Tag: Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers, Robert Kuttner and Matt Taibbi had a vigorous discussion focusing on the health care “reform” and Wall Street “reform”:
Moyer’s take-home statement from the video:
Truth is, our capitol’s being looted, republicans are acting like the town rowdies, the sheriff is firing blanks, and powerful Democrats in Congress are in cahoots with the gang that’s pulling the heist. This is not capitalism at work. It’s capital. Raw money, mounds of it, buying politicians and policy as if they were futures on the hog market.
[T]hose of us who consider ourselves progressives invested so much in this remarkable figure, Barack Obama. And we read our own hopes into him. We saw him as a potentially great president. We saw this as a potentially transformative moment, I certainly did, where he could’ve chosen to be the kind of president Roosevelt was. And it turns out that’s not who is characteralogically and that’s not how he chose to play the moment.
[T]his individual mandate that’s going to force people to become customers of private health insurance companies, the Democrats are going to end up owning that policy and it’s going to be extremely unpopular and it’s going to be theirs for a generation. It’s going to be an albatross around the neck of this party . . . The Democrats are in exactly the same position that the Republicans were in once the Iraq War turned bad. All the Republicans have to do now is sit back and watch the Democrats make a disaster out of this health care effort. And they’re going to gain political capital whether they’re in the right or not. And I think it’s a very- it’s a terrible thing for the party.
Former CIGNA executive Wendell Potter reports that in the early 1990s health insurance companies devoted more than 95% of every premium dollar to paying doctors and hospitals to reimburse them for health care provided to insurers. Things have changed:
Today, insurers only pay about 81 cents of each premium dollar on actual medical care. The rest is consumed by rising profits, grotesque executive salaries, huge administrative expenses, the cost of weeding out people with pre-existing conditions and claims review designed to wear out patients with denials and disapprovals of the care they need the most.
They keep profits high by creatively denying claims, canceling individual policies when insureds get sick, kicking unprofitable insureds out of the insurance pool, and issuing confusing benefit statements to insureds.
Potter, with the support of Senator Al Franken, makes the case that Congress should pass legislation requiring health insurers to pay at least 90% of the premiums for real health care. According to Potter, the difference between 81% and 95% is $112 billion a year, which would amount to a significant reduction in premiums or a significant improvement in coverage.
Wendell Potter is a voice we can trust when it comes to health care reform. A few months ago, I posted regarding his lengthy interview with Bill Moyers.
See, also, Potter’s recent interview at MSNBC, indicating that the health care industry owns the U.S. Senate. Potter makes clear that there is no reform taking place with current “reform” legislation.
On Friday’s show, Bill Moyers drew upon President Lyndon Johnson’s taped phone calls and commentary regarding the Vietnam war, before drawing the following conclusions:
Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we’re fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.
Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.
And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he’s got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight and die, while their own country is coming apart.
And once again, the loudest case for enlarging the war is being made by those who will not have to fight it, who will be safely in their beds while the war grinds on. And once again, a small circle of advisers debates the course of action, but one man will make the decision.
The conversations secretly taped by Lyndon Johnson are riveting. They demonstrate that Johnson consistently saw escalation to be a terrible option, yet he ordered it. The entire episode of Bill Moyers Journal can be viewed here.
Bill Moyers interviewed economist Simon Johnson and U.S. Representative Marcie Kaptur of Ohio about the Wall Street/Washington connection and the picture isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s terrifying. I highly recommend that you make yourself watch this 30-minute segment. It’s a massive problem with no hint of a solution. Here’s an excerpt:
BILL MOYERS: Why have we not had the reform that we all knew was being was needed and being demanded a year ago?
SIMON JOHNSON: I think the opportunity the short term opportunity was missed. There was an opportunity that the Obama Administration had. President Obama campaigned on a message of change. I voted for him. I supported him. And I believed in this message. And I thought that the time for change, for the financial sector, was absolutely upon us. This was abundantly apparent by the inauguration in January of this year. . . . And Rahm Emanuel, the President’s Chief of Staff has a saying. He’s widely known for saying, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’. Well, the crisis is over, Bill. The crisis in the financial sector, not for people who own homes, but the crisis for the big banks is substantially over. And it was completely wasted. The Administration refused to break the power of the big banks, when they had the opportunity, earlier this year. And the regulatory reforms they are now pursuing will turn out to be, in my opinion, and I do follow this day to day, you know. These reforms will turn out to be essentially meaningless.
MARCY KAPTUR: When Lincoln ran into trouble, during the Civil War, he got new generals. He brought in Grant. I hope that President Obama will bring in some new generals on the financial front.
BILL MOYERS: Should Geithner be fired? And Summers be fired?
MARCY KAPTUR: I don’t think that any individuals who had their hands on creating this mess should be in charge of cleaning it up. I honestly don’t think they’re capable of it.
BILL MOYERS: Let me show you an excerpt from the speech President Obama made on Wall Street last month, September. Here is the challenge he laid down to the bankers.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses. Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall.
BILL MOYERS: A reality check. Not one CEO of a Wall Street bank was there to hear the President. What do you make of that?
SIMON JOHNSON: Arrogance. Because they have no fear for the government anymore. They have no respect for the President, which I find absolutely extraordinary and shocking. All right? And I think they have no not an ounce of gratitude to the American people, who saved them, their jobs, and the way they run the world.
Just how dysfunctional are we? Here’s what Bill Moyers has to say:
Bill Maher asked me on his show last week if America is still a great nation. I should have said it’s the greatest show on earth. Forget what you learned in civics about the Founding Fathers — we’re the children of Barnum and Bailey, our founding con men. Their freak show was the forerunner of today’s talk radio.
Speaking of which: we’ve posted on our website an essay by the media scholar Henry Giroux. He describes the growing domination of hate radio as one of the crucial elements in a “culture of cruelty” increasingly marked by overt racism, hostility and disdain for others, coupled with a simmering threat of mob violence toward any political figure who believes health care reform is the most vital of safety nets, especially now that the central issue of life and politics is no longer about working to get ahead, but struggling simply to survive.
So here we are, wallowing in our dysfunction. Governed — if you listen to the rabble rousers — by a black nationalist from Kenya smuggled into the United States to kill Sarah Palin’s baby. And yes, I could almost buy their belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, only I think he shipped them to Washington, where they’ve been recycled as lobbyists and trained in the alchemy of money laundering, which turns an old-fashioned bribe into a First Amendment right.
Bill Moyers, spoke about the problems passing health care reform on Bill Maher’s show (as reported by Glenn Greenwald):
I don’t think the problem is the Republicans . . . .The problem is the Democratic Party. This is a party that has told its progressives — who are the most outspoken champions of health care reform — to sit down and shut up. That’s what Rahm Emanuel, the Chief of Staff at the White House, in effect told progressives who stood up as a unit in Congress and said: “no public insurance option, no health care reform.”
And I think the reason for that is — in the time since I was there, 40 years ago, the Democratic Part has become like the Republican Party, deeply influenced by corporate money. I think Rahm Emanuel, who is a clever politician, understands that the money for Obama’s re-election will come from the health care industry, from the drug industry, from Wall Street. And so he’s a corporate Democrat who is determined that there won’t be something in this legislation that will turn off these interests. . . .
I highly recommend this 25-minute discussion led by Bill Moyers in order to learn Thomas Paine’s story. Why is Paine so under-appreciated? Moyers discusses Paine’s deeply democratic ideas with author Harvey J. Kaye and National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser.
What did Thomas Paine advocate for? An exceedingly progressive agenda:
- Ending slavery
- Granting women total equality
- Complete separation of church and state.
- Establishment of public education
Paine was also a deist (not an atheist), who, in The Age of Reason, unrelentingly attacked organized religions, which he considered to be fraudulent. He claimed that all books are written by men, not God. On the other hand, he believed that the creation was God’s presence and that people who want to know God should study creation rather than reading supposedly sacred writings.
Ironic, then, that Thomas Paine was held in high esteem by Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.