Tuesday - August 18th 2009

debt-1-imagesHour One: Why do conservatives want rich corporate bureaucrats between you and your doctor?! Thom confronts Peter Ferrara www.thescru.org

Hour Two: What could anyone do that would justify paying them $423,612.68 per hour??? with Andrew Moylan www.ntu.org

Hour Three: "Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America" Economist Charles Geisst talks to Thom about his new book www.manhattan.edu


robert rawley (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Please help. I do not understand…Republicans have bashed government for 30 years for incompetence and inability to produce.

Why isn't that disputed...loudly?
Why would Federal Personnel continue to do anything for the people who continually berate them?
If they are not talking about civil service, are they talking about their Colleagues?

Am I missing somthing in this equation?

[I believe that government can and does work, much/most of the time.]

Mark (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

I’ve heard it said that the difference between the right and the left is that right does bad things, and the left tries not to. Actually, I made that up, but given the spinelessness displayed by many Democratic politicians to do what they know is right, and the president’s recent cross-country tour which did more harm than good—more defense than offense—it would appear that their weakness only confirms what the right is saying in the minds of many. Democrats, including the president, do not seem to understand that the best defense is a good offense.

The president seems to have taken the Abraham Lincoln analogy too close to heart, surrounding himself with people who may be competent individuals, but presumably do not necessarily share his goals. Varied opinions are good—if their focus is on a narrowly defined goal. Fixing the economy is something everyone wants, but it won’t be achieved if everyone is pulling in different directions; only chaos will ensue.

The president must be aware that his presidency is on the line with the healthcare issue. The hell with Bill Clinton—he and Hillary failed to achieve healthcare reform, and if he had any credibility he would be stumping for a public option; I’ll give Clinton this much: I suspect he could get the public option message out a great deal more effectively than some other people, and given the fact he likes the spotlight, he could be more helpful than he is. But as I implied, he may have an “interest” in torpedoing healthcare reform, for purely personal reasons.

The president needs to regroup , get together with people like Senator Sanders who are serious about reform, and put out an agenda with clear, simple and precise goals, such as forbidding insurance companies from denying coverage for pre or post-conditions, limiting spiraling premiums, insurers cutting costs within their own bloated bureaucratic structure, forcing hospitals to pay for knowingly needless procedures that insurers refuse to cover and pass on to patients, abolishing Part D, force even “mini medical” plans to cover most of the cost of primary and preventative care. But above all, establish an affordable medical plan available for anyone who cannot afford paying $500 or more a month in premiums. If they don’t want to call it a public option, call it expanded Medicare.

It is time for the president and the Democrats to do what is right. Some day they will find themselves the subject of another “Profiles in Courage.”

Mark (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

A popular notion by the right is that all boats can be lifted by some apparently imaginary force called “bootstraps.” Lift one’s bootstraps—what does that mean in literal sense, anyways? If life leaves you flat on the ground with a broken back, you should somehow reach for your bootstraps so you can pull yourself into a sitting-up position? Having gotten that far, you are in prime position to become either a corporate CEO, a Republican senator, or a right-wing talk radio personality? Everyone would be millionaires, right? What if we just printed quadrillions of dollars, passed them out to everyone, and people could buy everything they wanted? Of course, the federal government could be said to operating on the same principle now.

The problem is we’d soon run out of things, and someone has to make things. Since CEOs and senators don’t make a damn thing themselves, we’d have to import everything from China and elsewhere. Eventually the problem of supply and demand will set in, and inflation runs a million percent, and nobody wants our worthless money.

If this country operated on that principle from the beginning, we’d all be living in mud hovels without power, eating grass and twigs, sitting around talking about how shitty our lives are, and we’d all be as poor as dirt, because the only use all that paper is good for is as toilet paper and napkins. The principle intellectual discussion would be what came first: the chicken or the egg, or is it the egg or the chicken? Something has to come from something, or else it is nothing from nothing. Wealth can’t simply be produced by writing a number with a bunch of zeroes on a piece of paper. Someone has to produce, to make things. “Things” that you can hold or touch and can use for a purpose are what makes life “meaningful.”

There is that line “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, but some people prefer to keep all the happiness for themselves, purchased at the expense of the blood and toil of others. The plain fact is that with the proper balance of economic activity and compensation, we’d all be happy. Instead, the country is going in the opposite direction, with no apparent effort to reverse course.

Boris31 (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

I'm sure most people have read the News feed about Boehner's "I Told You So" memo to PhRMA. It is nothing less than chilling as it delineates the long-running, entrenched collusion between government & the Drugmaker's monopoly.

Boehner and the GOP's callous root position on Healthcare for the public is demonstrated in their bare-knuckled battle credo..
"Appeasment rarely works in conflict resolution," Boehner said in the letter. "This is as true in the arena of policymaking as it is in schoolyards across America. When a bully asks for your lunch money, you may have no choice but to fork it over. But cutting a deal with the bully is a different story, particularly if the 'deal' means helping him steal others' money as the price of protecting your own."

So Progressives may equivocate details, the GOP clearly is not. This seems like the time to roll up the sleeves, let go of any illusions and get to work.

Trevor Seitz (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

I haven't heard much about how fixing Healthcare will help the unemployment rate... As an Employer, if I had to lay people off because I couldn't afford them (not due to lack of work) and suddenly the government was able to save me money on my current employees Health care expenses, that leads to more money to hire those people back...

DRichards (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Healthcare Funnies

Republicans Try To Sweep The Leg On Health Care Reform!

Go Ahead And Die! (Pirates Of The Health Care-ibean)

Naked Truth (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago


I've been listening to your show for years. I used to download your show from the White Rose Society, and for the last several years I’ve been downloading podcasts directly from 620kpoj.com. I just listened to the introduction to Monday’s show where you said, "due to economic circumstances" podcasts will no longer be freely available. Thom -- I think you're making a big mistake.

My favorite part of each week's show is Friday’s brunch with Bernie -- "America's town hall," as you say. How can you charge me to listen to Bernie? It seems un-American and greedy to charge me to listen to the man we both agree is "America's senator."

I’ve been a loyal listener. Six or seven years ago, there were not many options for me to hear a liberal point of view. I first discovered you on C-SPAN – they broadcast you doing your show, and I’ve been listening ever since. Now, I have plenty of other options -- Maddow, Olbermann, Air America, Blast the Right, etc. I used to listen to your show daily; now days, I only listen a couple times a week. Increasingly, you focus on obscure and irrelevant issues, except during the last couple of weeks you've provided good discussion on health care, which I appreciate. A month or two ago, you lost me with some of the topics you covered.

I will miss your show, Thom. Normally, I can't listen-live due to my schedule. The podcasts are my link to your show. I live in the ideological wasteland of central Kansas, and the internet and cable TV are my only sources of non-conservative news and opinion. I will listen-live when I can, but for the most part, without the free podcasts, you've lost a loyal listener, and it’s a detriment to both of us.

We share similar world views, but you're much more articulate than me. You’ve taught me much. And you've helped me win some water-cooler wars. You’ve motivated me to “get active,” and with your help, I’ve actually persuaded friends, family and co-workers to understand and support our views.

Please do not sell out to greed and self interest. You are making a difference. You and other liberal commentators helped take back the White House and congress. I think we’re all disappointed that most Democrats seem to be Republican-Lite, and they seem more interested in representing their big-money donors than “we the people.” But, until we get campaign finance reform and finally clean up Washington, I’d rather be represented by Democrats than Republicans.

Thom, would you rather live in a “we society” or a “me society”? You say you want a “we society,” but today your actions seem to be saying you want money, lots and lots of money. I didn’t see that coming. But, you’re not a priest, you live in a capitalist society, and you’ve got the intelligence to make lots of money. I can’t blame you. Greed just seems incongruent with your ideals.

In markets like Kansas where your show is not broadcast over the air, can you continue to provide the podcasts for free? At a minimum, Bernie should be allowed to post the “Brunch with Bernie” podcast on sanders.senate.gov.

Although I’m disappointed and disillusioned by your decision to pull the plug on the free podcasts, I do want to say “thank you,” I appreciate what you've done for political discourse in our country, and for the past 6-7 years I've enjoyed listening to your show.

Best Wishes.

PS -- For the last several years I've wondered why you don't provide more coverage for some important issues like global warming, peak oil, and the coming singularity (google Kurzweil singularity). These topics, along with campaign finance reform and universal health care, are the “really big” topics I’m most interested in.

Mena Sprague (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

I wish Peter was still on the line. The doctors say Dave is bone on bone on the right hip (AARP United Health Care will pay $4050.00 of a $65,000.00 to $75,000.00 operation), he also has three diseases of the spine which we are treating with yoga $8.00 a class compared to physical therapy at $76.00 a hour. Insurance companies are between the patient and their doctor daily.

Mena Sprague (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

You don't have to worry about MN fire marshals, they can be bought. When I worked for NWA in Minneapolis after our strike, they chained all exits except the door by the kitchen where the probable fire would start. When we complained to the fire marshal, he called NWA to let them know when he would be inspecting them. The did not chain the doors shut that night and then night two went right back to chaining the doors.

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Media Culpa

Mena Sprague (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

At our town hall meeting Friday with Rep. Adrian Smith R NE, Dave asked him if health care was a right or a privilege, Smith hemmed and hawed a bit then said it is a privilege. I also suggested they remove the age restriction on Medicare and let anyone who needs it to buy into it. Smith said that's a good idea.

Rasta (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago


We're 'not pawns in your Armageddon!!'


Loretta (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Trevor, You are making way too much sense:-) Those still backing insurance companies have been so confused by their own convoluted arguments that they appear to no longer be able to understand sensible comments like the one you just made. I'm taking Thom's letter to Senator Wyden's office tomorrow and even though I'm kinda shy I'm going to sit on his office couch until I get to talk to him.

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago


I don't think Lawrence O'Donnell exposed Katie Abrams so much for being against Medicare and Social Security as much as he exposed her for not being real sharp, or at the very least for playing dumb. She had no answer (opinion) when he first asked her about Medicare and only "kinda" said she was against it when O'Donnell said it was socialist. The scenario was the same when he asked her about Social Security.

I heard you say that O'Donnell did a great job as a fill-in host on MSNBC. In general, I agree. The exception, in my opinion, was a couple of interviews in which he wouldn't let the guest answer. He would interrupt within a few words if the guest wasn't going in the direction he wanted. Then they both would talk over each other. It wasn't good TV and it's not good radio when you do it. In fact, callers and members on this blog often compliment you for the respectful manner that you interview people who you disagree with. (The truth is that you're inconsistent and often don't behave as well as many think you do. I understand that guests will try to take the conversation in a different direction than you'd like, but two people talking over each other isn't informative at all.)

Frank Feuerbacher (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Several things:

1) When people ask about the CBO numbers we should point out that they show, as expected, that costs to the Federal government will increase. They do not reflect the money spent by state and local governments, nor costs buried in our bills that cover those that can't pay. State and local taxes tend to be more regressive. The rich don't care that the overall cost will be much less with a public plan, they just don't want to pay. They would rather someone else, pay.

2) I would like to hear about the history of Health care. My understanding is that originally the entire health care field was a labor of love and a duty to humanity without a large profit motive. Insurance was created to help the poor. Hospitals were owned by churches and other charities. Then, around the Regan era, wall street got involved and a lot of privitization occurred.

This is a long way of saying that we USED to have a form of public health care, then, recently, the wall street vultures got involved and costs skyrocketed. Those that want huge profits are not interested in health care, just money. We are trying to return the system more to what it was like, but with the cost burden being shared more rationally.

Also, is the image associated with Monday's show depicting a Republican Push Pole?

Food Fascist (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Why does everyone think it is completely acceptable to make blonde jokes. Honestly, some day I will write a book about this. when I go out and make my living and I hear this denigration, I feel like a black person must feel - yet everyone says its okay because the subtext is that the girl who is blonde like to be referred to that way.

Erik B (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

We should give the Cons a choice. Go back to 90% top marginal tax rate AND NON-PROFIT health insurance companies by law, OR single -payer.

Our whole medical system is out of wack because ALL the players ivolved are making incredible income. The docotors, the malpractice attorneys, the insurance execs and the hospital execs.

If we had a 90% tax rate again it would remove the motivation from these greedy bastards for unlimited wealthand profits. ANd if the system was non-profit it would even make it more afffordable for all.

Our current system is a perfect example of how the growing income gap hurts the masses.

Food Fascist (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Great idea! That in a billionaires dress code ....I hope someone takes this idea and makes an official looking letter in which people sign their social security, medicare ect- and including their FDIC insurance on their bank accounts!

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Food Fascist,

I don 't like jokes like that, but I doubt that you know how a black person must feel.

I can imagine that there may be some disadvantages in the business word for a blond woman, but I don't know if there's any research that shows that there's objective evidence that blond women suffer greater discrimination than other women. In fact, it seems that blond haired women are valued and desirable in some ways.

I haven't heard of people being pulled over for "driving while blond" and I don't think that the prisons are full of blond people. There may be some disadvantage in finding a job (I don't know) but we do know that people with "black sounding names" get significantly fewer responses to their resumes, are turned down for jobs. We know that black people are told that apartments they were told were available have been rented when they get their and the managers discover that they're black.

That's just the shortlist.

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

I used to have sex with my car, but afterward I always felt exhausted.

Food Fascist (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Well...when I enter this phrase into Google I get 36 results on you tube video of 'persons asking to stay away from my medicare'

Mugsy (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Thom, on that "hands off my Medicare challenge".

I'd accept that challenge IF the caller allows those who "unwittingly" protest government healthcare as "Socialism" despit supporting Medicare.

I document one prominent example on my blog this week: the infamous "Obama as a Stormtrooper" protester. Turns out, both her and her sister are disabled and owe their very lives to Medicare.

Visit my blog by clicking my name above.

Michael Gregory (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

I have a question that I hope one of you political junkies can help me with.

Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durban, is keeping tabs on who in the Senate will or will not vote for various reforms. He says he cannot get up to 60 votes on a plan that has a 'public option'.

Here is my question: Is he telling the American public that the 6 or so Senators not on board with a 'public option' will stand with the Senate Republicans in a filibuster. I mean, even if they don't ultimately vote for the bill, do you think they'll filibuster reform? I don't. And if they will, let them. Let America see the conservative Democrats actually filibuster and defeat a bill. I think the Democrats should show some balls and give a bill (with a robust public option) an up or down vote.

Can anyone explain to me why the 60 is so important to pass the bill, I thought it was only necessary to defeat a filibuster, and like I said, I don't think the conservative Dems will filibuster - regardless of their ultimate vote. Also, I understand about Reconciliation, that's not my question.

Food Fascist (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Wish I could answer your question, but I cannot - call in!

Food Fascist (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago


Is this country literally too stupid to live? Will Public Option be defeated by those who need it most?

Great blog, I did not realize that clicking on our highlighted names brought us to persons blog. well I will be more likely to click on them now that I know.

Titantom (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago
Al North Carolina (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

Don't know if you saw it, but on the Canadian CBC news there was an article about the CMA coming out and complaining about the Canadian Health Care System. Even suggesting that a Private option may be desirable! Interesting, the timing of this don't you think? Looks like the CMA is just another mouth piece for the insurance and big pharma interests.
Thank you for want you are doing!

B Roll (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

To Michael Gregory,

Ending a filibuster, at this time, faces several problems. First and foremost, it takes 60 votes to pass a cloture motion to end a filibuster. That rule holds whether or not all 100 senators are present and voting or not. With both Senators Kennedy and Byrd having health problems and possibly unable to vote, it would be hard to get 60 votes at best. This kind of vote requires the senators to be present, and no one else can vote for them.

The conservative Dems don't have to vote against cloture. I think they can abstain (vote present) or be absent when the vote takes place. In addition, unlike members of the House, who face election every two years, Senators have 6 years between elections. Some of the conservative Dems whose reelections are several years away may figure that people won't remember by then. The conservative Dems also come from conservative areas, small states where there may not be as much support for what would look like a big government takeover of health care.

J Patrice Cuddy-Lamoree (not verified) 14 years 44 weeks ago

AETNA CEO Ron Williams he has to slow down the rate of health services in interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS Tuesday Aug 17


We were trying to figure out exactly what he was saying? Does such a man in such a situation speak casually and without purpose? What do you think?


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