Consumer Alert: My No-Vitriol Period Is Over

U.S. HouseLast week a friend (and not an imaginary one this time) asked me to blog on the subject of the recent energy bill. I didn’t do so, but I sent back a quick response, saying I didn’t think I had much original insight to offer on the subject:

“The fact that the energy bill was drafted without any Democratic participation makes me automatically ticked off. But the fact that the arctic drilling provisions were removed makes me a little less alarmed. The likelihood of passage isn't certain, particularly given the partisan-warfare atmosphere right now. Doubling the tax breaks for energy producers requested by Duh-bya kind of shows whose back pocket the G.O.P. is still comfortably nestled in, but not knowing enough about the details puts me in the position of having to argue on the basis of, ‘Those evil Republicans are wrecking everything ’cause... well, they’re evil.’ True, perhaps, but not really defensible. With the Alaskan oil drilling off the table, I’m having a hard time getting passionate about it.

“I do find it interesting that the bill’s completed just before the final episode of K Street, in which it’s been an ongoing topic of discussion.

“Oh, dang, that reminds me that K Street’s ending. Now I am upset...”

She, of course, responded by saying that I sure sounded passionate enough. That combined with a story I read over the weekend made me rethink my decision not to draw attention to it — or at least to the trend it represents.

This time around, it’s the G.O.P.-drafted health care reform bill. And if anyone still needed evidence that the Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone shy of millionaire status, here you go. They’ve crafted a plan that claims to help seniors by providing prescription drug benefits, but really doesn’t.

Want prescription drugs covered? Oh, sorry, Medicare’s not going to cover it; you’ll have to join a new plan. Prescription drug bills greater than $2,200? Sorry, you’re responsible for that yourself. Like going to your doctor? Well, we’ll be going with more of a “PPO” option from now on — and we’ll be forcing costs up so high that you’ll probably have to join an even more restrictive HMO. Think we’ll have a wide pool of participants to level out the premium costs? Oh, did we mention? We’re giving the wealthiest and healthiest folks a better option, so they’ll be exiting the pool altogether. But hey, we did include a provision to import lower-cost drugs from Canada... but since we’ve made that provision contingent on the approval of the staunchest opponents of that idea, it’s not actually gonna happen.

But I think what galls me the most is that the bill faces uncertain passage not primarily because of Democratic objections, but because it’s not right-wing enough for the extremist House Republicans.

Ah, it feels good to rant again.


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