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Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur

Posted: October 26, 2009 04:02 PM

The Trigger is a Lie

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The trigger is a lie. And anyone who advocates the trigger is a liar.

Did you know that the 2003 Medicare prescription drug legislation had a trigger? Well, drug costs have continued to rise significantly ever since then - and guess what, it turns out the public provision in there has never been triggered. Why? Because there's a million ways to rig the system so that nothing ever gets triggered. In fact, that's the whole point of the trigger.

Sen. Rockefeller points out that if a trigger passes, the insurance companies can jack up their premiums before the trigger provision is officially enacted. That would lead to two great results for them: 1. The trigger is harder to reach later because the starting price just got moved up so much. So they don't have to raise premiums as much down the road because they raise them now. 2. They immediately blame the Democrats for the higher premiums because they'll say that health care reform left them no choice but to raise all of your premiums dramatically, thereby making any real reform later that much harder.

Also, did you know that the trigger would only apply state by state? So, only states that met the trigger requirements could start their own version of the public option, which would be infinitely less effective because they wouldn't have the leverage of a nationwide plan to bring down costs. This is a joke. No one who knows the real details of this thinks this a real way to achieve a public option.

And on top of all of this, there aren't going to be any automatic triggers. What does that even mean? Of course, there will be disagreements about whether the insurance companies actually met the different standards or if they didn't. And how will they resolve those differences of interpretation? They'll have to re-litigate and re-legislate this whole thing. So, they'd just have this same old debate again five years down the road. Except it will state by state and by that time the insurance companies will have even more money to lobby against it and buy more politicians on the state and national level.

Besides which, premiums went up by 119% in the last ten years alone, let alone the enormous increase over the last forty years. That's what "triggered" this reform effort in the first place. So, as Young Turks contributor Malcolm Fleschner has pointed out, what they're really asking for is the trigger of a trigger. As one congressional aide pointed out to Huffington Post, "The American people pulled the 'trigger' last November." How many more triggers do we have to pull?

As Malcolm also pointed out, imagine if we had triggers in the real world. Imagine if your husband has been cheating on you for the last twenty years, and when you ask him about it he requests that you apply a trigger and wait five more years before you do anything about it. And if he's still cheating on you through all of those five years, then you can trigger a divorce. Who would agree to that nonsense? It's an obvious trick, right? So why would we agree to it when it's our lives and well-being on the line in this health care fight?

Unfortunately, it now appears that the jokers who are pushing hardest for this are the people inside the Obama White House. Do they think we're stupid? In their non-denial denials, they keep saying that the president said in a speech a couple of months ago that he kind of likes the public option. Wow, I'm really impressed.

Right now, Harry Reid looks stronger and more progressive than the president who promised us real change. That is so sad. This isn't about appeasing your base, this is about whether you're a liar or not. Did you mean any of that talk about change or did you think it was a cute campaign slogan to deceive people with? Are you just a sad, regular old politician? And one with not much nerve, where Harry Reid makes you look like a wimp by comparison?

Some will complain that is too harsh. But think about it, if they're pushing for the trigger as every press report indicates and as Rahm Emanuel has said many times in public, then they know they're lying. You think they don't know that the trigger is a joke? Are they that unsavvy? No, of course, they know. They think you're too unsavvy to recognize the cute political games they're playing. To realize that they're lying about supporting the public option. And if that's the case, we elected the wrong guy. As one of our viewers pointed out, if you wanted incremental change, then Hillary Clinton might have been much better in delivering it. And she might have been more honest about it.

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