“Liberal” means extreme left to you? You’re pretty badly calibrated, then.

incomplete

In the comments of Slate Star Codex, Damien left this comment, which I’m quoting with his kind permission.

In response to someone saying “To me, ‘liberals’ suggests a close group who have already settled into some extreme left positions, some of which are more tribal signalling than anything else,” Damien wrote:

“Liberal” means extreme left to you? You’re pretty badly calibrated, then. Most people who call themselves liberal aren’t all that left, at least lots of actual extreme leftists despise liberals of whatever definition.

If you’re American you’re likely starved for exposure to an extreme left. Try this on: 70% top marginal income tax, capital gains taxed like regular income (or even higher), Medicare for all gradually being replaced by an expanded NHS-style VA system, free college for all, a partial basic income funded by land/resource tax, an outright personal wealth cap of $400 million, Keynesian full employment policies via loose money and government jobs programs as needed, random selection of citizens to administrative oversight boards.

You won’t find many liberals who can endorse all of that without choking on something; I’d guess a majority of US liberals wouldn’t support even a majority of that list. And that’s still not all that extreme, nothing like full central planning or the supposed absolute equality of communism or Soviet socialism or abolition of money/private property. $400 million is still a vast amount of wealth, the only radical thing there is the idea of having a cap at all and that there’s a level of “too much” for one person to have at once.

And that’s only considering economic possibilities – there’s a lot that’s further left than liberal when it comes to race justice (reparations, for a start) and gender issues. Going even further left than Damien’s list, I know some leftists who advocate for an armed revolution against the US government. (Okay, I know one leftist who advocates for that.)

That said, I wonder what proportion of liberals wouldn’t endorse far-left policies like the ones Damion listed because they actually oppose them, versus those who wouldn’t endorse far-left policies because they aren’t politically viable?

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65 Responses to “Liberal” means extreme left to you? You’re pretty badly calibrated, then.

  1. 1
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    That said, I wonder what proportion of liberals wouldn’t endorse far-left policies like the ones Damion listed because they actually oppose them, versus those who wouldn’t endorse far-left policies because they aren’t politically viable?

    That probably depends a lot on how do you define “liberals.” ;)

  2. 2
    Hugh says:

    Outside the USA, ‘liberal’ does not mean left at all.

  3. 3
    AJ says:

    Outside the USA, ‘liberal’ does not mean left at all.

    I know here in the UK, ‘liberal’ usually means ‘communist hellspawn’ when used by the right and ‘centre-right supporter who feels bad about it’ when used by the left. We’ve got a louder extreme left here than in the States though, by a long shot; makes me sad that so many Brits identify more with America than Europe, when we’re a really European country.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    In comparison to left-wing parties in Europe you may well be right in this post. But in comparison to the historical positions of the American Democratic party I don’t think there’s much question that it’s shifted farther to the left in the last generation.

    We’ve just had the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death – an event that I remember clearly when it happened. Can you imagine a Democratic politician of today saying in a speech “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country!”? He’d be derided as seeking endorsement from the Tea Party movement. It seems to me to be a central position of the Democratic Party of today that certain groups of people are actually owed public support regardless of the level of effort they put forward to support themselves. It also seems a central position of the Democratic party that it is the responsibility of the Federal government to a) define what the social problems are in American and b) provide solutions for them through taxation, legislation and the creation of government agencies. While the second position certainly dates back to FDR’s time (gee, I guess JFK was the last President we commonly referred to using his initials), the process accelerated under the Johnson administration and has become a behemoth since then.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    Here in the U.S. “liberal” did not originally mean “left” either. In fact, it’s not unusual on right-wing blogs to see the term “classical liberal” when people wish to make the distinction.

  6. 6
    Ruchama says:

    (gee, I guess JFK was the last President we commonly referred to using his initials)

    LBJ. And I’ve heard some people say GWB, but that always means George Washington Bridge to me.

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    Ruchama you’re right, and I realized it as soon as I posted. Amp, is the lack of an edit function an issue of it not existing, or it exists but it’s buggy?

    And what happened to the new open thread? I could swear I saw one yesterday.

  8. 8
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    The more I read this, the more it sounds odd;

    In response to someone saying “To me, ‘liberals’ suggests a close group who have already settled into some extreme left positions, some of which are more tribal signalling than anything else,” Damian wrote:

    “Liberal” means extreme left to you? You’re pretty badly calibrated, then.

    Actually, no.
    “Liberal” means “a close group who have SOME extreme left positions, SOME OF WHICH are more tribal signalling. Damien needs a better straw.

    Most people who call themselves liberal aren’t all that left, at least lots of actual extreme leftists despise liberals of whatever definition.

    Many extreme leftists carry at least some non-extreme-left views. Many liberals may believe in a small number of comparatively extreme views.

    That’s because many rights end up conflicting. The more extreme you are regarding one set of rights, the less extreme/left it is possible to be regarding the competing rights. Anarchy is extreme; communism and government control is extreme; you can’t support both. Free speech conflicts with hate speech. Quotas and membership requirements conflict with “one person, equal opportunity.” Forcing people to adopt a government view of “appropriate” behavior conflicts with individual rights to their own beliefs. Communist governments have been and continue to be pretty; is it “left” to argue for full central control a la the CCCP?

    It’s incorrect to tag “free speech,” “anarchy,” “support for voting equality,” and “individualism” as something OTHER than left wing; it’s the tradeoffs that matter.

    That said, I wonder what proportion of liberals wouldn’t endorse far-left policies like the ones Damion listed because they actually oppose them, versus those who wouldn’t endorse far-left policies because they aren’t politically viable?

    Most people would probably support SOME of those policies in conjunction with the appropriate tradeoffs and balances. For example (and this may surprise you) I would support reparations, mostly because I think they’d be far better than AA and mandatory “diversity” and racial consideration policies. I’d much rather fix things and return to neutral processing, than continually try to make up an appropriate handicap. But I don’t support reparations generally, only as a tradeoff.

    Also, many of those positions have issues with specifics. Even to the degree that liberals support a putatively-extreme policy, they don’t support extreme enactment.

    To continue with that example: when someone thinks about “reparations for slavery” what on earth do they even mean? Some folks might think “well, let’s just give $20k cash to all people who are US citizens and who are the descendants of someone that was enslaved in the U.S. or a U.S. colony. It’s $100k for a family of five; that should even things out a bit.” Other folks think we should give 1.5 million per descendant as a starting point, after which it would be appropriate to calculate and distribute additional reparations. And there are other folks who wouldn’t necessarily demand as much, but who think that it should include a much broader group, e.g. “people who were adversely affected by slavery, no matter where they are” or “blacks living in the US irrespective of their ability to prove direct descent from slaves.”

  9. 9
    Hugh says:

    “In comparison to left-wing parties in Europe you may well be right in this post.”

    I don’t just mean it in the sense that generally European politics is less conservative than American politics. I mean the meaning of the word ‘liberal’ is actually opposite. Outside the USA, cutting taxes or reducing government regulation would be considered examples of liberal policies.

    For that matter, saying “liberalism is not extreme” is giving the word ‘extreme’ too much meaning. Extreme in comparison to what? The general consensus? Well, not right now, but if the consensus were to shift far enough to the right, liberalism would be extreme. If extremism simply signifies one’s views are sufficiently detached from those most people hold, as Amp seems to be using it here, extremism is not at all something one should be upset about being identified as.

  10. 10
    broundy says:

    Can you imagine a Democratic politician of today saying in a speech “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country!”? He’d be derided as seeking endorsement from the Tea Party movement.

    I suspect the Tea Party would immediately attack such a statement as an example of socialist totalitarianism. “OMG – he thinks everyone should work for their country! He wants them to work for the government! This is modern-day slavery!”

    And then sober-minded people would deride the politician for his naivete in thinking that anyone would help their own country without some market-based incentive.

  11. 11
    Jake Squid says:

    But in comparison to the historical positions of the American Democratic party I don’t think there’s much question that it’s shifted farther to the left in the last generation.

    A generation is generally accepted to be about 20 years, right? How, exactly, has the Democratic party shifted left since 1993? I’m not seeing the current Democratic Party as farther left than the one of 1993, or 1983 or 1973.

  12. 12
    RonF says:

    Outside the USA, cutting taxes or reducing government regulation would be considered examples of liberal policies.

    This is what I mean by the reference to the use of the term “classical liberalism” on conservatively oriented blogs. Up through the 1940′s and 1950′s those principles would have been associated with the term “liberal” here in the U.S. as well.

    I suspect the Tea Party would immediately attack such a statement as an example of socialist totalitarianism. “OMG – he thinks everyone should work for their country! He wants them to work for the government! This is modern-day slavery!”

    Not if it was in the context that JFK was referring to of voluntary service. If it was in the context of government-coerced services you’d be right.

  13. 13
    Ben Lehman says:

    When Obama has made similar statements (and introduced similar programs), he’s largely been harassed by right-wing paranoids for wanting to set up mandatory youth brainwashing camps.

    Go look at Glenn Beck’s stuff from 2009-2010. This is core Tea Party beliefs: to work for your country is evil and unpatriotic.

    Frankly, patriotic volunteerism, particularly for stuff like the Peace Corps, is now so far to the left it’s outside standard political discourse. (I say “far to the left” because while it’s dropped off of mainstream political radar, the people who actually do it [rather than just whine about how no one does it anymore] generally tend to be in the liberal-to-left spectrum.)

    yrs–
    –Ben

  14. 14
    Kathy says:

    Go look at Glenn Beck’s stuff from 2009-2010. This is core Tea Party beliefs: to work for your country is evil and unpatriotic.

    Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Gingrich, Giuliani, Lieberman, Rumsfeld.. etc etc. Not a single one of them is affiliated with the grass roots “core” Tea Party, as first formed on the basis of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential primary campaign. These folks would be the neocon asshats who have attempted to hijack the movement for their own ends.

  15. 15
    RonF says:

    This is core Tea Party beliefs: to work for your country is evil and unpatriotic.

    That’s absolutely absurd. This is a ridiculous statement.

    These folks would be the neocon asshats who have attempted to hijack the movement for their own ends.

    This is right on the money.

    Frankly, patriotic volunteerism, particularly for stuff like the Peace Corps, is now so far to the left it’s outside standard political discourse.

    I’ve been active in the Boy Scouts of America for the last 21 years. It is the epitome of “patriotic volunteerism”. Interesting to hear it described as far left.

  16. 16
    Ben Lehman says:

    I should have understand that no true Scotsman would do such a thing.

  17. 17
    Robert says:

    We’re alll a weeebit too drunk, laddie.

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    RonF:

    That’s absolutely absurd. This is a ridiculous statement.

    It’s no more ridiculous than this statement:

    Can you imagine a Democratic politician of today saying in a speech “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country!”? He’d be derided as seeking endorsement from the Tea Party movement.

    Funny how you think the one statement is perfectly reasonable, while the other statement is ridiculous.

  19. 19
    RonF says:

    O.K.: Ben, kindly list for me examples of what you are talking about – Tea Party spokespeople condemning membership in particular patriotic organizations.

    I’m also interested in what you would define as a “patriotic organization”. Off the top of my head, I’d discount any organization started up by a politician or a political party (of any political persuasion) as a patriotic organization.

  20. 20
    RonF says:

    Or patriotic organizations in general – with the same caveat for the definition of same.

  21. 21
    Charles S says:

    No, RonF, you started with the ridiculous unsupportable statements. So you provide concrete examples supporting your ridiculous slur first.

    Oh, also, spell out in full what exactly you mean by “It seems to me to be a central position of the Democratic Party of today that certain groups of people….” Who are those certain groups of people?

  22. 22
    Ben Lehman says:

    Sure. Let’s take the largest patriotic organization in the country: the US government. What is the standard Tea Party opinion of the average US government employee?

    yrs–
    –Ben

  23. 23
    Charles S says:

    Or try googling the fellow Kathy claims as the father of the Tea Party movement, Ron Paul, and Americorps. Or try googling Glen Beck and Americorps. Or just google “Tea Party Americorps”.

    Your turn, RonF.

  24. 24
    Jake Squid says:

    Sure. Ask your silly questions about Ron’s latest assertion. I’m still waiting on him for examples of how the Democratic Party has shifted left in the last generation (which I assume to be 20 years), per his comment @4

    But in comparison to the historical positions of the American Democratic party I don’t think there’s much question that it’s shifted farther to the left in the last generation.

  25. 25
    Robert says:

    I can think of a few things.

    The platform in 1993 was not “gay marriage hooray”, it was some tortured signaling of “we like the gay people really we do…um, how many Christian voters are there still in the South? That many? Really? Damn. Um, marriage is complicated…”

    Today’s Democrats seem to have repented of welfare reform and now think it was unfair or that it underperformed; back in ’93 Clinton could rally some support for the idea.

    Health care: the 93 Democratic proposal couldn’t get any support from the right, so they tabled it as unworkable. The ACA couldn’t get any support from the right, so they forced it through as about the most partisan piece of sweeping social reform legislation ever. Admittedly you could view that as being the Democrats just being more partisan rather than them being further left.

  26. 26
    Ampersand says:

    Admittedly you could view that as being the Democrats just being more partisan rather than them being further left.

    In 1993, the Democrats had 57 votes in the Senate, and they lost seats in the ’94 elections. So part of the difference may be that the Democrats in 93 knew they wouldn’t be able to overcome a filibuster, even if they wanted to, which gave them less motivation to try.

    (BTW, any party that can muster about a 60% voting share in both the House, and the Senate, and hold the Presidency all at the same time should pass its legislation. That’s how democracy works. And if we took your it’s-wrong-to-pass-partisan-legislation logic seriously, the conclusion would be that if the minority party is intransigent, it’s actually immoral for the majority party to pass any legislation. That’s ludicrous.)

    Are the current Democrats more left on health care, or just more successful? Being able to pass legislation successfully doesn’t necessarily say anything about ideology.

    That said, I do think the Democrats are in some ways more left than they were in 1993, lgbt rights being a clear example. I also think the base is more left than it used to be, although the base has always been to the left of the party leadership.

    It’s a blurry question, because both “the Democrats” and “more left” are pretty ambiguous terms. (When we say “the Democrats,” do we mean the elected representatives or the base or all registered Democrats? Isn’t it possible to move “more left” on some issues while simultaneously moving right on other issues? Etc).

  27. 27
    Jake Squid says:

    If you’re gonna say the dems are more to the left because gays, then you’ve gotta say the same thing about the GOP. And if you’re saying that then what you’re saying is that the US has moved to the left over the last 20 years and I really don’t think that either you or Ron believe that.

    But I’m more interested in Ron defining his nebulous claim than I am in hearing others opine on what Ron might be thinking.

  28. 28
    Decnavda says:

    In addition to being successful at health insurance reform, and turning against welfare reform, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and DOMA, Democrats created a financial consumer protection agency, as opposed to Bill Clinton who was deregulating banking, they are pushing for immigration reform, while Bill Clinton ran campaign ads showing night border crossings while saying, “They keep coming”, and this Democratic President actually dares to at least say that income inequality is a problem. If we look to the party’s leadership, Democrats have moved to the left significantly since 1993.
    Go back to 1983 and 1973, the Democrats were still really two parties, and the national Democrats were as economically left as they are now, while the Southern Democrats were still probably as conservative both economically and socially as today’s Republicans.
    Really, the reason the Republicans seemed to have move right and the Democrats left has really been because the two parties have simply finished sorting themselves out, with the Republicans finally getting rid of the northeastern liberals and the Democrats getting rid of the Southern conservatives, as best illustrated in this chart: http://www.thewire.com/national/2012/03/us-senate-now-completely-polarized/49641/

  29. 29
    Robert says:

    Amp, it is an unwritten but real rule of our national legislature that major social reform is never passed on a purely partisan vote. The majority party is *certainly* allowed (and expected) to pass bills without the other party agreeing at all, but there is also an expectation (and a practical reality) that even if your majority is huge, if you can’t get ANY traction with the other party, you scale back the scope of what you do pass.

    There is an enlightened self-interest reason for this, and there is a don’t be a dumbass reason for this. The ESI reason is, the other party will have the upper hand soon enough, and the tradition of self-control in the direction of moderation is one you want to keep alive. The DBAD reason is that we don’t pass laws once, and then Congress walks away and leaves the implementation of the law in the hands of some nice bureau of hard-working technocrats, and maybe asks for a progress report five years later.

    No. Getting the law passed is like 10% of the process. Then you have to have the ability to pass revisions to the law when parts of it turn out to be chuckleheadedly stupid. You have to be able to get appropriations passed to pay for the things you authorized. You have to be able to get the Secretary of Fucking Up Insurance confirmed so that there’s someone to run the bureau of hard-working technocrats. You have to go back to Congress again and again and again, and – even if you have a huge majority and even if your bill is at the Resolved: Kittens Are Just So Darn Cute level of consensus acceptability – if you have nobody from the other team willing to play just a little bit of ball, you’re going to end up standing on your dick, wondering why everything smells like pee and there’s this sharp stabbing pain in your crotchal region.

    If you do have that bipartisan cover, then your ability to maneuver legislatively is greatly enhanced. The other party, knowing that a sharp fight over the nomination of Secretary Fluffycakes will divide them and make them look weak, refrain from the most dickish maneuvers they can pull. The treasonous bipartisanites in the minority logroll and maneuver and get concessions; the majority party good-naturedly pay this Danegeld and in exchange gets smooth treatment when it realizes it needs TWO national Days of Kitten Appreciation, or whatever.

    Fortunately, the experienced and humble and wise people in charge of the administration realized all this, since they weren’t led by a smooth-talking hypocrite with no legislative accomplishments and no knowledge of how the national legislature actually get things done, and so that administration was able to avoid some ongoing disaster like a multiyear legislative rollout marked by epic fuckups in all directions, such that even the recipients of giant gobs of free money didn’t have majority support for the giant-gobs-of-free-money law.

    Because in the 20th and 21st centuries, with dozens of Congresses and administrations, there has never. once. been. a. successful. major piece of social reform legislation that did not command at least a smattering of support from the opposition party. Some flashy but not very substantive ‘message’ laws – but nothing that required a bureaucracy and the effective implementation of a major government program. Civil rights, bipartisan. Environmental protection, bipartisan. Voting rights, bipartisan. Medicaid/Medicare, bipartisan. Prohibition, bipartisan. Repeal thereof, bipartisan. Women’s suffrage, bipartisan. Apollo program, bipartisan.

    Not always SUPER bipartisan – more than once we’ve seen a strong enough majority with juuuust enough defectors from the other party get things done. But you can search the history in vain for a successful major domestic reform law that was ever able to get anywhere without both parties having supported it.

  30. 30
    Robert says:

    I don’t disagree that both parties have moved to the left on some issues.

  31. 31
    RonF says:

    Mea culpa on the “generation” thing. When I said it I was comparing the Democratic party of today to the one that elected JFK when I was young – but upon reflection of course that’s more than one generation ago. What’s changed? The vast expansion of the welfare state, the assault on 2nd Amendment civil rights, affirmative action/racial quotas, etc. The general presumption that blacks, gays, women, Hispanics and just about anyone who is not a straight white male is oppressed and is thus due some kind of compensation or special assistance.

    Here’s an example. Women are a minority in STEM careers and disciplines. So this is accounted to be a problem requiring governmental intervention and programs to get that number up to 50%. Men are a minority in education careers and disciplines – in fact, they are a minority in college and in B.S./B.A. degrees awarded. Where are the special programs to address this? None. Why?

    Ben, the Federal government is not a “patriotic organization”. It’s the mechanism of the State. It’s mission is to govern, not to promote patriotic values. It’s certainly not a volunteer organization and so would hardly be an exemplar of “patriotic volunteerism” that you cite the Tea Party as faulting.

    Americorps? I had to look it up. It’s a Federal agency. Certainly volunteer service is laudable. I do a certain amount of it myself. But a) it’s a government agency, and b) I don’t see anything on it’s website about promoting patriotic principles. I don’t know what Glenn Beck’s objections to it are, but given that I’ve never paid attention to his opinions about anything else I don’t see any need to do so now. None of the people that I discuss politics with pay any attention to him either. I tend to agree with Robert that from what I’ve heard about him Glenn Beck seems to be someone who’s found a parade to run in front of and pretend to lead for personal aggrandizement and profit than a spokesperson for the Tea Party movement.

  32. 32
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, I repeat: if we took your it’s-wrong-to-pass-partisan-legislation logic seriously, the conclusion would be that when the minority party is intransigent, the majority party should give up on passing any major legislation. That’s ludicrous, and it’s anti-democratic.

    Amp, it is an unwritten but real rule of our national legislature…

    It’s also an “unwritten but real rule” that the minority party isn’t going to make routine use of filibusters in order to make it impossible for the majority party to pass anything of significance. Yet I don’t recall you criticizing the GOP for breaking that rule. It’s almost as if you don’t actually give a damn about “unwritten rules” except in a completely opportunistic and partisan fashion.

    The rules are, or were, part of a system. You can’t expect the GOP to constantly break rules and for the Democrats to not respond. When the filibuster alters to become a routine, frequently-used minority-party veto, then of course the majority party will respond by finding work-arounds. It’s naive of you to think otherwise.

    You’re correct, of course, that it would be pragmatically better in many ways if the minority party had been willing to buy in. But they weren’t. If we had to wait for the GOP to agree to it before we’d have a major expansion of health care access, it would never, ever happen, because today’s GOP is absolutely opposed to expanding health care access in any meaningful fashion, and Tea Party fanatics have either defeated all the GOP moderates, or made them too frightened of primary losses, to compromise with the Evil Obama.

    The only way we can ever have health care is to do what the Democrats did – push it through over the unified opposition of the GOP, and hope that by the time the GOP retakes power, the expanded health care system, imperfect as it is, will be too entrenched for the GOP to remove it.. My guess is that’s exactly what will happen with Obamacare, but we won’t know for sure until more years pass.

  33. 33
    Copyleft says:

    Right-wingers today–at least, the ones who can spare a moment to look up from their Bibles–are absolutely outraged at any mention of public service. They decry it as ‘collectivism,’ the surest sign of state-worship and the enemy of individualism (which they amusingly equate to freedom). Look no further than the current hysteria over the very notion of public healthcare–”how DARE somebody ask me to pay for the well-being of my fellow citizens by participating in an insurance pool?”

    Sorry, RonF, but your “ask not” quote would definitely be decried as blatant tyranny and socialism by today’s right wing, particularly the Tea Party. Whatever point you were trying to make has been undermined by an example that shows the opposite of what you intended.

  34. 34
    Ben Lehman says:

    Ron: Ah, I see. Your definition of “patriotic” means “right-wing” not “love for the country.” That is a completely incoherent definition of “patriotic” but it does make all that you’re saying make sense.

    When Kennedy said “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” he did not mean that “yay right wing groups boo the government.” He meant to call the people of the 1960s, who could quite comfortably work for more money in the private sector, to support their country by working in government service, in the form of the military, the peace corps (which he founded), or government posts. The latter two (Americorps is an extension of the Peace Corps) are truly hated and despised by the tea party and its spokespeople, above all rationality, sense, or decency.

    When Obama has made similar statements as Kennedy’s (not as eloquent but Kennedy’s inaugural is one of the best speeches of the postwar era), with similar goals, he has been bashed by the tea party for “indoctrination camps” and “creeping fascism.” It is possible that, in your little corner of the tea party, he has simply been ignored. The fact remains that like every Democratic and many Republican presidents since Kennedy, he has exhorted the American people, particularly young people, to patriotically use their talents in government service, and has gotten nothing but shit from the right wing for it.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  35. 35
    RonF says:

    Ron: Ah, I see. Your definition of “patriotic” means “right-wing” not “love for the country.”

    This leads me to ask two questions:

    1) What in my previous posts leads you to believe this?
    2) Given that you have repeatedly held up things like Americorps, the Peace Corps and indeed the entire Federal Government itself as patriotic organizations or examples of patriotic volunteerism, I have to ask how in the world you think that these organizations were established to promote “love of country”?

  36. 36
    RonF says:

    When Kennedy said “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” he did not mean that “yay right wing groups boo the government.”

    You’re absolutely right there. He was certainly not attempting to promote any political groups at all.

    He meant to call the people of the 1960s, who could quite comfortably work for more money in the private sector, to support their country by working in government service, in the form of the military, the peace corps (which he founded), or government posts.

    It occurred to me that while I listened to him deliver his inaugural speech, I’ve never read the transcript. Suffice it to say that as I read it I see a call for the United States to adopt and honor certain principles and policies. But I do not see a call there for people to go work for government agencies.

    A thought has just occurred to me. Do you think that they only way to do something for your country is to work through the government?

  37. 37
    Copyleft says:

    No, but the Tea Party certainly takes it that way. Face it, RonF–ANY mention of working for the common good is immediately, automatically, and hysterically responded to by the extreme right as evidence of ‘tyranny and socialism,’ not to mention ‘statist collectivism,’ ‘war on the individual,’ and a thousand other tired cliches. It’s their standard routine; to pretend you’re unaware of it is dishonest.

  38. 38
    JutGory says:

    I disagree, Copyleft.

    They might decry the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, but I suspect it is because they are government funded entities. In that sense, they are statist and collectivist. It is the government directing charitable work. And, the government is not a charitable organization.

    I would expect they would be in favor of private and charitable volunteering, which is more of a “free-market altruism” approach to the doing something for the country.

    What I see is that, for liberal/progressives, it appears, both sides of Kennedy’s equation “what your country can do for you” and “what you can do for your country” involve a bigger government.

    That is probably what they do not like.

    -Jut

  39. 39
    Robert says:

    “That’s ludicrous, and it’s anti-democratic.”

    If it’s ludicrous, then you should have no trouble finding examples of major social reforms in the specified period (20th and 21st centuries) that were passed by one-party votes.

    Yes, it’s anti-democratic, as are every mechanism of our government other than direct headcount voting for office or referenda. That is because we are a republic, not a democracy.

    “If we had to wait for the GOP to agree to it before we’d have a major expansion of health care access, it would never, ever happen…”

    See today’s ruling basically kicking the administration’s self-contradictory position on the religious conscience exemption to the curb. The fact that there is only one way to achieve X, because the other ways to achieve X in our system aren’t practical (“we don’t control that body of the Congress”, or “we can’t find the authorization for that policy in the Constitution” or whatever), is not an automatic validation of the legitimacy of the one way that you can get it done.

    Nor is “but I really really want X” or “but the nation really really needs X” automatic validation of X itself. That’s why we have a system of checks and balances. One of those checks is the ability of minoritarian parties within the government to obstruct or hamstring majorities, when the minority is resolute enough.

    This is a feature, not a bug.

  40. 40
    Robert says:

    Also, you don’t have to wait for the GOP to agree to it. You have to wait until almost all of your party, and then a substantive minority of the other party, agrees to it.

    Also, because of the botched way your party tried to ignore 120-odd years of Congressional practice, you’re not going to get “it” anyway. You’re going to end up getting a shrunken, deracinated, bastardizes, perversely reverse-functional version of “it” that will be significantly worse than you could have gotten (with a hundredth the expenditure of political capital) from the hypothetical next Congress, with its expanded Democratic seats and its moderated Republican seats.

    But now it is looking (though its too early to tell) like that scenario is going to be stunted or reversed, and Democrats will be in a worse position after 2014.

  41. 41
    Ampersand says:

    If it’s ludicrous, then you should have no trouble finding examples of major social reforms in the specified period (20th and 21st centuries) that were passed by one-party votes.

    I can’t, since never in that period has a minority political party been as unwilling to compromise as the current Republican party is. However, contrary to what you think, the mere fact that the current minority party is as uncompromising as the Borg, does not logically establish that it’s wrong for the majority party to pass legislation.

    The fact that there is only one way to achieve X, because the other ways to achieve X in our system aren’t practical (“we don’t control that body of the Congress”, or “we can’t find the authorization for that policy in the Constitution” or whatever), is not an automatic validation of the legitimacy of the one way that you can get it done.

    But we DID control that body of Congress, Robert. Both bodies, in fact, plus the executive. And under the Constitution, majorities are allowed to pass laws (subject to judicial oversight). You seem to have totally lost track of your own argument – if you’ll recall, just a comment or two ago, you were arguing that the Democrats should not have passed health care expansion because “unwritten rules,” which is to say, extraconstitutional rules. (Of course, you’ve never objected to breaking unwritten rules when it was to the GOP’s benefit to do so).

    There’s nothing in the Constitution that says a law can’t be passed over the objections of a minority party. Nor is any compromise possible with the current GOP possible, so the practical arguments in favor of compromise do not apply.

    There is therefore no good reason not to try and expand health care over GOP objections.

    You lost a bunch of elections. Therefore Democrats had an opportunity to pass some laws. Which means, much as Republicans (not you) hate the idea, millions of poor people will have affordable health care. That is how a representative democracy works. Please quit whining about it.

  42. 42
    Ampersand says:

    Also, you don’t have to wait for the GOP to agree to it. You have to wait until almost all of your party, and then a substantive minority of the other party, agrees to it. [...] the hypothetical next Congress, with… its moderated Republican seats.

    Yes, but given the current Borg-like nature of the Congressional GOP, that would mean waiting for years, perhaps decades. Why should a party that won 60% of both houses of Congress, and the Executive, do that? Do you really think that elections should have no consequences?

    and Democrats will be in a worse position after 2014.

    Gee, the party holding the White House losing seats in a mid-term election? Gee, that’s never happened before in US history.

    In the long run, what matters most is long-term policy, not short-term elections. Maybe Obamacare will crumble, as you think – but then again, you were also confident that McCain would be president. Maybe Obamacare will end up leading to a permanent, unwritten rule in American politics that every American is entitled to decent health care. That’s certainly worth the attempt.

  43. 43
    Robert says:

    “I can’t, since never in that period has a minority political party been as unwilling to compromise as the current Republican party is.”

    Or maybe never in that period has a majority political party been as unwilling to honor extraconstitutional precedents and traditions in the working of the legislature.

    “But we DID control that body of Congress, Robert.”

    Yes, you did, past tense. And you passed some laws. And now the Obama administration, which apparently did anticipate that once passed, laws would be viewed as sacrosanct forever and left untouched other than by his semi-divine hand, has discovered that subsequent Congresses are not obliged to be cooperative with the multi-year plans of their predecessors. I am not shocked that he didn’t really seem to get this, but I am a little bit surprised that you don’t seem to get it either.

    “There is therefore no good reason not to try and expand health care over GOP objections.”

    “It won’t work” is a good reason. “You are acting as though expanding health care is a one-time decision that is never again going to be subject to the discretionary power of a different Congress, but in fact everything you do is easily erasable and the method you chose for passing your law the first time is almost designed to provoke the other party into using their ‘let’s erase this’ powers to their historically-not-often-deployed maximum” is a good reason.

    “Yes, but given the current Borg-like nature of the Congressional GOP, that would mean waiting for years, perhaps decades. Why should a party that won 60% of both houses of Congress, and the Executive, do that?”

    Because having 60% of both houses and the Executive is not a sufficient political mandate to impose major unpopular social reform legislation without at least nominal support in both houses from the other party.

    “Do you really think that elections should have no consequences?”

    This is a logical fallacy. “Your electoral victory gives you 250 political capital points, which you can use to buyitems on the political agenda table. Oh, I’m sorry, ‘major health care reform – fundamentally flawed, roll 11+ in legislative resurrection phase to deploy single-payer stealth mode’ is a 300 point item; you don’t have that many points.” is not the same thing as “Your electoral victory gives you 0 points.”

    Elections have all sorts of consequences. Elections where one party wins real but non-overwhelming majorities of both houses, do not have as a consequence the creation of an ability to pass major social reform legislation without any meaningful support from the minority party.

    Look, you guys decided to go it alone because our guys were arguably being dicks. OK, so our guys were being dicks. Stipulated for the discussion. That might make the stupid decision to go it alone emotionally justifiable; it doesn’t make it any more sensible. Going it alone does not work in the US political system.

  44. 44
    Ampersand says:

    Yes, you did, past tense. And you passed some laws. And now the Obama administration, which apparently did anticipate that once passed, laws would be viewed as sacrosanct forever and left untouched other than by his semi-divine hand, has discovered that subsequent Congresses are not obliged to be cooperative with the multi-year plans of their predecessors. I am not shocked that he didn’t really seem to get this, but I am a little bit surprised that you don’t seem to get it either.

    I think that both Obama (by the end of the fight for passing Obamacare, if not at the start), and I, anticipated the GOP acting pretty much exact as it has acted. I’m not sure why you’d think otherwise. I’m not SURPRISED that the GOP has acted like asshats. I’m not SURPRISED that the GOP House has passed completely impotent Obamacare repeals 46 separate times (or is it more?). I’m not SURPRISED that the GOP is willing to block maintenance and improvement laws. All of that is as expected. And none of that makes it inevitable, or even likely, that Obamacare will be worse than the pre-Obamacare status quo.

    (I am a little surprised at how many GOP governors are unwilling to allow the Feds to finance an expansion of Medicaid in their states, I admit. But I’m not yet convinced that’s a stand that will be able to hold in the long run.)

    This is a logical fallacy. “Your electoral victory gives you 250 political capital points, which you can use to buyitems on the political agenda table. Oh, I’m sorry, ‘major health care reform – fundamentally flawed, roll 11+ in legislative resurrection phase to deploy single-payer stealth mode’ is a 300 point item; you don’t have that many points.” is not the same thing as “Your electoral victory gives you 0 points.”

    I love this argument, Robert. Point well taken.

    That said, it’s assuming something we just don’t know yet – that Obamacare will be a failure (i.e., not better than the pre-Obamacare status quo). I know you’re confident, but your past predictions have not been without error.

    I think it’s pretty likely that two years from now, there will be tens of millions of Americans covered because of Obamacare, who otherwise would have lacked coverage; that the “no rejection for pre existing conditions” provision of Obamacare will be something that Republicans will be politically forced to embrace. And ten years from now, I think the principle that every American should have access to affordable health coverage, regardless of employment status, poverty, or pre-existing condition, will be as unassailable politically as Medicare is now.

    If that comes about, then despite its many flaws, I will consider Obamacare a great success.

  45. 45
    Charles S says:

    RonF,

    No, I don’t think anyone on liberal side of the fence has any doubts that it possible to do patriotic volunteerism without working for the government. Personally, I washed dishes and dishrags for Occupy Portland in the Fall of 2011 (as well as marching in the street and organizing a neighborhood assembly) and did it with patriotic fervor, and we were being continually harassed and infiltrated by both local and Federal government employees.

    You, however, have been quite clear in this thread that despite imagining that you admire Kennedy (easy, with him being dead for all of your adult life and then some, to cast a rosy glow upon him and misread his speeches), you believe that working for the Federal government can’t really be patriotic volunteerism. You do understand that the Peace Corps (you’ve heard of that right? If not, you can go google it. You browser probably has a little search space up at the upper right, and unless you’ve had it redirected to Conservopedia, it probably points at google. We’ll wait for you to go read up on it and come back.) is a Federal agency, just like Americorps? You do understand that Kennedy campaigned on creating the Peace Corps, right? And that it was one of the things that he was referencing in his Inaugural Address, right? Going beyond the Peace Corps, who do you think carried out the Space Program, drilled into the sea bed, and negotiate peace treaties with the Soviets, all things that Kennedy references in the lead up to the “Ask not” quote? You understand those were all done by government employees or contractors or grant recipients, right? You did understand he was referring to those things, right?

    I have to check these things with you, RonF, because you wrote that you reread the Inaugural, and “[did] not see a call there for people to go work for government agencies.” At the point where you can read Kennedy’s “Ask not” speech and not see a call to go work for government agencies, you are just seeing (and not seeing) what ever you please.

  46. 46
    Charles S says:

    Jut,

    Thanks for pointing out that, like your Bircher intellectual ancestors, Tea Partiers would have hated Kennedy and his calls for public service.

  47. 47
    Charles S says:

    Given that you have repeatedly held up things like Americorps, the Peace Corps and indeed the entire Federal Government itself as patriotic organizations or examples of patriotic volunteerism, I have to ask how in the world you think that these organizations were established to promote “love of country”?

    Patriotic volunteerism is not volunteerism that attempts to promote “love of country.” Patriotic volunteerism is volunteerism that is done out of love of country.

    That aside, you really don’t think the Peace Corps, Americorps, and the US government were created to promote love of country? Have you read Kennedy’s inaugural (specific to the Peace Corps)? The sections that invoke the idea of the Peace Corps really gave you no feeling of love of country?

  48. 48
    Robert says:

    “I am a little surprised at how many GOP governors are unwilling to allow the Feds to finance an expansion of Medicaid in their states, I admit.”

    Maybe the cold-hearted Republican governors think it’s unethical to promise poor people a benefit, but then reveal that the benefit was secretly a loan, and confiscate the modest homes and property that the former ‘beneficiaries’ left for their families.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022469957_medicaidrecoveryxml.html

    “I know you’re confident, but your past predictions have not been without error.”

    You know, I may have read the tea leaves wrong through wishful thinking or bias or simple error.

    But when *I* draw, however amateurishly, a beloved children’s cultural icon like Kermit the Frog, infants do not suddenly begin to wail in unreasoning fear and horror, and the air is not filled with the sussuration of a trillion fanged hell-flies suddenly apporting to this plane to feast on the new evil that has been brought into being, and the walls and floors of holy places do not begin to seep with the blood of the unbaptized damned.

    So I got that going for me.

    “I think it’s pretty likely that two years from now, there will be tens of millions of Americans covered because of Obamacare, who otherwise would have lacked coverage”

    A significant percentage of whom didn’t want it and are now struggling with a new bill imposed on them by the state.

    “that the “no rejection for pre existing conditions” provision of Obamacare will be something that Republicans will be politically forced to embrace”

    Thus fundamentally weakening the rational basis for the catastrophic insurance which is the one sensible place to insure health, and increasingly making the companies providing that one bona fide insurance service unable to stay in business without an ever-deepening legislative and executive tap dance to feed them new unwilling customers to cover the ever-growing number of willing massively subsidized free riders.

    “And ten years from now, I think the principle that every American should have access to affordable health coverage, regardless of employment status, poverty, or pre-existing condition, will be as unassailable politically as Medicare is now.”

    Let’s expand the titular access to a service which is tightly bound by a relatively slow-growing workforce, place more and more people into a severely underpaying segment of the market to insure that the workforce’s incentive to grow to chase new business is as close to zero as we can manage, hugely raise the minimum bar on what the financiers of these services are required to cover regardless of actual need or customer preference, create strict statutory protections to maximize the ability of free riders to skip paying for insurance until they start incurring bills, and wait for the service’s affordability to become so legendarily wonderful that taking notice of these factor’s gross incompatibility with the affordability premise becomes political suicide.

    Excellent plan! Keep up the good work.

  49. 49
    Jake Squid says:

    Medicaid isn’t free. Somebody pays for it. Whether it’s paid for by the general public (in the case of folks who have no assets) or it’s paid for by the beneficiary (via their assets). I don’t think anybody reasonably familiar with Medicaid has any illusions that they’ll benefit from it without having to pay what they can towards the bills they incur. There’s an entire industry that exists around avoiding paying for the Medicaid benefits that you use (via transfer of assets prior to going on Medicaid).

    I don’t see how Medicaid benefits are “secretly a loan.”

  50. 50
    Ampersand says:

    Robert is talking about this. It’s hardly a secret, but it’s not something that’s well-known among people who are too young to have begun thinking about using Medicaid to finance in-home care or nursing home care.

    I have to go to LA Fitness so I stay beautiful, so I can’t post more right now.

  51. 51
    Robert says:

    De-snarking note in the interest of intellectual honesty: I actually think a government loan-of-last resort program would be an outstanding way to improve health care access without increasing moral hazard.

    Medicaid paid for by the ‘beneficiary’ via their assets? That sounds akin to a system I know of, from the beforetime, from the long-long-ago, known to the elders as “people paying their own bills.” With the exception of letting the dying stay in their own home until the end, I don’t notice any vast superiority of ‘the government swings by after the funeral and takes all your shit’ over ‘you swing by the consignment shop and the swap meet and the pawn shop before you head over to the medical complex’.

    “I don’t see how Medicaid benefits are “secretly a loan.””

    Did you read the attached Seattle Times article? Here, I’ll helpfully link it again.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022469957_medicaidrecoveryxml.html

    Precis: Tens of millions of people are going on Medicaid, the eligibility for which is now purely income-driven (rather than in the past when other factors like family structure, age, assets on hand, etc. all factored in to the determination. Tens of millions of people, with no experience of Medicaid for the most part, and simultaneously with huge rules changes in the underlying system, are in many cases learning literally overnight that the health care coverages that were promised and presented to them as, effectively, freebies were in fact benefits that they were expected to repay, as much as 100% of them.

    Secret, because there was little or no outreach to this burgeoning population to tell them the new rules of their glorious free healthcare. Loan because when I give you money and then I take it back from you later, that’s what a loan is.

  52. 52
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Medicad is not and was not ever a freebie. Medicaid was never an insurance program. Medicaid is a program which provides care to people who CANNOT pay for their own medical care.

    People who have estates CAN pay for their own medical care. They just don’t want to–usually because they want to stay in their primary residence.

    So we have a Medicare exception which allows them to stay in their primary residence. Everyone is happy about it, because the other alternatives are (a) save money yourself, you old geezer; (b) live without care, you bad planner; or (c) have long term health care/medical insurance, which of course also costs money.

    I don’t see how on earth you could think this was a problem. What’s the alternative? “We’ll give 300,000 of care to someone who owns a $400,000 home, just so that they can leave it to their rich kids?” I can’t imagine you’d support THAT, right?

    Sure: some folks don’t get it. So what? “some people” don’t understand a lot of things.

  53. 53
    Robert says:

    The program is not problematic in and of itself, that I know of. None of the things you describe as being characterized by complainers as ‘the problem’ have anything to do with the problem.

    What is problematic is that a huge chunk of the “success” of the ACA law is a huge chunk of people being moved onto Medicaid who didn’t use to qualify. And then to those people’s descendants shock, people who have created an expectation among their offspring and friends of leaving an estate, even if it was just a little bungalow somewhere, are instead bringing down the veil in an empty and auctioned-off-by-the-GSA vault.

    Are those descendants being deprived of a right? No. Nobody is entitled to a particular inheritance. But there are people, and not a handful of people, who have built live and plans around settled expectations; in some cases there are contracts, handshakes or no, that were made in the belief that Uncle Joey would never be on Medicaid and thus never needed to pare his assets. There are a fair number of Niece Nellies who spent 25%-35% of her working time for 30 years doing part-time home care for Uncle Joey with a promise that when the old buzzard finally snuffed, he would leave Nellie the condo. Now Joey is jelly, Nellie has ten years of labor in the hopper for which she was promised remuneration by someone who meant it, and Nellie’s share of Joey’s estate was the last Comcast bill.

    It’s not terrible that Uncle Joey got a few months of Medicaid care at the end of his four score and 17, and it’s not terrible that the state later acquire the means from Joey to replicate the service he provided. Kind of sucks for Nellie, though.

    And if Medicaid isn’t a free ride, or a big chunk of a free ride, then how exactly is it some great success to add a bunch more poor people to its rolls? “Congratulations! Before this day, you would have been reluctant to seek major medical treatment for an illness, because you were afraid that you would have to sell your cabin in the national park and sell your ATVs. No more do you live in fear of the evil medical marketplace and its cruelty! Now you will get care through Medicaid whenever you need, and later on we will come and take your cabin and your ATVs to cover your bill. Truly, this is going to make a difference in your pitiable, underinsured lives.”

    There will be thirty million new insured people! Sure, the “insurance” will consist of those people or their heirs being stripped of whatever pathetic crumbs they managed to accumulate in life but…now they’re insured! Now everything is wonderful and unicorn farty!

  54. 54
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, could you please try to improve your signal to noise ratio?

    Medicaid Estate Recovery dates back to the 1965 law that created Medicaid, and was much expanded by the 1993 OBRA (by the way, Robert, 100% of Republicans in Congress voted against the 1993 OBRA, because it raised revenues; those revenues were part of why we had balanced budgets during the Clinton era). Here’s a summary of the federal law about Medicaid Estate Recovery post-1993:

    States must pursue recovering costs for medical assistance consisting of:

    * Nursing home or other long-term institutional services;
    * Home- and community-based services;
    * Hospital and prescription drug services provided while the recipient was receiving nursing facility or home- and community-based services; and
    * At State option, any other items covered by the Medicaid State Plan.

    At a minimum, states must recover from assets that pass through probate (which is governed by state law). At a maximum, states may recover any assets of the deceased recipient.

    Also, “Recoveries may only be made from the estates of deceased recipients who were 55 or older when they received Medicaid benefits or who, regardless of age, were permanently institutionalized.” And, states are prohibited from making estate recoveries if there is a surviving spouse, or a surviving child under age 21, or a surviving child who is permanently disabled. (All this info comes from here.)

    Also, states are required to inform Medicaid recipients of the recovery rules at the time of signing up for Medicaid, and annually thereafter.

    Those are the federal rules. Within those rules, states have a lot of leeway to make their own laws about medicaid recovery.

    What happened in Washington State:

    Medicaid, in keeping with federal policy, has long tapped into estates. But because most low-income adults without disabilities could not qualify for typical medical coverage through Medicaid, recovery primarily involved expenses for nursing homes and other long-term care.

    The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed that. Now many more low-income residents will qualify for Medicaid, called Apple Health in Washington state.

    So the Washington State rules used to try to recover all Medicaid spending they could from the estate, but in practice “recovery primarily involved expenses for nursing homes and other long-term care.” But now that Obamacare has expanded Medicaid, routine medical care is also covered by the Washington State Medicaid recovery rules.

    In response, the state is changing their rules:

    Over the past month, as lawmakers began hearing from worried and angry constituents, state officials began exploring what it would take to fix this collision of state rules with the ACA.

    Late Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office and the state Medicaid office said they plan to draft an emergency rule to limit estate recovery to long-term care and related medical expenses.

    They hope to be able to change the rules before coverage begins Jan. 1.

    Fixing the problem will cost the state about $3 million a year, said Dr. Bob Crittenden, Inslee’s senior health-policy adviser, but it’s the right thing to do.

    “There was no intent on the part of the ACA to do estate recovery on people going into Medicaid (for health insurance),” Crittenden said. “The idea was to expand coverage.”

    In the end, the Washington State recovery rules will be virtually identical to what they were before Obamacare came along – but many more people will be covered than before. For most of those people newly on Medicaid, the coverage will not require them to pay anything other than taxes.

    For the minority using Medicaid to pay for long-term residential care and related expenses, if they don’t have a spouse, or children who are 21 or under or disabled, if they have an estate, then those costs will be deducted from their estate in accordance with WA state laws – which is exactly what would have happened to those folks before Obamacare, as well.

    Which is why Robert’s original claim – that state governors are refusing to accept Medicaid expansions in their states because they don’t want Medicaid estate recovery in their state – is nonsense. Everyone one of those states, with no exceptions, ALREADY has estate recovery in their state. If the state wants to make sure that estate recovery isn’t expanded with Obamacare, that choice is entirely within the power of the state government. If the state wants to beef up notifications, that too is entirely within the power of state government.

    I think that Republican governors who aren’t expanding Medicaid, are motivated by partisan reasons – the fewer people Obamacare covers, the easier it will be to say it fails – or by fear that helping poor people with medical coverage will anger the Tea Party. They are also motivated by a genuine lack of caring about the people like me who are helped by expanded Medicaid access. Of course, since the GOP is famously either indifferent or hostile to the well being of people of color, it’s no surprise that refusing to accept Medicaid expansion disproportionately hurts people of color.

  55. 55
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Robert says:
    What is problematic is that a huge chunk of the “success” of the ACA law is a huge chunk of people being moved onto Medicaid who didn’t use to qualify.

    Medicaid is a voluntary program. “Qualification” for Medicaid is like “Qualification” for a Stafford loan.

    And then to those people’s descendants shock, people who have created an expectation among their offspring and friends of leaving an estate, even if it was just a little bungalow somewhere, are instead bringing down the veil in an empty and auctioned-off-by-the-GSA vault.

    Er… so what? If the descendants were involved, then they could have paid for care (instead of using medicaid) and they’d have all the money. At least they only pay the Medicaid rate for reimbursement, which (in retrospect) is usually much lower than a direct-pay rate.

    Are those descendants being deprived of a right? No. Nobody is entitled to a particular inheritance. But there are people, and not a handful of people, who have built live and plans around settled expectations; in some cases there are contracts, handshakes or no, that were made in the belief that Uncle Joey would never be on Medicaid and thus never needed to pare his assets.

    And what, pray tell, would Uncle Joey do if he got sick?

    If you were never on medicaid because you had alternate care plans… OK, you still don’t need to go to Medicaid.

    If you were never going to use medicaid because you were rich–OK, you still can pay for it yourself.

    And if you die without getting sick.. well, there’s no medicaid lien.

    There are a fair number of Niece Nellies who spent 25%-35% of her working time for 30 years doing part-time home care for Uncle Joey with a promise that when the old buzzard finally snuffed, he would leave Nellie the condo. Now Joey is jelly, Nellie has ten years of labor in the hopper for which she was promised remuneration by someone who meant it, and Nellie’s share of Joey’s estate was the last Comcast bill.

    This makes absolutely no sense.

    Prior to the expansion, Nellie was never entitled to get Joey’s condo, because Joey would have had to sell it if he was sick. If he never got sick and kept it, she would get the condo.

    Following the expansion the same is true. I suppose there might be some circumstances where Joey would manage to hide all his assets so that he could live on the public dim while secretly enjoying the “hidden” riches in Nellie’s name. But the loss of those folks doesn’t bother me at all.

    It’s not terrible that Uncle Joey got a few months of Medicaid care at the end of his four score and 17, and it’s not terrible that the state later acquire the means from Joey to replicate the service he provided. Kind of sucks for Nellie, though.

    What sucks? What would Nellie have gotten before?

    And if Medicaid isn’t a free ride, or a big chunk of a free ride, then how exactly is it some great success to add a bunch more poor people to its rolls?

    Because now they can get care at all (which they couldn’t) and keep their house while they’re alive (which they couldn’t) and pay the ultra low medicare rates if they want to rely on Medicaid.

    “Congratulations! Before this day, you would have been reluctant to seek major medical treatment for an illness, because you were afraid that you would have to sell your cabin in the national park and sell your ATVs. No more do you live in fear of the evil medical marketplace and its cruelty! Now you will get care through Medicaid whenever you need, and later on we will come and take your cabin and your ATVs to cover your bill.

    Truly, this is going to make a difference in your pitiable, underinsured lives.”

    Seriously?

    If you don’t see the difference between “you have to sell your house and move into a home” versus “you can get home care and die with some dignity” then you need to hang out with more old people.

    Yeah. It makes a difference. truly.

    There will be thirty million new insured people! Sure, the “insurance” will consist of those people or their heirs being stripped of whatever pathetic crumbs they managed to accumulate in life but…now they’re insured! Now everything is wonderful and unicorn farty!

    As someone who works with elders:

    You, sir, are a goddamn heartless (or ignorant) fool. You either have no idea what you are talking about or are grossly and intentionally misrepresenting the position of a huge number of people.

    Neither option is especially admirable.

  56. 56
    Copyleft says:

    So… providing more insurance for older Americans is bad because it will drain their estates of money that their heirs would have otherwise enjoyed if the oldsters had the decency to die quickly and brutally?

    Seriously? That’s the point being raised? And people wonder why right-wingers are so often associated with sociopaths….

  57. 57
    Ampersand says:

    Copyleft:

    And people wonder why right-wingers are so often associated with sociopaths….

    G&W:

    You, sir, are a goddamn heartless (or ignorant) fool.

    Me:

    They are also motivated by a genuine lack of caring about the people like me who are helped by expanded Medicaid access.

    Robert:

    Now everything is wonderful and unicorn farty!

    Let’s all of us, including me, try to dial it down a few notches.

  58. 58
    Ampersand says:

    Robert:

    There will be thirty million new insured people! Sure, the “insurance” will consist of those people or their heirs being stripped of whatever pathetic crumbs they managed to accumulate in life but…now they’re insured!

    Accepting for argument’s sake the number of 30 million new people on Medicaid (I think it will be less than that), it’s not true that 100% of those people will be subject to medicaid asset recovery. A huge proportion of those 30 million won’/t be over age 50, or under 50 and in a long-term care facility. Of those who are over 50 or younger and in long-term care, a huge portion will be married and thus not subject to asset recovery. Or will have children under 21 and thus not subject, or disabled children and thus not subject. Even among those over 50 with no spouse and no children under 21, a large number won’t be doing anything with medicaid that local state rules use asset recovery for. (Even in your chosen example of Washington state, it’s clear the state is moving to reduce the scope of asset recovery).

    So your claim that all the people getting medicaid coverage are going to be subject to asset recovery shows a lack of understanding of how medicaid, and in particular asset recovery, works.

    What about the minority of Medicaid recipients who do face asset recovery? Well, they and their families will face the exact same choice that people faced before Obamacare; you can either let Medicaid pay for a large portion of your long-term care facility or in-home care, with asset recovery from your estate (if any) after death, or find some different way to get by. It’s a difficult choice for some families, but it’s ludicrous to blame that choice on Obamacare, when those families would face that same choice with or without Obamacare.

    Furthermore, the fact is that many people do choose to use Medicaid-with-asset-recovery to help pay for long-term care in their old age, because they’ve decided that’s a good use of their resources. I think they’re better off having that choice, rather than the option not being available at all.

    Finally – and to repeat myself – it’s silly to excuse the GOP’s choice to withhold Medicaid access because of asset recovery, because asset recovery goes on in all 50 states, whether or not the GOP has permitted medicaid to expand coverage, and it’s the state government’s decision whether or not the group of medicaid recipients in their state subject to asset recovery is expanded or not.

    Meanwhile, millions of Americans who can’t afford health care, and make too little money to qualify for the health insurance exchanges and their subsidies, are nonetheless going to be stuck with the mandate. If Obamacare were allowed to work as designed, those people would all have the option of Medicaid. But in about half the states, the GOP has chosen to withhold that option from them. Who does that help, exactly?

  59. 59
    Grace Annam says:

    Robert:

    There are a fair number of Niece Nellies who spent 25%-35% of her working time for 30 years doing part-time home care for Uncle Joey with a promise that when the old buzzard finally snuffed, he would leave Nellie the condo. Now Joey is jelly, Nellie has ten years of labor in the hopper for which she was promised remuneration by someone who meant it, and Nellie’s share of Joey’s estate was the last Comcast bill.

    So, Niece Nellie didn’t think ahead and contract for the care. She could have sat down with Uncle Joe and explained the cost to her of looking after him and contracted for the services in any number of ways, including a right to inherit property when he no longer needed it. Looking at this through a conservative lens, why should society reward her by funding her retirement?

    (Mind you, I have no problem with society helping to fund retirements. But conservatives generally DON’T think so, so I’m wondering why this is an exception.)

    Grace

  60. 60
    Myca says:

    (Mind you, I have no problem with society helping to fund retirements. But conservatives generally DON’T think so, so I’m wondering why this is an exception.)

    *waives hand in air*

    Ooh! Ooh! Call on me! I know! I know!

    —Myca

  61. 61
    Grace Annam says:

    Yes, the energetic young man in the front row? (glances at seating chart) …Myca?

    Grace

    P.S. If you “waive” your hand in the air, do you get the sound of one hand not clapping?

  62. 62
    Robert says:

    Amp – I thank you for the many clarifications. It is obvious that you know a lot more about how Medicaid grab-backs work than I do; it seems likely that the piece I was reacting to, and/or my reading of it, were seriously off base. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    Copyleft and G&W, being in the right and then deciding to act like a huge prick about it is my schtick. I’ll thank you to find your own unique styles and quit trying to copy mine; too many others have already made the attempt. Amp’s ‘civilly explaning why you’re wrong’ approach is one that hasn’t been done to death; probably room for some apprenticework there.

    Grace, in the scenario I was envisioning as very common but which Amp corrects me on the prevalence of, Nellie DID make a contract with her uncle. It’s just that an unsuspected creditor with a higher precedence swooped in and grabbed the gold nugget that had been meant to pay her wage. That’s what I objected to; the unsuspected novelty aspect, not the possibility of higher claims, including social/governmental ones. It seems like a dead letter, though.

  63. 63
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, thanks for conceding you made an error – that should be easy to do, but it’s pretty rare on these here interwebs.

    But I’m still hoping you could address my final paragraph:

    Meanwhile, millions of Americans who can’t afford health care, and make too little money to qualify for the health insurance exchanges and their subsidies, are nonetheless going to be stuck with the mandate. If Obamacare were allowed to work as designed, those people would all have the option of Medicaid. But in about half the states, the GOP has chosen to withhold that option from them. Who does that help, exactly?

    I guess you could answer “well, that’s what Democrats get for doing health care without Republican buy-in” – but, since Republican buy-in would never happen, that’s tantamount to saying “it’s wrong to ever try to do health care.” Also, it seems to be blaming the Democrats for a choice freely made by GOP governors and legislators.

  64. 64
    Robert says:

    Why ask me? I didn’t do it.

    Bobby Jindal laid out a six-point op-ed on why HE did it in Louisiana; read him.

    http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2013/07/gov_bobby_jindal_why_i_opposed.html

  65. 65
    Copyleft says:

    but, since Republican buy-in would never happen, that’s tantamount to saying “it’s wrong to ever try to do health care.”

    NOW you’re getting it! *grin*