendment, since he was trying to keep the markup moving quickly in order to finish on Friday. By the end of the debate, though, Waxman was clearly enjoying it. In the end, despite Wiener’s “double-dare”, all the Republicans voted no (how often do you see a unanimous “no” vote?), thus proving on the 44th anniversary of the signing of the Medicare Act that nobody’s going to mess with Medicare anytime soon.

And here’s some of the video:


  1. Re: “Medicare only pays 80% of the cost of treatment”. I’m on Medicare, and am routinely billed by my insurer because Medicare rarely pays for everything.

    I’d rather have a system where Medicare paid for everything, as would the public option our country so desperately needs.

  2. adam says:

    That photo looks familiar…

  3. Gordon Smith says:

    Attack of the Tea People.


    When Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) came to the National Constitution Center to answer questions about health care reform, they were greeted by an overflow crowd of approximately 400 people, the majority of whom were supporters with legitimate questions.

    Unfortunately, though, a well-organized, belligerent and loud group of right-wingers stood in the aisles and across the back and disrupted the town meeting throughout. They yelled, shouted and jeered, and it was clear that they were not there to participate, but instead to try to disrupt the meeting and make it difficult as possible for anyone else to ask questions. They jeered from the moment the director of the Constitution Center stood to welcome everyone. For a few days leading up to the town meeting, e-mails circulated around Philadelphia warning that the “tea-baggers” were planning to protest the meeting and, although there were fewer of them than there were supporters–they made more noise shouting about “socialism,” “abortion,” and “assisted suicide.”
    “When I asked one of the belligerents why he and his companions wouldn’t stop shouting so others could speak and be heard, he shouted that it was his right to yell under “the first amendment.” I then asked why he couldn’t respect the first amendment rights of others and he answered by glaring at me and walking away.”
    “The fury and rancor in the faces of the right wingers at the town meeting made it clear that this was not about health care only. It is about fear and raw anger, already inside them, now directed toward the health care debate. They see defeating health care legislation as their opportunity to re-visit the Presidential election.”

  4. barry says:

    Hey – One of those astroturf groups opposing healthcare reform is holding a rally today at 5:30 at the 863 Brevard Rd. Ingles:

  5. Erika says:


    You are correct. AFP is an astroturf group. They are completely top down, they dictate what they want locals to do, and they don’t seek input from “little people.”

    Expect the rally to be poorly attended.

  6. Gordon Smith says:

    Thanks for chiming in, Erika. It’s very difficult to keep track of who’s doing what.

  7. barry says:

    Lame. Went to the ‘rally’. It wasn’t. There was a guy from the organization walking around the huge empty lot telling people that as soon as their press release went out today, Ingles Corporate called them & said they couldn’t have their ‘rally’ on their property. They had to move down to the Ryan’s Steakhouse lot.

    The tiny little lot was dominated by this huge political-campaign looking bus with a slick “Keep Your Hands Off My Health Care” paintjob on the sides. “Keep Your Hands Off My Health Care Profits” is more like it.

    The rap was predictable – Obama wants to squeeze you for every dime you have, then kill you in your sleep. The small crowd of mostly senior citizens gasps, then goes home to write angry letters to their congressman supporting the right of billionaires to profit off their illness. Yawn…

  8. barry says:

    Oh yes – rinse, drive down to Hendersonville tomorrow at 8 am, repeat.

    I got a few of their expensive “Keep Your Hands Off My Health Care” signs. Curiously, they left a huge blank space underneath for the word “Profits” to go in..

  9. Paul C says:

    WNC for Change rebuts those opposed to a “government takeover” of health care on WLOS tonight:

  10. barry says:

    Nice job. I got there just as 13 was packing up…

    WNC for Change rebuts those opposed to a “government takeover” of health care on WLOS tonight:

  11. Tom Sullivan says:

    One of those astroturf groups opposing healthcare reform is holding a rally today…

    I see they brought along their secret weapons: Beer guts and Ban-Lon.

  12. barry says:

    “I see they brought along their secret weapons: Beer guts and Ban-Lon.”

    Pretty funny – one of their speakers went off topic for a minute, & told the listeners that the #1 health risk in America was obesity. You should have seen the uncomfortable glances between the hefty – I mean “Prosperous Americans” who organized this thing…

  13. randallt says:

    Thanks for covering this guys. I like it really. I mean the whole tea baggery nonsense. Surely it makes regular folks sick and icky. As the Birthers and TBers get louder and more crazy, America’s middle will see them for what they are.