How big is that tent?

Sunday, November 13, 2005
The House failed to pass a plan to cut the budget deficit this week. The Senate however, did so with the provision that ANWR be opened for oil exploration. It seems renegade Republican house members could not agree on the same measure.

So it stalled, with a promise to return to the fight this week.

I have my own theory about this. Her name is Harriet Miers. Bear with me.

I think that when conservatives turned on moderates and the president in the recent meltdown over the nomination of Harriet Miers, many moderates felt abandoned, even unappreciated.

They did not feel that way because of Miers herself so much as they did because of the attack by the pundits of anyone outside the fold.

So they might be reminding the right, that without them things don't go so well.

I think we need to open ANWR myself, for two reasons: the Middle East and Hugo Chavez.

I also think the canards about the small amount of crude there are simply not true. If it were, the energy industry would not pursue this so relentlessly. I also think the environmentalists should spend their time trying to bring New Jersey back to its original ecological condition as one of the continents largest natural wetlands and leave the tundra alone. We are talking about an area so vast that the oil industry could go in there and pump out that oil and unless some anal environmentalist made an issue of one would ever be the wiser. Including the caribou.

But the real point here is that some of the moderates in the Republican party might be reminding the conservatives that they do not control everything.

Just a thought. Don't throw things at me. I am a moderate and I hate to argue.


markg8 said...

terrye I can say with almost complete certainty that my Republican congressman here in NJ was one of the 22 who rebelled. There are a lot of congressional reps that have big coastal resort areas in their districts that can't go along with drilling in ANWR and the accompanying offshore legislation dumped into the budget bill and expect to keep their jobs.

Some also questioned the wisdom of slashing benefits (-$54 billion?) for the poor while getting ready to give away even more tax breaks (+$70 billion?) to the rich as a response to Katrina.

Having said that I've always doubted the Repubs would really allow drilling in ANWR. George Bush may be serious about wanting to do it but I think for most they know the real life upside: a 1 year supply at current levels that won't come on line for another 10 years and will most likely be sent to Asia and do nothing to fix our dependence on foreign oil, is offset by a much larger political downside.

As it stands now it's gonna be hard for Repubs to hang on to the House next year. I think rejecting drilling in ANWR has always been held open as an option to show they're not all unreasonable rightwingers marching in lockstep with Tom DeLay. And I wouldn't be surpised if DeLay went along with it to give his guys cover.

Seneca the Younger said...

Mark, would it actually make any difference to point you to the sources that explain (contrary to what you're saying) that the "cuts" were reductions in the rate of growth of future increases, or explain to you what the word "fungible" means in the sentence "Oil is fungible"?

markg8 said...

If your kid's broken arm or bird flu doesn't get treated next year under Medicaid cuz you made just a little too much money at Walmart to fit under the cut off it isn't really gonna matter to you if it's only controlling "growth in spending" will it?

Yep and one year's worth of oil at America's current rate of consumption out of ANWR coming on line in 10 years ain't gonna make a dent in the int'l. fungible price of oil.

I am encouraged by the new windmills though. Much more efficient and the slower rotating blades only kill birds demonstrably dumber than Don Rumsfeld.

chuck said...

If your kid's broken arm or bird flu doesn't get treated next year under Medicaid

Broken arm == bird flu? Equating the trivial with the severe has been the standard excuse for thought on the left for many years. I suppose it counts for profound insight because no average person could make such deep connections.

Anyway, Mark, where is that secret treatment/cure for bird flu at this time? And what are you doing to help your community prepare besides cultivating a helpful cynical attitude. Is snark the long sought universal treatment for the flu? Perhaps we should bottle it.

markg8 said...

Hey Chuck let's send Petey to SE Asia to teach 'em how to sneer! If snark will ward off a pandemic he ought to be able stumble on the cure by just the sheer volume of his insults.

And if you're a single mom working at Walmart with a couple kids, believe me paying for a doctor's visit to get a caste for a broken arm isn't trivial. It can pretty much wipe out Christmas. But what do you care, right? You NEED that tax cut don't you?

chuck said...

you NEED that tax cut don't you?

Gosh, now I'm rich like Soros or Teresa. Mark, without your astute observation I would never have known. I will be thinking of you as I try to spend my new found million$.

markg8 said...

Nah Chuck you're probably not rich but even if you got the $400 minimum child tax credit that could pay for that hypothetical doctor visit and caste. But the mom at Walmart? Don't tell me, I'll give your talking point for you, she doesn't even pay income taxes!!!

chuck said...

Don't tell me, I'll give your talking point for you

Thanks, Mark. I could hardly exist but for your tireless efforts to tell me who I am. I am deeply appreciative and will remain eternally grateful.

flenser said...


Your theory would make more sense if the "moderates" had not been sticking it to the party since long before Miers came along.

Think of the Gang of 14 for one example. Or Jeffords defecting and handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.

terrye said...


I did not only mean Harriet Miers, in fact I would guess that many of these people were not really that supportive of her.

I am talking about the attitude of many purists toward moderates.

terrye said...


I take care of sick people and I deal with medicaid and medicare every day of my life, or very nearly everyday.

Now they are introducing the new medicare drug program which will cost a lot of money. In a few years the state will be picking up a very large percentage of the health care bill once the baby boomers go on Medicare. People have no idea what that is going to costs.

As for medicaid, I know a lot of people who get all their health care and medication from medicaid. It is not a question of cutting them, it is a question of slowing down the increase.

Flu shots are not going to be cut, in fact they are giving them free to clients right now.

For instance a client of mine has a nervous daughter and a sick husband and a grandchild with fetal alcohol syndrome. Three generations right there whose entire medical bill is being picked up by the state. And they complain that the service is not better.

We do need to slow down the increase in entitlements or it will overwhelm the system.

I have health insurance, but it is expensive and I pay taxes too, but I am not rich. I do remember when Clinton raised taxes and I had to pay more.

Many of our clients have not paid taxes for years.

And before you get all self righteous none of the cuts discussed here are as big as the ones pushed by Clinton in 1997. I knew old ladies who lost their home health care service altogether when that happened. So it seems the Democrats can cut spending when one of their own is in the White House.

You have completely missed my point.

Speaking of big tents, I know I got kicked out of the Democratic one when Michael Moore moved in.

And the idea of opening ANWR was [once upon a time] jimmy Carter's. How times have changed.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I don't think opening ANWR will make a bit of difference in the long run, one way or the other. As Terrye notes, it wouldn't really be noticed by environmentalists except that it has become a symbol. On the other hand, I don't think it will make a lot of difference in our dependence on foreign oil.

Where I live there is a lot of city- and county-owned "Open Space" which cannot be built on, cannot have bikes ridden on, and in some cases cannot be walked on. The Open Space is sacred in the local religion and I do not exaggerate with that statement. Five years ago I noticed that in a little corner of the Open Space near my house, a corner which is not easily accessible to cars, they were drilling for oil. Now this ultimate sacrilege was close to home but it was not visible. There were no protesters because nobody knew about it. No one had made a big deal out of it so nothing happened. Yet some of my neighbors living right around here, people who were completely unaware of this drilling right here, were outraged at the prospect of drilling thousands of miles away in Alaska.

Because it won't make a lot of difference, the Republicans are foolish to flog this particular horse. It earns them no particular kudos and lots of brickbats. I think it's inevitable that ANWR will be drilled, but it would be wise to wait until the crisis is more severe and the need is more obvious.

terrye said...


I think something else is at play here. I think the moderates feel used by the conservatives.

Kind of like the Rodney Dangerfields of the Republican party and so they are letting all and sundry know that they can be petulant too.

It is political and no doubt there is more to it than we see. There always is.

Syl said...


what a maroon you are. If it weren't for the tax cuts that mom probably wouldn't even have her job at Wal Mart.

Besides, she can vote. Let her. She has a voice.

That type of rhetoric coming from you just sounds pathetic. Vote your own goddamned pocketbook, not mine or anyone else's.

markg8 said...

I'd say those congressional reps who voted against ANWR are voting in the interests of their and their local consituents' pocketbocks. The tourist towns along the Jersey Shore won't stand for oil platforms and the resulting exposure to spills, however minor it may be, off their beaches. This is a multi billion industry in NJ and elsewhere. It'd be political suicide for them to vote for it.

ANWR is a great hot button issue for the environmental lobby. You should see the scary fundraiser letters & emails I get. I'm sure they raise tons of $$$ off it. The reason, as any genuine treehugger worth his or her salt will tell you, is that it risks a trememdous natural resource for such little gain. It really highlights the backward looking 1950's energy policy of this administration.

If I really thought that "drilling wells here so we don't have to fight them there to drill" would solve the problem I'd go for it, caribou be damned. But it won't. With less than 3% of the world's oil reserves we can't drill our way to energy independence.

markg8 said...

You want to cut medical costs? Then pass universal healthcare. Every other industrial first world nation on earth has it and they pay about 8% of their GDP on healthcare as opposed to our 13%. Hell even Costa Rica has it. Taiwan even has a better system than we do. Massachusetts alone pays more for administrative overhead in our hodgepodge system than all the provinces of Canada put together. The CEOS of Ford and GM are for it, they'd love to get out of the healthcare business that hamstrings their competitiveness with the rest of the world's carmakers. So would most other employers, especially retailers who play at an unfair advantage to Walmart who passes most
of their healthcare costs onto the taxpayers already through Medicaid.

Yeah it'd cost the federal government more, but there's no reason it can't be run as efficiently as the Social Security system which has about 2% in administrative costs. And the competitive benefits to the American people and especially Amercian business would be enormous. If anybody else has a better way to solve the impending Medicare crisis I'd like to hear it.

terrye said...


Nonsense. They tried to do something like that in Tennessee and it failed, in a big way.

Besides in another 20 years most people are going to be on some kind of health care anyway.

I could just as easily say get rid of the lawyers.

markg8 said...

As much as Bush has touted the line that lawyers drive up the cost of healthcare through malpractice suits that in turn drive up doctors' insurance costs it's not true.

Look at the numbers of and overall costs of jackpot jury awards. They're pretty level over the last 3 decades.

The biggest reason malpractice insurance skyrockets periodically is because insurance companies invest the premiums in the market and the market fluctuates. When the market goes down the insurance cos. charge more on the other end.

In some states predatory insurance cos. wipe out a lot of the competition. But if you have one big vender and it gets in trouble or decides to change it's rules or just plain gets out of the business, as one did in Nevada I think it was, it can leave all those doctors scrambling.

Pretty sweet racket and that's why insurance cos. shovel boatloads of money into both parties' campaign coffers. And also why it'll be so hard to get the entrenched insurance and medical provider company industries, not to mention pharma off the government teet.

Seneca the Younger said...

So, Mark, your answer would be that no attempt to impede the growth of spending is permissible as long as you could find saomeone who you think needs the money? That's the antural consquence of your argument. And your windmills take years to come on line too.

So, I'm guessing the answer is "no".

Seneca the Younger said...

You want to cut medical costs? Then pass universal healthcare. Every other industrial first world nation on earth has it and they pay about 8% of their GDP on healthcare as opposed to our 13%.

Never actually lived in one of those countries, eh? I have. Another one of those little details you keep missing --- along with the fact that if ANWR oil goes to Asia it makes the price of your gas go down even if we buy all our oil elsewhere --- is that the way those countries manage this is by rationing their health care. Don't get a brain tumor in England --- they give you steroids and send you home to die. Don't develop a need for eye surgery for a degenerative problem while living in Canada --- you can't get ophthalmic surgery in less than three years unless it's an emergency, ie, the degenerative eye problem has already made you legally blind.

Rick Ballard said...

But it's free, when they get around to it, Charlie. I mean, can't you see that?

Oh. Sorry.

markg8 said...

Here's a clue for you Seneca, we're going to be rationing healthcare in this country soon, within 10 years. And we're all going to get a lot less benefits the longer we wait. There ain't no free lunch. Stop pretending there is.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


I agree with you that we are headed toward a health-care crisis. But we've been teetering on the edge since the 70's at least. Allow me to point out though that every commodity is rationed. That's the nature of life. Every thing you might want to buy is limited. You never get as much as you want. The question then is what is the fairest form of rationing. PostOffice Healthcare is a form of rationing in which everybody is equally poor. Rationing by price has the advantage of giving an incentive to producers so that more is produced.

terrye said...


That is true, it is also true that poor people get health care in this country. It is also true that government already is assuming a lot of the costs.

It is also true that a lot of people from Canada come here to see a doctor and home to buy their meds.

80% of our clients are either medicaid or medicare.

As for drilling in ANWR, we are talking about world prices of commodities here, not local. So wherever the oil is drilled it will add to overall supplies. It will also be there if we do need to have more domestic supply.

markg8 said...

"It is also true that poor people get health care in this country. It is also true that government already is assuming a lot of the costs."

It's also true that the Medicaid system is set up - because of ignorance by some of it's users, manipulaiton by others, and gaming the system by the providers who understand it all too well - to be way more expensive than it has to be.

The biggest part of US healthcare costs, sadly, is we spend such a large proporation of our dollars on the last 6 weeks of life using heroic measures to try and keep dying patients alive. This is going to take some serious adult decision making by all of us in this country on how to change that. Unfortunately
in this polarized political climate we're not prepared to tackle that yet. And I hate to say it because I really don't want this to a partisan post, but least of all in a Republican congress that thought getting involved in the Terry Schaivo tragedy was their business.